Board hopefuls: More needed for minorities, special education

Five school board contenders discuss achievement gap, rebuilding trust

A Saturday morning school board debate hosted by two Palo Alto parent groups that represent special education students and students of color took on a more personal tilt, with almost all of the five board hopefuls sharing their own experiences with the district's special education offerings and treatment of minority students.

Jay Cabrera, Catherine Crystal Foster, Gina Dalma, Ken Dauber and Terry Godfrey are in the running for two open seats on the Palo Alto Board of Education in this year's election.

Cabrera introduced himself Saturday to a group of about 20 to 30 community members as a recent product of the Palo Alto school district who had trouble in school but did not receive the help or resources he needed until he was diagnosed with dyslexia in college. Dalma referenced her son's hearing impairment, which led her family to seek out an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which she said was a successful, positive process. Two of Dauber's five children also had IEPs, and Godfrey said her children have too been "involved in special ed."

In many of the candidates' comments Saturday -- in response to questions posed by the Palo Alto Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC), Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS) and the audience -- they again overlapped in opinion. They agreed the district has significant work to do on addressing the achievement gap, providing equal opportunities for students with disabilities, hiring and retaining a more diverse teacher pool and better implementing and managing inclusion programs. They again all stressed that evaluation, data and fresh leadership will pave a more fruitful path to actually accomplishing these goals.

Many of them also pointed to decisions that new Superintendent Max McGee has already made that indicate his commitment to, and their confidence in, spurring concrete change in these areas. Godfrey said that he has asked staff who work on special education to report directly to him; Foster said he is "taking a stand" on the district's efforts to recruit more teachers of color; Dauber said McGee has committed to "doubling the rate" of teacher equity training.

"It isn't always easy to talk about this," Dauber said. "(McGee) is taking a risk in raising the issue of unconscious bias because it's difficult to hear. I think that our job as board members and a community is to get behind that kind of realism and compassion and really support him in that work."

Such optimism was in stark contrast to many of the candidates' criticisms of problematic leadership that has kept the district from moving forward on the issues most important to special education and minority students and families in Palo Alto.

"What we have here with the achievement gap in our schools is, as I've often said, a shame on our district," Foster said in response to a question of getting all graduating high school seniors, especially African-American and Hispanic students, to meet A-G course requirements for state universities.

Cabrera also condemned current district leadership for "not meeting the community on this particular issue (the achievement gap)."

"We need to empower people who are of the demographics and of the community who need to make the changes … that means that as a school board, our goal needs to be to provide the resources and funding and staff to empower leaders in our community," he said.

Dalma said if elected, she would ensure that the goal of recruiting a more diverse teacher population is added to the district's Strategic Plan. She said the district's biggest challenge in regards to supporting students of color and children with special needs is that "we believe we're the best performing school district and the biggest challenge of that is to see where we can learn and grow."

One audience question -- submitted anonymously via card to the debate moderator -- pointedly expressed "extreme distrust" in the district as a result of his or her experience with the IEP process.

"I had to hire an advocate to get the accommodations my child required. What will you do to ensure my very negative experience is not repeated for other students?"

Godfrey said her neighbors had gone through a similarly frustrating process for their 13-year-old daughter.

"We felt as a team supporting her that we weren't getting all the information. There were things we should be asking that we didn't know to ask … and that really feels wrong," she said.

Foster said she hears both positive and negative feedback from families who go through the IEP process, but that "the best you can get is 'trust, but verify.'

"It tends to be the prevailing way to get what you need through an IEP. We need to set the tone that district needs to link arms with every special ed family … and part of that is about communication."

Godfrey also advocated for adding a CAC board liaison, one member who would sit in on the organization's meetings and hear directly how such processes need to be improved.

Dauber took the question as an opportunity to repeat his promise to repeal the resolution against the Office for Civil Rights that the board passed this June, which declares that the school district will "expand its pursuit" to have OCR change its investigative practices and to review mistakes the board asserts occurred in one of the several cases investigated.

