News

Nicole Chiu-Wang declares run for Palo Alto school board, incumbent Ken Dauber won't seek reelection

In her first run for public office, Chiu-Wang focuses on issues of equity and student wellbeing

Nicole Chiu-Wang is running for a seat on the Palo Alto school board this fall. Courtesy Nicole Chiu-Wang.

Palo Alto parent, lawyer and startup founder Nicole Chiu-Wang announced on Wednesday that she plans to run for a seat on the school district's board this November, with priorities including improving mental health services and investing in early childhood education.

The two seats on the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education currently held by Ken Dauber and Shounak Dharap are up for reelection on Nov. 8.

Dauber told the Weekly that he doesn't plan to run again after serving two consecutive four-year terms. Dharap, first elected in 2018, confirmed that he does plan to run for reelection. He is endorsing Chiu-Wang's candidacy, along with fellow current board members Jennifer DiBrienza and Jesse Ladomirak, according to Chiu-Wang's website. Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg also is listed as endorsing Chiu-Wang.

Chiu-Wang lives in Palo Alto's Midtown neighborhood with her husband and two young sons. Her older child will begin transitional kindergarten in the Palo Alto school district this fall, Chiu-Wang told the Weekly. This is her first time running for public office, she said.

"Like so many other young families, my husband and I chose to raise our children in Palo Alto because of the excellent public schools here," Chiu-Wang said in a press release. "We are incredibly privileged to have access to this caliber of K-12 public education and I believe with that privilege comes a duty to tackle the tough, systemic problems that are preventing many children in our community from reaching their full potential both in school and after they graduate."

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One of her goals is to focus on investing in early childhood education, which she says on her website is the way to systemically prevent issues like the current gaps in achievement that fall along racial and socioeconomic lines.

Chiu-Wang also wants to improve students' mental health, which she said includes having access to health care professionals, putting more supportive adults on campuses, improving students' sleep and reducing unnecessary academic pressure.

Her other goals include inspiring students to "own their futures" by giving them the tools to explore and pursue their passions, as well as expanding how schools educate students and measure their progress beyond standardized tests.

Chiu-Wang also pointed to her experiences as an Asian American woman in a district where close to 40% of students are Asian.

"It is not lost on me that I am an Asian American woman running for a seat on a board that hasn't had an Asian American woman board member in over a decade, during a time where AAPI hate crimes are on the rise. … Representation matters — it matters for the needs of all members of our community to be heard and for our children to see leaders that look like them," Chiu-Wang said in the press release.

Chiu-Wang works at Google where she leads the trust and safety team for an advertising product that serves small- and medium-sized businesses. She joined Google after spending four years of running Boon + Gable, a venture capital-backed fashion technology startup that she co-founded.

She has a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and volunteers as a mentor to students, recent graduates and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

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Zoe Morgan
 
Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Nicole Chiu-Wang declares run for Palo Alto school board, incumbent Ken Dauber won't seek reelection

In her first run for public office, Chiu-Wang focuses on issues of equity and student wellbeing

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 13, 2022, 2:42 pm

Palo Alto parent, lawyer and startup founder Nicole Chiu-Wang announced on Wednesday that she plans to run for a seat on the school district's board this November, with priorities including improving mental health services and investing in early childhood education.

The two seats on the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education currently held by Ken Dauber and Shounak Dharap are up for reelection on Nov. 8.

Dauber told the Weekly that he doesn't plan to run again after serving two consecutive four-year terms. Dharap, first elected in 2018, confirmed that he does plan to run for reelection. He is endorsing Chiu-Wang's candidacy, along with fellow current board members Jennifer DiBrienza and Jesse Ladomirak, according to Chiu-Wang's website. Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg also is listed as endorsing Chiu-Wang.

Chiu-Wang lives in Palo Alto's Midtown neighborhood with her husband and two young sons. Her older child will begin transitional kindergarten in the Palo Alto school district this fall, Chiu-Wang told the Weekly. This is her first time running for public office, she said.

