News


Candidates for Palo Alto school board debate the issues

Five contenders vying for two seats in November criticize handing of civil rights probes

Watch video of the debate

In their first debate of the fall campaign season, most of the five candidates vying for two seats on the Palo Alto Board of Education Thursday said they would not have handled recent civil-rights controversies as the current school board did.

The candidates agreed that the board should have been more transparent in its handling of a string of investigations of the district over the past two years by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

All but one of the candidates, Catherine Crystal Foster, said they would have opposed a resolution – passed unanimously in June by the current board -- seeking redress against the Office for Civil Rights and alleging that the agency has refused to correct errors in its investigation processes, which board leaders called "purposely confrontational and disruptive."

"I would have voted no, and I also would have voted no on investing in fighting the OCR process," candidate Gina Dalma said. Dalma, a senior program officer at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, manages the foundation's education investments.

But Foster, saying it was "very concerning that the school board felt it needed to pass that resolution," added that without knowing all the confidential information in front of the board at the time of the vote, "I don't feel I'm in a position to opine one way or the other."

She added that if the allegations in the resolution were true, she reluctantly would have supported it.

Foster, an education policy consultant to nonprofits and foundation, is former executive director of the Peninsula College Fund, which helps low-income and first-generation students graduate from college.

Foster also appeared to be the only candidate who agreed with the school district's decision in February to quash a proposal by Palo Alto High School English teachers that would have de-laned 9th grade English. The teachers worked for 18 months on the proposal, leading to their significant disappointment at the outcome.

The other four indicated they would have supported the teachers, who had argued that under the current self-selection process for the regular or advanced lane, those who opt for the basic lane -- disproportionately minority students – over time start seeing themselves as less capable.

All students, given proper support, should be able to thrive in the advanced lane, the teachers had argued.

"I supported the teachers' proposal for the pilot de-laning of English," candidate Ken Dauber said. "The teachers had worked very hard over a period of years to address the concerns of the accreditation committee about low expectations in the basic lane of English that minority students were concentrated in."

Dauber, a Google software engineer, co-founded the parent group We Can Do Better Palo Alto and ran unsuccessfully for a board seat in 2012. He has regularly addressed the Board of Education on issues relating to transparency, the achievement gap and academic stress and was a member of the district's Homework Committee.

But Foster said the teachers' proposal had not been fully vetted by the superintendent, "blindsiding the special-education community." In addition, she said, Gunn (which maintains lanes in freshman English) has a smaller achievement gap than Paly, so changing Paly to be less like Gunn raises questions. The district needs to "double down" on addressing the achievement gap but the de-laning proposal "simply wasn't ready," she said.

Other than one those two issues, sharp differences among the candidates -- likely to emerge as the campaign heats up -- were difficult to detect in Thursday's genial discussion, which was moderated by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

The five candidates were in broad agreement on the need to recalibrate the district's balance between centralized authority and site-based autonomy.

Candidate Terry Godfrey said the district would "do itself a service to define that model." Most of the thousands of decisions made each day should be made at the level closest to students, Godfrey said. But citing the model at Intel, where she worked as a manager for years, Godfrey said decisions bearing on health and safety should be more centralized.

Godfrey, who has a background in corporate finance with firms including Xerox and Intel, has chaired the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, was a founding member of Palo Alto Project Safety Net and most recently chaired the board of Palo Alto Partners in Education, a parent-led foundation that raises money for Palo Alto schools.

Candidate Jay Blas Cabrera said the district's role is to provide resources to "support the autonomy of the schools. What I don't want to see is a little mini-No Child Left Behind," he said. Cabrera, a 1998 graduate of Gunn High School, has run unsuccessfully for public office four times before — including for mayor of San Francisco, mayor of Santa Cruz and California Assembly.

Dalma and Dauber stressed the need to evaluate site-based innovations to determine whether they should be spread.

"Innovation truly comes at the very local level," Dalma said. "But unless we're documenting it, evaluating it, understanding what it means in terms of student achievement and if it's scalable, then innovation won't serve -- it will only serve that specific set of kids."

All five candidates said they support tenure or "strong due-process rights" for teachers, but agreed that the current two-year probationary period mandated by state law is too short to determine whether a teacher should be granted tenure.

All five also expressed enthusiasm for the new Common Core State Standards, the need to address rising enrollment by opening a 13th elementary school and the need to be a better partner with the City of Palo Alto on the future of Cubberley Community Center.

The candidates all called for stronger and earlier interventions to address the achievement gap, for foreign language instruction for all elementary students and for stronger measures to address academic stress.

Dauber said the district could make real progress against stress if it enacted a plan he has advocated for years, which includes enforcing homework guidelines, ensuring that test and project deadlines are spread out, and reforming guidance counseling. "If we do this, we'll get progress and, if we don't, students will continue to suffer," he said.

Simitian surprised the candidates with the question, "What book have you read that changed your life?"

Their answers were: for Dalma, Alain de Bottom's "The Art of Travel"; for Godfrey, Fannie Flagg's "Standing Under the Rainbow"; for Dauber, Bruno Latour's "Science in Action"; for Foster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude"; and for Cabrera, a book called "The Universe."

Thursday's debate, sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, drew nearly 250 people to the JCC.

The candidates will face off again on Tuesday, Sept. 16, in a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, the candidates will appear at a forum organized by parents of special education students and students of color. The event will be from 10 a.m. to noon in the cafetorium of Jordan Middle School, 750 N. California Ave.

A video of Thursday's debate is available on Palo Alto Online's YouTube channel.

Read a complete recap of the Sept. 11 debate

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by again?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

How is this a balanced report from the evening, just a simple glance shows it completely biased to two candidates. A basic word count of quotes shows how unbalanced this article is:

- Foster: 107
- Dauber: 97
- Dalma: 61
- Godfrey: 39
- Cabrera : 26


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycke
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Parent of 3
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

Most of the candidates seemed well-informed and well-intentioned, but Catherine Crystal Foster really distinguished herself. Totally impressed by her positive and measured tone, her exceptionally thoughtful and specific answers, and her hands-on experience with educational evaluations and at-risk kids. We would be lucky to have someone of her caliber and experience on the School Board.


4 people like this
Posted by Al Yuen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

Thanks to Joe Simitian, the moderator, for doing an outstanding job keeping the answers succinct and injecting humor into the evening. All of the candidates did their homework and we are very fortunate to have so many qualified candidates (5) to choose from in this election. I really appreciated that Catherine said that her son David, in the audience, made her laugh. It was a long night (ended after 10pm) and to see both her boys supporting their mom, speaks highly for Catherine. I was also moved by Terry getting choked up when she said that the person she admired most was her mom.


Like this comment
Posted by No kids
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Nana Chancellor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

What a fabulous debate! How lucky we are to have such strong & dedicated candidates this year. I was particularly impressed with Catherine Crystal Foster last night. She came across as not only wise, thoughtful, genuine, & incredibly experienced, but also as someone who would be able to collaborate on all levels. She definitely has my vote!


