Petition available to request Election for County Board seat Schools & Kids, posted by Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2007 at 9:12 pm
If you want to sign the petition to overturn the appointment of Grace Mah to the county board of education,and request an election for the vacated seat on county board of education, you can contact email@example.com
Some people think the cost of the election is an issue. But others think the cost of an election is a small price to pay for a democratically elected government that is representative of its constituency.
The county board members that were considering two well qualified candidates against a controversial candidate that was not supported by the district constituency she would represent, should have considered the cost of the election they would trigger by ignoring the voice of the people.
Posted by MI Fatigue, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2007 at 9:34 pm
I frankly don't have a strong opinion either way on MI but am exasperated about the vindictiveness shown by the anti-MI crowd. So if this is what someone should expect when they ardently push a cause they believe in, watch new ideas dry up. Do us all a favor and drop it and go find ways to improve your community aside from dragging one person down.
"The group has until April 27 to gather signatures from 1.5 percent of registered voters in Area 1 to qualify for an election. Although that totals to about 1,400 people, the group is trying to collect 2,000 signatures in case some are not certified."
Posted by Big $ Ouch, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 8:24 am
This was reported on in the Daily on Wednesday: Web Link
The Registrar of Voters office informed the reporter that the special election would cost $1 million, or if the election coincided with a regularly scheduled election, then only $800K. Seems Ms. Brigel didn't know ("Brigel said she had been under the impression the election would probably cost $40,000 to $50,000 and was "very surprised" to hear the county's estimate."). She accuses Ms. Mah of being unqualified for the position to which she was appointed, but it would seem the same could be said of Ms. Brigel. Anyone who launches a million-dollar election ought to have done her homework and not been ignorant of the cost.
Posted by MI Fatigue, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 9:00 am
Again, to an interested observer who feels ambivalent about MI, I would say Ms. Mah is uniquely qualified for Board of Ed. position. Anyone who can overcome the nattering nabobs of negativism and a concerted campaign against her and MI, seems uniquely qualified. We need more public servants with a spine, who have strong ideas about new, innovative programs and don't bend in the wind at the first sign of dissent. MI opponents seem to have difficult letting go and need a reason to continue their opposition to something. How about focusing as much energy and effort on finding new revenue sources for Palo Alto?
Posted by deleted?, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 11:43 am
My post was deleted (odd, considering it said nothing insulting, just pointed out the hypocritical nature of the MI plight) but I strongly encourage everyone to look at the petition and, if you decide to, sign.
Posted by Kate, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Apr 14, 2007 at 4:06 pm
I don't see anything wrong with putting this up for a vote given that a large percentage of the residents in our district are strongly opposed to Mandarin immersion. Seems to me that it is the County Board of Education that is sticking a branch in the eye of the many MI opponents. Why did they have to pick Grace Mah, since it is a well known fact that at least half of the community do not agree with her unwavering positions. The fact is that Grace Mah lost her fight in Palo Alto and she needs to accept that. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 5:34 pm
Seems pretty clear now that the anti-MI group really didn't care about the lack of PAUSD resources. Squandering $1.35M on a special election pales in comparison to any foreign language program of any kind. If you sign this petition, don't argue about the lack of resources.
"A special election would cost an estimated $1,350,080, Elma Ross, spokeswoman for the county Registrar of Voters, said."
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 8:48 pm
Hmmm..that is right. Just keep repeating the party line about the 1 million, or now it is 1.3 million, dollar cost, and ignore the information about an "add-on" option to a regular election or a mail in campaign.
And, definitely ignore the cost to our District if a PRO-CHARTER representative of a BASIC AID DISTRICT is on the SCCOE Board supposedly representing us. How many Charters will it take for our District to completely splinter?
The fact that the SCCOE placed Ms. Mah in this seat was a direct statement to all the districts in the County...approve choice programs, or we will force a Charter on you.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
And they wonder why there has been a move afoot to simply do away with county school boards. We prefer our local control. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 11:00 pm
Did I miss something here -- why does the petition trigger an election? I see lots of accusations flying, but no one has answered that question. I thought that the county web site only described the manner in which a provisional appointment would be opposed or nullified before it became permanent. What's to stop the County Board from appointing another one of the applicants rather than holding an election?
