Why am I running for Davis School Board?
The short answer to this question is that I believe that I can improve the experience of students, parents, teachers, and staff in the Davis Joint Unified School District through my direct involvement. As has been the case my entire life, I prefer to turn words into action, rather than sit on the sidelines. DJUSD has many strengths — dedicated teachers, engaged parents, and a supportive community. I would like to capitalize on those strengths to create an excellent educational experience for all students in the district.
What is your vision for the school district?
Over the last seven years, I have witnessed tension within the school district over issues such as programming, teacher pay, school safety, and school climate. As a school board trustee, I would like to create an environment where we can come together as a community to deal with these issues in a manner that leaves everyone feeling heard, respected, and valued. Disagreements will likely happen (in fact, they are probably inevitable), and in these situations it is critical that the school district operate with transparency. I believe in building trust through actions. My goal is to create an atmosphere of trust and good faith so that we can achieve our common goals.
What are your issues and priority areas?
- Fair pay for teachers
- Closing the achievement gap
- Providing an appropriate and challenging curriculum for all students
- Finding new revenue sources for the school district
- Improving school climate
Fair Pay for Teachers
Teachers are at the heart of our educational system. Providing our children with a quality education requires us to be able to retain our current teachers and recruit future teachers. The Davis Joint Unified School District must be able to provide equitable salaries to teachers to remain competitive with other school districts. I believe that providing this pay should be part of the district’s ongoing budget plans. Although a parcel tax for teacher compensation can provide near-term relief (and I am grateful that this mechanism exists and that we live in a supportive community), my goal as school board trustee would be to re-examine the district’s expenses (particularly in the areas of administration and operating costs) so we do not have to continue to rely on parcel taxes to provide equitable pay in the long-term.
Closing the Achievement Gap
The achievement gap in education is a persistent issue that affects schools across the country including those in Davis. Despite efforts to close the gap, the most recent district test scores reveal little change. This suggests that we need to explore new solutions that go beyond what has been done in the past. Davis is unique in terms of having a well-educated population with high community engagement. We also have a world-class public university as our neighbor. If elected, I will work to cultivate these resources toward raising the achievement levels of underperforming groups in our community.
Providing an Appropriate and Challenging Curriculum for All Students
As a college professor, I have had the pleasure of teaching thousands of students over the course of my career. My proudest moments have come from having a hand in students realizing their potential – those “ah-ha” moments when students come to believe in their own capabilities and discover their own talents. Those moments have been achieved by creating conditions under which students are optimally challenged. As a district, I believe that is our obligation to attend to the educational needs of all students across the academic spectrum and to meet students where they are at. As DJUSD moves toward a model of differentiated education, my goal will be to ensure that it is done right – that we are employing best practices and incorporating cutting-edge research-based models of differentiated instruction.
Finding New Revenue Sources for the District
As a member of the DJUSD’s Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee member and as a member of the DJUSD Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, I have heard many presentations about how school funding works at the state level and how DJUSD fares under the current Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). What is clear is that the below-average funds that the state provides are not enough to create the kind of school district that the citizens of Davis want for their community. I would like to explore new and creative sources of income for the district.
Improving School Climate
On December 4, 2017, I attended the district’s We All Belong forum. During this event, the district’s commitment to inclusion was reaffirmed and parents, students, teachers, and staff engaged in constructive dialogue about ways to make our school campuses more welcoming for all individuals. However, what I have noticed is that there is sometimes slippage between our ideals and what actually happens “on the ground.” Incidents, both large and small, continue to occur at Davis’ schools that cause some of our most vulnerable students to question their place in the district. I think we can do better. One of my priority areas as a school board trustee will be to improve diversity, inclusion, and justice in the Davis Joint Unified School District.