"The first thing we need to do is get the district back on the right path with special ed families … and the other thing we need to do is get right on civil rights," he said. "We cannot be engaged in conflict with the federal government over the role of the federal government in enforcing civil rights laws in our schools and still claim ... that we are keeping faith with that."

One audience member asked the candidates to confirm whether, if elected, they would "clearly and unambiguously oppose" the resolution. All but one replied that they would, with Dalma calling the resolution "outrageous" and Godfrey expressing interest in conducting a "postmortem" with OCR to "understand how things can go more smoothly." Cabrera said his priority is collaboration, transparency and "ensuring that we as a school board and as a district accept our faults, accept that mistakes were made on potentially all sides and work mutually on solutions".

Foster said she would "absolutely oppose (the resolution) unambiguously" if the allegations against OCR made in the resolution are false, but that there is not enough information publicly available to be able to know that.

Dalma told Foster that she disagreed with her.

"I believe even the board said enough information was out to decide for the charges that they were putting in the resolution," Dalma said.

The candidates also discussed a subject of particular interest to special education parents, inclusion programs, with all agreeing that investing in more professional development for teachers will yield more successful programs.

"High-functioning schools and districts are those that provide the least restrictive environment for all students and are as inclusive as the needs of students allow," Dalma said. "We know that full inclusion is a best practice, but it assumes that a certain support system is in place. The more I talk to parents and teachers, that's exactly where our school district has not done the best job."

She and other candidates added that setting concrete goals, collecting data, getting direct feedback from students and parents, and learning from other high-achieving districts' inclusion programs will help improve Palo Alto's.

The board candidates will next appear publicly in two forums hosted by the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. The first is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 5, 2 to 4 p.m. at Gunn High School, and will focus on secondary education. The second will focus on elementary education and is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7 to 9 p.m. at an elementary school to be determined.

Read a full recap of the questions and answers at Saturday's debate.

To view the latest Board of Education election coverage, visit our Storify.

Related coverage:

School board debate recap: Candidates answer 20 questions

School board candidates seek to differentiate themselves

One-on-one: School board candidates question one another

• Watch a video of the first debate of the election season on Thursday, Sept. 11.

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3 people like this
Posted by Hays mom
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Sep 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm

[Post removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Whereas I laud the idea of getting more diversity amongst our teaching staff, I hesitate to make this a goal. I want our teachers to be some of the best available and this should be a goal much more than hiring more teachers of various ethnic backgrounds. I truly hope there are many excellent teachers that fit into the various under represented ethnic groups and that we can hire them, but I would not want to get poorer teachers just so that we have more ethnic diversity.

One problem I have noticed with the teachers we have is that there are some with very strong foreign accents. As a parent I have struggled to understand some of these teachers when speaking with them, and I can only imagine how the students trying to learn from these teachers manage.

For me, the biggest criteria is to get teachers who are excellent at teaching and part of that is being understood easily. Their ethnic breakdown is a distant second place.

7 people like this
Posted by Ken and Max, What a Team!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I am extremely disappointed with Catherine Foster's support (however reluctant) on the OCR resolution. I cannot understand how anyone who claims to be for civil rights can support that kind of thing. What exactly is the point of spending money on lawyers to do what? How will that help even one student in Palo Alto? It makes no sense. [Portion removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Yes, in the future, I would like to see the district lawyers working for us, not the other way around.

12 people like this
Posted by My take
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I am not so sure we need more Asian representation, but definitely more black, Latino, and South Asian representation are needed. East Asians are hardly a minority in the Bay Area!

However, I agree that teachers with heavy foreign accents are a problem. When I was in college, many students, myself included, had to drop a calculus class taught by a teacher whose accent almost no one could understand. We had to wait a year to find a teacher for the same subject who spoke understandable English.

A foreign teacher may be good, but if he or she cannot communicate effectively, it helps no one.

4 people like this
Posted by Special ed parent
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Dalma said she had a positive experience with accomadation,at school. Good for her but she needs to wake up and hear from the rest of the 95% parents! Ken D seemed the most informed with the needs of special ed.

1 person likes this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm

There have been numerous issues over the last couple of years related to special ed students and students of color. What positions have the board candidates taken on these issues and what public actions have they taken in support of their positions?

3 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 21, 2014 at 12:03 am

I don't know about the others but I know that Ken and members of his parent group submitted pages and pages of detailed comments on the new bullying policy and worked for months on multiple drafts of the policy. Ken and other members of his organization attended not only every board meeting on OCR and on bullying but also every Board Policy Review Committee Meeting -- which are held during the work day. Ken has taken off work to attend these meetings, study sessions, and has attended all of the evening board meetings. That to me shows real commitment.

[Portion removed.]

I hope that someone will post one thing that Catherine Foster has ever done for special education students in Palo Alto. I am very interested to find out. [Portion removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by A Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2014 at 1:46 am

[Portion removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by Attendee
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 21, 2014 at 7:18 am

I watched the debate in the gym at Jordan. This report is OK but if you weren't there you would miss the context for some of these candidate statements, so they seem like they came out of the blue and you don't know what other candidates said. The debate was videotaped and the moderator said it would be on the CAC website and YouTube soon. I took notes so that I could share it with another mom but I don't have a recording myself.

Every candidate talked about the school board resolution against the Office for Civil Rights, not just Ken Dauber. He said that he would repeal (not "appeal") the resolution because it was a waste of money that did not help students and made scurrilous accusations against OCR. He read some parts of the resolution that said that OCR was deliberately trying to hurt our schools, that the OCR lawyers were lying, and others I don't remember. Catherine Foster said that [portion removed] there were a lot of closed meetings so it's hard to tell whether every statement was true. Gina Dalma spoke directly to Foster and said that the board gave many documents so there is plenty of information. Dalma said she would vote to repeal the resolution. Jay Cabrera said he would vote to repeal the resolution, and criticized the closed meetings. Terry Godfrey said she would also vote to repeal the resolution, and tell OCR any issues if they asked for feedback.

Another important discussion was about inclusion, where Terry Godfrey and Ken Dauber both talked about the need to get more support for teachers in general education, and Dauber talked about reducing turnover in special education teachers. Inclusion is a very important topic for special education families, so I hope the reporter includes more information about candidates' views in the next version.

4 people like this
Posted by Parent504
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 21, 2014 at 8:46 am

My experience with the school on 504 plans was a disappointing mess of missed opportunities. Better organization in the classroom and written instructions/Homework assignments are essential to help a kid with attention all issues. Yet the schools flat out refuse. One administrator flat out told me that teachers don't want to be bothered with written assignments.

Our schools create a confusing place for kids with ADHD - the administrative complexity in a typical kids school day is overwhelming from middle school on.

Dyslexia (15%) and ADHD (11%) make up the two most prevalent learning disabilities - and both can be addresses, but often go undiagnosed, untreated, or run into the buzz saw of teacher apathy.

This is 20+ % of our students!!

Early testing of all students should be done, and every classroom should be reorganized around providing support for these kids. It is trivially easy to provide texts with dyslexic friendly fonts, recorded lectures and written homework instructions. Enforcing the homework policy provision that all assignments should be in Schoology is a good first step.

This would allow the schools to efficiently deal with most sped students in mainstream classrooms, end the admin fights with parents, and help most normal students as well. The technology and capabilities are within reach.

When every classroom is a supportive classroom, then we no longer have to spend time and energy working with these exceptions. Let's hear if any school board members would back this idea...

1 person likes this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

I was not able to attend but wonder if any candidates have spoken about changing the policy of tenure and how it is forcing our children to get stuck with some horrible teachers especially at the middle school level. I know most of our teachers are wonderful but those who aren't make for one long painful year for some families..

2 people like this
Posted by End-Teacher-Tenure-Now
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

> and how it is forcing our children to get stuck with some horrible teachers

Wouldn't the first step to seeing resolution to this problem be to establish some sort of process to identify "horrible teachers"? Everyone knows that they exist, but few people outside of the students, and some of the parents, really know who these teachers might be.

The silence of the PAUSD implies that it doesn't know, or want to know, who these teachers might be. So--what about asking candidates for the School Board what they would do to set a process in place to identify, and remove, teachers whose behavior, or teaching skills, are not "up to snuff"?

(On a personal note--when I was in high school I had a Latin teacher who everyone thought as "horrible"--not so much because she didn't know her subject, but because she treated the students badly. She would embarrass students who didn't do their homework, or who seems to be showing little interest in learning Latin. She was a very good teacher in the sense that she really knew her subject. She got the reputation of "horrible" because she beat the language into her students.

Over the years, it became clear that teaching Latin to 9th graders was not all that easy--given how poorly our instruction of English [as a language] had been. This teacher made life difficult for us, since she knew that life was only going to get worse in the future [particularly in college.]. However, most of us learned (or earned) our Latin.

So--being able to set a performance standard for teachers is something that every school should do, keeping in mind that teaching, and learning, while linked, are not the same.)

3 people like this
Posted by Ken and Max What a Team!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:51 am


Ken Dauber said at the debate yesterday that the recent strategic plan survey showed that over half of teachers do not feel that they have adequate support or training in special education, particularly given inclusion. He said he strongly supported providing sufficient co-teaching and other resources to make inclusion a success. He also stated that the cost of what the district has paid for legal fees and public relations (nearly half a million dollars in the past year alone) would have paid for a special education aide full time with benefits for every single elementary school in the district.

I liked this proposal because I think taking our special ed families to court is terrible. They need support not lawsuits brought by the district. Inclusion is not a money saving strategy.

None of the other candidates proposed a specific funding strategy or amount that they would put toward this problem. Perhaps others can weigh in here.

6 people like this
Posted by SPED Communications
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Special Education staff can be difficult to understand, sometimes because of limited English and heavy accents. Sometimes written reports do not make sense because of weak grammar and writing skills. PAUSD Occupational Therapists have a lot of communication problems, which is scary because they are medical professionals.

They generally cut and paste from manuals. The first half page of Occupational Therapy reports we have seen all begin with a lengthy legal quote from a California guidelines manual. I doubt anyone actually knows what it means reading it through the first time without an attorney. This is important because families are usually only give the report a few hours before the meeting, or not at all. It's purpose appears to be to take 1/2 page to say what PAUSD Occupational Therapists don't want to do, and to get out of any service. As the first introduction to a medical professional and their competency, it makes a negative first impression.

PAUSD has a hard time getting and keeping OTs. This reputation among the OT community is very strong that PAUSD is a bad place to work because PAUSD will not allow OTs to give students the help they need so they can succeed in school. PAUSD overworks them. Those who will work for PAUSD often present some problem such as poor communication skills, not being trained under new, more stringent license requirements, or are valued by Special Education because they testify against their disabled students in court. See Web Link.

It is really sad, but parents have to be careful and request the name and qualifications any Occupational Therapist assigned to their child, and check SpecialEdLawWiki database to see if they testify against students. Red flags are if the District won't give a name of the Occupational Therapist right away or says they are working on it, assigns someone with the title "District Occupational Therapist" instead of someone who works at a school, if the District or school is vague about committing to services, if the District insists on keeping an unsuccessful Occupational Therapist on a case, or if the teacher thinks the child needs help but is ignored. Also be cautious if the Occupational Therapist writes only "Notes" instead of a written evaluation and report, will not provide the "Notes" but provides something else instead like a calendar of days they appeared at school, or if they argue not to do an evaluation or services. If the child does not need services, there is no reason they should avoid doing an evaluation that will prove their point. If the Occupational Therapist doing the evaluation finds the child needs services, they have to provide the service, which will increase their workload.

There are many different Occupational Therapy tests that can be done to see where a child needs help. PAUSD therapists are so overworked they will do the minimum they can, so families may want to take their results to an outside professional. However, be aware the District will discount any other professional's reports or ignore them entirely, saying they others do not understand that school Occupational Therapists don't do much. Be cautious if the District pushes too hard to teach typing to a very young child instead of teaching them to write, and if all the other children are not being taught to type at that point. Parents will be told children must learn to type because they can't be taught to write and that they won't succeed in upper grades, but the upper grade teachers do not always want children typing, which may require special equipment and be disruptive as the child plays around on a computer and gets distracted. Be careful if the District says to give up on writing promising typing will be provided, but does not immediately offer the service and commit to a plan in writing. PAUSD has a habit of abandoning a service and not providing the new service, leaving the child with no ability to communicate. Be cautious of any, "I don't know" about the service from a professional recommending it, or "we'll do it later years, for sure." The child could be waiting for years.

5 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm

The problem when talking about achievement gaps along ethnic/cultural lines is that the conversation quickly gets politicized, and some people are too quick to think that pushing for some diversity quota will solve the problem.

Being in a high-performing school district w/ concerned, educated and involved parents, I hope we judge the performance of our students in a color-blind way. Neither the schools nor the school officials can fix performance issues which are rooted in deeper cultural and socio-economic factors affecting some of the under-performing students. I probably know this better than most people because I grew up south of the border. I was never an under-performer, but that had to do more with family priorities and education level than any perceived biases in the school system.

Equal opportunity doesn't mean equal results. Achievement gaps at school aren't necessarily the school's fault. It's just a symptom reflecting wider issues happening in a ethnically and socia-economically diverse society, and you should work w/ Sacramento o Washington if you have any great ideas to fix them. Don't pick on school officials who can do very little to solve these issues. But I guess all people running for public office find this to be a convenient topic.

Eliminate the Tinsley transfer program, and you'll see some immediate results overnight.

1 person likes this
Posted by Need More Info
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I'd love to know a bit more about the Special Ed community in PAUSD. Is a Special Ed student the same as a student with an IEP? Does anyone know what proportion of our students are considered to be Special Ed, and/or are on an IEP? Does it differ significantly between elementary, middle, and high school? Does anyone know what proportion of our budget goes to these programs already? What do we pay for a Special Ed or IEP child, as opposed to another child? And what extra funding, if any, do we get to cover these kids?

1 person likes this
Posted by E. Warren
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm

This week's board packet contains an update about the OCR resolution, mentioned in this story. It shows that the board has engaged in extensive (and from the looks of it, expensive) lobbying efforts to attack OCR. Mitchell and Caswell have been sending out a very polished document, almost certainly prepared by our outside law firm's crisis manager and lobbyist, Terilyn Finders and Tabitha Hurley and meeting with various public officials. It is very sand to read the June 3 speeches and memos written by our board accusing the OCR of lacking in "integrity" and of being "purposefully disruptive."

Most offensive to me is the accusation in this new PR and lobbying document that the OCR is engaged in federal "overreach," and the June 3 allegation that it is engaged in "federal intrusion on education."

Our school board is now throwing good money after bad. This matter is now closed and there were no sanctions and no loss of federal funds. It is time to stop criticizing the federal civil rights investigation, cooperate with OCR, accept our shortcomings with humility, learn from mistakes, and move on.

We have to stop letting the outside lawyers dictate the policy and run up the bill. To quote a sorely missed friend, "It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do.” ."

1 person likes this
Posted by Earl Warren
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Here's the link to the packet: Web Link

Link to June 3 memo: Web Link

Link to Mitchell speech accusing OCR of lacking integrity: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by another chief justice
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:52 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm

The sped employees responsible for the need for parents to go to OCR in the first place probably feel this is the best way to keep their jobs, by misrepresenting to McGee what really happened. I've been to those events and I don't feel comfortable telling him what really was going on before he arrived.

Our administration deserved a much bigger slap by OCR than they got, in fact, OCR was there to just try to get our district to comply with the law, it wasn't even really a hand slap.

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm

[Post removed due to referencing a previously deleted comment.]

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Posted by keeping them honest
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2014 at 7:56 am

Word count in report for third debate:
- Foster: 130
- Dauber: 194
- Dalma: 196
- Godfrey: 99
- Cabrera : 129

Word count in report for second debate:
- Foster: 237
- Dauber: 284
- Dalma: 237
- Godfrey: 89
- Cabrera : 63

Word count in report for first debate:
- Foster: 107
- Dauber: 97
- Dalma: 61
- Godfrey: 39
- Cabrera : 26

Like this comment
Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2014 at 8:08 am

I hope that none of someone's loved one will ever be bullied. Bystanders are those who witness bullying and are not reaching out to help or at least support the bullied.