2 people like this
Posted by Really weekly?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

I attended and this doesn't fairly report on the debate. There were many sharp differences. [Portion removed.] It also is misleading in that it omits most of the important issues discussed such as foreign language in all elementary schools (Foster not supporting, dauber Godfrey and Gina supporting kens proposal) and the 13th elementary dauber saying do it now terry saying study it Foster mostly saying nothing). What debate did your reporter attend ? Not the one last night. Cover the facts accurately.

The editorializing in this story about mood have no role in a news story. I want to know positions on issues not the tone of whatever.


2 people like this
Posted by WOW
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:43 am

The Weekly has clearly decided to advocate for Dauber. All 7 of their questions were designed to further Dauber's agenda. I guess we cannot count on the Weekly for unbiased reporting, but rather they see themselves as advocates for a certain point on view. This, coupled with the way in which they promoted the event (featuring their candidate's photo) show that when it comes to the School Board election this year, they have no ability to deliver unbiased reporting.


4 people like this
Posted by Appreciate cordial tone
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

Interesting write-up, and it sounds like an interesting debate. Good for the whole community that it has remained cordial.

Great to hear thoughtful responses from Catherine Crystal-Foster. It's so tempting to make snap judgments based on popular opinion - hearing a candidate say that she will have more information once on the board to base her decisions on is refreshing. Sounds like Terry's business skills would be extremely valuable on the Board.


3 people like this
Posted by Status Quo or Innovation?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

As a parent of two kids in high school, I am one who strongly believes we need change on the school board. To hear Catherine Crystal Foster state that "I don't feel I'm in a position to opine one way or the other" is really disappointing. If one is running for school board, it is very, very important to state a position about this poorly managed situation.

Two candidates support true innovation that will support academic excellence and healthy, well balanced kids: Ken Dauber and Gina Dalma.


Like this comment
Posted by again?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

Yeah, this article directly after the Weekly's fiasco when they announced this debate and then used only Dauber's picture to lead the article on the front page and advertise it....


5 people like this
Posted by Duveneck dad
a resident of Duveneck School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

Ken Dauber was head and shoulders above the other candidates. He was clear, collaborative in tone and made specific policy proposals for foreign languages in elementary school, a 13th elementary school, teacher consistency, and homework policy implementation. Terry Godfrey was also impressive. The other candidates were much less clear.
Foster did say she would have voted yes on the resolution on resisting the office of civil rights. That should be reported accurately in the story.


Like this comment
Posted by Really Weekly
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

The questions were common sense ones that any thinking person would ask. The 13th elementary has been going on for years, ditto foreign language.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Thanks Weekly (really) :)
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:51 am


Thank you Palo Alto Weekly and the JCC for sponsoring the School Board Debate. The seven questions presented by Palo Alto Weekly were superb.

I have to say that I was a HUGE Ken Dauber fan last election. I voted for him and was sad and a little shocked that he didn't win.

But this election has some very strong candidates, namely Terry Godfrey and Catherine Crystal Foster. Their answers were clear concise and straight forward. It was obvious that they are intelligent and well informed about the important issues surrounding our students and our schools.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

I was there and was pleased with the event. And I felt I could relate to each of the candidates and their points of view -- which made me feel pretty good about the upcoming election. My POV. They all have a heart for service, seem well spoken and collaborative.

My one criticism - I think there was not enough room for audience questions. The Weekly got their seven in and then the candidates each got to pose a question - and this is appropriate. However, there was a packed crowd with index cards flying and a runner collecting them and handing them off to Joe. That was the one "structural" problem I had with the event.

High marks to the Weekly for making this happen. It takes a lot to coordinate this -- even for the pros.

And I am looking forward to the Tuesday debate - which by the way will be LIVE on Channel 28 - Comcast and Channel 99 AT&T Universe (scroll to Palo Alto 28) or can be watched streaming at midpenmedia.org.

See everyone at the polls!


1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

> Simitian surprised the candidates with the question,
> "What book have you read that changed your life?"

What book changed your life? Really? What a bizarre question. Lot’s of people have read Das Kapital, or Mein Kampf—and those books changed a lot of lives. But to the good?

Wouldn’t a better question be: “what personal experiences can you cite that significantly changed your view of the world, and even perhaps your life?” Answers involving military experience, or business experience—like seeing a company fail and having to try to understand why—would provide far more insight into the people, more insight into who they are, and who they really want to be.


> All five also expressed enthusiasm for the new
> Common Core State Standards

It’s one thing to be for Common Core—but it’s quite another to not have any idea what it is, and why it’s needed. Will any of these Candidates ever get around to telling us why they support Common Core?

Perhaps each of the Candidates should be asked to do a simple multiplication using Common Core math. If they can’t do it correctly—then perhaps deeper questions about why they support Common Core would be in order.

> All five candidates said they support tenure or
> "strong due-process rights" for teachers,

What about “parents’ rights” and “taxpayers’ rights”? Claiming that teachers are somehow special, and should not be held up to the same levels of performance of private sector employees seems to be the underlying message here. Parents and taxpayers are funding these schools. They have a right to get their money’s worth!

> But Foster, saying it was "very concerning that the school
> board felt it needed to pass that resolution," added that without
> knowing all the confidential information in front of the board at
> the time of the vote, "I don't feel I'm in a position to
> opine one way or the other."

Given the high levels of confidentiality concerning these matters—clearly the only correct, and good, answer.

Got to wonder if this is the best Palo Alto can do for people to oversee the schools. It’s pretty clear that none of them are representative of Palo Alto, and its residents/taxpayers?

Also got to wonder what these Candidates will NOT be telling us until they are elected?


4 people like this
Posted by Addison Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:11 am

This was a very informative debate. The candidates were all cordial, yet there were differences that emerged. Ken Dauber had the most clear and specific answers and agenda of what he wants to accomplish on the board and deserves one of the two votes. The other candidates are clearly better than the incumbents they are replacing and will add value to the board. I am encouraged about the direction of the district based on the quality of these candidates and Dr. McGee.


1 person likes this
Posted by Duveneck dad
a resident of Duveneck School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:14 am

It is strange to see Foster getting both credit and blame for not taking a position on the resolution against the Office for Civil Rights. She did take a position. She said she would have voted yes. Why is the Weekly not reporting that fact, and instead reporting the opposite? The public is being misinformed.


1 person likes this
Posted by Really weekly?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

Dauber came across as the most progressive candidate with Dalma a solid second. Dauber was the only one to advocate for a foreign language in elementary schools and opening another elementary.

Foster really lost my vote on the OCR issue. Doesn't matter what was said in the closed session, we should be working collaboratively (if not proactively) with the OCR.


