Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - November 2, 2012

Letters

Schools will be in good hands

Editor,

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.

Barbara Klausner

School board member

Salvatierra Street

Stanford

Don't defend Dauber

Editor,

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.

Todd Collins

Laguna Way

Palo Alto

Impressed by Dauber

Editor,

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.

Esther Wojcicki

PAUSD Teacher

Unfounded Dauber opposition

Editor,

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.

Trevor Bisset

Fife Avenue

Palo Alto

Dauber cares deeply

Editor,

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.

Barbara Slone

Barbara Drive

Palo Alto

Re-elect Townsend

Editor,

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.

Mary Dimit

University Avenue

Palo Alto

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.

Michele Miller

Coastland Drive

Palo Alto

Science supports Prop. 37

Editor,

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.

Pete Whelan

Alma Street

Palo Alto

Regional experience counts

Editor,

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.

Judy Kleinberg

Former Palo Alto Mayor and City Council member

Palo Alto

Berman fits city council

Editor,

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.

Tracy Stevens

Valdez Place

Stanford

Support Measure B

Editor,

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.

Brian Schmidt

Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District

San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority

Comments

Posted by Time for Change in PAUSD, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Nov 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Thank you for all the positive letters about Ken Dauber. I have been watching him for past couple of years and feel very strongly that his ideas would benefit the district immensely. Barbara Klausner's statement, "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." should be recognized by voters as evidence that Ken has many good ideas that the district needs and has already benefited from in order to provide an environment where all of our students can thrive. To the many critics who are spreading falsehoods about Ken's style not being a good fit I would point out that Barbara's letter states: "he has continued to engage constructively and with civility in our public discourse." Barbara has not endorsed any of the candidates but I think her letter comes as close as one could get without giving an formal endorsement. Thanks Barbara for recognizing Ken's board worthy qualities. I also think that Esther Wojcicki's letter is outstanding and should serve to assure those people who think that Ken is not liked by teachers and administrators that this is just plain false. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I am glad that facts are starting to be looked at rather than a bunch of groundless assertions which are nothing more than opinions being bandied about in whisper campaigns throughout neighborhoods in PA. Let's move on and do what's best for our kids. Thanks for all the positive letters Weekly as well as all the endorsements from individuals as well as local publications. We can change and I am so excited about all of the benefits our students will derive from new board members. Thanks to Barbara Klausner for your service to the district. You did some wonderful work on behalf of our all of our students.


Posted by Micaela Presti, a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

Micaela Presti is a registered user.

[Editor's note: The following post has been edited to remove language and characterizations that either present information out of appropriate context or is disrespectful. All posts to Town Square made in the final days before the election will be held to a higher degree of scrutiny and will be edited when necessary to keep political debate as constructive and thoughtful as possible.]

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As a former co-president of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, former Project Safety Net steering committee member, and a member of the Developmental Assets Committee I've invested thousands of hours in our schools and our kids, as have many other parents in the district. It is so disappointing to see people so polarized on the candidates.

I do not, in good conscience, support the candidacy of Ken Dauber, because while his intentions may be good, his methods of making changes in the district have been incredibly divisive [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Because many parents and I shared some of Mr. Dauber's concerns, I met with him to ask him to work more closely with other parents and community members by joining the community collaborative Project Safety Net, whose work he frequently referenced. He chose to continue to work independently through his Facebook group, We Can Do Better Palo Alto [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. I frequently spoke at Board meetings decrying the tone and tenor of the remarks from We Can Do Better, Palo Alto members particularly related to changing the guidance model at Gunn, as being a hindrance to making any change. I think the fact that many people commented on my "bravery" to speak up testifies to the atmosphere of fear at these board meetings.

There are many parents in this district who have effected positive change by working collaboratively with those who need to implement said changes. Mr. Dauber has not done this in his effort to implement changes in the counseling system at Gunn High School. He wanted Dr. Skelly and the board to mandate a change to the advisory system at Gunn without giving the staff and faculty time or opportunity to make their own, educated decisions. He wanted Dr. Skelly and the board to mandate changes in the math curriculum. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] For change to be successful, there must be buy in from the people who are to make the change. Being "told" what to do does not lead to buy in.

Mr. Daubers actions were in direct contrast to the statement from Ms. Wojcicki's letter of support for Mr. Dauber above: "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"

When Mr. Dauber did not get fast enough action from the top down on counseling changes, he filed several Freedom of Information Act requests [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The staff at Gunn deserve to be part of the decision making process instead of being mandated a change to a system that is not without its detractors at Palo Alto High School.

Mr. Dauber is a very smart man and I think he does genuinely care about the kids. Unfortunately, [portion removed] I think Mr. Dauber has burned too many bridges to be able to work effectively with the rest of the board, staff and many parents in the district. Yes, he uses data, but data can be manipulated and data can be left out. [Portion removed.] In my opinion, if Mr. Dauber is elected, I think the board will be paralyzed for a long time because it will take a significant time for Mr. Dauber to build any trust back.

