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Editorial: Caswell, Klausner, Hausser for Palo Alto school board

Original post made on Oct 17, 2007

There's a feeling among many within the Palo Alto school district that we have emerged from a long stretch of Class 5 whitewater rapids and are now regrouping in a quiet eddy before the next stretch.

Read the full endorsement editorial here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (379)

Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:53 am

My choices, too. I think the Weekly has it right.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:10 am

Well said, but please take off the paid advertisments from this page.

Posted by still on the fence
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:17 am

I agree mostly with the Weekly but I have to say Ezran's campaign materials are so well done that now I am thinking again of voting for him.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:34 am

A vote for Ezran is a vote for Townsend; we don't want to split the vote. I really like Claude, but theh other three comprise the combination of talent that we need at this time.

Posted by GoodOnePAWeekly
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:28 am

Now that's a classic!

On the page with the editorial essentially telling people NOT to vote for her, what magically appears right in the middle? Why a large ad - complete with her smiling face - saying vote for Ms. Townsend!

No matter which side you're on, you just gotta laugh at that one!

Posted by Faith Brigel
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:35 am

I am thrilled that the Weekly got it right! They are endorsing Wynn Hausser, Barbara Klausner,and Melissa Baten-Casswell- the three candidates that PAEE( Palo Altans for Equity in Education) is endorsing and supporting. I think that these three individuals will bring intelligent, and thoughtful analyses, and then action, to the current issues.

Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:56 am

RWE makes a good tactical point - if you are an ABC voter (anyone but camille), it makes sense to line up behind the endorsements to avoid splitting the vote. I actually like Ezran, but more Camille is probably more than my blood pressure can handle.

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is wrong
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Well, Thanks to one of the above posters, i know who I am not voting for:
Wynn Hausser, Barbara Klausner,and Melissa Baten-Casswell.
I am wary of candidates who have the wholehearted support of someone who was ready to cost our county $500,000 to $1,000,000 to fund a special election to oppose the appointment of someone to Santa Clara County Board of Education.
In addition this person has also vehemently opposed the MI program.
Thanks for the advice poster.

Posted by WOW!!
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:19 pm

I have just learned a good lesson in pre-judgement. I was betting my closest friend that the endorsements would not go this way because of the prior support of this paper for the way things were done and the results at the Board level.

I have to give the PA Weekly a TON of respect for bucking "conventional wisdom" based on its historical opinion pieces and going for these three. I also know that the Editors of this paper are in for a ton of grief over this because of the shock waves.

I hope those not endorsed understand that it isn't any reflection of the goodness of their hearts or their good intentions, but of their level of comprehension of the issues and their goals for our District.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, you have done a tremendous favor to future school children, in my opinion.

Supporter of the same 3.

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is correct
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:29 pm

"I am wary of candidates who have the wholehearted support of someone who was ready to cost our county $500,000 to $1,000,000 to fund a special election to oppose the appointment of someone to Santa Clara County Board of Education."

If the appointment followed correct procedure there would be no need for a special election. The fact the appointed didn't follow correct procedure and could be faulted should tell you a lot about the partisanship in-play here. Likewise, the fact that this was dropped only when they realized that challenging it would cost the district this money also indicates who really cares about this district.

This is yet another reason for incumbents to be removed. We need to have trust in our BoE and, as the article stated, the current board members are sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to address the trust issue.

Posted by another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Why do you rail against Faith who, after learning of the financial burden her actions would cause, VOLUNTARILY ENDED her petition? Unlike others, who kept pushing and pushing, ignoring pleas to at least wait and threatening our board with a charter no matter what financial difficulties might ensue, got what they wanted through a vote championed by the President of the B of E.

Thank you, Faith, for thinking that you might have been misguided and took steps to prevent it from going through. I wish others had followed your example.

Good for the Weekly for going with candidates they believe will begin the healing and bring fresh views to this board.

Posted by let it go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:32 pm

To "PA weekly endorsement is wrong" --
That's a narrow-minded way to make informed decisions: my enemy's enemy is my friend. You're probably one of the pro-MI posters who keep saying "let it go". Now it's your turn to let it go.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:56 pm

What does Ms. Brigel have to do with who makes the best candidates? I mean, did any of them come out in favor of a special election?

About the campaign advertising on the page, it seems to change. I don't get the same candidates other people have gotten, so I assume they've all paid for a rotation on the space. Not a huge problem to me. The Weekly needs to make money.

Posted by good grief
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 12:56 pm

To "PA Endorsement is wrong": It doesn't make you look too good when your focus on the mentioned poster being "ready to" call a special election....but then conveniently forget that the same person withdrew when she found out how expensive it could be. Twisting facts is not pretty.

If these 3 win, then it might go a long way to re-establishing trust in our District.

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is wrong
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:03 pm

I gave you my opinion, based on the actions of a certain individual--who is part of an organization who I believe does not have the best interests of our school district as part of their agenda.
I do not appreciate the actions of said organization or it's members and therefore when I read that they are endorsing candidates A, B and C, I decided that I cannot vote for said candidates.
No facts were twisted--yes the push for a special election was stopped, probably because the people behind it would become pariah's in the county for wasting so much money--I just did not state all the "facts"--we really do not know why they stopped.

Posted by beg to differ
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm

No, the fact twisting is implying that said organization actually tried to cost the District gobs of money....without stating that they didn't. None of us will ever know the reasons they stopped..but they did. I honor results, not intention. Great intentions can do great harm.

The bottom line is that those who want our district to have more and more choice programs at the elementary school level, will vote for your three, and those who don't, will vote for the other three, and beyond that, the ones who have no idea what we are talking about will vote based on who knows what factors...

Posted by Respectfully written editorial
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:24 pm

I have to admit, I approached the editorial above with trepidation. I was worried about what it would say about those it is not endorsing.

But, I am relieved to read that it isn't indicting anyone's efforts or good intentions at all. Simply and forthrightly putting forward the reasons why we need these 3 is refreshing. Very civil and well written..

I would add, though..even though I fully support the 3 endorsed here, I also wish that the 6th candidate, Mr. Liu, had been acknowledged for his courage in even trying to tackle such a job. So newly here, so new to everything about who we are and what our issues are etc,new even to what democracy is and clearly embracing it wholeheartedly, all while still struggling with a new language, well, I was impressed. In addition, he did such a good job being a clearly honorable,honest and transparent person who just speaks the truth as he sees it..well, if I hadn't disagreed with him on almost everything ( I really liked a few things that it was refreshing to hear the truth said bluntly), I would have voted for him just as an example of what kind of personal characteristics I respect...

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is correct
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:29 pm

"probably because the people behind it would become pariah's in the county for wasting so much money-"

Any money wasted would have been caused by those that approved the appointment. They either followed procedure or they didn't. They are responsible. If they are unable to live up to the trust their position requires they should have been honorable enough to step down.

Posted by Former Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:34 pm

I have to give the PA Weekly a TON of respect for bucking "conventional wisdom". WOW

Really was it that much of a stretch. I don't have a problem with the Weekly having an opinion on their editorial page but I do have a problem when it colors their news articles. If you have time read the articles from the beginning of the campaigns for both school board and city council races. Then try to guess who the Weekly was going to endorse from the bias in coverage. The real shocker would have been if they had endorsed Camille or Claude. For the same time period read the articles in the Daily. It's amazing to me to even think that I now read the Daily for balance. Reading their articles you cannot tell who will be endorsed by their paper.

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is wrong
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:43 pm

If we are going to stick to the facts, then note the following from a PA Weekly article regarding the appointment of Mah:

Web Link

"The board had considered an election to fill the vacancy, Rummelhoff said.

"We decided to do an appointment because we felt the cost of a special election would be pretty high. It could be upwards of a million dollars for a special election to a board seat that's only 18 months."

There's precedence for appointments, Rummelhoff said. The board appointed Jane Howard to fill a vacated position and then she ran for election, he said."

I think if you read the article you will see that the issue was not the appointment itself, but who was appointed. So procedure was not the issue either.

The board did consider the cost of an election and had precedence for the appointment.

So please look at all the facts.
I'll stand by my choice to vote for School Board based on the endorsement and actions of a certain organization

Posted by Yup
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:50 pm


You got it right! They dropped the special election only after massive outcry. They didn't care about the district, its finances or the kids it is educating.

Posted by PA weekly endorsement is correct
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Your posts are trying to blame the people for making the challenge to an appointment. Whose responsibility is it to make sure the district isn't exposed to a risk of up to $1,000,000 when making an appointment?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Weekly got the endorsements right. I think its time to look forward and compare what the candidates can do for the community.

These three candidates each offer a level head and an appropriate focus on priorities of the district. They also impress in the candidate forums with a level headed CLEAR and CONCISE speaking approach, and a real effort to understand and ANSWER the questions. Wow, what a concept. A clear, level headed, "say what you mean and mean what you say" approach. What a breath of fresh air that will be.

Its time to clean house and get us back on track.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:05 pm

What muddy thinking! It's no surprise given the slanted campaign coverage, but what poor reasoning behind the Weekly's choices. Note that in the endorsement, the Weekly never actually cites specific reasons to vote for its three. It just trots out mini-bios.

It does a hatchet job on Townsend, essentially blaming her for the actions of her fellow board members and a few in the community. And no discussion of Ezran!

It's kooky, and we deserve better. Editors, get back to work and give reasons for your endorsements.

Posted by disagee
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:12 pm

sorry, the PAWeekly has been so biased for those three, it's no surprise.

I am concerned about PAEE, who are they? what are they for? their website doesn't reflect their true desire to be rid of MI, which is the root action they're continuing to charge.

Actions speak much louder than their words, which have been smoothed recently on their website.

their credibility is shot in my book, and endorsements by them (whoever they are) are complementary to sensible community members.

I'd drop Wynn and Melissa in a minute. I think Barbara has been significantly reticent to be the least controversial candidate, not because she's strong on any point (granted her education background is great) but because she hasn't taken a strong stand on anything.

Wynn and Melissa say nothing about bringing any diversity to the board, either. More of the same.

Posted by Thanks
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Oh My Gosh!

I finally feel the beginnings of "oh, so it wasn't a complete waste of time" over my continued resentment about being completely dismissed when we all signed that petition 1 1/2 years ago..the one where over 300 of us begged the Board to just delay MI until there was a broad World Languages Plan in place to put MI into. We weren't even saying "no MI", just "No MI YET".

I will never forget the arrogant and dismissive way of some of the proponents, one of the husbands of one of the Board members, and frankly, at least one person on the Board..Telling us that clearly we hadn't been paying attention if this had surprised us, and clearly we were ignorant of the importance of foreign languages, and we were .. (fill in your favorite pejorative here).

I was also amazed at the completely inconsistent logic that somehow over 330 signatures asking for so little gathered in just a couple weeks was not as valid as 900 signatures asking for a whole new program gathered over 4 years!!

If they had listened then to the groundswell and simply slowed it down enough to really think through everything and put the cart before the horse, and remember transparency etc...who knows how much better and well thought out the entire way could have been? Certainly, it would have gone a long way toward preventing a lot of the anger we now have, and a long way to coming up with some sort of workable compromise with buy-in from most of us.

And, the irony is that MI would probably STILL be starting at the same date it is now, and this election would be a very different one.

It is unfortunate that Ms Townsend has to take the full brunt of this, since 2 of the others are not up for re-election and one of the others who voted to move full steam ahead is gone, but since it was her baby from the first, and since she has never once in this campaign admitted to having made any errors or having learned anything from the last year process..well, I would be very, very afraid of a repeat at her hands.

Thank you, Weekly, you are giving me hope for this District to learn from its mistakes and move on. ( And also for earning my respect for bucking tradition)

Posted by Sorry, don't buy it
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Sorry, the "bringing diversity to the Board" argument is not a valid one. Voting for someone because of gender, color or original nationality or for any other reason that says nothing about how the person thinks or believes, and is only a comment on the genetics or luck of the draw of your birth ..well, if you voted AGAINST them for that reason, what would that make you?

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:19 pm

I don't need the paper or Faith to tell me what to think - do the research, go to the candidate forums, watch Townsend make more nonsensical "building barns" comments that avoid any reference to the reality of issues facing our district, and certainly avoids any personal connection to supporting MI. WHY?! Is she afraid of coming out strong in support of MI now? What's different now, versus the past 3 years of her unwaivering charge on MI?? Well, what's different now is that she WANTS community support. Townsend/Mah were on the front lines of one of the most damaging issues to slap this community in the face in a LONG time. And unlike some posters who are trying to villify Faith for taking a stand - hearing cmomunity feedback - and retracting her position in a way that helped the community heal and prevented a LOT of waste of money = these two have done just the opposite - they FAILED to hear community feedback, have FAILED to respond to the needs of the community, and have PERSISTED in their own personal agenda's costing the district countless hours of wasted staff and board effort and diverted attention from priorities. Faith listened, heard and corrected. Townsend/Mah dug in their heels and are still digging, scratching and clawing. No community outcry can be too BIG to divert Townsend and Mah from their agenda.

Anybody who attends a candidate forum will see the stark difference between the candidates the paper endorsed, and the ones they didn't. I don't think the paper has gone out on a limb at all! The best candidates are pretty obvious to anyone who takes a few moments to observe firt hand. Please attend a candidate forum - the best endorsement for the Klausner, Wynn and Baten-Caswell that can be offered! See it with your own eyes - don't take someone else's word for it!

Posted by I vote based on thinking skills, experience, knowledge and vision
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Oh c'mon..does anyone really vote for someone just because of their race or sex? If so..what a pity. I hope that the majority of people vote for the best person for the job, the one that matches what they want for our District..not the one who matches their sex or race or nationality.

Posted by I vote based on thinking skills, experience, knowledge and vision
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Well said, parent, except that Mah is irrelevant to this election. She isn't running.

However, I completely agree with your sentiment about going to a Candidate Forum. That is truly and honestly the best way to make a decision, because it is pretty hard to hide who you are and what you think in the Forums, especially when very direct questions are asked..

Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:29 pm

I read in another thread that Townsend motioned to approve MI as early as 2004 - her first board meeting (before any staff studies had even occured?). Is that true?

And she never indicated in her first election that she was supporting an MI program - did she? (I read the election materials from the previous campaign that I found on her current website - She mentioned back then that she valued language education for all - I didn't see anything about her supporting or even talking about an MI lottery program solution.

And I haven't heard her talk about it any any of the candidate forums so far - even though its been a main centerpiece of what she's been abuot for the past ? year and half at least (perhaps all the way back to 04?)

I don't understand why she isn't touting her support for MI? Isn't that a major accomplishment for her? What's up with Camille? Is she being forthcoming with the community on this?

Posted by I vote based on thinking skills, experience, knowledge and vision
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:30 pm

PA parent..try reading the paper again. I think you missed the reasons to vote for these three. What do you want the paper to do, go into detail about how the other 3 are not the best?

No, they did it in an honorable way, focusing on the positives of the 3 endorsed, and by inference stating that the other 3 were not as strong in these areas.

As for blaming it again..they are rightly concerned that she learned nothing from the horrendous controversies that she, frankly, was the primary contributor. She was President during the majority of the voting on MI, and President of the Board when the whole Management issue bubbled to the surface. It is only right to question that she would repeat her mistakes. She wielded a lot of power as President, which she could have used differently. And, frankly, she bucked to be President, and with that title the "buck stops here".

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:36 pm

"Sorry", you may be misinterpreting the "diversity" comment. I believe the context is diversity of thought and ideology, not physical, national or cultural diversity. At least that's how it's been described in other threads.

Posted by pa mom
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Board Watcher,

I saw a tape of one of the forums where Camille was asked, "what 3 accomplishments are you most proud of?" She had great difficulty with this question. Basically saying, wow, she wasn't prepared for a question like that. She finally mentioned hiring the new superintendent and passing the budget. Not a single mention of MI, even though she was one of the original supporters of it. This really bothered me. If she loves this program so much, why isn't she telling the community about how proud she is of it.

I'll try to find the Link -

Posted by Usually Diversity does not mean "of thought", except in Academia ( where there is a lack of this t
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 3:05 pm

I don't vote for "diversity of thought and ideology". That is fine and good for academics and learning. But, to vote for a policy maker is frankly a vote for an ideology and way of thinking that you support. If 80% of the people support a certain way of thinking, then most Board members will have that way, and will make decisions that most people will support..which means that most people will support getting more money for the schools.

Diversity of thought and ideology on a Board leads to deadlock or to implementing policies that are not consistent with the community.

Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Hi, pa mom --

I saw that too. And the one this week where she said she had relied on staff to give her full and robust data (I'm paraphrsasing) and would continue to do so. That rankled in light of the feasibility study. I would not like to see a repeat of that partisan, unprofessional and incomplete document.

Camille is sincere, no doubt about that, and she seems like a nice person. She has also cared deeply about a lot of issues in the district, and worked hard in the trenches on Measure A. Unfortunately, she comes across as truly oblivious. That is depressing, since one would like to have elected officials at least be aware of the ramifications of their choices. I hope she will give more substance in the next few weeks before the election.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 3:23 pm


"I think you missed the reasons to vote for these three." Er, you seem to imagine there were reasons, though the Weekly neglected to mention any. Repeating truncated bios and campaign rhetoric doesn't count as a reason to vote for someone....

Read the stuff on Townsend more carefully. It reveals a misunderstanding of the way the board works and a lack of knowledge of who voted for what. She was president of the board only for the tail-end of the MI debate, and in any case the president has no power to knock sense into ideologues like Price or the wafflers. They'll vote as they see fit. Kind of silly to blame Townsend for their poor choices. (And no, she doesn't "wield a lot of power as President," as you imagine.)

Also, she wasn't president of the board when "the whole Management issue bubbled to the surface," though I can see how you would get that impression from the slanted Weekly reporting.

It's this kind of muddy thinking coupled with a lack of facts that leads to such a silly endorsement.

Plus ca change... (how do you say that in Mandarin?)

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Diversity –
I generally agree - I plan to vote for the non-diverse Hausser-Klausner-Caswell combo because they're most likely to represent my own way of thinking. I posted that comment not to defend the position but to clarify. I don't think anyone was proposing to vote based on gender or race, but that's what it was being blown into.

PA Mom & Board Watcher, the link with Camille Townsend and all the other candidates is at Web Link -

Posted by huh?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Amazing and revealing post by PA Parent to Skills above...

"and in any case the president has no power to knock sense into ideologues like Price or the wafflers"

Definitely a nice summary of the attitude we are rebelling against. She definitely tried everything possible to "knock sense into" Dana and Mandy in her shock that her baby was being voted down. Weren't you at the meeting watching her beg and plead, and then watching her raging at people who had "won" (for that night?)?

As president, she wielded tremendous power to shape the meetings and agendae

By the way..the MI thing was her baby from the beginning, it didn't just come up during her presidency. So, can't take away her credit. Without her, there was no voice on the Board for the program.

Nobody is saying it is ALL her problem, she is the only one up for re-election, and the only one who pushed it for the first 3 years.

Posted by Why ABC
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Why not Camille?

First and foremost - she was an apologist for Mary Frances. Actually more pollyannish - just didn't see the harm being caused by MFC. Had the management letter not been leaked, I'm sure Camille would still be touted MFC.

Second - rather than critically assessing the district she continues to believe that everything is just fine the way it is. Not exactly what I'd like to see in a board member. We've had enough cheerleaders on the board.

Third - she's made so many statements over the years which reflect a lack of knowledge of issues she should be very familiar with. Although she was on PiE's board, she didn't seem to know that money is distributed per capita. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Fourth - the meetings are already too long and unwieldy. Camille's ramblings make them worse without adding much of substance.

Fifth - Camille has shown little interest in tackling the very tough issue of capacity at all school levels. In my opinion we are well behind in figuring out how we will expand capacity. She has agreed with Matranga's "move the goalpost - the schools can hold more students than we said they could" approach. When the cups ranneth over she supported the next easiest choice - portables.