2 people like this
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

[Post removed. Mere candidate endorsements will be removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

Catherine C Foster has it exactly right on 9/9A. How could Ken Dauber and Gina Dalma say that curriculum isn't something the board should take up and, even if it is, that they would have OKed that proposal as presented?

While the teachers may have been right in theory - that this proposal might work with adequate supports – the only supports the teachers called for were those Paly already provides students AND a room full of 9th graders, learning 9th grade English, as their aides.

When probed on that point by board members, the Paly teachers said they knew they still had several things to figure out including how to even require struggling students to go to tutorial and use the supports that were offered - a problem Paly struggles with now.

Web Link

The teachers did not propose where the money to pay for this pilot would come from either. Their department’s budget by firing 10, 11 and 12th grade English teachers and increasing those class sizes? Or the budget of the department down the hall and cut Science or counseling instead?

Fact check: The board asked the teachers to come back in two weeks with answers to these questions. Instead they withdrew their proposal.

Fact check 2: Ken Dauber claims this proposal addressed "the concerns of the accreditation committee about low expectations in the basic lane of English that minority students were concentrated in."

The accreditation committee, as Ken Dauber noted, said that more could be done to help minorities BUT it listed Paly's TWO levels of English as its academic strength.

Web Link

Fact check 3: Both Ken Dauber and Gina Dalma claim this proposal was evidence based.

Technically perhaps, but not with evidence that matched what the teachers were proposing. From other posts to this forum:

"The biggest missing fact is that Paly has nothing near the supports in place that South Side High has [the high school Paly said was successful with this proposal and was its model]. .. South Side says that its 'generous' supports (2 mandatory remedial English classes a day and zero period tutoring 4 days a week) are 'likely an important factor' to its success. ..There is nothing 'compelling' about a high school which has 2x the money, 3x the supports, and 1/31st of the students with high PSAT scores as Paly has."

Fact check 4: As to why this came to the board as some candidates wondered - because the board approves curriculum.


3 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:55 am

Dauber didn't say it shouldn't come before the board he said it should but that this board made the wrong decision. Go "fact check" again.


3 people like this
Posted by knowledge, authenticity and backbone
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

I was there. It was great to hear and watch each candidate without the filter of the weekly or commenters on here. Strongly encourage others to watch next one. Godfrey and Dauber will get my vote.

Dauber was clearly above all others in his intelligence, knowledge of the issues and ability to articulate a clear position in his own words. He has a spine, and can intelligently back up his positions. There was no trace of the confrontational presence that has been painted of him.

Catherine Crystal Foster spoke knowledgeably, however, her responses were a over-messaged and practiced. While she has great experience, seems very intelligent, dedicated, and professional, she came across as overly political and presenting of the status quo. She was the outlier in stating hers would have been a Yes vote on the OCR, albeit with acknowledgement that only the board was privy to the full story. I would like to hear her speak off the cuff vs. responding to every question as if facing a camera in a campaign ad.

Terry Godfrey was less polished in her responses, yet very personable, authentic and thoughtful. She may not have fully vetted positions on all the issues, but she did come across as someone who will listen and be thoughtful and not afraid of speaking with honesty. She has close ties with and represents parents from all schools.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly mom of 2
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Most of what let the debates begin is calling fact is just opinion. One fact point: I was there and I heard Dauber say that it was appropriate for the board to hear it. I do not remember what Godfrey said. I tend to support teachers myself.
I did hear Foster say she would voted for the resolution against the civil rights department.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Foster seems like a continuation of the current board. More conflicts with OCR. More late night meetings where the most important item is last. More rebuffs of teacher initiatives. At least she hasn't bullied students who come to speak about bullying to the board.


3 people like this
Posted by Eva
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I was at the debate last night and was really impressed with the questions asked. There were no "softball" questions and I was impressed that we have such highly qualified candidates running for the two positions.

From a debate perspective I thought Ken Dauber really stood out with his clear answers and specific examples of his record on the issues and what his priorities would be if elected. Well done.


4 people like this
Posted by Leadership
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

All this talk about fighting the OCR misses the point that if Ken Dauber had won the election the last time, the district probably would never have ended up being investigated in the first place. In both cases, the families tried for many months to get the district to act, all the way up to the school board. In one of the cases, the problem was as simple as the district just not extending 504 procedures to students, which they could easily have fixed almost overnight. Why they decided to even let that go to a settlement agreement instead of just fixing it is dumbfounding. It's even more dumbfounding that anyone would go after the OCR instead of our board. Foster lost my vote with that one.

Ken Dauber's presence on the board will make it function better, regardless of whomever else is elected. I find Godfrey an intelligent, good person, but then, I that that about all the board members, even though they aren't performing well as board members. I think Godfrey is more likely to be wrapped up in existing district relationships and politics, making it difficult for her to make needed changes or be objective.

I'll definitely vote for Dauber. Maybe I'll vote for Dalma, too. Or maybe I'll just vote for Dauber to be sure he gets elected. These multi-seat races are always dicey, everyone's second choice could end up with the most votes. Whoever wins will do a better job if Dauber is also on the board. He's the only one likely to ensure we make needed changes.


3 people like this
Posted by knowledge, authenticity and backbone
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

When asked what they would Add or Cut from the budget, Dauber said he'd start w/ the $250k in outside legal fees paid in the last year. Ten times more than prior years. Godfrey suggested the PR director function added to help deal with the OCR "image issue" would be in her sights. Foster did not offer any specifics


Like this comment
Posted by again?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

@Leadership,

You do realize the OCR investigation/finding happened before the last election took place. It was only the result that was announced after the election. Trying to re-write history isn't a good campaign tactic.

Pretty much the same with the confident answers that "I would have opposed a resolution seeking redress against the Office for Civil Rights". These knee-jerk statements remind me of Obama's pledge; his inability to close Guantanamo is one of the great tragedies of his first term. That should act as a reminder to those running that they shouldn't make promises they can't keep when they are finally availed of all the facts.


1 person likes this
Posted by Greg S
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm



I have to agree with @Thanks Weekly (really) :), mostly anyway.

Both Catherine Chrystal Foster and Terry Godfrey were quite impressive last night but it was just the first debate. They need to stay this impressive in all the debates if they want to get past the 'new incumbent' challenge.

Ken Dauber did well too last night. But he has a few hurdles to get over.

-- he has to get over that he lost last time. Voters not following closely will remember this and may not vote for him without really researching things well.

-- he has a fan base that will push hard for him but I don't think his fan base this year is as large as he had during the last election.

-- he has some negative history to squash. WCDBPA hurt him during the last election and rightfully he no longer touts him as co-founder of WCDBPA any more. A good move. But WCDBPA went viral last year in a negative way and Ken was not able to manage it in a way that helps him so he just dropped it.

-- he has to overcome his TA IS THE ONLY WAY push he had. He came down hard on Gunn Counseling and the only way to fix it was using PALY's TA program. He wasn't open to the fact that the TA program has some problems too. Fortunately Gunn has made good progress on improving their counseling program. Do more Gunn!

