Two columns on Schools in the Enterprise Miss the Mark

Dunning yesterday in his column suggested that the “town owes Murphy a standing ovation.”

He suggests first:

“like most superintendents, David Murphy had his supporters and his detractors … it comes with the territory … it would be impossible to be a superintendent of schools in Davis and make hard decisions without someone taking a shot at you, including the local daily columnist …”

That is true–he has both his supporters and his detractors and it is also true that any superintendent would probably create some animosity. That however should not wipe out an assessment of his performance that I think will inevitably show that Davis is fortunate that they have an opportunity for fresh leadership in the school district.

“Yes, I’ve had a few disagreements with David Murphy during his tenure here, but none that made me question his integrity, his dedication or his desire to make the Davis district the best it could be “

Here is where I strongly disagree with Mr. Dunning. I have strong questions about his integrity and his performance. We perhaps can accept that he probably did have dedication and desire to make the Davis district the best it could be, but that does not mean he did a good job of doing that.

He leaves behind a legacy that has severe blemishes on it. His tenure as Principal at Davis High School was stained with the blood of Thong Hy Huynh and perhaps we could let it go, but his tenure as Superintendent often exacerbated that error. He was oblivious to the problem of bullying and blindsided by the intensity of emotions at a public meeting in 2003 where hundreds of parents and students came up, often drenched in tears, to complain about the situation. That forced his hand, but even in forcing his hand, the victory was incomplete and the scenario had to repeat yet again this school year with young Zach Fischer. It took Board President Jim Provenza and fellow board member Keltie Jones considerable effort to finally pin David Murphy down to strong language to fix the problems that had existed for years in terms of the discrepancies in the discipline code.

Moreover as I have cited throughout this past week there are multiple examples of financial misconduct, errors, malfeasance, and misfeasance. The King high school situation is just but one public example of the ongoing problems under David Murphy’s tenure.

This town most certainly does not owe any Superintendent who makes over six figures a year in compensation a standing ovation. He was WELL compensated for his duties. But David Murphy’s legacy is a tarnished one and hopefully the school board has hired the right person to set things in the Davis Joint Unified School District right again.

Meanwhile Richard Harris wrote a well-intentioned but ultimately flawed piece on Valley Oak.

There are strong reasons to keep Valley Oak open without opening up the development can of worms.

Harris uttered these words:

“Should the voters be asked to approve flexibility to Measure J to allow the City Council to approve annexations for a specified time period without projects going back out to voters?”

Supporters of Valley Oak should shutter, because the last thing that they want to is destroy the emerging consensus and support for keeping Valley Oak and the other eight elementary schools open by needless invocation that will scare literally half the voters.

Keep the growth issue separate from the Valley Oak issue. The enrollment figures by themselves do not justify closing the school even in the worst case scenario. Mixing issues can be fatal and Harris, who should know better, did not help the Valley Oak cause by needlessly alarming any self-respecting progressive or slow-growther or other supporter of Measure J.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    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.

Categories:

Budget/Taxes

48 comments

  1. Let me be clear in the comments–I don’t begrudge people getting a salary for their work, I just don’t view it as some great sacrifice that they stick around 9 years making well into the six figures.

  2. Let me be clear in the comments–I don’t begrudge people getting a salary for their work, I just don’t view it as some great sacrifice that they stick around 9 years making well into the six figures.

  3. Let me be clear in the comments–I don’t begrudge people getting a salary for their work, I just don’t view it as some great sacrifice that they stick around 9 years making well into the six figures.

  4. Let me be clear in the comments–I don’t begrudge people getting a salary for their work, I just don’t view it as some great sacrifice that they stick around 9 years making well into the six figures.

  5. being careful not to mix issues is very important.

    however, i think that there is a mixing of labels or terms when you use “slow-growther” and “progressive” as interchangable.

    They are not the same thing.

    Many of the advocates of “slow-growth” are in reality in favor of no-growth…at least that seems to be the case in Davis.
    One can be progressive and still want to provide peripheral housing, for example.

  6. being careful not to mix issues is very important.

    however, i think that there is a mixing of labels or terms when you use “slow-growther” and “progressive” as interchangable.

    They are not the same thing.

    Many of the advocates of “slow-growth” are in reality in favor of no-growth…at least that seems to be the case in Davis.
    One can be progressive and still want to provide peripheral housing, for example.

