Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Bob Dunning: Expect fireworks at board meeting tonight

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From page A2 | April 18, 2013 | Leave Comment

RECONFIGURE THIS … while many of the stakeholders in the fate of our public schools have stepped forward in recent days to say we’re putting the cart before the horse, tonight the Davis school board will nevertheless hold a “workshop discussion” dealing with the concept of changing the high school to a 9-12 model from its current and long-standing 10-12 configuration … according to the board agenda released in advance of tonight’s meeting, “This discussion is not intended to decide if the district will move forward with reconfiguration, it is intended as a preliminary analysis. No final recommendations or decisions for future reconfiguration are proposed in this staff report.” …

This is the proposal, coming seemingly out of the blue, that set off a firestorm of opposition that has yet to subside … given that virtually no students, teachers, parents or taxpayers were requesting or even suggesting such a change, this proposal came straight from the board, for reasons unknown … maybe some of those reasons will become clear tonight, but expect the fireworks to start early and last much longer than the display we see every year on the Fourth of July …

SPEAKING OF FIREWORKS … informal groups have formed to question the wisdom and timing of the board’s proposal, with most stakeholders calling for a broader, more comprehensive look at our entire school picture before tackling specific issues as the board has chosen to do … for instance, seven members of the executive board of the Davis Teachers Association penned a well-reasoned op-ed that asks “Why this push for change? Why now?” and notes that “this proposal did not come from teachers.” …

Importantly, these seven suggest “starting further back: identifying our most pressing problems first, and then searching for solutions. If instead, we start with a preconceived solution, we are in danger of adopting a plan that might not be the best antidote to the challenges we face.” … indeed, the solution (9 to 12 configuration) has been proposed before any problem with the current 10-12 configuration has been identified … hence the op-ed’s title: “A solution in search of a problem.” … heck, they may as well have proposed dropping varsity football even if no one in town was suggesting they do so …

EVEN MORE QUESTIONS … another op-ed, running today, was penned by four concerned citizens and it, too, calls for identifying problems before seeking solutions … it also calls for a broader look at the entire school picture from kindergarten through 12 … pointing out one of the principal objections to high school reconfiguration, today’s op-ed (authored by Philip Bachand, Darcie Houck, Joy Wallace and Sandra Bachand), noted that “No alternative models for reducing costs were suggested.” … indeed not … a solution was proposed, but not much more …

Adds the op-ed: “A number of individuals and Parent Teacher Associations have raised serious concerns about the focus of this request and a need to consider the overall academic and social well-being of all DJUSD students within the fiscal limitations we all face.” … much like the Davis Teachers Association op-ed, today’s piece notes that “The strategic plan was first raised through the lens of 9-12 reconfiguration, an approach that could skew the outcomes, whatever the outcomes may be. And communication and conversations with the community prior to this directive were extremely limited.” … amen to that …

In my many conversations with teachers, students, parents and citizens at large since the proposal was made public, I’ve yet to hear even minimal support for 9-12 reconfiguration at the high school … still, many of those who are skeptical are more than willing to have a broader discussion that ultimately may address 9-12 configuration … they just don’t want that proposal to be the starting point …

Adds today’s op-ed: “The need to examine this issue on a districtwide level that includes all grades, K-12, is necessary to come to the best possible conclusions for what, if any, changes are needed to the current configuration of our schools, and an assessment of how to best meet the academic and social needs of all of our children.” … put simply, there is great support in the public school community for exactly the approach this foursome has outlined …

FOLLOW THE LEADER … hopefully we can all agree that Davis High School should not go the 9-12 route simply because the vast majority of school districts in the state of California do so … that “logic” is dead on arrival … when our kids stop getting into Stanford, Cal, Harvard, Yale and Chico State, let me know … until then, it’s not a viable argument …

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net

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