Can everyone please stop all the accusations and look at the facts and the issue? Both sides have legitimate issues here.
One the one hand: Grace Mah has been very active pushing a program in our community that is unpopular. Many people opposed to the program, like me, have complained that we would like to support MI, but she has pushed it with a very narrow (many say selfish) set of constraints that adversely affect the district and other kids. Her manner of negotiation seemed unerringly to lack diplomacy, flexibility, creativity, compromise, and a concern for all kids in a public school district, to say the least, which brings up legitimate questions about appropriateness to serve on a regional school board. That has nothing to do with opposing MI specifically.
On the other hand: Grace Mah is a smart, honest, fearless, and hardworking mom who has put a lot of time into bringing what she, in good faith, believes is a program that will uniquely benefit some kids in our district. She has been involved at a level that most people would be unwilling to, and been willing to take the fire for others. This is a quality that might serve anyone well on a regional school board. If people are worried about the fox guarding the henhouse, it's already too late. If the board chose her because of her position on charters, voting her out isn't going to remove their sympathy or the connections she has made. In fact, her presence there is probably more advantageous to those opposed, for many reasons, especially since she and the rest of the board would have to recuse themselves for conflicts of interest if a charter went to the county.
As far as I can see, PAEE is for PACE going the charter route, they aren't pushing this petition. It seems like that's the compromise route, even better if a less expensive and available space can be found in a nearby city. If this is the compromise route, why is it necessary to keep Grace Mah off the county board?
Recapping the questions:
-Why does the petition have to trigger an election? It would seem from the county web site that the petition is merely to express opposition to a provisional appointment, within the 30 days allowed.
-If the petition is being filed by those opposed to MI, how does removing Grace Mah from the county board further that goal? (For the record, I think this is only going to make things more contentious all around and take us further from coming to some kind of acceptable compromise.)
My main question:
Isn't there a better way for us to move forward????!!!!!!!! (Please, people, stop the wild assumptions and accusations! To the pro-MI crowd -- you aren't helping your cause by stirring up more controversy and trying to smear those who don't agree with you, especially those who would otherwise be on your side. I could say the same to the other side -- is this about what is best for PA kids, or about personalities and Grace Mah? Is there a more productive way for EVERYONE to direct their energies?!!)
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm
"According to the state Education Code, if a petition is deemed valid a vote must be held within 130 days of the petition's approval. An extension of 20 days may be allowed to have the vote coincide with any scheduled election."
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 2:14 pm
As I remember it, PAEE is like PACE, in that a couple people started it and ran it, but they gathered support from individuals who supported their short term goal.
So, there are no "members" of PAEE..no dues, no sign up, nothing.
So, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people on the VEEG thing were also opposed to MI, but that doesn't make them "PAEE", any more than someone who was for MI now working for a Charter, for example, is doing so "for PACE". For example, "curious", I don't think anyone brushes all PACE supporters with the idea that you represent them.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 3:42 pm
It's OBVIOUS that not all of PAEE was behind the petition. Why? Because there would have been no need to form a second group.
One of the PAEE founders said that there's a mailing list of a couple of hundred. I expect there's more than one opinion on that list.
Instead of spending $1.3 million on a special election, I suspect that the provisional offer to Mah could be A)withdrawn or B)Grace Mah could resign.
The board knew it was picking a controversial candidate. So, the question is why? I doubt it's because they're devoted to the cause of Mandarin Immersion. They may very well, however, be pro-charter and this is a way to get a strong pro-charter member out of an area that otherwise might not send one.
There's really more to this than the feuding within Palo Alto, which I suspect the county board couldn't care less.
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 4:08 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I am not "dumping" on Grace Mah, I am describing the behavior I have observed in the way she has conducted herself in this public debate. I personally keep hoping that she is NOT those things, that she would try to work with people who have brought up legitimate concerns about the WAY she has pushed MI, but so far, it hasn't happened.
Her behavior isn't unusual for a human being in those circumstances, I'm not judging it as somehow evil or ill-motivated, I'm just calling what I've seen. I do think if she were better at diplomacy and compromise, we could be in a whole different place right now with language in our school district -- and part of THAT assessment includes what I see as her very considerable and valuable energy as going to better effect. (She has responded to criticism in a very natural and normal way, but not a very diplomatic or deft one. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.])
