The Palo Alto school district has selected four parents to participate in the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools committee. They represent a mix of experience in schools and international know-how, according to short biographies provided by the district.
The four -- all of whom have children in district schools -- are Ron Baker, Terry Godfrey, Jennifer Landesmann and Elizabeth Most.
The district created the language committee in response to last year's debate about a Mandarin-immersion program opening for 40 students next fall. Addressing concerns about equity and calls for language instruction for all elementary-school students, the district pledged to form the study group.
Superintendent Kevin Skelly and district staff selected the group members from 20 applications, said Associate Superintendent Marilyn Cook.
Baker studied and spoke languages from elementary school through college and lived abroad in Indonesia. An investment advisor and attorney, he also served on the Terman Middle School PTA.
Godfrey has served as PTA president at Escondido Elementary School and was involved in the district's 2004 strategic-planning process. Her career in the high-tech industry and at Stanford business school involved goal-setting and measurement.
Born in Bolivia and married to an Austrian, Landesmann raises her children multilingual. At various jobs in the financial sector, she specialized in international business.
Most has a Stanford School of Education doctorate and has written research papers on language education. She is also a school volunteer and site council member at Nixon Elementary School.
New group members are entering the process without pre-judgments, they said in their short bios.
"I have no special agenda, though I think about this subject very much [and have continuously analyzed different viewpoints on it," Landesmann said.
"I am completely open to new learning and expect to listen and ask hard questions," Baker said.
Non-parent members will include elementary, middle and high school teachers as well as administrators.
The group will present initial findings at a November school-board meeting. Its final recommendations, expected in the winter, may be included in the strategic-planning process in the spring.