We need real leaders on the board. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Concerned about school sizes
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Why ABC: "Camille has shown little interest in tackling the very tough issue of capacity at all school levels. In my opinion we are well behind in figuring out how we will expand capacity. She has agreed with Matranga's "move the goalpost - the schools can hold more students than we said they could" approach. When the cups ranneth over she supported the next easiest choice - portables."

I agree. Knowing full well that if the MI pilot is deemed a success it will need somewhere to go after the three year pilot, and knowing that calling in the Garland lease requires three years' notice, and making Garland habitable by PAUSD students will take about 1 additional year of B4E improvements, she still voted in favor of maxing out capacity at the elementary schools before reopening Garland.

This means that it's too late to open Garland in time for Year Four of MI, if the program survives that long, and a fifth portable classroom will have to be added to the Ohlone campus.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Why not Camille?

Her promises (I was there to hear them) to teachers and staff about how she would support them, and include their issues in policy making.

Within one week of her election, she was backing off those promises. PAUSD staff (many had endorsed her) were stunned.

She's doing the same thing now, making promises - saying anything that comes to mind that will get her elected.

Note Townsend's demeanor on the BOE after the Management Team flap. I couldn't believe that the BOE's leader would take such a flippant approach to that problem. She was absolutely dismissive of staff, and seemed to think that the communication problems were all coming from the latter.

This has nothing to do with Camille's worth as a person; it has everything to do with whether she is "BOE quality" in a district that seeks to excel, and is facing some real challenges on the fiscal and enrollment side.

Frankly, I can't imagine Camille getting voted in with two new board members. The energy spent trying to overcome the negative vibes that have come out of her tenure would hamper the district.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 8:10 pm

PA Parent - I agree that it wasn't power as president that makes Camille at fault for the MI debacle. It was Camille as the driving force, the originator, and the board member representative voice of MI that really makes her at fault.

Its astounding to me that she cites community input initiatives as one of her accomplishments. What the? Ibn fact, she devoutly ignored and even belittled community input for a year and half straight. She has repeatedly said that the community developed strategic priorities hold no weight in guiding the districts decision making on priorities.

And she was a vocal support of MFC from beginning to end.

I think her behavior as a repsentative of the community has been unforgivable. Not the fact that she held the gavel and called the meeting to order for the last year and half.

Posted by Another ABC vote
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm

I have to echo part of Parent's comment. I felt that Camille was totally dismissive of community input. I recall sitting in BOE meetings and watching her blithely dismiss concerns of people who did not agree with her.

Posted by Always Vote
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:06 pm

I attended the election forum with all candidates with no idea who I was going to vote for. At the end of the night, I had decided on the three candidates now endorsed by the Weekly and am glad to see it.

Caswell, Klausner, and Hausser have the best ability to communicate, the best handle on the broadest range of issues, and the most logical thinking processes. All of them seemed to offer the most direct, honest responses to questions. Regardless of what one feels about Camille Townsend from past fracasses, she comes across as such a disorganized thinker, with weak logic and reasoning skills. No wonder the board lacked focus.

Pingyu Liu has a really intelligent and fresh approach to education, he's direct, passionate and honest. He is short on the kinds of relevant experience that Caswell, Klausner, and Hausser bring to the district. He does have communication shortcomings in English, but after listening to him for two hours, I did not feel this would affect his ability to do the work. But I did feel his lack of key types of experience would make him less effective than the others. Claude Ezran has a few key areas of focus which our district really needs: most especially his desire to push for a 10-15 year plan to improve our aging facilities. But then his positions on specifics of other issues seemed undisciplined and even at odds with those goals, for example he talked about the shortage of space and in the same breath handwaved about turning a newly opened school site into a choice program. I liked what he said until he got into the details. I would love to see Ezran work toward those goals as a citizen first and see how he does. He is the only candidate who works full-time outside of the counsel, and while he complained about discrimination against him for this, the cold hard fact is that all of the others have more time to devote to the district. If Ezran can nevertheless work as a citizen for facilities improvement, he may just have my vote the next time around.

As mentioned above, I feel Hausser is a very direct, good speaker, logical thinker. I got the impression that he would be a good mediator. Except he almost lost my vote when he said it's time to put a 2nd story on Gunn. Sorry, but two-story buildings are only more cost effective if you have to buy the land. We already own the land - and since we aren't going to run out of it because of unused school sites, single story renovations and building are actually more cost effective. The biggest cost in this area is then labor. A two-story building, especially in this earthquake prone area, would be exponentially more expensive and time-consuming to build. It would be a significantly more difficult undertaking than just reopening other sites that we already own. That and his mention of possibly increasing class sizes made me consider each of the three guy candidates in turn. But all things considered, I still think Hausser has some of the best qualifications for the board - and he came across as probably one of the most willing to listen to outside input to make up or change his mind.

Just my impressions. It was interesting to see those choices seconded by the Weekly.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Board Watcher,

Yes, Townsend introduced an MI motion back in 2004, you'll see it in the voting records thread--wonderful info. put together by Lynn McGill.

It's pretty obvious that the Faith Brigel issue is a red herring--an excuse for self-righteous indignation over the Weekly's endorsements. But Brigel's not running for the Board and has anyone even *asked* the candidates if they supported her petition? If they signed it?

Look, *I* didn't sign the petition and I think we know where I stand on the whole MI thing--so I don't think you can slam the candidates for an issue where it's unknown what their opinions were upon it.

PA Parent,

Because Townsend pushed MI from the beginning of her tenure and because of how she didn't handle her pet project well--yes, I'd say she does bear responsibility for how it was mishandled. It's worth noting that both Liu and Ezran, who favor MI, criticize how it was handled by the board.

The truly damning thing about Townsend is that she seems to have learned nothing from her mistakes. She's not even defending her record, she's just doing her best to ignore it.

Fact is, there were workable MI compromises--ones that wouldn't have led to endless meetings and endless posts--and Townsend as MI's key supporter could have played a terrific role in finding one. It should never have gotten to the point of the charter threat. She, because she really is a big MI supporter, could have brokered a decent compromise *because* she had the support and trust of PACE.

What would it have taken? Well, listening to the various concerns of the opposition without literally throwing up her hands and saying "who cares?"

Frankly, bringing up and attacking Faith Brigel to head off criticism of Camille Townsend strikes me as missing the point.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Always Vote,

I'm glad I'm hearing consistent impressions of the candidates. I was thinking earlier this evening that it would be great if Ezran, even if he's not elected, worked with the district and community. I feel sort of bad about putting him the always-a-bridesmaid position, but he's somebody I'd like to vote for at some point.

Hausser strikes me, at least in these forums, as someone who will hear more than one side and switch gears in light of new facts. I don't think he'll force through a second story at Gunn if there are better ways to add. I just hope we don't give him an ulcer if he's elected--he seems to be trying really hard to listen.

Posted by Wynn Hausser
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for all the kind words. Two quick comments:

1. Actually, Claude is not the only one to work full time. I work full time, as does my wife. For this reason, I will bring the perspective of working families to the board.

2. My suggestion is to consider replacing the "portable village" behind Gunn with a two story building. I don't think it would be feasible to build on top of existing structures. And it would have to be cost-effective compared with other alternatives to receive my full support. I just use it as an example of how we should consider a variety of alternatives.

Posted by Thanks Wynn
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:14 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Wynn..I, too, wondered about the two story comment and just hadn't had to time to pursue it. But, now it makes sense to me.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:25 pm

Parent and Ohloneparent,

Right, so having an opinion different from yours means Townsend is at fault for some unnamed calamity. Don't buy it. She had a consistent, reasonable view, and she held to it. Exactly what I want from a board member.

And no, sorry, no one came up with workable compromises. I suppose you are referring to plans to kill MI or defer it until undefinable conditions were right; that's not a compromise.

You toss around phrases like "belittled community input" without justification. Back it up.

You may disagree with Townsend's vision, but to pretend your objections amount to more than a simple disagreement is bad faith. If those are the criteria for blame, then I can equally blame Gail.

In any case, you missed the point. The Weekly can't manage to specify any specific reasons to vote for those it endorsed. It comes down to a vote against a particular candidate, rather than for anyone. And why? Neither the Weekly nor you can manage to specify reasons to vote against Townsend, except that you disagree with her on MI. A silly way to pick a candidate.

It comes down to muddy thinking coupled with a lack of facts.

Posted by elect Hauser, Klausner, Baten Caswell
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm

Sour grapes.

Townsend still has the incumbents advantage, but I and a LOT of people are working against her re-election. How many times has that happened in nrecent BOE history. That shuold tell you something.

I think you're on the wrong team this time, PA parent

Posted by L.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Let's not forget that Gail Price, as reported in a number of threads on this forum, is one of the most respected school board members of the past eight years.

She also works full time, so please, Always Vote, let's not have any more suggestions that there is some intrinsic benefit to having board members who are not currently employed.

It's far more important to look at candidates' qualities, not only as individuals, but also in terms of how the three newly elected members might work with each other, and Barb and Dana. Will they be civil and treat each other with respect, or engage in eye rolling and paper shuffling when someone gives a differing opinion? Will they compromise, or take a "my way or the highway" approach? Will they set goals and solve problems as a group, or come to the board with individual agendas or axes to grind?

I believe that the three candidates endorsed by the Weekly -- Wynn, Barbara and Melissa -- will be awesome team players.

Thank you, PA Weekly, for your well thought out analysis!

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:23 pm

PA Parent,

No, having a different opinion than mine is fine. I'd be fine with Claude Ezran being elected because I think he's aware that you do need to hear both sides of an issue.

No one came up with workable compromises because no one tried--and I'm not talking about the discussions here, though frankly there were more attempts made here than there ever were by the board or the crew at Churchill.

What we have now is not a workable compromise because it's split the community and made the next bond issue a dead deal in the water--*particularly* if Townsend's re-elected. Having a program that has no place to go in three years--unless it overcrowds a location where, frankly, it's pretty unwanted isn't a real solution.

By the way, Ohlone traditionally leads or comes close to leading in PiE donations. Last year, more than 40 percent of the parents donated. Right now, it's under 30 percent. Don't fool yourself that that's not a comment on the MI situation.

As for belittling community input, I didn't use the phrase, but Townsend's dismissal with hand waves of a signed anti-MI petition with a "Who cares?" in a board meeting is a fine example of someone belittling community input. It's why she earned my dead French queen award.

I mean, geez, even if you think that you don't say it in a board meeting. I can't imagine either Liu or Ezran saying something like that. For that matter, I can't imagine Grace Mah saying that.

As a politician, Townsend blew it big time. As my partner said, it's not often you can catch a politician doing a bad job that way. Most of 'em are savvy enough to at least give lip service to the validity of other viewpoints.

Look, Townsend knows on some level that she blew it politically regarding MI and Callan. That's why she avoids taking credit for MI and won't defend her record.

As for Hausser, Klausner and Baten Caswell, I think the Weekly was pretty clear on why it endorsed them. They're clear communicators, really respond to questions and have an idea of the political realities in the community at this time. They understand the issues the board's going to be facing--overcrowding, opening the 13th elementary, standing up to the new super and re-establishing community trust.

Klausner got the strongest endorsement because she has some honest-to-god educational expertise. I mean, a teacher and a lawyer--someone who gets both the law and education--I mean, what more would you really want in a board member?

Hausser and Baten Caswell don't have the same impeccable credentials, but both are experienced in working with the schools and show an awareness of the issues. Right now, we need some unity on the board to get things back on track. I think that's the point the Weekly was making.

Like me, I think they like things about Ezran and hope he stays active. Liu is really, really green at this point--though he also gets why Townsend handled MI poorly. I don't think he'd ever flip his hand in dismissal. In the forum here, I think he really tried to convince people that MI was the way to go. I don't think it worked, but while I don't agree with Liu, I think there's something basically honorable about him.

Which means that I'd be open to agreeing with him about something else. (Sort of how I feel about Barb Mitchell.) Townsend, on the other hand, has really, really alienated me--even though in many areas our politics are probably the same.

Well, I realize you're upset about the endorsement, so none of this probably seems like "real" reasons to you, but those are real reasons to a lot of people. You might want to figure out why this is happening--and why even people like Carol Mullen in the backlash thread who like MI still want a different board. Mullen and others are right in that in many ways the bigger issue was the board's inability to deal with the Callen disaster.

So, really two big Xs and Townsend was on the board for both debacles.

Posted by Always Vote
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:40 am

My comment about Ezran being the only one working full-time came from Ezran's closing statement. Thanks for setting the record straight, Wynn. Even though I am planning on voting for you, I still think it's an advantage to have candidates with more time to devote to the district. All of the candidates have impressive work histories. I don't think working full-time WHILE one is on the board is the only way to understand working families. However, that's not a make or break quality for either you or Ezran, in my opinion. You are both complex candidates with a lot to recommend you.

Posted by Always vote too
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2007 at 5:50 am

Ohlone Par, I have to disagree about your comment that "Melissa and Wynn don't have the same impeccable credentials" . . . You make it sound like they can be lumped together. Melissa has a LOT of school district experience, and she has business experience that would help her guide the district during these fiscally difficult times. Claude led the Measure A campaign. Wynn basically volunteered in the classrooms where the schools are concerned. Not to take that away from him, but it's hardly in the same league as leading the district PTA or Measure A campaign. Wynn does seem like a responsive guy, so choosing between him and Claude will be tough, but Barb and Melissa are the two solid ones to vote for.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:07 am


"Fact is, there were workable MI compromises" "No one came up with workable compromises"

Jeepers, you can't seem to make up your mind. You were right the second time: it's just a hard political fact that there were no compromises. That's not Townsend's fault.

Fact is, the Weekly couldn't manage to give any specific reasons to vote for those it endorsed. It comes down to a vote against a particular candidate, rather than for anyone. And why? Neither the Weekly nor you can manage to specify reasons to vote against Townsend, except that you disagree with her on MI. A silly way to pick a candidate. Shoddy thinking.

Don't fool yourself. Townsend will be re-elected, no matter how many "quotes" you fabricate to back your story.

This just boils down to the fact that you disagree with Townsend about MI. BIg news.

Posted by unbelievable
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:46 am

"it's just a hard political fact that there were no compromises. "


Posted by Differentiating two candidates
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:53 am

To Always Vote, too:

I don't vote on "personality", I vote on if I think the person will vote the way I like on decisions. In the regard, Wynn and Claude are virtually opposites in the way they think and the goals they have. I don't want to bash anyone, so I won't go into details, but suffice it to say there have been at least several excellent examples, written in the local papers, of how Claude thinks that I find would be simply more of the same that has gotten us into the messes of the last couple years. Wynn has consistently been a thorough thinker and consistent in his goals for the district and Board.

It is almost impossible, unless you are a single issue voter, to think the two are interchangeable! They DO agree on one, or maybe two, of the issues, but beyond that,,,not at all.

Posted by One more thing
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:56 am

To Always Vote, too:

And, I have to comment, as someone who knows many of the leaders of Measure A, it always rankles me that Mr. Ezran has made it sound like he was such a key player in the Measure A campaign, when he ran the phones..a very important job, I know, but far from "the leader" of Measure A.

Posted by One more thing
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:58 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2007 at 9:34 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Camille supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:18 am

you're all too loud. luckily, Camille's supporters and most of Palo Alto don't read this drivel. unfortunate that the Weekly has been so biased against MI that it's rubbed into the election. no big picture view of what Camille and the board has done over the last four years.

just sensationalizing MI over and over and over again. MI is such a small teapot with this tempest. the district has 11K students, $130M budget, and these vindictive folks just keep hammering away at the 40 kids (maybe up to 120) who will be in the program, exaggerate the effect on all the elementary school kids who will be "deprived" (give me a break), and don't understand the real process of charter schools and their legal legitimacy. lots of guilt laid down with emotion.

it's not worth being on townsquare with all of you.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:23 am

Always vote too,

We don't disagree, it was bad phrasing on my part--Klausner has a particularly apt set of grad degrees for the job. I think Hausser and Baten Caswell are well-qualified for the school board.

PA Parent,

It doesn't help you understand things when you remove context.

But here, I'll clarify: there were potential compromises that could have been worked out, but the board never attempted to do this.

And it's not a political reality that there were no possible compromises--there easily could have been.

I think this isn't clear to the MI crowd because they had to have it on the schedule that benefitted a handful of kids. Talk about not being able to see the forest because of the (kinder) trees.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Fact is, the board has not worked well in recent years, saying that it's not the incumbent's fault and ergo we should re-elect her is not a recommendation.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

So, what besides the fact you agree with her on one issue does Townsend have going for her?

Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:33 am

Don't know if anyone is still reading this forum but I just went to one of the All Candidates Forum and I would really recommend going. There is just nothing like hearing the candidates speak and seeing how their minds work. these are the remaining ones:
Fri. Oct. 19 Nixon Elem 8 Am-9:30 coffee and forum
Thurs Oct 25 - Hoover Elem - 8 AM - 9:30 coffee
Thurs Oct 25 - Barron Park Elem - 7 PM - 9 PM Forum
Fri. Oct. 26 - Jordan Middle School - 8:30 AM - 9:30 Coffee
Mon. Oct 29 - Terman Middle School - 7 PM - 9 PM Forum
Thurs. Nov. 1 - Walter Hayes 8:15 AM - 9:15 AM Coffee
Fri. Nov. 2 - Fairmeadow Elem. 8:15 AM -9:30 AM Coffee
The coffees are informal meet and greets and the forums are structured with a moderator. Candidates respond to written questions from audience and have a set time to answer. I would recommend this.
Also on Weds. Oct 24 there will be a community-wide conversation with the new PAUSD superintendent Dr. Skelley at Jordan Middle School from 7-9 PM
For myself - it reassured me that I had made some good choices but also one of the other candidates I had not really considered showed well. Seeing them answer questions that they probably had been asked before, but maybe with a new twist, really lets me see their approach to a problem and how their minds work.

Posted by ha-ha-ha-ha! Bias AGAINST???
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:46 am

That is hilarious, that someone thinks the Weekly, which was the first to come out in favor of MI, and which published 3:1 ( I counted) IN FAVOR letters:OPPOSITION letters, though I know of many letters that were sent in, was "biased against" MI!! Shows either a newcomer, or yet someone else who never bothered to read why there was opposition.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Camille supporter: "it's not worth being on townsquare with all of you."

Editor: I am reporting FACT here:

Funny, this is the same kind of dismissive demeanor shown by Camille Townsend, time and again during board meetings. She would wave her hand and say "who cares", and simply dismiss alternate points of view. I've yet to see anything like that done by a BOE member, ever.

btw, "Camille Supporter" watch what happens if Camille makes it back to the board. I can poretty much guarantee you that her days of dismissive behavior will be over. the neagtivity that her refusal to accept accountability has stimulated in this forum - with related, measured, criticism from the Weekly - will not be forgotton by the other BOE members. In short, Townsend's day's of BOE hubris are over - one way, or another.

My hope is that she doesn't make it back to the board, because the BOE needs more than ever to focus, rather than trying to patch over bad feelings that came out of Townsend's tenure.

Posted by undecided
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 18, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Hi Camille Supported,

I'm intrigued, what are Camille's accomplishments over the last 4 years. I've seen a lot of negativity in these threads and the Weekly's endorsements. It would be nice to see some positive post on Camille outlining her concrete achievements and why I should vote for her.

I hope you haven't left the forum.

Posted by The Votes are Not In YET
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Camille does have her supporters - elected officials, community leaders, teachers, and regular folks who **vote**. Check out for a partial list. "Defending" Camille to this group just adds fodder for the usual hostile remarks and the "rolling of eyes" and "dismissive" comments that many of you add to this forum.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 2:14 pm

The votes...yet,

Please note that political endorsements are MOST OFTEN not made because one politiciann or other agrees with the endorsee's positions, policies, etc.

A LOT of political endorsement is "money in the bank" toward future political office-seeking,, with the endorser expecting a quid pro quo for his or her endorsement.

Of course, a smart politician will not endorse someone who holds general positions that are diametrically opposed her generally held positions.

In fact, I have know a number of endorsers who DID NOT vote for people they endorsed.