You may not agree with that assessment, that is your right. But many, many people have made the same assessment of Grace Mah's behavior in this -- she has in just her way of dealing with MI alienated a large segment of parents who would otherwise support her goal -- I am not nearly alone in those sentiments. That was my and many others' objective assessment of her manner of negotiation -- there is no name-calling in that.
Posted by Moi, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 6:00 pm
Resident, just because the SCCOE has joined the Naional Association of Charter School Authorizers doesn't make them pro-charter. The SCCOE is bound by the same evaluation criteria as school districts when considering a charter, so they may have to set aside their personal preferences in order to comply with the law at times. Or they may be charter-lovers. I don't know. However, I do think it is RESPONSIBLE of them to have that membership because the NACSA seems to be involved in determining best practices associated with charters, and if we are to have charter schools, then they should be going about their business in ways that will promote their success. All schools need ongoing self-evaluation, and boards that authorize and re-authorize charters need to have some sense of "science" behind their decisions.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 6:12 pm
I think the entire community should take a cooling off break. But if you look at this forum, topic after topic consists of anti-MI rhetoric. Much of this discussion seems entirely personal and counterproductive in terms of reaching a final agreement. Given the nature of these forum posts, it is hard to see how either side is ever going to agree to any outcome.
Let's summarize. After several years, PAUSD rejects the idea of a choice MI. PACE decides to pursue a charter school, initially of 80 or less students. It's founder is appointed to SC BOE. Some of the anti-MI opponents file a petition to have an election.
The location of the charter isn't clear but it won't happen for at least a year. It's hard to understand why the anti-MI side feels so threatened by this. Do they really think that a small charter school seriously threatens PAUSD? It is going to cost the charter school supporters a lot more than it's going to cost PAUSD to see this through. All the nightmare scenerios imagined on these forums are so far just suppositions. The only thing that seems clear is that the level of personal animosity is going to pay lawyers and cost the taxpayers for many years. It's hard to imagine "this is for the good our kids" even as the proponents mouth these words.
Posted by Anon Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 8:12 pm
It is reasons like these that is going to make it a very interesting election this time around. Firstly, I would like to see people who are actually interested in school concerns, standing for election, rather than those who are only using the school board as a political foothold for higher aspirations. Secondly, I wonder just who would be bold enough to stand for the board in the light of all the controversy that has gone on of late.
It is inevitable that language education, both FLES and MI are going to be the hot topics for this election. Both "sides" are bound to vote for candidates that echo their own views. Any party who is trying to appear unbiaised will have a very hard time convincing those who have already got their own strong views on either side.
Therefore, the election itself may be decided by those who are outside the debate altogether, probably because they haven't got kids yet or who are empty nesters and both of these groups are probably those who are amibivelent on the language issue and will be open to whatever the prospective candidates offer as "also topics " when the time comes around.
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm
Well, since my entire post was removed, the good with the bad, I will try to leave mostly the good below.
Criticism isn't meant to be praise. I disagree with how Grace Mah has handled things, and I think she can do better. I think if she does lead this into better, this whole nasty situation could be turned around in a heartbeat, I believe she has that kind of leadership ability in her, I just haven't seen it in this situation. Too bad, because I would like MI for our district. (Actually, a better time to turn this around would have been right after the first vote -- I think she could have gotten a lot of previous "opponents" on her side with a different approach.)
From my vantage point as an "opponent", she really can decide that her "opponents" -- many of whom agree with her ultimate goal (not all, yes, but many) -- don't have it out for her when we criticize, we are actually disagreeing in good faith about public actions, about the means to the end. There are still opportunities to turn this around. She will deal with far more criticism in a public office no matter what she does or doesn't do, that's the nature of public office. Despite all the grousing about this forum and Palo Alto, we are very insulated here in so many ways. This would be a great laboratory for a neophyte public servant to 1) learn how to get whatever benefits can be had from criticism, and 2) realize that it is possible to build consensus among former "opponents" and reach a reasonable compromise for everyone. Now THERE's power.
I have also done my share of praising Grace Mah (and I think the praise was as deserved as the criticism). I'm not even anti-MI, I'd like to see MI become a part of our district. But I'm one of many parents who would like to see it done in the way they are bringing in language in Menlo Park, through strategic planning, in a way that dovetails with other district priorities and resources.
