Madhavi Sunder Says Goodbye at Her Final Meeting

Madhavi Sunder with her colleagues, Superintendent John Bowes (far left), and her family.

It was the final meeting for Madhavi Sunder, who announced earlier in the spring that she would be stepping down four months shy of the completion of her term to take a position at Georgetown Law School.  Ms. Sunder ran for school board in November 2014 and finished first.

Here were her full remarks:

It has been one of the honors of my life to serve as a Trustee for Davis schoolchildren since 2014. Davis’s steadfast commitment to the future generation is exemplary, from providing our children beautiful parks and greenbelts in which to play and explore, to delivery of a world class K-12 education that exposes them to gardens, music, sports, and robots, and develops in them critical thinking, compassion, and global and cultural awareness. From inclusion to immersion, advanced placement to FFA, project-based learning to safe routes to school, I’m proud of our community for giving our children knowledge and critical life skills, as well as confidence, respect for diverse cultures, curiosity about the world, joy, a sense of belonging, and a passion to serve. Investment in our children is the most important thing we do together as a community.

I am proud of the work I have been able to do with my School Board colleagues and two Superintendents over the past 4 years. From our first days, our Board prioritized the social and emotional wellbeing of our children. Davis was one of the only school districts in the state, indeed the nation, to move secondary school start times back to 8:30 a.m. in order to give our teens the sleep they need to thrive, academically, physically and emotionally. We provided raises to our teachers to begin to close the compensation gap, and increased nurses and elementary school counselors. I am proud of these decisions to invest our district dollars directly into those working on the frontlines with our students.

November 2016 was both the midpoint and lowpoint of my term on the Board. The world turned upside down that election night. A nation that had stood as a beacon of liberty and a refuge for the oppressed is today committing human rights atrocities against refugee children, the most vulnerable among us. As the President and Congress continue to spread racial and ethnic hatred, we are discovering with rage and anguish that the United States of America is interning thousands of children. We have become the shame of the world.

Madhavi Sunder poses with Mayor Robb Davis who also had his final meeting this week.

Here in Davis we have resisted these forces that threaten our nation’s core values, and have embraced the value of We All Belong. We have collectively stood up for all of our children, from migrant students to LGBTQ+ children. All politics is local. We pray that girls and boys in our care felt a little safer and at least a little more secure and loved because of our collective actions.

In just a couple of weeks I will be leaving Davis to join the law faculty of the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. I am grateful to have a professional opportunity to work in the city where it happens, and plan to continue to work on the issues that have claimed much of our attention here: safe schools and communities, respect and inclusion for diverse Americans, and civil and human rights.

Thank you to my colleagues on the Board, it has been an honor to serve with you. Thank you to Superintendent Bowes, former Superintendent Winfred Roberson, and everyone in the district whom I’ve had the privilege of working with these four years: Penny Pyle, the Cabinet and Directors, and the entire DJUSD staff. A special shout out to Jeff Hudson of the Davis Enterprise and David Greenwald of the Vanguard, whose professionalism and commitment to our community inspire me. And to my colleagues on the City Council and the Board of Supervisors. Thank you to my amazing friends whose support made it possible for me to serve on the Board in the first place. And finally, thank you to my amazing family, my children, Anoushka and Milan, and my husband, Anupam Chander. They sacrificed countless hours with me. I am thankful for their constant encouragement and sense of pride in the service I was doing. I look forward to cheering on the world class Davis schools and schoolchildren from afar. My family and I will be forever grateful for the gifts this community has given us.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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