"Like so many other young families, my husband and I chose to raise our children in Palo Alto because of the excellent public schools here," Chiu-Wang said in a press release. "We are incredibly privileged to have access to this caliber of K-12 public education and I believe with that privilege comes a duty to tackle the tough, systemic problems that are preventing many children in our community from reaching their full potential both in school and after they graduate."

One of her goals is to focus on investing in early childhood education, which she says on her website is the way to systemically prevent issues like the current gaps in achievement that fall along racial and socioeconomic lines.

Chiu-Wang also wants to improve students' mental health, which she said includes having access to health care professionals, putting more supportive adults on campuses, improving students' sleep and reducing unnecessary academic pressure.

Her other goals include inspiring students to "own their futures" by giving them the tools to explore and pursue their passions, as well as expanding how schools educate students and measure their progress beyond standardized tests.

Chiu-Wang also pointed to her experiences as an Asian American woman in a district where close to 40% of students are Asian.

"It is not lost on me that I am an Asian American woman running for a seat on a board that hasn't had an Asian American woman board member in over a decade, during a time where AAPI hate crimes are on the rise. … Representation matters — it matters for the needs of all members of our community to be heard and for our children to see leaders that look like them," Chiu-Wang said in the press release.

Chiu-Wang works at Google where she leads the trust and safety team for an advertising product that serves small- and medium-sized businesses. She joined Google after spending four years of running Boon + Gable, a venture capital-backed fashion technology startup that she co-founded.

She has a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and volunteers as a mentor to students, recent graduates and entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

Comments

Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2022 at 12:04 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Everybody wants to live in Palo Alto because of the terrific schools. Well, there are other towns - Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Altos to name a few - that have terrific schools. What is the real reason - because if is so chi-chi. Oh, tsk, tsk


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:27 pm
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:27 pm

Do we need yet another lawyer on the school board? She is a lawyer. Shounak already votes on Board issues through the lens of a lawyer. Do we need yet a 2nd lawyer on the school board???!!

Do we need another Ohlone parent on the school Board? Jennifer DiBrienza already brings the Ohlone philosophy to the school board meetings. Another Ohlone parent yet again on the Board?

Shounak already said he represented Asians on the Board. I fail to see what new insight this person brings other than parroting and nodding to what the current school Board says.


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:28 pm
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:28 pm

I suspect if the school board keeps going down this path, PAUSD education will end up in the gutter. Don't expect property values to remain high given the lowering of standards by current school board members and this candidate who agrees with them


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:41 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 3:41 pm

It would be great to see an educator run. We have many wonderful retired teachers who live in Palo Alto who understand the challenges our district faces. Classroom management is hard work. It would great to get the perspective of an experienced and gifted educator on our board.


Shana Segal
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 14, 2022 at 4:38 pm
Shana Segal, Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 4:38 pm

Hi!
I also plan on running for School Board. I grew up in Palo Alto, and attended Ohlone, JLS, and Gunn. I taught high school English and ELD for 10 years at Lynbrook High School, have a Teaching Credential, MA degree in Education, MA degree in Educational Leadership, and an Administrative Credential. I am currently a School Consultant and a Substitute Teacher for PAUSD. I have two children at Palo Verde, entering grades 1 and 3. My top 3 priorities are Differentiated Instruction, Data Driven Policies, and Equity. It is essential that teacher and parent input be more valued. My website for my School Consulting business is shanasegal.com. I will update it soon to reflect my run for school board. July 19-August 12 is the nomination period for School Board, so I plan on filing next week. I have reached out to the Palo Alto Weekly/Daily and hope to be interviewed, as well.
Sincerely,
Shana Segal


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Jul 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm
Anony Mouse, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Jul 14, 2022 at 5:00 pm

I am very interested in this candidacy. Initial thoughts are that we have here a thoughtful, intelligent, civic-minded person. That is a good start. I think she might be an upgrade from current Board members. She might be a bit more human-centered rather than just a numbers person? That too is an upgrade. Mr. Don might be a bit worried, though. He may have over-corrected in his pandering to the "numbers are everything" group on the PAUSD Board. Keep an open mind, my neighbors!