I don't think that's too much to ask. But if it is given the personal priorities of those pushing the program, I think the charter idea is a GREAT idea. (!!!) I've said that many times. There does seem to be far less opposition to the charter idea, PACE wants to go forward with it -- what's the problem?
And in answer to "observer": I think Grace Mah is a talented person, I personally don't think it's necesarry to petition an election to remove her from the board -- I think her educational background is fabulous and I think I've said as many six or seven times on various school posts that it's probably a good thing she's on the board. What more do you want? I'm sorry, I disagree with how she's handled MI. I believe she could probably fight her way to the bitter end and get something -- but is that going to get the best program or is that in order to "win" against these darned 'opponents"? Can you spell pyrrhic victory? (not sure I can) I'd like to see her collaborate and consider the best way to get the program.
Judgment Time: I'm not sure what that comment about public office is about. I have no inclination to run for public office, part of the reason I admire Grace Mah for her inclination to contribute to public life. I post anonymously anyway, though I try to use a consistent "tag" like OhlonePar does so the threads are more coherent, so I don't see that it matters. Are you trying to suggest Grace Mah teach instead of doing what she is doing? I don't understand your point. Are you trying to suggest that I am making Grace Mah into an enemy because I support her ultimate goal and have the nerve to criticize the very thing that I think is standing in the way of getting it? Frankly, I think YOU are being insulting to her intelligence if you believe she will not be able to take or learn from criticism in public office (and I believe she will keep her post at the county and probably go on to other things in public life from there).
Posted by Befuddled, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 10:10 pm
Anonymous said, "Given the nature of these forum posts, it is hard to see how either side is ever going to agree to any outcome."
I don't know how many "sides" there are here, but I think it's silly to think that this forum will be a place where people will compromise or come to agreement on anything. People come here and proclaim their version of "facts" and it's amazing how all the facts contradict each other. This forum is not a place where fact can be separated from fiction. Since we all hide behind pseudonyms, there's no way for readers to begin to gauge the credibility of the claims.
I used to come here in a spirit of information sharing, but nowadays I only come here for laughs.
Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 10:42 pm
I cherish free speech but in many ways these forum posts are only hardening the positions of each side. They don't appear to be discussions but shouting matches. These forums had potential but I think the principals need to met face-to-face with a facilitator or mediator.
Posted by PACE member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 15, 2007 at 10:51 pm
I know that Grace and Nico have offered in their guest opinion and in earlier threads to talk with anyone about MI. I don't think any of the anti-MI have taken them up on their offers. A mediator is probably a good idea at this time. Any anti-MI takers?
Posted by another anonymous coward, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 12:33 am
I have heard some of the principal opponents offer to talk to PACE members, and no one took them up on it. One person -- who I know to be honorable -- said no one from PACE ever tried to contact her, even though Grace Mah stated publicly that she had. So both sides are saying they are open to contact, yet there is even bad blood in how that has gone down.
I read a pamphlet once in which Jimmy Carter explained some of the criteria used by the Carter Center to choose which conflicts they will mediate. An absolute requirement is that BOTH parties ask equally for the mediation to end the conflict.
Do all sides want to end the conflict and work together? I think it's hard to say. I can say that even while they were castigated for their criticism, many opponents brought up suggestions that they could see would allow even a choice program compromise. We haven't heard much in the way of compromise from PACE; perhaps they have felt too embattled, that the only way to get a program at all is to hunker down and push forward. It would be good to hear if they think there are workable compromises -- the charter idea was a good one -- it might have met with more enthusiasm if it hadn't been levied as a threat.
There are a lot of people who have been pushed into "camps" who want to work this out. You are probably right, Anonymous, that face to face is best.
Any chance of getting all sides to agree to a detente, and come together to hash things out after we get a new superintendent? As many posters have noted, these aren't exactly organized groups as it is.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:38 am
Maybe I am being too practical, but it seems to me the time for face to face talking has passed. What would be the point? If someone can come up with a reason for anyone to spend time talking on EITHER side, please speak up.