Thus, I wouldn't count on all the people who have endorsed Camille Townsend to vote for her. I have seen her endorsement list; some of the people on that list are quite upset about the way Camille has performed. Only they will know how their vote is cast.

Just a thought...

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 2:21 pm


Hard to tell exactly what you were saying before the editors got to you, but you clarify by again mentioning mysterious compromises that could have been worked out. To my knowledge, the anti-MI camp raised two compromises: 1. Kill MI, and 2. Delay MI until sundry unrelated demands had been met (same as 1). I can understand why the MI folks didn't see much point in discussing those.

As for the MI folks themselves, they compromised many times with the board on timing.

Above all, looking from the outside, the objections to MI seemed in the main groundless. The reasonable objections (cost; not displace neighborhood kids) were answered reasonably (cost-neutral; Ohlone) by the district to my mind. The rest of it was just weird.

The most disappointing aspect was the negative emotional heat coming from those opposed. It became quite ugly. It seems clear that MI became the scapegoat for the board because voters were unhappy with various other issues, that this was simply displacement.

Looks like a great program. I wish my kids were younger.... I wish the program a bright future.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 3:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2007 at 3:16 pm

PA Parent - I think everyone is trying to pick a school board that will move us out of the morass of disagreement over MI. If you need to read the arguments pro and con why don't you read the thread about Mandarin Immersion:
Web Link
Maybe you will find the answers there and let the rest of us try to pick up the pieces. I for one want to see some positive action forward on other more important issues and damage control on the bad feelings engendered by this program.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I don't think burrowing down into past disagreements will move us forward.

The question now is who to vote for. I'm suggesting that the emotion around MI was driven by various unrelated issues, and the unhappiness with the board stemmed from unrealistic expectations.

If you expect the board to vote the way you would every time, you are bound to be disappointed. This will happen no matter who is elected. Deciding who to vote for based on one issue is narrow-minded and isn't likely to bring about a board you can trust.

Posted by get real
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm

PA Parent, The Weekly's article states it clearly:

"Townsend's flat refusal to look back even to analyze what occurred, not to point a finger of blame, is disquieting and disappointing".

Camille has made no attempt to try and re-build trust within the community that has broken down during her tenure. A board member that has lost the trust of the community has no business seeking re-election.

You may like to believe this is simply about MI. However, it is really about a board member's failure in office.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 9:42 pm

It seems to me that the Weekly, RWE, OhlonePar, and the regular posters are not complaining about any failures of Camille, but her successes. They just don't like the result.

She stuck to her position and passed an innovative program, she is leading the Board forward not backward with a new Superintendent and new protocols, the community backing of the school is at a high level both in terms of popular support and financial giving.

The Weekly's biggest complaint seems to be a failure to extract a pound of flesh from the previous Superintendent. That is not what a good leader does.

Posted by No Longer on the Fence
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Gee, thank you for providing a "teaching" moment on this. It brings out the O-teacher in you.

**Please note that political endorsements are MOST OFTEN not made because one politician or other agrees with the endorsee's positions, policies, etc.***

The editorial board has been very anti Camille for a long time. They have given her negligible coverage during her four years on the board. The editorial was extremely slanted and the language stating "complete acquiescence" to the former superintendent was not in anyway factual. The editors of the PA weekly did not have access to privileged information and to make these claimes is not responsible journalism.

And speaking of their endorsements - th PA Weekly provided no real compelling reasons to vote for any of the candidates other than perhaps Klausner. Most of the candidates have received respectable endorsements from the same elected officials and community leaders. I suggest you go to a coffee and meet these candidates and have a real dialogue and make up your mind.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:19 pm

Midtown Parent,

You think having the principals rise up in protest against a superintendent is a success?

You think a rift in the district that endangers needed bond issues is a success?

We have an us v. them situation here--and Townsend's lack of political savvy or arrogance, not sure which, played a part in that. A skilled politician can build a consensus. Townsend simply ignored the need for it.

Camille Townsend knows her *success* has been a political disaster. It's why she won't talk about it in the forums--and MI has been buried under the euphemism "world language initiative".

Incumbents who can't campaign on their record have a problem--and it's not called "success".

As another poster has pointed out, the Weekly was not anti-MI, it was mildly pro-MI in its editorials--until the charter mess. At which point, yes, there was criticism.

I'm still not willing to predict Townsend will lose--she is the only one with an incumbent advantage, but I think the Weekly's endorsements are going to hurt with the seniors she's been courting. That's a newspaper-reading demographic and, since most of them don't have immediate involvment with the schools, they'll look at what the papers have to say.

But I think her seat's far from a sure thing at this point and that she's facing an uphill battle.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm

PA Parent

Sundry, unrelated demands? Such as having enough classrooms?

PACE was a small group of parents. You seem to think that because they were demanding, they were therefore entitled to special treatment.

Instead, because, in part, MI was a pet program of Camille Townsend's, they got lots of special treatment.

I think it's a bad idea to introduce programs that don't efficiently use space (MI doesn't because there's an attrition issue--you can't drop kids in without a level of Mandarin proficiency in the upper grades.) when space is a huge issue at most of the schools in the district.

Ohlone comes nowhere near meeting the demand for its program. The "space" at Ohlone essentially means 40 kids will take up space that could have been used to expand Ohlone's own program and reduce its waitlist. Since the demand for Ohlone is already strong and because kids in the upper grades can come into the program, it would have been a more efficient and fair decision. As it is, the odds of getting into Ohlone for non-siblings is about 4 to 1.

And, unlike, a full strand of MI, a half-strand increase doesn't push the Ohlone site over capacity. We're talking more than 600 kids at a single neighborhood elementary. At that point, it's a totally different and overcrowded school environment.

My "demand" for MI is that it go somewhere where it doesn't overcrowd the school. I think taking over half of Greendell when the JCC leaves is a workable solution. The other possibility is Garland, though that creates its own issues.

So, why should MI have to wait? Well, why shouldn't it, given the overcrowding at the schools? And that better solutions should exist in a couple of years--a new elementary, the JCC portion of Greendell, it makes overall sense to do so.

Now, you seem to dismiss what I'm saying pretty readily, but at this point, it's pretty clear from the signage, the questions asked at the forums and the exchanges here that public opinion is trending my way, not yours.

Or Camille Townsend's.

It might be worth trying to figure out why.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:41 pm

PA Parent,

One last note regarding moving forward.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

In more prosaic terms, you gotta learn from your mistakes. (Which means admitting them.)

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:58 pm

No Longer on the Fence,

Humpty Dumpty isn't on the fence any more, either.

The Weekly has been pretty close to all of this. They know the score. They have seen the dissension. They have seen the dismissive hand-waving. They have seen the lack of any sense of taking responsibility for actions committed that contributed to all the latter.

Extended hubris always ends up like Humpty. It's called "overreaching". That's Camille's error, and that's what has cost her a TON of political capital.

I wish her well otherwise, but hope she loses BIG in November. It will be a cathartic victory for this district, if she does lose. Then we can get on with the business of running this school district in a way that's hopefully far more sane than the last 4-5 years.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:01 am

Denigrating viewpoints is quite different from saying that you just didn't like the results.

Now, as to the points you raise. Here are some of the successes:

Students doing extremely well, on almost all measures.

Community giving to the schools at a high rate.

Community satisfaction with the schools at a high rate (perhaps not on this forum, but in the full community)

Some principals were indeed up in arms against a Superintendent that had already announced her retirement, and a search was already under way to find a replacement. The replacement seems to be well-liked, even in this Forum.

While it may suit political purposes to claim the state of the District is worse than it is, I believe you will find objective facts to support your position difficult to come by. They were certainly notably absent in the Weekly's editorial, which had a striking lack of comments about students or teachers. Those really are the results that matter.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:11 am

Midtown Parent:

So, like Camille, you want to have her take credit for the high satisfaction rate in our schools?

Since when does a BOE memeber take credit for what goes on in a classroom environment, the managers of which she doesn't support?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

"Students doing extremely well"? How could or would students in ANY district with this demographic not do well, en masse? This is a driven environment, where ALL the pressure vectors are in the classroom. All the other pressures are peripheral and political, and self-generated by squabbles between the BOE and a 1950's style of ppublic school district management. Please, get real - and give credit where it's due.

"Community giving to the schools at a high rate"? We're a wealthy district. You're really stretching credulity here.

Look, the election is a few weeks away. Camille enjoys an incumbents built-in advantage, and she's running scared (I know, because word gets around). She has a good chance of losing. That's the current reality.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:22 am

A couple of further points to set the facts straight.

The previous Superintendent was hired by the previous board, prior to Camille joining.

The previous Superintendent had retired prior to Camille taking over as Board President.

Camille led the team choosing the new Superintendent, in a way that encouraged the community to participate.

Consensus is certainly desirable, no question, but it usually takes two sides and is not always possible when a vote is on a "yes/no" proposition. Agreeing to only be bound by full consensus means everyone has a veto. That's not desirable either.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:27 am


Again, please, some facts. Teacher retention is at a very high rate - and in any large group there will be disgruntled teachers (perhaps such as yourself?). Camille has consistently, successfully, and effectively defended teachers from budget cuts and provided additional materials for them.

Simply restating attacks such as you have been doing for months does not establish facts.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:05 am

and it's inane for those of you harping on Camille not talking up MI and for the Weekly to blast her for not "defending" her past.

If she had said MI was her proudest decision, you'd be blasting her, too! She's on your double-edged sword, and you know it.

Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 7:15 am

Ohloneparent, it's you who think that because you're demanding an expansion of Ohlone, you are entitled to get it. You really need to get in line and wait your turn. Please remember that Ohlone is part of a wider district and your pet wish does not trump the rest of our priorities.

And no, MI won't push Ohlone site over capacity. You have your numbers wrong. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by confused
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 8:13 am

"Community giving to the schools at a high rate."


"Last year, more than 40 percent of the parents donated [to PiE]. Right now, it's under 30 percent. "

Which is it? Can someone give some real PiE results with comparison to previous years? These unsubstantiated claims aren't helping.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 8:31 am

But Camille was a vocal supporter of the prior Superintendent during the Superintendent controversy, preceding Callan's departure. That's a documented truth visible in the board meeting video.

I like the poster who said she liked Camille because she's getting her way. (Ends justify the means.) And I look at her proclaimed proudest achievment - the hiring of the new superintendent, and I see that he rolls that way too. So, birds of a feather...

(If I were a Camille supporter, I'd probably be backing off the loud tooting of the 'look at the great Superintendent I hired' horn, right about now.)

And another poster said, we just don't like her because of her achievment - MI. I'm wondering why camille doesn't claim that as one of her achievments. I'm searching far and wide, I don't see her coming out to defend that achievment. I'm just wondering why - is it an achievment or more of politial liability?

Posted by no longer confused
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:03 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:11 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Camille Townsend is not evil incarnate, nor is she in a position where one should have to bring up *facts* to support allegations against her rather insufficient performance on the BOE.

Just look at the voting records that someone else posted; just look at the way the BOE was led duringi the last two crisis (MI and Management Team); just look atCamille's unwavering support for MFC (along with a few others, btw); ask around the district - of teachers and administrators, what they thinkn of her performance....eyes roll.

That's all I need.

Asking for "facts" to support the obvious is a desperate plea. Kind of like asking for "facts" to support the reasons why Bush is at a 31% approval rating. When one goofup after another takes place, the "fact" that certain people need to be replaced in elective office becomes pretty clear.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:48 am

I do not plan on voting for Ms. Townsend for many of the reasons already set out, but in the interests of the truth, the numbers do not support a huge drop in PIE participation this year. According to the PIE newsletters from October 2007 and October 2006, the year to date participation for this year (they only had comparable numbers for elementary schools, as of 10/15/2007 was:
Addison - 19.0%
Barron Park - 10.3%
Duveneck - 21.8%
El Carmelo - 17.7%
Escondido - 18.7%
Fairmeadow - 9.9%
Hoover - 13.2%
Juana Briones - 6.5%
Nixon - 12.2%
Ohlone - 27.4%
Palo Verde - 17.1%
Walter Hays - 30.2%

Participation from last year, as of 10/18/2006 was higher for many schools, but only Fairmeadow and Ohlone seem to have a significant difference.
Addison - 19.2%
Barron Park – 12.0%
Duveneck – 22.5%
El Carmelo - 19%
Escondido – 19.7%
Fairmeadow – 15.1%
Hoover – 15.0%
Juana Briones – 12.8%
Nixon – 14.5%
Ohlone – 34.1%
Palo Verde – 15.5%
Walter Hays – 29.3%

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 10:51 am

Sorry to post on top of myself . . .
The total donations to PIE from all schools at 10/2006 were $835K, and this year have dropped to $700K.

Posted by my head hurts now
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:13 am

Well, a 16% drop in PiE donations, if attributable to Camille Townsend would be a cause for concern. It isn't something I'd like to be repeated. Was there any indication if this was "seasonal" and has it been on a downward trend over the last few years?

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:22 am

This are the figures for October 2006 versus October 2007, and so there should not be a seasonal bias.

If I take a very crude measure and just average participation across the elementary schools, it was 19% last year, and 17% this year. So it seems that overall participation is not down a huge amount.

But the amount being contributed does seem to be significantly lower. So perhaps more families are making a minimum donation.

I don't have numbers for 2005.

Posted by Money is Tight
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:29 am

Could the actual $$$ contributions to PIE be down because of the economy - the housing crisis perhaps, employment insecurities, other factors as well? Are you planning to blame this on Camille as well? Let's just throw everything at her and see if it sticks? Give me a break.

Posted by Not the Only Game In Town
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 11:53 am

Check out the Dailey News -

Oct 19, 2007

Friday Oct 19

Experience will benefit our schools


....Townsend understands that district officials must make tough decisions that won't please everybody but notes the board has brought in a new superintendent and she offers good ideas for smoothing out the differences that arise in a community so passionate about education. As the only incumbent in the election for three seats, she brings experience that will serve the board well as it struggles to provide new facilities and the need to replace a strong cadre of teachers nearing retirement.

Posted by I can see clearly now
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Money is Tight, there was a claim here giving credit to Camille Townsend that: "Community giving to the schools at a high rate.". I'm am just trying to get some facts amongst all this rhetoric. How do you feel about this claim in light of these figures?

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:16 pm

I'm wondering what her good ideas are. Can anybody (Editor of the Daily? Camille? Game? ) outline those for us?

Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:56 pm

That a candidate is an incumbent is MORE reason to oust them! I'm not worried about the organizational memory being lost - Dana and Barb are still there to lend the 'experience' factor - and that's MORE than enough 'experience'.

The overall success of the board has been dismal, and Camille has been a contributor to that. I don't blame her alone, but she's been a key driving force for a major part of that grief (MI) and she's shown really poor judgement on how to go about that project while preserving suond process, sense of priorities, and community peace. And she's really hard to make sense of - she lacks concrete concise speaking style, she's out in the weeds in her monologues in board meetings.

But this isn't all about Camille, this is about a fresh start for PAUSD.

When the service of our community is going to pot, then its time to clean up. Thanks goodnes Mandy and Gail are not running again - we only have to drive one incumbent out this time. We need fresh perspective, a new batch of smart, talented people who care about doing the right things for the future of the district, who are not jaded and tainted by the history of being part of the last two years of misery. We need to restore trust in the BOE.

Posted by Money is Tight
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Community giving was at a high rate for the past several years. Her literature was written before these figures were known, and we really don't know why spending may be down. Many factors can contribute to this. Also, it is early in the school year to connect the dots that donations are drastically down. And further more difficult to blame the downturn on Camille if one really exists.

How do I feel? Well, today is pretty good. I'm optimisitc that donations will increase and if they don't well I'm glad to have someone who has experience being on the board.

Posted by Eva
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:05 pm

It makes me laugh when I think of the complaints about th Weekly's endorsements being light weight.

Experience? George Bush has experience.

Pretty lame - we're all going to have to work hard to get those three new seats on the board.

The Daily has gotten beter in the last two years, especially in its reporting, but its editorializing has been pretty weak. This is another example.

Posted by Need a Fresh Board
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:09 pm

If you don't attribute downturn in funding to Camille, how to you justify attributing upturn (or flat) to Camille?

Seems to me, the best you could hope to say is "she's not making things worse", and I don't think that can be said either.

If the downturn is due to an unpopular direction the school board is taking - how do we turn around and say that 'experience' is a good thing? If things are looking down, signs in that case would point to the collective experience of the current board being what got us in this mess in the first place.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:09 pm

PA Parent,

I don't particularly want Ohlone to expand. It simply makes a lot more sense in terms of demand, space and overall benefit to the district.

And Susan Charles had been trying to get an expansion of Ohlone for years, so I'd say that if it's about line-waiting, the Ohlone expansion should take precedence.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:12 pm


Yes, in other words, Camille Townsend and you know that the MI debacle politically damages Townsend.

Not much of an achievement for a politician, particularly one who started pushing for a program from the moment she got into office.

It all points to the fact that Townsend did a lousy job with MI--she helped make it unpopular.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm

The Daily endorsement is just sort of bizarre--Townsend and Baten Caswell? Klausner I can understand, she has the credentials and she's been very careful in what she says. But Townsend and Baten Caswell makes it sound like the Daily's trying to avoid upsetting its readers more than it's taking a stand.

It would be different if Townsend had shown a knack for making the board work together, but it's been the opposite, so I'm not sure what the benefit of her experience is in this context.

Townsend's single-minded. That's great for some things, not when weighing the different sides of an issue.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Hmmm, on second thought, do the PA Daily endorsements simply reflect advertising dollars spent at the Daily?

Posted by all cleared up
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Money is tight, "Community giving was at a high rate for the past several years. Her literature was written before these figures were known, and we really don't know why spending may be down."

This implicit claim in her literature is that Camille Townsend is responsible for community giving being at a high rate. When, in fact, the actual figures show a 16% drop in community giving.

I only saw this claim in this thread. The fact that you state Camille Townsend is making this claim in her literature would lead me to believe that the claim was made without any real research or on any factual basis.

I think I'm starting to understand the "trust" issues that are being alluded to in this thread. It's unfortunate that it extends to campaign literature.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Note that the Daily is coming out with recommendations that vie with the Weekly's, on the cusp. This sells newspapers, and gets people talking about the Daily.

What I suggest is writing letters to the Daily, givingi sound reasons to vote FOR Caswell/Hausser/Klausner.

More citizens need to see that.

Like Eva, I'm impressed with the great strides that the Daily has made in reporting quality these last few years, but their editorial board is out to lunch. I don't say this because I disagree with their recent endorsements, but rather because their editorial opinions are kind of half-baked, and not at all as thorough as the Weekly's.

What I've heard is that the Daily's local reporters are only in on the first round of endorsement meetings, but then it goes to higher ups for follow up input and writing the editorial. There's a real disconnect between the Daily's editorial board and the detail they need to make competent choices.

Posted by 2/3s there
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 2:56 pm

It's too early to know if PIE donations have been affected more by recent events than by, say, the economy. If donations are down due to recent events, I'd look elsewhere in doling out responsibility.

Gail has been driving division on the board for some time, taking hard ideological line and dismissive attitude that have alienated colleagues and constituents. It is no surprise she has been isolated in her thinking. This approach has certainly added to voter dissatisfaction.

Nevertheless, she is not up for election, and we have another group to consider.

The MI discussion is not a bad issue to look at when thinking about who to vote for because it manifests many of the challenges our district faces: competing visions, resource issues, strongly polarized voters. We need board members who set aside ideology and are prepared to be pragmatic. People who can find creative win-win solutions.

In this regard, Townsend and Ezran are head and shoulders above the others. I need more time to figure Wynn out, though I've liked his tone on the townsquare. Also need more time to think about Klausner, though I do like her teaching background.

Caswell is troubling. We now know--thanks to a pta whistleblower who leaked emails--that she used her pta position to foment division and push her narrow ideological position. That is exactly what we don't need on the board.

We need one more unifier.

Posted by very amusing
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 3:31 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Get a Clue
a resident of Barron Park School
on Oct 19, 2007 at 3:57 pm

The Daily "editorial opinions are kind of half-baked."

Did you read the editorial? Doesn't sound like it.

The Daily actually gave reasons to vote for those it endorsed, as you would expect from an editorial. You may disagree with their choices but that doesn't make them half-baked.

The Weekly endorsements were never put in the oven. Scan them closely, and you'll see that they give NO reasons to vote for their choices, just condensed bios and campaign rhetoric. They do give reasons to vote against Camille, but as was pointed out above the reasons are weirdly non-factual.

The core of an editorial endorsement is stating why you've endorsed. The Weekly needs to read to the Daily for a tutorial.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:08 pm

Get a Clue,

I read the endorsement and I'd say "half-baked" describes it well.

Why? Because the three endorsees have quite different views as to the direction the school district should head.

The Klausner/Baten Caswell/Hausser endorsement of the Weekly may not be your cup of tea, but if you look at the positions taken by candidates at the forums and in Q&As there's a consistency of vision and goals.

Townsend/Baten Caswell/Klausner lacks that unity. I mean, are *you* planning to vote for both Townsend and Baten Caswell? Is anyone?

What goals do these three candidates share?

Posted by pacitizen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:27 pm

The following post is based on seeing and talking to the candidates live and local and also observing how they were with family member etc. Hausser is the #1 choice and seems to be a logical thinker, is comfortable in his own skin, and does not seem to be advancing himself as a his primary objective; rather he is interested in maximally contributing to the community. He is also a bit humble, which is fun to see these day and in PA. His wife was with him at the event I attended--a good sign. They seemed to get along well and work well as a team. She was supporting the campaign clearly and also knowledgeable respectful friendly etc. Townsend: I did't like some of her past performance and public speaking style. She is there in the moment when you are talking to her though. I think she has good character and a broad range of life and professional experience and a good sense of humor. Her out of high school daughter was at the event that I attended. She was sort of just hanging out-appropriate in every way for her age. I like her as a person and think she has the capacity to change and evolve still. She has a strong personality which I think is a plus. She is an individual not just a woman or mom who is looking for something to do. Very competent person socially. Caswell & Klausner: I see these two primarily as moms who have somewhat impressive credentials on paper over actual accomplishment. They seemed to be interested in the campaign process not individuals or the community primarily. I could almost see the fake smiles and wheels turning in heads thinking oh no another one of these or I have to talk to these people and I would rather not be doing that (particularly Caswell). She was in this campaing mode. That was the vibe. Surprisingly unprofessional in speaking to me was Caswell. She was offensive two times and did not realize it at all. It was HR 101 for anyone who has spent been in a corporate environment or really just some generaly rules about what not to say! Caswell's husband was there and maybe children too I think. He seemed like he didn't wish to be there and was sort of a prop. The dynamic was I am only here because she is making me-very boyish. Klausner: I didn't see her family or campaign people. She seems at times fragile and worried and not an extrovert at all. More programmed and process. I think that she would be good in another role and that this role is for a more energetic and passionate person with a better sense of humor and can do flexible attitude. Again, that sums up Wynn Hauser.

Posted by Experience Does Count
a resident of Nixon School
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:42 pm

It is very refreshing to see the individuals actually standing up to the long-standing denizens of this Forum - who seem to theink they own the debate. While it is unfortunate the Daily doesn't have a competing Forum location, it is nice to see a reasoned endorsement.

The Weekly's choice seems based on more on emotion and entitlement - experience does count, there are many more concerned about the quality of schools than any particular subissue or minor issue such as Mandarin Immersion. We in Palo Alto (and Stanford) want quality education, a view to the world beyond Palo Alto, and a plan to continually improve math, science, and other fundamental fields.

Townsend has continually stressed this during her term - see her ballot statement regarding teachers and science labs. Klausner seems committed to innovative math as well.

These are the issues many of us want stressed.

Posted by missed the humor?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm

This statement by 2/3:

"We need board members who set aside ideology and are prepared to be pragmatic. People who can find creative win-win solutions"

Directly followed by:

"In this regard Townsend is heads and shoulders above the others"

What? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] When in the world did Townsend:-

Set aside her ideology? (she literally did the EXACT opposite throughout the MI controversy - she relied almost exclusively on ideology in support of MI (Flat world, PAUSD is a wealthy district we of all communities should be in the lead on new programs, etc.)

Was Pragmatic?? She ignored all the practice pitfalls of the MI, and pointedly refused to discuss even ONE practical issue. Even the ones that Cook admitted to in the feasibility study: no location solutino, and enrollment growth. Townsend Absolutely did NOT question ANY of the practical issues - She carefully, painstakingly kept strictly to the ideology of the MI concept.

Found a creative Win Win solution? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:04 pm


Thanks for posting your first-hand experience. I'm a little confused though why Klausner's awkwardness while campaigning means she'd be bad on the board? I mean, maybe you wouldn't want to cast her in a lead role, but do board members really need a polished charisma?


Ooh, am I one of the Forum owners? Can I get a cut of the ad revenues? Can I rap the wrist of an editor or two when they get overenthused about the delete key?

Posted by Get a Clue needs a Cluetrain ticket
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 19, 2007 at 5:04 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

We need three new board members.

I have to laugh at pacitizen's descriptions and judgments, because the judgmenmts made are pretty much the way most people decide these things. They like the way someone looks, or interects, etc. etc. It's hard to get elected if you're not projecting whatever image the majority of the voting public is looking for.

I'm saving imy big salvos for post election, because that's when the fun starts.

Posted by two out of three aint bad
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Very interesting observations. Since the candidates' spouses are not running for office, whether they are playing smiley nice or feeling awkward, really so what. People see those spouses in all sorts of contexts and this is the most artificial one possible. It couldn't be less relevant what they act like at the forums, nor what their credentials may or may not be. In fact, the more humble and unobtrusive the spouse, the better -- nothing worse than a spouse who has a false sense of importance or thinks he or she is entitled to special consideration because of a relationship with an elected official. What IS interesting to note is that both papers have endorsed Baten-Caswell and Klausner. Those two are rock solid candidates with great, pertinent credentials, not just "good on paper" credentials. I mean, if that's all they have, then what do Townsend or Ezran or Hausser have that is more legitimate? Baten-Caswell and Klausner are intimately familiar with PAUSD.

Posted by Ouch!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 19, 2007 at 7:42 pm

WOW! Ok, I've been away for the week but this article is just brutal. Imagine the "[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]" entries if this article had been a forum entry. I even feel sorry for Camille.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 8:21 am

Re Threads:

I believe if you add in the middle school and the high school donations, which by the way is 7/12 of the District in terms of students (and presumably parents), the total giving is up for the District this year. We are a Unified K-12 District, and in my opinion that is really the most appropriate measure.

So, in addition to students doing very well, we have high AND rising parental giving. Of course, there are always fluctuations due to the stock market etc., but the District giving is strong.

So, again, those wishing to claim evidence of problems with the District have some serious difficulties proving their claims. Most of the immediate challenges, such as growth and facilities, do require work but are the result of the attractiveness of living in Palo Alto.

Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2007 at 10:18 am


Your post is a little bizarre. It starts and ends with adulating endorsement of Hausser, and apparently his wife. In between, you slam three out of five of the other candidates, and do not mention the other two. Is it possible you actually believe that the ONLY good candidate is Wynn Hausser? I mean, ok, he makes some good points sometimes. But to say he outstrips everyone else in qualifications and personality and that no one else is worth considering, which is what you imply, is quite a unique stance. Besides which, Wynn Hausser made clear when he frst started posting that he thought personal slams were inappropriate, so you are not doing him any favors with you post.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2007 at 10:44 am

We have four strong candidates: Caswell, Hausser, Klausner and Townsend. But my vote is going with the first 3. (I hope Ezran stays involved.)

After 2 years of budget cutting Townsend said she wanted a legacy for her time on the board, and MI is it. Being board president helped her achieve this goal. She wanted to leave her mark on the district and she has. If you agree with her, vote for her. I voted for her 4 years ago, but not this time. My vote is going for an inclusive strategic planning process, professional communication between board members and constituents, and all kids in the district: Caswell, Hausser and Klausner.

Posted by what a joke!
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 10:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by huh?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 10:54 am

I have to say, it is impossible for me to understand how anyone can simultaneously support Townsend AND Caswell or Klausner, like the Daily's Editorial Board.

I think it reflects a lack of comprehension of the difference in credentials, goals and styles of the 3. Caswell and Klausner are the opposite, in almost all ways, of Townsend.

It would have been like endorsing Bush AND Kerry ( and I am not saying which is good and which is bad, just commenting on a common historical experience to make my point).

I get the same "huh?" feeling.

Posted by pa resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 11:12 am

Gunn Parent,

This morning in the Mercury News there was a letter to the editor titled, "Townsand great asset on board of trustees." You may not be willing to send your comment above to the Merc, but I think it would be a perfect rebuttal. If you don't get the Merc, I'd be willing to write out the letter in this forum.

Frankly I'm not sure how someone could wax on about how CT has "already proven her leadership in the issues that matter most" without an ever mentioning MI. I mean, isn't this one of the things Camille is most proud of? Yet she is strangely silent on this issue when going for votes.

Posted by good grief
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 20, 2007 at 2:13 pm

“Could the actual $$$ contributions to PIE be down because of the economy - the housing crisis perhaps, employment insecurities, other factors as well?”
“I believe if you add in the middle school and the high school donations, which by the way is 7/12 of the District in terms of students (and presumably parents), the total giving is up for the District this year.”

Couple of points leap out at me:
1) If secondary school donations are up, then the economy is not the likely cause for the 16% drop.
2) Isn’t this exactly what people said would happen: they’d take their elementary donations and give to secondary schools instead?

Threads, thanks for posting this data. Do you know what the breakdown for elementary and secondary donations is, comparing this year to last?

Posted by dadof4
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Looking at the PIE donation levels for the schools listed, the average (don't have the data for a weighted average) participation is down 12.3% and the total dollars are down 16.2%.

The board of any business in this valley that was looking at these sort of year-on-year numbers would realize they have a deep problem with their customer base, in this case presumably Palo Alto parents with school age children, regardless of how much time management spends telling them that everything is just fine.

And if the president of said company is either unwilling or unable to confront the issues, with a clear explanation of what went wrong and what specific actions they are taking to turn things around, their investors and outside board membes will toss them out the door ASAP.

If our role as voters is to act as outside board members for the school district, what action do you think is warranted?

Posted by Not Impressed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Mandarin Immersion has been very caustic to the PAUSD. Most of the community was against it, yet by the use of secret money, secret petitions and the threat of creating a charter school, the people promoting this program prevailed.

None of those endorsed by the Weekly played a visible part in this process—for or against the establishment of this program. None showed any leadership qualities by picking a side and fighting for their convictions. This watching from the sidelines does not speak well of any of those who are running for school board. Leadership is not something you can claim for yourself. It’s something that has to be demonstrated through “trial by fire”. Almost all of those running for school board just watched from afar as the community struggled with this issue. Presumably these folks just didn't want to get their hands dirty.

Posted by Equally Not Impressed
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2007 at 1:43 pm

To Not Impressed,

Leadership does mean taking a public stand for something. Even the incumbent seems afraid to stand up for her views. There is an elephant in the room regarding Mandarin Immersion and it is bad for our community. No one wants to really "go there"; they all want to move "forward". Where were the other candidates during the process - like you said, sitting on the sidelines. Waiting to pounce?

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2007 at 2:59 pm

The information that I posted was obtained from the Parters in Education website and was taken from the Newsletters of October 2006 and October 2007. I thought it would be useful to look at the numbers, since assertions were being made about contributions being up or down.

October 2006 Newsletter did not list secondary school participation, so there was no basis for comparison and therefore I did not list the secondary school participation for 2007.

But the total dollar amount includes all schools, primary and secondary, and indeed is 16% lower than last year at the same time. I have no doubt there are many factors that could account for the drop.

Posted by dadof4
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 21, 2007 at 8:55 pm

To the "Not Impressed" twins,

For a lot of us, we were active in opposing MI through the designated BofE process. We did not anticipate that various members of the board would reverse themselves within the space of a month and cave in to special interests and threats rather than stand by their initial decision.

I cannot speak to the other candidate's participation or motivation, but I do know that for Wynn Hauser the MI debacle was one of the catalysts that had him to decide to run for Bof E.

Very soon after the decision, Wynn published a fairly strong letter in the weekly (daily?) which had the basic message that given the performance of the existing board, it was time for "someone" to step up and offer a better alternative to the community.

He followed this up a month or two later with his decision act as one of the "someone's" who was willing to run for BofE. From knowing Wynn and his family, I know the number of other volunteer activities as well as family time he recognized he would have to give up in order to take on the responsibility for this role.

I view this as both a timely and a committed response to his perception of the importance of regaining some trust for the BofE within the PA communiity. I have to say that for myself and my wife, while we were equally dismayed with what we see as a poisonous policy choice for the district, we did not see the room to make the personal commitment of running for BofE.

I greatly respect Wynn for being willing to submit himself as a candidate, for saying "enough is enough", and for putting himself on the line for what is essentially a thankless process that may result in a thankless job.

There is really not a lot of upside to this role that I can see. The candidates work to contribute to the community in a structure and role that leaves them open for ongoing sniping from the sidelines. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I am unclear on what the prize is that would have people "waiting to pounce". So far it looks to me that it is closer to "willing to serve".

Posted by Pollster
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 21, 2007 at 10:31 pm

This is shaping up to be a very interesting race. I am beginning to see Townsend's signs in more number, with others not appearing to add to their prior sign placements.

One thing that I find puzzling is Wynn Hausser's choice of sign design. I support Wynn, but why did he use his *first* name as the name with the (far) larger font.

Seriously, sign placement alone is a very important tactic in a muncipal election. If you see a sign placed in a neighbor's yard, and that person is someone you know and like, you just might vote for the candidate who has a sign on her lawn.

Also, even if you *don't* know this hypothetical neighbor, you have seen the name of the candidate. We all know that name recognition alone is worth votes. So, Townsend is getting a little uptick, especially with her Daily endorsement....

BUT, I am beginning to wonder how Claude Ezran and others fit into this race. Claude has done a very good jon with sign placement, and he's a very nice guy - probably the most engaging of all the candidates.

I think we're going to see some wild "split ticket" votes, with the outcomes in these races up for grabs.

Posted by Not Impressed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2007 at 11:10 pm

> There is really not a lot of upside to this role that I can see.
> The candidates work to contribute to the community in a
> structure and role that leaves them open for ongoing
> sniping from the sidelines.

These was a lot of work output by a fairly large number of people opposing MI. For every hour of public opposition, there were many hours spent behind the scenes by people who were trying very hard to research history, options and possibilities for opposing this idea. Those folks who contributed all of these hours did so without any expectation of personal gain.

The opposition people were there with boots on the ground. Those running for the BoE just did not demonstrate any presence in the process, regardless of their position on whether the school district should offer this course of instruction.

Calling such people "snipers" is a little more than disengenous.

Posted by another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 8:19 am

So here's another thought: long ago, the Bd of Ed used to include all letters at the end of Bd Packet. If you wrote to the Bd before Wed of the previous week, your letter was published for all to see. At some point the Bd decided that that was a waste of paper, so it terminated the practice.
I mention this because we have absolutely no idea whatsoever how many missives, e-mails, phone calls any of the candidates made to Board members during the two major pitfalls of the last year - MI and the (in my mind far more alarming) management team declaration of mis-treatment. Check out Bd tapes of Camille's response to that crisis - it's pretty scary.
Wynn was the only candidate who put his opinions out there in a public newspaper. While all the others may have had great ideas, suggestions, coffee with a board member, we won't know what they were thinking and the forums have allowed so much ducking of the issues, we may never know.
Lawn signs: Often the number of signs you see is an indication of the $ a campaign has to spend. If you loan yourself money, you get more signs. Read the reports, see who is funding the campaigns. If you haven't driven every street in Palo Alto, it's hard to gauge how many signs are out there.
Lastly, if you had a cool name like Wynn and you were running for an office which you wanted to WIN, would you really pass up that opportunity?

Posted by numbers please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 22, 2007 at 8:25 am

"I believe if you add in the middle school and the high school donations, which by the way is 7/12 of the District in terms of students (and presumably parents), the total giving is up for the District this year. "

Camille's campaign literature has already been found to be, let us be polite and say "mis-leading" in this area. Do you have any numbers to back up these statements?

"I am beginning to see Townsend's signs in more number, with others not appearing to add to their prior sign placements."

Not surprising, they have lost the media endorsement. All they have left is to go direct.

Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 9:44 am

Just to clarify, Wynn Hausser did not actually speak out against MI or trust problems while they were occurring, that anyone can cite. He was not at the Board meetings, that's for sure. He wrote a letter to the editor prior to announcing his candidacy, saying that Gail Price was wonderful and principled (probably not coincidentally, she is one of his election co-chairs) and that *someone* ought to step up to the plate and run. But just to be perfectly clear, he wrote this letter in June, *after* the trust brouhaha had long blown over and *after* The MI decisions had concluded. So, even if there are other reasons to vote for Wynn, and his supporters have articulated many, please let's stick to the facts and not pretend that this man of the people leapt into the fray to defend PAUSD's honor in the midst of the MI crisis, cause that's just not what happened.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 9:57 am

I think its smart that he emphasises Wynn in stead of Hausner - its too close the Klausner.

I also agree with the point made that the number of signs out is probably relative to the amount of funding the candidate has.

On another note, Camille I notice has a long list of politicians as her endorsers. That's another real problem with incumbents - they become cozy political insiders (especially when given the opportunities afforded by a very long term that a board member has), and they are exposed to (or learn to take advantage of) alot of You-Pat-My-Back-I'll-Pat-Yours relationships.

I vote against incumbents as a rule unless I am very happy with their prior results (or very unhappy with the alternative). And in Camille's case, she makes its easy to vote for a clean house.

Posted by FYI
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Something that I didn't know prior to this race is that "politicians" will almost always endorse an incumbent, on the basic assumption that the incumbent usually gets re-elected and therefore they don't want to lose any political "points" with the incumbent. What politician wants to deal with an angry re-elected incumbent?

So, to see how else said politicians think, see if there are 4 endorsements for various Board Members..and assume that ONE of them is simply political ( probably the incumbent). Another thing to do is to look at even if there are 2 other endorsements, but they are diametrically opposite of the incumbent..that is probably a clue to the real way the "politician" leans.

I would look only at WHO ELSE the said politician is endorsing in addition to any given incumbent. THOSE are more reliable indicators of their thinking.

Posted by another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Sorry, I only meant to point out that none of the other candidates went through the press to deliver a message, before, after, or during any of the mis-steps at 25 Churchill. Also, Many, Many, Many people watch Board meetings on cable - especially those who stay home with their kids. Sometimes my kids watch with me, then get bored and leave the room. Oh well - you don't have to go there to be informed (or outraged).
Wow, you called Wynn a man of the people, interesting...yes, I get the sarcasm. Quite frankly, PAUSD had no honor to defend during those times.

Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Dear another POV --

Well, Melissa took a stand, but attempted to do so in an ethical way, for which she has been soundly castigated on several threads. I'm not criticizing Wynn for not showing up. Rather, I am attempting to set the record straight about the timing of his letter to the editor in response to padadof4's posting (is that you?), and feel it is disingenuous to claim that Wynn somehow stepped into the breach while everyone else was silent. Couldn't agree more with you that PAUSD had no honor to defend, and certainly hope that is not the case in the future. And as for Wynn's being a man of the people, well, that's the way he and his supporters cast him. I didn't mean it derogatorily, though I also can't say I completely agree that he is that.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I heard through the grapevine that Ezran is spending $18K on this election--so that's a lot of ads and signs.

I agree that signs matter--speaking as someone who lived here for years with no kids--I can say I didn't know the ins and outs of the issues. So, signs never decided my vote, but they did make me aware of candidates.

Endorsements? Yes, those mattered too.

I think a lot of people whose kids are grown or don't have kids don't really get why MI wasn't just a cool thing. The news on overcrowding was never as prominent or as catchy, basically. And a lot of people--particularly if they're from outside the state (which is probably the majority here) don't get the issue with the 2/3s vote on bond issues--and that it's not that easy to get those kind of majorities if there's a big split in the community.

Even in techie Silicon Valley, I find a lot of people just sort of tune out the money stuff.

Townsend's other big weakness--her failure to monitor Callan is another difficult story to understand--simply because so much of the problem happened behind the scenes. We know the result of Callan's behavior, but a lot of the details of the behavior itself have remained undercover. It makes hard to hold the narrative in one's hand and understand *why* a failure of oversight was such a problem.

The Weekly could have used a more dogged, experienced reporter at the time, though that would have been a tough reporting job. School types seem to be very good at being closed-mouth. I mean, good luck getting Susan Charles to talk and she was spearheading the revolt.

But, anyway, unless you'd seen Callan in action (even the short bit where she lectured us on our attitude at the Ohlone meeting gave me a real insight into her limitations.), you would be working around a gap. I actually went around asking other parents at one point what it was that drove people nuts about Callan.

And it was hard to get information.

Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 22, 2007 at 1:01 pm

OhlonePar -- Yeah, Callan was a piece of work. We got the attitude when I got together a group of people to go to the district over tone and attitude and bullying issues in our elementary school. MFC screamed at all 14 of us and told us we were wasting her time and that it was not her job to listen to a bunch of parents. Thank heaven she is gone. I really hope this is the dawning of a new era of competence, accountability, transparency and respect in PAUSD.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2007 at 1:37 pm

She screamed at you? Honest-to-god screamed at you? Didn't occur to her that she was working for the community?

That's like screaming at customers. Can you imagine what it was like to work under her? If she screamed at you, imagine what she did to people over whom she did have some control?

Like I said when she was lecturing us on our manners, I found it hard not to laugh. Definite lack of awareness.

I hope someone gives up to Skelly--he may need to tread a little more lightly than he would otherwise just because there's such a trust issue in this district.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Does anyone else find it at least odd, if not utterly ridiculous that Townsend is touting hiring the new superintendent as basically her main, and only accomplishment during her tenure.

First of all, the new superintendent was hired only after the prior one resigned. Prior to her resignation, Townsend was a staunch supporter of the prior superintendent. So the hiring process only started AFTER the resignation (ie: involuntary/reactive on the part of the board.)

AND, the board leads for the trust and respect issue (organization development project?) were Dana and Gail - not Camille. (So what was her contribution in getting to the bottom of the matter???)

And the selection of a search firm for the new superintendent - who were the board leads on that? Does anyone know if there were board members leading the selection process for a search firm? Or were their board leads on the overall superintendent selection process after the search firm was selected? Who were they?

Posted by What Bothers Me
a resident of Hoover School
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:10 pm

I used to like the spirit and energy that Townsend displayed. I liked that she worked so hard on helping to save our basic aid. I even admired her stand on MI, but now I am troubled by her hiding from it. I would rather see someone stand for what they believe in even if it is not polictially advisable. Where has that spirit gone?

Posted by vote for the incumbent (or not)
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:23 pm


Townsend is clutching at any straw she can. Check out the claims in this forum that supporters are attributing to Townsend. Ask them to back them up or even show Townsend's involvement and it goes remarkably silent. Pointing out with real numbers that their successes are actual failures it goes remarkably silent.

Now Camille is adding "Hiring of the new superintendent" to the list of claims. Anything to avoid talking about MI, I suppose.

The Weekly got it right but incumbents will still get the undecided/uninformed vote. After all, they were good enough to get elected last time...

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Just to update on a little history.

MFC was hired *specifically* to put enormous pressure on staff, relative to benefit control, and other issues. She was essentially a "hit woman" who was brought in to do the "dirty work" that the BOE (at the time) didn't have gumption for.

BOE member Kroynman was especially happy to follow Callan's lead. When Kroynman left, many thought that Callan would cool down a bit, but Townsend followed right in Callan's footsteps.

Callan was mostly a one-step-removed adminnistrator, with a very brusque demeanor, She brought people in that would do her bidding, which is iwhy it's still disturbing to see Cook and Bowers in place. They are servants of the "mamagement mode du jour", with little vision of their own (except survival) guiding their respective management styles.

Callan shouting? No kidding... How about Callan's first meeting with the teacher's union rep, accompanied by her attorney, and having that attorney say that the union was essentially small potatoes and Bush League, and that it would be dealt with as such. It was an unbelievable first meeting, followed by more of the same, until the union reps refused to meet with Callan alone, so that they had corroboration ofo the kind of treatment she was portioning out.

All that aside, Townsend really is an astute politician. She is savvy, and has been well schooled by her advisers not to go on the defensive, which is the kiss of death for any candidate.

Her endorsements - like most endorsements - are payback for the same (endorsements that she has issued), or endorsements that are put "in the bank", just in case someone who has endorsed Townsend needs a boost from a known candidate down the road.

Like "Pollster", above, I think this is shaping to be a race that could go anywhere. Townsend's endorsement by the Daily will certainly help her cause, as will the seeming effectiveness of her sign placement, and her incumbent status.

That said, Ezran pulling a lot of people in, and the negative vote against Townsend is gathering even more steam since the Daily endorsement. Those who want Townsend gone (including me) are stepping up their activities to make that a reality. So, her Daily endorsement has worked against her in that sense.

In any case, Townsend has been summarily chastised - here, by the Weekly, and among most teaching and administrative staff (whose trust she has lost).

It's a toss up whether she gets the nod in November, but again, if she does, her influence on the BOE will be greatly reduced.

My preference is for three new board members, because it would bring much needed new energy to the BOE, without baggage.

If Townsend is re-elected, all the negativity in the community that exists toward her will continue. This will be an energy drain on the BOE, because many people will react with anger at *any* influence she exhibits in close decisions, and many people will turn off from wanting to support PAUSD's next, much-needed bond.

Especially for the latter reason, I would rather see Camille Townsend fade back into her law practice, and rest on the positive laurels that she deserves, while hiding the serious failures of judgment that plagued her term on the BOE.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 3:59 pm

No, I'm not dadof4, I'm momof2. I love RWE's great insider stuff. I'm in total agreement about the Callan stuff. The Supe is the ONLY employee the BD gets to hire. They should have been keeping tabs on her performance, but under the reign of Townsend, MFC ran roughshod over teachers, managers, principals etc, basically unchecked.

Do you really think Cynthia Pino wanted to spend less time commuting? What a ridiculous spin they put on that one and look who wanders in...Cook! Did they even do a national search to find a qualified person? Nope, no need, MFC told the Bd. And they bought it. So Cook leaves her old job and in waltzes Bowers. Nobody else in the state/country/world might have been more qualified? We'll never know.

Then at the height of the PAMA crisis, the Bd resurrects a dead Asst Supe job and Voila - another position of power and trust and KNOWLEDGE filled without so much as a do you think we should search? That appt alone was the perfect underscoring of what the trouble was at 25 C - a tyrannical supe, a star-struck president (living in the aura of the supe) and a complicit Bd - what a tragedy.

Townsend asserts that her experience is crucial. I don't think we need any more of this kind of experience.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 22, 2007 at 4:19 pm

Great whirlwind summary, POV, of the district debacles of the last 2 1/2 years. Don't forget, too, the Joe DiSalvo brouhaha just prior to the Cook/Bowers promotions, when he was placed on paid leave by the board and replaced by the former Hoover principal who was just returning from leave (paid or unpaid, I still don't know). That was the year (2005-2006) the district covered salary + benefits for two principals at JLS.

I would also like to correct the impression that the entire board was complicit in all of this. Gail Price voted against promoting Marilyn Cook to Associate Superintendent and Scotty Laurence to Assistant Superintendent.

I hope your post survives the editors!

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for the posts guys. If any lurkers are still reading, I think it's great for them to get these kind of specifics.

You know, I can't even remember what I wrote that got deleted this time, so I've no idea which invisible line got crossed.

What was with that Scott Laurence thing? Sort of a Parthian shot to make sure there was a VP under the incoming super who had Callan's impramatur?

Got to say it was massive hubris on Callan's part to dismiss the union. They've been a pretty politically savvy group over the years.

Back to the election--the candidate who seems to be getting a serious cross-over vote is Klausner. I think Liu is considered pretty marginal (I've seen no signs or endorsements), so Klausner is getting the third vote after Townsend and Ezran on one side and sort of the middle vote from the Hausser, Baten Caswell camps.

So, I think she's the most likely to get a seat.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 5:15 pm

OK. Here's a quote from TOWNSEND regarding the superintendent search process:

Jan3 2007
Palo Alto Daily
Christina Petersen
Web Link

"Board President Camille Townsend said all five board members will be involved in a discussion about "search companies, the timeline and parameters for taking community input."

And now somehow this is a leadership feat that translates for her into her own biggest accomplishment???

Here was another amusing little quote from Camille on hearing the Callan retirement news. (A different Daily article.)

"Board member Camille Townsend said she called parents and students after hearing Callan was retiring. She wanted to assure students that "every day is still going to be a great day."

Huh??? Still???? A little sound bite showing how entirely out to lunch she was. Here's a community deeply concerned about trust and respect issues, and she's calling people telling them not to fret over the retirement announcement????!

(Most) people were celebrating, not fretting! Like there was a single person in PAUSD that needed reassurance that things were going to remain great???? Were they already great???? (Well, I can think of a small handful of people actually who had cozied up to Callan for deep support on MI - and were probably worried about how that would effect MI's chances for barreling through.)

Posted by Bye-Bye-Camille
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Someone posted –
Townsend's other big weakness--her failure to monitor Callan is another difficult story to understand--simply because so much of the problem happened behind the scenes. We know the result of Callan's behavior, but a lot of the details of the behavior itself have remained undercover. It makes hard to hold the narrative in one's hand and understand *why* a failure of oversight was such a problem.

This is a good point, except for the fact the role of “oversight” by the BoE is not well spelled out. Certainly Superintendents are fired/”retired” frequently in American school districts. But why? In some cases, there are financial problems. In other cases, there are personality differences between the BoE and the Superintendent. But are there any Ed Code-based triggers that are activated when there is tension between the Staff and the Superintendent? Probably not. This “monitoring” does fall on the shoulders of the BoE, to be sure. But how such monitoring works seems to be very murky. It would be nice if there were a well-established policy for the benefit of the Superintendent, the BoE, the Staff, the voters and the property owners. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case in our school district.

Certainly election time should be a time for review of the Superintendent, the BoE and the performance of the district as a whole. Not only should it be a review, but a referendum for the incumbents running for re-election. Not having the past well documented by the school district is another of those reasons why democracy fails us every so often. Every BoE vote should be documented and on-line in a very readable format. Sadly, this is not the case at the PAUSD.

Incumbents should not be free to re-write history. Failure to discuss one’s positions and votes should be a red flag to the voters that this candidate is not worthy of their votes. Non-incumbent candidates should be free, and willing, to make an issue out of an incumbent’s failure to discuss his/her votes.

Hopefully it is not too late in this election for the public to rigorously review Townsend’s votes and positions. It is pretty obvious from the preceding postings that her only real accomplishment is Mandarin Immersion. Most people who follow the school district probably know this. The rest of the community needs to be reminded of this, her sole accomplishment, before heading to the polls.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2007 at 5:45 pm

I know that we have to be careful on this one or we will be edited out, but it is worth saying that the resignation of the Jordan principal is another one of these mysteries that are surrounding the BoE at present.

The thread about this issue has been locked, probably because of a lot of gossipy posts, but I have not heard any official reason of why she is leaving. I mean there may be a very good personal reason why she is leaving, and if that is the case it would be fair to publicise that even if the actual details are left out. In fact, if there is a good reason it may help to see her in a better light. But, the mystery surrounding this departure is in itself cause for concern when we are talking about transparency and the incidents in the past (Joe di Salvo) and getting word out to us, the parents. After all, it does affect one third of all PAUSD parents, assuming one third of all middle schoolers are at Jordan and that as parents we will all have middle schoolers at some stage of our parenthood.

Posted by Jordan parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 22, 2007 at 7:21 pm

I agree with Parent's posting and am curious too as to why the Jordan principal resigned so abruptly. I think the Board and Superintendent to themselves harm by not telling the community the truth of why a principal or high-level district employee suddenly leaves. The only candidate who has spoken consistently about good communication and transparancy is Wynn Hausser.

We really need to change the culture of the Board and have them stop giving us lip service!

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2007 at 9:29 pm

There are often legal reasons why people can't/won't talk about someone's leaving. While RWE says people leave all the time mid-year, I've never seen much of it at schools--it doesn't make sense as it's hard to find a job mid-year and it's also difficult to find a replacement. Though I think they've got someone ready to do the acting principal thing, right?

The lack of an explanation doesn't point to an amicable parting--it would be one thing if the principal announced she was resigning and taking another job at XX, but as I understand it, that was not announced.

There could also be highly personal reasons, such as serious illness, but the silent midyear resignation raises questions.

Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:20 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Folks, the community has focused on the election, and refreshingly are discussing curriculum, special education, facilities needs, and the balance of local vs district vs state control. Perhaps you should as well....

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:54 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 22, 2007 at 11:59 pm

Failure to see the harm MFC was doing and the failure to stand up and do something about it was the greatest failing of the current board. Gail Price stood alone although it seemed that Barb Mitchell was coming along. Dana, Mandy and Camille were all too willing to let MFC continue her reign of terror. But as Mandy and Dana aren't up for election, this utter failure falls upon Camille.

All was not well with the world at 25 Churchill and to look past the failures and re-elect Camille means you will get more of the same. We are looking at the past because that is where you must review the actions of those seeking re-election.

I'm sure MFC will still be discussed when it's Dana's turn - if he seeks to run.

Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 23, 2007 at 12:01 am


Still nothing about the future.....

But, while we are quoting philosophers, why not

"Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds"....

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2007 at 12:06 am

Interested Observer -

If George Bush could run a third time would you be satisfied with a campaign which merely looked to the future?

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 23, 2007 at 12:17 am

Hello Interested Observer,

[Portion remove by Palo Alto Online staff.]

But anyway, consistency has nothing to do with this, but I think the Santayana quote is relevant: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

If we don't remember what happened with the board and the super during the last few years, we will do nothing to keep it from happening again.

It's also called learning from your mistakes. Though actually the super discussion is pretty recent--so what would you do to monitor that kind of extreme behavior?

What should have been done differently? What should be done differently in the future?

Posted by another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 1:21 am

I just joined this discussion and already I'm old and tired? Old, not so much; tired? Absolutely! But if you want something new to stir the election pot with, I'm game:

I'm a little tired of candidates and their claims of their heroic efforts. I know this group has already taken Claude to task for his overused claim to fame with Measure A. Claude's a nice guy and I'm sure he did a good job of getting phonebank people out for an evening or two, but the Measure A effort was huge and shared by many many people, including the co-chairs, the Unions, City Council members and volunteers. A nod in their direction would be nice.

Basic Aid fight: Camille did not save Basic Aid. Yes, she worked hard on it, but the PTAs throughout the state were hard at work, networking across counties to share strategies and techniques. It was another collaborative effort, not one person's fight.

A perfect example of not blasting one's horn is Melissa and the Katrina Relief group. Yes, she participated and kept pretty quiet about her role, but boy did she work hard. No claims to saving Louisiana, just a quiet, steady worker doing her best for kids.

I know that leadership skills are important in evaluating any candidate for office and the tendency to self-promote is actually necessary, but I'd like to see real *accomplishments* listed and some thoughtful reflections from the candidates about how to improve our district and make every student feel good about learning here.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 8:35 am

Since Camille Townsend seems to be offering up her 'experience' as her one and only selling point, it is utterly appropriate to review her 'experience' to see how and where it proves that she can do the job. No one can find anything - a review of her experience on the issues that mattered over the past year come up lacking any proof that she's worth of re-election.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by board observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 9:07 am

Looking ahead to the future, we need someone who can work productively with the community on all these important issues. In fact this school district and the broader community have some important, and expensive issues on the near horizon that could literally redefine our school district. We need to build unity and a plan.

So is Townsend suited to the task?

As the front man for the most divisive issue to this town in years, and her unrelenting unwillingness to put some reasonable research into that project, to answer some very basic and practical questions about impact of the project, to demand transparency, or to put forth any effort to find practical solutions to calm the community outcry, I'd say, she's exactly the wrong person to be part of the board for this future we face.

Her outright rejection of the value of the strategic planning process is dangerous for our future.

Her Campaign says her "experience" is what we need most. I'd say her experience is what we need least.

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2007 at 11:21 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate
a resident of Triple El
on Oct 23, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Message from Claude Ezran, candidate for School Board.
Response to "another POV"

Dear another POV,

First, thank you for saying I am a "nice guy". You never know what to expect when your name appears in this forum!

I would like, with all due respect, to correct the statement: "he did a good job of getting phonebank people out for an evening or two..."

I believe you are underestimating the amount of work I put in as one of the leaders of Measure A (school parcel tax). In addition to being on the Organizing Committee, I led all the phone bank efforts.

We called voters during 24 evenings and two weekend days. I organized all of it, and was present at the phone banks to train and lead the volunteers and make phone calls myself, more than half of the times.

Furthermore, there was a considerable amount of work involved in planning the whole campaign and then each one of the 24 individual phone bank events so that they would run smoothly (and they did, all of them). I had to: secure locations, coordinate messages, scripts and materials with our campaign consultants, ensure we had enough volunteers for each evening, sending reminders and instructions to volunteers, consult with the Committee, etc.

After each phone bank event, I had to sort calling sheets, take them to our database expert, calculate statistics and prepare progress reports for the Organizing Committee.

I was not alone in this project, I received help from many of my fellow Organizing Committee members, but the overall burden and responsibility of making this critical aspect of the campaign successful rested on me.

Over a four months period, February-June 7, 2005, I probably spent a few hundred hours on Measure A, and so did many of my now great friends on the Organizing Committee. I never claimed that I was unique in my efforts; many people deserve even more praise than I do for what they have done; you and I agree on that.

But I am proud of my contributions to the community, my planning and organization skills made a key difference in the success of the phone banks campaign and helped Measure A win. I believe I have certainly earned the right to publicly mention my contributions to the Measure A campaign and the expertise I gained from that worthwhile experience.

I am the only candidate for School Board who was on the Measure A Organizing Committee. I learned how to win an electoral battle for our schools, experience that will be critical if we have a school bond measure, as seems likely in the near future.

Best regards,

Claude Ezran
Web Link

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 23, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Eds, I figured you'd remove my response to Interested Observer's cheap pot shots, but why haven't you removed the pot shots?

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm


I'm surprised that my past post was edited out (although I'm used to it by now, as the forum editors want to maintain a kind of decorum that matches the pasty consistency of Palo Alto's stoic, and often self-pretentious, "properness").

The funny thing about all this is that all the editing contributes to even more implied sniping, with lots of innuendo and four-letter words implied in wannabe haughtiness. It's kind of like playing dolls with football pads, so make doubly sure that nobody gets their wittle (sic) feewings (sic) hurt

Don't forget, the Weekly can't afford to turn off its many advertisers, and walks a fine line in these forums. These forums are about page views, and pumping up the Weekly's perceived value, for an equity exit down the road. It's a business, period.

If I had the cash, I'd up start my own newspaper, and inject some 'soul' into this increasingly vapid place.

That said, my response was made to help clarify some points that were rejoindered by a personal attack on me; I wasn't counterattacking, just clarifying. The editor needs to get a clue.

Posted by Periwinkle
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 23, 2007 at 6:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Another POV
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Hey Claude:

Just as I said, you're a nice guy and yes, you did a heck of a lot of work. Thank you for acknowledging the work of the 3 co-chairs and all the callers, the precinct walkers, the press team, the database guy. Let's also cheer our Palo Alto *voters* who supported our schools. My point was that I hadn't heard you mention those people before and I was a little weary of it. If indeed we need another bond in the future ALL the aforementioned people will need to be re-recruited. A little nod to them while championing your own hard work would be nice.

Thanks for the reply.

Posted by Curious
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2007 at 8:29 pm

A little off topic, but I am curious ( and please, I am asking for scenarios for bashing!) there anyone here who can think of a scenario where a bond in the next election, at the same time as the PA Bonds coming up, would actually succeed?

I have a few ideas, but I am curious what others may think.

Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2007 at 9:18 pm

We're not talking about the NOvember election coming up are we? Isn't it too late? Next election (june?)

The scenario for success that I can imagine would include:
1. A full 3 member turn over of the board now (trust is currently out the window)
2. A full and comprehensive strategic plan in place, that has broad community buy in
3. A full and comprehensive capacity/space plan in place, that includes K-12. Covers short term and long term plans. Shows how current space will be utilized, and how we will NOT be making improvements to turn over to a charter school. And dedicates to the support and protect the neighborhood school concept - In other words, clearly shows the specific plans for where MI and other choice programs will reside that do not encroach on neighborhood schools.
4. Full Accountability and transparency measures.

No way I will vote yes for a bond unless all these important prerequisites are met.

Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2007 at 10:17 pm

parent: what do you mean by strategic plan? I'm not sure I understand that element in your post.

I see many budget variables: if a new school is opened, each additional student will bring more money to the school district, until that school is at or near capacity.

Under present circumstances, each new student costs the district, because the facilities are at, or near capacity.

From a budget standpoint, how the oncoming increase is handled will greatly affect all options. Are the estimates going to take into account the maximum increase in zoning Council can manage? Or just what's already done? Are the class sizes to go over present maximums?

Depending upon the ratio of space to students, an increase in students will impact the district's bottom line negatively or positively. It's hard to guess, without more honest estimates of future growth, and without a plan to house it.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 23, 2007 at 10:36 pm

I don't understand your post at all. As a basic aid district, we don't get revenues from the state on a per student basis. As more students come into the district, there are fewer dollars to spend on each one, whether or not the facilities are at capacity.

If we raise class sizes, we need fewer teachers and classrooms overall, but lose the categorical aid we currently get from the state for class size reduction.

If we open a new school, we lose lease income and incur the costs of renovation to bring the property up to the same standards as other schools in the district.

Could you please explain your statement that "Depending upon the ratio of space to students, an increase in students will impact the district's bottom line negatively or positively."

Thank you.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 23, 2007 at 10:37 pm


How will each student at a new school bring in money to the district? That's true of general revenue districts, but we're basic aid--my understanding is that it's just ever-smaller slices of the pie.

Posted by OP for School Board!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:01 am

Strategic planning means taking stock of everything all together, priorities, problems, and seeing how to best move forward with everything on the table. Moving forward with the big picture. This is not a new concept for our district.

I have no idea why MIers threw up their hands and wailed anytime anyone mentioned this, it seems the only rational way to handle things like adding new programs that require their own school buildings. I think working through the strategic plan cycle would have been one way to get their program with more support from the community (but there were specific families in PACE whose kids could not wait - hence the wailing).

Posted by Claude Ezran, School Board Candidate
a resident of Triple El
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:31 am

Message from Claude Ezran, Candidate for Schoool Board.
Response to Curious.

Dear Curious,

It is highly likely that there will be a school bond measure on the ballot in June at the same time as the Libraries and Police Station bonds. The initial official discussions of the school bond measure started yesterday at the School Board Meeting.

How do we succeed?

By having the School Board and the City Council and their respective campaign consultants work collaboratively to craft common messages aimed at the entire community that we need to rebuild our infrastructure in Palo Alto, for the City and for the schools. We are living on a legacy from the 60s. We must also make it very clear that we will not come back with more requests for, let’s say, 10 years. We will need a city-wide grass roots effort on a much scale greater than what we had for Measure A, with all supporters, for the schools and the city, working in unison. If schools and the city compete, everybody might lose. Lots of work ahead!

Best regards,
Claude Ezran
Web Link

Posted by fed up
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 7:33 am

I agree with Parent's 4 points 100%. I am not voting any more money into this District until I can trust this District and this Board to spend it the way I believe it should be spent. I will not support any more segregated, lottery based programs, especially small boutique programs which give an education far beyond what anyone else gets. I will not support anything which knocks little elementary kids out of their closest school. If kids are going to commute to choice programs anyway, fine, let the families who choose this option, and the ones who get lucky enough to win it, schlep all their kids to a site which frees up the schools for the kids who live by the schools.

No more overflow from Escondido to house commuters coming in, no more overflow from Terman to house commuters coming in, and no more creating overflow from a neighborhood school for incoming commuters when we open the next elementary site.

Open a new site, maybe Cubberly, that never was and never will be a neighborhood elementary school, place all existing immersion programs there for commuters, and take back our neighborhood schools.

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2007 at 8:17 am

Fed Up - perhaps you aren't aware of the history of the choice schools. Hoover, for example, has been moved repeatedly to free up space for neighborhood schools. Last move was away from Barron Park to allow that neighborhood school to reopen.

The choice schools are not squatters. In fact they have provided flexibility to the district.

Posted by DEF
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 8:35 am

That's not a bad idea Fed Up. Move all the choice programs to Cubberley then Ohlone, Hoover, SI and MI can share the space. Returning three sites to neighborhood schools.

Posted by Another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 9:18 am


This will only help the overcrowding in elementary schools. What will you suggest for alleviating the overcrowding in middle and high schools?

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2007 at 10:23 am

Cubberly is really our only choice for a high school. Middle school is very tough. Garland and maybe Pinewood are going to need to be recaptured. We need to give 3 years' notice for Garland.

Among the greatest failures of the current board will be the acts of omission - not giving notice for Garland and not undertaking what will be a very difficult discussion with the city regarding Cubberly.

By the way, the Mitchell Park library proposal could incorporate a second floor to house all the non-profits currently residing at Cubberly. Without that space, finding a home for them will be a large barrier to getting the Cubberly space back for the district.

Again, failure to plan for the future and a history of ducking the space issue (by just adding portables) - this is the legacy of Camille and reason enough to vote ABC.

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 10:31 am

I like ABCs idea about coordinating the library/community center development with school development, and would be a lot more willing to vote for a library bond if it included community center space AND would allow the school distract to take back Cubberley.

I would also be more inclined to vote for a school bond if it had a real plan for how to deal with space issues.

Posted by Forum watcher
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:03 am

I've been checking this forum as regularly as my time allows, and having just reviewed the posts for the past week, I'd like to take issue with Board Watcher's continual call for Wynn Hausser to "come clean" on his stated accomplishments. I think this individual needs to watch more carefully and with MUCH more objective eyes. To date I've attended four of the forums in order to better assess the candidates' potential for serving as productive, skilled board members. Based on what I've seen and heard, I believe that Wynn's qualifications would serve him well as a Board member, and possibly better than those of several of the other candidates.

For example, one of Melissa's favorite statements is that she has attended every Board meeting for the last several years. This may be true, but her inaccurate answers to questions about peer streaming at two different forums tells me that sitting through Board meetings isn't necessarily sufficient to hear and understand the intricacies of the issues discussed there.

Barbara Klausner has mentioned that she developed an "inclusive" math enrichment program at Nixon (this was done when she was hired by the Nixon PTA in the pre-PiE days), and has worked (as a District employee) at Duveneck to train teachers in flexible grouping for math. I'm sure that these are both valuable programs, but I'm not sure that knowing how things work in a classroom translates into being able to make things work inclusively on a district-wide level; as far as I know, these programs have not been shared with any of the other ten elementary schools in our "Unified" district.

And of course, there's Camille Townsend's claim that she's the best candidate for School Board because she's the only candidate with experience -- I doubt that many of the District families would care to experience four more years of what we've experienced these past four years of Camille's tenure!

The good news is that we have many strong candidates in this election, and I hope that people have had and will have a chance to attend a live event (forum, coffee, etc.), where they can move beyond campaign literature listing Ivy-league pedigrees and prior accomplishments, and get a glimpse at the candidates' reactions to and handling of some very tough questions.

Posted by thinking about elementary schools
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:07 am

According to the "front page" of the Town Talk, the Board is heading toward unanimous approval of giving notice for Garland to come back into the district in 3 years.

I hope we can move SI/MI to Cubberly, and keep Garland as a neighborhood school. Not having any clue at all how many kids can be housed at Cubberly, but certain that it is at least 600. That would be at least enough to house two popular ( as I am sure MI will be) immersion programs, freeing up Escondido and Garland to be neighborhood schools, and giving space back to those who want the Ohlone program.

Posted by To Forum Watcher
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:10 am

Please quote what was inaccurate about Melissa's statements concerning peer streaming, don't just say they were. Your credibility is lowered by making conclusions, not quotes.

Posted by Questioning...
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:12 am

Question: Does anyone know what OTHER sites there are that are being leased besides Garland and Cubberly that we can use for expansion?

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

The Pinewood school site in Los Altos Hills; Greendell (Young Fives and JCC); and I think another one . . Ventura?

Posted by Let's start thinking
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:33 am

I am pretty sure Ventura was actually sold, not leased..anybody actually KNOW?

Ok, maybe i am wrong about Cubberly being used for a big bi-language elementary shool two immersion program. I was trying to aim for some integration of multiple groups, but it might now work.

Greendell is a nice, safe place for a huge expansion of young 5s.

Cubberly is a good place for middle school many classrooms is it?

How big is Pinewood? How many students go there now? Is it big enough for 2 immersion programs?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:41 am

Ventura has actually been sold, but with a clause that PAUSD has first option if it ever comes back on the market again. It is used for various programs, not in very good condition, but in a very ideal neighborhood setting in the Ventura neighborhood between Alma and ECR. I am guessing that the site is smallish compared to other elementary school sites, but it was designed as an elementary school and still has that feel to it. AYSO have used its field for soccer practices and some of the programs going on there are being used at soccer practice times.

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:51 am

Opening new schools isn't cheap. We have 3 distinct overcrowding problems in the district: elementary, middle & high school. Opening Garland helps with k-5 crowding. Practically speaking, I don't see the Board approving opening two additional schools in the near future. It was hard enough to get them to approve one.

What about opening a 6-12 school, though? I wonder if the HIGH School Task Force is considering this type of solution?

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Maybe middle school overcrowding could take Jordan/Garland and split to be 6th grade in Garland while 7-8 is in Jordan, using shared fields; and the same split with JLS/Hoover.

That would create a big elementary crunch, which would mean opening at least one or two of the remaining campuses, either Pinewood and Ventura (if it's available); or taking over Cubberley space for choice programs.

Posted by District Grandma Who Votes
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Forum Watcher -- You make a very convincing case that Wynn Hausser is a candidate to take seriously, and I know he has a lot of support on these threads. You clearly think that the three other candidates the Weekly/Daily support (Baten-Caswell, Klaussner, and/or Townsend) are weak, and don't even mention Ezran and Liu. Should I be planning to only vote for Hausser?

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:17 pm

Threads, it has potential, except that Garland is about to be approved by the Board as an elementary school.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Yet another Parent

Be careful, I think that the Board is about to approve calling the lease on Garland, but I am not sure that they have made any firm decision on how to use it. These are two different items.

Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Parent, interesting distinction. I'm getting my news from the PA Weekly's headline, "School board agrees to open 13th elementary" and the lead-in paragraph. "In a meeting to map the future of Palo Alto's elementary schools, school board members unanimously agreed to take back the former Garland Elementary School site for a 13th elementary school from its current lessee."

Are they jumping to conclusions on how Garland will be used?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 12:54 pm

My reading is that as yet no actual vote has been made and it will be voted on in November. The actual wording of the vote will be interesting. I wasn't at the meeting last night, maybe someone who was could clarify, but there was an agreement in discussion that the lease should be called would make sense. Like you, I am just getting my information from the Weekly's article, but I have learnt to be careful not to jump the gun or to read something into a discussion that was not there.

It certainly reads that the need is at the elementary level and of course Garland is historically an elementary school, so I can see where the logic has gone.

In the meantime, I think the BoE would be wise to call the lease and leave the decision of how to use it until after the HSTF, the Bond and of course the election are out of the way. Remember, this BoE will not be the Board that sits when the lease is actually up.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:01 pm

OK. Agreeing to call the lease - but no plan??? Again, no plan?? Here's a novel idea, instead of making mulit million dollar real estate deals, how about a plan?? Or do they have a plan and just keeping it from the public? Even worse.

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Just thinking out loud here, but I would love to see the new BOE:

(a) get good numbers about projections of school age populations

(b) get good numbers for the cost of space options, including reopening and reconfiguring schools, and including costs for increasing class sizes in existing classrooms

(c) set parameters for how the schools will be distributed, i.e. is k-5; 6-8 and 9-12 set in stone? Can the choice schools be relocated and/or combined? What is our tolerance for the size of a high school, or elementary school campus? Are we going to have more choice programs or do we want neighborhood schools?

It seems like the BOE is skirting around these issues with things like the third high school task force; and with AAAG, but they aren't sitting down and saying we have to make decisions and here are all the options, let's set guidelines and make it work.

Even if they don't come up with an answer I like, at least I could support moving forward and financially supporting a rational long-term plan.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I don't see the point of a big expansion of the Young Fives program. You're adding students to an overburdened system that you don't need to add. You certainly don't need an additional 10 classrooms. I still think it's got to be more effective though to run Young Five programs at the various schools--in the afterschool program rooms if there's no free classroom. I wouldn't do it at the schools that are very overcrowded (i.e. Walter Hays, Duveneck, Escondido), but at Ohlone, Fairmeadow, Barron Park, Juana Briones, say)

I'm with whoever said that the district isn't going to open up a bunch of elementary schools. Isn't it a couple of million per?

So, basically, I think we're looking at Garland and the half of Greendell that will be vacated in 2010. I've suggested it for MI rather than SI because MI's small enough to go in there--and it has grant money, which might help a small site be more cost-effective.

Otherwise, let's face it, it will be way too easy for the board to stick it at Garland and create another hybrid school and that sounds like it just creates huge resentment. I mean, it's very in-your-face if you're a neighborhood family at a hybrid. The Escondido neighborhood parents here sound disenfranchised in a way no other group does.

Seriously, though I know it gets batted around, the board is not going to put public elementary schools at Cubberly because it is the only place where a high school can go. I think we'd be more likely to see some sort of middle school/high school hybrid than any elementaries.

I thought Ventura was bought by the city from the district? It's not in great shape, but the location is good--quiet street and in an area that has no easy walking route to any school (it's either El Camino or Alma. It's even worse than being between Oregon and Embarcadero)

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2007 at 1:24 pm


The majority of the board is about to be voted on with a guaranteed change on two. In a sense, the board can't plan because it's just going to be up in the air again in January.

But, geez, they're reactive. The inability to think longterm ahead of public reaction depresses me.

I assume the big thing is that they want to see which way the wind blows before they decide whether Garland's neighborhood, hybrid or choice. (and which choice at that)

Posted by I like the creative thinking.
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Wow, some great thoughts here...use the Kid Club spaces at each site for an expanded young 5 program...empty space anyway.

This frees up the Greendell space. Use Greendell for another elementary school. Maybe a combined dual immersion, maybe not..but certainly it provides elementary space.

Combine Jordan/Garland for 6th grade Garland and 7th/8th Jordan, with shared fields. We are having a tremendous Middle school room left at all. This would relieve a lot of stress.

These look really good on the surface. I am sure Young Fives would raise all kinds of Cain at being de-centralized, but what a great way to expand it and use dead space, and expand addressing at-risk kids and catch them early...

Keeping the 6th graders a little separate from the older kids solves a lot of "bad" role modeling issues also, that can arise from a huge campus. Of course, it would mean a little boundary shifting..always a fun process.
It still is increasing costs to the District, ie no lease from JCC and taking back Garland, but at what kind of pressure relief? I would say a HUGE pressure valve is let off.

Whoever you are, Threads..write to the next Board/Skelly and mention it.

Posted by Threads
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Come November 6, I will be sure to do that. Really, any approach that tackles school crowding with a district wide plan; and accounts for all the district resources, would be welcome!

With all the projected growth in students around Charleston, maybe the district should ponder if anything can be done about Ventura, too. Maybe a swap with the city for Pinewood? Although I agree the facility is not in good shape. It would take a substantial investment to reopen it.

Posted by Forum Watcher
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 6:10 pm

First, could I please make a polite request of folks who are posting about the decision to retake Garland (beyond any effect that it has on the School Board race)? P.A. Online has now started a thread for that topic, and although I'm very interested in both topics, it would be great if you could use that one to discuss the Garland decision; it's a bit tricky to follow the school board candidate discussion otherwise.

Second, I'd like to respond to a couple of people who have commented on my earlier post.
I'm happy to respond to "To Forum Watcher" (who requested that I state what was inaccurate about Melissa's statements concerning peer streaming), especially if it means that more people get some exposure to the peer streaming issue. The first inaccurate statement came at the Ohlone Candidate Forum, when she stated "When three middle schools move into two high schools, someone has to split." This is, in fact, NOT true; the current situation is due to the district practice of keeping JLS/Jordan and Gunn/Paly at approximately the same size. The AAAG Peer Streaming subcommittee reported to the Board that middle-to-high school peer streaming could be achieved if the Jordan enrollment were allowed to grow about 20% higher than JLS. (Just as an interesting aside, both JLS and Jordan are currently about 40% larger than Terman, due to facilities constraints.) As the District continues its facilities planning to deal with enrollment growth, it might be valuable to consider this scenario when middle school facilities are discussed. The second inaccurate statement occurred at the Community-Wide Forum a few nights later, where Melissa claimed that AAAG had recommended solving the peer streaming problem by sending a larger group of students along the JLS/Paly track. The AAAG Peer Streaming subcommittee's presentation stated that this was, in fact, NOT an acceptable long-term solution; it would do little to nothing towards helping students maintain their social support system as they move on to high school. It was suggested as part of a short-term, stop-gap action (along with establishing better ties between JLS and Paly), for those students who are currently affected. I hope this rather lengthly response will address To Forum Watcher's concerns about my credibility.

I'd also like to respond to "District Grandma," who wrote:

You make a very convincing case that Wynn Hausser is a candidate to take seriously, and I know he has a lot of support on these threads. You clearly think that the three other candidates the Weekly/Daily support (Baten-Caswell, Klaussner, and/or Townsend) are weak, and don't even mention Ezran and Liu. Should I be planning to only vote for Hausser?

I most definitely don't think that the other candidates are weak; in fact, I stated "the good news is that we have many strong candidates in this election." And while I do strongly support Wynn, the point of my posting (besides requesting that Board Watcher discontinue his attacks on Wynn's credentials) was to alert people to the benefit of attending the forums and coffees to evaluate for themselves whether those candidates who look great on paper have the potential to bring valuable vision and action to the Board. If you missed the forum at Escondido, there are still six more to go (see And thank you for voting and for making the effort to educate yourself on the issues -- your grandchild(ren) will thank you, too!

Posted by Ditrict Grandma Who Votes
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Dear Forum Watcher:

I appreciate your responding. In your first post I see that you recommend Wynn Hausser wholeheartedly ("Based on what I've seen and heard, I believe that Wynn's qualifications would serve him well as a Board member, and possibly better than those of several of the other candidates.") but you don't seem to think much of Melissa Baten Caswell or Barbara Klaussner, even though the Weekly and the Daily both endorsed them. You also don't like Camille Townsend, who got the Daily's vote. But then you say "The good news is that we have many strong candidates in this election."

I have three votes. As someone who seems very informed in this whole election process, could you tell me who you think is worth those votes, besides Wynn?

Posted by parent voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2007 at 10:44 pm

District Grandma,
Do go to the forums and see the candidates for yourself. My own conclusion after attending one was that Klaussner and Baten Caswell are clearly the strongest candidates, so much so, I am suspicious of the motives of the above poster saying otherwise.

Hausser, Ezran and Liu are very different but with unique strengths that recommend them. Attending the forums helped me differentiate them better than going by written statements.

Townsend came across as scattered, which is less obvious in written statements. Since so much district business happens in meetings, someone who rambles like that could be a real liability.

The forum I attended could have accommodated a lot more people. I had a much easier time decided how to vote. Definitely go.

Posted by Forum Watcher
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 24, 2007 at 11:37 pm

After reading the second posting from District Grandma and the comment from Parent Voter, I went back and reread my original post, looking for evidence of some statement about Melissa and Barbara that would cause Grandma to conclude that I don't think much of these candidates, and evidence of some sort of motive that might make Parent suspicious. I guess as a newcomer to posting, I haven't fully appreciated how difficult it is to bring up issues without people misunderstanding what you're trying to say or possibly reading something into it that isn't there. Actually, though, I've read enough unpleasant dialogues here online that I should have known better.

It's NOT that I don't think highly of Melissa and Barbara (no comment on Camille -- I was pretty upfront there) -- I do. I think that they are qualified for the position, and much like Parent Voter, I think that they'd each bring a slightly different perspective to the Board. I just wanted to make the point that not all of a candidate's qualifications or "dues" that she's/he's paid will necessarily make her/him the best one for the job.

And I could tell you which other two I believe are worth your vote, but like Parent Voter, I strongly recommend that you attend a forum and come to your own conclusion. If you're still unsure after that, I'd be happy to talk further, though probably offline. I'm a little gunshy that someone else might suspect my motives!

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I was reading one of the other forums and came a post that got me thinking again about what it is about Camille Townsend which makes her so unsuited to the difficult task of being a school board member.

I think the essence is that CT is far too much of a cheerleader and far too little the critical thinker/evaluator. How many times have you heard her say "the kids are doing great", "gee, the staff did such a great job", "Mary Frances Callan is doing remarkable work", "the MI program is a great step in this flat world", "the view from 30,000 is very positive"?

How many times have you heard her say "I have a problem with this analysis", "we need more data on this point", "this doesn't make any sense for this reason" etc?

I believe she has the best interests of the district at heart but lacks either the capacity or interest to think critically. That failure hurt this district to a great extent during the Mary Frances Callan debacle. She not only saw no problem with MFC's management style, she also followed the ridiculous line that we'd never be able to hire a good superintendent if we lost MFC. Now she takes credit for the replacement of MFC. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Her failure to look forward is why we are so far behind with facilities planning. She asked no difficult questions of the demographers and it turns out they were far off their predictions. So just months after determining we only need more portables, now the reality is setting in.

In the MI debate she seemed to have her mind made up and no further data required. Statements like we need this program because the world is flat are just ridiculous and show a lack of desire to balance the benefits of teaching Mandarin against the costs, space constraints, admin time required. She just doesn't think on this level. If a thing seems good to her, she is the cheerleader in chief, regardless of stubborn facts.

The harsh reality of politics is very few voters have followed the goings on at 25 Churchill - really you can't blame them. An incumbent has an enormous advantage here. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I have my preferences among the remaining candidates of course. But my least favorite by a long shot is Camille. Any of the others would make far better board members. So please step up and start talking to your neighbors.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm


Well said and in kinder terms than I would use--though I don't know what got redacted.

Townsend's an advocate, not a judge--and a board member needs to be a judge. I have to say that when I watched her in action, I just saw no time when she stopped and considered something. I mean, I'm sure her enthusiasm makes her likable to many on a personal level--it might be in part why her judgment has never really developed. There may not be much self-questioning.

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2007 at 2:46 pm

The first redaction was to take out the single word "Ridiculous". But they allowed it elsewhere. Sorry but I can't remember George Carlin's 7 dirty words routine. Was "ridiculous" one of them? Oops. There I got again.

The second redaction was my urging supporters of the other candidates to get the word out about not re-electing Camille. But they left it in the end of my post. Maybe they just thought I was getting too wordy. Thanks.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 6:12 pm


So now you are complaining about the president of the School Board being positive? Looking at the upside of a situation - and that somehow the public good is served by cynicism and critique. I'm sorry, that just is not a mark of a popular person or an effective leader. The purpose of a public leader is to inspire as much as to criticize - and to do it publicly and not hiding behind a screen of anonymity.

Posted by parent voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Ohlone Par was talking about Townsend's demonstrable lack of critical thinking and analytical skills, not optimism versus cynicism. If we have board members who can think logically and communicate well, the cheerleaders will come out naturally.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 6:28 pm

parent voter (or should I call you OhlonePar):

A cheap and unwarranted comment - whom are you to make such personal comments about public leaders? She is an attorney, has taught college level law, been a probation officer, and lead the district successfully through the past term. What exactly have you done?

Posted by ABC = Anyone but Camille
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm

There is a huge difference between being a clueless cheerleader and being an effective public leader. One of the marks of a public leader, one that had others trust them as a leader, is to be able to demonstrate that you can think critically about an issue. What are the positive aspects? What are the negative aspects? What are the assumptions -vs- the facts? How believable are those assumptions? Why? What if they are wrong? In either direction? What will this cost? how does that fit with the budget? Whose agenda does this serve? Is this consistent with our strategic plan? Is this consistent with my fiduciary duty as a board member? etc. In attending and/or observing several board meetings last year, I did not once see Camille (or many of the other board members for that matter) demonstrate critical thinking or leadership. They seemed to be operating at the level of a six grade popularity clique wondering of their latest statement would finally be the one to make the popular kids notice them. And no, I am not OhlonePar.

Posted by ABC = Anyone but Camille
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 25, 2007 at 6:54 pm

Midtown Parent,

Who I am is a parent with multiple children in multiple schools in this school district, who has contributed thousands of dollars above and beyond basic school requests, and who (with my spouse) has spent hundreds of hours per year active in our schools as well as contributed in other community areas.

I am also someone who was completely appalled by the pathetic performance of our school board in the past year and who holds Camille to her claim that she is the only candidate who was active on that board.

As a public leader, Camille has submitted herself to public assessment. She has put herself in a public position. she did an extremely poor job, and for the sake of our children and schools future, she should not be re-elected.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Midtown parent,

I'm not parent voter. However, I didn't say one thing about Townsend's optimism one way or another--you're claiming I said something I did not say in order to criticize me for it.

Then you accuse the next poster of falsely representing him/herself.

Ironic and not impressive.

Townsend is a poor judge--she doesn't listen well and doesn't balance the needs and concerns of different groups. That's a weakness in her position.

By the way, I'm an American and as an American, I think it's important that our elected leadership be open to public criticism and accountable for its actions. You might read up on the arguments for the First Amendment since you don't seem to understand this.

Townsend, by the way, works for me--not the other way around. And I'm not happy with the job she's been doing. (And what on earth does her having been a probation officer have to do with *anything* here?)

Posted by parent voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 12:38 am

Midtown parent
I am not OhlonePar. Who am I to criticize an elected official? An American voter.

I know attorneys (plural) who have taught law that I wouldn't want to watch my house much less lead a school district. What has that got to do with Camille Townsend's lack of analytical skills? (Gee, since when were rambling tendencies a disqualification for teaching a college course...?) I happen to think we are at a critical juncture with our schools right now, and we need people who can think and communicate clearly and logically.

I can see that Camille Townsend is a sincere and nice person. From watching her and speaking with her, I can also see that she is not very logical or analytical. Too often, she has a scattered, rambling manner. I happen to think focus and clarity of communication are important qualities for anyone on the school board, especially since so much district business happens in meetings.

Camille Townsend is a public figure up for election. Evaluation of essential traits, pro and con, is my duty as a voter and does not equal "cheap and unwarranted" - at least not to those of us who don't blindly support that candidate over a single issue.

Posted by get real
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 26, 2007 at 9:23 am

Midtown Parent:

"A cheap and unwarranted comment - whom are you to make such personal comments about public leaders? "

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Read this thread, her "experience" and electoral claims aren't standing up to scrutiny.

[Editors, your turn!]

Posted by ABC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2007 at 9:51 am

Midtown Parent - You seem to stand alone (in this thread) in your support of Camille. Perhaps you could let us know why you support her. Like many of the posters here, I've been very involved with the schools (PTA president, PiE board member, Measure A worker) and know each of the board members personally. I do think Camille is a nice person who has given a great deal of her life trying to serve this community. I also think she is intelligent.

In my opinion, however, despite being intelligent and nice, she lacks focus, has exhibited poor judgment, and at times has been dismissive of those who challenge her views on various matters.

I'll say this in her defense - Camille has spent a lot of time following legislative matters and has shown real talent and dedication is this area. I doubt many would have the perseverance and patience to follow the legislative process. If she exhibited this same attention to detail and focus to the PAUSD I might support her re-election.

Sadly, she has not and the district has suffered as a result.

I'm willing to listen to others who can show me wrong. My opinions are in part based on quite a few specific recollections and in part based on a murkier, more generalized view of her which has formed over the years. I'm willing to reconsider whether I'm judging her too harshly and forgetting specific instances so please state your case.


Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 10:05 am


Well said. I could say the same for MFC, who in person is a very engaging, even charming individual. She also has a strong intelligence.

That said, your arguments about why Camille should not be re-elected are right on. The demeanor of a legislative body will, or will not, project competence and confidence, based on the thoughtfulness and focus of its members.

This is not to say that disagreements among BOE members - often very severe disagreements, that border on the intensely personal - do not occur within legislative bodies. Conflict and negotiation are two sides of the same coin. Only after some time of attempted negotiaton, following due diligence, is it necessary to become so stalwart (sometimes severely stalwart) in a position to maintain one's personal and political integrity.

This is what I saw from Gail Price, most of the time (even though I have disagreed with her on several issues over the years). That's onen reason why I respect Ms. Price.

With Camille, I always saw a person with her mind made up, most often before the fact, and not willing to engage difference in a way that would change her mind, or alter a position. This is not a good thing for any collaborative body to have to deal with, especially when that collaborative body needs to focus on big questions, problems, and solutions.

Camille *is* an intelligent person - no doubt about that. However, that alone does not qualify her the position she is pursuing.

My worry is that if she gets back on the BOE, the other members are going to have to figure out a way around her "made-up-mind" demeanor, and inclinations. That takes a lot of enery in any collaborative body, where it is especially difficult to achieve the kind of consesus that a community will enthusiastically follow.

Here's hoping for three new board members.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 10:15 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 10:29 am

It doesn't really concern me. I sometimes wonder what people's definition of 'probably a very good income' are. I might have a 'very good income' in your terms, and barely making ends meet for my circumstances. I also might have an income, but not enough assets to qualify for a house. Parent, you might be looking at life through rose colored glasses if you presume everyone should be able to afford to own in Palo Alto.

I'd reserve judgement on this until (and unless) there were more facts than some 'probablies' and some 'supposedlies'. If you have some actual info, share it. If all you have some side swipes, save it.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Dear Usual Suspects;

Perhaps one reason there is very little traffic and posting on this Forum (except by the handful of diehards) is because the 5 people posting on this Forum are tiresome critics - with nothing about educational ideas, improvements to the schools, or actual policy relevance. Obsessing on one candidate or one decision has gotten boring for most.

It was refreshing when the discussion of Garland, etc. was on this Forum. Folks of substance then were, unfortunately, filtered off to a new thread. Repeated postings by the same people quickly becomes uninteresting.

It is also a waste of my time responding to you - but at least one person has to respond to distortions, smears, and attacks.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 1:54 pm


I'm not sure who you are referring to among the candidates, but I believe that about 40% of Palo Alto school district families are renters. Are you implying they are second class citizens, or somehow not entitled to participate in civic life? That would seem to be a very extreme position.

Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm

To carry a 800,000 mortgage including real estate taxes (which really won't buy you anything in PA anyway) will require an annual income of 250-260,000. Renting looks good when you look at it that way.

Posted by aBC = Anyone but Camille
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 26, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Midtown Parent

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Over time, there have been several themes \ discussion threads on this topic. These range from discussion of the past, to the issues of the future, to the assessment of the candidates to manage the anticipated issues.

There has been a pretty frank discussion of the perceived relevant merits and weaknesses of each of the candidates. In that discussion, there has been a clear theme of dis-satisfaction of the performance of the board over the last year. The year that Camille was president. Given that her campaign strategy seems to be to ignore any specific issue and to proclaim that she should be re-elected as the "only candidate with experience", it seems pretty silly to declare a rigorous examination of her accomplishments as "obsessing over one candidate".

Actually, I (and apparently others in this topic) obsess much more over the other candidates. The ones that I think could make a positive contribution over the next several years to our children. Which of them do I think could do the best job of guiding our district? I don't know, but that is the questions that most intersts me.

Camille on the other hand, does not get much of my mind share. I don't actually spend much time obsessing over past mistakes. My approach is to move on into the future.

I suggest you try to do the same.

Posted by ABC - the other one
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Well I thought I'd ask nicely and try to get Camille's supporters to cite her positive contributions. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
If someone other than Midtown Parent has specifics about the contributions of Camille over the past four years, please speak up. I'm feeling a bit obsessive about hearing actual accomplishments.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I will say again without being edited out.

I have nothing against those who rent. I do know that it often takes more than a good income to buy.

I am just possibly too suspicious when I see it mentioned that many affluent people who live elsewhere rent cheap apartments in Palo Alto just to get their kids into the schools. If these same people then started to get into positions of authority by the same means I would imagine that we would all be outraged. I just wonder if it has been ascertained that all candidates have been completely checked out as legitimate Palo Alto residents. As I say, I may just be too suspicious.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm


It does seem that you are suggesting that renters need to take an extra step to prove their worth. And, I am curious, whom are you suggesting among the candidates requires scrutiny to their rental/owning status?

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 6:49 pm

Midtown Parent,
You have been invited openly and nicely by "ABC" to state why you support Camille Townsend. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I want to hear a well-stated case for her candidacy and was looking forward to your reply. You have only reinforced my decision not to vote for her, when you had an opportunity to change my decision.

Please reconsider and state your case, if you really are as you say in favor of CT. I promise I will consider what you write, even if you continue to write it in such a combative tone.

Posted by No Longer on the Town Fence
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2007 at 10:30 pm

The reason that Camille supporters don't respond in this forum often (mainly we lurk) is because of the hostility here. Many of you are quite combative to posters and seem to want to bait us so that you will have an opportunity to attack. The few of you are doing a "great" job without us adding fuel to your fire. Rather, our engery of helping her win this election is going directly to the voters through other channels. Her many supporters are out talking to people who have open minds and are willing to hear her speak. The response to her at these forums and coffees has been quite impressive. She stands on her record. I urge any one to wants to know more to go to a public forum and make up your own mind.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2007 at 12:08 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2007 at 12:27 am

Well that's really rich. The Weekly editor deleted my comment that Midtown Parent had responded to the request to explain why she supports Camille Townsend by denigrating the forum (calling it boring and making an unsupported allegation that the posts that don't agree with her view are made by a few people, etc.) and attacking those who don't agree with her (calling others' measured opinions "distortions, smears, and attacks") yet they did not delete Midtown Parent's original nasty comments.

If you are going to delete an observation about another poster's comments, you should at least also delete the original nasty post that prompted the comment.

Posted by parent voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2007 at 12:53 am

Midtown Fence,
Please do not confuse the fact that people genuinely disagree with you with "hostility" or "attacks." Your harping on hostility makes the forum hostile in a way the actual discussion doesn't.

I have been to the forums. Per Camille Townsend, I saw a person who was unfocused and rambles in person, though I could see she self-corrects and tries hard to keep it together. (I think she does better in writing). Again, so much district business happens in meetings, clarity of thought and expression are crucial attributes for a board member. I would have a hard time attending many meetings with someone who uses so many words to say so little. It's just the way I perceived that she expresses herself, nothing personal. She seems like a nice person. All the candidates seem like nice people.

I'm not happy with the performance of the board last term either - but I am open to new information - please do share some of the positives you are out sharing in person so I can weigh those.

Posted by Fan of OhlonePar
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2007 at 1:00 am

Hi OP,

Many seniors in the neighborhoods near our home were intending on supporting Ms. Townsend.

They had no idea she was connected with the Mandarin program.

Most of them were shocked when they heard about that Mandarin program being proposed here. This includes my elderly Chinese friends who have known me since I was born here.

All of these people would have voted for Ms. Townsend until I enlightened them.

They don't have computers, and usually read past the school issues.

This is my hometown, so I know a lot of seniors here.

They want to vote for whom I believe would be a good candidate since they like my family.
They trust me and trust our family values.

I plan to do a lot of street walking, raking and networking at church this weekend to enlighten them a bit.

Did you go to the PACE forum this evening?

Did anyone go? I have already been to enough of them to know who I will be voting for.

The selection would have been easier if you and several other posters to this forum would have run.

You know the issues, have the passion, and many people share your feelings.

Maybe next time, when your kids are older. :)

Posted by yup, not surprised.
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2007 at 8:42 am

Yes, that is why Ms. Townsend does NOT list in her campaign materials, or say in Forums or the papesr, that MI is one of her proud accomplishments of the past 4 years. She never mentions it as part of her 4 years of EXPERIENCE. She is hoping it will fly under the radar of most voters who just read the materials, check out a few newspaper articles, or even just vote based on the fact that she was Board President the last year and on the Board the last 4 years.

It is because, frankly, most people have no idea what happened, who pushed it, and what the results are, and she wants to keep it low profile.

She KNOWS it would not be supported by most voters.

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Fan of Ohlone Par;

I don't believe that candidates for office can file anonymously, but maybe I am mistaken......

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Midtown Parent, Your sarcasm is taken, with a smile.

Here's a parry: Apparently candidates up for re-election are able to create an anonymous facade about their past record in office, as Camille Townsend has done, right?

Was it an anonymous BOE member who unquestionable supported certain initiatives, or disregarded serious Management team issues? Based on Ms. Townsend's current election spin, it certainly seems so. Who was that anonymous person, btw???

Posted by Midtown Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:29 pm

I don't think there is anything anonymous about residents' satisfaction with PAUSD at a state high, and at a district high.

I don't think there is anything anonymous about the teachers' expressing high satisfaction with the district.

I don't think there is anything anonymous about understanding the tradeoffs needed to equitably handle growth, deal with curriculum, provide innovative new language and science programs.

Nor is there anything anonymous about hiring a well-respected new superintendent, being aware of potential threats to district funding,
establishing new protocols to handle some issues involving some principals, and fundamentally putting the quality education of children at the top of the agenda.

No policy gets adopted without a majority, so no one board member can claim credit for good results. Indeed, I think if you read the ad in the PA Daily today (Sunday, special campaign issue) Camille shares the credit with all members of PAUSD.

What IS anonymous is the small group of negative posters (many of them spoofing under different names) to this forum that routinely focus on their own pet issues (namely a voluntary choice program modeled after a successful decade old program, plus some possibly legitimate beefs with the previous superintendent). Now, everyone is entitled to their view of the world, but they shouldn't be overly surprised when many other people find the future more motivating then the past. And besides, there have been (or by the end of this week) something like 20 candidates forums. Surely this group could leave their keyboards long enough for some civic engagement.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 28, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Spoofing? Do you know what the term means? It refers to sending fake e-mails to get private information.

So, how is it that you know that people are using sock puppets? Oh, of course, you don't. However, it is a convenient accusation to make when you're attempting to discredit the views of people who disagree with you. So are unproven claims. How do you know satisfaction with the district is at an all-time high? When and how has this data been tracked?

Fact is, you haven't been successful in defending Camille Townsend on her merits as a board member--so, over and over, you've attempted to invalidate the dialogue.

Just curious, though, how many pseudonyms have you used? I don't tend to worry about sock puppets, but when the same terms, same spelling errors and same tactics are used in sequence by a variety of posters, but with only one poster at a time, I do tend to wonder just how many different people are actually involved.

It's quite different with the posters you're accusing of being one. I don't agree with Parent on where Ohlone should go, though we've been accused of being one another. Parent and parent have different voices and different views. Yet Another Parent has another set of particular interests.

Which is sort of the funny thing--for all your fussing, there is a real dialogue here--ideas of what should happen with MI, Young Fives, and Garland. There's real debate, agreement and disagreement--yes, among those people you think are simple and single-minded.