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2022 at 1:20 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 15, 2022 at 1:20 am

@Shana “Data driven Policies”? That feels like I am being hammered down a hole of nowhere! As a PAUSD parent, I am dismayed you have not embraced the Pandemic as a priority to student health and well being. Our district enrollees and families are suffering from PTSD from last two years. Pre-K thru 12th. Take a look at the data there. GIT and platform health and well being based on 2.5 years of near hell for our school age children and families. As well many of our district students are unhoused or incredibly stressed for housing insecurity and unfashionable cost of shelter in this city. Can u perhaps embrace a more hope filled and forward thinking platform than “our schools are great, let’s make ‘em better” mentality. That’s so last Century! Our kids are not a venture capitalist opportunity. They are mammals, live and breathe the Earth’s oxygen unlike Google bots!


Shana Segal
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 15, 2022 at 2:21 am
Shana Segal, Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 15, 2022 at 2:21 am

@nativetothebay: I share your concerns.
Please read more about my platform when it is highlighted in the newspaper. Mental health and the pandemic are also huge priorities, as is equity, and my goal is to look at data in our district to determine needs and goals. This includes mental health data. My very short blurb was just to explain that an educator and parent is running and to look out for more details in the newspaper in the coming weeks. :)


katherinecausey
Registered user
University South
on Jul 15, 2022 at 10:11 am
katherinecausey, University South
Registered user
on Jul 15, 2022 at 10:11 am

I'm so excited for Nicole to run I think she's an incredible candidate, she has such a passion for early childhood education an deeply cares for our students, she's accomplished a tremendous amount in her career and will bring so many unique skills and perspectives to the board!


Paly Student
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 15, 2022 at 12:17 pm
Paly Student, Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 15, 2022 at 12:17 pm

I'm a recent Paly grad and I'm very glad Nicole is running! She emphasizes the issues that matter the most to students!


Alice Schaffer Smith
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jul 16, 2022 at 9:47 am
Alice Schaffer Smith, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jul 16, 2022 at 9:47 am

What a breath of fresh air Nicole has proven to be.

Having moved to Palo Alto in 1964, I have observed the diverse needs of a community and some limitations, including that some believed not invented here isn't good enough for PAUSD resulting in PAUSD's floundering sometimes.

I am pleased to add my name as a supporter of Nicole Chiu-Wang's campaign: she is bright, engaged, inquiring, quick to grasp ideas and asking for information from many who have lived here for 1/2 century, worked for PAUSD, observed PAUSD.


Meghan Roth
Registered user
Stanford
on Jul 16, 2022 at 10:39 am
Meghan Roth, Stanford
Registered user
on Jul 16, 2022 at 10:39 am

Nicole Chiu-Wang will also provide an active voice for Mandarin parents with school children in Palo Alto.

Their scholastic needs must be fully met to ensure the professional and economic success that Mandarin parents highly value.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2022 at 3:28 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 16, 2022 at 3:28 pm

I have no set opinion of Ms. Chiu-Wang yet. I find it strange we have a candidate lined up endorsements and all from the status quo group the moment Dauber announces he's not running. How can you endorse before you know who's in the field?

The current board would have an easier time wrangling the cats that are we Palo Alto parents if they didn't always try to be so controlling. I wish Ms. Chiu-Wang, Ms. Segal, and all other candidates a warm, open-minded, and friendly election cycle!


Pamela Tieg
Registered user
Los Altos
on Jul 16, 2022 at 4:01 pm
Pamela Tieg, Los Altos
Registered user
on Jul 16, 2022 at 4:01 pm

> How can you endorse before you know who's in the field?

Ms. Chiu-Wang is the presumed front runner and will have the full electoral support of Palo Alto's emergent 40% Mandarin community.