-- he also has to over come the attack approach he had on first Kevin Skelly, then Charles Young, then the PR person, followed by two of the Board members. If you attend the school board meetings you would always find him up at the podium usually complaining about the board's decisions. Just too many complaints. The board could do nothing right. Some voters won't like that kind of approach.

-- he has much stronger candidates that he is running against this time. They will give him a run for his money.

I wish him luck but that is a lot of hurdles.




.


Like this comment
Posted by The Scoop
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I was unimpressed with the questions too, and the lack of answering audience questions when they gave the public so many chances to ask questions (online, on cards at the debate).

Clearly, Foster and Dauber (lawyers) were the best communicators. Although there is something to be said for those who communicate well - meetings will be more productive. But I overlook the gloss to focus on their plans and opinions and disregard the reputations of their college degrees and their careers (last time, I voted by college degrees and it was a huge mistake). Because their college degrees and careers shouldn't define them on the School Board.

I have children who attend and have graduated from Paly and the de-laning of English would have been a disaster. You can't put students who are reading Harry Potter in 2 days along with students who don't read well. Teachers can't expect to focus on both at the same time. It's all about choices for the student and students choose their own lane so minorities can choose the higher lane if they wish. Regular lane English is not daycare - two of my math/science children took regular lane English and they learned.

I have worked with Crystal Foster and she is competent, open-minded, professional, efficient, and will study the issues and make informed decisions. There seems to be a bit of politics with her (her website is ambiguous and doesn't state support of issues). If I hadn't worked with her, I wouldn't know if I would vote for her, based upon what I read.

Jay Cabrera - offbeat ideas for our school district, has no children, so no experience with PAUSD.

Ken Dauber - the best closing statement, noting his plans for PAUSD. Would also be competent, efficient, and make informed decisions.

Gina Dalma - too inflexible and unrealistic, fights only for the underprivileged, not the majority.

Terry Godfrey - good intentions but not sure she can be effective.

As for foreign language in our elementary schools - waste of time. Even in Spanish immersion at Escondido, by 3rd grade, they aren't fluent. The elementary kids won't get enough foreign language in regular school to have the benefits of foreign language.

PAUSD should focus on teaching writing skills in English. PAUSD had a history of teaching students great writing skills back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but these days, we can't even get teachers to return papers with corrections on them (Jordan, Paly). Some return the papers with grades and no comments (how can they improve?). Others have peer grading - where students switch papers and correct them - how unproductive is that? And how would that have been productive in a one-lane English class?




3 people like this
Posted by Godfrey fan
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Terry was warm, informed and human, as usual. Ken was insightful, clear, and really showed his heart for kids. They were sitting together, and for me it felt like I was looking at a great team to work in our district for kids. I am very optimistic.


1 person likes this
Posted by Choices, choices, choices
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Very informative debate last night - wish there had been a chance to ask some direct questions to individual candidates to help sort out the differences, but overall, thought it was a great venue. If I had to pick now, I'd go with Catherine and Terry, and just thought I'd share my decision process.

My first slot clearly went to Catherine - I was really impressed with her experience and thoughtfulness. Experience-wise, she summarized it well in her closing: she has worked on child advocacy and education her whole career: working with the Gates Foundation, working with the initial PIE group, and setting up a foundation to help students be the first-in-family to graduate from college. She's more qualified than anyone else running (or that I could even imagine running).

Also, I appreciated Catherine's very reasoned thinking on a couple of the controversial topics - the safe answers are to say, "of course I'm for civil rights so I would have voted no!" and "of course, I'm for teachers so I would have voted yes on their proposal." Some will focus on the actual "yes-no" vote, but that isn't as critical to me as to what she would have improved in the process between the board and the other groups. She focused on the right things in both cases - the OCR thing was a serious failure in communication/transparency and the english laning proposal could have been better prepped before coming to the board.

Then I had to pick one more of the remaining 4. Interestingly, I found our new superintendent as a helpful factor to consider - everyone said they loved Dr. McGee's vision and fresh perspective. We will have a fresh start with him and the two new board members. Because of that, I eliminated Jay and Ken as I think their main differentiators were a fresh perspective (Jay as a non-parent, PAUSD-raised candidate and Ken as a very vocal critic of the previous superintendent and board), and I weighed more strongly the other candidates' experience in actually getting things done.

That left Gina and Terry. This was probably the toughest decision. In the end, they had some similarities - professional, managerial experience being brought to education. Gina's experience directing investment on behalf of a silicon valley group seemed like her biggest differentiator, but that sounded like a subset of Catherine's experience. Terry has more "grass-roots" experience with PAUSD having driven PIE and other initiatives.

We are lucky to live in an area where so many passionate candidates come forward for school board.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2014 at 2:28 pm

About half of these "comments" read like plants from the campaigns, including the one above from "choices". Weekly, please take a pruner to these. Let's talk about the issues. OCR, 13th elementary school, foreign languages, teacher differences, student stress, our budget surplus, Cubberley, the impact of growth in the City on the schools, etc. That's a long list.
Campaigns, if you're going to pretend to be leaving comments at least be substantive.


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Posted by Helpful debate.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Glad I went last night. I was delighted to see that we have four really good choices for two seats: Dalma, Dauber, Godfrey and Foster. Good people with relevant experience--smart, motivated by their love of kids and learning and our community.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I thought the debate was very informative. The questions were focused and intended to pry substantive responses. All four of the serious candidates seemed intelligent, thoughtful and pretty well informed on the issues.
Godfrey was more concrete than I have heard her in the past and I came away with a higher impression of her than I went in with. However, I don't think that her repeated references to "The Intel Way" serve very well in our public education system.
Dalma seemed smart,has good values and a strong educational policy background, like Foster. She was willing to be clear about her positions.
Unfortunately, Foster seemed to have too many well polished canned responses that were at a vision/value level rather than providing clarity on her policy positions. She is smart and expresses good values. But there seems to be a disconnect between her values and her policy positions in PAUSD, past and present.
Despite some of the over the top cheer leading posts above, it was clear that Dauber was the most thoughtful, informed and concrete. He offered both a good vision and clear positions. What was most interesting was that his platform has become the the standard that the other candidates are now using to associate themselves with.
BTW, the Post captured correctly Foster's statement she would have voted in favor of the OCR resolution, "reluctantly". That is a sad disappointment for me and many community members who I've spoken with.


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Looks like one candidate stands out from the others in terms of positions, Crystal Foster, and the rest are similarly inclined. Dauber wins the competition among the rest.

I agree with Crystal Foster both on the Paly English issue and on challenging the OCR practices (delays, and other issues). Nobody is perfect and to challenge even the best of intentions is fair enough. In this case the district stood by the OCR goals.

The Board always seems to end up voting together in the end, and I'd rather see two candidates balance each other foo at least in thinking.