  7. being careful not to mix issues is very important.

    however, i think that there is a mixing of labels or terms when you use “slow-growther” and “progressive” as interchangable.

    They are not the same thing.

    Many of the advocates of “slow-growth” are in reality in favor of no-growth…at least that seems to be the case in Davis.
    One can be progressive and still want to provide peripheral housing, for example.

  8. being careful not to mix issues is very important.

    however, i think that there is a mixing of labels or terms when you use “slow-growther” and “progressive” as interchangable.

    They are not the same thing.

    Many of the advocates of “slow-growth” are in reality in favor of no-growth…at least that seems to be the case in Davis.
    One can be progressive and still want to provide peripheral housing, for example.

  9. Actually I was quite consciously using different terms there so as to not use them interchangeably but rather to imply that there was a difference between the two.

  10. Actually I was quite consciously using different terms there so as to not use them interchangeably but rather to imply that there was a difference between the two.

  11. Actually I was quite consciously using different terms there so as to not use them interchangeably but rather to imply that there was a difference between the two.

  12. Actually I was quite consciously using different terms there so as to not use them interchangeably but rather to imply that there was a difference between the two.

  13. Measure J will come under increasing attack and its supporters will be challenged to remain united as strategies unfold to turn one group against another.. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.

  14. Measure J will come under increasing attack and its supporters will be challenged to remain united as strategies unfold to turn one group against another.. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.

  15. Measure J will come under increasing attack and its supporters will be challenged to remain united as strategies unfold to turn one group against another.. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.

  16. Measure J will come under increasing attack and its supporters will be challenged to remain united as strategies unfold to turn one group against another.. To be fore-warned is to be fore-armed.

  17. I don’t think people quite realized how difficult it was to deal with David Murphy and get him to acknowledge the problems that existed in the school district. When my son went to Davis High, he was bullied repeatedly and neither the Principal nor the Superintendent did anything to stop it. It is about time that someone step forward and tell it like it is.

  18. I don’t think people quite realized how difficult it was to deal with David Murphy and get him to acknowledge the problems that existed in the school district. When my son went to Davis High, he was bullied repeatedly and neither the Principal nor the Superintendent did anything to stop it. It is about time that someone step forward and tell it like it is.

  19. I don’t think people quite realized how difficult it was to deal with David Murphy and get him to acknowledge the problems that existed in the school district. When my son went to Davis High, he was bullied repeatedly and neither the Principal nor the Superintendent did anything to stop it. It is about time that someone step forward and tell it like it is.

  20. I don’t think people quite realized how difficult it was to deal with David Murphy and get him to acknowledge the problems that existed in the school district. When my son went to Davis High, he was bullied repeatedly and neither the Principal nor the Superintendent did anything to stop it. It is about time that someone step forward and tell it like it is.

  21. “Keep the growth issue separate from the Valley Oak issue.”

    Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. The two issues are tied in certain respects. The lack of growth in Davis has contributed to the high prices of housing, relative to our nearest neighbors. The limited growth and high prices have stopped a lot of young families with kids from moving to Davis, which impacts VO and all elementaries in Davis. To deny this is just stupid. That does not mean that we have to build 187 homes a year to solve the VO problem. There are a number of ways of addressing this problem and still having no growth. But the downturn in the childhood population in Davis is obviously impacted by our lack of growth for 7 years.

  22. “Keep the growth issue separate from the Valley Oak issue.”

    Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. The two issues are tied in certain respects. The lack of growth in Davis has contributed to the high prices of housing, relative to our nearest neighbors. The limited growth and high prices have stopped a lot of young families with kids from moving to Davis, which impacts VO and all elementaries in Davis. To deny this is just stupid. That does not mean that we have to build 187 homes a year to solve the VO problem. There are a number of ways of addressing this problem and still having no growth. But the downturn in the childhood population in Davis is obviously impacted by our lack of growth for 7 years.

  23. “Keep the growth issue separate from the Valley Oak issue.”

    Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. The two issues are tied in certain respects. The lack of growth in Davis has contributed to the high prices of housing, relative to our nearest neighbors. The limited growth and high prices have stopped a lot of young families with kids from moving to Davis, which impacts VO and all elementaries in Davis. To deny this is just stupid. That does not mean that we have to build 187 homes a year to solve the VO problem. There are a number of ways of addressing this problem and still having no growth. But the downturn in the childhood population in Davis is obviously impacted by our lack of growth for 7 years.