May I ask what is someone's standing regarding by-standing? Any educational values anyone wish to promote?

Like this comment
Posted by Ken and Max What a Team!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 22, 2014 at 9:08 am

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 22, 2014 at 9:55 am

While I appreciate the parents' concerns about how the district handles IEP's and related issues, this thread is about the candidates debate on last Saturday. I'm interested in hearing more about what the candidates said, since the reporting is pretty sparse, and what people learned about them as a result.

2 people like this
Posted by Karen Gibson
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2014 at 10:53 am

Since my daughter recently dealt with harassment at Gunn, a big issue for me is the OCR resolution. I want it repealed. We need 2 board members who will advocate for the bullied, harassed and disabled students instead of wasting time and money fighting the OCR. Ken was clear from the beginning that he would repeal, and I’m glad the others were able to clarify more at this debate.

5 people like this
Posted by 37 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

Carlos has it exactly right. Insightful commentary. Under performance by ethnic groups has a lot to do with family priorities. Schools can't change that though they can have a positive influence on a child's desire to learn. He's also right about the Tinsley Program and the results change overnight.

1 person likes this
Posted by privilege
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2014 at 11:59 am


"The problem when talking about achievement gaps along ethnic/cultural lines is that the conversation quickly gets politicized, and some people are too quick to think that pushing for some diversity quota will solve the problem."

It works both ways Carlos. Your conclusions about eliminating VTP are extremely political in my view. Especially when you try to lend some type of authority with your experience with education south of the border or with your name, Carlos.

Education south of the border can be quite good, especially if you're rich and your education was private school. The divides in countries south of the border are notorious.

I don't believe that your individual experience "had to do more with family priorities and education level than any perceived biases in the school system." Unless you can provide a more accurate description of your system, I would just assume that it had to do with privilege.

Like this comment
Posted by No
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 22, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I would like to hear the candidates talk about how the district will pay for all of the promises being made - smaller class sizes, iep's for everyone, more language teachers. Of course more education opportunities are better but everything must be paid for - easy to promise but harder to deliver.
The biggest problem facing PAUSD are the parents - the sense that their children are entitled to more, more and then more. How will the candidates balance community good against the individual good?
[Portion removed.]

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Posted by privilege
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

[Post removed due to incorrect information cited.]

3 people like this
Posted by reality bites
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2014 at 6:09 pm

@Alphonso, It's called "getting elected". Once in, they don't need to do squat.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2014 at 10:57 am

> Unless you can provide a more accurate description
> of your system, I would just assume that it had to do with privilege.

This focus on “white privilege” is getting more than tiring, and even close to nauseating.

The history of the world, when compared continent by continent, demonstrates that the cultures of each of these continents developed differently, and that these historical/evolutionary trends had nothing to do with “privilege”.

Claims by certain sociologists that “all cultures are equal” is clearly deficient in historical accuracy, and intellectual content. To the contrary—all cultures are not equal.

This idea of “privilege” being the source of success for some, and the source of failure for others—really is beyond stupid, it is insulting. Take the following bit of race-based thinking, for instance:

Web Link

The idea that Math is somehow a domain of “white privilege” defies the imagination. Yet, we have “highly educated” people claiming that we now need to create “black math”, which somehow will be so different from “white math” that “people of color” will be able to understand it, and soon dominate the world of mathematics with their newly-found understanding of this area of human endeavor that has historically been the domain of people capable of dealing with abstract concepts—rather than wallowing in politically motivated nonsense.

Plezzzeee –cease with the “privilege” sillyness.

2 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Why does everyone assume that ending the Tinsley program is racist rant? The students are living in San Mateo County and are attending our already overpopulated schools. Back in the 80s when the program began, our schools were in need of more children and elementary schools were being razed for houses. If the students were Caucasian, I'd still believe they have no right to attend our schools if they don't live in Palo Alto and pay taxes. The cries of racism are just red herring. We have plenty of diversity in the Bay Area. Visit some schools outside of California and you'll see lack of diversity in motion.

