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Palo Altans Barbara Spreng and Grace Mah candidates to fill SC County Board of Education vacancies
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by Andrea, Crescent Park,
on Mar 16, 2007
Enough said? Perhaps the County Board of Education would like imput from the Palo Alto community before they vote on March 27.
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Posted by PAUSD Voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2007 at 11:11 am
Parent, right you are. And as preview to the future, as part of the democratic process, I believe once a person throws their hat into the ring for a public office position, an informed and engaged community should discuss and debate that person's qualities and qualifications for the position they are seeking:
A whopping six year, SINGLE ISSUE drive at carving out a specialized enrichment program in PAUSD for an elite 5% of the student population, regardless of facility and staff resource shortages in this district, and regardless of the fact that the program is not supported by the district's or the community's priorities, and regardless of the fact that PAUSD has no elementary level world language offerings for 95% of its students today. In fact her refusal to partner with PAUSD on alternative approaches to get Mandarin into elementary schools, for example through World Language FLES programs to reach all students, but rather to stick to her vision for an elite MI model, has been rock solid.
She's been turned down on this proposal for over five years, by multiple boards, and she's steadfastly refuses time and again to take no for an answer, no matter how many PAUSD school boards turn her down. The school board and district staff has been yanked away from focus on a variety of pressing needs in order to focus, refocus, and focus again, on her program. Her latest iteration is using the charter school threat as a big stick to force the board into approving her choice program.
Dedication to Equity in Education?
Even though her program won't be able to be ethnically or socio-economically representative of the community, her program will require Mandarin testing for language proficiency for admission after first grade, will be virtually unreachable for achievement gap students, and non-Mandarin speakers after first grade, and special needs kids - she forges ahead anyway.
Champion of Transparency in Government?
She did a bang-up job of hiding the identity and number of donors that funded the MI feasibility study, steadfastly refusing to disclose the sources of funding that were lobbying the district to implement this program, raising unanswered concerns that this was a small special interest group of unknown locality, driving an unfair influence over public resources, and attempting to unduly influence PAUSD process.
She was instrumental in driving the district's Federal FLAP Grant application in 2006, requesting over $750 Thousand dollars for this small program. Inventing a $2.8M per year Mandarin program that didn't exist (claiming on the application it did), eclipsing even the scope of the PACE submitted MI program proposal, a grant outline that included a high school, middle school and elementary MI, included a wildly rich technology budget, fabulous classroom support, parent education, and layers upon layers of program management and claimed in the application that the program was in implementation phase (when in fact, the MI feasibility study hadn't even been performed, and none of it had been board approved.) When questioned on the methods, she had the common sense to explain on Palo Alto Online that the community was na´ve and didn't understand the grant writing strategy; you pad a grant with "Gravy" (her word) which can be used by the district on other things. Ask for more, to get as much as you want. The grant was turned down, but if approved and accepted, it would have been a an end run way to lock the district into the grant defined program, (end running the PAUSD Board of education), by creating a written commitment between PAUSD and the Federal government
What kind of qualities do we value in candidates for our local government representation - someone who looks out for the full spectrum of student needs, is a champion of transparency in government, who is committed to sound strategic thinking, and someone who really resonates with equity in education, educational fairness and quality for all students, and someone who is a risk averse fiduciary of our public resources.
Being that PAUSD is a basic aid district, Palo Altans probably also favor someone who understands the financial impacts for PAUSD of enrollment growth, facilities at capacity, and understands the limitations and risk of the basic aid school funding model - who will fight for what's right and fair and best for the 11,000 students and families in PAUSD.
Has Grace demonstrated these qualities here in Palo Alto? Has she proven herself to be an advocate of quality and equality in PAUSD?
Please write to the Santa Clara County Board of Education and Superintendent to let them know how you feel about Grace Mah's works in PAUSD.
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