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Posted by Interested in teaching & learning
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Is anyone else as sick of hearing about OCR as I am? Call me crazy, but shouldn't we be talking about teaching our kids to write, dealing with overcrowded middle schools, getting foreign language into elementary school, etc? [Portion removed.]


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Posted by If_I_had_hair_it_would_be_on_fire
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 12, 2014 at 4:15 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I was glad that the discussion last night spent time on the issue of overcrowded elementary schools and foreign language instruction for elementary students. These are issues that should have been resolved when our kids were in elementary school. Unfortunately, the current board has kicked this can down the road even as they have been accumulating budget surpluses. [Portion removed.]

With Superintendent McGee also showing a willingness to make good, data driven decisions, I'm hopeful that we're now moving in a better direction.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Ross
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Dauber raised both the foreign language issue and the 13th elementary school. He proposed foreign language for all elementary students and reopening a closed school. Both made sense to me. Godfrey and Dalma agreed about languages, and also on the 13th school. I think that's right but I wish it were more in the article.

About OCR, it is a learning issue. Kids who are being bullied or harassed can't focus on their education. I also think it is a judgement question. Why would the board spend time and our money on fighting the federal government and lobbying about this? That makes no sense took me.

Based on the issues I am for Dauber and Godfrey but it is still too early to know enough about Dalma.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I would like to conduct a poll: How many people who started with a language in elementary school (1/2 hour to 45 minutes per day) are actually fluent in that language? Unless you do immersion, there really is no point. I started Spanish class in first grade. It helped me for about two weeks in high school. I took three years of Spanish in high school (a- g requirement). I can ask where is the bathroom and I have a headache and that is about it). What is the point? What are other's experiences?


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

I realize that people are posturing for votes in this forum but sound bites when we are talking about kids and their education are not helpful.

Case in point: The points above about Foster's response to the OCR resolution question - something like if what the board said was true she would have been bothered by it too. Is there something wrong with that? One or two others echoed that same sentiment. The difference was timing - address it real time or wait until the end.

The board is the boss of the district. It makes sure that employees are getting their jobs done. Whenever something substantially interferes with that – like protracted investigations – a good board asks questions and works to get things back on track.

The board’s main goal with the resolution was to inform the OCR about the toll substantial delays were having on its employees. Responding to a federal task force’s call for improvements in the OCR process, the resolution was intended to help with that too. [Portion removed.]

There is no animosity here. The OCR and PAUSD are working collaboratively and are respectful of each other's work so said the OCR through PAUSD's attorney. I buy that. The board had been working with the OCR for a year or more on what has turned out to be the most detailed bullying policy in the US, if not the planet. PAUSD is a lighthouse district for that effort, all possible because of the close work PAUSD did with the OCR.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm

This is a fact. Weekly, please don't delete. Ken Dauber lists as one of his supporters Russlyn Ali, former head of the Office of Civil Rights. His wife, in a post on this Town Square Forum, identified her as a friend. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Tin foil hat
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Leadership
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

@again,
"You do realize the OCR investigation/finding happened before the last election took place. It was only the result that was announced after the election. Trying to re-write history isn't a good campaign tactic. "

You completely miss my point. And I am not campaigning for anyone, only making an observation based on different apparent strengths of the candidates.

First of all, I do not think the 2nd OCR case happened before the last election. That's not really relevant to my point, though. I'm not trying to rewrite history, I'm trying to differentiate how the candidates will deal with the public. Dauber has spoken about having open "office hours" to speak with members of the public, so he is always taking input. He is the most likely, based on his style, to have acted had he heard the district wasn't providing 504 procedures to families who needed them. In other words, his whole approach is proactive rather than reactive, exactly what McGee speaks of wanting for our district.

Again, that second resolution was simply about the district providing 504 procedures - basic protections for students with disabilities - to families who needed them. The district even writes its own procedures. They were just pretending like the procedures didn't exist. Our district was given that feedback all the way up to the board, apparently, for months prior to a complaint being filed with OCR. Most districts, in the face of such a complaint, simply say, "Oh, okay, sorry and thanks for bringing that to our attention, we'll comply with the law and our own procedures now," but ours perhaps just ignored it. Only when districts won't just try to comply with the law does OCR write out a settlement agreement. Our superintendent signed them, too -- he didn't challenge them then, he signed them.

I would much rather see our district spending that kind of effort first examining itself and how well it serves our families. It does an extremely poor job on everything it accuses OCR of, and then some. They take such umbrage at how they were treated, one wonders if they give the same thought to how they treated those families and others and whether any apologies were offered.

I think we would never have gotten onto this petty political track that distracts from serving families if we had someone like Dauber on the board, because he would understand the problem the minute the problem came to his attention. Additionally, the focus of effort would be on serving families and doing the best for education in the district, not first filtered through whether this personality or that personality in the district office would be embarrassed. Oh what a tangled web, as they say... it doesn't serve children.

Again, I see all good people, and am so glad we have such strong candidates. The only one I see who seems strong enough and has the problem-solving mindset to improve the way the board operates, though, is Dauber.

Maybe I'll keep thinking about Foster after all, despite what I said above. If she's the kind of person who can state her opinion but change her mind with more information, I respect that, so I guess I'm not going to make a decision just yet. I do think she's 180 degrees wrong about supporting the way the district handled the OCR. If only they were half as reflective about how badly they handled serving our families. Take the plank (or board) out of one's own eye before the speck from someone else's... I'll be looking for leadership and a laser focus on serving families. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Kids first
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:28 pm

The OCR resolution to me represents a school board that forgot that its job is to make sure that our school district does the best job possible educating our kids. The resolution cost a huge amount of money in legal fees that should have gone to classroom teaching. It authorizes board and staff members to join up with others to lobby against OCRs enforcement. The letter from the board president accompanying the resolution cites Republican legislation that seeks to cut back federal authority over civil rights in schools and colleges nationwide. That is why representatives of families with special ed and minority students pleaded with the board not to pass the resolution in June.

I fail to see why this is a wise or responsible use of taxpayer money and staff time. If Foster supporters want to spin this as friendly note rather than an attack (remembering that the board president went so far as to attack the integrity of Federal civil rights workers) I get it, but it's going to be a hard road. To me it's a serious lack of judgement.


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Posted by DebateWatcher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I saw the debate, and it appeared to me that Ms. Foster waffled on the OCR question, then indicated she did not have all the data, and only after this indicated that she would have voted YES to the question of whether to challenge OCR, and spend district money to lobby for federal change. She did not really say why she would do so. She claimed she did not have all the data, but I think this may be the most examined issue we have seen in months.

The Weekly article got it mostly right, but I would encourage people to attend future debates to see if Ms. Foster clarifies why she would challenge the OCR. (I don't buy the answer of "because the current board did it, it must be okay")


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Kids first: "the board president went so far as to attack the integrity of Federal civil rights workers"? Really? No.