In my opinion it should have happened no later than last November, in order to try to come up with a reasonable solution. Too bad nobody knew that anyone in power was actually willing to talk. It never happened, I suspect because it never entered PACE's mind that our Board would vote any way but 4:1 in favor of a Choice program, so there was no need to talk with anyone. And because principal(s), asst. super(s) and super were talking to PACE at length...and not to anyone else, it was clear which way their sentiments lay, so why bother compromising? People in power don't need to compromise. And clearly this was a go in the Super's, Asst Super's and Elementary Ed Director's minds from the beginning.
However, by November/December it had hardened into a win/lose situation...which was too bad, because by Mid-Jan a reasonable compromise presented itself at the Board meeting, ( go to Ohlone, do it the Ohlone way, promise to work it out with Ohlone to stay there "forever") but it was too late to work that out in time to "meet the deadline" of the Jan 30 vote to actually plan it out. So, it stayed a win-lose. The deadline was a devil.
Good thing for PACE it worked out that way. One "side" has "won" now and has all the power. That "side" has no need to back off now because of the way the politics have played out, and therefore no need to talk.
The other "side" has lost. It has no decision making power or leverage at all. It is clearly in a very minority position currently politically. One way or the other this Board is going to put in an MI program, either through Choice or through Charter. And, to boot, the leader of the PACE side is now in a position of power over all of our District, on the SCCOE Board which has shown zero understanding of our issues, and chosen instead to validate the process and goals of the PACE "side". Ironically, she got there BECAUSE of all the controversy in PA about process and outcome.
Too bad someone, somewhere, didn't hear/get the invitation to compromise and the talking didn't happen 6 months ago, but oh well.
At this point, to quote Millard Fillmore, I believe "An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory".
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:53 am
I'm not sure I understand the value of PACE or Grace or Nico meeting with a few people who are against MI.
Grace holds a public office now - even while she has ~at least~ 1000 people in Palo Alto who signed a petition to stop the MI program, who opposed her on that issue. (Not just three or four)
I have never heard her make a single statement to the voting public about her platform on the issues facing the school districts she represents in her new job, nor have I heard her describe her qualifications for that position to the voting public she represents - which would all be normal fare in a normal election process.
So, I think what Grace owes the community is a town hall forum where she
a) explains her platform on the issues facing the school districts she represents, explains her qualifications for the county school board set, and explains what she hopes to accomplish. And answers questions to the community.
b) Explains and answers questions to her voting constituency about her drive for MI in PAUSD and her plans for driving a charter school into PAUSD.
By virtue of the fact that she has inserted herself into public office, she now owes accountability to the entirety of the voting public on her stance on the important issues facing PAUSD, Los Altos and Mt. View districts! That she now owns this accountability can not be denied - no matter what side of the MI issue you are on.
It is the entirety of the voting public that is owed this conversation, not two or three individuals.
Grace Mah, please tell us when and where you plan to answer to your constituency.
Posted by Voter in an election, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 10:59 am
Sounds like there's still some angry people out there, even when they admit defeat. Nothing like a ...person... scorned...
Anyway, since this was not an election, some of you need to face that truth. Your chance to listen to the public interviews and understand qualifications was on April 25, which you had notice about.
As the public is allowed to make input to the county board, that's directly to the county, not ranting on this blog. Ranting on this blog, as someone mentioned, just turns off people. But you're allowed to do that, as you insist.
If you request a "candidate forum" (although the appointment is still in process), those are typically created by a neutral party like the League of Women Voters. Or maybe VEEG would like to hold it and invite Grace to attend.
Grace has constituents, and she has met with a number of them, as reported at the interviews. A polite invitation may get you somewhere.
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Posted by Lidia, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 12:31 pm
Mah explained her qualifications, her philosophy, and her understanding of educational issues at the SCCOE board meeting when all 3 candidates were interviewed. It was a public meeting, and members of the public were allowed to speak.
You should be relieved to know that Mah will have to recuse herself if a charter petition from PACE is up for decision by the SCCOE. On the topic of charter schools in general, she was quoted as saying, "I do support the legislation that allows the community to have a choice," she said of her philosophy on charter schools. "(But) I will not vote for every charter. It has to be financially viable. We have to go over it with a fine-toothed comb." Web Link
No candidate ever satisfies everyone, but Mah is competent for a brief term. If she runs again, that would be the right time for voters to examine her record and continued fitness to serve. Spending money on a special election doesn't make sense for such a short term.
