News

Three preparing bids for Palo Alto school board

Ken Dauber, Catherine Crystal Foster, Terry Godfrey all considering campaigns

Three parent leaders have confirmed that they are strongly considering running for two open seats on the Palo Alto Board of Education this November.

Ken Dauber, a software engineer and sociologist, Terry Godfrey, a businesswoman and volunteer, and Catherine Crystal Foster, an education policy consultant, all told the Weekly they are laying the groundwork for fall campaigns, though none officially has announced a candidacy.

Two incumbent board members, Barb Mitchell and Dana Tom, both on the board since 2005, said they do not intend to run for third terms.

Dauber, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2012 and has been gathering endorsements for another bid, said he is "seriously considering" running again.

"This election is a good opportunity to renew our district's traditional focus on innovation and on providing all students an excellent education," he said. "We also need to work to improve transparency and accountability on the school board."

Godfrey, a longtime school volunteer -- most recently as board chair of the parent-led fund-raising foundation Partners in Education -- recently emailed board colleagues about her intention to resign in order to prepare a bid for school board.

"I feel very strongly that providing an excellent public education is one of the most important duties we have to our youth," Godfrey told the Weekly, adding that her experience would help her "contribute to upholding this very important duty."

Foster, who recently stepped down after two years as executive director of the Peninsula College Fund, which raises scholarship money for low-income students, said she is "leaning toward" running.

"This is an exciting time to join the school board, with so many opportunities to have an impact -- Common Core implementation, a new superintendent, new pathways (curriculum) in the high schools and more," Foster said.

Godfrey, who holds a bachelor's degree in math from the University of California at Irvine and an MBA from UCLA, has worked in finance, venture capital and human resources at Xerox, Intel and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She now independently consults for nonprofit organizations and has extensively volunteered in schools, chairing the district-wide PTA council and taking leadership roles in Project Safety Net, the community coalition that formed after a series of high school student suicides in 2009 and 2010.

Foster, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University, has worked in child welfare and education policy with an array of organizations and foundations, including the Alliance for Children of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children's Defense Fund of California, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Dauber, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Arizona, is a Google software engineer with a longtime interest in education policy. He has consulted with the U.S. Department of Education, Education Trust West and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founded a Palo Alto parent group, We Can Do Better Palo Alto, which has lobbied for stronger initiatives to combat academic stress and to reform high school counseling. He placed fourth in a field of four candidates vying for three school board seats in the 2012 election.

The filing period for the Nov. 4 election opens July 14 and closes Aug. 8. The deadline will be extended to Aug. 13 if an incumbent does not file by Aug. 8.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by replay
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 7:58 am

Sounds like a repeat of the last election.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Good news
a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

Sounds like some very qualified folks are thinking about running despite the difficult climate engendered by this newspaper. I really hope for a constructive and thoughtful campaign without the parental and community bullying that seems to have dominated the dialogue for the past few years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Russianmom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

It will be much appreciated to have every candidate to present views of the PAUSD future and proposed changes. I personally would like to know every candidate before the vote, not during his time in the office.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Duveneck Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Well, last time I voted, I blindly chose the Ivy League candidates. Bad, ignorant, Palo Alto voting methodology.

However, I am pleased to read that Catherine Crystal Foster will likely be a choice for us. I have emailed with her on various occasions about issues and have seen her Duveneck Yahoo Group postings. She is prompt in replies, polite, clear in her thoughts, open-minded, thorough, contemplative, and I have no doubt she will have a positive impact on the Board. What a fantastic choice for us!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

It's great to see three very qualified candidates who have already demonstrated commitment to our community. I am impressed and grateful that Ken is willing to run again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

PA mom is a registered user.

I, too feel bad that I voted for some of the other recommended candidates in the last election, and I, too am elated that Ken Dauber hopefully will run again. He stresses the need for transparency over secrecy, accountability over corruption and reducing student stress, the latter which could be live-saving for our students. If he runs, I may only vote for him!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by replay
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm

"If he runs, I may only vote for him!"