Alum
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Jul 18, 2022 at 2:20 pm
Alum, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Jul 18, 2022 at 2:20 pm

We need School Board members who have experienced at least through high school in Palo Alto, otherwise they don't understand the entire system and their opinions are limited. Chiu-Wang stating that she wants to improve students' sleep and reduce unnecessary academic pressure already shows lack of knowledge. Paly's schedule started at 9:00 this year (formerly 8:20) and the School Board has already attempted to reduce academic pressure by eliminating homework deadlines. This has actually created more stress because math teachers give quizzes instead, which are more difficult than completing homework. They also told teachers to assign less homework so high school students are not learning to write because papers are not being assigned. My student was assigned maybe 2 papers per year and the teachers claim they don't have time to correct them so there is very little feedback. In middle school and high school, English teachers often have the students correct each other's papers (peer grading), much less effective than an adult with an English degree correcting papers. The School Board eliminated homework due on Mondays, which was helpful. My son has much less homework than my other two children had at Paly but the lack of writing practice is upsetting.

Shana Segal announcing her candidacy for School Board on this thread is a poor choice, lost my vote.


Greene and Paly Parent
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 19, 2022 at 2:23 am
Greene and Paly Parent, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 2:23 am

Can Chiu-Wang be an effective voice for our Asian families?

Indeed, 40% of PAUSD students are Asian. Indeed, for many years Asian family values, such as hard work and academic excellence, had been stigmatized and vilified by PAUSD and its board in a blame theater (debunked by data).

But Chiu-Wang is being enthusiastically endorsed by the very creators of the unacceptable status quo, and this endorsement came surprisingly quickly, even before the list of qualified candidates was announced (!!)

Our current board failed. Despite a 28k per student per year budget, the program is forcibly being narrowed down, contrary to evidence, in support of a one-size-fit-all approaches that serve political aspirations but do not serve the majority of our diverse body of students. We do need a change. But someone endorsed by the status-quo so enthusiastically does not seem like the needed change.


Mick Buford
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 19, 2022 at 4:06 pm
Mick Buford, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 4:06 pm

Watching Palo Alto's emergent Mandarin population becoming more active in municipal politics and public education is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully more Mandarin candidates will follow suit as Palo Alto is no longer our parent's Palo Alto of a generation ago.

There's a new kid in town


Greene and Paly Parent
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 19, 2022 at 10:37 pm
Greene and Paly Parent, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 19, 2022 at 10:37 pm

The following opinion piece from The New York Times gets at the heart of the issue of why the anti-academic changes and forceful limits on achievement got placed at PAUSD, and also, why it is so important that the Asian students and families in our district finally get a voice.

Web Link

A "voice" is someone that speaks to the value and priorities of Asian (and other immigrant) families. Not necessarily someone that looks like them and was handpicked and heavily endorsed (got stamped as "conforming" to the status quo) by the current board members.

I would be interested to hear Nicole Chiu-Wang address these issues. One concern is that she seems a bit disconnected from what is actually happening at the schools, so drank the "cool aid" with no actual experience.


Chilliams
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:52 pm
Chilliams, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:52 pm

I am not sure who I am voting for yet. But, I am trying to figure out if I am assessing this correctly: the article states Ms. Chiu-Wang's oldest is entering into TK in PA. Does that mean she doesn't have any children who have gone through any part of any school system yet? Is it important to have people on the board who have kids who are going through/have gone through the PA school system, or frankly any school system? Does it seem like it's better to have people who are going to have a say in the process to actually have some experience in what they will be making decisions about?

In truth, the things that I thought were important for school when my child was 5 are very different from what I think now that my child is 15. 10 years experience in having my child in school have changed me. It may not make a difference, but I am wondering if it would help for a school board member to have experience in having kids who have gone through some schooling. I am not sure if I am comfortable having someone make decisions to represent my interests/my children's interests in regards to school decisions if they have never had kids who have gone to school in Palo Alto or honestly, any school beyond preschool.

She seems very accomplished and successful, from this article, which is awesome. And I would love to have more Asian representation in city council. But what makes her a good candidate for making decisions on my child's learning if she has not had a kid in school yet?


Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:03 pm
Palo Alto Resident , Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:03 pm

I am voting for Shana Segal in part because she has a lot of experience with PAUSD schools. She attended Ohlone, JLS, and Gunn herself, and this will be her 4th year as a Palo Verde parent. She was also a high school English teacher for ten years, and she has Masters degrees in education and in educational leadership.