Posted by Wonder, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 2:28 pm
Maybe the SCCOE appointed Grace Mah because they themselves were reluctant to call a special election and having the public condemn them for wasting county resources. This way they appoint a controversial figure and have some group call for an election and that group takes the blame for wasting resources.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 5:29 pm
I don't see this as a clear win/lose situation, myself. But then one of the things I don't like about Palo Alto is the tedious competitiveness that erupts.
Here's what I see: PACE didn't get MI in Fall 2007. May get it in 2008. Hardly a case of all the power.
PACE may go the charter route, which seems to be fine with the PAEE, particularly if it's outside the city. Seems like there's a win-win there.
Mary Callan is such a disaster that anything happening this year is probably due for a royal toss-up when the new super comes in. Callan wanted MI. If the next super doesn't, expect more lag time on any new choice programs. The Daily News had a scoop Saturday that the district's middle managers and principals asked for Callan's immediate resignation.
As for Grace Mah on the county board, it does sound like a pro-charter board wanted somebody pro-charter from an area that might not send one otherwise. I still haven't signed a petition for a recall, but if I do, it will be on those grounds.
The other thing to consider is how much do we want a county board that appears to be in opposition to our own board? How much independence do you want PAUSD to have?
A special election would send a message to the county board that they can't just appoint someone who suits their whim and probably wouldn't have won a regular election.
However, it is expensive, so there's the question of how important that message is.
I'm sure there are personal reactions both pro and con to Grace Mah, but, long-term, it's about far more than whether you want to have coffee with Grace.
Posted by Neutral Observer, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2007 at 5:46 pm
"A special election would send a message to the county board that they can't just appoint someone who suits their whim and probably wouldn't have won a regular election."
Actually, they can appoint who they believe will do the best job. Those are the rules.
On the contrary, a special election would send the message that Palo Alto is home to some bitter people who are willing to charge taxpayers $1.3 to pursue a vendetta. There is no political lesson they can take away from this situation. As politicians faced with irrational actions by a few, they can only continue to vote their conscience [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Toss In Your Hats!, a resident of another community, on Apr 16, 2007 at 10:50 pm
I'd like to see Resident, OhlonePar and Faith run for the BOE. They clearly have strong opinions and would be heard in political meetings. Let one of them represent Trustee Area 1. They clearly have the time to devote to this.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 9:40 pm
How many funds are needed to start an online petition for Pete's sake?
Again, if PAEE was behind the petition drive it could simply be behind the petition drive. The fact that a splinter group is sponsoring makes it clear that there's some split in the PAEE mail list.
People who share one goal don't agree about everything. Note the clashing viewpoints among posters who supported MI in PA.
A special election, though costly, would not come out of district funds, correct?
It would not displace children from neighborhood schools, correct?
I think you can argue that a special election is too costly for other reasons, but it's not directly comparable to the spending of limited PAUSD funds.
Also, a special election is a one-time deal, not an ongoing cost as would be a charter program or an MI choice program (the sums involved here are, of course, open to debate).
Instead of simply venting, why don't you think about *why* there's a petition and what ways you might persuade people on the fence to not sign it. If I were Grace Mah I'd be a little concerned about the antagonism expressed by her supporters ini these threads. I'm not sure you're helping her by pushing the us v. them angle.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm
"I think you can argue that a special election is too costly for other reasons, but it's not directly comparable to the spending of limited PAUSD funds."
It's money that has to be diverted from other causes. It's a waste.
Instead of mounting a kneejerk defense, think for a second about the motives of these people and the consequences of their actions. The costs are not just financial--they eat away at our community. If I was PAEE, I'd be concerned about the selfishness and self-righteousness we're seeing on Townsquare from their supporters.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 12:24 am
I've said it before here and I'll say it again. I am not a member of PAEE, nor am I on its mail list. I'm a group of one.
Whether the diversion's a waste depends on how important you think it is to have or not have Grace Mah on the board of education. People's views differ on the matter. On both sides.
I think, personally, that it's a waste to spend $60K on an MI feasibility study. Those who raised the money disagreed with me--as is their right. Same thing here--some people may think a special election's worth any cost. Others won't. There are arguments on both sides.
Frankly, I don't quite understand that tone of self-righteous indignation about this petition. No one's robbing a bank--they're just pushing back as part of the political process.
