News


School board candidate debate tonight

First debate of campaign season set for Thursday

The public will get its first chance to see all five candidates for the Palo Alto school board on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center's Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.

The debate is being sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly and the JCC and will be moderated by Santa Clara County Supervisor and former school board member Joe Simitian.

The five candidates are Terry Godfrey, Catherine Crystal Foster, Ken Dauber, Gina Dalma and Jay Cabrera. They are competing for two open seats. Incumbents Dana Tom and Barb Mitchell opted not to seek re-election.

The debate format will include a section where candidates will respond to a question from each of the other candidates. The questions have been submitted in advance to the moderator but not to the candidates.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Will this debate be streamed? If not, why not?

I feel sure that our high school video class students could do this.


Like this comment
Posted by No more undue PIE influence
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I am not voting for a PiE shill. I'm voting for change. We need a variety of opinions. No more group think. Congratulations to all the candidates. Those who tried to attacked the critics of Kevin Shelly and Charles Young and the board dared you to run. We'll know who the most indepedent candidates are as soon as the old guard begins its attack.


3 people like this
Posted by Paly teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 6, 2014 at 9:05 pm

How can Supervisor Joe Simitian fairly moderate this debate if he has already endorsed a candidate in this race?


1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

> How can Supervisor Joe Simitian fairly moderate this debate if he has already
> endorsed a candidate in this race?

He can't. But that has never stopped Joe Simitian from pushing his agenda on the people of Palo Alto.

Wonder if this debate will get into Common Core in any detail? It would be nice to see if any of the Candidates have any idea what Common Core is all about. It would also be interesting to see why each Candidate is for, or against, Common Core.


1 person likes this
Posted by Czech
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm

How come the photo of just one candidate accompanies this story?


3 people like this
Posted by deepthroat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

The Weekly gave up any pretense at any unbiased reporting about the district issues a LOOOONG time ago.

Posting the picture of their primary candidate before even hearing the debate is just the latest in a series of their approach to this election.


1 person likes this
Posted by How Are We Doing?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I came across the Special Education Review completed just before the current Director began. I wonder how much of this really was implemented? In the areas of psychology and behavioral not much. Behavioral is staff managed by SPED Director. Psychology has a Coordinator, but lacks accountability since once psychologists work on Special Education cases, they are managed only by Special Education and follow no guidelines. The other issues from 2010 that struck were the lack of transparency in budget and staff.

Palo Alto Unified Special Education Review, 2010 by Consultants School Services of California, Inc.
Web Link

Recommendations:
8. Revise the job duties of the Director of Special Education to focus exclusively on special education. Assign other duties, such as crisis counseling, behavior intervention, early intervention, and alternative education, to other director-level positions. It would be appropriate for the Special Education Director to collaborate and support these areas, but the oversight and day-to-day requirements for these areas should be managed by others.

10. A clear management organization chart for special education should be created that shows the line of responsibility and communication to ensure that questions and issues are resolved at the most appropriate level in a timely manner.


Other Issues Raised
"We would also note that the strong trust for the competence of the special education staff within the central office has also allowed for less strict application of internal staffing and budget controls, which, while there is no evidence of abuse, has contributed to a lack of transparency regarding the program’s budget and staffing details."

"Among the management staff of the District, Psychologists are relatively unique in their level of assignment. Nearly 80% of the Psychologist work part-time, most commonly at 0.7 to 0.8 FTE. Given the District’s benefit structure and longevity of the current Psychologist staff, this means that the District is paying
full-time benefits to part-time staff within this classification."


3 people like this
Posted by colors
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Paly Teacher, the real problem isn't Joe moderating it, it's that the Weekly's sponsoring it. As noted above, the Weekly's already showing they've endorsed their candidate. One picture, seriously?!


Like this comment
Posted by true_colors
a resident of Hoover School
on Sep 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Obviously @colors can't count to 3.


Like this comment
Posted by colors
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Obviously "true_colors" is both blind:
- Look at the front page of the Weekly on a desktop , who's picture do you see? Web Link
- View the complete article on an iphone or any smart phone, who's picture do you see?

