By Joseph Biello
In this school board election, the voters have an opportunity to truly consider which educational opportunities will prepare Davis children for the 21st century.
Bob Poppenga is a scientist who will bring to the school board a fresh, evidence-based perspective to guide our district in a rapidly evolving society where science, technology and math jobs have grown at a rate three times that of other jobs.
As a professor of veterinary medicine at UC Davis, Bob has spent three decades educating young minds for public service. He knows firsthand and deeply appreciates the tremendous work that all teachers devote to their students and classrooms. Like all teachers, he prepares curricula to satisfy the needs of each student and is constantly evaluating his own strategies to improve his own teaching methodology.
Bob’s commitment to our schools is not simply through the university — it is personal. He and his wife (also a professor of veterinary medicine) have two teenage daughters in the Davis public schools. Their children have exposed Bob to a wide range of district offerings, including orchestra, field hockey, AIM and English language learning.
Bob understands that the needs of each child are unique and that our school district nurtures our children’s fullest potential because of the wide variety of opportunities we provide, whether ESL, AIM, AP classes, technical and vocational training, athletics, art or music enrichment.
Education is not one-size-fits-all. It is not a simple dichotomy of being pro-AIM or anti-AIM, and it is not about having prior school board experience. It is about having a broad perspective with fresh ideas and an appreciation for the diverse needs of our students.
Bob’s commitment to our schools and indeed, our entire community, has been far-reaching. He sits on the board of Explorit Science Center, where many of our youngest residents are first introduced to the wonder of science through hands-on learning. He has been a member of the district’s Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, ensuring that our tax dollars are spent efficiently.
He thinks that vocational offerings at Davis High should be expanded and, if elected to the school board, will seek grant funding to supplement our current programs. He understands what a tremendous untapped resource our world-class university could provide for our schools. Having facilitated a partnership between the vet/med school at UC Davis and Davis High School, he wants to implement similar programs in as many disciplines as possible.
Through Bob’s lens as a scientist, educator, parent and volunteer, his vision for the Davis school district in this 21st century is forward-looking and includes fostering a commitment to excellence for all students, coupled with a safe and supportive learning environment; being receptive to new ideas and educational innovation; basing programs on evidence and measuring their outcomes; and working wisely with limited resources.
We have an opportunity to elect someone who truly listens to the community and is responsive to suggestions, someone who has read the education literature and really understands their implications, someone who has been proposing good ideas: teacher housing at the former Grande school site, leveraging the resources at UCD, measuring the consequences of board actions.
Having a vision for the innovative ideas is the Davis way, and is immensely more important than simply continuing with more of the same.
In the words of Davis’ own Cruz Reynoso, who began in grade school as an agricultural worker and earned his education through our state’s public schools, serving as California’s first Latino Supreme Court justice: “Bob is concerned about all of our children in our public schools. He will work hard to ensure that every child can do well irrespective of family income so that they can look forward to a rewarding future.”
There are many reasons why Bob Poppenga has raised more money, collected more endorsements (including the Sacramento Bee and state Sen. Lois Wolk), posted more yard signs, activated more campaign volunteers and conducted more voter outreach than any other candidate.
He has captured a broad range of community interests and has seized on the community’s desire for a full range of educational opportunities that will meet the needs of all our students. Join me in voting for Bob Poppenga for Davis school board.
— Joseph Biello, a Davis resident, is a professor of mathematics at UC Davis.