In recent days, there have been statements published in the local press expressing concern that Ken Dauber will be a divisive addition to the school board.
As a current school board member who has not publicly endorsed any candidates, I believe that all four of the current candidates — including Ken Dauber — are well-qualified and able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with current and future board members and with Superintendent Skelly and his staff.
Mr. Dauber has been an outspoken advocate at board meetings for certain changes, primarily revolving around academic stress and student well-being. He has been insistent and consistent with his calls for change and transparency. His tone at our meetings has always been civil and his comments have been result-oriented and data driven. In fact, the district has recently moved forward on several of the issues embraced by Mr. Dauber, and his comments have contributed to the depth and breadth of our discussion. He has not always prevailed with the results that he specifically desired, but he has continued to engage constructively and with civility in our public discourse.
If Mr. Dauber is elected to the board, he would be but one of five board members. I expect that he would be an active, result-oriented board member who is smart enough to recognize that collaboration and compromise are necessary components to effecting positive change as a board member. To the extent his calls for change truly differ from his colleagues, they would continue to be tempered by the four other voices on the board.
I leave it to our voters to make their own thoughtful selection of the right mix of incumbents and challengers in order to achieve the kind of governance that will be of greatest benefit to our PAUSD students. We are fortunate to live in a community with great schools and four candidates dedicated to excellence.
School board member
Don't defend Dauber
One issue stands out in the normally collegial election for the PAUSD school board. Candidate Ken Dauber is demanding fundamental change in our school district, despite its tremendous success.
His first public salvo was an op-piece in 2011 calling for Dr. Skelly to be fired. And why? On everything — graduation requirements, counseling, mental health, even online systems — Mr. Dauber thinks he has all the answers. He wants to centralize decision-making — and make sure he gets to make the decisions, not the educators.
If we elect Mr. Dauber, can anyone believe that Dr. Skelly and the team he has assembled will not start taking calls from head hunters the day after the election?
In addition, not a single current board member has endorsed Mr. Dauber's candidacy. This is telling. Every other candidate has been endorsed by at least one of their future colleagues.
Mr. Dauber has ideas worth considering, but his caustic, "I know best" approach is wrong for Palo Alto, and he does not belong on the school board.
Impressed by Dauber
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Ken Dauber, PAUSD School Board candidate, and I was impressed with his commitment, his vision and his knowledge. He has a commitment to deliver excellent educational experience to all students in the district in a fiscally responsible way. He knows that teachers are the key to an excellent learning experience in the classroom and wants to locate decisions as close to the classroom as possible. In his own words, "I am not in favor of top down control." He strongly believes that teachers should be able to structure their teaching according to their professional judgment.
Ken also served on the District Homework Committee and supports all students getting the benefits of the online homework system that the district has chosen. So do I and so do most teachers.
Ken thinks it is important to survey and assess work that is going on at the school sites to be able to make informed decisions. I agree; we teachers and administrators alike need to know how we are doing. He feels that schools should collaborate and share best practices, if possible, so that students and teachers across the district get the benefits. Sounds like a good plan for everyone. Collaboration is one of the skills we are teaching students in the 21st century so let the district be a model.
I am impressed with Ken Dauber and like his goals for the district. As a teacher in the district, I am endorsing him for PAUSD School Board and encourage Palo Alto voters to consider voting for him.
Unfounded Dauber opposition
A letter by Walter Hays (Oct. 19, 2012) shares concerns about the Weekly's endorsement of Ken Dauber for School Board. I take issue with this letter for two reasons.
The first is the character attack on Ken; this person offers no explanation for their assertion that "his past conduct is probably a better indicator" of how he would act once elected.
Probably? Let's save the baseless character assumptions for national politics. Ken played a strong advocacy role on behalf of PAUSD students when board action was inadequate. He has also demonstrated he knows the difference between issue advocacy and playing a collaborative role as part of a governing body. The only evidence here is that Ken is committed to the students of PAUSD.
The second issue I take is with the author's ideological assertion that maintaining collegiality on the board is more important than addressing areas where PAUSD has major room for improvement: social-emotional support, the achievement gap, and using tech to get parents more involved with their students' education. PAUSD students deserve a board with diverse opinions, and the courage and maturity to find a balance between those opinions by getting all issues — even tough ones — out on the table.
As a former Paly student, my own experience (along with nearly 400 current and former PAUSD students including the editorial staff of the Campanile) says that we need a champion with a platform like Ken's.
Dauber cares deeply
I have had the privilege of getting to know and the pleasure of working with Ken Dauber for the past couple of years through our mutual quest to improve the Palo Alto schools in the realm of social/emotional connectedness. Ken has shown himself to be someone who cares deeply about all the children throughout our district. I have been impressed with his intelligence, his values and his willingness to jump through what seemed to be unfathomable hoops in the interest of providing a better outcome for students across the district.
What are people so afraid of when it comes to change in the makeup of the Palo Alto Unified School District board?
I have become increasingly alarmed by the falsehoods that have been circulating in Palo Alto. Another type of low-level campaigning is character assassination. I believe this occurred in a letter penned by Walter Hays and published by two local papers last week. I am surmising that Walt's remarks are based on the opinions of others. It's time to base opinions on facts. I would invite Walt to sit down with Ken sometime and learn something about what Ken stands for. I think Walter would be pleasantly surprised!
I have done the math, I will cast my vote for one candidate and that candidate is Ken Dauber! I wish there were more parents like Ken in the district who would be willing to do the hard tasks of looking at the data the district has collected from the students and using it to steer towards a brighter future for kids across the district.
Re-electing Camille Townsend to the Palo Alto Unified School (PAUSD) board is the best choice for our students, teachers and PAUSD.