Grace Mah has pushed very hard for a particular cause. Why on earth are you outraged that there's pushback? Yes, I agree this eats away at our community, but to blame that erosion on the petition is absurd, the problem has been going on for some time--the petition is just another bend in the river.
In its singlemindedness, PACE stepped on toes. Some PACErs, I think, realize that. Others have been so hurt that they can't see that there are other viewpoints.
If you see no viewpoints but your own as having validity--or, rather, you're right and they're wrong--then there's no room for negotiation and real communication. If there's no room for that then there's a battle. No point in blaming the other side for being a side if you're so strongly on one yourself.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:20 am
Is it only the $60K that was wasted? How much staff time went into pushing this program without the input of principals and teachers? Is that factored into the $60K? Anyway, hasn't this subject been talked to death? i haven't seen anyone post any new thoughts on it -- some agree, some disagree, and no compromise seems to be in sight.
Posted by Run, Please Run, a resident of another community, on Apr 18, 2007 at 9:16 am
OhlonePar, please do run. You are the epitome of what the rest of Santa Clara County imagines is a PAUSD parent. You deserve to attend the BOE meetings even if your eyes are rolling or you're falling asleep.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 9:36 am
I agree that OhlonePar is the type of person who should consider running for the school board. I think that eyes rolling or falling asleep send messages. I agree with whoever said that if Camille Townsend calls the remainder of the board by their first names and Gail Price as Ms Price, that sends a far bigger message as rolling eyes has an almost reflective connotation while calling someone by a formal name while the others are informal sounds very deliberate.
So OhlonePar, please consider this seriously as I think we need people who look at the bigger picture as I feel that you do.
While I am one of the people who didn't want Grace Mah on the SC Board, I am not one of the people who want a special election. I do believe that money is an issue here. The feasability study was as much a waste of money as the special election would be. Yes, I feel that I want the SC Board to know that we don't feel Grace Mah is the right person for the job and a Petition does that. I also realise that if she has to stand for re-election in some months time, that will show her true worth.
I always feel that the money that is spent unwisely could much better be put directly into our children's educations. I know so many ways that this money could be spent from actual classroom needs to mending things like the Jordan gym roof which leaks when it rains.
I know Faith, if you are reading this, and I want you to know that I do support what you are doing but feel that spending this money on an election is not the best move for SC County. I respect what you are doing and realise that you must do what you feel is right, but then I must also do what I feel is right.
Equal education for all is something we are striving for here in PA. MI is not the answer, one shoe fits all is not necessarily the answer either, but we have to stop the silliness and think of what is best for all our kids.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 9:39 am
So, what do you say -- no, I haven't signed any election petition. I just am asking because I think in the interestes of equity one ought to look at the expenses caused by both PACE AND PAEE. I don't know how a question could be called misinformation, but that's ok.
As as far as the "One position" comments of "Negotiate with whom . . . and why?" -- I have said on this and other Palo Alto online threads, let the MI folks GO FOR IT. Sounds great. They have the will to create a charter program; I have a friend who was deeply involved in creating Bullis charter school and that place from all accounts is a wonderful school thanks to the passion of the school's community members. I expect that the passion of PACE members would make an equally wonderful MI charter school if it could meet the criteria for having one approved, which from all accounts it could.
Posted by Good for the Gander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 11:24 am
"When is the election": If Grace Mah had taken your advice when the BOE voted not to implement MI at this time, we would be done with this. But she chose to force and threaten. So continuing to dwell on her lost cause was really not a waste of her time after all, was it? Perhaps others have learned from her tactics and are not willing to declare the cause to be lost just yet. Why fault them for doing as PACE has taught?
By the way I have not signed, nor even seen, the petition. I simply find it interesting that some feel that it's ok for PACE to take full advantage of "the process" while declaring that they mean no harm to PAUSD, at the same time they chastise and berate others who are doing the exact same thing, but with whom they disagree.
Posted by Tulley, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 1:44 pm
I'm sorry Observer, but as I understand it, PAEE is not the driving force behind the petition. Do you have any facts, links, etc which can show differently? I am on the PAEE mailing list and have heard nothing concerning the petition from them.
I do believe, however that PAEE posted a thorough analysis of the "cost neurtality" of the MI proposal which far surpassed the weak feasibility study which was provided to the BOE by district staff. For that I am grateful and I hope, in the interest of balance and transparency, that they will continue to weigh in on the MI issue.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 2:36 pm
Hmmm, let's see,
I haven't made up my mind. I've said I thought Grace Mah might learn and grow from being on the board. On the other hand, a friend reminded me today that Grace Mah's being on the board is such an egregious conflict-of-interest that it shows a certain ethical issue.
So, yes, on some level, I think Grace Mah should not be appointed, given the controversy around her. I think it was a mistake to do so. On the other hand, is the price of that mistake worth $500,000 or $1 million. I'm undecided. On one hand, I think the county BoE could use a slap on the wrists, but it is a pricey slap.
But would one pricey slap save us from pricier slaps down the road? If a special election means the next PAUSD education bond passes, well, then . . .
In other words, I think of it as sort of an investment decision. What is most likely to result in good governance?
Posted by Tsk Tsk, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 2:48 pm
I think Palo Altans who don't take personal interest in PACE, PAEE, VEEP, PAMA, etc. just want a break from all the argumentation. Why would they want to vote more money to such a dysfunctional school system full of infighting?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 3:00 pm
I've attended board meetings and I consider myself far too direct to endure some of those meetings without wincing. I wouldn't have Gail Price's patience with Camille Townsend or, frankly, the well-meaning fecklessness of the board in general.
My real attitude during much of this has been, "Well, what did you think was going to happen?" I think it was reckless to commission the feasibility study, which got the PACEr's expectations up, when overcrowding was such an obvious problem.
At this point, I expect some kind of MI program, but I see it coming at a high political cost--something that needn't have happened if the board and the district managment had thought longterm.
Despite various allegations above, I'm not a typical PAUSD parent in that I went to school in a district that deteriorated horrifically over a 15-year-period. There's a self-indulgence and sense of entitlement (on both sides) to which I don't really relate. In a sense the district has it easy in that the parents are too gung-ho about their kids to let the schools really fall apart.
Posted by Mandarina, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 3:02 pm
PACE cares about Mandarin Immersion in particular and world language in general.
The county board is not PACE's focus. Mah's position on the county board does not help PACE achieve MI. If a petition for MI does reach the county, Mah would have to recuse herself from the discussion and vote. Ergo, Mah can't help further MI from the county level.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 18, 2007 at 3:30 pm
A few observations on the really lacking logic in the argument that says Faith started a petition, so PAEE is the cause of a petition, so PAEE is 'charging $1M to the community. Ridiculous.
Faith supports a petition, and was a member of PAEE, and was also a member of the PTA - so is the PTA driving a petition? She was also a member of the YMCA - and GRACE is in a leadership position in the YMCA - so I guess GRACE is driving the petition? She also has a Safeway club card - so maybe Safeway is driving the petition?
And by the way, driving the petition is causing $1M in cost for a special election??? The last I heard, the petition would take 2000+ signatures, so one or two people can start a petition all they want, but it's a community overall that makes a petition happen.
And why a petition - what caused the petition? Well, it was a bad appointment by the SC BOE - so the SCBOE should be held responsible - but actually, they were responding to a job application submitted by Grace - so Grace is actually at fault. But why did she apply? Probably because the PAUSD BOE voted against her, and she decided she wanted to use charter schools as her weapon against PAUSD. So the PAUSD BOE is actually to blame. But what caused PAUSD BOE to vote against MI? Well a really poor feasibility study on MI - so Cook and Callan are to blame... But why a feasibility study? because Grace/PACE put the whole MI thing on the table, have been pounding it in the board for over 5 years, and haven't listened to the community needs in the least during that entire time, so we're back to Grace.
So if you're looking for someone to blame for the cost, divisiveness, and pain the community related to this issue, don't look to the messenger, look to the source. Who started what?
Its sort of like saying the people in the 13 colonies were responsible for the revolutionary war. And actually that's a pretty appropriate parallel - because charter schools really boil down to taxation without representation, and that's exactly where the MI effort is heading full steam ahead.
If there's one positive thing that will come out of Grace on the SCBOe, it will be accountability (for Grace). If we really want to get to the bottom of who's behind all this then PAUSD should disclose the source of funds behind the MI effort.