If you are referring to the allegation of evidence tampering, that was not an allegation directed at the OCR. The board packet says who provided that email to the OCR.

Web Link


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Posted by Parent of 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm

OCR? Let it go and don't ask the candidates to speculate on what they would have done - it's a complete waste of time and certain posters have a bone to pick. The best aspect of Palo Alto schools is very little bullying. The parents and administration end bullying when they can. Parents need to be pro-active.


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Posted by Duveneck Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

The school board's most precious resource is TIME. I agree with 'kids first' that:
"The OCR resolution to me represents a school board that forgot that its job is to make sure that our school district does the best job possible educating our kids."

Board members need to spend their time wisely on the core mission of educating our students.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

@Parent of 3
There are two reasons that the OCR issue is not a waste of time for the candidates. First, the resolution is the current position of the district. In three months the future board members will have the ability to act to rescind it or, by no action, allow it to continue as the position of PAUSD. Second, many in the community view it as a serious shame on our values and the reputation of the PAUSD.
Even Godfrey, who had initially refused to speak out on the issue, has now taken a clear position in opposition to the resolution.
Unfortunately, it remains an active issue under our current board. It's hard to think that our new superintendent wishes to have this albatross around his neck going forward.


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Posted by My vote goes to.....
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Well, last night was certainly enlightening.

I think there was a clear winner. Catherine was the stand out candidate. Taking a stand where the other four were walking to the same tune with pat answers. She also provided sound reasoning for her positions. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Steve Bennet
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:17 pm

I am responding to The comment by "Voter" above pointing out the comments in this thread that are clearly coming from some of the campaigns. This,is actually the first time I've come to this town square in the past year since it is too often a cesspool of comments cloaked by anonymity. In a town such as Palo Alto, it would be much better if people would post their name with comments. It would lead to much more civil discussion and perhaps issues around schools and city wouldn't be so divisive.

With that said, I have included my real name as has only one other among all these comments. To save you from searching, I am on Terry Godfrey's campaign team and have publicly endorsed her. Since all of the candidates have been publishing endorsements, it would be helpful if anyone commenting on this and other threads would disclose if they have endorsed any of the candidates.

Overall, I was very impressed with the debate last night and think whoever the two new school members are, the PAUSD school board will be much stronger.


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Posted by My vote goes to.....
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Hi Steve,
I have not endorsed any of the candidates. Last night was the first I'd heard from all but one of them, and only then because he happened to run last time. Good luck to Terry.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I've heard that the Weekly, and/or the Media Center, will have the video of the debate available by Monday. While last night was a large turn out, showing strong community interest in the candidates and the issues, many more people will have the opportunity to make their own determinations once the video is posted. Please take the time to watch it, make your own judgments and let us know your thoughts.


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Posted by Alice Monroe
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2014 at 6:43 am

I did not go to the debate, because I had a friend in from back east. I will not vote for someone who wants to keep wasting money on lawyers and arguing against rights for kids. My son was bullied so badly, not in Palo Alto, and my heart breaks for these families. It was the hardest thing I ever had to handle as a parent. I still think about it some times.

I will vote for Ken Dauber, and then probably Terry Godfrey because she has done so much volunteering in the schools. I don't know much about Gina Dalma. She seems to know about education so maybe if she doesn't get on this time she will run next time when there are more places up.


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Posted by Confused over Dalma
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 8:24 am

Weekly: "Dauber said the district could make real progress against stress if it enacted a plan he has advocated for years...reforming guidance counseling. 'If we do this, we'll get progress and, if we don't, students will continue to suffer,' [Dauber] said.

Mr. Dauber, does this mean that:

#1 you think students at Gunn are currently suffering because of its guidance system?

Your website's answer is yes. "a traditional guidance model at Gunn...(based on data that I helped to bring forward), that has led to Gunn students receiving less effective guidance services than Paly students, despite the fact that we have equally excellent teachers and counselors at both schools."

#2 if elected, you will redouble your efforts to require Gunn to re-purpose their guidance counselors and adopt Paly's TA program instead?

Sounds so.

Web Link

Is that because you think Gunn is doing worse than Paly with minorities on a-g/college-readiness or the achievement gap? worse serving the needs of the other 90% too?

According to PAUSD, Gunn's work for minorities and all students on these measures overshadows Paly's, by lots.

Web Link

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

Gunn counseling has improved noticeably over the past two years, thanks to the efforts of Gunn parents [portion removed] and many others who demonstrated to the school board that our students were not getting counseling services that were as good as those at Paly. Gunn has added counselors and is paying a lot more attention to counseling than it did before these parents got involved.
I am very happy that Dr. McGee has already mentioned counseling at the high schools as an area where we should be more consistent. Why should we have two completely different counseling methods at our two high schools? Hopefully he and the new principal will be able to correct the situation at Gunn, where a few teachers were able to block behind the scenes a change that would have been positive for all of our kids.
[Portion removed.]
Kudos to all the parents who have tried hard to improve Gunn counseling for our kids.


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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

The suggestion to adopt advisory at secondary schools didn't come from Dauber. It came from Project Safety Net. One of the elements of the PSN suicide response plan was item P8 "supportive school environment" which included homework limits, advisory, consistency, and test and project scheduling. Dauber first called attention to P8 and the fact that it existed but the district was not implementing it in early 2011. He has methodically and calmly worked through each element of the plan trying to build support for it. It's great that he did that and as a result that part of the plan has now made progress. Unfortunately the board and super felt as Foster said at the debate that academic stress is a positive motivator and kids need to learn to deal with it.

I disagree and think most Gunn parents disagree. As a Gunn parent I can't speak for Dauber and am not part of his campaign. I can tell you that yes kids still need better counseling at Gunn. I don't know what it was like before but you now still wait a long time to see your counselor. Counseling is basically college counseling and normal academic counseling is in very short supply for sophomores. There's no home room and if Paly has a type of home room in TA then that's good and we should do that. I believe that the school Dauber said we should emulate with advisory/homeroom is the school Max McGee came from so he's probably already familiar with the benefits of it.

I haven't heard Dauber say he's continuing to pursue this. When I met him at a recent farmers market and shared my concern about Gunn he said that he felt that he had taken that issue as far as he could and that the board had decided against advisory. He didn't have plans to continue on it which I thpugh was a shame as a current Gunn parent and I know other Gunn parents who agree. He has a lot of Gunn PTA officers on his team. I think that speaks volumes.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by fact checker
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2014 at 8:53 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

Gunn parent,

" if Paly has a type of home room in TA then that's good and we should do that. "

If you are checking facts - TA is not a home room.

TA is not a social emotional safety net, it meets at most monthly.

Web Link

Web Link

It's not a place you make home room friends and your teacher is a home room teacher. The TA' carry the heavy load of making sure each student is meeting their graduation or college readiness requirements.