And can't count to 5. You do realize there are actually 5 candidates, not that you'd get that from how the Weekly's presenting this so I can't really blame true_colors for that ignorance.

I wonder how much he's paying the Weekly for this?


3 people like this
Posted by monochrome
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm

@colors - I think you have it backwards. Dauber doesn't have to pay the Weekly; he only exists because they effectively sponsor him via free ink. No different from most small town papers (and some big city papers for that matter), but nothing for anyone to be proud of. Of course it didn't work last time around. It must have hurt, at least a bit, for the Weekly's publisher to see how limited its influence is.


Like this comment
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 7, 2014 at 9:20 pm

In the last election, there were three slots and four candidates, two of them incumbents with a built in advantage. The difference in the number of voters who included Emberling in their slate of three and Dauber was only like 5% of the vote. It was very close. The analysis was oddly unconscious of the fact that it wasn't a single seat election.

I think these are all good people. Dauber's strengths will make the group as a whole function better, though. We need at least one person willing to stand up when things really aren't working. Dauber is someone who really listens to and tries to integrate different viewpoints. And he knows how to get things off the dime.

I will probably vote only for him, confident that whomever else is elected will do a good job.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pictures
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Had some people checked, there were pictures of four candidates, not one.


2 people like this
Posted by monochrome
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Yep, four pictures is right - with one bigger, on top, and also appearing on the front page. Oh yeah, what do you know, it's the paper's preferred candidate. That's pretty random...

This is not a reflection on him, more on the Weekly's standards. I agree, they don't make much of an effort to disguise their preference.

@Strategy - are you referring to some particular analysis of the last election?


Like this comment
Posted by Judy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2014 at 11:54 pm

I am really confused about these comments.
The photos on the online version of the Weekly change - daily, if not more than once a day.
I just went through the entire print version. This specific article had no photos attached.
An ad on page 10 of the print edition ran photos of all 5 candidates. All the photos appeared to
be of equal size. Why all these comments about something that isn't even a problem?

I am disappointed to see that Supervisor Simitian is moderating this debate when he has already publicly
endorsed at least one of the candidates. I cannot believe that The Weekly and the JCC were unable to find someone to moderate this debate who does not have a horse in this race. Makes me wonder if Supervisor
Simitian chose to endorse after he had already committed to The Weekly/JCC to moderate?

There is still time between now and Thursday. Perhaps The Weekly/JCC could find someone less biased to
step in and moderate their debate. I believe this would be fairer for ALL of the candidates.


2 people like this
Posted by Please Weekly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2014 at 7:44 am

Dauber lost to Emberling by around 1%. It was very very close. They were virtually tied. It was not evidence of the Weekly's lack of influence at all. It was evidence of the Weekly's influence. The Weekly endorsed Heidi. That's why she won. Had the Weekly realized what many voters did about her -- that she was naive, unprepared, and had no idea about most issues -- it would have endorsed only Dauber and Caswell, and allowed voters to receive the message that she was not ready. Instead, she eked out a narrow win, and the result, as they say, is history: Heidi signed on to the resolution condemning OCR and also attacked both the Weekly and parents of students of color and disabled students who came to the board meeting to beg the board not to adopt it. The Weekly's endorsement is the most important factor. It elected Heidi (mistake) and almost elected Dauber, who would have made all the difference had he been there in the past 2 years.

Transparency, one of Dauber's main issues, would have transformed the OCR mess into a molehill. So Weekly do your due diligence this time. These candidates other than Dauber are vague. They string together vague assurances and platitudes about "teaching" and "21st century." What do they really stand for? What will they d on key issues such as OCR, Mandarin Immersion, math textbooks, and school re-opening? Garland or Greendell? Make them take positions or don't endorse.


2 people like this
Posted by colors
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

Judy, the lead photo for this article didn't change. Worse, there was only one picture on the mobile version of the site for this article. Not only that, when you did see more than one photo, the dominant photo was given 4 times the column space as the other two photos they deigned to include. This was incredibly ironic given the size of the underlying images they were taken from.

