Parent activist Ken Dauber announced Tuesday, Aug. 7, he will run for the Palo Alto Board of Education in this November's election, injecting some competition into the race.
The Google software engineer and cofounder of the group We Can Do Better Palo Alto will vie for one of three available seats on the five-member board against incumbents Melissa Baten Caswell and Camille Townsend and newcomer Heidi Emberling.
The election is Nov. 6.
"I want to ensure that there is a contested election so that we have the opportunity to have a full and open community discussion of our values and priorities for our schools," Dauber said in a statement.
"I am particularly interested in bringing to the school board clearer and more transparent decision making backed by data and agreed-upon metrics... I will work to bring my experience in educational data and large, complex organizations to bear on bringing more effective governance to the board," he said.
Dauber and his wife, Stanford Law School Professor Michele Dauber, burst onto the scene early last year, criticizing Superintendent Kevin Skelly and the school board and calling for "new leadership" in the Palo Alto Unified School District.
The two founded We Can Do Better Palo Alto, which has 165 Facebook followers and has doggedly lobbied the school board on issues relating to academic stress.
Between April and June of this year, Dauber filed seven requests with the school district under the California Public Records Act, seeking district staff communications that mentioned himself, his wife or We Can Do Better, as well as staff communications regarding the Gunn counseling system and board member Barb Mitchell's e-mails with school staff.
We Can Do Better supported the school board's decision to shift the 2012-13 academic calendar to end the first semester before winter break and has pushed for Gunn High School to adopt the "teacher advisory" counseling model used at Palo Alto High School.
The group also backed the board's decision this past spring to stiffen high school graduation requirements to align with entrance criteria for California's public four-year universities beginning with the class of 2016. Students unable or unwilling to complete the four-year college prep curriculum will be able to negotiate "alternative graduation requirements."
The new requirements will not affect the more than 80 percent of Palo Alto students who already meet or exceed the four-year college-prep curriculum but are aimed at raising the bar for the 20 percent who consistently fall short of that.
Dauber was a member of the school district's Homework Committee, which in May issued recommendations to the school board, including specifying amounts of time students at each grade level should be spending on homework.
He has consulted on education data and educational equity with the U.S. Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Education Trust West.
He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale University and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Arizona.
The candidate filing period for the Nov. 6 election ends Aug. 15, an extended deadline due to the fact that an incumbent member, Barbara Klausner, decided not to seek re-election.