I am a longtime parent-volunteer whose children, now in college, have been educated in Palo Alto public schools since kindergarten. I first met Camille Townsend while volunteering in the schools and was impressed with her energy and positive attitude. Then, as I continued to see her in meetings and at other school functions, I saw why she deserves to be re-elected.
Camille Townsend listens objectively, considers other viewpoints, is passionate about supporting our children, and cares about making the best decision for the students and schools. She works well with the school community and the other board members.
Although I have not personally worked with her, I have also been impressed by what I have seen and heard from candidate Melissa Baten-Caswell and also encourage you to vote for her.
Townsend is a seasoned leader
I support Camille Townsend for re-election to the Palo Alto Unified School board. We need a seasoned leader. Camille Townsend has ensured that the 12,000 students in the PAUSD are receiving an excellent education and thriving in a supportive learning environment. Her core priorities are strong opportunities and avenues of success for kids of all abilities, hiring top-notch educators, and making sure that our district is fiscally sound. As part of her leadership and despite the budget challenges, our district has managed to keep cuts away from the classroom.
I have known Camille Townsend both personally and professionally in my role as a technology educator. I have seen up close her dedication, decision-making skills, in-depth analysis and boundless energy. Our schools and especially our students would greatly benefit from her re-election. Please cast one of your three votes for Camille Townsend.
Science supports Prop. 37
The Weekly's statement that "genetic engineering has been used for some 15 years to make plants grow bigger, stronger, faster and resist spoilage or insect damage" is inaccurate. Genetically engineered (GE) products, known also as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were foisted on the public in the early 1990s. GE crops are designed to express two traits: resistance to the herbicide, Roundup, and production of a bacterial toxin within the plant itself.
You say, "40 percent of food products contain some GE ingredients." Actually, the USDA estimates that approximately 80 percent of retail food contains GMOs.
Claims that "no studies have found any health impacts, (but) the industry is too young to know with certainty" reveal a lack of currency on this topic. Many scientists — including those at the FDA — MDs and healthcare experts have expressed concerns about the safety of GMOs.
Food labeling is vitally important to consumers, with polls showing 90 percent of consumers supporting GMO-labeling. More than 60 countries label, many even ban GMOs. So, why doesn't the U.S.?
Is it because certain biotech, chemical and junk-food giants exert enormous influence over the USDA, FDA and elected officials?
Interestingly, lawyer and current director of food safety at the FDA, Michael Taylor, formerly wrote biotech policy for Monsanto, international leaders of GE seed production and creators of Roundup. Taylor's guidelines require no GMO safety testing. Gloomy predicament. But there's hope.
Vote Yes on Prop. 37.
Regional experience counts
Liz Kniss is passionate about Palo Alto. She has proven over and over again, as mayor, council member, school board trustee, and county supervisor, that she has extraordinary leadership skills, a can-do approach to government and boundless energy to serve our community.
One of her most important assets is her regional experience. In the past decade, she has served on multiple regional boards and commissions, from the Association of Bay Area Governments and Bay Area Air Quality board to the VTA and CalTrain boards. Recognized by her peers for her clear thinking and collaborative style, she was named to the chairmanship of many of these groups.
Several years ago, I was privileged to serve not only as mayor of Palo Alto, but also as president of the Santa Clara County Cities Association and the League of California Cities Peninsula Division. So I know firsthand how interconnected Palo Alto is to our neighboring cities, and how important it will be to have someone with Liz Kniss's experience on our council. She already knows and is respected by leaders throughout the valley, which will make her the most effective leader for our city for regional and state issues.
I hope you'll vote for Liz Kniss for Palo Alto City Council because regional experience counts.
Former Palo Alto Mayor and City Council member
Berman fits city council
As our student population rises and as we continue to rally together as a community to promote efforts to improve youth health and well being, it's important that we elect leaders to the City Council who care about our schools and who understand what it's like to grow up in Palo Alto. This is why we encourage your readers to vote for Marc Berman in the upcoming City Council elections.
As co-chairs of the Measure A campaign to raise funds for our public schools, we worked closely with Marc when he volunteered on the campaign committee of our successful effort in 2010. Marc spent his nights and weekends organizing volunteers and distributing 1,000 yard signs across Palo Alto. Always organized, reliable and upbeat, Marc was an important member of our team.
Marc grew up in Palo Alto, graduating from Paly as senior class president. He chose to move back here after law school because he knows what a wonderful place Palo Alto is to raise a family and he's willing and able to put in the hard work to make sure it stays that way. We know he'll be a great addition to the council.
Support Measure B
This week, the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority officially certified the environmental review for flood control along the creek from Highway 101 to the Bay. This crucial first step of the process to fix the flooding on the creek that hit in 1998, and in other storms, reminds us how much we need to support the Safe Clean Water Measure B on this fall's ballot.
As a director of the Joint Powers Authority and of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, I've seen the value of safe and sufficient water, protection from flooding, and restoration of our streams and watersheds. Measure B continues the tax-rate structure of the 2000 measure that would otherwise expire — it's not a new tax. Better still is that the renewed measure more than triples the funding for protection on San Francisquito Creek, building on the decision taken this week.
Protection and tidal wetland restoration along the Bay also gets included with Measure B, along with the backup and emergency water supplies that Palo Alto needs, water conservation measures, better flood control throughout our county, and critically important protection of water and habitats in our streams, reservoirs and the Bay. There is no better time than now to pass this measure — it may be hard to impossible to do it when the funding has expired.
I urge your support of Measure B, and learn more by visiting yesonsafecleanwater.com.
Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District
San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority