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Editorial: Dharap, Segal for school board

Palo Alto school board candidates Shounak Dharap, left, and Shana Segal. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District will choose among the four who are running for school board, including one incumbent, Shounak Dharap, for two seats on the ballot. Trustee Ken Dauber is stepping down after two terms.

Sadly, this race quickly became punctuated with many regrettable derogatory and disrespectful comments on social media from anonymous people who wanted to take out their frustrations with the board's and superintendent's management of the district, especially through the pandemic.

In the spring, when candidates for local offices usually make their intentions known and begin building support and collecting endorsements, Dharap was the only candidate talking publicly about running, leaving the possibility that a surprise candidate might file as the August deadline neared. Concerned about this and, we believe, with good intentions, some district insiders, including Dharap and trustee Jennifer DiBrienza, went looking for a good potential candidate who might be persuaded to run for the other seat.

They found a good prospect in Nicole Chiu-Wang, a high-tech product and business strategy manager at Google who had just moved from San Francisco to Palo Alto in April after what she described as a nationwide search for a good school district for her two preschool-aged kids. Chiu-Wang has had no direct experience in education or familiarity with Palo Alto. She received undergraduate degrees in women's studies and Asian American studies from UC Irvine and went on to become an attorney, an entrepreneur in the field of fashion technology and now a manager at Google. She sees her lack of involvement in educational matters as a benefit, allowing her to bring new ways of thinking and an outsider's perspective.

Chiu-Wang's interest in educational equity and desire to see the school board better reflect the diversity of the community resonated with Dharap, DiBrienza and trustee Jesse Ladomirak, elected two years ago. Their endorsements helped her obtain the support of many current and past school leaders and others in the community. Thus, she was viewed as the chosen candidate of the majority of the board, immediately raising the question of whether she would follow their lead if elected.

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But apparently unbeknownst to Chiu-Wang and her trustee supporters, another well-qualified candidate and her Palo Verde neighbor, Shana Segal, was already planning on running but had not yet declared her candidacy. A Palo Alto native who attended Gunn High, Segal has a master's in Education and Educational Leadership. She went on to become an English teacher (and later department chair) of the English Language Development department for 10 years at Lynbrook High School in San Jose. She became a substitute teacher in PAUSD elementary and middle schools during the pandemic while running a school consulting business through which she helped parents evaluate their school options. Segal currently has two children attending Palo Verde Elementary School, which is now temporarily operating at Cubberley while renovations are done.

She shares the frustrations many in the school community have with the district's poor communication with parents, the board's passive oversight of Superintendent Don Austin and its acquiescence, if not endorsement, of Austin's desire to keep controversial issues off the board agenda and instead rely on private communication with individual board members to test their support of his position.

She is especially critical of Austin's and the board's adoption of a new Language Arts curriculum that teachers opposed, and Austin's derogatory comments about Palo Alto Community Child Care, caught on video and posted on the YouTube channel of Right at School, a for-profit, venture capital funded national child care startup that Austin abruptly brought into the district last spring, causing an uproar in the community.

Critics of Austin and the board gravitated toward Segal, while supporters of the current board were drawn to Chiu-Wang. We can find no evidence that either of the candidates planned for or orchestrated this divide.

Meanwhile, the race was further roiled by the candidacy of Ingrid Campos, the mother of two current Gunn students who aligns herself with national conservative movements espousing "traditional family values" and a belief that children are learning the wrong lessons in school. She believes that being LBGTQ is a "deviant" lifestyle, that Critical Race Theory is being taught in our schools and that Scholastic books, a mainstay in education, should be banned from our district.

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In spite of the emotions that have unexpectedly and disappointedly encircled this campaign, we find it easy to recommend Shounak Dharap and Shana Segal. Dharap, an attorney who has a 2 year old with another child on the way, had the unfortunate timing of having half of his first term dominated by the pandemic, when the district struggled mightily to balance the conflicting views of parents and teachers over how and when to safely reopen the schools. As board president in 2021, he presided over the board's and Austin's management of the constantly changing health orders and the eventual reopening last fall.

Prior, during and after the COVID-19 crisis, he has been a strong advocate for improvements to the student mental health program and greater support of students struggling academically and he chaired the committee that developed an ambitious framework, known as the SWIFT plan, for achieving educational equity. He successfully pushed for reinstatement of remote Zoom participation by the public at board meetings, making it much easier for busy parents to express their views than having to attend board meetings in person.

Segal brings all the experience and enthusiasm one could hope for in a school board candidate. In addition to bringing her perspective as an English teacher and a commitment to improve the district's English language curriculum so it serves all learners, she is a strong advocate for greater transparency and better communication with parents before decisions are made.

She shares our concerns over Superintendent Austin's communication shortcomings, which she described as too often dismissive and lacking in respect for parents. She supports differentiated instruction with more support for teachers in teaching students that are at different levels in the same classroom.

She will need to learn the role of policymaker and the importance of not functioning as a teacher advocate on the board, while bringing her valuable learning and perspectives as a teacher to board deliberations and policy-setting.

Given that the student enrollment in the district is currently about 37% of Asian descent, it is long overdue for a Chinese American to serve on the board of education. Chiu-Wang may be that person in two years when Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza will be termed out, but she doesn't currently measure up to Segal in her readiness to represent the diverse and demanding constituencies in the district.

We recommend Shounak Dharap and Shana Segal for the PAUSD Board of Education.

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Editorial: Dharap, Segal for school board

by Palo Alto Weekly editorial board / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 6:54 am

Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills voters in the Palo Alto Unified School District will choose among the four who are running for school board, including one incumbent, Shounak Dharap, for two seats on the ballot. Trustee Ken Dauber is stepping down after two terms.

Sadly, this race quickly became punctuated with many regrettable derogatory and disrespectful comments on social media from anonymous people who wanted to take out their frustrations with the board's and superintendent's management of the district, especially through the pandemic.

In the spring, when candidates for local offices usually make their intentions known and begin building support and collecting endorsements, Dharap was the only candidate talking publicly about running, leaving the possibility that a surprise candidate might file as the August deadline neared. Concerned about this and, we believe, with good intentions, some district insiders, including Dharap and trustee Jennifer DiBrienza, went looking for a good potential candidate who might be persuaded to run for the other seat.

They found a good prospect in Nicole Chiu-Wang, a high-tech product and business strategy manager at Google who had just moved from San Francisco to Palo Alto in April after what she described as a nationwide search for a good school district for her two preschool-aged kids. Chiu-Wang has had no direct experience in education or familiarity with Palo Alto. She received undergraduate degrees in women's studies and Asian American studies from UC Irvine and went on to become an attorney, an entrepreneur in the field of fashion technology and now a manager at Google. She sees her lack of involvement in educational matters as a benefit, allowing her to bring new ways of thinking and an outsider's perspective.

Chiu-Wang's interest in educational equity and desire to see the school board better reflect the diversity of the community resonated with Dharap, DiBrienza and trustee Jesse Ladomirak, elected two years ago. Their endorsements helped her obtain the support of many current and past school leaders and others in the community. Thus, she was viewed as the chosen candidate of the majority of the board, immediately raising the question of whether she would follow their lead if elected.

But apparently unbeknownst to Chiu-Wang and her trustee supporters, another well-qualified candidate and her Palo Verde neighbor, Shana Segal, was already planning on running but had not yet declared her candidacy. A Palo Alto native who attended Gunn High, Segal has a master's in Education and Educational Leadership. She went on to become an English teacher (and later department chair) of the English Language Development department for 10 years at Lynbrook High School in San Jose. She became a substitute teacher in PAUSD elementary and middle schools during the pandemic while running a school consulting business through which she helped parents evaluate their school options. Segal currently has two children attending Palo Verde Elementary School, which is now temporarily operating at Cubberley while renovations are done.

She shares the frustrations many in the school community have with the district's poor communication with parents, the board's passive oversight of Superintendent Don Austin and its acquiescence, if not endorsement, of Austin's desire to keep controversial issues off the board agenda and instead rely on private communication with individual board members to test their support of his position.

She is especially critical of Austin's and the board's adoption of a new Language Arts curriculum that teachers opposed, and Austin's derogatory comments about Palo Alto Community Child Care, caught on video and posted on the YouTube channel of Right at School, a for-profit, venture capital funded national child care startup that Austin abruptly brought into the district last spring, causing an uproar in the community.

Critics of Austin and the board gravitated toward Segal, while supporters of the current board were drawn to Chiu-Wang. We can find no evidence that either of the candidates planned for or orchestrated this divide.

Meanwhile, the race was further roiled by the candidacy of Ingrid Campos, the mother of two current Gunn students who aligns herself with national conservative movements espousing "traditional family values" and a belief that children are learning the wrong lessons in school. She believes that being LBGTQ is a "deviant" lifestyle, that Critical Race Theory is being taught in our schools and that Scholastic books, a mainstay in education, should be banned from our district.

In spite of the emotions that have unexpectedly and disappointedly encircled this campaign, we find it easy to recommend Shounak Dharap and Shana Segal. Dharap, an attorney who has a 2 year old with another child on the way, had the unfortunate timing of having half of his first term dominated by the pandemic, when the district struggled mightily to balance the conflicting views of parents and teachers over how and when to safely reopen the schools. As board president in 2021, he presided over the board's and Austin's management of the constantly changing health orders and the eventual reopening last fall.

Prior, during and after the COVID-19 crisis, he has been a strong advocate for improvements to the student mental health program and greater support of students struggling academically and he chaired the committee that developed an ambitious framework, known as the SWIFT plan, for achieving educational equity. He successfully pushed for reinstatement of remote Zoom participation by the public at board meetings, making it much easier for busy parents to express their views than having to attend board meetings in person.

Segal brings all the experience and enthusiasm one could hope for in a school board candidate. In addition to bringing her perspective as an English teacher and a commitment to improve the district's English language curriculum so it serves all learners, she is a strong advocate for greater transparency and better communication with parents before decisions are made.

She shares our concerns over Superintendent Austin's communication shortcomings, which she described as too often dismissive and lacking in respect for parents. She supports differentiated instruction with more support for teachers in teaching students that are at different levels in the same classroom.

She will need to learn the role of policymaker and the importance of not functioning as a teacher advocate on the board, while bringing her valuable learning and perspectives as a teacher to board deliberations and policy-setting.

Given that the student enrollment in the district is currently about 37% of Asian descent, it is long overdue for a Chinese American to serve on the board of education. Chiu-Wang may be that person in two years when Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza will be termed out, but she doesn't currently measure up to Segal in her readiness to represent the diverse and demanding constituencies in the district.

We recommend Shounak Dharap and Shana Segal for the PAUSD Board of Education.

Comments

BL
Registered user
College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:01 am
BL, College Terrace
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:01 am

Thank you, Palo Alto Weekly, for endorsing the most qualified two candidates for school board. It’s frustrating that voters who don’t lean toward Nicole are questioned for our commitment to equity. And it’s ironic that school board incumbents who ran on their own education credentials are now touting NIcole’s inexperience as “fresh perspective.” Once she has experience in Palo Alto, joining a committee/PTA/etc., Nicole could well be a strong candidate in a few years. But not yet.


Ugh
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:08 am
Ugh, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:08 am

Fantastic article!


Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:33 am
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:33 am

Relieved to see what others see - Shana Segal is experienced, qualified, an educator with insight and experience in the PAUSD school system and intimately aware of some major deficiencies in the school system. Shana mentioned how extracurricular activities in middle school pose an equity issue (requiring parents to be online with wifi, and credit card in hand).

Thank you Shana. As a parent your words spoke to me last night. We don't need another lawyer without experience or knowledge of PAUSD or the community or the city on the Board.


Palo Alto Mom
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:39 am
Palo Alto Mom, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:39 am

Yay for Shounak. He's a keeper! Bummer but not surprising on the Weekly's other choice who is the long-timer Palo Altan with the more traditional school board resume. I hope that most Palo Altans pay closer attention though and follow the bread crumbs in this race, because it is not coincidental that all the intense "more-math" people are rooting hard for Shana, while all the community and parent leaders who have a focus on socio-emotional and mental health and have long fought for equity in our district are in Nicole's corner. Go Nicole!


felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:53 am
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 8:53 am

Relieved that qualifications mattered.


Harvey
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:21 am
Harvey, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:21 am

I am so happy to see that Shounak and Shana received this endorsement. Both of these candidates are very qualified to serve on the school board.

Shana has the experience from being a teacher, parent, and substitute teacher in this district to really know the system from the inside and can better understand challenges as they arise. She is uniquely qualified to bring everyone together.

Shana is a volunteer reader for the Project Cornerstone program (Web Link at the elementary level which focuses on positive values, relationships and social emotional strengths among many other things.

Nicole is a very bright and caring candidate. As of right now, we have two lawyers and a business person on the board. It would be great to have a teacher with current experience also on the board. I would love to see Nicole run in two years.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:36 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:36 am

I am disappointed that there has been little emphasis on how PAUSD worked things through the pandemic. The way in which things happened should be a learning tool for future emergencies. The pandemic was an emergency and the lack of preparedness was evident in how long it took to get things ready. The point being, the only emergency preparedness PAUSD does is earthquake drills and other types of drills. The truth and likelihood is that an emergency will happen outside school hours and perhaps a school campus will become non-operational and decisions on how to get our kids educated will need to be done efficiently. What I have seen is that efficient preparedness should be done now, not when the emergency has occurred and those making the decisions are busy getting their own family and affairs in order. Being better prepared for emergencies is a very important issue, I think.

Secondly, I am completely shocked at the way Campos has been treated. She is a parent with kids in our schools and no matter how much people disagree with her views, there are some very hateful discussions going on in public on social media and probably in more private settings in parent groups and similar. Whatever she thinks, she is worthy of respect. She obviously feels as many in the country do that liberal thinking is telling our kids what to think and not how to think. We should be having conversations about how we are teaching our young people to act with others who think differently, not calling names or mud slinging. We are not all alike and that is a strength and not a weakness. Teaching children that they should listen hard to all points of view is a part of education. Making up their own minds having heard different points of view is what becoming responsible adults is all about.


SW
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:55 am
SW, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 9:55 am

I think in two years, Nicole will be an ideal candidate for the board. It just feels to me that she needs a little more time living here and experiencing Palo Alto, but that is just my opinion. Furthermore, she clearly will have a strong advocate and mentor on her side with Jennifer DiBrienza, who can help her be a successful member once elected. However, in this current race, I do believe we need someone like Shana who brings direct experience with education and PAUSD to help fix some of the issues that the district currently faces.


PaloAltoVoter
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:55 am
PaloAltoVoter, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 10:55 am

[Post removed; off topic.]


Greene Parent
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:05 am
Greene Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:05 am
Palo Alto Res
Registered user
Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:16 am
Palo Alto Res, Downtown North
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:16 am

@PaloAltoMom
Please don't assume that just because someone likes a candidate who is experienced and knowledgable, they also don't support mental health and wellness. From the debate, Shana Segal was 100% for supporting mental health and wellness and bringing out the best in each student to help them enjoy learning and bring back that spark for earning again.
Those were extremely broad generalizations you wrote on your comment. Slippery slope.


Resident10
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:41 am
Resident10, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 11:41 am

The Weekly talks a great deal about the emotions and frustrations around this campaign, but has failed to look or investigate the true reasons why they exist. There is a great deal of frustration in the Asian community around representation and what it means. To the Asian community, it is not all about skin color or ethnicity, but the current school board, many community members and the Weekly seem to think it is. That is where the problem actually lies.

The PAUSD Asian community is looking for a candidate that is willing to listen and learn. It's actually that simple. @Palo Alto Mom's comments perfectly illustrate the stereotype we deal with - "all the intense "more-math" people are rooting hard for Shana, while all the community and parent leaders who have a focus on socio-emotional and mental health and have long fought for equity in our district are in Nicole's corner." Wanting academic opportunities for our kids and caring about their mental health are not mutually exclusive. We actually care about both and we are so frustrated that it is always presented as either/or, with the implication that if you want academic opportunity, you don't care about mental health.

In representation, we need a candidate that is willing to take the time to dig deeper and understand why academic opportunities are so important to us (hint - it is much more complex than just getting into college). Also, we are looking for someone who is willing to talk to our kids and see for themselves not all are "being forced" by parents to purse math or science, and to see the amazing ways they support each other. Also, the Asian community is diverse and one size does not fit all.

Sadly, we haven't had any of the current board members or Dr. Austin actually willing to listen and learn. As a growing part of the PAUSD community, we do want representation, but it is time for the Board and District to actually ask us what that means to us - and make the effort to listen this time.


aa1234
Registered user
Triple El
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm
aa1234, Triple El
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Editor says: "Given that the student enrollment in the district is currently about 37% of Asian descent, it is long overdue for a Chinese American to serve on the board of education."

Presumably, that 37% includes students of South Asian decent.
Is not Shounak considered a representative of students of Asian decent? I am sorry, I do not understand the logic in showcasing Nicole as THE Asian rep.

Also, we did have Barbara Klausner as a school board member of Asian decent only 10 years ago (below is the link to the Palo Alto Online article). Is our memory that short or does she not qualify as Asian because she is not using an Asian last name?

Web Link

Wnough with the hypocritical identify politics.
Let's get down to what really matters: who is the best qualified candidate if we care about safe learning environments that can challenge and grow each student according their needs.

- a vested parent


Michelle
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:27 pm
Michelle, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:27 pm

@Bystander said:
"Secondly, I am completely shocked at the way Campos has been treated. She is a parent with kids in our schools and no matter how much people disagree with her views, there are some very hateful discussions going on in public on social media and probably in more private settings in parent groups and similar. Whatever she thinks, she is worthy of respect."

I am shocked that you are focused on the way Campos is supposedly being treated rather than being shocked that a candidate for PAUSD school board is openly spouting homophobic and transphobic views. While you're worrying about the wellbeing of this candidate who chose to run for office on a platform grounded in ignorance and bigotry, I'll be letting my own LGBTQ children and their friends know in no uncertain terms that they have no obligation to show respect for, listen to or give a moments consideration to the views of a person who has literally described them as "deviant".
Ingrid Campos chose to run for office, she chooses to spout views that are hateful and actively harmful, and that you are now attempting to present her as the victim rather than the targets of her bigotry is shameful and telling.


Palo Alto Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:32 pm
Palo Alto Resident , Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Just here to point out that Palo Alto Mom is incorrect when she says "all the community and parent leaders who have a focus on socio-emotional and mental health and have long fought for equity in our district are in Nicole's corner." As a community and parent leader with a focus on socio-emotional and metal health, and having fought for equity in our district, I am very much in Shana Segal's corner. I do think Nicole, who is clearly passionate about serving the city in some capacity, could be a good choice at some point. Shana's education-related knowledge and experience is unparalleled by the other candidates in this race. And having watched all the candidate forums, I can tell you that Shana is clearly focused on socio-emotional health, mental health, equity, and helping every student at their level -- whether that is "more math" or "less math"... or "reading."


Lacie James
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Lacie James, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 1:45 pm

"Editor says: "Given that the student enrollment in the district is currently about 37% of Asian descent, it is long overdue for a Chinese American to serve on the board of education."

"Presumably, that 37% includes students of South Asian decent.
Is not Shounak considered a representative of students of Asian decent? I am sorry, I do not understand the logic in showcasing Nicole as THE Asian rep."

^ East Indians are considered Asians solely on their native geography (India) but not ethnically (e.g. Chinese, SE Asian, Korean, Japanese, Okinawan etc ).

Anyone should be able to see the difference, not that it matters.

The recently arrived Mandarin Chinese are more politically active than their Cantonese Chinese American counterparts, many of whom have ancestors who immigrated to the United States during mid-19th century.

The same can be said of the Japanese Americans who go quietly about their business and whose ancestors arrived around the turn of the 20th century.

The East Indian and Mandarin Chinese tend to be more vociferous and active when it comes to addressing public issues and the pursuit of elective office.


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

It's disappointing to learn the PAUSD Board trustees went out to look for candidates to run. Are we now handpicking people to be part of the PAUSD Board? And is there an inherent flaw when current Board of Trustee members go out and actively recruit new Board of Trustee members? Where is the diversity? Where is the divergent thinking? Where is the diversity of thought?

Just another solder to fall in line with the current Board members and become a "yes" person. We all saw how PAUSD Board handled the pandemic. We just have to compare how PAUSD opened up much later than the other surrounding local public school districts in 2020 while arrogantly touting they were the "leaders" and patting themselves on the back whilst Don Austin sent off rude emails to parents of PAUSD. The number of parents who got upset with how PAUSD handled the pandemic closure and online learning is also part of why children left the district.

So do we really want another replica of the current Board members who hand pick candidates?


Susan
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:30 pm
Susan, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Experience matters, so glad PA online is endorsing these two candidates. I’m an Asian American mother in Palo Alto and wholeheartedly would love to see Shana on the board. Her experience as a not only a teacher and education advocate, but also as a long term community member, parent, and student would bring needed depth and breadth to the board. I’ve met Nicole and heard her speak about her goals and intentions if she were to get a seat, and I’m just not convinced she’s doing this for the right reasons. She has an interesting background, from being a lawyer / entrepreneur, to bring on reality TV the apprentice and film, to now working at Google. But I don’t think she’s what we need here to represent the diverse and challenging needs of the Palo Alto school board.


Resident10
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:48 pm
Resident10, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 3:48 pm

@Palo Alto Res you are exactly right. It is worrying and that is not want most of the PAUSD community want. The Weekly is taking the board members' word for it on this that they were somehow doing a public service by finding a candidate to run. However, they actually knew Shana was running earlier than they claim (check meeting dates and meeting attendees please) but they found someone they thought they could say "represented" the Asian community and would follow their lead on everything. It was about building a coalition not about real diversity or representation another reason this campaign and the current board's role in it has angered so many people.


Michaela Johnson
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:29 pm
Michaela Johnson, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:29 pm

[Portion removed.]

Ingrid Campos is simply emphasizing that we should keep our priorities focused on the quality of traditional education rather than get overly sidetracked by gender identity issues.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:44 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 4:44 pm

The Paly Voice, student newspaper presumably with high school journalists, have a fair and unbiased piece about Campos. I would suggest people read it. Web Link

It seems that our students do know how to respect school board candidates and listen to all she says rather than just sound bites. We would do well to copy their respectful reporting.


The Wind in the Willows
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2022 at 5:09 pm
The Wind in the Willows, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2022 at 5:09 pm

I am pretty shocked that our current board members handpicked someone to run. Everyone claimed we need a diversified board. Is diversification only reflected in skin color? Without board members from different background and different thinking, the board could become simply a rubber stamp for the district.

I am an Asian American who have lived in PA for 30 years. I found it really funny that the three board members have to choose someone who just moved to PA for one month (when deciding to run for the board) to claim the Asian representation. According to US Census 2020, there are 22663 Asians residents in PA and more identified as two or more races. Among the 10,000+ PAUSD current students, more than 3,700 are Asians. How many of these PA Asians did the three board members talk to before locating their "handpicked" candidate who is so new to PA and not even a parent in PAUSD yet? Fortunately (or unfortunately to the three board members), most Asians in PA are smart enough to reject this tokenism.

Yes, I am glad to see another Asian American run for public positions, but I still need to choose based on qualification, not skin color.


LindaPA
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2022 at 10:05 am
LindaPA, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 10:05 am

I'm happy to see the Weekly's endorsement of Shounak. He's shown clear, consistent support for the core function of public education, which is to make sure that public schools serve all demographics of students, most especially those who have been historically underserved. Nicole's academic background in gender and ethnic studies, her management and policy-making experience in her startup and corporate careers, and her ability to think through complex issues while ensuring equitable opportunities for all, make her a well-qualified candidate. Her non-linear career and public service path through life is exactly what more and more of our students should expect to have, which makes her a good role model. Shounak and Nicole get my two votes. Remember to return your ballots by November 8!


Ken Dauber
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2022 at 11:16 am
Ken Dauber, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 11:16 am

The Weekly criticizes the board for "acquiescence, if not endorsement, of Austin's desire to keep controversial issues off the board agenda and instead rely on private communication with individual board members to test their support of his position."

Unfortunately the Weekly didn't ask me how the agenda is set, though I’ve been directly involved as board president and VP for the past two years. The agenda is set by the board, not the Superintendent. My goal is to spend the board's time on decisions that benefit students. This has included topics such as dyslexia, homework load, budget priorities, mental health service models, special ed, curriculum, and test results. These are mostly not controversial -- maybe even boring -- but they matter for student learning. Our strategy has paid off, most recently in higher reading scores after the board provided clear goals and resources to back them up.

It's true that in the past there was more controversy. We had violations of the rights of disabled students, secret agreements with the federal government, budget screwups, mental health crises, large gaps in outcomes between high school counseling programs, Title IX errors, and leadership crises. Meetings ran far into the night. Those might have been more interesting -- and generated more clicks for news sites -- but they were an indication of a poorly managed district and school board, not of more transparency. See Web Link for historical perspective.

We’ve avoided controversies by fixing problems and better management, not by moving them behind the scenes. Four years ago the Weekly celebrated this change as “the strongest board in decades.” See Web Link The Weekly should put the credit -- or blame -- where it belongs: on a board that has worked to improve student outcomes, albeit at the cost of drama.


Ken Horowitz
Registered user
University South
on Oct 15, 2022 at 11:51 am
Ken Horowitz, University South
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 11:51 am

Let’s not miss this opportunity to elect Nicole Chui-Wang to the School Board. As a professor at Foothill College, I have learned to listen more to my students’ views. Many times they have solutions to problems that my colleagues can not solve. As a young professional of color, Nicole brings a new and different perspective. Nicole is the right person at the right time for our students who are struggling coming out of this pandemic. Nicole brings enthusiasm and meaning for our students who see her as a role model. Please support Nicole Chui-Wang now in this election year!


Richard Hayes
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2022 at 2:12 pm
Richard Hayes, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Addressing gender identity issues and concerns should take a backseat to a traditional education format that best prepares our children for adulthood and college.

They can learn about the LGBTQ world later if so inclined.


KEN HOROWITZ
Registered user
University South
on Oct 15, 2022 at 5:19 pm
KEN HOROWITZ, University South
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 5:19 pm

[Post removed; duplicative of prior post.]


Forest
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Oct 15, 2022 at 9:51 pm
Forest, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Oct 15, 2022 at 9:51 pm

Nicole Chiu-Wang is the leadership PAUSD needs. They gave an impressive vision of education during the endorsement process and have a proven quality in leadership.


Greene and Paly Parent
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 16, 2022 at 8:17 am
Greene and Paly Parent, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2022 at 8:17 am

Thank you Palo Alto Online for endorsing Shana Segal!, a candidate that as you argued, we can not afford to miss out on. I have nothing to add to your excellent endorsement.

As for Chiu-Wang, I am in complete agreement that she is not ready. Almost no relevant background or experience and clearly (I listened to all debates and read statements) Chiu-Wang's understanding of the issues is shallow and biased, almost a direct and uncritical adoption of the positions of the board members that recruited and prepped her. But she is enthusiastic and hard working (learned so much after moving here in April) and we can hope for an independent and informed candidate in later elections. I do have some concern on candidate not acknowledging clear blind spots (due to limited exposure, experience) but this might be due to being inside a campaign.

As for Dharap. I understand the dearth of options for the second spot after Shana Segal but agree that Dharap is more palatable than the remaining two choices. I don't think Dharap did a good job in his first term, even when factoring out the difficulties and immense challenges due to the pandemic. Dharap rarely visited the elementary school he was a board liaison for (even on scheduled visits) and generally does not respond to concerns from the community he supposedly serves. Dharap states that he views his role as pushing down his priorities rather than representing the community but even these stated priorities were managed extremely poorly in terms of setting up goals, using good metrics, and following up with the district. See
Web Link
Web Link

The elephant in the room is the reason for the dearth of good candidates in spite of having so many qualified and caring community members. I will follow up with my thoughts on that.


Anony Mouse
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2022 at 11:45 am
Anony Mouse, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2022 at 11:45 am

Thanks @KenDauber for speaking up. It's hard from an outsiders perspective to see the transparency you describe. 99% of all votes are unanimous with very anodyne public discussion does not speak of transparency. From the outside, it looks like things are pre-decided. (perhaps the Weekly needs to do a public records request for text messages - the board and staff regularly text during board meetings, it's plain to see) I think it's very refreshing that you are stepping up to say that the board is responsible and the board is in control of this institution. But to the public, I say if you were bullied by this admin, if you were treated dismissively by this admin, if you were ignored by this admin, then that must have all been at the behest of this board. If you are concerned by the plummeting morale of staff, the ongoing staffing and turnover crisis in Special Ed, then the people to turn to are the board. They are in control. With that, I put to you my fellow citizens that perhaps a change in board members is in order? The incumbent member, Dharap, was also in control during the past 4 years and did not do much to curb the sharp elbows that this admin exhibits. Time for a change. Some new, ambitious, and intelligent candidates have stepped up. Shana and Nicole are exactly what is needed right now.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2022 at 7:02 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 16, 2022 at 7:02 pm

Shana Segal's experience and familiarity in education and with PAUSD in particular (in the trenches, from multiple perspectives) make her a no-brainer first choice. We are lucky and should be grateful to have this group of passionate and talented candidates willing to serve.


Jane
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:15 am
Jane, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:15 am

Totally agree "Ingrid Campos is simply emphasizing that we should keep our priorities focused on the quality of traditional education rather than get overly sidetracked by gender identity issues."


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:46 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:46 am

There's nothing like book banning which is what is what Campos and the national "traditional values" bunch is advocating which includes the "Diary of Anne Frank" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." What's next after book banning -- book burning in the town square?

You do realize that "gender identity issues" also includes career prep and that some schools have banned the "Girls Who Code" series because they think females belong in the home and nursery but not in the workplace.


panative
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:57 pm
panative, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:57 pm

Long-time district parent here. Just want to point out there's a third alternative: to vote for Segal and for Chiu-Wang. That's what I'll be doing. I feel strongly that we need new perspectives and new voices on the school board right now, and from what I know, I anticipate these two candidates will work together extremely effectively.

To those who are critical of the purported efforts by diBrienza and others to "anoint" Chiu-Wang, I would set that aside. It's not great, it's not terrible, it's just politics, and it happens at the local, state, and national level. Indeed, in the last cycle, diBrienza was apparently instrumental in getting Ladomirak elected.


resident
Registered user
Triple El
on Oct 19, 2022 at 4:23 pm
resident, Triple El
Registered user
on Oct 19, 2022 at 4:23 pm

@panative. Thank you for the reminder of DiBrienza's role in the election of Jesse to the school board. I had forgotten about that. Her current involvement in Nicole's campaign give me pause and is something voters should be aware of when deciding whether to create a voting block on the five-member board.


More info
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2022 at 5:59 pm
More info, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 19, 2022 at 5:59 pm

Curious about this line from the editors. Why does Segal need to learn "the importance of NOT functioning as a teacher advocate on the board" (emphasis added)?

I also would like actual examples and evidence (has she given any?) from Campos about how being more inclusive in our schools has impeded student learning.


Resident10
Registered user
Professorville
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:19 am
Resident10, Professorville
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:19 am

@panative - you are missing the point. Folks want independent voices on the board. Shana offers exactly that plus excellent experience - way above all the others. Nicole was too quick to align with current board members and follow their lead on everything. There is no reason to think that would change if she were elected. At least Shounak would be in his second term and could work independently since he would not be trying to curry favor for another run for school board. As it is, he is the second best choice. Nicole's complete lack of experience with k-12 schools plus her strong alignment with current board members makes her a bad choice for folks that want strong, independent thinkers on the board.


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:45 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:45 am

Nice to see that the Weekly and I agree on these candidates. Thanks for the article.


New in Town
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Oct 20, 2022 at 1:10 pm
New in Town, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Oct 20, 2022 at 1:10 pm

Indeed DiBrienza is open about her desire for a board majority to make "systemic change"

Web Link

Response to question about the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience:
"As I currently serve as a board member, I have spent the first 4 years of my service on the board advocating for a review of our policies, practices, culture and climate. The outcomes we are getting exist because our system is set up to get them. If we want to see a change, we need to change the system, not the students. They are not a "problem". I am determined to build a board majority to make systemic change in our district so that student demographics are not a predictor of success."


Father of Gunn Graduates
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Oct 21, 2022 at 11:11 am
Father of Gunn Graduates, Gunn High School
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2022 at 11:11 am

The Editorial States: "Given that the student enrollment in the district is currently about 37% of Asian descent, it is long overdue for a Chinese American to serve on the board of education." Should ethnicity or race really be an important factor in determining who sits on the board of education? Given human nature, it no doubt will be, but isn't calling for a member of a particular ethnic group to sit on the board only making matters worse? Substituting one set of outdated racial and ethnic biases for another new one. The response above seems to me to be more on point: "To the Asian community, it is not all about skin color or ethnicity . . . ." If we have made progress as a community and country, what a person looks like should not be called out as a factor, but rather how the candidate listens, who they listen to and what they plan to do.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2022 at 3:14 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 21, 2022 at 3:14 pm

I do agree with the above poster. I am tired of the virtue signaling about race. The idea that all Asian people think exactly the same is just as bad as thinking that all Hispanics are alike, or all african americans are alike, or all anything else are alike.

The true is that values have nothing to do with race and all to do with what a particular family feels important to them regardless of their skin tone or ethnicity. Even all white people are different and have values that are as likely to be different from others and may even be more like another ethnicity.

Let's vote for our own values when choosing anyone, particularly for a school board where we want the best for all students not just a certain segment.


Rajiv
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Oct 22, 2022 at 1:47 pm
Rajiv, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Oct 22, 2022 at 1:47 pm

Thank you for the article. You helped me make my decision.


Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2022 at 11:20 am
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 11:20 am

[Portion removed.]
We need more people on the school board that have a true diversity of viewpoint. Most of us in fact oppose teaching little kids about "gender fluidity," and teaching them that everything in the world is about race, including all the history of the United States. [Portion removed.]

Campos in fact represents a restoration of sanity to such woke madness. She is a throwback to the the civil rights movement of the 1960s, where MLK said people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. If you truly care about diversity on the school board, Campos is your choice.


Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Oct 24, 2022 at 12:05 pm
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 12:05 pm
Another
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2022 at 1:20 pm
Another, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 1:20 pm

I disagree with Barron Parker Too. Ingrid Campos embraces hate and division. She wants our society to return to a time when gay people were forced to live in secret and in shame. She scorns anyone who doesn't fit her narrow view of what an American should be. If you think I'm exaggerating, just read her tweets from her own Twitter account at Web Link Also check out the extremists and hatemongers who she retweets--these are the people she looks up to.

Campos is dangerous, and it's sad that her brand of hate has a following even in Palo Alto. Please vote for the other three candidates. Let's send a clear message that her views have no place in our town.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2022 at 3:03 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 3:03 pm

I agree with Barron Parker Too.

We do need to have more than one point of view on our school board. I have not heard any hate from Campos only reasons why she feels that teaching sex ed and other gender issues too young is not what families want [portion removed.]

Our schools are failing to teach the three Rs let alone STEM to all students. We need less feel good virtue signaling and more back to basics education.

Can we agree that having a board made up of identical views is not a diverse board? We need diversity of thought more than ever.

And finally, what any candidate thinks about national politics is secondary to what they might think about things in Palo Alto. Disagreement is not hate. What is hate is to tell our students what to think and not letting them learn how to think for themselves. That is a dangerous idealogy.


Another
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2022 at 5:23 pm
Another, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 5:23 pm

Bystander,

Here's a quote from Campos's website her post entitled "When has Scholastic Books become deviant publishers?"

"What parent desires to expose their child to the deviant lifestyle that embodies LGBTQ? LGBTQ is a sexual preference lifestyle, not an individual's character. Our children do not need to know about these choices at 3-5 years old. When you are an adult, then you can make adult choices based on the sound emotional foundation you received as a child."Web Link

I know several PAUSD families headed by LGBTQ parents who have raised their children since they were babies. These kids have surely known their whole lives that their parents, who love them and care for them every day, are gay. Yet Campos insists that children "do not need to know about" the existence of gay people.

Campos insists that being gay is a "choice" and a "sexual preference lifestyle". I think we all know plenty of real examples proving that this is absolutely false. This is why gay conversion therapy has been completely debunked and is illegal in many places. People are gay because that's who they are. Campos's insistence that it is a "choice" is her attempt to move us back to the 1950s, when gay people were forced into the closet to suffer in silence.

And then there's her disgusting, hateful reference to "the deviant lifestyle that embodies LGBTQ"?

If that's not hate I don't know what is.

The notion that "we do need to have more than one point of view on our school board" is quite the flimsy justification for electing an extremist like Campos. We don't elect Nazis, Klansmen, Proud Boys, and other white supremacists out of some cockeyed desire to have "more than one point of view", do we? No, we don't, and we shouldn't elect a homophobic extremist like Campos either.

It's also quite ironic that she claims to be such a champion for academic excellence but can't even come up with a grammatically correct title for her blog post.


CalAveLocal
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Oct 24, 2022 at 5:44 pm
CalAveLocal, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2022 at 5:44 pm

Segal is an absolute no brainer. She is the most qualified candidate and will be a true champion for our kids.
I have a very hard time deciding between the other two. I've been extremely unhappy with Dharap's statements; but concerned with CW's lack of experience in our school district.

Campos is not just spreading division and hate. She is also anti-science, and specifically anti-vaccine. I am not sure if her views on vaccines are limited to Covid or all vaccines, but physical health of our students is and should be a first priority. Having someone on the board who does not believe in vaccinations is dangerous, plain and simple.


Dennis
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Oct 25, 2022 at 4:26 pm
Dennis, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Oct 25, 2022 at 4:26 pm

I am going to vote for Shana Segal and Ingrid Campos.

Jennifer Debranza and Don Austin have collectively watered down our schools in the name of diversity. Instead of raising the ceiling, they are lowering the ceiling so everyone can "fit".

We moved to Palo Alto a few years back because it promised excellent education for "all students". What I am observing is that Mr. Austin and the board only care about underperforming students, and have methodically removed anything for high achievers. The only reason Palo Alto schools still do well is that our parent community provides a ton of additional support.

I do like Shaunak Dharap, but he is a bit too aligned with the current board and there is no diversity of thought. Bringing in Shana and Ingrid will provide the essential focus on excellence that we so desperately need. Nicole is too hand-wavy in her responses, and I don't think she is ready for the role right now.


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2022 at 5:59 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 25, 2022 at 5:59 pm

@Dennis. I would strongly disagree with Campos as second choice. Your votes are your own of course.

It will be a tight race. If anyone has one stand-out 'favorite' (like I do) keep in mind you don't 'need' to cast both votes! I'd bet a bunch we'll get 2 out of the 3 from Dharap, Segal, and Chiu-Wang. They all seem authentic and I am thankful to all candidates for running.

Finally, Dennis, I think you are correct about the lowering academic bar in California and beyond. Our community colleges are now getting filled with CA high school graduates who cannot complete college level coursework (EdSource link below) so the 'solution' is to eliminate remedial class designations and 'expand' (read lower) the bar for what counts as college level work. Sigh. To be fair, Palo Alto's 'softening' does not approach the severity of the state-wide trend. It does point to the absurdity of following the academic model of, say, SF Unified, as we openly did for mathematics.

Web Link


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Oct 29, 2022 at 3:35 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Oct 29, 2022 at 3:35 pm

I appreciate the article. I agree with Dharap and Segal. Thanks for all the comments.

I really appreciate the comments by @Susan:
"I’ve met Nicole and heard her speak about her goals and intentions if she were to get a seat, and I’m just not convinced she’s doing this for the right reasons. She has an interesting background, from being a lawyer / entrepreneur, to bring on reality TV the apprentice and film, to now working at Google. But I don’t think she’s what we need here to represent the diverse and challenging needs of the Palo Alto school board."

Speaks volumes to me and helped to reinforce my choice.


Marc Vincenti
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2022 at 4:52 pm
Marc Vincenti, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Oct 31, 2022 at 4:52 pm

Shana Segal, a thousand times over.

It's rare for a teacher of any longevity (I taught from 1996-2010 at Gunn) to retain specific memories of individual students, but I clearly remember Shana as an outstanding person with both English skills and interpersonal skills, and as someone who gave the best "how to" speech in class.

And after suffering for so long without an experienced high-school teacher on our school board, Shana's tenure in the classroom and her demonstrated desire to actually be with young people bode well for the mental health of our kids.

Shana is the breath of fresh air this District needs.

Sincerely,
Marc Vincenti


anne
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 5, 2022 at 12:11 am
anne, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2022 at 12:11 am

Having worked in PAUSD for many years I know we need a very balanced person with real life experiences of living in PA, attending PA schools and working in them. Someone who will stand up for what is right for students and not acquiesce. She has a balanced perspective on academics and socio-emotional health. It is not a time to have outsiders who do not know or understand the community OR the district administrators. Shana is clearly by far, as the Weekly points out the person to help our children thrive in every way!


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2022 at 11:13 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2022 at 11:13 am

@Dennis "Instead of raising the ceiling, they [PAUSD Board] are lowering the ceiling so everyone can "fit"." Oh wow, if this isn't ever segregation comment, metaphoric camp or park children into separate parcels based on ... test scores, incomes, skin color, from East or West Palo Alto. . Scary and wrong. Your post is hardly worth commenting on... Nicole Chiu-Wang all the way!! Fresh eyes, heart, mind and outside experience is golden. We are not a gated community though many would like to believe so and work for so, and support so. "Welcome to Palo Alto! Check your income at the border." Chiu-Wang yes go Nicole !!! Fresh, young energy and smart with heart so needed.


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