Community Member
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2022 at 5:57 pm
Community Member, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Aug 26, 2022 at 5:57 pm

I am excited to see both Nicole and Shana running. There are two open spots- lets not pit the women against each other. This should be between status quo vs. new perspectives. I was pleased to hear Nicole is focusing on early childhood education and hope she is aware that our district leadership has been publicly promoting and funneling ELOP grant money from the state to a for-profit, national child care chain that operates under a heritage permit over collaborating with local non-profit licensed high quality child care and education providers. With the P-3 initiative, it is essential that our leaders understand requirements for high quality care, recognize what developmentally appropriate curriculum looks like, and understands that Palo Alto values community connection and accountability that local non-profits provide.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Aug 28, 2022 at 8:12 pm
Anony Mouse, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Aug 28, 2022 at 8:12 pm

@community member and @palo alto resident - I agree with both of you. We've got two strong candidates running. We need a bit of new energy in the Board. They both are intelligent, sophisticated candidates who are ready to do the job. I've met both of them and I was impressed. They have some opinions and ideas, but they both know that there is a lot to learn. They both have the modesty to know there are things they don't know. Most of all, they're ready to listen. Furthermore, they see that there's a narrative created by 25 Churchill, and they both have signaled that they want to pierce through that narrative and tackle the big problems that are obscured by the 25 Churchill PR machine.


Just Another Parent
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Sep 12, 2022 at 12:40 pm
Just Another Parent, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2022 at 12:40 pm

I don't understand why our current BOE is backing this candidate, is it because she is groom-able? another lawyer to the mix? aligns well with the Super? is aligned with the BOE lack of ethics?- can a current board member please speak up and justify the backing? From here it is another sign of BOE weakness.


jamiebarnett
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 14, 2022 at 9:34 am
jamiebarnett, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2022 at 9:34 am

I'm enthusiastic about Nicole's candidacy. Her values, career trajectory, and educational background make her uniquely qualified to be an excellent school board trustee. She is both an attorney and an entrepreneur, experienced in managing budgets and strategic planning, and currently uses her expertise and success to mentor and uplift others, especially women and BIPOC. Her background in gender and ethnic studies and lifelong commitment to education make her particularly well suited to address the specific issues we face.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2022 at 9:51 pm
Anony Mouse, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2022 at 9:51 pm

@just another parent: I just wanted to chime in and say that there's no dark conspiracy here. Nicole is very accessible and I think if you went to her campaign events and met her and heard her speak, you'd see that she is plainspoken and transparent. She listens and has some humility about what she needs to learn to be effective. She's exactly the type of person we need right now to guide this institution. Young, energetic, intelligent and thoughtful. I'm planning on voting for her.


Greene Parent
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2022 at 8:42 pm
Greene Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2022 at 8:42 pm

[Portion removed.]

When she was asked about the high school stress etc her response was 'these are conversations that we need to have at the university level'!!!! NO, you are running at a school board level to help fix it here. Additionally she has no [idea] of how hard it is for kids who do after school sports/extra curricular and jobs about how much more challenging it is even getting out 20 mins later.

If she gets elected we will have more color on the board with no diversity in thought and total lack of experience on the board


Concerned Neightbor
Registered user
Triple El
on Sep 19, 2022 at 9:46 pm
Concerned Neightbor, Triple El
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2022 at 9:46 pm

The current PAUSD policy on math education is holding potentially good students back and will eventually result in them not being competitive not only in tech, but in other professions where logic is paramount, such as law and medicine. Shana Segal is the better candidate, due to her experience and her position on improving, not degrading, the math education.


jamiebarnett
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 20, 2022 at 8:00 am
jamiebarnett, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 20, 2022 at 8:00 am

A public school district has a legal obligation to educate all of their students, and raise them them to a certain standard. We aren’t doing that currently, and have a long history of not doing that. We’re finally making changes to serve all students. Fascinating perspective that that somehow damages the kids who are years ahead.

On a separate but related note, I'm disappointed that so many people won't use their real names, especially those who are trying to tear down the candidate.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 20, 2022 at 5:21 pm
Anony Mouse, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 20, 2022 at 5:21 pm

@concerned neighbor. Better yet vote for BOTH Shana and Nicole. There's 2 open seats.


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