  24. “Keep the growth issue separate from the Valley Oak issue.”

    Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. The two issues are tied in certain respects. The lack of growth in Davis has contributed to the high prices of housing, relative to our nearest neighbors. The limited growth and high prices have stopped a lot of young families with kids from moving to Davis, which impacts VO and all elementaries in Davis. To deny this is just stupid. That does not mean that we have to build 187 homes a year to solve the VO problem. There are a number of ways of addressing this problem and still having no growth. But the downturn in the childhood population in Davis is obviously impacted by our lack of growth for 7 years.

  25. “His tenure as Principal at Davis High School was stained with the blood of Thong Hy Huynh”

    Dave Murphy was deeply affected by that event, as was the whole community. You could really have chosen different wording here. It was a tragic event that reverberated for months. The district implemented a zero-tolerance policy for weapons, and took other steps immediately. If you weren’t here, you really have no idea how deeply Davis was affected by the event.

    I don’t question Dave’s integrity at all, and I dealt with him many times — in particular when the district tried to throw our kids out (interdistrict transfers), so I had some pretty strong feelings at the time. But also when I was on the site council for DSIS, on a curriculum committee, and during some disciplinary issues. He had a tendency to delegate, and I think he and the district were poorly served by Tahir Ahad.

    I really have no idea what better answer there would be for the ‘bullying’ issue. I haven’t seen any answers on this blog or by the school board members.

  26. “His tenure as Principal at Davis High School was stained with the blood of Thong Hy Huynh”

    Dave Murphy was deeply affected by that event, as was the whole community. You could really have chosen different wording here. It was a tragic event that reverberated for months. The district implemented a zero-tolerance policy for weapons, and took other steps immediately. If you weren’t here, you really have no idea how deeply Davis was affected by the event.

    I don’t question Dave’s integrity at all, and I dealt with him many times — in particular when the district tried to throw our kids out (interdistrict transfers), so I had some pretty strong feelings at the time. But also when I was on the site council for DSIS, on a curriculum committee, and during some disciplinary issues. He had a tendency to delegate, and I think he and the district were poorly served by Tahir Ahad.

    I really have no idea what better answer there would be for the ‘bullying’ issue. I haven’t seen any answers on this blog or by the school board members.

  27. “His tenure as Principal at Davis High School was stained with the blood of Thong Hy Huynh”

    Dave Murphy was deeply affected by that event, as was the whole community. You could really have chosen different wording here. It was a tragic event that reverberated for months. The district implemented a zero-tolerance policy for weapons, and took other steps immediately. If you weren’t here, you really have no idea how deeply Davis was affected by the event.

    I don’t question Dave’s integrity at all, and I dealt with him many times — in particular when the district tried to throw our kids out (interdistrict transfers), so I had some pretty strong feelings at the time. But also when I was on the site council for DSIS, on a curriculum committee, and during some disciplinary issues. He had a tendency to delegate, and I think he and the district were poorly served by Tahir Ahad.

    I really have no idea what better answer there would be for the ‘bullying’ issue. I haven’t seen any answers on this blog or by the school board members.

  28. “His tenure as Principal at Davis High School was stained with the blood of Thong Hy Huynh”

    Dave Murphy was deeply affected by that event, as was the whole community. You could really have chosen different wording here. It was a tragic event that reverberated for months. The district implemented a zero-tolerance policy for weapons, and took other steps immediately. If you weren’t here, you really have no idea how deeply Davis was affected by the event.

    I don’t question Dave’s integrity at all, and I dealt with him many times — in particular when the district tried to throw our kids out (interdistrict transfers), so I had some pretty strong feelings at the time. But also when I was on the site council for DSIS, on a curriculum committee, and during some disciplinary issues. He had a tendency to delegate, and I think he and the district were poorly served by Tahir Ahad.

    I really have no idea what better answer there would be for the ‘bullying’ issue. I haven’t seen any answers on this blog or by the school board members.

  29. “Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. “

    Rich: It’s a political issue and the Valley Oak folks are seeking consensus on their political issue, if they want to be successful they cannot scare the slow-growthers into believing this is going to lead to growth, it’s that simple. I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.

  30. “Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. “

    Rich: It’s a political issue and the Valley Oak folks are seeking consensus on their political issue, if they want to be successful they cannot scare the slow-growthers into believing this is going to lead to growth, it’s that simple. I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.