How could the suicides be addressed with an academic counseling program? A-G, how to fill out a UC application, and reviewing the college counseling catalogs?

There has been an inordinate amount of requests from Gunn parents on these threads to have TA, and nobody has believed the Paly poster when they tell you what TA actually is.

I thought Dauber was wrong on fighting for this so much (and a fight it was, and I thought he was wrong about the Paly English issues. He doesn't get Paly at all - understandable, he doesn't know Paly, and having a Paly English teacher on his election committee means he knows Paly from the point of view of a teacher in a what has been a long standing controversial department.

Acting on partial information is not a good thing.


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

Weekly,

Why are the details of a candidate's PUBLIC records act request on a topic raised in the story you wrote - and one of the first things that pops up when you google his name and "counseling" - delete-able?

Perhaps because the quote contained names? Here is Mr. Dauber's Public Records Act request with all the names deleted other than his own:

"All documents and communications mentioning or on the topics of guidance counseling, the Gunn Review Workgroup or other committees relating to guidance counseling, teacher advisory, communications with Palo Alto high school on the topic of guidance counseling and/or teacher advisory, We Can Do Better Palo Alto, Ken Dauber, A, B, and the PAUSD school board, between March 25 and June 11, involving any of the following PAUSD staff members" where he named 25 Gunn staffers including all of the guidance counselors, the registrar who processes transcripts, and the front office secretary who answers the phone.


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

Gunn parent,

If Dauber didn't have the idea for TA for Gunn, and he didn't have the idea for de-laning English, that means he just thought these ideas sounded good, and was willing to fight for them.

I want Board members who can at least look at the problems thoroughly.

These threads are useful, I have changed my mind from Foster and Dauber to Foster and Godfrey.


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

On the other hand, when Dauber commits to an issue he does fight for it. I agree with everything on his platform, so no harm,

With other board members willing to look at the issue form all points of view, a fighter is what we may need.

Back to Dauber and Foster here


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

I don't think having all Paly parents on the board has been good for Gunn students. Right now there is no parent who has had kids at Gunn. We need balance. You people act like having one voice on the board with that perspective would be bad. You call yourself "balance" which is ironic since right now there are 4 paly parents and zero gunn parents. Before that there was one. In recent memory there hasn't been more than 4-1 that is one token Gunn parent at a time. Dauber would be one vote of 5. If Heidi's son goes to Gunn that would be 2. Still a minority.

I think your name is ironic and Dauber would add balance for the 50% of the district that doesn't go to Paly. And he can obviously do nothing right in your book. I think the fact that many paly teachers including Woj and parents such as Pat and Sally Burt support Ken shows that he does "get" Paly. Last election Ken was endorsed by all 4 Paly student publications.

Ken is clearly the best candidate. Terry would also be good but only if she's a team with Ken. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Sped
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

I take extreme exception to Fosters statement about the special ed community. I am a sped parent. The leaders of CAC were present at the midnight board meeting on English 9 and spoke in support of the proposal. Foster knows this because her husband Jon was there to speak AGAINST the proposal [portion removed.]

Both the Co Chairs of CAC endorse Ken and one is on his committee. His kickoff was at Janet Dafoes home. Sped parents are behind Ken. Ken supported the rights of disabled students in the bullying mess. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 11:24 am

[Portion removed.]

I'm looking for balance in thinking, and in actions, and getting facts right wouldn't hurt. You don't need to be Paly or Gunn to probe intelligently before arriving at conclusions. And what's the point if board members need others to help them be effective?

Dauber could be hit or miss if he latches on to the wrong issues, as he was IMO with TA for Gunn and de-laning English.

Is he going to de-lane Gunn English?

I'm still open to seeing who are the best two, that's part of balancing, you are not firmly stuck on one side or the other.


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 11:27 am

Sped,

"The leaders of CAC were present at the midnight board meeting on English 9 and spoke in support of the proposal. "

Does CAC speak for the whole special ed community at Paly?


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 11:30 am

SPED,

The person who spoke at the meeting about 9A must not have been representing SPED parents.

[Portion removed due to misstatement of fact; the sender of the referenced email below was Paly PTA special ed rep Cindy Goral.]

"I solicited feedback from special ed parents over the weekend. Pretty much everyone is opposed to this proposal, myself included.

The main reasons are:

- There are multiple lanes in math and science, why remove multiple lanes in English and force all students to do English A?

- Some students are currently struggling as it is in English; it would be better to provide more supports for these students so that they could lane up if possible, rather than solve this problem by requiring they be in English A.

- Since 4 years of English is required, what does requiring all students to take English A accomplish besides adding more stress, poorer performance, and lower self esteem for those already struggling with regular English?

- Work on solving the issues of disparity in elementary school and middle school and not try to patch it in high school by proposing students all take English A.

- Work on proper laning into English 9A as appropriate, or laning into English 10A from English 9 upon teacher recommendation (just like is done now in science).

We support opening access to English A for all students; we are opposed to requiring all students take English A.

We heard about this for the first time last Friday. I have attached all the comments I received over the weekend."

11 out of 12 of those who commented were NOT in favor of the Paly teacher's 9A proposal:

"I'm totally opposed to this proposal."

"This new proposal will negatively affect our special ed students"

"I am against the proposal"

"I think that these supports should be further investigated and determined, before it eliminates the lower lane class."

"I do not think this change will serve everyone well."

"I am against a single lane"

"Horrible idea. "

"This would have been disastrous for my student with an IEP "

"I don’t think this is a sound idea for many reasons"

"What happens when we force all the kids into advanced classes? ... The less capable suffer because they get poor or failing grades which are a permanent part of their transcript. "

"If [adjusting the workload from ALL other courses, not just English, be reduced to
a reasonable amount] cannot be accomplished, then I think keeping 9 would be in the
best interests of the families and students of Paly. "

Web Link


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

Gunn parent,

By the way, there isn't only one way to solve a problem. De-laning English at Paly is/was one way. Having smaller class sizes is more important.

If anyone needed micromanagement, and they have it now anyway, is Paly English, the department responsible for the biggest reason students were not A-G ready.

Imagine, there are many graduates out there who had everything else compliant, Science, Math, World Language, but because of the D or F in English, they could not apply to UC or Cals, and had to make that up somehow eventually on their own.

The students that left Paly withut English credit were of all colors and backgrounds, NOT English learners (few of those). I would say that needs micromanagement. If you care about students, you would welcome micromanagement to deal with problem areas.

When Dana Tom asked what about the D's and F's, that deserved a better answer.


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Posted by Sped
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

The problem with smaller class sizes is that they would be essentially segregated special Ed classes. This was discussed at the board meeting.

The sped parent comments reflect concerns about sped not English. Parents are worried about excessive homework and lack of support and accommodations. After Kim Diorio met with those parents with the teachers their concerns were allayed.

Unfortunately this district treats sped like second class citizens. But once it was clear that this proposal would benefit sped most got behind it. Many want assurances on homework and accommodations. Once that was given it was fine for many.

Of course we are waiting to see how it goes. Many sped kids can handle the 9a class and the real concern of Fosters husband and other non sped parents in the letters you posted isn't for my kid it's for having my kid slow down or disrupt faster kids. That's segregation. No thanks.

Our concerns with mistreatment by pausd of our kids extends far beyond English 9 and we don't trust. [Portion removed.]


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Sped,

"The problem with smaller class sizes is that they would be essentially segregated special Ed classes."

This makes absolutely no sense but really that's the only conclusion to be had from smaller class sizes?

The teachers pretty much said their problem is too many sped students in 9, and basically by diluting 9, it would help. In that process they busted all the kids who would rather be in 9 with the special ed kids, instead of with the high flyers in 9A, by choice.

I hear now that among the ways they work things out is by allowing kids to watch movies instead of reading books.

So, those kids who used to leave without English credit, now do without ever having to read? Jus to keep up with 9A the solution is to not require them to read?


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Posted by stick to the point
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Sped,

"Sped parents are behind Ken...We know who our friends are and who they aren't. Special ed families stand with Ken"

FYI - There are two official PAUSD parent Special Ed representatives [to the regional Special Education Local Plan Area group.]

Web Link

One is endorsing Catherine Crystal Foster.

Web Link

The other hasn't endorsed.




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Posted by Sped
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm

CAC is the official parent org for special ed in Palo Alto as is every parent I know. Those who are handpicked by the district staff to represent the district may be closer to the district and board. That's their business. I wouldn't know.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by let the debates begin
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Sped,

I am pretty sure that the SELPA reps, as well as the Santa Clara County Office of Education, will take issue with your claim that they are not official. Google that and then click on this link:

Web Link

[Portion removed.]

BTW How's English 9A going for special ed students?

I recall reading that our Paly teachers assured everyone that 9A - the difficulty of the material, the homework load, the grading expectations - would remain as "rigorous" as it had been.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Leadership
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

If it weren't for the OCR involvement in our district, the sped department would still be pretending as if 504s didn't exist. That's a pretty big deal. Our district's willingness to put money into attacking the OCR rather than self-examination and improvement in light of such a serious dereliction of duty should be a subject of concern for CAC.

[Portion removed.]

By the way, I am looking to see whether candidates can reason through and express an opinion that ISN'T set in stone. We've had too much of people at the top prioritizing how they look above making course corrections. Intelligent people should be able to change their minds based on more input. Dauber for sure is the kind of person who would keep making course corrections. I think Foster would be, too, so I am going to continue to watch, as I said, I take back my original critique.


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 5:15 pm

> Some students are currently struggling as it is in English

[Portion removed.]

And from where does this belief originate? Does the STAR English test scores show these problems? What problems are some students having?

Could someone explain?


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Posted by Balance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Wondering,

[Portion removed.]

Up until last year, I think the majority missing A-G were white. Do a search on the PAUSD website, either college readiness, and the Weekly has also reported on this. I recall that the students struggling in English at Paly had a broad distribution. It was not a concentration of english learners, not a concentration of VTP. [Portion removed.]

I wonder if last year these numbers already improved, since apparently the English department was already trying to do better.

I would think that A-G readiness by subject is a good indicator, and if you cannot meet a core subject like English, at 12th grade, that is the definition of struggling. It also means there is a problem when you have a student for 12 years and you cannot educate them to be capable of earning that core credit.


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Posted by Parent too
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Mayma
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm

One major thing that was disappointing to me at the first debate was the audience: half the attendees were not parents of children in the district, many were older retired residents who live at the JCC, which would explain why there were so many older looking people there. Hopefully they were all grand parents of children in the district, and hoping that there will be a better turn out if parents at the next.

That being said, compliments to all the candidates for a job very well done. They truly knew the facts, had great ideas and stellar backgrounds, except, well Cabrera, who had wonderful ideas, but he seem very green on issues, facts and experience.

There were two candidates who stood out the most for me. My reference point is a top private school on the East Coast and my expectations were somewhat raised. I wanted to hear from a candidate that was passionate about moving PAUSD to the higher standards of some of the East coast schools; someone who wants a district of innovative growth for all, and not just the ones who can afford expensive tutors, a balanced education that included foreign languages at elementary level, (our old school did); technology enhancement to traditional learning including teacher's use of technology and coding for every student; extensive investment in our teachers; transparency; and common core readiness, among others. The standout candidates for the evening were Dalma and Dauber. They both gave very great responses to the questions, and were very much aligned in their ideas of what the district needs and where it should be going. They were very keen on eliminating all the irrelevant lawyer fees, administrative excesses and relocating funds to where it is needed most. By virtue of transparency and bad decision making, we can eliminate lots of spending. Their approach was practical.

Well, Catherine Foster seem very robotic, and status quo. I did not feel that she had the passion to work for every child to lift our district. She referenced the Gates Foundation on numerous occasion, but lacked substantive connection between her work and how it can help her mobilize the district.

Terry Godfrey, great involvement with the district, but this is the problem. She did not prove to me that it will not be business as usual. Her passion was not there and I feel that this is just another notch in her belt, from maybe class mom to school board representative. Don't get me wrong, these skills are great, and her work background is wonderful, but this is the 20th century, and this is Silicon Valley. We need our schools to be moving forward using resources and building partnerships with companies like Stanford University, Google, Tesla and HP among others to create an ecosystem that helps prepare our children for the future.

Although there are no candidates from the Southern Palo Alto area, I feel that our needs and voices will be communicated better by Dalma and Dauber. We do share many of the issues that all schools in the district share, but there are some concerns that are unique to us. The high number of overflow students at Barron Park, the need for a new school in the south, since this is an area of rapid growth; addressing the concerns of the children on reduced lunch in our area; the relatively high number of autistic children at Barron Park compared to other schools in the district, adding a lot of stress on the teachers and not enough resources to reduce the impact.

We need board members who are able to think outside the box, bring a unique perspective, be able to understand how other school districts in our area and around the country work to equipped their students in a world of innovative learning. People who are passionate about helping every child succeed, and help make decisions that are aligned with the district's needs. [Portion removed.] Our children's future is at stake, and we need capable hands to help us through their journey.


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Posted by Balanced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Wondering,

All I can say is that when the Everyday Math wars were happening, I wondered how it could be the second Math war, and how this district was still trying to figure out Math.

The schools are getting bigger, many things change, so it can happen that you have more students struggling.in core subjects. Improvements are supposed to happen.

Allowing struggling students to watch the movie version of an assigned book, to participate in discussions with the advanced students who read the book is not an improvement. When they invented differentiated instruction, I don't think this is what they had in mind.

To be fair, the non-advanced students should have to read books. Or have the advanced students read easier books for the class discussions.


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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Parent too
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm

[Post removed.]


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

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