2007 School Board Election Forum Schools & Kids, posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online, on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:31 am Tyler Hanley is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Please use this topic to post your comments and questions regarding this fall's Palo Alto School Board race. The idea is to organize the community's discussion about the candidates and issues in one place rather than in scattered topics within Town Square. Also, we hope the candidates themselves will feel welcome to participate and respond to posts or questions.
Please adhere to our guidelines by being respectful and truthful in your postings, and please do not start or spread rumors or innuendo. We will be removing comments that are primarily aimed at criticizing a single candidate. The people who put themselves forward to run for public office deserve our respect even when we may disagree with their views, and our editors will be attempting to keep everyone focused on issues in these discussions.
Posted by PA mom, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 19, 2007 at 11:42 am
Questions I have:
What do you feel should be the Board's priorities over the next year, be specific.
What would you expect your relationship to be with our new superintendent?
How will you improve communication between the Board, District and parents?
How will you support and increase leadership at the school sites (particularly those lacking leadership, trust and communication such as Jordan Middle School).
How will you use community input in your decision-making process.
Thoughts on increasing school traffic safety.
Thoughts on our overcrowded schools, shall we open a 13th elementary or can we be more creative at our current sites (encourage split recess, etc.) Shall we be looking at a 3rd high school or adding to our current sites?
Thoughts on how to prevent a divisive conflict like the MI issue.
How would you deal with a group wanting a program which is not part of the district strategic plan?
What programs do you feel are lacking in our school district.
What programs are you particularly proud of in our district.
What is your opinion of our current physical school sites - how can we improve them?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm
You're going to remove comments that criticize a particular candidate?
These people are running for public office, but we're not supposed to have discussions that criticize them?
I've said this before and I'll say it again--the reasons the founding fathers granted the press unusual latitude and gave people unusual freedom of speech is so that they could freely criticize their government and the people running for it.
I understand the nonflaming guidelines you have here--but you're talking about a political discussion without analysis of the candidates when there's an election coming up.
I think you need to think through your guidelines on this.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm
I'm surprised my post on the other thread responding about how I am evaluating candidates has not been removed already.
Let me echo what OP said. These people are running for public office. They have, by telling us we should trust them, put their credibility and values and records in general up for discussion and evaluation. Aside from asking people (as usual) to be respectful, and to refrain from baseless personal attacks (ie libel), why in the world would you set such a broad limitation by stating "We will be removing comments that are primarily aimed at criticizing a single candidate" -- what does that mean?
Posted by Yet another anonymous coward, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:06 pm
Clarification is in order, I agree. Will you delete statements that are factual and provable about a particular candidate. If you are going to delete them, will you say why? This is your baby, of course you are completely free to manage it anyway you wish..just trying to get an idea of what you mean.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:07 pm
As one of those candidates, here is the distinction I would make:
* Questions aimed at a particular candidate or group of candidates
* Whether and why you are supporting a candidate
* A candidate's publicly stated positions on issues
* What a candidate says or doesn't say in a public setting
* A candidate's record
* How a candidate behaves in public
* Criticizing any of the above
Out of Bounds:
* Personal attacks on a candidate or family member (these don't have to be libelous to be unacceptable)
* Attributing motive without facts or proof
* Unsubstantiated rumors (asking whether someone knows whether a rumor is true should be OK, but this can devolve quickly into "when did she stop beating her husband")
* Misrepresenting facts
* Plus the usual...
I would add that tone is important - it should be civil and respectful even when strongly disagreeing. Anyway, these are the criteria I will use when deciding whether to participate or not. I think this forum should be largely self-policing so the editors don't have to delete anything. If you see something borderline, call the poster on it. Ask yourself how you would like being addressed in the way you are addressing a candidate.
It is true that as candidates we open ourselves up for public scrutiny, and should expect people to ask tough questions and make statements that we may not like. But one of the reasons we haven't had better candidates in the recent past is that people don't want to subject themselves to vicious attacks. Town Square is notorious (whether deserved or not) for being petty and mean-spirited. Unfortunately, it is likely only a few people who are primarily responsible for this reputation. but with the ability to remain anonymous it is hard to tell, and I've seen enough flaming and heard enough stories to make me reticent about participating.
But here I am anyway. My personal experience in my brief time in this forum has been positive and I've been treated respectfully. So while I have limited time, I do plan on engaging here. It may take me a few days to respond and I will pick my spots. But I think it is good for us to have this kind of exchange of ideas. I also hope the discussion here will carry over into the many in-person forums we'll be having in the upcoming weeks.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:11 pm
Well, it's their baby, but presumably they want traffic. Those kind of vague guidelines send a real chilling effect.
And, frankly, I haven't seen any dicussion on the boards that would seem to require additional rules. The truly ugly stuff tends to spats between posters. The candidates who have posted--Wynn Hauser and Pingyu Liu, I think, have been treated with respect in the responses, even when there's disagreement. As a, er, lively participant here, I do appreciate candidates who come here and answer questions. I know it's got to feel a bit like jumping off the high dive.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:15 pm
PA Mom and Overcrowding (who kicked off the thread)-
These are excellent questions. In the next day or so I will be posting my positions on my web site and will let you know when they are up. After looking them over, please let me know where I can clarify and what else you want to know.
Posted by spelng nad grmmr, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 3:47 pm
This would be a fine place to post questions but difficult place for candidates to respond to them.
Whilst Wynn & Pingyu were treated with "respect", Pingyu Liu may have wished to remove/rephrase his post.
Candidates simply want to keep complete control over their campaign material and be able to clarify statements at will. This requires, as Wynn is proposing, linking to their positions on their sites, which they can control and edit at will.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm
OK, let's test this:
Camille Townsend presided over the BOE during one of the most contentious times in its history.
Townsend's refusal to move her position during the MI debate infuriated MI opponents.
In addition, it appeared to many that Townsend was fully supportive of our last Superintendent's positions regarding administrative staff, thus contributing to the Management team action, and a scenario that many saw as a general breakdown of the BOE's ability to effectively manage the district.
Do you, as a candidate, think that Ms. Townsend should be re-elected to the BOE?
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:18 pm
Just to be clear, while I do like to have control over my message as much as possible so I can be sure it is consistent and not taken out of context, it doesn't mean I'm not willing to respond to specific questions here. I have already done so in another thread. My reason for sending people to my web site is primarily length. I have a lot to say on a number of issues and don't want to clog up this forum. Also, I do want to have a single place that can represent my latest thinking, as my positions will continue to evolve throughout the campaign. But if I have a radical change of position, I will say so.
In any case, I am always happy to clarify here or in person. I can't speak for other candidates.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:26 pm
One of the reasons I am running is because of unhappiness of how things have gone over the past couple of years. But I am focusing my campaign as much as possible on what I will do as a board member to make things better, not on what others have or have not done. You can draw your own conclusions as you hear what I have to say and based on how you read others' records.
I am not going to argue for or against any other candidate as I will hopefully be serving with two of them and want to have a positive relationship with every other board member. To be completely self-serving, what's best for me personally is to have people vote for only one School Board candidate. That's me.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:51 pm
spelng nad grmmr, I’d prefer to see a bit of both: impromptu forum conversations and carefully worded campaign websites. I can understand the desire from the candidate's view to want to be able to clean up and wordsmith their positions, but this can lead to a 'sterilized' message. Reading candidates' responses here can be very enlightening.
For example, Wynn Hausser is gaining my respect every time he engages and responds here. First, for his bravery, and second for his articulateness. If he can express his views so clearly in this type of impromptu forum, he demonstrates a clearness of thinking that I believe is an important and desirable skill for a board member to have. Public speaking, on record, is part of the job.
For a different example, I thought Pingyu Liu's comment that "MI is cute" was exceptionally telling. "Cute" is not a word I'd assign to something that has been and will be as disruptive and contentious as MI. It was a very honest statement on his part. As a voter, that's what I'm looking for - the truth. It might not help his campaign for those who opposed MI, but at least he's representing himself honestly. Let people vote based on the truth, not a sanitized spin.
Oh, and I respect Pingyu Liu, too, for being willing to engage. I look forward to hearing from the other candidates.
Posted by On the Town Fence, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 7:25 pm
Sometimes Palo Alto it just too politically correct. So now, in the middle of a political campaign, we are to play nice and not primarily criticize a single candidate. Ok, I think it is reasonable to have decorum in this forum but for heaven's sake this is absurd! I wonder what the real story is behind this. Did a particular candidate worry that their coverage in this forum was unfair? Let's agree to be polite, not spread lies, but let's also be able to have the right to share our opinions.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 7:26 pm
I do think that this is an excellent idea for debate. I agree that we need to be able to disagree with candidates and criticise their positions in such a way to show our point of view. However, I think this criticism should be done with respect, as much respect as in a public town square forum where we are all face to face. Even with the anonymity that so many of us use, it is still possible to remain polite. I know that I for one will enjoy reading the issues here, but as soon as anyone starts using the wrong type of language and the wrong type of criticism, then I will stop reading.
shows Camille Townsend presiding over the Scott Laurence affair; an incident that put forward negotiations with the Management Team in deep trouble. Ms. Townsend's remarks were very supportive of the Laurence decision, and deemed extremely insensitive by the Management Team (check the facts, and go ask).
Even after the Management Team expressed its concern, Ms. Townsend was unwavering, failing to work toward the middle.
Another FACT is that Ms. Townsend was there when the BOE made it's most controversial decision re: MI - i.e. the reversal of its original denial of the program - thus, infuriating many key PAUSD supporters, and causing further dissension within the PAUSD community. That effort was *led* by Camille Townsend.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 7:53 pm
Okay, I'm going to push one of the limits here--and that's the suggestion that the candidate's family is out of bounds.
In the case of Camille Townsend, her husband mentored a student who now produces products that are used in bilingual Mandarin education.
Professors at Stanford have invested in student businesses--i.e. David Cheriton invested in Google.
We don't know if Ward Hansen (Townsend's husband) has any financial involvment in that student's business. I think, given the MI debate, asking that question here is appropriate. We need to know if there's a question of financial gain that may affect how someone votes.
It was reported hear that Hanson, without identifying himself as Townsend's husband, spoke up in favor of MI at BOE meetings. I think it's legitimate to bring this up here.
And if Camille Townsend wants to come here--or post an answer on her Web site--regarding the financial question, I'd appreciate it.
As a voter, I think I have the right to know whether or not there's a conflict-of-interest. I'm not saying there is, simply that I don't know. (This, for me, is actually a bigger concern with the city council where there's so much money at stake with potential developments.)
So, I think there are cases where it's legit to ask questions of the spouse because married couples are one economic unit.
I can't think of many instances where we'd need to discuss the kids, but that doesn't mean there might not be one--i.e. someone running for city council whose son-in-law is a big developer.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 8:43 pm
I remember reading that when the whole math curriculum debate was going on several years ago the district math specialist, who is now a principal at a Palo Alto elementary school, implemented a curriculum that had been published by a local academic who had a social connection with the person who recommended the purchase and implementation of the curriculum. That curriculum was soundly rejected by virtually all of the author's, and has been a fiasco.
That is the kind of conflict of interest that can but should not occur, that damages the district, damages the educations of how many tens or hundreds of students, and costs a lot in time and money -- and the person responsible has no accountability.
So I'd like to see some candidates talk about accountability and transparency in real terms, so that this type of situation does not get repeated.
Posted by bruce, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 8:49 pm
I note that after Wynn posted his criteria for what is proper and what is not in discussing a candidate, the tenor of all the postings has been most civil. And thank you posters for restoring my faith in the Town Square.
Perhaps Mr. Thorwaldson and Mr. Hanley can use these guidelines in the future when similar needs arise.
Posted by Fairmeadow Parent, a member of the Fairmeadow School community, on Sep 19, 2007 at 9:19 pm
As long as we are asking questions of candidates - could candidates who have had children or who have children currently attending private school explain why they want to be on the board of education for a public school system when they opted to send their children to private schools?
Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 9:31 pm
"shows Camille Townsend presiding over the Scott Laurence affair"
That "affair," as you call it, began in the fall of 2006, long before Townsend took over. Also, the Laurence decision was taken by the board, not Townsend. You misunderstand how the board works when you blame the president for the board's decision.
"Another FACT is that Ms. Townsend was there when the BOE made it's most controversial decision re: MI - i.e. the reversal of its original denial of the program"
Er, she was also there when the BOE made its controversial initial decision to deny the program, so she should be tops on your list.
Really all this verbiage simply means you disagree with Townsend on MI and hold a grudge against the board because of Laurence.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 9:36 pm
OhlonePar - Speaking strictly about what is appropriate and not the specific issue, the operative words in my suggested guideline regarding family members were "personal attacks." The issue you raise is conflict of interest, and you do it not by making wild accusations but in the spirit of finding out more information.
Natasha - I have two areas that may be conflicts. First, my wife is a long time Stanford employee, and I worked there for 15 years. So I will automatically be conflicted out when any kind of negotiation involving Stanford comes up. Second, my employer is Public Advocates, a non-profit civil rights law firm and advocay organization that is involved in education policy at the state level. This gives me knowledge and experience with state education policy that no one else in the race has. But, since the organization advocates for people of color, people with low incomes and immigrants, there may come a time when what I'm communicating about at work is incompatable with PAUSD's interests as a basic aid district. I'll address it when the time comes, but at least now you know.
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 9:47 pm
"We don't know if Ward Hansen (Townsend's husband) has any financial involvment in that student's business. I think, given the MI debate, asking that question here is appropriate. We need to know if there's a question of financial gain that may affect how someone votes."
Irrelevant innuendo. MI is a choice program, not a product developed by Hansen's student. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm
I really appreciate the tone of most of the previous posters. This forum is a great idea; I hope it stays civil and results in an informative back and forth of ideas, concerns, and questions answered. I'm also hoping this can be accomplished without heavy handed (or even any) editing by PA Weekly editors. With that said, I'll be ignoring any post that's overtly negative or attacks someone else. No reason to give fuel to any attempted fires.
I'm looking forward to reading these posts over the coming weeks and maybe learning a thing or two.
Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm
It seems to me you're misinterpreting Mr. Hauser's comment, or at least inferring rather liberally, especially since he's commenting on the topic, tone, and perceived motive of the question rather than its core substance. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Regarding the original question, I think your critique is accurate, but the term "slander" seems a bit reckless.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:21 pm
Sorry, Brian. All I was trying to do was clarify where I draw the line about someone's family, and that I think raising conflict of interest is legitimate. But I should have stopped there and not commented about the particulars. Lesson learned.
Notice I didn't shout back at you. But I will say that your "finger wagging" was unnecessary and not appreciated. All that kind of tone does is raise the temperature of the debate to no good end.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:32 pm
I don't know why some RWE and other people continue to expound on the misinformation about Camille and MI.
"Townsend's refusal to move her position during the MI debate infuriated MI opponents."
Gail Price's refusal to move her position during the MI debate infuriated MI supporters.
"Another FACT is that Ms. Townsend was there when the BOE made it's most controversial decision re: MI - i.e. the reversal of its original denial of the program - thus, infuriating many key PAUSD supporters, and causing further dissension within the PAUSD community. That effort was *led* by Camille Townsend."
Camille did not lead the reversal. Mandy and Dana did, and they did it on their own. Camille did not bring it back on the agenda, Mandy and Dana did. Many PAUSD supporters are not happy with Mandy and Dana, for changing their votes from the January decision. Camille didn't do anything in the reversal other than stay consistent with her position - just like Gail did.
Camille unfortunately bears the unfair burden of being the only incumbent running, and thus the only target for disgruntlement with the whole board's actions. Camille was not the decision-maker or even swing vote.
She doesn't waver in her decision-making and does her homework. She's not afraid of public disagreement, and has always maintained consistent values and dedication for those programs she's supported, including sustainability and parcel tax.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 11:58 pm
"Camille did not lead the reversal. Mandy and Dana did, and they did it on their own. Camille did not bring it back on the agenda, Mandy and Dana did. Many PAUSD supporters are not happy with Mandy and Dana, for changing their votes from the January decision. Camille didn't do anything in the reversal other than stay consistent with her position - just like Gail did."
Townsend was most consistently pro-MI in a way that excluded openess to alternatives. She was the most unwavering proponent of MI, in a way that was almost maddening to watch. I found her demeanor on the board rather flippant. Others may not have seen it that way, but that's how it looked to me. (btw, I'm neutral on MI)
Further, Townsend seems to have flip-flopped from her initial campaign promises, the last time she ran. MANY teachers are VERY disappointed with her, and upset that she spoke one tune prior to election (pro-teacher), and then turned around and began to sing another after she won her seat - supporting Ms. Callan every step of the way in her frontal attacks on school staff, unions, etc.
This is VERY fair to point out.
She came in as a friend of the teachers, but supported Callan EVERY step of the way, helping to set the stage for the fiascos that the BOE has been part of creating, and part of not fixing.
Camille Townsend WAS the BOE President when the MI fiasco took on its most onerous overtones, and she WAS the BOE president when the Paurence decision came down.
btw, If Mandy was running again, I would vote against her - although I do consider Mandy a far more thoughtful legislator than Camille.
The same goes for Dana Tom. The latter has a change to regain my trust during his next term. Dana ran on an "improving communications" platform. Given what we have seen, he still has a lot of work to do.
btw, It doesn't matter when the whole Laurence thing began; there was a LACK of leadership (Camille Townsend) on the board when this thing hit its final stages, letting the whole thing digress to fiasco, and badly damaging MT negotiations. (There are STILL hard feelings over this). Camille just sat there and supported that decision. Why? And why shuold she be permitted to spin out of it?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
WHERE is the accountability for what went on last year, and every year that Ms. Callan, Marilyn Cook, Scott Bowers seriously depleted the PAUSD organization's morale - with Camille Townsend backing Ms. Callan **every step of the way**.
Yes, this race is about many important issues, and it shuold be kept above board, but we should NOT let any one of those who *consistently* backed Ms. Callan's onerous personnel policies get back to the BOE - policies that led to terrible dissension, the loss of tax dollars, and one seeming fiasco after another.
We have a new Superintendent; I'm encouraged by his demeanor, and general skill set. I think he deserves to start with as fresh a BOE as possible, with as little baggage as possible.
Camille unfortunately bears the unfair burden of being the only incumbent running, and thus the only target for disgruntlement with the whole board's actions. Camille was not the decision-maker or even swing vote.
She doesn't waver in her decision-making and does her homework. She's not afraid of public disagreement, and has always maintained consistent values and dedication for those programs she's supported, including sustainability and parcel tax.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 12:37 am
Your post was edited before I saw it, but I'll address the part I saw.
MI is a program, of course. However, if its implementation means possible financial gain for a board member, there's a conflict-of-interest.
AGAIN, I am not saying there is one. I'm saying I don't know and I would like the question answered. I think there's little question that Camille's views were influenced by her husband's--they're pretty much in line with what he's said.
As I've also said, Stanford professors are allowed to and have invested in the businesses of their students.
I would like to know in this case that this has not happened.
By the way, anything around here would be libel, not slander. (Slander's spoken.) Also, I'm not saying anything I know to be false. I am asking a question without--as I've said--knowing the answer. I don't think it's question that is innately pejorative to ask--i.e. it's not "When did you stop beating your wife?" Nor is it a personal attack.
Natasha mentions a case where a bad educational decision was made because of social links. I think that's regrettable, but not a true conflict-of-interest. I think we can assume Townsend's thinking is influenced by her husband and their acquaintances. I'd just like to know that it doesn't go farther than that.
I think MI and financial transparency has been an issue ever since the BoE took money from PACE which used anonymous donors. And Camille was right in the thick of that.
Posted by Fairmeadow Parent, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 6:32 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
PA Mom in the first posting presented a thoughtful list.
Could we please go back to what the thread was originally supposed to be about and "Please adhere to the guidelines by being respectful and truthful in your postings, and please do not start or spread rumors or innuendo."
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 6:49 am
"if [MI's] implementation means possible financial gain for a board member, there's a conflict-of-interest."
Wrong. Your criterion is much too loose because it includes too much. When you use the flexible word "possible," it allows you to insinuate gain in almost every case. Is it possible that Dana will gain financially from the board's decision to study opening a new high school? Sure, give me a few moments and I can spin out a far-fetched scenario, because it's "possible."
The real question: Is there a direct conflict in a given decision? In this case: Does approving MI result directly result in a financial gain for Townsend? Obviously not.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 9:13 am
As my original question was edited out (it was very polite, just a question which may have been worded against the guidelines), I will ask the same question a different way.
During the summer we had a thread about the way residency checks were being done on PAUSD students. I would like to ask the question if residency checks are done on the Board members and candidates before they are allowed to run. As it was said in that other thread, it seems to be more difficult to get your child into Little League Baseball than it does to get into PAUSD. That being the case, I think it should be even more strict to get into political office.
The reasoning behind the question is in part due to the fact that there is furore in San Francisco at present of a politician renting a home without living in it just so that he can appear to be a SF resident. I would hate the same thing to happen in Palo Alto.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 9:58 am
THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN OMMITTED FROM MY PRIOR POST - they are not my word:
"Camille unfortunately bears the unfair burden of being the only incumbent running, and thus the only target for disgruntlement with the whole board's actions. Camille was not the decision-maker or even swing vote.
"She doesn't waver in her decision-making and does her homework. She's not afraid of public disagreement, and has always maintained consistent values and dedication for those programs she's supported, including sustainability and parcel tax."
PLease DISREGARD these paragraphs above, from my last post, as they were accidentally left in when I posted.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
There is a STRONG tendency by some candidates to cover their flank by not criticizing past positions taken by others.
For instance, isn't it rather starange that there is almost no good way to gain easy access to the decisions made by elected municipal politicians? That's a cozy little convenience, isn't it? Where is this information, and why isn't the municipal press creatig a running database about these things as they play out during the course of a candidate's service.
That's a SORRY state of affairs in an election, where as many opinions as possible should be expressed, so that voters have the "truth" from as many perspectives as possible.
Last, Camillle Townsend seems a fine attorney, and a person dedicated in her own way to PAUSD - she has served as she has seen fit, and should be congratulated for her service.
That said, PAUSD needs to move FORWARD; there is a lot of work to do; the last thing this organization needs is baggage. Let's elect a clean slate this fall, and get on with the business of enabling what goes on in the classroom, every day, instead of getting caught up in power plays that take away from that.
Posted by oh dear, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:01 am
"Camille unfortunately bears the unfair burden of being the *only incumbent* running, and thus the only target for disgruntlement with the whole board's actions. "
I wonder why people are so disgruntled with the whole board's actions? If the board was well-run then surely there wouldn't be a problem. A lot of how the board functions comes down to the board president and they should be taking the responsibility.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:34 am
Editor, why have you edited out factual material?
It is a FACT that Camille Townsend ran on a pro-teacher stance last time (she actively solicited the support of key members of our teaching corps) and then ran AGAINST teacher and staff administrator interests during her ENTIRE term. Why is that out of bounds in this forum?
If you doubt the veracity of that opinion, check it out with the teacher's union, or the management team.
There us a very large difference between keeping election comments above board, and letting information be expressed that holds certain elected officials ACCOUNTABLE for their prior actions.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:50 am
I disagree with you--at least the parts that aren't getting edited.
What you consider too indirect a link, in this case, I do not if there's an investment link going on. If we have the information, then voters can decide whether it matters to them.
If Townsend's husband has not invested (and, again, we absolutely don't know if he has or has not. I'm not saying he has.) in a company that supplies materials for MI programs then she would have a financial interest in encouraging MI programs--regardless of whether it was in the best interests of the district to do so.
It's not a case of jumping through six hoops to do this.
Financial conflicts-of-interest are a big problem in politics--thus, the stringent requirements on donations. The "direct only" is a convenient dodge on your part. Many people in such positions--such as federal judges--will put their investments in a blind trust so that there can be no question of conflict-of-interest. Business journalists avoid investing in industries they cover--again, conflict-of-interest.
Again, I have no idea if there's a conflict here. Again, clearly Townsend is influenced by her husband's work. I think that's to be expected. I'd like to know that there is no financial dealings that would affect her vote.
It's a matter of public trust. I find it odd, frankly, that you seem so agitated by the question being asked. Particularly as I've made it clear that it is an honest question, not an accusation. The issue came up here and there's never been an answer.
Wynn Hauser has come forward and mentioned which sorts of things would cause a conflict for him. I appreciate that. I can judge and vote accordingly. A responsible public official will recuse him or herself if there's a conflict.
I mean, for all I know, YOU could decide that Townsend's husband's involvement in Chinese business development makes her particularly savvy about MI. It's simply information.
Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online, on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:52 am Tyler Hanley is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Your post was repetitive of an earlier post you made, where you made the point about Ms. Townsend's previous support from teachers, etc. We will be trying our best to keep posters from repeating comments, since this has the effect of artificially extending a discussion that other participants may not have any interest in extending.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:56 am
"We will be removing comments that are primarily aimed at criticizing a single candidate. The people who put themselves forward to run for public office deserve our respect even when we may disagree with their views, and our editors will be attempting to keep everyone focused on issues in these discussions."
I just saw this. How absurd!
Tyler, would you, as a newspaper editor in 2004, working for a national daily, forbade anyone to criticise the actions - and impacts of those actions - committed by any one candidate, like George Bush, or any other candidate whose actions had been deemed to cause havoc with public institutions?
Is this a community forum, or a plain vanilla exercise in "let's be nice until the election's over", and all the lawn signs are down?
Local elections in Palo Alto tend to be VERY parochial, insider-driven affairs. Might the Weekly find a way to stretch itself a bit and let citizens find a way to enter the fray in ways that mirror the real vernacular, instead of warmed-over fluff that prevents hard-hitting, but ACCURATE renditions of a candidate's past performance?
Newspapers are businesses, first and foremost; they have the right to publish and edit as they please. But to on the one hand say that your paper is "presenting opposing views", but at the same time leveling out the presentation of those views in ways that make them essentially meaningless; or, compelling those who create personal views to so carefully parse their words as to remove all sense of the vernacular - in terms of the real differences that human beings (voters, in this case) FEEL - is to remove and "edit out" the one thing that makes an interactive forum compelling - its very SOUL.
I would ask that you and your senior editors think about this, as you do your "editing out", and further think hard about how politics in Palo Alto (both at the municipal and school board level) are NOT engaged in by the majority of citizens. WHy is that? Could it be that politics, as presented by most small municipal news outlets is BORING?
There IS a reason for that; that reason being that so far, no means of media distribution - including these forums (althougth they're an improvement) have been able to excite Palo Altans (or most citizens, anywhere) to be engaged in a way that enhamces our democracy via PARTICIPATION.
Voters are decreasing in number, due to apathy.
Taking away (editing out) the very vernacular of human difference does NO service to citizen participation.
Posted by On the Town Fence, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm
Could you please clarify:
"We will be removing comments that are primarily aimed at criticizing a single candidate. The people who put themselves forward to run for public office deserve our respect even when we may disagree with their views, and our editors will be attempting to keep everyone focused on issues in these discussions."
Since Ms. Townsend is the only candidate with previous experience on the board are you saying that we can not comment or criticise her record? We can focus on issues, but not talk about a candidate unless it is positive? This would make a very interesting press coverage about free speech. Is this really what the Palo Alto Weekly is trying to accomplish?
Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online, on Sep 20, 2007 at 2:20 pm Tyler Hanley is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Our goal is to prevent rants against individuals, whether incumbents or not. Disagree with their positions or policies all you like, but once a comment becomes personal or disrespectful, it will be removed. This is not a new standard, so no one need be worried that this will inhibit all viewpoints from being expressed. But when criticisms become personal (admittedly a judgment call) it leads to defensive and emotional responses, which then progressively degrades the entire discussion. Regular users of Town Square know that our edits are not depriving people from expressing their varied viewpoints, they are attempting to keep the discussion civilized so that people without a stomach for a "no holds barred" debate aren't driven away. Some will disagree with our edits, but that just has to come with the territory.
Posted by Faith Brigel, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm
If you have wondered what PAEE has been up to, and who we endorse please read the following:
By: Palo Altans for Equity in Education
Subject: Endorsements in Palo Alto School Board Race
Date: September 20, 2007
Contact: email@example.com, or Faithwb3@yahoo.com;
Faith Brigel Phone: 650-326-2336
Palo Altans for Equity in Education- PAEE, a leader in last year’s effort to bring a more equitable program and process to the debate over PAUSD language programs, is endorsing three candidates for the Palo Alto Board of Education: Wynn Hausser, Barbara Klausner and Melissa Baten Caswell.
“We feel that these candidates have the intelligence, communication skill, listening skills and foresight that are necessary to lead our school district at this time.” said Faith Brigel, co-founder of PAEE.
“We’ve spent considerable time talking to the challengers in this race. We feel that Wynn, Barbara and Melissa offer the best strategic vision and have a responsible sense of accountability to our community. They also have the management skills and fiscal concern that we need in Palo Alto, plus broad experience and strong ties to our schools,” added Brigel. For more information please see our website: www.paee.us.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 5:03 pm
You're going to edit for repetition? I mean, c'mon, we're not writing op-eds here. Most of the people here aren't professional writers and I think it's a little harsh and discouraging to chomp down hard on that sort of thing. And, frankly, sometimes repetition is a form of clarification--a point might sink in after a while.