  31. “Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. “

    Rich: It’s a political issue and the Valley Oak folks are seeking consensus on their political issue, if they want to be successful they cannot scare the slow-growthers into believing this is going to lead to growth, it’s that simple. I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.

  32. “Keep them apart if you are an ideologue who cannot face reality. “

    Rich: It’s a political issue and the Valley Oak folks are seeking consensus on their political issue, if they want to be successful they cannot scare the slow-growthers into believing this is going to lead to growth, it’s that simple. I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.

  33. The homes around VOE are priced for new families with young children and therefore a neighborhood elementary school there makes sense. The Covell Village development, in contrast, was priced at the high end and not in the price range of young new families. On the contrary, the official projections for new students from the proposed CV population, which was predominantly older, financially established families, were teenagers who were going to overwhelm the Davis HS facility.

  34. The homes around VOE are priced for new families with young children and therefore a neighborhood elementary school there makes sense. The Covell Village development, in contrast, was priced at the high end and not in the price range of young new families. On the contrary, the official projections for new students from the proposed CV population, which was predominantly older, financially established families, were teenagers who were going to overwhelm the Davis HS facility.

  35. The homes around VOE are priced for new families with young children and therefore a neighborhood elementary school there makes sense. The Covell Village development, in contrast, was priced at the high end and not in the price range of young new families. On the contrary, the official projections for new students from the proposed CV population, which was predominantly older, financially established families, were teenagers who were going to overwhelm the Davis HS facility.

  36. The homes around VOE are priced for new families with young children and therefore a neighborhood elementary school there makes sense. The Covell Village development, in contrast, was priced at the high end and not in the price range of young new families. On the contrary, the official projections for new students from the proposed CV population, which was predominantly older, financially established families, were teenagers who were going to overwhelm the Davis HS facility.

  37. Recently,perhaps the majority of residential voters(I’m subtracting the UCD vote and the organized collection of absentee ballots by the Target campaign) voted to forego a few dollars/yr in savings and sales tax revenue in support of Davis “values”. It is reasonable to assume that they feel the same way about not singling out Valley Oak Elementary for closure… FAIRNESS is a big Davis “value”.

  38. Recently,perhaps the majority of residential voters(I’m subtracting the UCD vote and the organized collection of absentee ballots by the Target campaign) voted to forego a few dollars/yr in savings and sales tax revenue in support of Davis “values”. It is reasonable to assume that they feel the same way about not singling out Valley Oak Elementary for closure… FAIRNESS is a big Davis “value”.

  39. Recently,perhaps the majority of residential voters(I’m subtracting the UCD vote and the organized collection of absentee ballots by the Target campaign) voted to forego a few dollars/yr in savings and sales tax revenue in support of Davis “values”. It is reasonable to assume that they feel the same way about not singling out Valley Oak Elementary for closure… FAIRNESS is a big Davis “value”.

  40. Recently,perhaps the majority of residential voters(I’m subtracting the UCD vote and the organized collection of absentee ballots by the Target campaign) voted to forego a few dollars/yr in savings and sales tax revenue in support of Davis “values”. It is reasonable to assume that they feel the same way about not singling out Valley Oak Elementary for closure… FAIRNESS is a big Davis “value”.

  41. “I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.”

    David,

    Now that I’ve re-read your piece and read your post, here, I realize that I mistook what you were saying. I thought you were saying there is no connection between the absence of growth and the lack of kids in Davis schools. But I see that you are not addressing that. Rather, you are just saying that for the best interests of Valley Oak, don’t bring in the growth issue as a way to prevent the closure of Valley Oak. I not only think you are correct in a political sense, but in a practical sense, too: even if we approved a giant project like Covell Village, it would come way too late to change the student population in Davis for another 4-5 years. So we instead need to solve this issue as a neighborhood schools issue, considering all the benefits that come about by keeping open Valley Oak and the other elementaries.

    On something only tangentially related…. I noticed in today’s paper that David Murphy will be paid his full salary until his contract expires, while at the same time the District will be paying Mr. Whitmore’s (huge) salary as the interim superintendent. As such, we will be burning roughly $175,000 (considering salary and benefits). In the big picture of things, I guess that is not such a huge loss of money. But then again, Valley Oak is going to be closed because the District (supposedly) cannot afford its administrative overhead cost of $400,000.