I'd like to know which School Board members are in favor of ending Tinsley.

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Posted by privilege
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm


South of the border privilege is not closely tied to race.

While there are many white people in the private schools, many are brown and mixed race. So, at least for this part of the world, privilege is not about "white" privilege.


Carlos implies that his brand of south of the border had the appropriate family values, unlike VTP - according to him. Thus eliminating VTP from PAUSD would eliminate the problems. Maybe that's actually not racist, just telling part of the story.

1 person likes this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm

@privilege: I agree with Carlos. This has nothing to do with the ethnicity or race of the students. If the "minorities" were living in $1 million+ dollar houses and parents were educated so they could help their children with homework and had money for tutors, there would less likely be an achievement gap. Eliminating VTP from PAUSD would eliminate the achievement gap.

I suppose none of the School Board candidates will speak about eliminating VTP because it's not politically correct.

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Posted by privilege
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm


Equity in education is a big deal for people irrespective of race. As you may have noticed, many in PAUSD are concerned about curriculum alignment, and other types of alignments, which add up to the issue of equity. PIE raises money for all schools so that one neighborhood school with less wealthy donors does not get left behind.

I believe the Tinsley case was won because the public school system in the US acknowledges equity. It happens that the students in the Ravenswood district are also minorities.

You could make the case that equity does not matter because of race, or equity does not matter at all. What doesn't make sense is Carlos trying to compare education south of the border which is pretty much centered on socio-economic privilege or lack thereof. Absolutely, if you want the US system modeled after south of the border education systems, they are there for the taking.

2 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

privilege, you seem to have either misinterpreted what I said about "growing up south of the border" or you seem disappointed that a Latin American immigrant doesn't fall into the "achievement gap" category.

It was never my intention to compare PAUSD to some foreign school system. My point was simply that I shared the immigrant/minority experiences as many of those suffering from the achievement gap, but as many have already pointed out, this is not a RACE issue. Unless we stop treating it as such, we'll never make any progress addressing it.

You incorrectly assumed that I was 'privileged' and that was the reason I didn't become an underachiever in this society. This is along the thinking I've seen among my fellow immigrants: If someone else does well, it's because they are lucky or enjoy certain privileges, but if they themselves fail, it's because the system is stacked up against them.

Despite the challenges we have in the PAUSD, I believe this is fundamentally a fair system, where hard work and smarts get rewarded. Families and students are largely responsible for whether or not they do well, and it's better for kids to learn this early. Society (or PAUSD) does not owe you anything, and a lot of us in this community are tired of people expecting the 'system' to take care of them whenever they fail.

3 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm

@privilege: Life isn't fair and will never be fair. I learned that when I was a child. Even in a socialist society, life isn't fair. People have to help themselves. Teachers and counselors are available to help at schools. If students are struggling academically, they can always visit the teacher after school, as long as they aren't using the yellow bus as transportation because that leaves right after school. And PAUSD pays for that school bus. How about having the Jordan bus leave an hour after school ends so the students can seek help from teachers?

These achievement gap students should be tracked to see if they indeed do see the teachers for extra support after school. What more is the school supposed to offer? Teachers visiting homes?

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Posted by privilege
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm


"This is along the thinking I've seen among my fellow immigrants: If someone else does well, it's because they are lucky or enjoy certain privileges, but if they themselves fail, it's because the system is stacked up against them. "

If the fellow immigrants you are referring to are from south of the border, they would probably be correct that luck is involved. Lucky if you went to private school, lucky you went to school, lucky if you made it to college, lucky if you were of a social class which had more opportunities.

This topic is about a public school system, and there is privilege involved if you let the system run on luck. I agree to disagree that equity in education (in a public system) is a matter of attitude. I think I can say this without taking away the individual efforts it takes to get through school.

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Posted by Mindy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 28, 2014 at 11:02 am

[Post removed.]

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

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