As for the rationale behind the editing of what seems personal. I understand that it's better for the comments to be productive and fair, but I've seen perfectly judicious comments get flamed simply because there are such strong feelings on an issue. Abortion (just to pick something that's not been a big topic here) pretty much always brings heated responses, no matter how carefully a viewpoint's been couched, just because of the subject matter.
In this thread, I've brought up a couple of things that I have questions about. I'm trying not to accuse anyone of anything and I'm trying to explain why something matters to me. From the looks of the edits, I'm still getting flamed. It's the nature of the beast--who gets elected to the BoE matters a lot this time.
I think cutting off flaewars between posters is valid, but, again, I think candidates are out there with the understanding they're going to take a little heat. I think there's a fine line between keeping the forum functional and protecting public figures. One's appropriate, the latter isn't.
Posted by Tinsley is good, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 21, 2007 at 10:20 pm
Walter, if you're a man of your word, yuo will not be voting for a BOE candidate this autumn, and Tinsley isn't going to go away anytime soon.
If you want Tinsley to disappear, why not get some people together to volunteer in the EPA schools, and bring them up a notch. They would welcome this kind of help, as there are some REALLY dedicated folks over there, doing everything they can to help advance the lives of EPA youth. The latter is what Tinsley is all about, and you diminish yourself by railing against it.
Given the special circumstances that exist for some of the Tinsley students (and, this isn't bleeding heart liberal fluff), I'll bet $$$ that if YOU were in some of those circumstances when you were a kid, yuor parents would have wanted you in a similar program.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 22, 2007 at 8:31 am
Tinsley - another word for Diaspora, the silly concept that the only way to educate Blacks was to sit them with their betters. By any acceptable metric busing has been a failure. The schools in EPA are as good as are our schools, and in some cases better. Closing Ravenswood was an insult to Blacks and a slap in the community face.
Go to any of the recipient schools and note the pattern of voluntary segregation. Tinsley - nobles oblige misdirected.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 22, 2007 at 3:01 pm
Are you so out of touch that you haven't noticed EPA has a hispanic majority? Diaspora? Gimme a break--NO ONE forced anyone to go to PA schools from EPA.
You know, you ought to volunteer over there. You seem to have very little idea of who the Tinsley families are and who actually lives in East Palo Alto and what issues they have.
Looks like a small charter high run by Stanford is on the books for EPA. Why don't you go and support that? It's not a comprehensive, but it's a start and it does have a world-class research facility behind it.
We know you're retired--you do have the time to do something.
And Rumsfeld has nothing to do with anything going on here. We can talk about what a poor manager he was if you want, though not on this thread.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm
Go look at my previous house at 1800 Stevens Avenue where 3 of my kids went to Costano and one daughter graduated from Ravenswood - the diaspora I refered to. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2007 at 3:24 pm
As promised in this space, I have updated my web site to include more specifics about my stand on the issues. I am happy to clarify or answer questions and will be adding additional material as the campaign progresses. See Web Link
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 23, 2007 at 8:46 pm
From Wynn's website:
Parents should also have a way to give anonymous feedback about teachers as part of a comprehensive evaluation process in a way that is not destructive to teachers."
Wynn, how would this play out? And who would the anonynous reporting be distributed to? Site principals? 25 Churchill? Teacher's union? others?
I like some of your other positions, but am wary of an *additional* level of reporting on teachers.
Teachers already report to more levels than any other group in the district. Why add yet another level of reporting, especially if that reporting comes from anonymous sources. Why should teachers be put in a defensive position this way?
Also, I wonder if you would be willing to consider anonymous reporting on the performance of administrators within 25 Churchill.
Teachers and site administrators are currently encouraged by their new Superintendent, Kevin Skelly, but that doesn't change the fact that there are still serious trust issues at play in this district.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 12:45 am
Thanks for the questions.
In every workplace I've been in, my supervisor has gotten feedback on my performance from my peers, subordinates, and "customers." Not as a separate layer of review, but as part of an overall evaluation. Why should it be different in a school district?
My goal is to make sure there is a way for people to give feedback, without fear of retribution, about the performance of teachers, administrators and management, including the superintendent. To accomplish this goal, I believe there needs to be a way to do it confidentially through a formal process. This is one way we can improve communication, which is a district priority this year.
My role as a board member would be to raise the issue and ask what mechanisms are in place for this kind of feedback, and how the process can be improved. It would be the job of the superintendent and his staff to come back with a report and recommendations for improvement.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:26 am
"I am not going to argue for or against any other candidate as I will hopefully be serving with two of them and want to have a positive relationship with every other board member. To be completely self-serving, what's best for me personally is to have people vote for only one School Board candidate. That's me"
Admitting that his request is "completely self-serving" does not make it acceptable. Wynn Hausser is asking us to vote for him and him alone, a tactic known as "bullet voting" in politics. Is he afraid he can't win if we also vote for other candidates?
This request seems to show that, under his "Hail fellow well met" persona, Wynn is interested only in getting himself on the BoE at all costs.
Camille has a "what I think is all that matters, and I don't have to explain myself" mentality too. Do we need another one?
Please, don't only vote for one candidate. Asking you to do so is unethical and this race is too important for us to play those kinds of games with it.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:22 am
It is not unethical to bullet vote. It is unethical to ask people to do it for you. Yes, people do use this tactic, but to be one of the candidates asking for it is wrong, especially in a person who is running on a campaign of high moral ground. There are three slots available. Why not simply encourage people to vote, and to vote for him as one of their choices?
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:56 am
I don't necessarily think Camille is going to win, and I don't necessarily want her to win. I want the three most proactive and responsive and responsible people to win. The way to ensure that happens is to have a thorough conversation before election day on all topics relevant to the race.
I think Wynn says many good things on his website and on this forum. I also think it would be a mistake not to question candidates about potential red flags. It's a simple question: is he asking people to vote only for him or does he support people's voting for three candidates, and may the top three win? Why did he even bring it up? Since none of the other candidates seem to have broached the topic, Wynn is the one being asked the question.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 10:58 am
BW, I don't think asking people to bullet vote for you is any more unethical than asking people just to vote for you. If the voter really wants you to win and it is a top priority, well, they absolutely should bullet vote for you. I think you're off base on this one.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 11:08 am
My biggest concern at this election would be if anyone, candidate or anyone else, was to start to rig the voting in any way to keep a certain candidate out. It is a strategy that is often used in first past the post voting where someone may not vote for someone they actually want to win, rather they vote for the candidate they feel has the best chance of winning just so that the candidate they don't want to win doesn't get elected. In an election of the type we appear to be having, this strategy could come into play and it is not what we really want to happen at PAUSD.
We want a fair election with fair voting strategies. We want the candidates that the majority of our city's electorate choose to be the ultimate winners, not anything else.
It is also worth pointing out that a great many of our school families are not actually citizens and so they have no say in who will be on the school board. Many families are immigrants of one type or another, some here short term, and although they have strong feelings in the way their kids are educated, they have no say in who gets voted in. It can be argued that they should take out citizenship, but it is not always possible for various reasons, and since they pay their taxes and send the kids to the schools, it seems prudent to be aware of this silent group of parents.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 11:28 am
Parent, have to disagree somewhat, I'm afraid. If some voters think it is important NOT to have a certain candidate in, voting for others they think may beat that candidate is a fair approach. Similar to voting for a compromise candidate in a Presidential primary, say - better that than seeing a zealot elected who you oppose.
Such as campaign need not be overtly negative, along the lines of "Vote for Fred! He's not Judy!!" It could simply be "Vote for Fred, the Electable Centrist!"
I would tend to agree that negative campaigning (which may in fact be your concern) is to be frowned on and hopefully would backfire. My guess is that most candidates will do best by positive campaigning on the issues. But organizing to block certain candidates seems like a valid strategy in my opinion, if that in fact is your top priority as a voter.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 11:28 am
Yikes! My comment was intended to be light-hearted. But for the record, I didn't tell or ask anyone to do anything.
There are three open slots. I hope you use one of them to vote for me. Beyond that, I hope you use the other two on the people you think are the best candidates. But I'm not going to tell you who that should be - that's your decision.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 11:34 am
Thank you for your comments. I think I do agree with you, however with the second point I raised, my concerns may be understood better on my first point.
For fear of being edited out, I will carefully point out my thinking. We have a hot topic in this election. It may be the case that a certain number of the proponents of this topic, do not have the vote.
Posted by PA mom, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Sep 24, 2007 at 12:42 pm
I really appreciate the idea of anonymous or at least confidential feedback on teachers, principals, etc. The current method - at least at Jordan - was to fill out a signed form which went to the teacher, not the principal or IS. It was at the teachers discretion to share that info.
I also know that there has been a confidentiality issue at Jordan with the principal sharing comments, shared on the condition of confidentiality, with staff members.
Communication is such an important issue, it is handled well both at the elementary and high school my kids have attended, Jordan was kind-of a black hole comparatively.
Posted by respectfully disagree., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:35 pm
Parent, I have to strongly disagree with your comment "we need to be aware of the parents who can't vote". I really don't care one whit about what someone thinks if they are not a citizen of our country. Honestly. They have no demonstrated commitment to us or our ways, and if their kids are not citizens, they have no commitment to raising their children to become good citizens in this country. So, honestly, no, I don't want any of our candidates trying to do what non-citizens may want.
If I move to Spain, and I want to just stay there for awhile to make good money then move back home, why should any Spaniard care what I think? They are stuck with the results of an election for generations, I can go home.
Posted by respectfully disagree., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:42 pm
Board Watcher: Your conclusions of what Mr. Hausser meant were not at all what I read. I can see how someone could take it that way if that were the only thing s/he read, but in context, the entirety was clearly meant to convey that he doesn't want to support or not other candidates, he only wants ( the "only" meaning is critcal here) for people to vote for him.
Posted by Voting strategy, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:48 pm
I have never understood the thinking about the "vote for only one on a ticket to not give votes to others". It makes no sense to me.
We are one of the minority of countries that HAS a vote..don't waste the opportunity! Vote for the 3 candidates that best represent what you believe the future of the District should be! Think BIG PICTURE, VISION, POLICIES, not details. If you vote for the 3 people who reflect your beliefs, then when an issue arises, they will vote the way that fits that belief to the best of their ability. If you play games with the vote, who knows what would happen? The numbers could work out completely against your strategy. If you vote for only ONE candidate, it gives candidates you may prefer to not have an edge, in that there aren't enough votes for others to unseat them.
In others words, somebody could get in with only a very small minority of votes.
Posted by Voting strategy, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:50 pm
I just re-read, and I didn't mean "unseat" in the sense of somebody already seated, though I know it looks like it. I meant "unseat" in the sense of somebody may be seated into the Board w/o many votes, and if the vote had been full, they may have been "unseated".
A better choice of words would have been "never seated"
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm
VS, not sure if you meant you didn't like bullet voting or actually didn't see why people would do it. Bullet voting is a standard strategy in multiple vote elections. From the Wikipedia:
"Candidates may seek to encourage bullet voting in certain situations. One example is where there is an election for two seats of the same office, and there are multiple candidates (say A, B, and C). Voters in such a situation typically have two votes. Candidate A will encourage his voters to vote only for him and not use their second vote. If the second vote is cast for B or C, it will help A's opponents. The situation is most pronounced where A is of one party and B and C are of another party. If voters from B and C's party vote for them, while A's partisans cast one vote for A and split their second vote between B and C, A will be significantly disadvantaged."
So the idea is not that you "throw away" your other votes - it is that you make the one you do cast count for more but not diluting it through votes for competing candidates you don't care as much about.
FWIW, I have no idea on how this all fits in the School Board election, but I can see why people might consider it.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 2:07 pm
I brought it up because Wynn Hausser brought it up, and I believe it deserved clarification. If he had said "from self-interest, I want you to vote for me" that would have been a very different statement, one that anyone running for office obviously feels. Was Wynn's post clumsily worded? Perhaps. But at least now we know definitively that he encourages his supporters not to bullet vote.
By the way, Terry, bullet voting for one candidate at the request of that candidate's election team is exactly what happened in the previous BoE election, so it is in fact relevant.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 2:12 pm
You have my intent completely wrong. I thoroughly agree with your analagy of moving to Spain and not expecting your views to be taken into account.
This is why I have posted. We have families here who have moved here and are hoping to get their kids educated in ways they want. In fact, it is fair to say that they have tried various means to get this to happen. They may have signed a petition to get our school Board to take their ideas seriously, and our school board may have acted on this. However, it may be the case that they are not able to vote in elections.
And to the point that people on H1 visas, L1 visas and green cards, have different tax structures, they can still buy houses and pay property tax as well as as any other Palo Alto homeowner. They also pay their way in both State and Federal taxes. Not a small sum if they are earning high salaries and living in million dollar + homes.
Posted by Now I respectfully understand, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 2:16 pm
Sorry, Parent. You are right, I misunderstood. Got it. Thanks for clarifying.
As for tax structure differences, yes, you are right. Most still pay taxes in some form, either directly or indirectly, while they are here. Which is only right as "rent", in my humble opinion, as I would think is fair if I am using Spain's schools, highways, etc while I am in Spain. It wouldn't be for the long haul, just for the "rental" quality.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 2:21 pm
I will certainly be more careful next time. Which is why candidates (and their teams) like to control their messages - so someone can review content beforehand and avoid misunderstanding (as well as inserting foot-in-mouth). I'll have to see whether I can successfully self-monitor or whether my campaign staff drags me out of here for my own good...(he said only half-seriously with a smile)
Posted by thanks, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 2:24 pm
Wynn: I admire you for venturing forth into this forum, and I would hope that we, as a town, for the most part of capable of understanding human error in grammar as opposed to differences in principles..principals...whatever :)
Posted by Please rewrite, a resident of the Palo Alto Hills neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 8:14 pm
What happened to the response to Mr. Ping Liu about restoring harmony? Whoever took out his "restoring harmony" from this thread did a good thing, but the response to it should have been transferred over to the correct thread also.
It was a well done response.
Whoever wrote it..about representative govt. , please re-write it on the other thread.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2007 at 2:31 pm
On a completely different slant to this....
I was speaking recently to a couple of empty nester friends about the school board (and city council) elections. They are still looking at the school district in the same way as they did when their kids were back in school, nearly 10 years ago. They are making judgment calls on their out of date personal experience. They were aware about MI and all the new housing, they had seen some new portables, but other than that, they had no idea of what was going on. How are any of the candidates going to reach out to these type of voters. These friends of mine will vote, they are that type of people, but they have no idea of the present situation. There must be many more of them around. Apart from door to door canvassing, I can't see how they will find out the real issues.
Posted by Watchful Eyes, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Sep 26, 2007 at 1:00 am
I have just taken a first glance at this particular forum hoping to find engaging conversation, thoughtful questions, and a keen awarness of school issues. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I also sense a lack of awareness of what it takes to be a school board member, and what it requires to run a campaign.
Just for a moment ask yourself what the 3 most important qualities might be for each candidate to possess and for the board as a whole reflect, in order to be successfull. What is your definition of success? What is it that will allow them to function as a committee, to move forward, and tackle some of the very difficult issue ahead.
Should this not be a group that reflects on the community as a whole, not just their neighborhood. That they have sound and fair reason, that they seek opinions not of their own, and most important the ability to always keep their eyes on the main objective: the education of our children, in an enviroment that promotes healthy minds and bodies.
We live in a community that has stong opinions but if we do not find a way to move forward in a congenial manner, with a school board that is smart, cooperative, and respectful, what sort of message will we send our children, and what might be the effect on the educational process we all hold so dear.
I urge each of you who have expressed an opion to meet these candidates, listen closely to what they say, how they say it and ask yourself ... is this someone I want to listen to, and make decisions on my behalf for the next 4 years, for what could have an effect for years to come. What insights do each of these candidates have that will foster knowledgable decisions about our schools, the curriculum, and our community.
Posted by hmmm, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2007 at 1:57 pm
I have to admit, I had pretty much the same reaction as the last "Parent" to the lecture.
Unfortunately, whoever wrote the lecture doesn't even realize that the VAST MAJORITY of Board members choose to run for a second term and end up staying for 8 years, not 4. The majority of incumbents in an election win..for right or wrong, and regardless of the reasons, it is simply fact. So, we are not electing for 4 years, but for 8.
This error alone tells me that whoever wrote it was at the very least unaware of what the consequences of this race are. It was also apparent that whoever wrote it is not aware of all the facts of the last few years in our district. ( As the last poster said - how many have read the SIPs, the Grant application, the web sites concerning the issues of the last couple years, gone to Board meetings or watched on TV even once per semester, been on PTAs or Site Councils, etc.)
I don't disagree at all with the questions of whoever wrote the post, but the tone was revealing.
Posted by ABC = Anyone but Camille, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2007 at 4:25 pm
Watchful Eyes posting sounds (reads?) to me as a post from a lurking canidate. If so, I would state that it is one thing to lurk and snipe from the edges. It is definitely another to engage in the interaction of ideas, opinions, and yes, some level of sniping that constitutes a vigorous discussion. I have not seen anything here that I have not heard in various conversations around PA for the past year. In fact, it appears to me that there is more thought-per-post here that in almost any conversation I have been in or listened to recently. People on this forum care about the issues and care to craft their posts in a way that communicates the issues. To date, why I am pretty confident that most if not all of the candidates (or their teams) monitor these forums, only Wynn has dove it and engaged in them. I have much more respect for his engaging, including where he has been verbally spanked at times for his posts, than I do for others lurking.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2007 at 7:46 pm
Quit protecting candidates. My comment that Camille Townsend was [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] was a comment about her behavior at a board meeting. Her behavior during the MI debate was high-handed and she, not I, said she didn't care about the voters who signed the anti-MI petition.
Public behavior in an elected position--why is it not acceptable to discuss and, yes, criticize that in a forum about the school board elections?
I know more than one voter who was put off by Ms. Townsend's way of dealing with disagreement when they watched the board meetings on television. I think a lot of us were kind of shocked by it, frankly.
And I think people who didn't watch those board meetings have a right to know about a board member's conduct in meetings.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Sep 26, 2007 at 11:52 pm
Responses from Claude Ezran, School Board candidate to some of the questions listed at the top of this page. For more details on my views regarding a variety of issues, feel free to visit my web site: www.ezran2007.com
1) What do you feel should be the Board's priorities over the next year, be specific.
My number one priority for next year is to address the issue of enrollment growth and facilities planning. We need to:
* Define our vision for 21st Century school facilities.
* Examine all key variables and find the optimal compromise points: demographic projections, maximum site size, class size, new sites, and financing options.
* Put together a realistic, detailed, prioritized and time-sequenced facilities road map that the School Community is enthusiastic about and willing to support.
This is a huge and complex task that will require vision, leadership and decisiveness.
My other objectives are:
* Expand the teaching of foreign languages to 6th grade and then elementary schools
* Make real progress in closing the achievement gap. Offer after school tutoring classes on a voluntary basis; staff them with community volunteers supervised by teachers.
2) What would you expect your relationship to be with our new superintendent?
The Superintendent reports to the Board and is the Board’s only employee. I expect the Board to operate at the policy and strategy level and the Superintendent to take care of operational details. And this is definitely not the reverse.
3) How will you improve communication between the Board, District and parents?
Much work needs to be done. I have personally seen the school community at its highest point while I was on the Measure A (school parcel tax) Organizing Committee. The whole community was aligned toward a great goal and ended up being successful. Unfortunately now, we have lost some of our unity.
There are several important things that all of us together still need to accomplish, especially with respect to school facilities and a possible bond issue. It is therefore critical that the Board and the District regain the trust of the community.
Here is my plan of action:
a) I will use my business experience managing people and project teams to promote teamwork on the Board and help it function with greater effectiveness. I will encourage it to operate more at the leadership and policy level and focus less on operational details.
b) I will monitor the situation with my colleagues to ensure that the new Superintendent and the District’s management team are working optimally.
c) I will encourage decisiveness on issues, and lead by example.
d) If there is any issue that divides the community, I will ask representatives from both sides to get together, probably with the help of a mediator (e.g. former School Board member, or a professional facilitator), and try to arrive at a consensus. People who have disagreements in our District sometimes forget that they share 95% of the same goals; they need to be reminded of that key fact, and we need to encourage them to identify win-win outcomes. Consensus building and the ability to strike compromises are critical. I believe that my extensive business experience running large project teams, task forces, various meetings, and managing people will be extremely useful in that regard.
e) I will conduct informal study sessions where the community will be able to easily provide inputs regarding specific issues and have a meaningful dialog with the Board.
f) If necessary I will remind people that civility in public affairs (and elsewhere) is a must!
4) Thoughts on our overcrowded schools, shall we open a 13th elementary or can we be more creative at our current sites (encourage split recess, etc.) Shall we be looking at a 3rd high school or adding to our current sites?
I am deeply concerned by the fact that over the past six years our district has grown by 200-250 students/year (almost half the size of an elementary school). We cannot continue to add band-aid solutions to band-aid solutions; this would inevitably lead to a suboptimal situation. We need to put together a facilities roadmap for the next 10-15 years. While I would be inclined to say that we need a 13th elementary school and probably a mid-size non-comprehensive high school, I would not commit to these costly steps without having first a long-term plan for all our facilities, and a way to finance such an expansion.
Here is an example of why we need a plan. The Garland site could potentially be used for a 13th elementary school, but maybe we will need that site to rotate existing schools while they are being remodeled or expanded with second stories (one of many possible options). We need to make sure that we understand all aspects, and then be decisive and move fast.
5) Thoughts on how to prevent a divisive conflict like the MI issue.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:19 am
Responses from Claude Ezran, School Board candidate to some of the other questions listed at the top of this page. For more details on my views regarding a variety of issues, feel free to visit my web site: www.ezran2007.com
1) How will you use community input in your decision-making process.
Here is my personal philosophy about governing as a School Board member, and how I will make decisions
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
* The Board has only one direct report and that is the Superintendent. I will not bypass him and go to his subordinates without having complete approval from him. I will not make time consuming demands on his/her staff. Only the Board can.
* The Board sets policy, not the Superintendent.
* The Superintendent is in charge of operational issues, not the Board
* I will be inclusive and value the opinions of my peers on the Board, the Superintendent, the management staff, the teachers, the employees, and the community.
* I will seek to find common grounds between opposite point of views, and I will facilitate discussions that lead to compromises on both sides that ultimately make sense.
* I will make decisions based on what I genuinely believe is in the best long-term interest of the community, and of course based on my personal value system when confronted with sensitive issues. My objective is to contribute to making our community even better.
UNIFYING THE COMMUNITY
* Although I will represent the interests of the School District, for me “community” means a lot more. It also includes the cities in our district (Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills and Stanford), the children who come to PAUSD from East Palo Alto through the VTP program, and our local partners such as the Foothill De-Anza Community College.
* I will seek synergies with our cities and our partners.
* I will seek fairness for all. We do not need to have a rivalry between North and South Palo Alto; or between Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills. We are all part of the same community, and we have much better things to do.
* I will not be afraid to take a stand, even if the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. I will not try to please everybody all the time.
* I will seek transparency in decision making processes.
* I will be decisive. There will always be more data to analyze, but at some point in time, you must draw a line and make a move. Sometimes an imperfect decision is a lot better than inaction.
* I will be concise. Most school board meetings across the nation last two to three hours. Why should ours last six?
* Whenever I make a mistake, I will admit it
* Civility in public affairs (and elsewhere) is a must!
2) What programs are you particularly proud of in our district.
There are too many to be able to list them all here! Let me just mention that I have been very impressed by the quality of the concerts, musicals and plays I have attended; I also like the art classes. In addition, I found the journalism classes at Paly and Gunn to be just outstanding. The students interviewed me two years ago when I first run for School Board; it was obvious that they had thoroughly done their homework researching the candidates and their positions, and they asked really sharp questions. I am particularly proud of the fact that the Campanile ended-up endorsing me.
3) What is your opinion of our current physical school sites - how can we improve them
We are living on a legacy from the 60s. There are many things that need to be improved. Just a couple of examples: the acoustics in the multi-purpose rooms is terrible; there are no suitable rooms to sit-down and have lunch. Many of our facilities show their age. Please see related comments in my message above.
4) Have you read the AAAG Report, and what do you think of the recommendations?
Yes, I read the report. As stated in my message above, while I would tend to favor a 13th elementary school, this should not be decided before having first a comprehensive plan on how to deal with enrollment growth throughout the district over the next 10-15 years. I am concerned about taking major incremental steps without a clear vision of how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:18 am
Claude, Welcome to the online conversation - kudos to you for joining in. I'm looking forward to your answers to the last 3-4 overcrowding questions. Hopefully the other candidates will reply, too.
Your answer to the following question was an eye-opener. Imagine where we could be today if this had described the Board-Superintendent relationship for the past few years...
2) What would you expect your relationship to be with our new superintendent?
The Superintendent reports to the Board and is the Board’s only employee. I expect the Board to operate at the policy and strategy level and the Superintendent to take care of operational details. And this is definitely not the reverse.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:34 am
Oh, honestly, you're getting hopelessly uptight about the editing business.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Let me put it this way--the Forum is POPULAR. All these posts generate traffic you want--or rather *need*. So quit the overfussing unless you really want to stop traffic. Controversy means traffic--and your business model requires online traffic.
Too much editing and I'll start sending you a bill--getting hassled when I'm giving you my copy for free ain't worth it.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 8:38 am
Welcome and thank you for your comments.
I would like to say that I really think you are right when you say that FLES should initially be started in 6th grade and then work its way back down the grades to whatever level is agreed it should start.
This would benefit the greatest number of students sooner and make the transition in middle school to the regular language programs a
simpler process. I would like to know if you are also volunteering to be involved on the FLES task force committee. I realise that because of your running for office and the time constraints that will take and then ultimately being on the BoE, it may make thoughts of being on this committee out of the question, but I think that someone like you and in particular with your experience of being educated in Europe with language instruction there, would be an ideal person to be on that committee.
I would be eager to hear any more ideas you have in regard to FLES.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 10:22 am
Tsk, tsk, there's a point when being stubborn looks ridiculous--and there's where your censoring has gotten you on this one.
Psssst--you know who is just like you know who. Deleting my rationale for making the comparison goes way beyond removing flames. At this point, you're removing stuff bbecause it's easier to zap criticism of the newspaper's policy on this than deal with it.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:12 am
Response from Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, regarding FLES.
I would have loved to volunteer to be on the FLES task force. I certainly have experience with the teaching and learning of foreign languages, and I also live in a bilingual household. The demands of the campaign are such (and I also have a job) that I would not be able to devote the necessary time and effort to this valuable effort. I also hope to be elected, which would probably preclude me from being on the task force; although I could possibly volunteer to be the Board liaison to the task force.
I think it is important to focus on FEW key priorities and work diligently to make them happen. What I suggest for the District is:
#1 – Make a plan to deal with enrollment growth and facilities needs
#2 – Expand the teaching of foreign languages: FLES
#3 – Make real progress in closing the achievement gap (see my web site for details: www.ezran2007.com)
As you can see, FLES ranks fairly high. There are many questions to ponder (and I do not pretend to have all the answers right now):
- Is FLES part of the core curriculum or is it optional?
- If it is optional, what is the size of the demand? (the answer to that question will help us gauge costs)
- What do we do with respect to children with learning disabilities? What do we do about English learners?
- What are the objectives: exposure to foreign languages and cultures, or ultimate fluency? Can we do both in order to satisfy different needs? How?
- What will be the impact of FLES on the existing foreign language programs (we will have students who are much more advanced)
- Do we make the study of a foreign language mandatory for graduation? For how many years? (Right now it is not required for graduation but is needed to be admitted at some universities).
- It is not just about foreign languages, but also about the understanding of foreign cultures. What will our approach be?
- What specific languages do we want to offer?
- Will we lengthen the school day to accommodate this additional program?
A lot of work will have to be done to answer those questions 9and others). I sincerely hope that this time the community will exhibit a team spirit to help make things happen, even though things might not be perfect and might not include all what people expect right at the beginning. Achieving this frame of mind will demand a steady hand from the part of Board members; this will not happen by chance, and we will need to be proactive and conscious of the many potential pitfalls ahead.
This monumental task will require substantial vision, leadership and decisiveness from the School Board. The ability to listen to the community, forge compromises and rally people behind a plan will be key. I am ready to undertake such an exciting project for the sake of our children.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:36 am
Response from Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, regarding facilities and MI.
You ask excellent questions, and I will tell you frankly that I do not have the answers. I strongly believe in being straightforward with the community and not try to make up answers when I do not have them yet.
There is one thing, though, I do know for sure: it is that we have a huge District-wide facilities problem. As you know the District has been growing by 200-250 students per year over the past six years. This is almost half the size of an Elementary School! We are a great District and the downside effect of this is that we do attract more people.
As I indicated in my comments above, if elected, I will try to make this issue of enrollment growth and facilities planning number one for the Board during its first year. I do not recommend having a stream of sub-optimal incremental decisions regarding facilities. We will end up getting stuck in a very undesirable state. We should no make decisions site per site that do no take into account the District-wide effects. We must face the reality of enrollment growth and put together a comprehensive long-term facilities plan. Hopefully this long-term facilities road map will also include plans for Ohlone.
Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:03 pm
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am just starting to do research on candidates, and I appreciate your focus on getting long-term decisions right rather than spitting out quick, crowd-pleasing mini-positions. I also appreciate your vision on foreign-languages.
Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:07 pm
I think I am beginning to get my thoughts around the candidates and down to making a decision.
One thing I have really thought about and taken into account is what the final board should look like. I don't think the board should be stacked full of like minded people. Yes, I think that the candidates I agree with are likely to be the ones to go with, but I do not want to exclude balance. Therefore, I am looking beyond the candidates who I agree with on everything and instead look at those who I feel will provide a balance, ready to discuss things at different levels and willing to look at different options and differing opinions before making a decision. I want an overall board that will have people who can intelligently discuss an issue, bring different experience to the table, listen to each other (perhaps learning from each other) and agree to differ without losing the ability to work together.
I urge everyone to look at the way they want the board to look, taking into account the personalities of those already there, and vote to make a whole rather than a set of individuals who can't work together.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:17 pm
Response from Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, to questions above regarding overcrowding
1) How do you propose the overcrowding be relieved in a) elementary, b) middle, c) high schools?
Please see several of my responses above. As I stated the issue of enrollment growth and facilities planning should be the Board’s number one priority for next year, until it come up with a realistic action plan. With the strong caveat that we FIRST need to have a comprehensive plan, I will say that a likely solution could include a 13th elementary school and a third mid-size non-comprehensive high school. The third high-school could be for the 20-30% of our students who are not interested in going to college, and also for programs such as: specialization in music, drama and other arts, technical education, etc.
2) What do you think of charter schools?
When a school district is clearly underperforming, charter schools can be part of the solution. The KIPP Academy in San Jose and other parts of the country is often mentioned as an outstanding example of a charter school producing tangible achievements for economically disadvantaged students who might not have such opportunities otherwise.
In Palo Alto we have a highly performing district. Charter schools would only weaken the District, and I would not support them.
3) What would you do with MI after the 3 year pilot, assuming the program itself went well?
I will be very frank: I have not focused on that, and we still have some time. The three top, and quite ambitious, priorities I have for the District are:
#1 – Make a plan to deal with enrollment growth and facilities needs
#2 – Expand the teaching of foreign languages: FLES
#3 – Make real progress in closing the achievement gap (see my web site for details: www.ezran2007.com)
We have important tasks ahead of us that will require much cohesiveness from the part of the community. Any one of the top two priorities above could generate enormous frictions, even beyond what we have seen with MI! My recommendation is that we all focus on healing the school community because not much will get accomplished if we are not aligned.
4) What action would you take (if any) if a lottery program starts displacing neighborhood students?
It is already happening now independently of lottery programs. About 120 elementary school students ended up this year in a school that was not their own neighborhood school. As stated above, let’s focus on what I think is the number one task at hand for next year (given the fact that academically we are doing well for the time being) and that’s dealing with enrollment growth and facilities planning. Maybe part of the solution could, and I just say could - it is just one of the possibilities - include a thirteen elementary school for all/most choice programs. We would need to get community inputs before making such a decision.
Posted by parent, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:30 pm
Claude -- I agree with you that facilities are the big issue here and must be addressed before anything else. Given that MI has not started yet and will not be that far along in development in November, then, would you support putting a moratorium on MI (perhaps delaying it by two years) until these fundamental questions have been addressed? That way the issue of where to put MI long term could be properly addressed at the same time as figuring out where to put everyone else (people here have suggested moving MI and SI together, for example, at a campus such as the one Pinewood currently occupies). Given our situation, why would it not be a good idea to delay MI's implementation?
Posted by Dadof4, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:07 pm
Claude - Welcome to the forum and thanks for joining!
I am also very intersted in Parent's question. Given your position , which I agree with, of sorting out the long term facilities plan prior to addressing other issues and/or adding more programs; do you support putting a moratorium on MI until these questions have been addressed?
Posted by apologies to a nice guy, but I have to say this, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 29, 2007 at 12:41 pm
Claude, your intentions are clearly good, but I still cannot get past the fact that even after nearly a year of discussion you were quoted in the Palo Alto Weekly, ( I think) as saying you were still for MI because it was not different from special programs for a few like like Special Ed, after school sports teams and AP classes.
I simply cannot vote for you because that reasoning shows a type of thought process I cannot support, and a support on your part for a completely different district where every school is different from the other in curriculum and the kids get the education they "win".
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2007 at 4:51 pm
I have some questions for Wynn Hausser.
I understand that in the various forums, Wynn is citing as part of his credentials work performed by Public Advocates over several decades, but that he himself has been employed there for less than a year. From my web searches, it looks like he is a PR spokesman there too, rather than an in-the-trenches fighter for educational equity.
Also, although his website says that he was an award-winning documentary and educational filmmaker in a previous career, my web search came up with only two documentary films, one on illegal immigrant safe houses in the Southwest and the other on a brutal murder and subsequent false race-based conviction in the South. The second film did win an award but Mr. Hausser's contribution was as one of several cinematographers doing pickup shots. I wonder which educational films he made, what part he played in making them, and how they are relevant to his ability to lead PAUSD on the important issues.
Wynn claims that of the candidates, he isthe one with the best relevant experience for addressing the educational issues in PAUSD. Since trust is such a big issue in the PAUSD, it would be very helpful if someone from his campaign would clarify his relevant expertise and explain these inconsistencies.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2007 at 10:08 pm
If personal opinions and feelings are allowed on this forum, I would like to say that I feel none of the candidates running for the school board have a true understanding of the needs of our school district, nor do they have the necessary experience.
There are however, several regular online posters to this forum who I feel are more highly qualified and versed in the needs of our school system.
It is unfortunate that they did not run for election.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 1:28 pm
Oh, I don't know that I agree with you there, Parent. I have been reading up on Melissa and I have to say I am pretty impressed with her combination of business experience and education/PTA experience -- I think that combination would add a lot of value to the Board, as in both cases it provides her with directly relevant experience (to go with Board Watcher's theme). I also want to know more about Barb Klaussner. She seems to have a background in education that could give the Board some much-needed practical perspective too.
Both Wynn Hausser and Pingyu Liu seem to have dropped off the Forum boards. It's been strangely quiet on here lately. Wonder what's brewing.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 1:45 pm
I disagree with you on Melissa. As was apparent at the Ohlone candidate forum last night, Melissa does not have any distinguishing depth to her experience. She's supporting all the pat things (processes, strategic plan, core curriculum), but doesn't have proven dedication to those goals. She didn't participate in any curriculum work (Barbara has), she doesn't have distinguishing financial or planning experience (Claude has), she's pretty superficial.
Being a good PTA president doesn't make you a good school board trustee. Going thru a lot of nice motions isn't good enough for me, anyway.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm
anonymous, I have to ake another look but that was just not the impression I got. I have to get another look at Claude too I guess. It seems to me it would be useful to do side by side comparisons of all the candidates, their relevant experience (and how it relates to Board functions) and their stance on things. Sort of a matrix. I would do one myself but I don't have enough of a sense of the long-term career and volunteer activities of each to figure out how those positions transalte to Board functions. Anyone willing to take this on?
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:02 pm
with Gail Price going off the board, it'd be important for me to have a full time working parent represented on the board, too. Dana Tom and Barb Mitchell both are not working full time and are from the north Palo Alto area - just like Melissa. We need more diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Not another clone.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:07 pm
Wow, that's a pretty big requirement to impose on someone else (which I I assume is not you). Must have a full time job and children. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a full time working parent in this community? I hardly can see how a 20 hour a week job added on top of that would be feasible.
As long as the person is a parent and has some work experience of relevence, (perhaps the experience of having been a full time working parent in the past) - that would be enough for me.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:11 pm
For me, what Gail Price takes with her is her ability to logically step through an issue and make decisions based on sound reason. Scare tactics, bullies, Superintendents who want to rule the board, not vice versa, and not even warm fuzzies distract her from thinking clearly. This is the void I'm looking to fill with my votes.
Posted by stick to facts, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 2:46 pm
I encourage everyone to go to the candidate forums and to study the candidates' websites. There is a lot of misinformation running around on this blog, like accusing someone of having no "proven depth or distringuishing dedication" to the goals of strategic planning etc. I find that breathtakingly false, and along the lines of flat out smear. Or maybe best left ignored, I don't know.
I pay attention to facts and the proven history of the person. Stick to facts people, use quotes, reference answers, etc, or you lose all credibility.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 2, 2007 at 4:10 pm
Yet another parent,
Your description of Gail Price is right on. Gail is also co-chairing Wynn Hausser's campaign, and believes he will be an outstanding board member. That carries a lot of weight with me.
Gail demonstrated that one can, indeed, work full time and be an effective board member. Wynn works full time, and therefore is motivated to promote efficient meetings and not get bogged down in operational issues that should be the purview of the superintendent and his staff.
I don't know why Wynn has dropped off the forum, but looking at the list of coffees and forums that he and the other candidates have to attend, I'm not surprised. It must be especially difficult for someone with a day job to handle this grueling schedule.
I was at the one at Ohlone last night and found it very helpful in further developing my own voting thoughts (and it was very efficiently run!). Wynn Hausser was absent because of flu, so that may explain his absence from Town Square as well (pure conjecture on my part!).
Big thanks to the Palo Alto PTA for organizing and to all 6 candidates for participating. Encourage your friends, especially those without current PAUSD students, to attend.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 5:19 pm
One would think so, but many of those who have seen the forums see Wynn dominating and talking more rather than less. Is there some reason to suppose he will be less verbose on the BoE? Gail's support is a plus for those of her who saw her steadfastness in the face of outright nastiness and waffling by other BoE members. On the other hand, I'm not sure Wynn and Gail are fungible.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 2, 2007 at 11:02 pm
That’s valuable feedback for Wynn. I hope that even though he hasn’t written in recently that he’s reading this and thinking about ways to moderate his conduct in debates so that he demonstrates his in-depth understanding of the issues facing this district without appearing to dominate or overwhelm the other candidates.
But remember too that performance on the stump doesn’t accurately show how someone will perform in the boardroom. During the last campaign Dana Tom’s platform had something to do with improving communication and Barb Mitchell’s was about enhancing educational opportunities for all students. They looked and sounded good in front of an audience. But I’ve been disappointed in their tenure thus far because they seem to allow themselves to be manipulated by a couple more senior board members and district staff.
Fortunately, there are many more opportunities to grill the candidates and try to separate the wheat from the chaff, or the men from the boys, or whatever analogy seems appropriate in this context. This Thursday night, Oct. 4, is a biggie -- The League of Women Voters Open Forum, 7-9 p.m. at 25 Churchill. I believe it will be broadcast on cable TV.
Posted by Fan of OhlonePar, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2007 at 11:53 pm
You are too hilarious! I just woke up everyone laughing out loud.
Too bad about the possibility of a "bonus" and "golden carrot" being edited.
When I read that Palo Alto and Cupertino schools were mentioned in an overseas link,
I thought the comment "roll out the red carpet (no pun intended)" would be edited, but they left it.
I just saw that someone else is looking for you on another thread (not me). It is the thread about the phone call from the market research firm regarding Palo Alto Schools.
I wish that you were running for school board.
I think that you would be surprised how many people share your views.
Regardless of what other people may post, don't let them get you down.
If an individual that holds a public office cannot handle criticism, then they should not be in office. It comes with the job. Just look at all the criticism and accusations that the Clinton and Bush administrations have had to endure, and the political cartoons too.
Do other standards of editing apply for appointed County Employees who hold positions on the BOE?
Looks like I took too long to write this, your post was removed.
I don't understand, I just loved it - it was written with such precision.
Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, a resident of the Triple El neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 1:17 am
Response from Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate, regarding request for a matrix comparing the candidates, and having Board members who work full time.
Dear Friends, I am back! Thank you for the kind comments above.
Several of you have asked for a matrix comparing the candidates. While it would be inappropriate for me to comment on other candidates, I will highlight here some of the relevant facts that make me different from most (not always all) other candidates. I will also explain why these facts do matter.
I cannot physically reproduce a table here, so I would encourage you to go to my home page where you will find one. That makes it easier easier to read: www.ezran2007.com
Fact: I am the only candidate who was on the Measure A Organizing Committee.
Importance: I know what it takes to win an electoral campaign for our schools; we might have one soon, a bond issue for school facilities.
Fact: Foreign born.
Importance: Diversity: 26% of Palo Altans are foreign born. Expand the teaching of foreign languages. Global perspective, we live in a global economy.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 6:05 am
Hi Claude --
Thank you for taking the time to provide a matrix of assertions to factual basis and relevance. It was very helpful. I checked your assertions and they seem to be well-founded. I like what you say. I am still wondering, though, about your MI comments -- do you really not see anything wrong with letting MI jump the line after we put together a strategic plan, not making it wait a year for consideration under the new strategic plan? This is important to me because I want to know how you would deal with the situation if, for example, a strong group proposed French immersion -- showed it was feasible under, showed at least 10 parents were interested, and threatened a charter. Also, how would you handle a grant like the MI grant that has come up?
I am gun-shy from having voted for candidates who have not lived up to their pre-election promise. I want some well-founded reassurances that the candidates I vote for will approach education in this district with equity and foresight.
Posted by facts, please, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:22 am
To Whomever is accusing one of the candidates of "dominating" the Candidate forums...could you please explain how this is based at all in fact given that the forums are strictly monitored by time, and no once is allowed to go beyond his or her one minute to answer a question? Or 2 minutes opening statement or closing statement?
Now that is two baseless "opinions" on 2 different candidates...hmmm
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:43 am
Apologies. The issue has arisen in the candidates' joint coffees. So what we know from this is that when Wynn is restrained from speaking more than an alotted time, he can do it and otherwise he runs over time. Since there are no time limits on BoE members' comments, it is all too easy to think he would do this in BoE meetings as well if elected.
Posted by ok, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:54 am
Ok fair enough. How many coffees have you gone to? Have you seen an improvement in any or all of the candidates in all areas? I have only been to one. My guess is that every single person is refining his/her behaviors and answers with every coffee and every Forum. They are each, after all, only human and I know, for a fact, therefore prone to errors.
I am most interested in who came to the opening of the election "season" with the already developed thinking that agrees with mine.
Posted by Tracy, a resident of Stanford, on Oct 3, 2007 at 2:28 pm
Checking In from the Klausner Campaign - Lots of interest here on the Town Square about the candidates. As suggested by several of the comments I too would like to invite all who are curious to attend one of the remaining PTA School Forums. Yes, candidates are kept to timed responses, and yes they are fine tuning their comments. But, substance and style comes through. And so far at the first 3 forums, new questions have come up that requires some fast thinking.
If you cannot make one of the School Forums almost all candidates have a full slate of coffees or public appearances: like this Thursday (10/4) at 25 Churchill for the Leaque of Women Voters, or if you perfer something a bit less formal, try one of the two Ice Cream Socials; College Terrace-Mayfield Park, Oct 14th 2 - 4 or Midtown - Seale Park, Oct 15th 1 - 4.
Talk to each candidate and have your questions answered directly.
Thank you all for your participation in this very important school board race. Remember to Vote.
Posted by PAUSD Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 3, 2007 at 4:44 pm
As a very involved parent in my children's school I would like to take exception to what some have said above about non citizens not caring about what happens in the schools here. I am not a US citizen, but I do a lot for the schools my children attend. I have three children in three different schools, I am on the PTA of each and regularly attend meetings at all schools. I help with fundraisers, help in classrooms, drive for field trips and help out in many ways. I agree that I cannot vote who will be on the board of education, but that does not mean that I don't care. I do care that we have a board that will run our schools correctly, taking into account the various issues and the various needs of our schoolchildren. I think that what we have at present is a shambles. In many ways I wish I could vote, but I am not interested in national or state elections because my one vote would not make a difference. It may make a difference to the school board, but however that is not to be. Yes, we own our very expensive home. Yes we pay property taxes and all other taxes at the same rates as every US citizen. The government looks on us no differently as anyone else when it comes to claiming tax from us, in fact we also have to pay tax on what we own abroad also.
Please do not treat us as uninformed on community issues. We are part of the community, not foreigners. True, there may be some like that, but I know that it is a false impression to think that we are here just to take and not to give. We give in as many ways as the next person, perhaps even more so.
Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 12:15 am
Your comment reminds us all that residents are concerned about their children's education and the quality of the schools they attend whether or not they are citizens. Some jurisdictions have given non-citizen residents the limited right to vote in school elections. An attempt to allow all residents over 18 to vote in school elections failed in San Francisco in 2004.
Posted by Fan of OhlonePar, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 1:58 am
Did you check out the link mentioned 3 rows above?
I will have a difficult time making my decision this year.
I hope that she attends the scheduled "coffee at our school" because I am prepared to ask "to the point" questions, and I usually do not give up until I get an answer.
I have been caring for a sick child all week and have been staying up late due to "cough management".
I am too sleepy to write anything, but I am able to read links.
I was here through prop 13 too, but I imagine that I am a lot older than you. I went to school right here in Palo Alto, and I actually think that the schools are much better in every way. There are quite a few of my old friends from Kindergarten, Junior High, and even High School who are still around. Now our kids play together which is kind of neat. We all just happened to be older moms.
It must be the water in Palo Alto that causes us to have children at a later age. I think Jane Stanford had her only son Leland at age 42.
I am too tired to check it.
I look forward to your comments tomorrow.
BTW - If you use the search engine to locate that French lady on paloaltoonline, you can find her on there, unedited - lol.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:50 am
I agree with Curious. As an example, Wynn Hausser willingly disclosed his potential conflicts from the start. (Search this thread for 9:36 for his comments.) AND he himself suggested that he might be "automatically conflicted out" when it comes to discussions related to those conflicts. This is refreshing.
Posted by Thinking it through without sarcasm, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 11:12 am
By the same kind of some of the analysis I see above, all of us gay rights activists should vote for Cheney for President because his daughter is gay and just had a child...sheesh..or, conversely, it is completely irrelevant what a family member does. Both are false conclusions.
What truly matters in this discussion is NOT what the spouse thinks, but if the family coffers can be ameliorated in any way, or the spouse elevated in any way, by a particular direction of the Board. An obvious example would be if a spouse worked for an publisher of textbooks, and the Board were voting on which textbook publisher to use.. Ok, recuse self please. But, working for a multinational organization does not mean that there is a conflict of interest. Most American businesses are multinational. If the spouse is working for an organization which is trying to promote French language instruction in America and business for France, THAT could be big conflict of interest if, say, a French Immersion program were being pushed by the Board Member. Then I would say that it is unethical and he or she should be recused from all discussion, and the spouse should make it clear when he or she speaks and writes that it is aBoard member spouse speaking.
So, yes, spouses and children etc are important, but only if the Board member is not one who is ethical. I think that it is perfectly acceptable for a Board member to have all kinds of "conflicts" as long as s/he is above board about it.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 4, 2007 at 1:31 pm
Wow. Where'd all the comments go? Was it something I said? My bullying tone? My malicious nature? This set of edits goes beyond reason.
Editors, is it within your powers to "un-remove" posts if you find that the deleting wasn't necessary in this case? It really was quite a civil conversation. Are there candidate(s) you're endorsing that you're trying to protect?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 1:46 pm
I think it depends on whether there's a possible conflict-of-interest. This has been my unanswered question about Camille Townsend. Does her husband (and thus her) have any investments in companies that would profit from MI courses. This came up because her husband mentored a student who does have that sort of business. Stanford profs. are allowed to and do invest in businesses of their students, so it's a kind of obvious question to ask.
My issue is not Townsend's or Klausner's spouses doing work in China, though I think it would be interesting to hear from Klausner and Townsend as to whether it affects their opinion of the importance of MI in Palo Alto.
I think disclosures of any potential conflicts--or why there isn't a conflict would be a great thing to hear from the candidates. There's a very high level of distrust at this point--and if the next board is to be effective there really needs to be greater transparency.
Editors--try NOT to remove this--these are very real political issues getting discussed. Give candidates a chance to respond instead of just erasing stuff. If you just erase stuff, it means people tend to form opinions on uncertain information. Think of this as one of the very few places where both sides can exchange information. Yes, it gets rowdy, but democracy is a lively process.
Re: prop 13. Yes, the education's better in Palo Alto--but we are a basic-aid district, quasi-private. Because of housing, our financial investment in local education is huge. Basically, the gap between the top districts and everywhere else has simply widened over the years. Much like incomes.
But get outside a basic-aid district and you won't see improvements in education--more like some adept compensations for the fact that the money's not there. Even here, the buildings are in much worse shape than any of the schools I attended. But then, we haven't built a school in Palo Alto since? We've been coasting on pre-prop. 13 capital improvements.
Posted by Carly, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 2:05 pm
These latest removals are the most bizarre I've seen in perusing these forums. This was a very interesting discussion about issues germane to the school board election. I didn't see the discussion as rowdy or offensive in any way.
When someone runs for public office, is it not permitted to have a discussion about what factors might bear on his or her fitness for office?
My post didn't even mention any candidate. I merely said I thought it might be relevant when deciding whether to vote for a particular candidate to know whether that candidate's spouse had interests from which one might infer that the candidate as well as the spouse held views on an issue in the campaign.
There was no vitriol in any of the posts deleted that I saw. It was a good discussion without personal rancor. If we can't discuss the candidates' backgrounds, why doesn't the Weekly place discussion of the elections off limits so we won't waste time trying to write about them.
Can we get some input from an Editor telling us what rules we're supposed to be following here...and some guidance about how the Forum monitors are interpreting them, Please?
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 3:41 pm
It is WRONG, in this debate, to be making assumptions that the working responsibilities and preferences of one's spouse have ANYTHING to do with decision-making on the BOE, or within City Council, period.
Let's judge the candidates on the merits of where THEY have been, and what THEY say. Innuendo is only that - innuendo.
No candidate shuold be put on the defensive for what their spouse does in private or public life, because the SPOUSE is NOT the candidate.
One could easily make the argument that ANY BOE or Council candidate has some conflict of interest, somewhere, that could be brought out in a way that implies conflict of interest.
Think about it.
We need to be a lot more measured about this, and start thinking about where this road of innuendo will take us.
I would like to see three new board members in November;; if we get diverted by innuendo, that won't happen. Think hard about this.
Posted by from a former foreigner, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 4:43 pm
RE: the non-citizen caring about his/her kids' education. Of course this is true. don't misunderstand and believe that anyone thinks otherwise. I think the point is whether or not a citizen is "married" enough to this country or this area to vote with the FUTURE generations in mind, or is more likely to vote for what is best for his/her kid, RIGHT NOW.
It is the difference between voting for what you get now, and what is best for future generations.
that is why there is no vote for non-citizens, not because non-citizens care or not for their kids' education.
I would vote differently if all I cared about were the education MY kids are going to get right now, versus what am I setting up for my grandkids.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 4:51 pm
The spouse is not the candidate. However, financially, a married couple is one unit. Both benefit from the investments made by either spouse.
Wynn Hausser has made it clear that he would recuse himself from some situations if he felt there was a conflict of interest.
Look, federal judges will often put their investments in a blind trust just so that they won't have a conflict-of-interest. Business journalists aren't supposed to own stock in the companies they cover.
I'm not sure any of this would be an issue except that there is a huge issue of trust re: the BoE. That's in part because there's mystery funding of the MI feasibility study.
It's really simple, don't vote on matters where your family could make or lose money as a result. Be aboveboard about it. It's that simple.
Doesn't mean you can't be in office. Just back off stuff where you see a potential conflict. It's not simply a question of having business ties in another country. There's plenty of that, but, once again, of their being no possibility of personally profiting or losing because of a board decision.
I talked about this once on the council thread. I once knew of a city council member who sold real estate, but didn't sell new houses because she felt there was a potential conflict if she did. (Different city). I respect someone who will do that, in the same way I respect Wynn, Claude and Pingyu for venturing in here and answering questions. I wish the women candidates would do the same.
Posted by PAUSD Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 4, 2007 at 4:57 pm
I happen to have just read the two replies to my earlier comment.
Thanks Jerry, you seem to understand what I am saying.
former foreigner, you assume that all I want is something selfish for my kids. My reply to you is that I am not seeking anything for my kids. In many ways, the issue to which you appear to refer (MI?) is (a) something I most strongly do not want and (b) wouldn't affect my kids as they are beyond the age.
I care about the education my kids are getting at present, I want to improve it, but not for selfish reasons but as with most parents, because we can always strive for better. I believe that I am in line with what the majority of parents I talk to want and as I have said before, I know a great many parents and have chatted to them about these issues. In fact, I would imagine that many of them would be surprised to know that I am not a US citizen as that is never one of the topics of conversation.
As for my grandkids, I have no idea where they will live. I would be very much in the wrong to assume that they will live in Palo Alto, as I am sure that most parents have no idea where their grandkids will live. I care what happens in Palo Alto because I consider myself a Palo Altan. That is all.
Posted by a former foreigner, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 5, 2007 at 7:09 am
no, no, no! I am not saying that anyone, as a foreigner, only wants selfish things for their kids! ( Of course, even if that is what anyone want, this is a perfectly natural thing for all of us, in any case!).
I must have written badly!
I am simply saying...would you give a lover who is not committed to you any power to influence where you live, or would you rather give it to your spouse? The lover and the spouse both would have "selfish" interests, but the husband would also be thinking of the best interest of both of you and your kids 40 years from now, whereas the boyfriend may only be thinking of his own interests next month.
So, the lover doesn't get the equally weighted vote until married, that is all. It doesn't mean the lover isn't extremely valuable and wonderful! She or he simply hasn't committed to the future yet.
I, at the time, had to choose my loyalties, which country I was going to commit to..I chose this one, and so I am now a citizen and can vote. If I hadn't, then I would vote back in "the old country" and not this one, because I would be thinking I may return there.
So, please don't misunderstand what I am saying. This country, I, welcome extremely the contribution of every immigrant. It is what made and what makes this country great, giving fresh blood, so to speak, renewing our energies, challenging us to grow. Of course, I am biased, because I have chosen it above all others.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2007 at 3:23 pm
Ohlone Par, I fully understand your point, as well as your willingness to share it. Thanks.
What I objected to were some (prior, thankfully deleted) posts that were presented in a way that created negative innuendo based on implied guilt before the fact.
Conflict of interest is one thing; implied "guilt by association" is another. The latter is what I am objecting to.
It is up to candidates for all public offices to offer up what they think are *substantial* conflicts of interest that are assumed over and above codified conflicts of interest. Beyond that, it's the elected official's, or candidate's, choice to take the conflict of interest possibility as far as they feel necessary. Again, it's the *candidate's* decision.
Please keep in mind that conflict of interest recusal can *also* be used for strategic political advantage. For instance, I have seen the barest thread of potential conflict - conflict so far-fatched as to stretch one's imagination - used as a strategic ploy by some elected officials to avoid having to participate in a sensitive political decision - a decision that would be unpopular, no matter its outcome, or their vote on the matter. There are other examples.
Conflict of interest is therefore a somewhat more complicated issue than it appears on the surface, because - beyond the codified requirements that all public officials must adhere to - there is a matter of personal judgment that *must* be weighed by the candidate.
Again, in the realm of public officialdom, some officials feel responsible to do whatever they can to avoid even the *appearance* of conflict - that's laudable. That said, it's important to let the *candidate* make that choice. If there's a political consequence to that, it will rest with the candidate.
All that said, I would urge all of us to rest our case for voting with one candidate or another on the merits of their past public service, seeming ability to work well with elected peers, vision for the district, and past performance in a similar office (if that applies).
My bias is for three fresh faces on the BOE; we need to look hard at the four new candidates - without innuendo - and decide which three of those should have our vote.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2007 at 12:28 pm
I was glad to see Claude Ezran out at the ayso pictures today, wearing his vote for Claude tshirt and talking to people. He is obviously not waiting for people to come to coffees, but wants to meet people where they are at and to be able to discuss issues there on the spot. This is what I like to see. Good for you Claude.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2007 at 6:53 pm
In Camille Townsends Candidate's Statement in the Sample Ballot, she said our "curriculum must support studends of all capabilities and learning styles, and "our schools must be welcoming for our 10,800 students."
She goes on to say she championed "community input and a world language initiative."
Posted by ABC4Kids = Anyone but Camille, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2007 at 8:23 pm
I have now attended two of the forums in person. In each, Camille is making a huge push as the only candidate with prior experience on the board. She seems to be unware that experience without competence is not a positive for rational voters.
There was a question the other night on which are the three votes in the past year which she was most proud of. After flailing for a while, she was able to come up with voting for the budget, which was designed and proposed by the staff; hiring the new superintendent; and agreeing to work with him to address some of the wreckage created by the prior superintendent (whom she supported to the bitter end).
There was no shame or awareness that as prior board president she has any responsibility for the series of disasters that characterized the past year and that have left most of Palo Alto parents disgusted.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 7, 2007 at 9:28 pm
Well, I'm actually just wondering what "World Language" initiative she championed - what languages did it consist of and how many students did it serve? And how did she gather and heed community input on that program? Exactly?
I went to almost every board meeting for the past year and half ending in 2007 school year, and I didn't see anything about a WORLD language initiative or a community input mechanism on such a thing that she was championing.
Can we ask Camille to elaborate on this statement with specifics, please?
Posted by A More Balanced View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 11:50 am
Like it or not, Camille championed Manderin Immersion, which is a world language. Let's not forget that she is only one member of the school board. She took a stand on a very devisive issue and didn't sit on the fence on this one. Like it or not, there are people in our cummunity who believe that MI is a valuable program. MI was coming to Palo Alto one way or another. If she had voted no, another vocal group would be writinig here complaining about her stand and how the process was terrible and unfair. I believe that she advocates rolling out foreign lagnuages to a more broader group of students - stay tuned.
Posted by get real, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 2:54 pm
Interesting "balanced" view. She voted and pushed MI through even after it was voted down as not being right for the district now. Somehow this turns into championing "community input and a world language initiative.".
Posted by A More Balanced View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm
Dear Get Real,
Camille voted with her ONE vote. MI not pass the first time, but did pass the second time because two board members changed their vote. This was a long, tedious process - not exactly pushing it through. It was brought back up because of the charter business. It seems that your issue with how the whole MI played out should be with the two remaining members who ended up changing their minds. This is how I see it - no spin here.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm
AMBV: 'Like it or not, Camille championed Manderin Immersion, which is a world language....She took a stand on a very devisive issue and didn't sit on the fence on this one"
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Camille Townsend took a stand in a way that made the MI issue MORE divisive. That's what Ms. Townsend and her supporters don't seem to understand. She did not exhibit leadership on this issue; she did *nothing* to bring opposing parties together in a way that l- instead repeating her "preference" over and over and over. Her disregard for imput contrary to her opinion was nothing short of dismissive. Is this the kind of representative that we want to elect to champion our schools? I hope not.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm
Actually we probably would not be stuck with MI if Camille Townsend had not been pushing it so strongly. I never saw her pay any attention to why there was opposition or deal with it.
If Townsend were a more capable leader one of two things would have happened.
A: she would have realized pushing through MI would create a rift in the community that would endanger future bond issues. She would have explained this to the PACE crew *before* they put up money for a feasibility study and, thus, felt entitled to their program. Full-fledged MI would have been tabled until there was space. If she'd been a truly shrewd politician, she would have looked for workable compromises--such as summertime immersion and afterschool programs.
B: She'd have looked for ways to implement MI that did no alienate a big chunk of the community. No finesse here.
Why should Camille Townsend be held accountable for the MI mess? Because she more than any other board member pushed for it come hell or high water. She was and is completely partisan in regards to MI. She failed, at any point, to judge whether the program was a good thing for the district overall. She was the *only* member of the school board who I never once heard consider the district's needs as a whole.
MI was her baby and she, along with PACE, botched the marketing job. PACE is a private citizen's group and can do what it wants. Townsend, on the other hand, is a public official who was so caught up with this one relatively small matter that she fell down over and over on the central part of her job--which was to look after and help guide the school district as a whole.
Unlike Tom and Lowell, Townsend, if she'd paid attention to how the community was responding to MI, might have had a chance at getting to get PACE to agree to a combpromise that doesn't involve placing the program at a school that will run out of room in three years.
But she was too ensorcelled by the idea to step back and see what, again, would work for the district while giving PACE something with which to work. Something that didn't jeopardize district funding.
MI is a political fiasco. Townsend was right, front and center. We can do better. We need to.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 8, 2007 at 11:04 pm
Will you ever let it go? No, I know, I know. Putting MI at Ohlone has just stuck in your craw, and everything is to blame on Camille.
I could say the same about Melissa not making any effort to bring the community together and instead splitting it apart (editors will get this, as usual about their preferred candidate) with her own comments in the "neutral" PTA.
Just look at how unfair the questioning at the LWV/PTAC forum was, with the anti-MI, therefore anti-Camille question-sorters. Asking for the most proud decisions, then bashing Camille for not choosing MI.
Sheesh, for a public forum, the LWV should be ashamed.
Posted by get real, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:18 am
Since Camille is making a huge push as the only candidate with prior experience on the board why wouldn't her performance be questioned?! Sub-par performance from an incumbent is very relevant to this discussion. Especially if she is basing her re-election campaign on said performance.
You appear to want to give her a free ride and anyone who questions her should be ashamed.
Posted by Another point of view, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:50 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
One can just as easily blame the MI acrimony on Gail Price, who never paid attention to the educational needs of some of her constituents and was arrogant and dismissive throughout. If she'd been a leader, she would have found a way to implement MI without creating a rift in the community. She should have realized that not meeting needs was a recipe for disaster. She, more than any other board member, was out to stop MI come hell or high water. She was and is completely partisan in regards to MI. She failed, at any point, to judge whether the program was a good thing for the district overall. She was the only member who never considered the educational needs of parents in favor of MI.
If Price had paid attention to those needs, she might have had a chance at finding a solution that does not start with such a tiny pilot, one that roles out two full strands from the get-go. But she was too ensorcelled by the anti-MI me-first gang.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:50 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Camille has done a lot on the school board, the vast majority of it not MI.
She has spent much more time on budgeting (not as glamorous as MI, but pretty rancorous when we had those cuts four years ago), listening and attending most of the AAAG meetings and analyzing enrollment growth, working on the healthy lunch program and sustainability for our schools. She has four years of *broad* school board experience, as much as Dana and Barb combined.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 9:06 am
Championing a single language specialty school that serves 20 kids per year could hardly be considered championing a world language program for the district.
And tell us again how she championed community input?
Just because Mandarin is spoken in the world, doesn't give her the right to call MI a world language initiative - its misleading and intellectually dishonest. Its like calling a pack of crayons in every classroom a fine arts program.
Or thought of another way - if this is her idea of a world language initiatve for PAUSD - then its grossly inadequate to meet the needs of this community. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by get real, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 9:25 am
Anonymous, you were saying that the LWV should be ashamed not OhlonePar. So, you're tired of both OhlonePar and the whole LWV? Anyone else you'd like to add to this list?
The board's performance over the last few years has been nothing short of appalling and who's been the president of the board during this period? Don't you believe the president of the board should take some responsibility for this mess?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 9:34 am
No, its more like putting a packs of crayons, markers, water colors, oil paints, glue, scissors, 17 kinds of paper, chalk, charcoal, easels, and art history books and an art specialist in one room, and calling it a fine arts program for the district.
Posted by A More Balanced View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:16 am
To all the naysayers,
I wasn't aware that our district is in such a terrible condition. Sure, we had rancor over the MI and the administration problems but come on we are still a great school district. I'm hope that world languages will roll out after MI. Camille's campaign literature from four years ago spoke about the importance of world languages go ahead read it. She is committed to this. For the terrible mess that this board oversaw - again let me state that during this period there were other board member's present - Mandy, Dana, Gail, Barb, John etc. share the good and the not so good outcomes on this. To point the finger at one member is not only unfair but very misleading. To call all her actions/statements "spin" is an easy attack too - equally as dismissive as you say her actions are.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:57 am
"For the terrible mess that this board oversaw - again let me state that during this period there were other board member's present - Mandy, Dana, Gail, Barb, John etc. share the good and the not so good outcomes on this. To point the finger at one member is not only unfair but very misleading. To call all her actions/statements "spin" is an easy attack too - equally as dismissive as you say her actions are."
These has been a *consistent* demeanor coming from Camille Townsend, relative to employee relations. Her intrtansigence regarding the Management team was stunning in its ignorance about how to resolve sensitive personnel issues. I can think of no one person - other than Kathy kroynman - who fawned after the egregious insensitivites and abusive personnel policies brought by the last Superintendent.
She handled the MI question in the same way.
She was not looked to as a natural leader, when she presided over the BOE [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Of course, every decision made by Townsend wasn't a bad one. In fact, she's an intelligent, engaging person.
That said, does this district want to bring back into the fold the one person who held the *most* weight in decisions that impacted this district negatively?
I'm neutral on MI, but am very, very upset about the way that BOE leadership has handled recent issues, There has been a real impact on PAUSD's forward ability to pass a necessary bond.
Does anyone thinkn for a minute that a BOE with Townsend as a member will have a chance to inspire a bond passage?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Again, this is not about the value of the person, but about her ability to participate with new members, and old constituencies, in ways that move the district forward.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
If we have accountability in this district, Camille Townsend should be sent packing in November.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:30 am
Anonymous, you are making statements that simply cannot be backed up with facts:
“Just look at how unfair the questioning at the LWV/PTAC forum was, with the anti-MI, therefore anti-Camille question-sorters. Asking for the most proud decisions, then bashing Camille for not choosing MI.”
Erwin Morton and Barb Spreng are two incredibly dedicated volunteers in our community, and you’re accusing them of loading Camille with anti-MI questions? Please, they actually were scrambling to get enough questions from the audience to ask in that first round. And they were not the ones “bashing” her for punting on the question. That occurred on this forum.
And why shouldn’t we be upset that, after all the pain this community has been through, that she cannot openly admit that she’s at least proud of her decision on MI? Don’t we want elected officials who stand behind their decisions, however unpopular?
Anonymous, you also said:
“She has spent much more time on budgeting (not as glamorous as MI, but pretty rancorous when we had those cuts four years ago).”
Here’s what Camille was doing almost four years ago, when we were trying to make $1-$1.5 million in budget cuts and asking district employees to take furlough days: Promoting MI. Her very first motion as a newly minted board member was, in January 2004, to “accept this program to begin in August 2004.”
As quoted below from the board packet available at Web Link, p. 28:
Mandarin Chinese Immersion
MOTION: It was moved by Townsend to accept this program to begin in August 2004 without the displacement of staff members and with the same mandates as the Spanish immersion program. Barton seconded. Board discussion followed.
Townsend commented on when language skills are best acquired, the merits of Chinese immersion, cost considerations, and the demand for languages in the community. The Board commented on cost, expressed concern about what is beneficial versus what is mandatory, expressed concern for staff, questioned whether it can be done without staff participation, and questioned the amount of oversight it will require. Callan noted the rules for teacher layoffs when a new program requires different credentials. She further noted that testing is not translated in Mandarin at the state level. Callan noted something would have to be put aside to take care of this program. A site would also have to be determined and what programs would be affected. The Board commented further on timing and opportunity, reiterated budget concerns, pointed out the current moratorium on new programs, and noted the need to focus on maintaining current programs. Additional comments noted current impacts on staff, morale, and the need to maintain fiscal responsibility. Townsend expressed her belief that staff would not be insulted by adoption of this program.
Townsend withdrew her motion. The issue died for lack of motion or support.”
Posted by to Anonymous..again, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:36 am
For the record..the Moderator can only ask questions that the audience submits at the Candidate Forum. Don't blame the Forum or the moderator if you didn't like the questions.
For the record, Melissa Baten Caswell was not an elected public official, and in fact was bound by the rules of the PTA in speaking publicly about anything publicly IN THE NAME OF THE PTA during the referenced issue.. She, however, like any citizen of the USA, did not lose her right to speak her personal opinion in private forums. Neither did any other PTA President on the private list to which you refer.
ok, just had to say it again..because you brought it up, again.
Posted by to Another point of view, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:41 am
Giving CREDIT to Price for consistently voting to support programing for ALL kids, and to support programs that were not yet completed and were higher priority, and for voting to stick to the priorities of the Community ( remember, foreign language was 11th out of 11 in Community Concerns in the last survey) is GREAT PRAISE indeed.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:42 am
editors, I know you work hard to maintain a perfect white Wonder Bread consistency of this board, but this thread, in particular, has me wondering if the Pillbury Dough Boy hasn't been nput on staff, just for the election season. :)
And, remember, set the oven for 350ş, for popin' good edits. Let this place heat up a little - just think of the page views you could generate. :)
Posted by Facts, please, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:44 am
Wow! Thanks "3 New Board Members"! What a good idea to look at factual historical proposals and votes! If you have time to cull ALL of Ms. Townsend's proposals and voting record, can you publish it, please?
That would be great to know and would put to rest a lot of the bickering, since so much of it is circular and I am sick of it.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:54 am
I did make a list of all split decisions and how the board members voted on those for the past four years in spreadsheet format, with a reference to the packet date and page # for each. The vast majority of decisions are 5-0, so I didn't include those. The Weekly has this document.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:58 am
Three new board members, quoting from BOE minutes:
"Townsend expressed her belief that staff would not be insulted by adoption of this (MI)program." (parenthesis mine)
Note that the above motion came *without* Townsend seeking staff input. That's a fact.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
This, and Townsend's support of MFC's heavy-handed personnel tactics (carried out by an all-too-willing-senior-administrative-staff) continued to alienate our teachers and site administrators for Townsend's entire tenure. Ask almost any teacher in this district, or site administrator, about this, for corroboration.
If teachers weren't afraid of getting singed by the flames of political retribution, we would have heard a lot more about this, in public. But teachers weren't talking, not as long as MFC was in office, with Townsend and a few other BOE members backing onerous personnel policies every step of the way.
We need three new members on the BOE.
I truly hope that the local papers pick up on the real damage that was done these last few years, and how our new Superintendent (who impresses me more, every day) deserves to start with a clean slate.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 2:38 pm
"Let it go"--Camille Townsend's up for election. Her record is totally and completely relevant here. How she mishandled MI is indicative of future performance.
Your attempt to blame Gail Price by mirroring my language doesn't hold water. There was no community "need" for MI. There was a desire for it by a small group of people.
Could Gail Price have done things differently? Sure. I don't think she was as eloquent as she ideally could have been. She's thoughtful and her language didn't always carry the punch that might have gotten across her message better.
Price, unlike Townsend, wanted to stick to the priorities set forth by the strategic plan. Something which the community at large had agreed upon.
In other words, if MI had been a top priority, Price would have supported it. But it wasn't and still isn't.
So, you have it wrong.
More Balanced View,
It comes down to money. Split the voters and the district doesn't get the supermajorities it needs to pass bonds. That's what we're facing. And you should be concerned, very concerned, about that.
Townsend may have gone to a bunch of budget meetings, but I doubt that that compensates for her mismanagement of the politics of MI.
(i.e. don't piss people off if you don't have to)
Wow, so this really has been Townsend's baby from the get-go. No wonder the MI crowd can't admit that Townsend blew the political aspects of it. They owe her big time.
Funny though that Townsend won't take credit for pushing it through. Notice how much more upfront and direct Pingyu Liu is about his involvment in MI? He's not trying to hedge. Townsend really is. She's clearly hoping that the large number of fairly oblivious voters in PA will just vote her through as "incumbent" and that the ABC vote will be split among Hausser, Klausner, Ezran and Baten-Caswell.
I'm not seeing much pro-Townsend signage in my neck of the woods. How about the rest of you?
I haven't gotten to a forum yet, so MI was a big topic without me?
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 4:08 pm
I don't know why my statement was edited - i.e. that Camille Townsend campaigned last time on an "I support staff" platform, and then renigged on that platform promise. I was there when she was making promises to two groups of teachers. The latter were mightily upset after Camille took office, having shown her true colors right off the bat.
Why was that edited? It's the truth, and fair game in an election. Our residents - those who read these boards - should know deep detail. Why not?
Posted by Another Point of View, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 5:34 pm
Your comments amount to saying that you personally don't agree with MI; the rest of it is spin.
Of course Gail is to blame. She (and you?) doesn't want to see the the community need for MI, and that was what drove the process into the ditch.
And as for priorities, they have nothing to do with choice programs, which have their own, separate policy. That policy is independent of priorities. In any case, the priorities are not, as you like to think, simple instructions for what to do next in the district--otherwise we would not need elected officials.
Sorry, but you seem to have this backwards, again.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:00 pm
Again, there's no "community need" for MI. Foreign languages were a bottom priority on the strategic plan. The strategic plan was reached through a general consensus. And, more importantly, was in place when the last bond issue was voted in.
So, no "community need". There was a small group of people who wanted it. Why not a need? Simple. It's not widely spoken here and Mandarin instruction is already available for a reasonable price throughout the area.
Or let me flip it for you. Why is there a *need* to teach a small number of children in the district Mandarin? If it's a need, why does it only needed for a few?
Again, Gail Price thought it was a bad idea for the district, given that it wasn't part of the strategic plan. In other words, other far more important matters were ignored because of the MI debacle.
But trying to make this about Camille Townsend v. Gail Price won't wash. Gail Price wasn't pushing a pet program, Camille was. Gail did not push through a politically polarizing agenda that would jeopardize future bond issues. Camille Townsend did.
So, it's all about Camille. She knows that she blew it, thus a campaign in which avoids mentioning Mandarin Immersion, hedging instead with the vague world-language initiative. Believe me, if she thought it was anything but political poison at this point, it would be in her campaign literature. I mean, it's her biggest accomplishment on the board.
I'm so tired of the rationalizations I see here regarding the MI fall-out. You wanted it, you got it and now you don't like the fact there are obvious negative political ramifications.
I honestly don't know what the pro-MI crowd thought would happen when the whole thing went into charter-threat overtime. Did you really think that the next election was going to be hearts and flowers? Did you really think that people wouldn't be pissed off by the tactics used?
How could you have expected anything different? As you sow . . .
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:27 pm
As much as I don't favor Ms. Townsend, I do think this is the case:
- the Board voted against MI (Ms. Townsend dissenting)
- the Board reversed course and voted for MI (Ms. Townsend concurring) in the face of a threatened charter
My view is that Ms. Townsend didn't make MI happen; she didn't persuade anyone and her vote wasn't a swing vote. Grace Mah and her charter advocates did. It was as much or more a vote on "should we oppose a charter" as it as "should we favor MI."
On that view, it is hard to say Ms. Townsend deserves either the praise or blame for our MI program; it happened as a result of power politics, independent of her support. We backed into it to avoid the charter.
I do think the MFC issue is quite big though. The Board's #1 job is to hire and supervise the Superintendent. They blew it big time - first hiring her and then renewing her contract despite four years of seeing her poor performance. Ms. Townsend was a supporter of MFC, though of course not alone. That seems like very poor judgment to me, probably not worthy of another term.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:40 pm
Concerned Family asks, "Could someone please tell me what Barbara's stand on FLES, MI, or other potential language initiatives are?"
Don't know. I asked Tracy Stevens to encourage Barbara to join in this conversation -- Tracy wrote earlier on behalf of Barbara's campaign -- but my invitation was deleted along with the rest of my mild post and a slew of other people's posts. It was a calm give-and-take of ideas, but I guess we used the C-word too often.
Lesson learned? Don't mention C-T and your post will probably stay intact.
Posted by Another ABC vote, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:42 pm
I went to last night's forum at El Carmelo. Camille repeatedly touted her board experience and more than once mentioned being the board president. I never saw her take any responsibility for the all the negative outcomes this board has been responsible for. I really felt I was listening to a very whitewashed version of recent events.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 6:50 pm
Another point of view - Interestingly, just last night Camille at the candidates forum mentioned the exact same thing about how the strategic plan has nothing to do with choice programs, and that they "have their own, separate policy."
My question to you is, where exactly is this policy stated? I would be very interested in learning more about it.
Posted by Another Point of View, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:06 pm
Yes, I understand that you don't think there is a community need for MI. The only way to hold such an opinion is to discount the needs of certain members of our community [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The strategic plan has nothing to do with need and is another red herring, something Gail ought to have realized before pushing her politically polarizing agenda.
The threat to future bond issues comes from those who wanted to disregard the educational needs of their neighbors.
As to rationalizations, the only ones I see are coming from your camp. You want to torpedo bond issues because you are bitter that you lost a political fight, but you want to blame others for your actions. Why not be more honest? You are making a choice that you believe will harm the district out of spite. C'est tout.
Posted by Concerned Family, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:16 pm
Pa Mom and all other Parents,
I went to a coffee to meet three of the candidates for City Council, and one of them has his own "comprehensive plan" for some major developments here, but he was not entirely clear.
The meeting was held at a private home, and the seniors in our neighborhood felt like they did not learn and understand too much about the "comprehensive plan" one candidate had discussed.
One outspoken senior asked "Can we hold you to that?" There was no answer. He then loudly repeated, "If we vote for you, can you assure us that you will hold to your "comprehensive plan?"
I jokingly asked him after the meeting if he and his wife would go to a school board candidate meeting with me.
None of these residents have children in school, so they have no idea who to vote for in the school board election.
I guess that they would more than likely vote for an incumbent.
NOTE: All parents who are concerned about increases in population and growth within our city should attend a few of these informal meetings.
The quality of our schools and community are totally dependant on the future buildup of Palo Alto.
More high density housing and gigantic hotels are in the plans. These three candidates thought the The Opportunity Center was a big plus. The Stanford hospital expansion was discussed, as well as the additional need for more housing for employees.
The least frightening topics discussed had to do with our libraries and a new police station.
No one even mentioned the need for a nice new super market. Edgewood would be a nice place - it is easy for trucks to load and unload goods without having to wreck our city roads with their heavy weight, and they create more noise. There is a back entrance at Edgewood to load and unload trucks.
We need food in Palo Alto! I will start a new thread on this.
I would love a nice market like Nob Hill Foods (a local food chain owned by Railey's). They have wonderful meats, and a variety of foods to meet the needs of our diverse community. They have sales and nice ads. People on a tight budget could shop there as well as those who enjoy the higher end foods.
Parents, please stay informed with the issues of the candidates in BOTH elections.
Even though our School Board and the City Council are independent of one another, any future critical decision made by the City Council could seriously impact our schools.
P. S. To link this to the school board forum . . . We need a new a supermarket in North Palo Alto so we can buy our cupcakes and lattes there, instead of driving to another city. :)
Posted by A More Balanced View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 8:49 pm
To Another Point of View,
I agree with your comments:
"As to rationalizations, the only ones I see are coming from your camp. You want to torpedo bond issues because you are bitter that you lost a political fight, but you want to blame others for your actions. Why not be more honest? You are making a choice that you believe will harm the district out of spite. C'est tout."
One of the loudest banging of the fear drums is that MI will mean we can't pass a bond issue. Says who? Are you really ready to hurt our schools because MI was not defeated? I would hope that both sides of this issue are still on board to support our schools regardless of what "side" you are on. Aren't we all on the children's side? Let go of your anger - be a better role model for all of our children.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 9:12 pm
You didn't answer my question. This is an example of why MI has been such a political disaster. MI proponents weren't able to sell the program.
If people feel that their money is being misused, they're unlikely to volunteer more of it. You need 66 percent. It is hard to get that high of a percentage at the best of times. If there's a political rift and people are angry and distrust their local government, two-thirds of them won't vote "yes".
That you don't understand how serious a problem this is indicates to me that you don't know the political history of California.
Or that the school bond prior to the last one failed--and that was without a battle royale happening.
When parents with kids in school are ready to vote no on the next school bond, you've got a problem. And, no, I'm not talking about me. I said a few days ago that I probably couldn't bring myself to vote against a school bond. Take a look at the responses. Other voters are more than ready to say no.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 9:17 pm
PA Mom wrote:
"Just last night Camille at the candidates forum mentioned the exact same thing about how the strategic plan has nothing to do with choice programs, and that they "have their own, separate policy." My question to you is, where exactly is this policy stated? I would be very interested in learning more about it."
Great question! That is actually a meaningful part of our MI debacle and something (I expect a holdover from another era) that should be fixed (IMHO). Here is the link to the PAUSD Policies and Procedures page Web Link.
Click the link for the Policies & Procedures Manual (a PDF file) and go to page 33, Section E "Alternative Programs." It lays out that the Board affirmatively supports choice programs that meet certain criteria, and lays out the criteria and process for judging proposed programs. This is the procedure that MI followed.
My reading of this doc is that "choice" programs in general end-run around district priorities, since we affirmatively state that "choice" programs are supported; essentially, it makes choice programs akin to charter proposal, in that they get automatic consideration and if they meet certain criteria in terms of demand and cost factors, there is a bias toward approving them.
I don't know how long this has been in place and whether it has been recently reviewed. But based on the MI process, this seems like an invitation to small groups to demand consideration of their choice proposal, regardless of stated district priorities. That seems like a bad policy indeed and in my view should be changed.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm
Thanks for the link Terry! Looks like the manual was last updated in February of 2000. Perhaps, based on the experiences of the past year, the Alternative Programs portion of the document should be re-examined.
However, with that said, I'm not sure this will make any difference when the board is apparently powerless again charter threats. Seems like policy would go right out the window at that point. Perhaps a greater effort should be focused on changing existing charter laws.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:43 pm
Good find, Terry. My favorite section of that Policy & Procedures Manual Web Link is on page 67, Section B, Enrollment.
“Open enrollment allows students to attend alternative schools or other neighborhood schools outside their attendance area on a space available basis. Students transferring from outside the attendance area shall not displace a student who currently resides in the attendance area of a school […].
“Students who currently reside in the attendance area of a school […] shall not be displaced by students transferring from outside the attendance area.”
These two policies -- a low bar for accepting new “choice” lottery programs and disallowing displacement of neighborhood students – are at odds with each other when there’s a shortage of space. You can’t have all three exist at once. Students ARE CURRENTLY being displaced by “choice” lottery programs. I interpret the Board’s action as a message that they favor lottery programs over neighborhood schools, and that they favor installing a new lottery program over fixing the overcrowding problems.
More specifically, this is the message I get from Camille Townsend and Barb Mitchell who consistently voted in favor of MI. Two more board members have a fear of charters, and one more has her priorities straight.
Posted by RealityCheckPlease, a resident of another community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 10:54 pm
It continues to absolutely amaze me how much uproar a small, pilot program (which is evidently receiving a large federal grant) has caused in PA? Do you folks have absolutely nothing better to do over there? You make MoveOn.org look like a bunch of wimps!
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 9, 2007 at 11:06 pm
Is it safe to assume that you’re not one of the ones who has been or will be displaced by these “choice” programs? How would you explain to your child that no, he/she can’t go to the school down the street with his/her friends because another group of kids really, really needed to learn a second language and so therefore you’ll be driving across town for the next 6 years?
Posted by good grief, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 6:50 am
Exactly, it IS that sense of entitlement for the few who want what they want in spite of the effect on the many that has most of us angered.
And, for those who think that a Board member who champions a cause that isn't on any district priority list, from the first meeting of his/her Member status, all the way through his/her Presidency of the Board, is somehow "not responsible" for the program, good grief!
S/he should be standing loud and proud and proclaiming exactly what s/he did on the Board in this re-election campaign!
Posted by just insular in PA, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 10, 2007 at 8:18 am
From an article in the SJ Mercury News yesterday, title, "Los Gatos district school is taking on worldly flair: Lexington Elementary gets International Baccalaureate status":
It was the concept of students asking questions that drew Strudley [principal of the school] to the IB way. When he realized that the program's principles align with the district's own goals and that the program requires instruction of a foreign language, it was a no-brainer for Strudley.
Posted by looking for apples to apples, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 10:20 am
I also notice that Los Gatos union school district has a clearly stated strategic plan (up front and center that guides their decision making processes), is building a new school campus (so their capacity issues are being addressed), and has 5 elementary schools (not 12-13, which means 20%, not 2.5% of their students will have access to this opportunity.)
International Baccalaureate - here's what I found on the web:
"The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching hearts as well as minds and encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development.
The PYP draws on research and best practice from a range of national systems with a wealth of knowledge and experience from international schools to create a relevant, engaging, challenging and significant educational framework for all children.
Curriculum documents are published in English, French and Spanish but schools may offer the programme in other languages under certain conditions.
The PYP is one of three programmes offered by the International Baccalaureate (IB)."
I don't see anything about foreign (non-English) language education as part of the curriculum. Does anyone know if the kids learn a foreign language in this program? Which one? The website says the program can be offered in other languages, but that's not exactly saying the program is teaching mulitple language to English speakers. Can anyone elaborate?
Will Los Gatos Union being doing the IB program in Mandarin?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 1:17 pm
If you want your kid to go to school in the neighborhood where you live, driving 20 minutes across town each school day for six years is not what you signed up for. You're not making bonds in the community and, in the case of kids from the north going south, your kids aren't even making connections with kids who will go to the same middle and high schools.
Yeah, it's not earth-shattering, but it's a big deal if it happens to you. Remember, there's no bus service, so it's a lot of time and driving.
Los Gatos seems to be doing it right--they're building the extra space and it looks like the new program is contingent upon that.
In other words, the equivalent in Palo Alto would have been to first make plans to reopen Garland or the LAH elementary and then approve MI, instead of planting it at a school that's already at capacity with a long waiting list.
It seems to me that it's in the interest of the pro-MI crew to minimize the issue. And, you know, if the program were handled in a responsible way, it could have been minimal. But it hasn't been from the get-go. Too many toes were stepped on and too many other viewpoints ignored.
And the grant business is real interesting--once again, we see a board that runs away from even thinking through the long-term and wider issues. I mean, they didn't even seem to disagreee with Gail Price as much as sort of evaded the matter, crossing their fingers and hoping it would all be okay down the line.
It's just feckless. And it's just such weak leadership. You know, I voted against Dana Tom because he waffled on the intelligent design question. He's seems nice and well-meaning, but the lack of backbone and follow-through is just an issue over and over again. He needs to figure out his principles and stick to them.
Barb Mitchell still seems up in the ether, but I'll see what she does in a couple of years. I disagree with her on MI, but she seemed to be in favor of the idea and then won over by the mash-up--I don't see the ethical issues I see with Townsend (paying zero attention to the will of the voters) or Tom (knuckling under pressure).
Of those of you who've been to the forums, what was your impression of the candidates in terms of being able to think things through? I really am more interested in the quality of the decision-making process than I am in specific vows or stances.
I'd like to know more particularly about Baten-Caswell and Klausner. The three men have shown up here and posted and that gave me a sense of how they deal with things. Wynn Hauser at this point has my vote--I liked his coming forth and the word-of-mouth I've heard is good and it comes from people whose judgment I respect.
Ezran seems to be well-liked and honorable, but I'm on the fence regarding the quality of his decision-making. I suspect I won't vote for him, but won't be upset if he's elected. But it's still very in the air, just because I don't have the info. on Klausner and Baten-Caswell.
Liu has made it clear where he stands and this is the case where the difference on the issues decides my vote, but I respect his directness. I don't have an ethics issue with him. I just have a very different philosophy about the role of public schools.
But in a way, the MI snafu was simple the biggest example of this board's weakness--the total lack of long-term thinking and planning. I just don't get their general inability to see or predict consequences. It's all very seat-of-the-pants. It just doesn't work.
Posted by John, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 2:21 pm
Gosh, Ohlonepar is worked up (again) about neighborhood schools but if she is to be believed her kid(s) go to Ohlone, which displaces neighborhood kids. I missed the post where she offered to work to abolish Ohlone--or is this just hypocrisy?
Give it a year, and the big "controversy" will be forgotten.
Posted by A Mom Who Loves Our Schools, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 4:11 pm
On a more positive note, I am excited about some of the things I am hearing in candidate forums (which don't seem to have found their way to this site, sadly). I wish more of the discussion were centered on facilities planning and finance. I wish the BOE had spent more time on this issue last year, instead of allowing themselves to be distracted by so many other less important issues.
Melissa Baten Caswell talks specifically about facilities and finance (not surprising, given her professional background--read her bio--she has great experience in finance and management). I appreciate that she has made this a central issue in her campaign.
My second big issue is how we will help the students who are struggling academically to reach their best potential as students. Camille Townsend was asked about this at a recent coffee. In response, she talked about the Tinsley Act and how we need to defend it. Except for a very small minority, I don't think people in this community oppose the Tinsley Act. Further, I don't think that the Tinsley kids are necessarily the low performers. I happen to know a few Tinsley kids who are great performers. PAUSD needs to be thinking about how we are going to address low performing students' needs every school day. Many of these children live in our community. Regardless of what happens with Tinsley, we need to provide all of our children with an excellent education. I can't think of anything significant Ms. Townsend has done to improve the district's performance in this area--that had been identified as a top priority for the district during her tenure on the BOE. She offers the benefit of experience on the board, she says. I guess that is something...but not enough for me.
We need bridge builders. I have been an active BOE watcher and PTA member and community volunteer and so have been fortunate to be able to observe many of these candidates at work. Caswell and Hausser have demonstrated an ability to work with others with whom they may have opposing viewpoints. I like that about both of them. It will be important on this next board.
The question about a future home for MI (raised earlier in this thread) is an important one--for everyone on both sides of this issue. Three years is not a long period of time in the world of large-scale facilities planning. Other PAUSD facility plans will hinge on this. I think it is an issue that should be discussed now. I must disagree with Claude Ezran on this one. If facilities planning is one of his priorities, this should be part of the discussion. Ezran was an early vocal supporter of MI--the controversy around this issue may be why he doesn't want to discuss this during the election--but that does not preclude its importance as a facilities issue.
Hmmm...There is a child at my elbow needing help with homework now so I must close. I support Caswell, Hausser and Klausner for PAUSD Board of Education.
I hope everyone will make time to attend one of the many forums. Opportunities to meet the candidates are bountiful this season. Many thanks to the hard-working organizers who have made these opportunities possible for the rest of us.
Folks, the BIG issues are still in front of us. Please don't allow the district to be sidetracked AGAIN. MI, unfortunately, was a gigantic diversion from facilities planning and student performace issues last year. We can do better. Let's move forward. Help the BOE stay focused on priorities.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Mom who Loves Schools,
Great post. I think your point about more attention to facilities is where the attention of BOE's belongs, instead of meddling in the classroom, an enviornment most know little or nothing about (except in theory). Just look at the rancor caused by BOE's who get involved in curriculum strategizing - it's almost always a disaster.
Are the facilities, and other acouterments present? Do we have a well-trained staff? When was the last time we heard substantive discussions about these things?
Posted by Another ABC vote, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 5:15 pm
I was impressed by Wynn Hausser, Barbara Klausner and Melissa Caswell at the forum the other night. All seemed well versed in the types of issues that affect the board. They came across as thoughtful, experienced and willing to tackle appropriate issues and look at the district as a whole, rather than piecemeal.
I was concerned about Claude Ezran's suggestion of a 3rd high school for kids not planning to go to a 4 yr college. I don't think that shows a sufficient grasp of the issues and students in this district. He also talked about his work on the school lunch program but my understanding is that it is operating at a huge deficit and from what my kids tell me, there is still a lot of high fat, high carb food on the menus.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 8:20 pm
I can definitely go for Hausser, Klausner and Baten-Caswell. I want to see them in person, but that's my general tendency.
I think neighborhood schools and choice programs can co-exist, but a balance needs to be struck. Lottery programs shouldn't take spots from neighborhood kids and new lottery programs shouldn't be brought in when overenrollment is an issue.
At the same time, I'm for supporting the existing lottery programs. My issue with MI at Ohlone is that Ohlone already has a large waitlist, so it's already not meeting demand.
Forgotten in a year? Wishful thinking. There are people who are still angry about decisions made 30 years ago here. MI will continue to be an issue because of the overcrowding problem and the fact it has no space in three years.
I think the debate over MI will end if it goes somewhere that's not currently used by another public elementary program--maybe the JCC portion of Greendell, part of Garland--though if overenrollment continues to be an issue, the neighborhood kid squeeze once again becomes an issue.
It's an unresolved issue, so it will continue to be controversial. And it's a huge issue in terms of this election.
Posted by Another Point of View, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 9:39 pm
"At the same time, I'm for supporting the existing lottery programs." That's a convenient rubric for you since you have a child at Ohlone, an existing lottery program.
"My issue with MI at Ohlone is that Ohlone already has a large waitlist" So? Why should it push to the head of the line?
"I think the debate over MI will end if it goes somewhere that's not currently used by another public elementary program--maybe the JCC portion of Greendell, part of Garland--though if overenrollment continues to be an issue, the neighborhood kid squeeze once again becomes an issue." Sure, but only in the sense that the squeeze is an issue for other existing lottery programs like Ohlone.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 11:14 pm
I've discussed this before.
Basically, why do we need to further overstress limited resources?
Magnet or choice programs are meant to attract students. Palo Alto has the opposite problem--so, regardless of the merits of a given choice program, it's a bad time for district to introduce yet another program--particularly one that makes it impossible to expand the most popular choice program in the district at its *own* school site.
And it strikes me as colossally bad management to introduce a program that has no place to go in three years.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Seriously, if MI didn't matter to you, what would your priorities regarding education be?
Posted by Concerned Parent, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 10, 2007 at 11:47 pm
Has anyone heard anything from Barbara? She was not at the two coffee opportunities that I visited. There was a big write up in the Friday October 5th Weekly that says "Klausner leads school-board fundraising" under that "Shunning self-imposed donation limits, Klausner has nearly double peers' contributions" by Arden Pennel.
The hard copy article states that she received donations of $5,200 from outside the Bay Area. The Weekly wrote that " A nationwide letter-writing campaign to friends and colleagues netted her $4,200 in donations from outside the Bay Area". Her largest single donation was $1,000 from Richard Taranto, a Maryland Lawyer.
I want to know more about Barbara, and if there may be any conflict of interest issues. We need to build trust in our new Board.
Posted by we are stuck w/them, now what?, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 7:10 am
Yes, what happens to MI in 3 years when no matter where it goes it displaces neighborhood kids or current waiting list kids at Ohlone? What happens to SI now that it is displacing neighborhood kids? Same problem, two sides of town, two different immersion programs.
I think we should start looking at buying a building that isn't in a "neighborhood", and put all immersion programs in it. We need to make sure that it is big enough to house the next immersion program, too. ( Arabic FLAP grant, anyone?)
I am thinking about something like the Fry's site, decked with a nice playground et al, of course.
Or, maybe we take back Cubberly..still in a neighborhood, but has never been slated as an elementary school, and maybe it is time to take it back and convert it into a site for multiple immersion programs.
I really hope our Board thinks carefully about "what next". No matter what it does, it is going to get completely screamed at, but I hope that it sets up a precedent to relieve the pressure.
Posted by A Balanced Point of View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 8:07 am
To Ohlone Par,
Not all pro MIs are zealots. I guess that I would say that I am moderately pro MI. It seems like a good program and introduces the inevitable to Palo Alto. Because of the MI discussion a strong movement was stated to introduce world languages to all elementary students. And, that's a good thing.If people can get past the anger, I think that more good will come from this than negatives.
In response to those who worry about lack of neighborhood schools, I can understand your concern, but this has been going on for many years. When we moved to Palo Alto almost ten years ago my children were overflowed to Nixon rather than going to El Carmelo, our neighborhood school. I was more upset about lack of transporation than not attending the school several few blocks away. As it was, children in our neighborhood were going to El Carmelo, Palo Verde, Ohlone, Hoover, Nixon and a few private schools. This to us, seemed the California way of life. The population at Nixon was from a wide geographical area as well. We adjusted (actually my children thrived) and the hardest part was driving the car across town twice a day.
In the years that we have been in the district, everything is not always fair or equitable. Choice programs have waiting lists, local schools are overfilled, the team program at Palo was by lottery, getting on the basketball team was limited, theater productions had only so many parts etc, etc. etc.
Posted by Another Point of View, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 8:27 am
"Basically, why do we need to further overstress limited resources?" Well, taken at the district level, this argues against expanding Ohlone, which is counter to your suggestions above. You're arguing both ways: expand Ohlone and don't expand lottery programs (including Ohlone). This comes off as a grab bag of convenient complaints rather than a coherent argument for your case.
"Magnet or choice programs are meant to attract students." No. Magnet schools are meant to gather kids who excel in a particular area from within a district, and choice schools are meant to address educational needs that are unmet for a minority of families. Neither is meant to attract kids to a district.
Posted by Paly Parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Oct 11, 2007 at 9:58 am
Just for clarification.
The TEAM program at Paly is by lottery. Generally speaking though everyone gets in. They may not initially get a place in the lottery, but by the first day of school the wait list is usually all placed on the program. Also, there is no sibling preference due to the fact that it is a one year program. Of course families who have had one child often, though not always, enter the lottery, but there is no preference for them.
It is a great program, but as someone who has had one child go through it, I would say that it is not for everyone.
Posted by A Balanced Point of View, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 10:17 am
Thanks for the clarification and you are right. My main point was that there are many other programs/experiences that are not always available to everyone who wants tham. Overall, though in the end it equals out.
Also, when we were put in Nixon because our neighborhood school was full, I had the option of sending one child to Palo Verde and the other to Nixon. So my point is, this has been going on for years. When it just affects individual isolated families, there is no public uproar as there appears in this case. Also, we didn't have these forums to voice our issues with either.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 10:38 am
"Also, when we were put in Nixon because our neighborhood school was full, I had the option of sending one child to Palo Verde and the other to Nixon. "
Can you clarify this? Are you saying that you weren't given any sibling priority with your neighborhood school and would have had to send your children to different schools if one had wanted to stay at Palo Verde?
Posted by don't agree with "it has been this way for a long time", a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 10:59 am
As my Mom always told me, just because someone does it that way, doesn't make it right...AND...two wrongs don't make a right.
Because we have done things a certain way in times gone past w/o concern for the unintended consequences, doesn't make it right to keep doing it or growing it.
Also, lottery for 6 years of elementary school education is not the same as competition for after school sports or theater programs.
May as well finish the thought you started, which is basically "oh well, life isn't fair" and advocate that only 1/2 the kids get into a a super enriched elementary school by lottery, and we tell the other half "Oh well, life isn't fair"..
Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:32 pm
Another Point of View,
Your interpretation of magnet and charter schools is just that – another point of view. It’s up to the school districts to spin their own definitions. Many districts create magnet and charter schools with the purpose of attracting new students. Claiming that this isn’t PAUSD’s intent is irrelevant – magnets and charters ARE attractive to families outside the district, whether you intend them to be or not. Ignoring the attraction factor isn’t going to make it go away.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:34 pm
Okay, two views,
Why is an immersion language program inevitable? Mandarin's not widely spoken in the U.S. It's not even that widely spoken in Santa Clara County. Language instruction is widely available. So why is that a good use of district resources, particularly when the majority of the district doesn't want money spent that way?
We don't have a huge Mandarin speaking population that needs to learn English. So I don't see the inevitability argument, except that we had some very determined parents. Lousy basis for educational policy.
You say it's a good program. Ummm, how do you know? It's supposed to Mandarin in the Ohlone way. No one seems to know what that means. No one seems to know if there's a constructivist curriculum available in Mandarin. Or if a language that requires intensive memorization is going to work in a progressive environment with no assigned homework.
There's a huge question mark over all of this. The Ohlone/MI mash-up was pushed because it's politically expedient, but no one seems to really have an idea how it's going to work.
I am not anti-foreign languages in schools. But I see no benefits to the district as a whole for having shoehorned MI in before there was room and a long-term plan. I mean, look, I don't think it's at all random that several of the more activist parents had preschoolers a year or so away from kindergarten.
We're doing this on their timetable, not the one that was best for the district.
I'd actually prefer not to expand Ohlone. However, since there is demand, the district is growing and Ohlone's site can handle a half strand, it's a logical thing to do.
What's not logical is to try to squeeze in a full-strand program at a site that's only approved for a half-strand expansion.
I think there *are* issues with the choice programs. Both Ohlone and Hoover came in when enrollments were dropping in the district. You may have an idealistic notion about what magnet programs are meant to do, but districts approve them to attract enrollment. And a good magnet program does that. Because of our basic-aid situation, Palo Alto does not need to attract more students. It has the opposite problem.
My stance is that you don't shut down functioning long-term choice programs. Hoover and Ohlone are both cost-neutral and because they're at their own sites, don't squeeze out kids from neighborhood schools. If anything, they help manage the overflow problem.
At the same time, because districts do change, creating choice programs needs to be looked at from a long-term perspective. I'm not for disrupting a child's education. MI is a response to a small group of parents, not a district-wide need or demand. In fact, it has had a negative impact on the district because of this.
I think the time to put in an MI program is when it was clear that there would be a real space for it, not some cubicles at a progressive school that's already overenrolled.
Again, we're doing it on the timeline of a small group of families, not on what would have worked for the district.
So, what would work for the district? Well, I think reopening the LAH school with local and immersion strands would work. The area doesn't have a school-age population that can support a full elementary, but they'd love to have something more nearby. Putting the immersion strands there would solve two problems at once. Longterm it would work because the Palo Alto hills are never going to have high-density housing, so limited growth.
But all of this would require long-term thinking and that's where this board has fallen down time and time again.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:35 pm
Regarding the conversation about the long history of overflowing schools, I agree with most of what’s been said. We’ve been shifting students around the district for years and will continue to do so. Students simply don’t show up in neat groups of 20. We’re all in it together – sometimes the overflow heads south, sometimes north, etc.
Where I take issue is with what’s happening at Escondido and Ohlone. Escondido has the largest campus and the smallest neighborhood student cap. They could fit more portables – in fact they added another one last year for SI – but they’ve chosen to cap the neighborhood attendance and expand SI. This literally means that neighborhood Kindergarteners are being displaced to other schools so that other Kindergarteners who won the SI lottery can get an extra language education not available to most. There IS space at Escondido – just not for them. This isn’t analogous to the usual ebb and flow of students in cramped schools.
Ohlone’s problem is only slightly different. Substitute ‘neighborhood’ with ‘Ohlone philosophy’. Ohlone has a waitlist presumably because there aren’t enough classrooms. Now they’ve found that they could install more portables and create space, but not for them.
It’s one thing to get overflowed because the school is at capacity; it’s quite another to get bumped by another program. That the students who bump you have an enhanced education is salt in the wound.
Posted by just curious, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:36 pm
OK, thanks. Didn't read your post a couple above that or I would have realized this. I thought you were saying that you already had a child in a school and they refused to allow a subsequent sibling into the same school. If they start trying to remove sibling priorities from neighborhood schools... :->
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:41 pm
That comment about Tinsley by Camille Townsend was so weirdly thoughtless. No real thinking, just some sort of assumption that low achievment = non-white kids from East Palo Alto. It wasn't an answer to the question, just finger-pointing of a weird sort and a lack of knowledge about both the Tinsley kids and who's living in Palo Alto.
She's so unaware in a weird way. (Insert comparison that Forum eds will delete if I actually put it in.)
Posted by never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 12:54 pm
Can someone re-post the link to the schedule for all of the forums, please.
Regarding the long-term planning -- and this is one area where OhlonePar and I do agree -- has it been asked at any of the forums if the candidates would consider post-poning the opening of MI until the new stragtegic plan is done? It seems to me that would make sense. Although maybe that can't happen now that the current board has accepted the FLAP grant.
OhlonePar, you and your pals over there better keep an eye on the neighborhood situation at Escondido; I think the plan is to take away space from 'Ohlone-English' and hand it over to 'Ohlone-Mandarin', effectively reducing the number of classrooms available. And since Ohlone functions essentially as a neighborhood school (where OhlonePar and I disagree!), parents at Palo Verde and El Carmelo better be bracing themselves for an influx of overflow in a few years, as the Ohlone-English lottery gets even tighter.
Posted by clarifying, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 1:35 pm
The neighborhood kids who live by the school and who prefer not to have the "Ohlone way" and so have to go further away, ( or want the "ohlone way" but are not picked and so have to go further away) are still neighborhood kids. It isn't a matter of "who were promised"..yes, those who have since bought a house by the school knew what they were getting into when they bought the house, so I am not crying for them if they don't get in or wish it were now a "neighborhood school"..but my point is that the kids who live by the school are STILL neighborhood kids who don't have a local school to go to.
Just like the kids who are coming up in the next few years for kindergarten and live around Garland..that is THEIR neighborhood school and if it gets brought back into the District, should be their neighborhood school.
Posted by never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 2:22 pm
Reality Check -- I've looked at the Pausd website but could not find the AAAG report that indicated the specific numbers, but I remember roughly that about 240 of the 400 kids at Ohlone would otherwise attend Palo Verde or El Carmelo, and a chunk of those El Carmelo kids are the ones who live east of Middlefield. So roughly 60% could easily be construed to be 'neighborhood' kids. My point, awkwardly made I concede, is that Ohlone functions as neighborhood school, so quit with all the nonsense of it being some alternative school and call it what it is. And if some of those Ohlone-English classrooms are lost to Ohlone-Mandarin, it is Palo Verde and El Carmelo that are going to be impacted. (Hoover, on the other hand, does indeed 'pull' pretty equally from all over the district.) I think we are both trying to speak to the importance of the neighborhood school. (As a separate aside, I'm not sure how to construe the 'ummm' that prefaced your statement; were you uncertain or provocative? Or something else; I'd just hate to see this good thread descend into something ugly.)
Clarifying -- I agree with you, although I do get a little choked up for the foks who may buy a house next door to Ohlone and lose the lottery or choose to go to their "neighborhood" school a mile and a half down the road. The housing market here is tough, and too often I know friends who have to 'settle' on the house they can afford to bid on. It seems to me that if you're "choosing" an alternative school, you should be the one inconvenienced to a certain extent. Put all of the choice schools at Cubberly, where the parking is good and there is plenty of room. Young Fives is already down there. Put IB there too -- what a marvelous idea I'd love to see floated at a forum! And get those neighborhood schools back to the neighborhood. My theory: a big chunk of those 240 Ohlone kids would stay right at their current location. To answer my own question, while looking for the AAAG report I found the link to the remainder of the forums and coffees; Web Link
We've heard from a few people who have been to these events. Anyone else out there have anything to report?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 11, 2007 at 2:37 pm
I see your point, but I guess we're just defining "neighborhood school" differently. I'm looking at the district map which defines the neighborhood schools. A child who lives next door to Ohlone has a neighborhood school - it's just not the one next door. And it’s not like they’re schlepping across town - the distance from Ohlone to Palo Verde is shorter than plenty of other neighborhood school commutes.
As for Garland, I don’t have a strong opinion. I’m district-centric. Sometimes schools are required to scratch an itch from another part of the district. Having SI at Escondido is one of the more successful examples. It’s a great synergy – provided there’s space. Escondido has a large campus and serves a small neighborhood, so placing SI at Escondido makes perfect sense. The SI families get a great program, the over-enrolled schools get some relief when their neighborhood kids opt for SI, and Escondido had the space – so why not? I’m not opposed to SI or SI at Escondido – provided there’s space!
Moving all of SI to Garland wouldn’t make much sense – Escondido has ample space for SI, just not 2 full strands of SI. One option might be to expand SI to half of Garland with the other half as neighborhood. But that wouldn’t (shouldn’t) sit well with Ohlone & MI. Maybe MI could take over Greendell or LAH, except that those are no less ‘neighborhood schools’ than Garland. Sorry, but to me this still comes down to district leaders allowing MI to put an enormous wrench into the potential solutions to overcrowding.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 4:47 pm
I'm aware of the problem with Ohlone-MI potentially usurping Ohlone-English space. It's never been ruled out and no one's willing to give a straight answer. Why do you think I keep bringing up the question?
Greendell, I think, is a possibility for single-strand MI. Part of the site is Preschool Family and Young Fives, but part of it is the JCC and isn't the JCC slated to leave when the Charleston/San Antonio complex is finished? I think it would be a reasonable use for Greendell, which isn't a big enough site for a full-fledged elementary.
The problem with Garland as an MI site is that it's a small site, can't be expanded since it's bumping up against the overcrowded Jordan. It's also the only elementary site between Oregon and Embarcadero. A lot of people in the triangle send their kids to Ohlone. The neighborhood schools aren't really in the neighborhood. It's like the Ventura area, where kids are expected to cross El Camino. (Which, by the way, I consider a much bigger hindrance than being closer to Ohlone than Palo Verde for kids who live nearer to Ohlone than Palo Verde.)
Along with bumping kids, we've also hit more than site capacity at the three north schools. I expect you could fill Garland right now if you brought the north cluster back down to slated capacity.
But meanwhile the MI crowd thinks they should have a 240-student public school to itself. Some feel this way more than others, but that's definitely the notion expressed by some. It's impractical in an overcrowded district--partly because of the nature of the program itself--you can't drop a kid in midstream, so attrition's a space problem.
Oh, well, at least this time we can see the future whacky decisions ahead of time.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 5:44 pm
OP and others
The other problem is that the overcrowding of middle schools is just as big a problem. Garland is right beside Jordan and this is a supersize site. If, and we believe it should be, called so that we have it back in three years, we need the flexibility to be able to use it for something other than MI. What our greatest need may be in three years is expanding our middle schools into it. We do not have an ideal middle school campus anywhere. Greendell can be used for elementary students at a choice program. Cubberly is built for a high school and could be so again. However, our three middle schools are maxed out. They were built as jr high, two grade schools. They now have three grades. We need more middle school space.
Posted by never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 8:22 pm
OP -- I'm sorry if I missed your comments on the Ohlone-Mandarin usurping Ohlone-English. I remember reading your (legitimate, I think) concerns about too many portables on your campus, but not specific comments on this, and not how that might wind up relating to the other schools in the neighborhood. That was really the only point I was trying to make.
I think PACE is counting on being handed Garland. In spite of the fact that more than 100 kids from the north are overflowed this year. I don't know if that means just new overflows. If you were overflowed last year, are you now 'permanently' enrolled in the cross-town school? It doesn't really matter; at 100 kids this year, and 100 next year, and 100 a year after that -- Garland is filled with north side kids by the time it can be re-opened. And Ohlone still has MI. And El Carmelo and Palo Verde have additional portables. And we all have 24 kids in elementary classrooms, even though part of the deal with passing the Parcel Tax (Measure A) was that we would maintain 20-pupil classrooms.
I cannot get this Board out of here fast enough.
I've asked around. A friend was at the Ohlone forum (but not an Ohlone parent). The question of where MI was going in three years was posed. According to my friend, Camille indicated that she would be happy to see it stay at Ohlone. My friend said she felt the temperature in the room drop a few degrees.
I think this is a good question to keep asking at the coffees and the forums, not because I'm trying to wallow in the past, but because candidates need to know that this is a big issue with lots of reprecussions, and we want future decisions to be made with a plan that extends beyond 18 months.
I'll be at one of the future forums and a coffee. Hope to see you there.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 8:23 pm
I agree that the Garland site isn't a great one for MI. Basically, it's too centrally located to be used for a boutique program. Using it as a sixth-grade site, say, would be a possibility, and, of course, as a regular elementary.
Greendell, as I say, should have an opening of some classrooms, so it's not even a case of having to end a lease. Unlike the Cubberly complex, there are fenced-in playing areas (not used by PSF, though I think the green space is used by Young Fives, but no reason they couldn't both use it. They could share maintenance costs.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 11, 2007 at 8:36 pm
I haven't made a big issue of it--but it's an underlying concern, so it would have been easy to miss. Sounds like Camille doesn't care if Ohlone's a mega-school or some of the Ohlone strands get bumped.
I think the PACE crowd does not want to stay at Ohlone. They seem to have talked themselves into thinking they'll get Garland. What they really seem to want is a private school on a public dime.
With Townsend, it's really a question of whether three non-incumbents can't get more votes. From what I've read here and the signage in town, the support seems to be split among Hauser, Baten-Caswell, Ezran and Klausner. That's a problem, there's enough room for Townsend who's going to get the MI and the vote-the-incumbent vote.
I think PAEE endorsed Hauser, Klausner and Baten-Caswell.
Posted by Former Palo Verde Parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 12, 2007 at 7:44 am
OhlonePar states: I think the PACE crowd does not want to stay at Ohlone. They seem to have talked themselves into thinking they'll get Garland. What they really seem to want is a private school on a public dime.
How pray tell is this any different than Ohlone or Hoover having their own site? Oh, wait, you mean we conveniently keep forgetting that Ohlone and Hoover are both choice programs just like MI and SI. By their very existence all of these choice programs have and will have an impact on the neighborhood.
OhlonePar may not have been around when the idea was floated in the 90's to flip the school campuses of Palo Verde and Ohlone since Palo Verde was full to the brim and overflowing. Ohlone has the second largest site after Escondido. With the proposed exchange of the larger Ohlone campus to Palo Verde all of the neighborhood kids could have stayed together. Why didn't it happen? Ohlone parents objected to losing their "farm" and having to move to the smaller Palo Verde site. So, stuff those kids into Palo Verde and overflow the rest while the choice program at Ohlone got to keep its farm and large site all these years.
No tears from me that Ohlone "a choice program" has to share the site with another choice program "MI". Or the fact that MI might one day want to have what Ohlone already has - its own site.
Posted by Never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2007 at 3:14 pm
At the beginning of this thread PA Mom and Overcrowding listed some questions that should be asked at the Forums. Briones, Paly, and Nixon are next week. Are there any other topics that should be covered?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2007 at 6:01 pm
Hi there Former,
I'd say the difference between Ohlone and Hoover and the incoming MI program is that both Ohlone and Hoover came into being when the district was facing huge declining enrollments. It was to the district's benefit to have magnet programs to attract kids into the district.
Since magnet programs act as magnets, I don't see putting more in when we have an issue with overenrollment.
However, I also don't see the point in upending what's already in existence and working well. I'm not sure what's served by redistributing 700 elementary kids in the name of some sort of vague fairness. The kids have to go somewhere. There would still be overcrowding since both schools are at capacity with waitlists.
I think the obvious thing to have done, by the way, is expand Ohlone a half strand--which would have been at the site's capacity and reduced Ohlone's large waitlist. This would have helped Palo Verde as well as some Palo Verde kids are on the Ohlone waitlist. MI, because you can't swap kids in at higher grades, is an inefficient program in terms of using space.
My objection to MI at Ohlone is less about space about Ohlone and more about the future overcrowding--in three years, there's no room and the school is way over the district's elementary limit. What then? It's rotten planning to leave a half-finished strand up in the air like that. Cowardly, even. I also think the educational concept of Ohlone MI fusion is kind of nuts.
Which doesn't mean that I think the situation's a good one at Palo Verde. Or any of the overcrowded elementaries. It bothers me that the board didn't table MI until it had dealt with the overcrowding in a way a little more evolved than sticking its collective head in the sand.
And, of course, I think we're better off having fewer, but more readily accessible, choice programs. At this point, there's a lot of understandable resentment of the whole choice thing.
Posted by FRC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2007 at 10:22 pm
Hm, more special pleading for Ohlone by Ohlonepar.
Sorry, over-enrollment has nothing to do with MI, and trying to link them looks a little silly. (And PA simply has no magnet schools.) You claim the overcrowding "bothers" you, yet you have no sympathy for the kids driven from their neighborhood school by the Ohlone program. Kinda insincere, don't you think?
As for expanding Ohlone, why should that program cut in line? Ohlone is just one part of the district, and many pieces have to be balanced. Expanding Ohlone may seem "obvious" to you, while obsessing about Ohlone, but once you look at the whole district it becomes less obvious.
You have what you want (Ohlone program) and you just want more of it (expansion). The only way to get this is to deny the educational needs of others. This is what your argument boils down to, and you'd be more honest to state it up front. The rest of the district sees the need for cooperation, however, and I don't see your argument working beyond your small circle.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2007 at 11:49 pm
The more boutique programs there are the more complicated over-enrollment issues become. MI kids will need to move en mass somewhere in three years. Moving them into a newly opened 13th elementary school will only rekindle the frustration currently existing over MI and how it was handled.
I just don't see how we'll ever get a bond issue passed. For example, a bond is voted on after MI starts and it doesn't pass because people may still be waiting to see what the board does to answer questions about accountability, transparency and fairness (especially with the grant money flowing in). Then the 13th school opens, MI moves there, and another bond issue comes up and again doesn't pass because MI gets its program moved to a newly renovated school and displaces neighborhood kids and upsets parents in the process.
Will the board face these issues head on and help the community move beyond this debacle? I sincerely hope so. But I'm just another one of those parents who hears frustration from all over the place regarding the board's actions of the past year.
The board vote coming up should say a lot about the true level of frustration that exists out there.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:35 am
Ah, here we go, right thread for this comment. This one's for my new fan, JJ,
Nope. It was a little tongue-in-cheek. And, of course, it was a big topic without me.
It was actually my way of pointing that out.
Sort of the way the 4,800-plus views on this thread, which is largely about the ramifications of the MI debacle, shows how your wishful thinking is off. That's not burn-out or six people bickering back and forth--that's a lot of people looking for information. Though I suspect they're not that interested in this sort of thing.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] You don't seem to have any idea how deep and widespread the anger is about this. That's been an ongoing problem with the pro-MI crowd--the inability to really get why they've ticked people off. There's this kind of inability to see how their pet project and the way they pursued it interacts and affects the larger whole.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:51 am
Since Ohlone hasn't been a neighborhood school in close to 30 years, I don't think any kids are getting bumped, unless you consider kids in Ventura getting bumped by the closure of that school and the kids in Green Gables getting bumped by the closure of Garland.
The expansion of Ohlone makes sense because the program is set up so that it can expand by a half strand because of the split grades. MI needs a full strand--six cubicles instead of three.
And of course the choice programs are magnet programs, particularly high-scoring Hoover, one of the highest-ranking schools in the state. I suspect one of the reasons Fairmeadow's scores have soared in recent years is that families hoping to go to Hoover (and later Gunn) have moved into the area. Then, when they get waitlisted at Hoover, they end up at nearby Fairmeadow, but with the same motivated kids and parents.
I've said it before and I'll say it now. I would not approve any new choice program in the elementaries until the overcrowding is dealt with. That would include an Ohlone. I think there's also an argument to be made that Ohlone and Hoover would have been charters if the charter laws had been around at the time--they just happen to predate them.
But because they exist and have their own communities and succeed as schools, I see no reason to shut them down and redistribute a bunch of kids.
Very different matter than starting a new program when there's no space.
As for Ohlone expanding Ohlone? Well, we *all* pay for the choice programs and Ohlone's is popular. Why make it less accessible by limiting the possibility of growth at its own campus?
Posted by FRC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 5:47 am
Doesn't matter how long Ohlone has been open, it still bumps kids from their neighborhood school (Ohlone).
I can see that the expansion of Ohlone makes sense to you, but the question is a wider one that touches on the whole district, and when you argue for jumping the queue it reveals a selfish streak.
You seem confused about the meaning of magnet program. PA does not have one. If you want to redefine it to anything that makes the district more attractive to some parents, then the whole district qualifies as a magnet.
Posted by big picture, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:39 am
FRC - I believe that OP means Magnet Program in the broad sense of "a program which attracts students to the district"...and in the sense that Magnet programs are designed to give "choice" to parents, which, of course, our "choice" programs are designed to do.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 11:14 am
I think it is time to start redefining the term neighborhood school. To many it means the local school in the neighborhood. To PAUSD it means a non choice school. Neighborhood school should mean the school in the neighborhood, but unfortunately it doesn't.
Ohlone is the local school to many and some are often surprised to find that they have to get into it by lottery. Local schools should be the closest physical public school and local residents should be able to attend them. When Ohlone and Hoover were made into specialised schools, we should be grateful that this was done rather than the sites being closed and sold off for housing, which was done by too many schools.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm
Magnet program is not a technical term. Magnet programs are created to attract students. As opposed to schools that do not have a standardized approach or curriculum. Magnet schools draw from all over a district instead of being restricted by geographical boundaries.
In Palo Alto, "neighborhood schools" refer to schools whose enrollment comes from a particular catchment area. Yes, Ohlone is in a neighborhood (what school isn't?), but the neighborhood it's in has Palo Verde as its neighborhood school. For years, this was a nonissue since Palo Verde wasn't face overenrollment issues. Now, it is, so there's understandable resentment by people in the Palo Verde area.
Ohlone does give a slight preference to kids within its neighborhood. It is true that a lot of the kids who attend Ohlone seem to live East of El Camino. I know a lot in the Palo Verde and El Carmelo areas and also a chunk from the Green Gables area--between Oregon and Embarcadero who don't have access to a safely walkable school.
I think you need to remember that PAUSD closed a third of its schools after Proposition 13. Seale Park was an elementary school site. To complain about Ohlone taking a neighborhood spot ignores the context in which and Hoover were created--i.e. the district had school buildings to spare. It tore some of them down and sold others. Under the circumstances, I'd say both Ohlone and Hoover earned their places in the district--both had dedicated teachers and parents who made those schools work. And, 25 years later, they still work.
I don't think you're really paying attention to what I'm saying about expanding Ohlone. I don't really want more kids on campus, but I also think that since the district is growing and with it, demand for Ohlone that a half-strand expansion would give people who don't have sibling preference a better shot at getting into the program. The demand for more Ohlone spots way predates the emergence of the MI quest.
Unlike Mandarin, a constructivist approach to elementary-school education can't be learned after school or on the weekends. It's certainly not cheaply and widely available in the private sector as Mandarin is. Also, unlike Mandarin, it's truly open to all children. There's no language requirement. A lot of Ohlone kids come from families where neither English nor Mandarin is the first language. MI is actually weirdly exclusive in a district that has this polyglot a population--off the top of my head, I can think of parents around here whose first languages include French, German, Serbian, Hindi, Spanish, Cantonese, Japanese, Italian, Arabic, Flemish, Dutch, Bengali, Hebrew and Greek.
I think it would be wrong if, in order to expand, Ohlone took over part of a neighborhood school to meet demand, but to expand on its own site to meet the large unmet demand for its service and help offset overcrowding at schcools like Palo Verde, Duveneck, El Carmelo and Walter Hays--well, I'd say some fairly convoluted thinking is needed to find that somehow "wrong."
Or maybe it just takes the belief that Mandarin Immersion is much more important than anything else.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 1:54 pm
(Okay, this is getting way too self-referential). My understanding is that the biggest factor was the 30 percent drop in school population. However, during the same time, Prop. 13 passed and the district did have a big budget cut as a result, which meant there were strong financial reasons to close and sell off schools. So two factors.
Posted by FRC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm
No, magnet programs are not created to attract students. They gather students, generally from within a single district, for specialized curriculum. Typically found in large, urban districts. They are not intended to increase enrollment.
"Now, it is, so there's understandable resentment by people in the Palo Verde area." Right, Ohlone displaces kids and it creates resentment. It is one of the costs of having a specialized program within the district.
Actually, I'm paying close attention to what you're saying about expanding Ohlone, and it's why I'm pointing out the contradictions in what you say. You don't want to expand it but you do. You don't want neighborhood kids bumped unless it's for your program. You don't want any choice spots created unless they are within the Ohlone program. You don't want any program to move forward ("jump the queue") unless it's Ohlone.
Actually, the proficiency that the MI parents are looking for is not obtainable in after-school programs or on weekends. You try to mount a long argument that essentially says it is more rational and fair to provide the Ohlone program than to provide an MI program, and we've heard all this before. You don't seem to get it. None of those arguments is sound. This is not a matter of what makes more sense or what is fair; it's a question of what education individual families need for their children. You have a particular need, but that doesn't negate the differing needs of others.
Your argument actually cuts against all choice programs (and the Ohlone way), so it's odd that an Ohlone parent would make it. If numbers are the only thing that count, then we should do away with all choice programs because the majority would certainly be against putting their kids in such programs. Your position is the truly exclusive one in this debate: find exclusive arguments against all choice programs but find weird justifications why they don't apply to Ohlone.
Posted by Michele, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 3:00 pm
So have any of the candidates said how they would prevent such a division as the one caused by the MI issue from happening in the future? Have they addressed overcrowding in the high schools? I am planning to go to the Monday forum at Churchill but haven't been to a coffee yet.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 4:36 pm
Of course they are. They're selling points of a sort. Ever talk to any school administrator types? You're naive if you think this isn't the case.
So MI parents are demanding? Yes, we knew that. Kids have achieved fluency before from extracurricular programs. You're declaring things are just so with nothing to back them up, well . . . it's not convincing. And I'm certainly not convinced that our public schools owe you immersion Mandarin, particularly when so few kids get the benefit. It's an example of that presumptuousness that's made MI more unpopular than it had to be.
And, no, Ohlone's displacing no one, since its existence predates any of the current school kids. There's space envy, but that's not displacement.
I'm sorry you have difficulty comprehending the need for balance in the school district. If there are extra school buildings, then choice programs are appropriate to institute. If there's a lack of space then it's not a good time to add another choice program.
However, not starting a new choice program hardly means that I think all choice programs should be ended. That's your reasoning, not mine.
Which does make me wonder how you could possibly support MI.
My reasoning says, well, what if we did close all the choice programs? Hmmm, massive reshuffling of several hundred kids, some schools get even more overcrowded (since the distribution's not even), while some schools may end up half empty.
And for what benefit? Nothing concrete that I've seen. On the other hand, there are concrete benefits to putting a hold on MI until the overcrowding issues are managed.
It's less about good and bad and more about what's practical.
Posted by PV Parent, a member of the Palo Verde School community, on Oct 13, 2007 at 4:50 pm
You say that there is a slight preference to kids in the Palo Verde neighborhood and I would like to know how that works. Is it just that more get in because more apply to the lottery, or is there a bias in the lottery?
Most of the parents at Palo Verde that I have spoken to who had applied for the lottery admit to wanting the school that is closest to them, (a block or so away) rather than any particular preference for the program. I know that some have admitted to being disappointed because they feel that they live so much further away from school than they would like and given the opportunity would switch to Ohlone for that reason.
I know that this is not all the Palo Verde would be Ohlone families, but certainly many.
Posted by FRC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 4:51 pm
You don't seem to understand what a magnet program is, though I've tried to explain. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] It's not a question of the district "owing" anyone anything; it's about educational needs. For that matter, I don't think the district owes Ohlone parents the farm. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"And, no, Ohlone's displacing no one." "Now [we have overenrollment], it is, so there's understandable resentment [of Ohlone] by people in the Palo Verde area." Your words. So which is it? Of course Ohlone is displacing neighborhood kids.
The fact is MI will start in a year. No one--not board members, not candidates--supports revisiting the decision. The district has also made a commitment to continuing the program if it is successful. In all likelihood, we will have a full-fledged 240-child program running within a few years. If there is support from parents, at some stage the district will no doubt create an MI middle school program. Then high school.
Posted by Fan of OhlonePar, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 5:33 pm
Has anyone heard Barbara make a statement about any potential conflict of interest issues since her husband is involved in a program directly related to China and Mandarin language?
This should probably go onto that new thread.
I don't want to set you off (lol), but I want to tell you that the only school board candidates that attended a big City Council Candidate meeting a few days ago, were Barbara and Camille.
They were both there with their lawn signs. Camille had her husband in tow (to carry them).
It was not appropriate for me to ask them questions regarding their position on these issues, since my time and questions were directed towards the candidates running for City Council.
I see that they are counting on winning votes from the older people in our community (a very large group of voters), who may not be aware of what has gone on in the past with the old school board. Keen tactic.
I was disappointed that Barbara did not attend the two scheduled coffees that I and other parents made time to attend, but she decided to show up at a city council candidate meeting which had a huge voting crowd.
Both may win this election simply on name recognition (familiar signs and ads) and by being an incumbent.
Sad, but true. Many older voters do not keep up with school board issues once their kids are out of school.
Our board may be chosen by people who do not fully understand the issues. Many of these people do not own a computer.
From my observations at this event, I am in complete agreement with earlier remarks about the behavior of your *favorite* candidate.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:13 pm
I've been told there's a slight preference, but honestly I don't know the ins and outs of how it works. I'm told it applies to the area right around Ohlone rather than all of PV's catchment area, but then some people have said they live down the street and can't get in.
The whole thing seems to be a bit controversial--there are those who feel they ought to have some preference since they are next to the school and others who feel a lottery choice should be equally open to all. Certainly, the school doesn't seem to give out that much information on it.
I understand you. I don't agree with you. You seem to see things in very either/or black-and-white terms. At the same time, you seem unaware of what "displacement" means. You can't "displace" someone from someplace they were never in in the first place.
Mandarin is not required to live and work in the United States. It's not required for college. It's not required by the state or the federal government. So, no, it's not a need that must be fulfilled by the public schools here.
I have never claimed the Farm is a need--funny that you jumped right to it. It is, however, well incorporated into Ohlone's curriculum. Your apparent resentment of it shows (yet again) what a poor match-up there is between the Ohlone Way and the majority of the wannabe MI parents.
You want your kid in the Ohlone MI program, but you'd love it if Ohlone itself went to hell. Gee, can't wait to host the Harvest Festival bake sale with you.
I've wondered about the Townsend/Klausner possible conflicts issue. I don't know that there is one, but I'd sure like them to address the question.
Klausner's not an incumbent, just well-funded. She does have Gail Price's endorsement and her comments did address overcrowding, so I don't know that she's a bad choice.
Townsend is clearly counting on the incumbent edge and the core MI support.
One element that's missing and will, I think, play a big part with the no-kids-in-school vote are the newspaper endorsements.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:45 pm
For those of you who harp on the perception that choice programs are good for declining enrollment, you know that means the death knell for any new choice program Palo Alto.
Yes, we had declining enrollment 30 years ago, but essentially ever since, we've had flat and increasing enrollment. Palo Alto will always be a destination school district, and not withstanding the new housing developments, PAUSD will *never* be in declining enrollment.
You know that, so your closed-mindedness on creating innovative programs within our growing enrollment is sad.
Luckily, choice programs take years to plan and implement, so we've had the past five years to wait and see for financial reasons (the moratorium, when basic aid was in jeopardy ), for cleaning up the process for starting programs (the guidelines which are applicable to any new program, whether Hebrew immersion or Arabic immersion), and getting educated about charter schools (as another option for choice).
It would be great for the board, after the election, cleaned up the policy for criteria for expanding existing programs, so that OhlonePar and the SI folks can have a clear set of steps for growing their programs instead of just pointing to long waiting lists as justification. Then those steps could be used for expanding Young 5's and Hoover, equitably.
Posted by FRC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:52 pm
Right, so Ohlone kids are displacing neighborhood kids but you don't mind. I get it.
"Mandarin is not required to live and work in the United States. It's not required for college. It's not required by the state or the federal government. So, no, it's not a need that must be fulfilled by the public schools here." Strawman. No one claimed such. It is, however, an educational need, and the district has chosen to fulfill it, an inclusive gesture you could learn from.
I'm not sure why you think I resent the farm. Personally, I think it's great. I'm merely pointing out that you have a towering sense of entitlement when it comes to things you benefit from, but high indignation when it comes to others' needs.
And no, my kids are way too old for MI. I just think it's a great addition to our district, though, and I celebrate our diversity and am happy we can meet various needs.
Posted by Never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 8:12 pm
OP -- who told you that there is a preference for neighborhood kids? Please reveal your source. I ask because it was made quite clear at AAAG meetings last year that there should be no preferential treatment of any sort at any of the lottery programs. Marilyn Cook. If there is evidence of something else, she would like to know about it immediately. So time to put up.
And here is the reason I harp on this (somewhat revealed by my nom de plume, I should think): one of my biggest beefs with all of the choice programs is that there is no transparency in the lottery process. Local celebrities wind up in SI; who really believes Grace Mah's name won't be pulled for the MI lottery; young 5s gives a preference to siblings -- even though those kids are long gone and some other kid may 'need' young 5s more than the young 5 teachers need a previously trained parent; Ohlone refuses to do a waitlist (which is where I think the neighborhood preference becomes the issue -- 'pull' someone who is more likely to say yes). All of this infringes on the issue of justice, leading to bad feelings. To quote the civil rights movement, no justice -- no peace. And MI, in addition to really poor management of the process, brought some of these feelings to the crest.
It is refreshing for me to hear from FRC and PV Parent who are willing to publicly say that there are some injustices and a little bit of ostrich-in-the-sand thinking by those in the choice programs. My friends at Ohlone -- and I have lots and they are great folks -- really have no idea that there is resentment about that school's existence. In fact, by some members of that community, there is an almost laughable belief that it is some sort of Camelot. I have laughed out loud at people who have sniffed and said 'that (bullying, homework, indifferent teachers, unresponsive admin, anything any human being is capable of) would never happen at Ohlone'.
My further objection to Ohlone and Hoover is that they are not, in real practice, that different from the neighborhood schools we already have. I'm sure that there are teachers at each school who absolutely embody the philosphy set forth in the literature. But in reality, most teachers are on a continuum, the same one you find in neighborhood schools. So except for the livestock over at Ohlone (and OP -- I'm guessing your kid's in a kinder/first grade class based on the things you say about the way that school works-- you need to check on how often teachers are getting over to the farm; like any resource some teachers use it all the time, and others rarely go), there are not big differences OVERALL between those two choice schools and the neighborhood schools. So why have something that brings about nothing but feelings of superiority in those who 'win' the lottery and resentment from those who lose -- whether they lose by not being picked, or lose because instead of walking to the nearest school building, they have to drive a mile and a half to their 'neighborhood' school.
I have even bigger problems with SI and MI. Those are dramatically different from Ohlone and Hoover in that those kids, in addition to getting the great PAUSD curriculum, they get the benefit of a foreign language, that no one else gets unless they win a lottery -- the SI lottery, the Ohlone lottery (as Ohlone sibs will have first shot at all open MI spots as long it is on that campus -- probably in perpetuity), or the MI lottery. Either make both (or even all) programs large enough to handle the demand for them (an absolute travesty that this doesn't happen for young 5s), or be prepared for people being angry over the injustice. And don't expect peace.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 8:19 pm
Ah, glad to see you figured out that Farm bashing was a dead end.
You have an odd way of defining "educational need" given that you don't seem to know what makes it a need instead of a want. Kids NEED math, they NEED to know how to read, they NEED to master basic skills that allow them to graduate from high school and function in our society. They NEED a more advanced group of skills to attend college.
And kids NEED to have a place to go to school.
But Mandarin? Saying that you think it's a need, doesn't demonstrate an objective NEED for Mandarin. Or, more to the point, a NEED for this district to provide it.
And you wax on about *my* sense of entitlement, which is what? Oh, that my offspring get to go to school where they go to school and that maybe other people who want their kids to go to that school should have a better shot at doing so.
And I'd say MI is anti-diversity, by the way. Unlike Spanish, French or English, Mandarin isn't spoken by a globally diverse population. What, just out of curiosity,is the percentage of non-Chinese native Mandarin speakers? Do you know?
It's a program that's ill-suited for the many kids in the district whose first language is neither English nor Mandarin. If you read up on immersion programs, you'll see that they work best for kids with families are highly fluent in English (or Mandarin).
Posted by Never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 8:25 pm
I forgot -- Michelle, I just wanted to check with you about your statement about the upcoming forum. There is one Monday, 10/15 at Briones at 7:00 pm, and 10/18 a forum + coffee at Paly at 8:30 am, and Nixon 10/19 at 8:00 am for a forum + coffee.
But I don't see another Churchill event on the schedule. Did I miss something?
Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 9:37 pm
Never Picked -- THANK YOU for saying "My further objection to Ohlone and Hoover is that they are not, in real practice, that different from the neighborhood schools we already have." I'm with you 100% on that.
They really are, I’d argue, only a very small distance apart from the neighborhood schools on a constructivist-thru-direct instruction continuum. Ohlone and Hoover have exactly the same curriculum as the other schools. Just like the neighborhood schools, they are required to follow the ‘whole child’ model and address social and emotional as well as academic development. Ohlone teachers (I’ve seen them) put kids behind desks and lecture them for some of the time. Hoover teachers, I’m sure, don’t ask that their students stay behind their desks for every minute of the day. Sure there are differences, but are they really THAT big? More importantly, are the differences far enough apart to justify the community resentments you describe and the traffic they cause and the inconvenience they bring to parents who have to drive every day when they otherwise wouldn't have to?
I'd really like the BOE to take a very hard look at what happens IN THE CLASSROOM at Hoover and Ohlone and ask if the differences are really that much more than you'd get if you had the principals of Ohlone and Hoover running neighborhood schools.
Either I'd like to see Hoover and Ohlone made neighborhood schools again (they’d still have the 'character' given them by their principals and by the choices made by the PTAs and site councils, just as the other schools have a character) or I'd like to see them unleashed and made into REAL choices -- why should Ohlone have a formal year-to-year curriculum at all, for example. Why not make it a school for super-curious learners who follow their own interests to essentially ‘teach themselves’ the elementary curriculum over six years? Some kids in our district would thrive in such an environment. Others would not. But then it really would be a choice.
It’s always bugged me that one of Susan Charles’ favorite ‘laugh’ lines to parents is that ‘all children in Palo Alto will do equally well in any of the schools. It’s for the parents that we have the choices.’ To me that’s plain absurd. If they will do well in any school – and if the schools are really not THAT different, why are we allowing parents what amount to not a much more than an illusion of ‘choice’ when that ‘choice’ has real costs for the district?
As for SI and MI, at least they are dramatically different, so the choice there is real. I’m with you in seeing the provision of languages only in these schools as deeply unfair, but I hope that we will soon have FLES in our other schools and then I think the situation will be different. Without the patent unfairness of some children ‘winning’ an enriched curriculum, parents would instead have a rather wonderful (and this time real) choice in how they’d like their child to address languages in the early years.
For my money, unless Hoover and Ohlone are allowed to change to become real pedagogical alternatives, I’d close them down and put SI and MI in their place (or put both at Ohlone and open Hoover as a neighborhood school again) and expand Escondido’s boundaries slightly to accommodate the newly available capacity.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 13, 2007 at 10:47 pm
Never-picked and PA Dad,
I think the lottery process should be more transparent. No question about it. If I knew the ins and outs I would reveal them--surely it's apparent that I'm willing to talk out of class.
Is there a continuum of teachers? Yes. Some teachers have a better sense of how to use the constructivist approach than others. Some teachers use the Farm more effectively than others. And it's not a matter of K/1 v. other grades. Some of the most creative project-based learning I see is in one of the 4/5s.
I've heard Susan Charles' little laugh line. I don't really buy it, though I do think parental attitudes have a *lot* to do with how well a school succeeds. Different kids seem to need different amounts of external structure. Kids who come in with a fair amount of internal motivation have an easier time at Ohlone.
So, difference between Ohlone and the neighborhood schools? I think, actually, the assigned homework issue is a big deal. It occurred to me the other day that I don't have to worry about kids not doing their own work or being helped too much by parents--it's a nonissue.
I don't have to worry about seeing my kids' love of learning buried under busy work (which is what happened to me).
THere's also no direct comparisons between kids. Yes, you can infer, but the evaluations really are about your child's progress. At its best, the approach teaches kids to be responsible for their own learning--that's the beauty of the student-led approach.
Look, I would *love* it if there were no discernible differences between Ohlone and the neighborhood schools. But from my perspective, there are real differences. And I think there are differences in parental expectations. Lots of parents want their kids in a more competitive environment--to be challenged in particular ways. They want to make sure their kids are getting all the possible advantages of learning things early.
It's a different philosophy. Personally, I'd never send my kid to Hoover, but I think direct instruction can be very effective for some kids. For some kids, too much formal structure stifles their abilities, for others it's the thing they need to build a firm foundation on which to learn.
So, no, I don't think kids are alike and learn all alike. And saying you saw kids lectured at desks doesn't say a whole lot about the differences as a whole. (I've only seen them addressed on the floor, but I haven't been in all the classrooms.) I think, by the way, Ohlone wouldn't mind being more different, but they're a bit hindered by the public school curriculum requirements and testing stuff.
So, realistically, I don't expect neighborhood schools to become fungible with Ohlone. I'd say the parents who want their kids in an Ohlone environment are a sizable minority in Palo Alto, but not the majority.
Never-picked, I agree that there is a lack of awareness of the resentment felt by parents outside the program. Ohlone does function as its own little world to a certain extent, though we all know people who we hoped would get in and didn't. It's one of the reasons I think Ohlone-English should be more accessible. If you're going to have choice programs you need to give people a reasonable shot at getting in.
So you close Ohlone, Hoover and shuffle around the language programs? Then what? Millions spent to move kids around and reorganize the staffs--even more acrimony because kids are still going to get bumped.
It's kind of an authoritarian solution--i.e. if some people don't get what they want, nobody should get a choice.
I'm in favor of trying to balance interests myself. Look at the interests of the district as a whole and then look at the minority interests--i.e. choice programs. Sometimes, there's room for choice programs--as when Hoover and Ohlone started. Sometimes there's not enough room in the schools.
At which point, you spend your board meetings looking at opening old schools. Then, after that, you look to see if it's feasible to add another choice program. And, of course, also figure out if there are too many choice programs for this size district, or whatever.
By the way, we probably should move this to a new thread--the should Ohlone exist? stuff. It's not something that's actually affecting this election.
Posted by why not?, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 14, 2007 at 7:51 am
It would not be that big of a deal, now that every elementary school is at least 3 strands, to have one "strand" each of a DI model, an "Ohlone" model, and a "mixed" model at each school. Voila, much fewer problems, many more real choices for all kids' learning styles...Make Ohlone the "immersion" school, adding a third immersion language for 240 kids since it can handle more kids...which would also make it a more integrated school for immersion kids. (Arabic, anyone?)
Seems not hard at all to me. It would take a few years to do it painlessly, starting with simply accepting only Immersion kids into kindergarten, and letting the existing kids stay. Concurrently, starting kindergartens that are different styles at each school and letting those strands grow each year.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Oct 14, 2007 at 9:42 am
Dear Why Not?
A strand of each learning style is a school sounds great in theory, but putting classrooms together is a complicated issue and makes a HUGE difference in a teachers ability to teach. What if all the kids with IEP's want to be in the "Ohlone" model and one teacher has to deal with 12 IEP's. Then all the competitive (sometime obnoxious and disruptive) kids want the "Hoover" model, etc. Not so simple.
Posted by Michele, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 14, 2007 at 1:22 pm
Hi - there is an ad for a school board candidates' forum at Churchille Ave. at 7:30 but I see that I got the date wrong - it is on Oct 22 which is a week from Monday. The Monday one is at Briones at 7 Pm I believe - I may have to wait for the 22nd. Anyway, I'm interested to hear what they all have to say.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 14, 2007 at 3:06 pm
Well, first of all, the Ohlone method is quite a bit more popular than the immersion programs. So why dismantle the more popular program in favor of the less-in-demand ones? And ones that offer less flexibility in enrollment?
Second, more importantly, central to Ohlone's method is a huge amount of cross-pollination between the classrooms. The school works very much as a unit. Not surprising given the emphasis on community in the philosophy. And while this includes the Farm, that's just one small part of it. Part of the school's philosophy is that older children learn by teaching younger children, so all 4/5s have a K/1 buddy class. And they really do do projects together. All class groups function together, sharing curriculum, but different classes contributing to different aspects of a subject.
Third, but related to the above--the mixed classrooms--all Ohlone classes are combined. This makes a difference in how curriculum is taught. There's a lot of every-other-year planning that goes on at Ohlone.
Last, project-based learning programs aren't easy to run--look at the ups and downs of the Connections program in contrast to Ohlone. It takes a lot of preplanning, management and teacher training. It's a whole-school sort of thing. It's one of the reasons why Susan Charles required that the MI program be an Ohlone program.
It's also one of the reasons that while I think Susan Charles is no angel and I disagree with some of her choices, I do have a lot of respect for how she runs the school.
Posted by PV Parent, a member of the Palo Verde School community, on Oct 14, 2007 at 3:20 pm
Just so as not to confuse anyone, the buddy class system you describe is not unique to Ohlone. It has been going on at Palo Verde for years, and although it is not a standard way of getting the grades together they frequently do projects together. It is always a big thing for the 3rd graders when they become big buddies for the kindgergartners for the first time. The 4th graders then work with 1st graders and the 5th graders with 2nd graders. Also, many 5th graders sit and read with the poorer readers or math students in the lower levels too. I actually gave a small year end small to the 5th grader who helped my then 1st grader and she was thrilled to have been noticed.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 14, 2007 at 5:05 pm
Hi PV Parent,
I know a lot (all?) of the schools have buddy systems. Ohlone's, from what I've seen, seems to go beyond that in that it's a regular, well-integrated part of the curriculum, along with all the split-grade classrooms.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 15, 2007 at 10:03 am
"it was made quite clear at AAAG meetings last year that there should be no preferential treatment of any sort at any of the lottery programs. Marilyn Cook. If there is evidence of something else, she would like to know about it immediately."
That's not the message I'm getting. I've been asking her for transparency and an explanation of the lottery process and winners since last May and have been getting put off ever since. Lip service.
Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 10:31 am
re. the mysteries (and possible injustices of) the lottery process in the PAUSD. I've been impressed by Arden Pennell's reporting on the school beat so far. She (he?) seems thorough and to generally get what the stakes are in an issue. Arden, can you get some answers from the district on this?
There are plenty of accusations about preferential treatment and obfuscation from the PAUSD when it comes to lottery decisions on various threads on this forum alone. Here are two publicly acknowledged issues to start with: Susan Charles is quite open about vetting 'winning' parent ballots and excluding them if they've said what she has defined as 'the wrong thing' without (so far as I understand it) a right of appeal. Even if you agree that she has the right to do that, that makes the Ohlone lottery a conditional one at best.
Secondly,available spaces in SI have gone to children from particular neighborhoods in past years to address overflow issues rather than to the children who were at the absolute top of the waiting list. Again, it might make sense from the distict's view, but it means that to 'win' the lottery you often have to do more than be picked first.
I think a clear understanding of how things are done now in each program (along with a push from the community for more transparency in the future) will be essential to mitigate at least some of the bad feelings that have transpired over MI.
Posted by On the Town Fence, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 10:53 am
We've seemed to have lost focus about discussing the School Board election. I've looked back at the history of this group and have seen a lot of why you wouldn't vote for someone, now I am interested in why you Would vote for someone. I am still undecided about some of the candidates. I went to one forum but remain on the the fence.
Posted by NeverPickedToo, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 11:33 am
Since there're several posts about the choice program lottery transparancy/fairness, I'll throw in my data point.
I've known two kids (during the past 5 years), who requested transfering into Hoover from private school and both kids got "picked" and got in, while many parents I know have their kids staying in the waiting list forever and never got picked.
I have the feeling that the new requests to the waiting list got priority at Hoover. Why not, it is only logical to pick the ones who wanted in recently, so that the kids will mostly likely to come comparing to pick someone who might have changed their mind since joining the wait list long time ago (e.g. the waiting list maintained from day one). When my kids didn't get picked a few years back, I was told that my kids would stay in the wait list and would have a chance of being picked when there's a space available.
I'd prefer a more transparant process, instead of being told one thing and treated another, even though my kids are too old for elementary schools.
Posted by overflowed, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 12:01 pm
OP, Why do you feel that it is OK for Ohlone to have a Farm and large site when neighborhood schools are putting portables on play areas? From the outside, switching Palo Verde and Ohlone even if it means losing the farm is an excellent idea. Isn't it about time that some of these larger campuses started taking their fair share of students?
You can call it resentment but it is exactly this type of entitlement that is feeding the entire anti-choice sentiment. The same sentiment you exhibit towards MI. In three years growing MI at Ohlone and losing the farm will be a very attractive option. Albeit with the necessary exemption for elementary school size.
Ohlone has been living in its own little paradise for too long as the district has suffered under ever increasing enrollment. MI has come at the right time to the right place.
Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 12:04 pm
On the Town Fence -- the lottery process is relevant to this thread since the BOE could do a lot to address the lack of transparency on the part of the district and its impenetrable lotteries are a prime example of that lack.
Candidates who favor transparency (and fairness, since a lack of transparency only breeds suspicions of unfairness when we are making 'winners' and 'losers') have my vote. People who have sat on the BOE and not pushed hard for transparancy do not, whether they are running this year or later.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 12:51 pm
I'm in favor of Ohlone expanding so that it reduces the number of names on its waitlist. If 60 more kids were allowed into Ohlone, the overflow would be less of a problem at the nearby schools.
It's a simple, economical solution that probably would have been instituted except for the MI program.
Many of the elementary schools have overflow problems at this point, the choice schools are in a better position to adapt to the ebb and flow than are the neighborhood schools. Last year, Duveneck faced huge overcrowding problems in the kindergarten year, this year I was told there was space available.
I've also liked Arden Pinnell's coverage. I'd expect the time for the lottery stories will be in January when enrollment starts.
I honestly don't get Cook's comments, since the neighborhood thing was told to me as something fairly above board--i.e. people on the SI waitlist got letters saying the second class would give priority to kids overflowed from the north cluster.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm
On the Fence,
I'm probably going to vote for Wynn Hauser because he seems to think through issues and make ethical choices. I feel like both sides would get a hearing from him. He wouldn't simply do what was easiest.
Townsend's out for reasons I've gone into enough times. Pingyu Liu strikes me as having a very narrow focus and a different educational philosophy than mine.
Which two of the remaining three is a bit tougher. I'm inclined to vote for Baten-Caswell because I think she's likely to vote the way I want and seems to have the confidence to hang tough if need be. She's also clearly worked her way through the volunteer route, so I'm assuming she knows the schools.
Klausner is the one I know the least about. I like her emphasis on dealing with the overcrowding issue and she's clearly got experience within the system. I haven't had a chance to see her in action--to see how she thinks and how she arrives at decisions, which is a big thing for me.
Ezran's a tough one for me. He seems like a nice guy who'd work really hard. At the same time, he doesn't seem to think through the issues as well as I would like. I think he's someone I'd be more inclined to vote for if the current board wasn't such a mess. I'm just not sure he's savvy enough to make the right decisions regarding overcrowding.
If you don't mind, I'd like to know which candidates are question marks for you. I'm in a similar position over the council. I like Yeh, but most of the rest of 'em are kind of a muddle and that thread's just not that helpful to me. I mean, which are the disgruntled always-complainers and which are making an important point. It's a little hard for me to tell.
I expect it's that way for some of the lurkers on this thread.
Posted by PA Dad, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 1:20 pm
OP -- I'm with you on Hauser and Baten-Caswell. I also like Hauser because he has knowledge of state-wide issues and Baten-Caswell because she understands the district from the PTA perspective deeply. Klausner gets my third vote over Erzan thanks to her experience as a teacher. That's a perspective that I think the BOE really needs. The three each have their own additional strengths and (of course) weaknesses, but I think they are all sane and decent people. Certainly, of the people we have to choose from, I believe they would make the best collective addition to the BOE.
Posted by Elliot Margolies, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 1:32 pm
Palo Alto Candidate Forum Videos Online and On TV
You are only a couple of clicks away from evaluating videos of all the candidates for Palo Alto City Council and the Palo Alto Unified School Board as well as Palo Alto Measures M and N. Recent candidate forums, conducted by the League of Women Voters and videotaped by the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, are now available on demand at the Media Center web site, Web Link. Each forum has been indexed into separate questions and answers so you can go directly to the subjects that interest you most. Alternatively, you can view the forums on local cable access channels. The complete TV playback schedule is on the Media Center Elections web page at www.communitymediacenter.net/elections_2007.html.
Additionally, there are pro and con arguments provided by the League on two Palo Alto ballot measures. One is about increasing the hotel occupancy tax and the other is about creating an emergency underground water reservoir.
The Media Center will host an Election Night show on November 6th as returns roll in and many of the candidates talk about their campaigns and the results.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:00 pm
PA Dad: It is tough to evaluate the candidates. I am wondering what you are basing your assertion that Wynn Hausser "has knowledge of state-wide issues" on. I can't find anything to support that, other that the knowledge he may theoretically have picked up from his short tenure doing PR for his current employer. I have seen Melissa Baten-Caswell's credentials and verified them via Google searches. But every time I try to verify Wynn Hausser's supposed qualifications I am disappointed to find that his assertions don't seem to hold water. For example, he claimed to have extensive volunteer experience in the schools and when it came down to it he basically drives on field trips and helps out on some PTA projects and his wife taks leadership roles. He claims to be an award-winning educational and documentary filmmaker, but then a Google search doesn't come up with more than two projects, only one of which won an award (and he only did pick-up shots for that film, at that -- hardly qualifying him to share in the award as if he had been instrumental). I agree that when he speaks publicly he talks a good game. But I really want substance behind any candidate I vote for and I am just not seeing that with Wynn Hausser. I wish I did, as he has Gail's vote and he seems personable enough. But I am wary of someone who inflates his resume and qualifications to the extent he seems to. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:30 pm
I've been away for a few days (sick kid), so please forgive me as I catch up.
Why Not -- on putting a strand of 'Ohlone' and a strand of 'Hoover' at each school: I would argue that, in essence, because of the continuum of teacher styles, this is already in effect. At every grade level, at least at the neighborhood schools I know, there is a teacher who is a little stricter- a little heavier on the homework- a little more test and grade geared. And there is a teacher who loves the creative projects- who can manage a more out-of-the-box learner with enthusiasm- who is taking his or her class on tons of field trips. And then there is a teacher who straddles those two lines pretty nicely. And the nice thing, at least for our family, was it all happens in one building. When we didn't 'win' the lottery with our first kid, we were really devastated. But got in to kindergarten at our neighborhood school and were delighted with the experience we had. By our third kid, a completely different thinker and learner than his siblings, we were so grateful to not be in a choice program -- we were able to request teachers in the 'alternative' strand at our elementary school, and that kid was able to thrive too, in a way I'm not sure he would not have had he been at the Choice program that would have been so right for his older siblings.
OhlonePar -- I would suggest that there are lots of ways to do project-based learning, and that Ohlone has not cornered the market on this. I don't believe they even lead the way anymore (though I concede that when they were developing, they probably were cutting edge; they haven't honed in a long time). And cross-pollination by age group is not a necessary component of project based learning. And project-based learning need not have 400 particpants in order to work. I does just fine in lots of 'schools within schools' and lots of small schools. Ohlone is not the only model. And I think, in realistic terms, you overstate the buddy program a bit. It may be true for your kid and his or her class, but there are classrooms at Ohlone where the buddy connection is weak to non-existent. And, because young 5s is not required by the district or even expanded to take all of those who are interested, every classroom is a mixed age group, starting in kindergarten where a 4 year old who lost the y5 lottery is sitting on the carpet next to a 6-1/2 year old winner.
PADad -- I agree with your suggestion that if we're going to have alternative schools, let's make them really alternative! What a fun idea you have to let kids explore the curriculum over six years with teachers who are mentors and guides and coaches. I think Redwood City has an alternative school that does something very similar. I will do some research and respond here. The only place I would tweak your suggestion is to put this truly alternative school over at Cubberly, and make Ohlone a real neighborhood school.
Oh dear -- it's pick-up time already. I'll be back!
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 3:03 pm
I have just checked my email and was shocked to discover that I have personally been invited to have coffee at someone I don't know's home to meet Camille Townsend, candidate and President of PAUSD blah blah blah.
Is this a strange tactic, or what? And, is this a big coffee and has everyone been invited?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 15, 2007 at 3:18 pm
OhlonePar, Good summary. I'm also on the fence with Ezran. There was one comment he made earlier in this thread that really impressed me, though. It was in answer to someone's list of questions to the candidates.
"2) What would you expect your relationship to be with our new superintendent?
The Superintendent reports to the Board and is the Board’s only employee. I expect the Board to operate at the policy and strategy level and the Superintendent to take care of operational details. And this is definitely not the reverse."
What an enlightened, refreshing answer. After he made this comment I observed another BOE meeting and think we're headed for the same pattern: BOE caves to the Superintendent and staff. Tail wags dog. Watch the body language of the BOE President and you'll see the biggest offender.
Everyone seems to be ooh-ing and ah-ing over Skelly, but I'm watching this dynamic to see how much better off we are. Yes, it's an improvement, but I wasn't impressed by how he shut down certain conversations before they began. Who reports to whom? Anyhow, I'm not saying things are bad, I'm just suspending my judgment until there's a track record one way or the other.
I have some reservations about Ezran which will probably tip me against voting for him (I’m also headed to Hausser, Baten-Caswell, Klausner), but if his contribution on the Board is to keep this division of responsibilities separate and exercise a bit of backbone the way Gail Price did, I could live with that outcome.
Posted by Never-picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 3:35 pm
YAP -- I know the topic of choice schools may seem far afield, but I believe transparency in the lottery system, especially with the MI lottery coming up, would help people restore some confidence in the district. I do think we need a bond passed, and I think the MI debacle hurt those chances. So I want Board Members and Board Candidates (whom I believe look at this forum frequently) to be thinking about this issue. It's easy to fix, costs nothing, and gets a big return, I think, for the effort.
I also like Board Members and Candidates to see what people are thinking about neighborhood schools and choice programs. Klausner, Ezran, Hausser, and Caswell are all talking about 'outside the box thinking'; seems like PADad is already outside the box. Let's start there and bounce more ideas around. Then there may be some more specific questions to ask at forums or to email candidates.
Eliot -- thanks for the post regarding the forums at the MC. That's really helpful. It doesn't take the place of attending one, of course, but it's a great beginning. Thanks a lot. I was also wondering about election night coverage; it's good to have a place to go.
On the Fence -- I pretty committed to Hausser and Klausner. It really is hard for me to choose between Ezran -- who was key in Measure A and whose financial background would be great to have available, and Caswell -- who I am not as impressed with, but seems to know the district well and seems to have a lock on the northside vote. And I don't want Townsend to sneak back in with a third place win if the vote gets split between Ezran and Caswell.
Thanks everyone. There is a forum tonight at Briones.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 4:21 pm
I have been following the postings here all along, but there are a number of reasons I have not been a regular participant in the forum over the past several weeks.
First, I haven't had a lot to say. There has been a lot of back and forth between participants over their differences, but not a lot of reflection on the live forums, discussion of issue differences between candidates, etc. This has been a bit disappointing to me, but I figured the substance I'm most interested in would come, which is happening.
The second reason is that the campaign has been extremely busy and on top of that I've been very sick for two weeks. I am on the mend now, though limiting my activity.
But now I certainly have reason to respond. So let me clear up any misunderstandings that may arise from "board watcher's" comments.
1. Google – Unfortunately, not all knowledge is resident on Google and no one should ever consider it a definitive source. Just because you can't find something on the internet doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
2. "Award-winning filmmaker" – My film and video career lasted from approximately 1982-1994, predating the internet, let alone Google. I have posted a film/videography on my web site along with my work resume, and community involvement. See Web Link and scroll to the bottom. My awards are listed on the film/videography, and I can get them down from the attic if someone needs physical proof.
3. My role at Public Advocates: I will have been with the organization for one year as of this month. My role is strategic communication which goes far beyond PR. Here's what I say at the start of every forum: "I work for Public Advocates, a legal advocacy organization that deals with equity in education, transit and affordable housing. So I focus on California education policy on an almost-daily basis." This is a true statement, and I make no personal claims beyond this. I do think the fact that I have spent most of my career in the non-profit sector and would work for an organization like this says something about my values. I also think it is a strength to understand what is going on in Sacramento and to be conversant in the latest development in state education policy, something no other candidate can claim to the same extent.
4. Being an active parent: I find it interesting that to some, being a parent that did traffic safety for a year and a half, made presentations and helped out in the classroom, drove on dozens of field trips, chaperoned dances, helped out on PTA events and pitched in wherever able over the past eight years, is not considered sufficiently active. In addition to what I've done, my wife was on site council and treasurer for the PTA. We both work full time and still manage to contribute more to our schools, our congregation and the community than most families. I'm proud of our contributions and believe I've made a difference where I have been involved.
5. Dominating in forums: I add this because it was part of another one of board watcher's threads. First it was "many of those who have seen the forums see Wynn dominating and talking more rather than less." When it was pointed out that all candidates have equal time at forums, it became this: "The issue has arisen in the candidates' joint coffees." The truth is that, at the time this was written, I had only participated in one coffee, with Barbara Klausner, and it was the first for both of us. I think we both learned something from this experience. My own self-assessment, validated by a couple of people who attended, was that I talked too much and didn't defer to Barbara enough. I took it as a learning and adjusted my behavior accordingly. In my subsequent experiences, I've found I'm often the one having a hard time getting a word in edgewise! So go figure.
I bring this up last item up specifically to call attention to board watcher's tactics in this forum, at least where it involves me. Board watcher consistently uses innuendo, makes broad statements and speaks in the plural ("many of those.." and "we now know") in items mentioning me by name. I consider these smear tactics, and hope people will be aware of this MO when evaluating what this person has to say. I am happy to engage and answer challenging questions. I won't stand by quietly while someone assails my honesty and reputation as this person has done.
I hope I won’t need to be so defensive in the future and look forward to continued substantive discussions, which I am finding very useful here and elsewhere in the campaign.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 5:02 pm
Thanks for posting Wynn - I do believe some posters have subtle and not so subtle agendas and I believe board watcher went way too far in his/her statements about you, especially regarding your recent lack of posting on the site, which I find somewhat ridiculous, considering you've posted here more than any of the other candidates, and 3 have never posted anything.
Posted by Michele, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 5:28 pm
Thank you, Wynn, for posting some very helpful comments. I am very interested in what any board candidate has to say, and those who are the most open are probably the ones I would consider voting for. I plan to go to a forum and I am very interested in candidates who will not allow the problems attending the MI decision to repeat themselves with another issue, and in candidates who have a plan for the overcrowding that will occur with all the new construction of homes going on.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:31 pm
First, the OHLONE post, I'll go back to the election stuff in the next post, so people can skip this one with impunity as far as the election's are concerned.
I don't think we can settle the issue of how different is Ohlone from other schools in this forum--unless we have someone come in whose child has been at both Ohlone and one of the other elementaries. Or one of the educator types. I do think Ohlone's had an influence on some other elementary schools, sort of working as an experiment--yes, it really isn't the end of the world if there's no homework in kindegarten. Ohlone and Hoover are ends of a spectrum and, I think, serve a function for the rest of the schools as such.
And, no, I don't think Cubberly's a suitable location for a large public elementary school program. I do think part of Greendell might work for a small elementary program, since it's already a child-safe place.
The Farm's not huge, by the way. The cap on Ohlone isn't because the Farm takes up so much space, but because there's a cap on elementary schools in this district.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:39 pm
Wynn, thanks for coming forth again. Don't worry too much about Board Watcher's comments--they're not big substantive things, though BW is entitled to his or her opinion. We've got too much big stuff to base our decisions on whether you over-yak at coffee klatches.
RWE, you seem to be in the teacher loop. What do you think of Klausner?
NP, you state my concerns exactly--I don't want that third split vote. I suppose I could be totally ruthless and base it on who has the bigger campaign budget.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 15, 2007 at 9:32 pm
Thank you for your comprehensive answers. Please understand that at a time when the PAUSD Board has experienced a historic low in community trust, it is important to elect candidates who can substantiate their assertions with facts. After seeing Gail take it on the chin for years, many people also believe it is important to elect Board members who can truly work with each other and not steamroll their colleagues on the Board. Thank you for providing additional information on your qualifications, and for taking the time to moderate your personal style. It shows you know how to listen, a valuable trait in an elected official.
As your current work puts you in a position to hear the rumblings from Sacramento, I'm curious if you have any take on the direction the Legislature is taking on charter schools (or whether there is any momentum on that issue in Sacramento at all), and where you stand on that issue. I think I know but it would be nice to know from you rather than speculating.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 9:57 am
No, I'm not on a witch hunt. I am on a hunt for substantive candidates with verifiable assertions about their qualifications.
Pingyu Liu has already been spoken about at length, and I can't see anything to add about his candidacy that hasn't already been addressed. Camille has people speaking about where she has fallen down on the job, and her performance is readily verifiable as it's all in the public record, as was her comment in a recently broadcast forum that she always looks to the staff to provide her with in depth data (which many people believe was not the case with the feasibility study). All candidates were invited to present a matrix of their qualifications and experience and how those connected to their qualifications to become Board members. Claude Ezran submitted this information, and it was quite helpful, but there is still this lingering doubt about his thinking MI was a good thing for the district. Barbara Klaussner has not been on Forum but a quick Google search backs up her assertions, and Melissa Baten-Caswell also has a record of leadership service that one can easily verify.
Wynn Hausser seems to be a nice guy. I am asking him the tough questions because that information was the least readily available on a web search. He claims to have the inside track on education policy through his job, and that would be wonderful if it is indeed the case. I invite him to connect the dots for us between specifics of his work and the application of that experience to his role as a BoE member.
I want people to think long and hard before voting in this election. I encourage everyone to ask the hard questions and not just to say "Hey, I think you seem like a nice person, and I hear you didn't like the MI decision so you have my vote." We cannot afford to elect any candidate who is a nice person who just talks a good game. We have had several of those in the past, and it has not served the district well. I'm not saying that's what Wynn is, I'm just asking him to back up his assertions with facts.
Posted by there are 5 candidates, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 10:17 am
Dear Board Watcher,
This thread has been running for a month now and from the beginning you have only challenged a single candidate. The information you quote from other candidates came after you were had still only challenged a single candidate.
You subsequently try to justify your actions by saying that the other candidates have nothing that you can challenge them on. I do not believe even you could consider that to be the case.
Posted by Arden Pennell, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 10:22 am
I'd like to respond to a couple calls for information.
Today we are posting a story profiling the school board candidates and the decisions they'll face this year. Candidates answer questions about school enrollment and avoiding conflict such as that generated by the Mandarin debate last year, among other topics. The story will also be in tomorrow's paper.
We are also attaching a record of how school board members have voted since December 2006 to the online story, which should be posted later this afternoon.
Editors' endorsements will be in the editorial of tomorrow's paper, available in print and online by tomorrow at the latest.
Posted by Summary of what I heard last night, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 1:30 pm
Anyone, including candidates, of course, feel free to correct my sincere attempt to summarize some of the answers to some questions from last night's and other, former, Candidate Forums.
A) Choice programs.
1) If given a forced choice, would prefer keeping the same curriculum at all elementary schools: Barbara, Wynn and Melissa. ( With classroom differentiation). Nobody for dismantling current choice programs.
2) For continued different curriculum choice program growth: Claude, Camille and Pingyu.
B)Mgt of MI process
1) Thought the Board managed the MI process well in the last few years: Camille
2) Thought the Board should have brought people together and come up with a good compromise on MI and managed Superintendant better on Mgt issues, Claude and Pingyu
3) Thought the Board should adopt a more comprehensive, specific and measurable Strategic Plan with firm priorities in place to better guide future decisions when new programs are proposed - Melissa, Wynn and Barbara.
C) Management Issues
1) Thought that as soon as it was apparent that there were management issues, the Board should have managed the Super better to "get on top of it"..Wynn, Barbara, Melissa. I wasn't sure, but I think Claude meant the same thing. I didn't understand Camille's answer. Anybody? I think it had to do with hiring a great new Superintendant. And Pingyu was very kind and careful, but I think he agreed that there should have been better communication.
1) Think that donations to the district should have a better policy so that they are equitably disbursed based on a sound Strategic plan, Barbara, Melissa and Wynn. I didn't understand Camille's or Pingyu's points, so will leave it up to others to fill in. Claude said that of course he was against inequity and doesn't like this North/South divide he is hearing about.
E) Special Education: I didn't understand the point of the question, so couldn't understand the answers. Something about inclusion. ( Sorry..hope somebody else heard it and remembers well)
F) Bullying question from recent gun shootings in nation: Claude went on about eliminating all guns, Wynn said his wife was part of starting the anti-bully program at Barron in the last couple years ( which surprised me since I thought every school already was strong in this), Camille, Melissa and Barbara confirmed that all schools have programs under different names and they support making sure all schools have a program, and so does Pingyu.
I got really tired after this, and am going to have to go to another one to try to focus on the answers to enrollment growth etc.
Bottom line, between my reading and last night..inclined toward 3 people who I think have a similar view of public education, "choice" programs, strategic plans, priorities, and a similar problem solving style to mine...Wynn, Barbara and Melissa.
The other 3 are very nice people, of course. They would have to be to tolerate everything they are putting up with! But, one was on the Board or in charge during the last couple years ( and not once have I read that she has proudly claimed any responsibility for any of it) and I, frankly, can't follow her thinking style in the questions. Another is a really nice guy, but clearly isn't too aware of the issues and how things run..he just likes kids and likes the idea of MI and other specialty programs, and the last is aware of the issues, but i completely disagree with much of his way of thinking and what he thinks are good goals for the District. ( He tends to come up with solutions, without ackowledging that FIRST there needs to be a strategic plan and priorities that the City folks, who pay the bill, agree to).
Lastly, I hear loudly and clearly that Wynn, Melissa and Barb understand that to try to float a Bond right now would be a waste of District resources and time. The others don't seem to understand how much distrust and anger there is right now over a complete trampling of our process and our management over the last few years. Wynn, Melissa and Barb want to try to fix what is "broken", rebuild trust, prove we can trust the Board and the District to use the money the way we support...THEN float a bond the next cyle. I would say this is the single biggest reason to support these three, so we can get a good bond passed with clear, honest, well thought out and transparent goals for the bond.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 2:12 pm
Summary, thanks for a great post. The point-by-point contrast was really helpful. I'd been leaning toward the Hauser, Baten-Caswell, Klausner trio, this supports that. Good point about the bonds and the anger.
Also points out two quite different visions of what the district should be. Are we a district of neighborhood schools with a couple of lottery programs or are we going to be like SF where all schools are choice schools?
It's funny, Townsend really sounds like the weakest candidate, even though she's the incumbent.
Arden, thanks for the heads-up. Next time, I'll spell your last name right. I'll be curious to see the editorials.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 3:24 pm
From what I'm hearing, most teachers and administrators consider Klausner to be a measured voice. She is not going to be a "pro-union" or "pro-site-administrator" stooge, either.
That said, the sense is that she will provide more comprehensive "whole picture" perspectives on policy, because she has been in the classroom. We badly need that on the BOE. That's just one reason she has my vote.
Baten-Caswell and Hauser are my other two choices.
I concur with much of what PA Dad and "Summary" have said.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 5:02 pm
Richard - I personally am an advocate for affordable housing as is the organization I work for. I believe that we should consider higher densities, especially around public transit routes. I would give preference to teachers and other district staff, fire fighters, police and others who serve the city for this housing because I think we are stronger as a community with these people living here.
Specifically regarding the ABAG numbers, I do not believe they reflect numbers the community can reasonably absorb and hope that we are able to come to targets that challenge us to do our part to address the shortage of affordable housing while taking into account our capacity to absorb additional housing.
Board watcher - Based on past experience, I will not be responding to your questions unless you want to speak with me face to face at one of the upcoming forums or coffees.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 5:16 pm
There are 5,
I don't think Board Watcher is just out to get Wynn Hauser. S/he has been posting in the education for a long time and is clearly concerned about education.
Personally, I feel better about making a decision when I hear the negatives against a candidate as well as the positives. If the strongest demurral about a candidate is that he talked too much at get-to-know-the-candidates forum, I'm not too worried.
Or, kids at private schools? Not ideal, but not unexpected around here, either. And single-sex education is not part of the public school curriculum. It's a valid educational choice, but one that probably real does belong outside the private sector. (Equal spending and opportunity come more into play with public schools.)
And, frankly, it's not the case that even the poor among us are actually poor, so I don't see that kind of split. Around here, it's the haves and have-mores.
Posted by Wynn Hausser, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm
Board watcher - I've changed my mind about responding. I do not have a strong sense of where things stand in Sacramento regarding charter schools. I heard Joe Simitian say recently that his sense is that there is a realization that there needs to be more oversight, but it is unclear whether there is a real will to take on this issue. One would think that it should be included next year as part of The Year of Education Reform, but I wouldn't bet on it. I will try to learn more about this so I can give you a better answer in the future.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Oct 16, 2007 at 9:17 pm
Wynn, do talk with Joe Simitian about charters. He made an effort long ago (predating the charter threat, but I don't know how much earlier than that) to change the charter laws. His efforts were stopped in Sacramento. I can't do him justice with explaining his rationale, but I'll try.
He was concerned about the unintended consequences and harm that charter schools place on certain school districts. The demographics of those school districts varied widely - PAUSD on one end, and struggling school districts on the other. Simitian's jurisdiction is exceptionally diverse. I got the sense that he feels there's a time and a place for charters, but that with the way the laws are currently written, charters are at times abused.
It's worth checking this out directly from the source. I see from your website that you have Joe Simitian's endorsement - perhaps he'll give you the full background and his politically cautious strategy for instigating change.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 16, 2007 at 10:59 pm
What I want to see Joe Simitian accomplish is to get the voting majority requirement for revenue bonds doen to 55 or 60%, so that we can stop having 'rule by minority'. This is the single biggest thing that needs to be accomplished in Sacramento, because local school districts and municipalities are going to have to use debt financing to repair neglected infrastructure.
Posted by Studied Charters more than I ever wanted, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2007 at 7:49 am
Charter schools are virtually impossible to stop anywhere they wish to be, for any reason, in California. If the District tries to say "no"..the County can force a "yes"..if the County tries to say "No", the State can force a yes. They have to follow almost none of the laws regarding public education, which gives them the tremendous flexibility originally intended to help failing kids in failing districts get innovative, successful programs.
That said, the unintended consequence is that there is no protection at all for excellent districts like ours where the 50th% kids rank 92nd% nationally. No protection against the morphing from "necessary curriculum for failing kids" to "would be nice to have for a few kids who would succeed beautifully in life because they are already in an excellent district".
Any attempt to tinker with the law to have Charters apply to the original purpose ( for example, Charters can only be brought forth for children who are performing below the 50th or 60th percentile nationally or something)is seen as "anti-choice" by big, mean rich parents instead of "pro-equal opportunity for excellence for all" by said parents. The "labeling" has been claimed and is hard to fight.
Even simply making Charters abide by the anti-prejudice law that says no kid can be denied access to a public school on the basis of language ability would help a lot.
The loophole is so big that everyone can drive immersion program trucks through it.
Posted by To Wynn, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2007 at 7:58 am
I don't think it is relevant to ask you or any candidate, nor for any candidate to say, any opinion not related to the job of being a School Board member. We end up with you responding to questions that, though related to population and therefore remotely connected to schools, that are distractions.
Sort of like Claude thinking it was appropriate to comment on an aspect of our Constitution ( right to bear arms) in response to a question about keeping kids safe. ( It revealed a completely European, inaccurate and disrespectful lack of understanding, not only of our constitution, but of REAL statistics..that "gun-free" schools have more kids die from guns than non "gun free schools" because there are licensed law abiding gun-toters on campus who stop the crazed unlicensed gun toter from shooting up more people before the cops arrive)
Anyway, I guess the good thing is that such questions and responses reveal a lot of the ...not sure of a word that isn't flavored derogatorily..well, maybe misplaced pride of thought would be the best way to put it. But, it would be better, in my opinion, to just stay away from anything that isn't related to our Schools, or before you know it someone will ask you what you think of abortion or the war in Iraq.
Posted by huh, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2007 at 8:21 am
Wynn knows lot's about education issues through his job. And the charter threat was a big deal this year. So, why isn't it relevant to ask him what he knows about charters? Maybe all the candidates should talk about charters and how they feel about them and how they would handle them. Why is asking them that like asking them about abortion?
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:15 am
"Change the number needed to approve a spending bill, and our costs will double within 10 years."
What about the BENEFIT of thos investments? Cost is only one side of the equation. We see the result of the onerour 2/3 requirement in every municipality in this state. We're in real trouble; we got there by thinking we could maintain a first-class socialinfrastructure environment without taxing ourselves. Poor short term thinking.
Posted by To Huh? and RWE, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:13 pm
To Huh? Don't blame ya for the "huh?". Sorry for the confusion of my "To Wynn" post.. I was referring to the question to him about his opinion regarding affordable housing a couple posts above ( I must have been writing mine while the others were posting)
To RWE: assuming increased benefit from increased spending is a risky assumption, and is something that a good cost-benefit analysis would have to address..and not for this thread.
Posted by Michele, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:29 am
Don't know if anyone is still reading this forum but I just went to one of the All Candidates Forum and I would really recommend going. There is just nothing like hearing the candidates speak and seeing how their minds work. these are the remaining ones:
Fri. Oct. 19 Nixon Elem 8 Am-9:30 coffee and forum
Thurs Oct 25 - Hoover Elem - 8 AM - 9:30 coffee
Thurs Oct 25 - Barron Park Elem - 7 PM - 9 PM Forum
Fri. Oct. 26 - Jordan Middle School - 8:30 AM - 9:30 Coffee
Mon. Oct 29 - Terman Middle School - 7 PM - 9 PM Forum
Thurs. Nov. 1 - Walter Hayes 8:15 AM - 9:15 AM Coffee
Fri. Nov. 2 - Fairmeadow Elem. 8:15 AM -9:30 AM Coffee
The coffees are informal meet and greets and the forums are structured with a moderator. Candidates respond to written questions from audience and have a set time to answer. I would recommend this.
Also on Weds. Oct 24 there will be a community-wide conversation with the new PAUSD superintendent Dr. Skelley at Jordan Middle School from 7-9 PM
Posted by Modest Proposal, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2007 at 12:21 pm
The commentary on the resignation of Jordan Principal Suzanne Barbarasch, unfortunately cut off by the Weekly, well illustrates the fundamental opportunity this election offers to Palo Alto voters: the chance to vote for accountability. For years Jordan parents have had to endure incompetent and biased administration by Mrs. Barbarasch and her assistant Ms. Regalia, with unfounded charges and arbitrary discipline meted out against boys who had done nothing whatsoever; in one case I'm aware of, when the boys demonstrated when that they hadn't even been present when the alleged infraction had occurred, they were then given detention for "talking back" even though the original charge had to be dropped. Despite years of feedback, we had a Board unwilling to establish accountability.
As the Weekly's great editorial on the election pointed out (Web Link), current member Camille Townsend, whom the Weekly recommends be fired by the voters, refused to discuss the failures during her tenure, wanting to point to "the future". In other words, no accountability. Similarly, the Board has refused to implement a system that would allow parents to provide anonymous feedback on teachers -- contrary to the practice of every good customer service system in the world; as a result, today parents have to risk endangering teachers' objectivity toward their kids to provide feedback for the file (someone should start a Palo Alto teacher feedback blog site -- my bet is the Education Association would prefer a system of anonymous feedback to the Board rather than a public posting, and this issue could be resolved) -- the effect of current practice: no accountability.
Candidates this year should tell voters whether they will tie future raises for teachers to accountability -- anonymous feedback and raises tied to merit. With accountability for results comes improvement. It applies as much to teachers and administrators as to the Board. And just as the Weekly has urged that Townsend be held accountable for the failure of the Board with respect to Ms. Callan's tenure, among other things, candidates this year should speak to what they will do to hold Mr. Skelly, the administrators and the teachers accountable for what they deliver to our children.
Posted by Board Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm
I appreciate the poster who summarized the discussions that occured in the candidate forums topic by topic.
I would like to say that it is not a trivial matter that Townsend's responses are often unintelligible, off topic. I attended almost a year and half straight of board meetings, and sat through all the agenda items. My observation was that the board members would do a round table during a discussion or a voting session, most board members would summarize their point of view, and ask a few pointed, relevent questions of staff. But Camille's comments almost always started with a effusive praise of staff or Supertintendent, and then spun off into a confusing tangent. I regularly took notes on the comments from each board member, and I usually found it almost impossible to take bullet notes on her position on any topic.
I think this is a very BAD quality for a board member. For the public to never really understand where the board member stands ~and~ to never be confident that the board member has heard and understood the key issues. Her communication style is quite disconcerting.
I was particularly impresses with Klausner, Baten-Caswell for their communication styles. They usually would repeat the question, make a clear statement of what they felt was the key point of the question, and then CLEARLY and FORTHRIGHTLY answer the question. No angling, no hedging. Wynn was similarly clear and able to demonstrate that he understood the relevent main point.
I think evasive, tangential, circular, idealogical, (slippery?) communication style might be a successful trait for a politician - it makes it hard to pin them down, and if they throw enough buzz words in, they can manage to lull the uninformed masses into a comfort zone. But its not really a good trait for a board member that we really need to 'get it' - someone we really want to be productive and tuned in.
Posted by Wow!, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2007 at 2:18 pm
The only..well, in my opinion, ..negative about the site I just re-posted is that I would have liked to heard EVERY candidate's answer to EVERY question, but for some reason it takes turns answering questions.
Maybe a better request than the one I made above would be to ask if we can have an ENTIRE Forum broadcast. It would be nice for those who can't come to a regular forum to be able to compare, question by question, each candidate.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm
This also might be why Townsend often gets pegged with silly 'soundbites' like her building barns comment. Not only is her speaking style hard to follow, but she peppers it with sort of cooky ideological stuff (30,000 foot level), so these goofy little quotes are often the only thing one comes away with. Another example of that was her continued reference to the flat world when defending MI, with a total failure to acknowledge/discuss/resolve concrete reality issues that impact PAUSD now (like location, enrollment growth impact, staff resource usage, fit with strategic plan.) Finally, one had to start assuming that she was avoiding the hard issues relevent to PAUSD on purpose with the ideological 'we are the world' stuff.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 20, 2007 at 6:11 pm
To Wow! "The only..well, in my opinion, ..negative about the site I just re-posted is that I would have liked to heard EVERY candidate's answer to EVERY question, but for some reason it takes turns answering questions."
Blame the League of Women Voters instead of the Media Center. They chose to ask only a handful of questions of every candidate. Most questions were asked of only one. What you saw online was the whole forum, unfortunately.
Posted by Forum Volunteer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 20, 2007 at 9:51 pm
I think the League of Women Voters has several different formats that can be used during a candidate forum. The "one question per candidate" forum is one format. Most of the schools have been using the "one question to all candidate" format at the other forums. The League of Women Voters may have chosen to go this way, knowing that the other format has been and will be used so frequently.
I'm pretty sure 3nbm didn't mean "blame" in the traditional sense; more of a way of saying the LWV used another option. I'm sensitive to that word, only because the LWV has been extremely helpful in getting these forums working for all the members of the community, and I think the community has been richly rewarded by their efforts. I want them to know how much the community appreciates their efforts.
And I agree that MC is another great service to our community. It would be great if they could make it to another forum using a different format. It's always nice to compare.
There are two forums left and three coffees. It's worth your time to go to one or more (and bring a neighbor whose kids may have left the system) if you still are on the fence about any candidate.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Oct 20, 2007 at 11:41 pm
Thank you, Forum Volunteer. "Blame" was a poor word choice. While I was disappointed that not all questions were asked of all candidates, the benefit was that they were able to pose a lot of different questions in the 1 1/2 hour forum.
Also, because there is an incumbent in the field of candidates, she could respond to questions about her record that couldn't be asked of the others.
I appreciate the efforts of the League of Women Voters and all the volunteers who are working hard to provide opportunities for us to speak to the candidates.
Posted by hopeful, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 21, 2007 at 6:47 am
Well, that is ok, to ask different questions of each candidate...however, maybe in the NEXT election there can be a limit of one "separate" question per person, with all the rest being "the same" for the taped version. I like the idea of one separate question per person, because each has specific areas that are unique to each, but the issues that each will have to deal with are the same for all of them. That is why I hope that maybe, just maybe???, there can be one more full Candidate's Forum on the Media Center's site.
Posted by Overwhelmed and Unimpressed, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2007 at 1:37 pm
Question for all the candidates:
You've all heard the growth debate as it applies to our schools - that Palo Alto is approving the construction of more housing than we have school capacity for, i.e. the population growth caused by this new housing will include more school-age kids than our present-day school infrastructure can accommodate. I have heard many of you recognize this as a "problem" or "challenge". When future housing projects are proposed and come before the PA City Council, would it be legitimate for the school board to speak against such proposals, based on limited school capacity for the increased student population, or the need to raise taxes in the future to add the additional capacity?
It's doubtful the City Council would rezone land for a high-density housing project if you warned that it could adversely impact the schools, or require a tax increase to fix. On the other hand, if you said "all is well" they could hide behind that and approve-away. Your willingness to speak out on this topic can have a major impact on our city's future.
Posted by Tired of fearful people, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Oct 31, 2007 at 3:38 pm
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt - as the anti-new-resident lobby (about 75 hard core voices, in all) use every tactic at their disposal to "warn" people about how new housing will hurt our school system.
Note: this is a lie, and a distortion at worst - and a failure to learn to deal with growth, at best. We need school board members who will work WITH our City Council, instead of using a club to alienate PAUSD even further away than it already is from our city.
We're talking about education, and modeling a future for our kids, here. Do we want 75 people deciding whether or not we shuold have infill housing near transport corridors, so that we can get atomobiles off the road? Do we want this group telling our kids that it's immoral (in their parlance) to have developers build BMR units so teachers, police personnel, retail workers, etc. etc. can afford to live in the community that they work, and thus be more invested in that community.
Think hard before you listen to this fear-based scenario, because you WILL hear more about this as the next year or two comes forward. Stay tuned, and brace yourselves for a lot of distortion from the no-groeth crowd, who, if they had been listened to in the last 7-8 years, would have kept many of you from owning homes in our city.
Posted by facts, please, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2007 at 12:59 pm
Tired of emotional appeals without facts.
Those who want more high density subsidized growth, please give data to the public concerning how many of the current residents of PA subsidized housing work in the services of our city and how many have children in our District.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2007 at 1:19 pm
I'm just curious about how someone throws out a number like a sum total of 75 people are lobbying against high density housing. I'm one of them, and no one ever counted me. Just confirms that the only one throwing around unsubstantiated FUD tacticts is 'tired'. And by the way, since when is a person who opposes adding more high density housing to the city of Palo Alto, 'anti-new-resident'. Not very cleverly disguised SPIN you have there. In fact, it's so thread bare that it's see through.
We expect a Board of Dducation and a City Council that thoroughly understand and evaluates the impacts of rabid housing growth on our infrastructure, including the impact on our schools, and who works together to protect this community from those impacts. Simple.
FUD - if you want to live in a high rise apartment building, you need to move abuot 50 miles north. (Or is that you just want to capitalize on the development of juicy Palo Alto real estate? I bet you live and work no where near a high density housing project...)
Posted by facts, please, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2007 at 1:30 pm
To Tired of Fearful: Nobody can force people to live where they don't want to live. That is the fundamental flaw with your reasoning. We can not force people who live in the housing you propose to work here.
The only solution would be to enact a law that says ONLY people employed IN Palo Alto could rent/buy the housing units you are proposing. Are you willing to support that in order to achieve your goal of less traffic and more city workers?
Posted by disagree, not the District's job, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2007 at 8:25 pm
As much as I hope that the animal who did this atrocity to the girl gets caught and put in prison until he is 80, and truly wish there had been a way for the victim or a defender to make sure he never hurt another person in his life before he did any damage...
It is not the school's job to protect the kids once they are out of school, but the parents' job.
Frankly, have ANY of us had a moment's doubt about the safety of our teens on Arastradero at 3 pm? It is completely unreasonable to assume that the District should be responsible for teens who are considered adult enough to drive...
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:52 am
Disagree, I do agree with your overall points that it is the parents job to look after the safety of their kids before and after school and not the district's, but it is true to say that we all look out for each other also. I have not heard one peep from the school board about the demise of the VTA route 88 or the overcrowding on the shuttle. Now I do agree that it is not their responsibility, however I do think that they could if they choose put their weight behind any protest to the VTA in the same manner that the Gunn management did.
PAUSD students do not magically get to school and since there are no school buses for the majority of the students, an awareness by the district of how students do commute to school and what the difficulties are would be helpful to the community at large.
Posted by More truth, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:48 pm
1) The election will happen,
2) There will be a change in the Board one way or another,
3) At least 2 of the elected Board members will be extremely aware of the Strategic Plan
4) The next Strategic Planning session will have more measurable and specific goals, so there will be less room for priority jumping in the future,
5) The Choice policy will be re-written in a way that can not be interpreted to mean "if it is feasible, it must happen"
6) The next Board won't dream of accepting a donation for a feasibility study
7) The Foreign Language Policy will be re-written.
Anybody can say "vocal minority" all they want, but this supposed minority has changed the landscape of discussion and focus of the next Board, and is responsible for the intense community wide interest in a good Strategic Plan with a common vision, Priority Setting, and donation/foreign language policy.
Denigrate them all you want, they have done a good thing for our district.
Posted by more truth., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm
Forgot to add: The "vocal minority" has also shined a light on the unintended consequences on Neighborhood Choices and integration when "Choice" programs are put into place, and on the inequity of putting into place inequitable curricula.
MI WILL be successful and popular, no doubt. There was never any doubt of that from most people. We all knew that the lottery winners would be very happy and would get what they wanted, a great education. That is not the point.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 2, 2007 at 3:56 pm
Let's talk about something else on Townsend’s record besides Mandarin immersion.
On October 24, 2006, Townsend voted against (all other board members voted in favor of) authorizing staff to contract with private security firm to provide interim services in response to increased incidents of arson, graffiti and vandalism at our schools. This was not increasing the budget, but rather authorizing the allocation of up to $90,000 for additional security until Business Services could come up with a long term plan. (See Web Link for discussion beginning on p. 17)
Posted by Interested Observer, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2007 at 6:02 pm
Total red herring issue - on the weekend prior to the election - as the argument was over the issue of private security, regular police, or the use of regular classified staff. Certainly outsourcing versus in-house provision of services is a reasonable issue to debate.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 2, 2007 at 8:48 pm
Hold on there, Interested Observer. You read something negative about Townsend that I didn’t say in my post, above. I provided the link so people could read the discussion and decide for themselves if they agreed with her opposition to the motion.
Townsend is running on the basis of her experience, yet the aspects of that experience she emphasizes are those issues on which the board was unanimous and the public in agreement. The defining issue of her term was the ultimate approval of the MI program at Ohlone, yet she avoids talking about that.
I think it says much more about any incumbent’s record to look at where he or she diverges from other board members. In the case of the motion to contract with a private firm for security services, Townsend even voted in opposition to the superintendent, which is a rarity for her.
Those of us who oppose Townsend, in part because of her unequivocal support of the MI program and failure to listen to opposing points of view have been pilloried on several of these threads for being die-hard extremists, unable to accept our loss on MI and move on, etc.
So yes, although it’s late in the game, I was trying to introduce another point of discussion, recognizing the importance of this election to the future of our district, and trying to make sure that all the data that voters need has been set out on the table. I could give other examples, as well.
Heck, what do you care? Most people have probably voted already anyway.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 12:07 pm
Vote for Wynn Hausser, Melissa Baten-Powell, and Barbara Klausner
There will be a new majority on the BOE. At least two new members, in addition to Barb Mitchell, who is more in alignment with these two new members than Dana Tom (who may find ways to redeem himself with MI opponents, and will have to, if he wants a political future in Palo Alto).
Barb Mitchell is an independent politician, but don't kid yourself into thinking that she in NOT a politician - in every way. She is very pragmatic, and I think she has her eye forward on Palo Alto or County politics, so she may not be an unwavering supporter of the new members of the board, but will certainly be an important counterweight to Camille if the latter makes it back to the BOE.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Vote for Wynn Hausser, Melissa Baten-Powell, and Barbara Klausner
Posted by Curious, a member of the Fairmeadow School community, on Nov 5, 2007 at 12:36 pm
I'm not agree with you about scores prediction.
Most of MI will be chinese - 1/3 of mandarin speaking, another part of Chinese with primary English, but with parents wishing their kids to learn their native language. Chinese usually = better test scores in all schools. The last group of kids with no Chinese heritage will probably be the smallest and... the smartest one - you are not going to send your all-english kid or already bilingual non-mandarin kid to MI if you are not absolutely sure that (s)he is well above average and will be able to handle stress of starting K, hundreds of new kids, rules, academics + completely unfamiliar language.
And, btw, PAUSD starts testing kids (STAR)at the end of second grade...it will be the end of 3 year of MI.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 5, 2007 at 1:21 pm
"And, btw, PAUSD starts testing kids (STAR)at the end of second grade...it will be the end of 3 year of MI."
There will be 20 second graders in year TWO of the MI pilot. They are starting with two K/1 classrooms, remember?
Furthermore, this is Palo Alto, a.k.a. Lake Wobegon, where all the kids are above average. Learning disabilities are usually not detected until second, third or even fourth grade, when it becomes clear that a child is lagging behind his/her peers.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Nov 5, 2007 at 1:29 pm
Curious, while neither agreeing nor disagreeing with your predictions, your points do underscore that MI is geared for the students who least need a leg-up. It's a a conflict to have Marilyn Cook be responsible for both reducing the achievement gap and overseeing MI.
I'm voting for candidates who will not put PAUSD in the direction of catering to those who least need special treatment -- at the expense of others, no less.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 2:31 pm
No worries, RWE, everyone seems to be doing this (see hilarious inside joke about founder of boy scouts). But yes, Melissa is a great candidate and I hope she wins a seat because I think she'll do a great job.
Posted by Interested Observer, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 2:45 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Camille's record she is most definitely running on:
- Students doing extremely well,
- High teacher retention and strongly positive relationships with teachers,
- Highly praised recruiting process and choice of new Superintendent,
- Budget discipline while improving quality and innovative programs,
- Satisfaction with the School District, as measured by an independent scientific poll conducted repeatedly in this District and around the state, at a state-wide high ("a whopping 82 percent" according to the Palo Alto Weekly.
- Representing all the students, and working for all of them to succeed. That includes 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 2 high schools.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 5, 2007 at 4:48 pm
Interested Observer: Exactly how is it that Townsend gets to take credit for all of the above, and not take the blame for:
--The promotion of three Callan loyalists (Cook, Bowers, and Laurence) to senior cabinet positions without posting the job openings or interviewing multiple candidates.
--Refusing to take seriously the issues raised by almost 60 principals, assistant principals and other mid-level managers for two months after the “trust” letter was sent to the board, until Gail Price was able to force a public discussion.
--The lengthy and drawn out debate over Mandarin immersion, which polarized our community.
-- The fact that the PAUSD Student Nutrition Services Program had a budget deficit for 2006-2007 of $600,000, and this year, with reduction in food service staff and increasing lunch prices there will still be a $240,000 deficit.
The unit of authority is the board as a whole, not an individual member. The only way it makes sense to look at this incumbent candidate is to look at her voting record, and read the discussions surrounding controversial issues to see how she conducted herself in meetings.
It is also helpful to attend board meetings or watch them on cable or internet because you get a really good sense of the dynamics of the group that way, which doesn’t always get reflected in the minutes.
One of my biggest concerns is, will prospective new board members be team players, or forge ahead on their own to promote a own pet program? During the terms of the board members who will be elected tomorrow will be the evaluation of the MI pilot, the decision about whether or not to continue it, and if so, where. I for one do not want another endless debacle like last time.
I feel confident that there will be a structured, thoughtful, analytical and fair approach to the “What to do with MI?” question if we elect Hausser, Baten-Caswell, and Klausner.
If Townsend is reelected, I fear that she will use her seniority to ensure that the next MI debate will be as unpleasant as the last one.
Posted by Interested Observer, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:34 pm
A forward looking issue - finally - interspersed with comments about MI every third line of your posts.
I'm sure the business manager of PAUSD would welcome any ideas you have on the nutrition program. It seems a tough problem. Three years ago PAUSD was losing money with lousy food. Camille helped pioneer healthy nutrition, voted to get rid of the previous contractor, and brought in a new contractor. The State of California adopted a program very similar to what PAUSD advanced.
Chartwell by all accounts is providing better food than the previous contractor, but still losing too much money. The District /community/ Board will have to choose whether running a food program at the high school level makes sense at the cost it is running. There is a group investigating this along with the business manager. Making a hot lunch program self-supporting on an open campus remains a tough challenge. Some argue for only offering "free and reduced" meals at a loss, while others worry that this creates a stigma for those getting the meals. The problem is especially tough at Paly, where Town and Country provides an easy escape to "pizza and a coke."
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:41 pm
As an aside, but interesting issue. How do you know about the projected deficit of lunch costs this year.
At our elementary school not only have prices increased significantly, there is now a complicated ordering system and only those pre-ordering get lunch and get what they pre-ordered. Pizza has to be ordered a day in advance. Goodness knows what happens if a child is absent on the day he has to pre-order. With a system as strict as this, I can't see how it can loose money unless it is only providing lunch on the majority of days to the free and reduced cost kids.
The lines at the middle schools and Gunn are notorious. Paly has no problem because of T & C.
If we are still losing this incredible amount of money on lunches then Chartwells are as bad as the previous lot, even if their horrible tasting food is supposedly healthier.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:59 pm
Ooh, let's see, is there any proof that ESL kids score higher in English than native English speakers . . . er, no . . . let's see, do neighborhood schools in PA have scores that correlate with their Asian populations . . . oh, no, they don't . . . hmmm, what are those high-scoring schools doing in north Palo Alto? Oh, dammn it, they were top-scoring even a few years back . . .
Sorry, Curious, there's a classic score drop in immersion programs--but I'd trying swapping in, say, French for Chinese and see how that feels to you.
Now, think about what underlies what you're saying. Oh, and check out the percentage of hard=working Cal students who need remedial English--correlates well to coming from an ESL home. Yep, even being Chinese (instead of what? Mexican?) doesn't help.
It's not about being Chinese, by the way, it's about educational background and cultural attitudes of the parents--Indian-Americans outscore Chinese-Americans--we get an even narrower band of immigrants from India than we do China. And, just to play a little more--I've never noticed that Chinese kids outperform Jewish kids as a whole--have you? I say this as a generic type who's spent time in high-achieving classes.
Actually, I once read a study that concluded that Scots had the highest high achiever/population ratio historically--all those Scottish engineers of the Victorian era and a small population.
Well, maybe a bunch of Scots-Americans are interested in Mandarin--and that will pull up the scores.
Posted by Curious, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 7:41 pm
If you look probably at any school, they do score higher.
STAR tests for Ohlone for 2007 - you can look scores by ethnicity, but it gives scores only for groups of more than 10 students, so chinese scores available only for 2nd grade:
Math: (chinese lost here, not in language?)422/450
for the whole district:
So, they both outscore us. I don't tell that there is something special about being chinese, and by "chinese" I mean even more culture than ethnicity. I meant just what I told-they score better, and even with 2 languages they are likely to score better. (and don't forget - they will have more time after school to study, which now they have to spend on learning mandarin...:)
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 7:55 pm
From my experience, they are not just learning mandarin after school, they are learning math. They are not doing sport, they are learning music. They are not playing with friends, they are with tutors.
Posted by 3 new board members, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Nov 5, 2007 at 8:01 pm
I got my information about deficits in the food services program from the 5/22/07 board packet Web Link starting on p. 111. But actually the number I gave for this year’s projected deficit was wrong, so thanks for asking.
What the board decided at the 5/22 meeting was to choose Option One (See link above, p. 115) of two options to reduce staff (Option 1 cut 29 FTE’s from food services staff) and agree to the first seven of eight steps to lower costs and increase revenues as proposed by district staff. The board also agreed to add an additional 25 cents per meal to the proposed costs in step one (p. 111 of the link above). These steps include the requirement of preordering meals in elementary schools.
Chartwells agreed to guarantee that the deficit for this school year would not exceed $350,000, and if all seven steps were followed the board believed that this year’s deficit would not exceed $200,000, and next year’s deficit could be brought down to zero.
Below is some historical information about deficits in the food service program, as of 4/17/07:
2000-2001 $ 0
2001-2002 ($ 36,897)
2006-2007 ($550,000) Estimated**
* 2005-2006 was the first year of implementation of the new PAUSD Student Nutrition Policy. Through negotiations and in consideration of this being the first year of the contract with Chartwells, the PAUSD deficit was reduced by a $200,000 contribution from Chartwells.
** The current PAUSD budget projects a $600,000 deficit.
Posted by Interested Observer, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 8:37 pm
Its good to have the numbers to discuss - and I commend "board members" for presenting them - although when a cost over-run is reduced I don't think that it is properly classified as a "contribution." Rather, I believe it probably reflected the negotiated cap on costs. Also, the 2005-06 period was likely a transitional time between the previous and current supplier. I seem to recall Sodexo's (?sp) final deficit at $400K.
But, back to the main issue. The Board + staff + community will have to decide whether this is the appropriate solution. Of course, all programs at schools are run at a loss. No football program, or science class, or history class runs at a profit. They are supported out of general funds.
But it seems that subsidizing lunches to such a great extent is quite costly. If it is impossible to provide quality food at reasonable prices, then maybe a different solution is required. There is some amount of responsibility of the District to provide meals to the "free and reduced" category of students, but at some point that might be better met with a cash grant rather than a dedicated system. What works at the elementary level might not at the middle or high school.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 8:53 pm
You're comparing a narrow economic group against a wider one--there's a much wider educational and economic class range among the Caucasian students in Palo Alto. As your own scores point out, Indian-Americans outscore Chinese. Like I said, even narrower band of immigrants.
Taking the scores from Ohlone doesn't really work because, again, you're comparing the scores of a large group (Caucasians) to a much smaller group. Unless you're filtering for confounding variables, then, no, I don't think you can say there's something magical about being "Chinese".
I pointed out the north cluster schools because you are looking at a richer community there--and the scores are correspondingly higher.
Yes, the Asian kids there score well, but, overall, you're looking at situation where the "whiter" neighborhood schools have a higher average score than the more Asian neighborhood schools.
So you get a situation where the Asian kids may outscore their white schoolmates, but both are scoring below the average of the whiter, richer school in the north cluster.
Seriously, Curious, your kind of stereotyping doesn't help anyone--one of the very ugly flip sides of there's-something-special-about-being-Chinese are the high levels of stress and depression among kids. It's also a form of bigotry--if there's something special about being Chinese, do you think there's something bad about being black or Hispanic--because there's a higher ratio of poverty among those two groups--and correspondingly lower scores?
Posted by Tyler Hanley, online editor of Palo Alto Online, on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:33 pm Tyler Hanley is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
With election day upon us, we're going to lock the election forums, including this one. When the polls close, we will welcome your continued discussion on the election and what the results will mean for the community. Remember to vote!
Posted by Curious, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:53 pm
there is no point in comparing chinese and white population in general, you are not going to have MI in China, Alaska or San Francisco. Right now we are discussing posibility of falling or raising Ohlone scores here, in Palo Alto with this "narrow economic group" of overachieving chinese that we have here.
"...ugly flip sides of there's-something-special-about-being-Chinese..." -I told that "I DON'T tell that there is something special..."
I also don't think that it is fair to compare white kids' achievements at north schools to asian kids' at south - there are too many other contributing factors. But...just out curiosity I did compare scores of white W.H. kids and chinese Fairmeadow kids...
From three grades available for comparison - Fairmeadow chinese have higher scores in both language and math.
By the way, I never told that having MI at Ohlone will be beneficial for any of the two programs...just didn't agree with your predictions about scores.