Local News

Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

By From page A1 | April 20, 2014


Tom Adams. Courtesy photo

Longtime Davis resident and parent Tom Adams is one of the applicants seeking the appointed seat on the Davis school board, and he plans to run in November, probably for the two-year seat.

Both the appointment process and the special election for the two-year seat are necessitated by the resignation in March of trustee Nancy Peterson, whose term extends through November 2016.

Adams is a curriculum specialist; he works for the California Department of Education in Sacramento, and since 2003 he’s been director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, overseeing a staff of about 50 people.

Adams also has a daughter who’s come up through the Davis public schools, attending Chávez Elementary and now Emerson Junior High. And at times, his professional life and his life as a parent overlap.

For example, in 2000 — when Adams was a curriculum staffer, before he became director — the California Legislature passed a law creating a state holiday in honor of farm labor leader César Chávez. The law also directed the California Department of Education to develop a model curriculum as a resource for teachers. Adams was one of the people in charge of that project.

“But we found that many of the archived documents and pictures were at Wayne State University (in Michigan)” too far for California teachers to travel. So Adams and the curriculum team digitized historic pictures and documents, and placed them online for teachers to use. (The model Chávez curriculum is still available for free at http://chavez.cde.ca.gov/ModelCurriculum/Intro.aspx.)

“For my own daughter to end up attending César Chávez Elementary in Davis, and find myself working at the California Department of Education with Jose Velasquez (who worked for the United Farm Workers early in his career) …” Adams reflected in a 2009 interview with The Enterprise. “Sometimes, I see (curriculum) material go through the review process (at the CDE), and then one day your child brings it home from school, and you think ‘I remember when that was reviewed.’ ”

Adams served on the Chávez Elementary Site Council from 2005 through 2012, including five years as chair. He is now on the Site Council at Emerson Junior High, which has an extension of the K-6 Spanish Immersion program. Adams also has served on the Spanish Immersion Master Plan Committee.

Like every school district in California, Davis is implementing the Common Core academic standards, and Adams — who is leading the CDE’s work in curriculum and instructional materials relating to Common Core — said he could lend his background in this area as a school district trustee.

“I would be able to explain the district’s efforts to parents and articulate parental concerns to teachers and administrators,” Adams wrote in his candidacy papers. “My goal is for the Davis school board to be a model for our children in making sound and thoughtful decisions.”

Adams did his undergraduate work at Chico State, and came to Davis in 1984 as a graduate student; he has lived here pretty much continuously since that time. (He lived in France during the 1991-92 academic year.) He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in modern European history at UC Davis. He taught several courses in the UCD history department in the 1990s.

Adams said he’s inclined to seek the two-year school board term on the November ballot, rather than one of the three four-year terms, because he’d like to take on duties as a trustee on something of an “a la carte basis.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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