Yep, unfortunately a repeat of last time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by not a replay
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

It's not exactly a replay of last time. Last time we didn't know about the bullying problems, the sexual harassment at Paly, the finding by OCR against the district that it discriminates against the disabled, or anything else. Last time we didn't know that Dauber was right that greater oversight was needed and he was right that there were issues with Skelly's leadership that could use improvement. Hopefully this time the district won't hide facts from the public in order to influence the election and there will be a fair contest based on ideas not misleading information.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by replay
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

There was a fair contest last time. Neither Heidi nor Ken were involved in any of the above so the information would only have impacted Camille's run. Do you seriously believe Ken could have beaten Camille?

You're following PA Mom and starting to instigate an "us" against "them" approach to this election.

It's just a repeat.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Not a replay
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm

The result is not the point. The process is the point.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 5:09 pm



Well, upon seeing these names, I had the oddest reaction. The one that sounds best to me is the one I know the least, Crystal Foster.

It's looking to be like always, we'll have to be thankful for whoever runs, and that's not very high expectations.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by here's a questions
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Perhaps these folks can answer why it is that PAUSD didn't make the distinguished list of schools…..and how they plan to get PAUSD back on track.
Yes, I know, there will be lots of posts about how great PAUSD is….but time to stop drinking the cool-aid - you're not fooling anyone outside the city.

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 6:05 pm

"Yes, I know, there will be lots of posts about how great PAUSD is….but time to stop drinking the cool-aid - you're not fooling anyone outside the city. "

Not fooling anyone except for those folks paying up to rent and buy houses. Personally I don't know how PA schools compare to others (after all, our kids only attend in one district), but the reputation appears to be pretty good.

(FYI, it's "Kool-Aid")


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dislike Mean Posts
a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm

[Post removed.]



 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dislike Mean Posts
a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

PA Weekly: Please explain why you removed my entire post. My post addressed the content of the post made by "Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually," not the character of the poster, so I see no reason for my post being removed, unless the PA Weekly found it distasteful based on their own views.

Why can one poster "correct" and belittle another in a purely condescending fashion, while another has their reply completely deleted? "Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually" sought to discredit "here's a questions" based on a perceived miss-spelling - why allow that to stand while deleting a complimentary post? Is it because the identity of "Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually" is a friend of the PA Weekly?

Please respond.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dislike Mean Posts
a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Hmm, seems the thought police are in rare form this evening... Of course, this post will be deleted as well...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

"Is it because the identity of "Kool Aid Sounds Good Actually" is a friend of the PA Weekly?"

Haha - it's funny, I was accused recently on these boards of being a surrogate for someone else who the Weekly likes to castigate. I am pretty sure the editors have no idea who I am (at least I hope not!).

FWIW, I didn't intend to discredit the earlier poster over the mis-pelling of "Kool-Aid." His/her point stands (or fails) on its own merit, regardless of the spelling. I just thought "cool aid" looked funny and I went myself to double check how it was spelled, and figured others might do the same. Spelling and typos (which I make a lot of) are not big criteria for the quality of a comment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 11:37 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Green Acres
on May 2, 2014 at 11:37 pm

@ replay,
It's a little more complicated than people make out, because people cast 3 votes for 4 people in the last race.

I think the current board would have functioned far better with Ken Dauber on it, because agree or disagree with him on an issue, his presence makes for more transparency and honest discussion. I think it's actually a good idea to have different kinds of people on a board who don't necessarily agree but have to hash things out. I think Heidi Emberling would have been a more effective board member if Ken Dauber had been elected, for example. Same for Melissa Baten-Caswell. Actually, I feel that way about all of them. I hope we will have at least one other person on the board who is good at examining questions, problem solving, and frankly, being a strong counterpoint to Ken if he gets elected (as I hope he does) so that between them we get thorough and healthy debate and compromise.

Had I known the race was going to go as it did, like the poster above, I would have voted only for Ken.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Simple math
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 7:29 am

I think Heidi Emberling would have been a more effective board member with Ken Dauber around, too, but Emberling has brought zero to the table so anything would be an improvement. And please, instead of deleting, list one accomplishment of Emberling. I voted for her and Dauber, but I would vote her out if I had the chance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by new start
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 8:29 am

I am elated that there are going to be strong candidates to vote for and hopeful that this new chapter means our district is about to exit a particularly adversarial era that started with Ken Dauber's 2011 Op-Ed piece Web Link. [Portion removed.]

That piece sure seemed to set a tone in town.