Although I have moved from Palo Alto, I still deeply care about the kids and the schools. [Portion removed.]

I know that supporters of Ken will be upset/angry with me for posting this as they so strongly believe in him. I, however, cannot get past the damage that has been done to the district due to his actions.


Posted by David S., a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

David S. is a registered user.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Barbara Klausner says Ken's "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." Doesn't sound like a climate of fear to me. And I venture to say that Esther Wojcicki knows a lot more than Micaela what teachers need on the school board.

This letter is a perfect example of the negative whisper campaign that is hurting our local politics.Shame on Micaela for writing it, shame on PTAC for having its name in the letter, and shame on the Weekly for leaving it up here.


Posted by kbomar, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:33 am

kbomar is a registered user.

It's ironic that Micaela Presti, of all people, would submit such comments against Ken Dauber. She opposes a candidate who has demonstrated his commitment to reducing student stress, while she has cut bait and moved her kids to Marin.

She previously championed the Developmental Assets program, especially regarding the need to show students respect. Funny she didn't even mention Ken's strong endorsement by Paly's nationally-recognized student newspaper. If we only consider students' opinions about their lives when we agree with them, wouldn't that be more of a Developmental Liability?

Ken Dauber is the one who attended every board meeting for a year (or so it seemed) to ask the board to formally adopt a goal of reducing student stress. Shouldn't he be applauded for his bravery too, instead of criticized for his tactics?

Micaels has accused Ken of manipulating data to his advantage. Ken was the only candidate who noticed, much less mentioned, that a significant percentage of black kids had been removed from the improved test-taking pool. Perhaps the others didn't want to offend anyone.

The most offensive comment in Micaela's letter, and there are many, is the notion that you cannot tell teachers what to do. When the math teachers said they could not be expected to teach certain courses to minority and bussed kids, due to brain theory and other reasons, actually, top down control is appropriate, and someone needs to tell them what do to. Ken did students a huge service by insisting on the math changes that have resulted. Perhaps we should ask, what would Micaela have done?

The main reason Micaela seems to oppose Ken is because of "damage" and "divisiveness." Damage to whom? Not to students, who are the issue here. The divisiveness is created by [portion removed by Palo Alto Online] letters like this one. The sky is not falling, folks. Ken Dauber is good for the Palo Alto school board.


Posted by determinant, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:44 am

determinant is a registered user.

Again you can see why such an environment of fear has been created.


Posted by JLS mom of 2, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 8:58 am

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

Determinant and Micaela's postings are examples of why I have decided to support only Ken in this election. He has run an entirely positive, issues-oriented campaign that has been free of negative attacks on other candidates. There is plenty that could be said about other candidates Camille in particular but Ken and his supporters have not gone there.

I know Micaela and don't particularly like her, but she's not running so her personality flaws are not really the issue. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What matters more to me is that she is listed as an endorser on all 3 of the other candidates' web sites, as have some of the other sources of negative campaigning in this election, yet none of the other candidates have ever repudiated any of the attacks made on their behalf.

For example, there is no "climate of fear" in Palo Alto. Listen to Barbara Klausner: "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."

Let's try to focus on issues, like achievement for all kids, unnecessary stress, counseling, and keep out of the gutter and fear-mongering. If there is fear, it seems to be of actually having a debate about what really matters.


Posted by David S., a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

David S. is a registered user.

"The staff at Gunn deserve to be part of the decision making process instead of being mandated a change to a system that is not without its detractors at Palo Alto High School."

My children go to Paly and we have been very happy with TA. Micaela has never had a child at Paly and for her to do a drive-by shooting of Paly's wonderful teachers who serve as my kids' advisors [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Esther "Woj" Wojcicki personally invented the TA system! She endorsed Dauber. Case closed.


Posted by Rajiv Bhateja, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:21 am

Rajiv Bhateja is a registered user.

As Barbara Klausner has stated in her very balanced letter, Ken has always been civil. That matches my experience with Ken over the past year.

I'm not sure if the people who are bandying accusations about under the veil of anonymity are credible. I suppose anyone is free to conjure up an environment of fear in their own head. That does not always correspond to
reality.

There are also those for whom any change to the status quo is seen as a threat.

You have nothing to fear but fear itself.




Posted by determinant, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:25 am

determinant is a registered user.

Those generating the fear of course do not see it. That is why so many bullies are in denial.
As history has shown, not all change is good. Especially when it silences dissenting voices through fear.


Posted by kbomar, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

kbomar is a registered user.

The only fear I see is the fear of addressing the issues. When it comes to support for student emotional and academic well-being, Ken is a champion. If your concern is for students, what's scary about that?


Posted by soccerdad, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

soccerdad is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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