The Weekly's now removed all the photos after being called on such blatant electioneering for their preferred candidate. The other candidates should cautiously approach this debate. Given the Weekly's behavior so far, it wouldn't surprise me if the submitted questions were "accidentally" disclosed beforehand.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hahahahaha
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

This debate should be absolutely hilarious!


2 people like this
Posted by Issues please
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:43 am

The whispering campaign by the elites who dominate Palo Alto politics has begun and it is nasty and aimed at the candidates from south of Oregon with progressive values and at the press. The whispering and shenanigans won't work this time. And those using them will be exposed. Last campaign was dirty and what we got was 2 years of mismanagement and scandal. The public deserves better this time.

Run on the issues. Run on your ideas. Keep it professional and focused on issues. Don't have any?


Like this comment
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:46 am

@colors,
Never chalk up to malice what can be explained by technical snafus. Dauber, as a Google employee, is probably just more careful about following guidelines for submitting the most optimized photo for online publication. I've submitted ads before, and it's not as easy as just mailing in your photo, if you want it displayed to the best advantage.

These are all good people, and this is an important election, please remember that before lobbing accusations. The removal of photos was probably done by staff when they realized the problem. In my experience with ads, they don't resize things for people, as they shouldn't, they expect people to submit as they would want something displayed. If Dauber's photo displayed better off the bat, that probably speaks more to a better technical know-how, that's all.

@please Weekly,
Although I agree with the sentiment of your post, I don't think there is any way to precisely gage the margin between the two candidates to such a small percentage, because of the uncertainty in how many people voted in that race versus in the election. Five percent is safe to say. It's possible it was 1%, but we are making different assumptions. However, why is also an assumption. Emberling has a lot of connections in the community, so that had as much to do with the result as anything. I do, however, think she would have done a better job with Dauber on the board instead of being used as a foil by Mitchell.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:59 am

I agree that we need the candidates to give specific answers to questions about the issues.

Rehashing the past is not going to help us choose. What would have/could have/should have, is not the issue now. Getting a board with opinions on how to cope with some of our problems and some idea where they sit on various issues is key in this election.

School size and increasing enrollments, various technology issues, school safety on and off campus, are all much more important to me than knowing how much good a candidate has done on the PTA, or where they went to school. I want to see a board make-up with people who have firm opinions on these issues and willing to discuss them intelligently, rather than wishy-washy platitudes. I don't want a board of carbon copy PTA do gooders, although I think it is right that we should have one or two of those, but people who know how to manage a team, how to make decisions and how to get things done should be the right type of people to run PAUSD.


Like this comment
Posted by Town Square Moderator
online staff of Palo Alto Online
on Sep 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

Town Square Moderator is a registered user.

The photo posting was the result of an error by the posting editor, who didn't realize the photos wouldn't rotate. Thus we've removed the photos entirely. The photos of all five candidates appear in the ads that have appeared in the paper. Thank you to the alert readers who caught this problem.


1 person likes this
Posted by colors
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

"The photo posting was the result of an error by the posting editor, who didn't realize the photos wouldn't rotate."

A posting editor that doesn't know how the posting works? That's your excuse for showing only your candidate's photo? What's your excuse for the mobile device view?

I assume you're now going to provide 4 days of free front page advertising to the other 4 candidates to correct your snafu?


Like this comment
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

"The public will get its first chance to see all five candidates for the Palo Alto school board "

Warning, I am cynical about this

Unless this is video taped, who will be moved to actually go see candidates when they really all end up doing the same thing once they are elected.

They march to some invisible power structure which shifts from the bowing to the teachers, or bowing to connected parents. They are mainly political operators.

The district thankfully operates because of the not so invisible force - community value placed on education, and no matter what the Board does, things still move along. WIll it really matter who gets elected?

What's there to disagree about?


Like this comment
Posted by Truer colors
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

Editor were you on the grassy knoll?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:11 am

> WIll it really matter who gets elected?