  42. “I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.”

    David,

    Now that I’ve re-read your piece and read your post, here, I realize that I mistook what you were saying. I thought you were saying there is no connection between the absence of growth and the lack of kids in Davis schools. But I see that you are not addressing that. Rather, you are just saying that for the best interests of Valley Oak, don’t bring in the growth issue as a way to prevent the closure of Valley Oak. I not only think you are correct in a political sense, but in a practical sense, too: even if we approved a giant project like Covell Village, it would come way too late to change the student population in Davis for another 4-5 years. So we instead need to solve this issue as a neighborhood schools issue, considering all the benefits that come about by keeping open Valley Oak and the other elementaries.

    On something only tangentially related…. I noticed in today’s paper that David Murphy will be paid his full salary until his contract expires, while at the same time the District will be paying Mr. Whitmore’s (huge) salary as the interim superintendent. As such, we will be burning roughly $175,000 (considering salary and benefits). In the big picture of things, I guess that is not such a huge loss of money. But then again, Valley Oak is going to be closed because the District (supposedly) cannot afford its administrative overhead cost of $400,000.

  43. “I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.”

    David,

    Now that I’ve re-read your piece and read your post, here, I realize that I mistook what you were saying. I thought you were saying there is no connection between the absence of growth and the lack of kids in Davis schools. But I see that you are not addressing that. Rather, you are just saying that for the best interests of Valley Oak, don’t bring in the growth issue as a way to prevent the closure of Valley Oak. I not only think you are correct in a political sense, but in a practical sense, too: even if we approved a giant project like Covell Village, it would come way too late to change the student population in Davis for another 4-5 years. So we instead need to solve this issue as a neighborhood schools issue, considering all the benefits that come about by keeping open Valley Oak and the other elementaries.

    On something only tangentially related…. I noticed in today’s paper that David Murphy will be paid his full salary until his contract expires, while at the same time the District will be paying Mr. Whitmore’s (huge) salary as the interim superintendent. As such, we will be burning roughly $175,000 (considering salary and benefits). In the big picture of things, I guess that is not such a huge loss of money. But then again, Valley Oak is going to be closed because the District (supposedly) cannot afford its administrative overhead cost of $400,000.

  44. “I’ve noticed that you have a tendency at times to not think in political terms–I assume that comes from your libertarian streak, but there are political and strategic realities.”

    David,

    Now that I’ve re-read your piece and read your post, here, I realize that I mistook what you were saying. I thought you were saying there is no connection between the absence of growth and the lack of kids in Davis schools. But I see that you are not addressing that. Rather, you are just saying that for the best interests of Valley Oak, don’t bring in the growth issue as a way to prevent the closure of Valley Oak. I not only think you are correct in a political sense, but in a practical sense, too: even if we approved a giant project like Covell Village, it would come way too late to change the student population in Davis for another 4-5 years. So we instead need to solve this issue as a neighborhood schools issue, considering all the benefits that come about by keeping open Valley Oak and the other elementaries.

    On something only tangentially related…. I noticed in today’s paper that David Murphy will be paid his full salary until his contract expires, while at the same time the District will be paying Mr. Whitmore’s (huge) salary as the interim superintendent. As such, we will be burning roughly $175,000 (considering salary and benefits). In the big picture of things, I guess that is not such a huge loss of money. But then again, Valley Oak is going to be closed because the District (supposedly) cannot afford its administrative overhead cost of $400,000.

  45. that’s a really good point in that last paragraph, rich. i suspect it may have something to do with fears of getting funding cut with no child left behind, if valley oak doesn’t pass tests with high enough numbers, but it’s just an unfounded guess, to be clear.

  46. that’s a really good point in that last paragraph, rich. i suspect it may have something to do with fears of getting funding cut with no child left behind, if valley oak doesn’t pass tests with high enough numbers, but it’s just an unfounded guess, to be clear.

  47. that’s a really good point in that last paragraph, rich. i suspect it may have something to do with fears of getting funding cut with no child left behind, if valley oak doesn’t pass tests with high enough numbers, but it’s just an unfounded guess, to be clear.

  48. that’s a really good point in that last paragraph, rich. i suspect it may have something to do with fears of getting funding cut with no child left behind, if valley oak doesn’t pass tests with high enough numbers, but it’s just an unfounded guess, to be clear.

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