What followed was 3 years attending to a handful of parents who filed federal complaints (the first settled by agreement, the latest still in process, and all the rest dismissed?) and discrimination lawsuits (subsequently thrown out by judges as groundless too?).

Let's hope that this election's tone is positive and the debate is on issues based on facts and avoids hyperbole akin to what Ken wrote in that Op-Ed piece ("[PAUSD is] a $154 million well-oiled machine for producing academic stress" and "as if we discovered that Gunn High School is contaminated with asbestos").


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Simple math
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 9:14 am

I think I get new start: PAUSD's OCR complaints and violation, the Paly rape culture, and the high turnover of principals is all the fault of a handful of parents. It has nothing to do with a school board and superintendent that lack basic leadership skills. Oh, it's also Ken Dauber's fault. I think the poster left out the Weekly, though.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Southgate
on May 3, 2014 at 9:15 am

@new start, if you want a new start you should start by not distorting the facts. I hope that we are not going to see a smear campaign against Dauber like last time.

People should read the editorial. If you think that stress is not a problem for kids in our schools, just say so. Dr. Skelly wasn't "taking pride" in our school's ranking, he was reversing a decision by Scott Laurence, who was a great principal for Paly when my kids were there. Scott had declined to participate in some Newsweek AP index saying that it would only have "increased pressure on already stressed out students." Scott has been doing a great job as superintendent at San Mateo High School District. I hope he's on our list for superintendent here.

If you liked Skelly's reign, say so. I was embarassed by the fact that the federal government found that our district violated a disabled student's civil rights, and I thought that Skelly should have been fired for hiding that from the school board until it was published in the paper.

I am afraid that PAUSD has been coasting on our student's achievements for a long time. It's not hard to teach the kids of Ph.Ds and millionaires particularly with a crowd of tutors in the wings. I hope this campaign talks about how to make the district better and not just praising ourselves and distorting what people say.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by new start
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 10:19 am

Paly mom,

Like I said, I hope this campaign will be positive and focused on facts rather than hyperbole. Based on your post, I'll add conjecture to that list.

A nice place to start would be on this forum by refraining from making accusations like you just did that I am "distorting the facts" when I happen to have a different take away than you do on Dauber's Op-Ed piece, guessing at my subtext, and assigning how I feel about student stress, etc. without any information to base those conclusions on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mirror mirror
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

@Paly Mom, you could start with sticking to the facts. PAUSD is a magnet district for students with disabilities. People are emigrating from all over the world to com here (Web Link) "The Gunn program for deaf and hard of hearing was a great support,"

It beggars belief how this one camp tell everyone else to "stop distorting the facts" and "be transparent" but apparently neither applies to them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Would help to have data on the amount of new students the district adds each year with special needs. A friend with a child with special needs recently moved to a district in her city which has a better program. It's natural to look for better resources.

PAUSD may be perceived as rich, but it may not necessarily have the better programs. Getting sued all the time is no fun either, there must be a better way to have quality special ed programs and also balance administrator time on the rest of the kids.

PAUSD may never catch up on the lawsuits, which seem to have turned into a micro-industry for lawyers. Tough to catch up when you're always behind.

Candidates will have to have IDEAS about how they will help to correct this bitter situation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mirror mirror
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Unfortunately you can't point to a link where the Weekly has backed up the report of "your friend".

Likewise accusations that PAUSD may never catch up with lawsuits are a fallacy when this "micro industry" is seeing their suits thrown out one by one: Web Link

See, your arguments just don't stand up. [Portion removed.] You claim you want a fair election but go and make all these erroneous accusations. Even your claim that there was a smear campaign against Dauber just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. There was a far greater negative campaign against Camille. Just scan these forums.

It really is unfortunate that you keep distorting the facts. Is it that difficult to stick to the truth?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by George Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

George Orwell is a registered user.

Bravo! Restrict this thread, silence the discussion!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JLS mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

I want to thank new start for posting a link to Ken Dauber's 2011 op Ed. I remember his sober essay in the midst of the suicides asking for the schools to address stress ( check out the new Stanford magazine for a discussion of Bob Sapolskys pathbreaking research on negative brain changes caused by chronic stress such as that experience by many of our teens in our schools due to bullying, harassment, and excessive workload and pressure. Dauber's points on Skelly's leadership have really improved with age.


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