Yes! The elected officials are generally thought to reflect community values, and thiinking--even though they frequently don't.

Over the years, we have had a number of controversial issues come before the school district that have not always been resolved in the fashion that has made most people happy.

Back in the 1990s, there were the "math wars". Then we have had some groups wanting to not have the Pledge of Allegance recited in the classrooms, because of the possibility of offending children who are not American citizens.

Recently, there was the Everyday Math issue and the Mandarin Immersion issue.

Not to mention any number of transparency issues, that have not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction.

If the School Board were to have five people with strong American values seated, then it's possible that many of these issues could have been resolved at the Board/Superintendent level withouth having to drag the whole community into the fray.

There are too many forces in our community that would see the underpinnings of our American heritage eroded, and even disolved, in the name of one "ism" or another. Having a well educated, well grounded, group of residents on the Board is necessary to allow us to negotiate these waters and not run aground every time the wind blows this way, or that.

The parents are mostly responsible for the high student performance of the students. But the Administration is responsible for how the schools function, as a whole. The Administration reports to the Board, and the Board, ultilmately, reports to the voters.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:23 am

Bob,

"our American heritage"

you mean the rich diversity of immigrants which came from other parts of the world?

If this was eroded, you mean it would be replaced by somebody's idea of what is supposed to replace it?

I call that politics, nothing new.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

> you mean the rich diversity of immigrants which came
> from other parts of the world?

No, I don’t. For the most part, our American heritage is English. The first two hundred and fifty years were English. The French did occupy a significant portion of the North American continent, but once the ownership of the lands were purchased by the American government—the language and customs of those Frenchmen shifted to those of the Americans.

Our legal system, our language, and our culture can be seen as strongly resonant of those of the English. Our basic beliefs—such as “no taxation without representation” originated in England—long before the Colonies were in place.

Our political system, is a rejection of the English political system—for the most part. We rejected monarchy, aristocracy, and pressed “democracy” farther than the English did, at the time of our creation.

Basic American ideas of self-government, originated in England, and have been influenced very little from people immigrating here from other countries. This idea of self-government was virtually unknown outside of England, and a couple of its Colonies at the time of our Independence from England.

While it is true that people have immigrated here from every country in the world—they came here more to experience the freedom and security of the American existence, then to inculcate their culture, their language and their vision of what the country should be.

The posting above is an example of what one might call a “progressive” rewriting of history. Not the sort of thing that we need to keep America free, strong, and a significant force for good in this world.


1 person likes this
Posted by Strategy
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:47 am

@resident 3,
"They march to some invisible power structure which shifts from the bowing to the teachers, or bowing to connected parents. They are mainly political operators."

Not Dauber, who has taken some really undue criticism just for being willing to keep working at an issue until it's solved rather than just doing the usual go-along-get-along. I don't know where that criticism comes from, he's so low-key, he's like the calm guy in the room when a fight breaks out.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

Strategy,

I would agree, and I think he is very qualified.

His election committee includes a Paly English teacher though, and given the very political conversations that happened with the English issues at Paly, I found Dauber to have jumped too quickly to conclusions about de-laning.

So, he is yet another political figure, and to have the teacher who presented on that proposal on his election committee gives me the sense that his opinions were cooked to begin with. I believe he is also very political with the OCR dealings.

I don't think he is any different than the others but I can see from Bob that there are some heavy passions which are at play here.

It's the politics that causes the ineptitude from all sides.




Like this comment
Posted by Barron Park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Paly mom of 9th grader
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I hope that the debate moderator will require that responders provide clear answers to the questions asked about recent and upcoming board policy issues. In particular, what are their positions on opening a 13th elementary school and what position do they take on the Board resolution opposing the Office for Civil Rights.


Like this comment
Posted by Kim
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Barron Park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I am very interested to hear the candidates especially, Terry Godfrey and Catherine Crystal Foster. I have heard lots of good things about both of them. Both seem to have positive energy which would be great role models for students.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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