You could try to understand why people disagree with you and learn something in the process.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Talking in general terms about satisfaction with Palo Alto schools is a different matter than satisfaction with the work of the board. Midtown Parent is playing a semantic shell game. Are the things people like about PA schools - such as the strong neighborhood schools - the work of the current board, or does the incumbent's history undermine the strength of the neighborhood schools?

Is satisfaction with the school board high? I would say that's pretty obviously "no"; Townsend had a big hand in that.

Has everyone already forgotten the conflict between the school administrators and Callan (Townsend sided with Callan) over trust, etc.?

I'm tired of the conflict. Baten Caswell, Klausner and Hausser are strong candidates who would work well together, even if they didn't agree on something - especially if they didn't agree. Putting Towsend back on the board will only guarantee more conflict.

If you agree, please make a point of talking to your neighbors, especially the ones putting up Townsend signs. They don't always know much about the candidates, they put the sign up because someone else asked them to. Go over and offer a balanced perspective. Maybe you'll find a die-hard Camille Townsend supporter. More likely, you will find someone who doesn't know much about how important this election is to PAUSD parents.

Posted by AmericanPAHomeOwner
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 29, 2007 at 3:41 am

After attending candidate forums, I support Camille Townsend, and am still intrigued by ALL of the other candidates...will try to continue to attend forums.

One reason why it may be possible for someone to support both Camille and say someone like Krausner or Caswell is that one recognizes that a team works well often when differing talents are represented --and differing viewpoints. A team that all barrels in one direction with one style and one viewpoint is a team that risks extreme behaviour.

I neither like extreme risk-taking nor extreme caution that stifles innovation or new initiatives...I prefer a board with balance and a balanced approach.

I am disappointed by the level of demonization that seems to be occuring both for Grace Mah and Faith Brigel. I seek a board that will approach BOTH with respect and who will refrain from temptations to demonize either party or the supporters of either party.

I have issues with MI, I would prefer a comprehensive effective daily foreign language program for all of our Palo Alto k-5 students...I would love for our district to choose one or two strategic foreign languages (have it be decided upon by a democratic district wide vote) and have it done WELL with the goal that students would achieve proficiency (not necessarily fluency) in the foreign language(s) by grade 5 assuming they started in kindergarten --mere exposure is too littie, MI-style immersion is too much for me. My personal vote would be for Mandarin first (because in 20 years, when today's kindergartners hit the workforce, China for better-or-for-worse is most likely going to overtake the U.S. in becoming the largest economy in the world--though it sickens my patriotic innards to admit it)--my second vote would be for Spanish because of our close proximity to Mexico and because of local demographics.

Kudos to Camille for being courageous in supporting a mandarin foreign language initiative in our district---I am voting for her not because I support the particulars of MI, but because I believe Camille would support a future broader district wide foreign language initiative and see the critical value of it. I would possibly support Krausner or Caswell (or both) for what I perceive to be their cautious detailed and thorough natures but am wary of anyone who would dismiss Camille out-of-hand...and disagree with her in knee-jerk fashion. Camille may not be perfect, but she also does not deserve the amount of hostility directed at her by certain consistent members of this forum...I have tended to lend more credibility to those who have listed both Camille's strengths/accomplishments as well as what are perceived to be her weaknesses.

What I like about Camille is that at the candidate's forums, she seemed warm, approachable, genuine, and willing to listen...which allowed me, a normally shy personality, to open up regarding my concerns/opinions...I appreciate this ability which not all of the candidates have, though they may have other strengths. Also, I found her responses to questions posed by forum moderators to be intelligent, accurate, and respectful (much to my surprise after reading the postings in this forum).

Barb Mitchell is the school board member I tend to respect the most...I am glad she is staying to provide a measured and moderating influence after the current elections are over…..whoever I perceive will help our school district heal wounds without crucifying Camille is who I will vote for.

Posted by respectfully disagree
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2007 at 7:50 am

Though you wrote a thoughtful and nice post, I still cannot agree at all with your basic premise

"One reason why it may be possible for someone to support both Camille and say someone like Krausner or Caswell is that one recognizes that a team works well often when differing talents are represented --and differing viewpoints. A team that all barrels in one direction with one style and one viewpoint is a team that risks extreme behaviour."

No, a team with widely different visions and goals simply stalemates, deadlocks, gridlocks, whatever you want to call it. It fights and divides and ends up 3:2 with decisions all over the place, without a consistency we can support.

This is an election, an election is about vision and goals. I hope that the election brings up a decision on what kind of future we want for our District. Otherwise, there will simply be more fighting.

Posted by respectfully disagree
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2007 at 7:53 am

And though you wrote thoughtful and nice post, I have to say that every one of the candidates supports foreign language for all..but which one(s) do you trust to stick with the principle of a great curriculum for ALL above a great curriculum for a "FEW". THAT is the big worry.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 8:18 am

All the candidates believe in that, too. Since the curriculum IS the same across all schools (just differing approaches), that doesn't differentiate.

Posted by Tired of Townsend
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 29, 2007 at 9:02 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by candidates words
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 29, 2007 at 9:02 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 9:21 am

Parent: I'm not clear on how anyone can claim the curriculum is the same across all our elementary schools when a few of the kids are learning spanish fluently (a second language), and a few other (will be) learning Mandarin fluently (a second language). While the other 95% of elementary students are not getting any second language exposure. not even a word.

That's a curriculum difference, and I'd like to know how you can say the curriculum IS the same?

This is the kind of illogical thinking that Camille Townsend and the MI supporters often use. It doesn't add up to the truth. The lack of logical thinking is what bothers me the most about Townsend.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 9:36 am


That is a key difference between immersion and FLES. Immersion programs do not change the curriculum--they just deliver it in a different way. (Just like the other choice programs in town.) FLES, on the other hand, adds to the curriculum.

Your remarks about 95% of elementary kids not getting a second language is irrelevant to the discussion of immersion programs. Most families would not choose immersion. If FLES is important to you, you ought to help the district think through the possibility of introducing it. But FLES and immersion are unrelated issues, and linking them is illogical.

Posted by Curious
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:02 am

Wow, after spending so much time explaining why they need only immersion (all after-school mandarin programs were not enough),that it is the best way to teach second language efficiently, now they saying that immersion does not teach anything new.
After explaining how everyone desperatly and immediatly needs MI, including Chinese Government (who is ready to help with curriculum and teachers training), US Government (providing grants)and, of course, our kids and their families, now they simply say that "most families would not choose immersion".

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:15 am

To AmericanPAHomeOwner,
I agree with you that Townsend can be engaging, friendly, and charming. I like her personally and voted for her the last time around.

But my experience with her in office has been another story. I’ve found myself on the opposite side of her on several issues over the past four years. Whenever I have emailed her about a concern, the only reply I have ever gotten is her automatic “I’m unavailable but your email is very important to me and I’ll respond as soon as I can” response. But no further response has ever been forthcoming.

Her conduct in public meetings has been at times hostile and condescending to those who disagree with her, most notably Gail Price, referring to her in one meeting as “Ms. Price,” while calling the other members by their first names. She publicly berated fellow board members for not voting for Mandarin immersion in January 2007.

You may be proud of Townsend for her innovation in pushing through the MI program over her four years in office, but Townsend is not proud of herself. She has studiously avoided even mentioning that she had anything to do with it in public forums that I’ve seen. Frankly I would have been happier with her if she did acknowledge that the day MI got voted in was one of her proudest moments after working hard for four years to make it happen. But to have put the community through the pain and divisiveness of the lengthy debate and then not claim the result as her own is dishonest, at best.

It’s a fact that Townsend placed Mandarin immersion at the top of her list of priorities for the district.

It’s a fact that Townsend opposed any process by which former Superintendent Callan would be forced to address the management crisis that erupted in the fall of 2006, when trust and other serious concerns were detailed in a private letter to Callan and the board. It wasn’t until the letter was leaked to the press that the board even began to take action. Gail Price was the sole member who forced this conflict to be addressed.

It’s a fact that Townsend voted in favor of the surprise promotion of Scott Laurence to a senior cabinet position that had been vacant for years, effectively derailing the organization development process put in place to address management concerns which included preferential treatment.

It’s a fact that Townsend voted in favor of accommodating enrollment growth by continuing to add portables to existing school campuses last February, and that she now supports reopening Garland (the vote will take place at the next regular meeting) just nine months later.

Yes, I want a diversity of skills and backgrounds on the board, but I also want people to come to the board without an agenda. I want people who will play well together. I want people who can disagree when necessary with the superintendent, and not just rubberstamp everything he wants. I want board members who can articulate a vision for the district, not people who move from one hot button issue to the next according to whichever is the most pressing at the moment.

Wynn brings a wealth of background in finance, management, communications and conflict resolution, as well as real world experience in his current job with Public Advocates that gives him familiarity with many of the legal and historical constructs around education in our state such as Serrano vs. Priest and the Williams Settlement.

Barbara is an educator, and would be the only educator on the board. This is an important perspective to bring, and one that has been lacking in the past. Not all of the board decisions filter down to the classroom, but she is a valuable resource for those that do. I have been impressed with her intelligence and warmth, and believe that she will very quickly come up to speed on non-classroom issues like leases and contracts.

Melissa has devoted herself full time to volunteering in our district for over two years, and had served on many PTA boards. She is a team player, and knows the district inside and out. She works well with many different groups, and is open to hearing everyone’s point of view. She also has a strong background in management and finance.

The individual and combined qualities of these three individuals make them my choices for school board.

Posted by Dash
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:45 am

You didn't get a personal email: so what?

So much disinformation. Just a sampler: "hostile and condescending" Never. "publicly berated fellow board members" Never. "Townsend is not proud of herself." Nonsense. "Its a fact that Townsend placed Mandarin immersion ..." No.

It's all made up.

Posted by still not convinced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Camille's supporters are going to save their energy for voting for her, not counter-attacking. Her experience is real. She has foughtin the trenches for a lot of positive things. Not everything boils down to MI. The Daily saw that. What is Wynn Hausser's financial experience? Who has he actually managed? And what has his more or less one year with Public Advocates (which is not even focused on mainstream public school education) actually tuaght him about the district? Since 2 positions are opening anyway, why not vote for Melissa. And Barb. At least they know what's going on. But why replace someone who knows the ins and outs of the district with someone who actually hasn't got any education experience at all?

Posted by Tired of Townsend
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 29, 2007 at 1:29 pm

George Bush knew all the ins and outs of government in 2004, we re-elected him - does that ring your bell? Why did the editor block out my note about a potential recall if Townsend is re-elected? That's a real possibility. Four of my neighbors are already talking about this.

Posted by FACTUAL??
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm

To Three New Board Members,

The hostility that you profess Townsend has toward Price is not one way. Price wanted to be named president of the board this year since it was her last year on the board. Price turned down the opportunity to be board president years ago but turned it down when she was starting a new job. Townsend wanted the presidency this year because it was her turn in the way the board seems to operate. Gail's supporters were very angry on this board of this perceived slight.

You claim Townsend was Mary Frances's biggest supporter on the board. If that is actually true, then Price was her biggest enemy. Did Price poison the well? Who knows. The "facts" are (as you like to state) that we don't really know what went on in closed session.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 2:10 pm

I just don't like Camille for school board because she favors turning PAUSD into a choice school district. And that's not a model based in equity across all schools, its not based on sound priorities, and its not an financially efficient model either.

Its also not a school district model that protects our Palo Alto property values across the city - it leads to pockets of shining fabulousness, and pockets of 'left overs'. Its a model that a danger to our community frankly. I favor a candidate who supports strong equitable neighborhood schools and is willing to fight for it. Camille fought against it. She won't get my vote.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm

I don't really get Factual's defense of Townsend by way of attacking Price. Is Price running for school board?

What does it mean when you ask "Did price poison the well?" I don't really understand what that would mean - Do you mean like Price planted widespread administrator and community dissatisfaction with Callan, to the point of having administrators formally file complaint against Callan- and that was all somehow a 'plant' by Price?

But even under any theory of Price's activities, how does a discussion of Price explain or excuse Townsends actions?

I'd love to know more about how Price is responsible for Townsends actions and judgement. Pray tell.

You mentioned that Camille has fought for a lot of positive things while in her role as board member. I'm wondering if you can list a few. We're looking for that list of accomplishments for her time on the board, and so far, it sort of boils down to 'pushed MI' and 'showed up'.

Posted by Factual??
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 29, 2007 at 3:22 pm

To Parent:

Most of the arguments in this forum are as spurious as you claim mine is. What does calling Gail, Ms. Price in a public meeting have any bearing on this election? You are right, Gail is not running, but time and again, it has been written about how she is not "nice" to Gail. How factual is it to claim that the only member who liked Mary Frances C was Camille and that Gail was the only board member who knew better. It seems like some people in this forum has drawn the line a long time ago, just thought that I would give my perspective on this. And to claim that she berated her fellow board members when they voted no on MI is really wordsmithing - I'd say that it was more like passionatley speaking for something she belived in.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:17 pm

How someone treats his or her colleagues during a public meeting is relevant to me. What I want to see in a group of trustees is respectful, civil discourse. I want them to challenge the superintendent to provide them with high quality data, and to continue sending him back to the drawing board if the information falls short of expectations. I want them to be comfortable opposing the superintendent if they draw different conclusions from the data. And I want them, once a decision is made, to stick with that decision and move forward in a unified way. I want trustees who can disagree on specifics, but are united by a common vision for our district.

I have been unhappy with the way I’ve seen Camille treat Gail at board meetings. I’m not privy to what goes on in closed session, because I’m not a board or senior cabinet member, but I have perceived that Camille has slighted Gail in open session by appearing distracted and uninterested when Gail spoke, and addressing her in a more formal way than the other members. I don’t think I’m alone in this perception.

Camille is not the only one who supported the former superintendent, but she is the one seeking a second term in office right now. You can be sure that Dana and Barb will be taken to task for their MI votes and their foot-dragging with respect to the management crisis if they try to get reelected in two years.

The minutes of the meetings, publicly available, support everything that I’ve stated as facts in my earlier post. They are the primary reasons that Camille won't get my vote this time around. As I said above, I like Camille, and really wish I could support her bid for a second term. But she hasn’t been a strong enough advocate for the things that I care about in this district.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Factual - so I'd agree with you that Price's actions don't have any bearing on Townsends run for a board seat.

Now, if someone is claiming the candidate was dismissive, and pulls Price (or any other name), into the discussion as an example of that behavior - then mention of Price (or other name) is tangential - the issue would still be dismissiveness.

I also don't think anyone's claiming that Townsend was the only member that liked Callan. But Townsend is running for office, and none of the other board members are. So the relevent conversation at this point is - What was Townsend's position on Callan (overwhelmingly supportive) and what actions did she take to resolve the issues (none).

Factually speaking, she supported Callan through the issue. And anecdotally, from a direct observer of her in board meetings, DID attempt to minimize the concerns brought by the administrators and community, in a dismissive way.

I believe a more instructive and concrete example of her dismissiveness was her failure to participate in any way in the discussion in recent board meeting on the FLAP grant. The superintendent and staff had come to the meeting prepared to discuss and answer specific technical and detailed questions about the massive $750K grant offer. Townsend was the only board member who didn't make a single comment, didn't ask a single question. When her turn came, she moved to a new agenda item without even a comment that they were moving on. The subject apparently was so beneath her time, that she couldn't ask a single question. Her mind was made up and/or she didn't care about the details.

We need to be discussing Townsends qualifications, if any. So Factual, feel free to jump in with her accomplishments at any time.

Posted by Witness
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Though Gail Price perhaps deserves some commendation for conservative reliability/predictability, she also had her moments during school board meetings in which she rolled her eyes, looked exasperated, and ran over allotted speaking time to "berate" or "rant at" or "admonish" or "seem dismissive toward" fellow school board members regarding MI---some would say justifiably some would say not, depending upon your position.

I fault neither Gail Price nor Camille Townsend for consistently supporting their positions...if a "rant" is a consistent verbal appeal for policy support, they both ranted.

Anyhow, now I've managed to get side-tracked also.

If possible, let's focus more on making FLES happen in a quality manner...THAT endeavor I support.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:07 pm


Did you ever see Townsend at one of the BOE MI meetings? She doesn't listen. None of the very real and practical objections to the MI/Ohlone mash-up registered on her. She was the only member who seemed ot have zero concern about how MI should actually work.

By the way, China seems to be in for a bumpy ride in its quest for world economic dominance. However, if it gets there why does that mean our kids have to know Chinese? The Chinese are learning English. Mandarin won't become the international language of commerce because its symbol system makes it impractical.

The other up and coming economy--India--uses English as its second language.

Given that China's expected dominance is supposed to be the result of its large population, none of our kids will be getting jobs in China or taking over Chinese companies.

So, again, what's the point of our kids spending their childhoods attempting to become fluent in Mandarin?

Posted by We NEed 3 new board members
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 12:15 am

Camille's behavior on the board last year is important. Those who did not go to the meetings, and plan to vote need to understand how she behaved with her fellow colleagues. Her past behavior is an indictor of her future behavior when similar circumstances might arise. On Jan. 30 when Camille was taking the vote and it was clear she was not getting MI in- she did not let it go. She said something like are you sure, come on this is a great program. It was totally inappropriate. It was not passionate, it was pressuring.
Afterwards, Camille berated Dana for voting against it. They were standing up, right at the board table. First her husband took his turn to criticize Dana for his vote. I heard this exchange. I was surprised to hear Camille talk so harshly to Dana. Latter, I thought that I should have said Camille- you only get one vote!
Dash- none of what 3 new board members wrote was made up. I went to quite a few meetings and Camille acted disrespectfully towards Gail. And no Gail is not running, but Camille is. The focus needs to be on Camille. She seems to act unprofessionally towards someone whose opinons differ from her.
Right now after such a contentions year we need board members who value communications and civility, and a strategic plan. Camille did not value them, nor live up to them. We can not afford to have people who have so much baggage represent us.
Factual??-As for Gail wanting to be president. What if she did? You can not fault her for wanting the position after being on the board that long. And once she saw that she was not getting it- she very professionally let it go.
Witness- If she ever rolled her eyes - it was done quietly, and after hearing about MI for 6 years most people would not have just rolled their eyes, they would have resigned!
Dash- It is a fact that Camille first brought up MI for approval in 2004. It was one of the first action items that she proposed, but she let it go at that time, when she got little response.
Her dismissiveness towards the strategic plan that many parents and others worked hard to develop was also alarming. Lately she has said that MI was in the strategic plan. No it is not. I would like her to back that comment up with fact, and page number.
3 new board members-thank you for your perspective I am fully in agreement with your comments!

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 12:33 am

I'm neutral on MI, but remember well the rush to learn Japanese in the mid-80's and early 90's. It's great if one has taken the time, but knowing Japanese is not a career-maker. Same for Mandarin, or any other language du jour (except english).

Another thing, to reinforce OP. Chine has HUGE domestic problems, seething directly beneath the surface. There is no way that China is going to be *the*dominant power in the 21st century.

Rather, we are going to see a lot more cross-border transfer of talent, with *regions* within various countries taking prominance.

In fact, if anything, our K-12 system needs an infusion of new ideas, led by educators and others in the know, about how to prepare our kids for the 21st century. Even in Palo Alto, we're coming up short on that task.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:00 am

That's why Mandarin is a choice.

Those of you who bash MI for "forcing" kids to learn Mandarin are so exaggerated in your bashing of China.

And Gail was clearly the least respectful of all the board members all last year.

She was asked to be board president many times in her last 8 years (she was vice president at least 2 times that I remember) and always abdicated that responsibility and role. Busy, yes. Job-related reasons, yes. But she wanted the job this time, without being vice president last year. Instead, she bashed Camille by voting no on Camille's nomination. Talk about insulting.

Camille has always been courteous, especially compared to Gail's rolling eyes, hammering on the table (ala Krushev), exasperated hands in the air expressions.

Posted by We need 3 new board members
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:55 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The community as a whole did not want MI as a choice. The board voted it out,until it was threatened by 9 members of PACE to vote it in or be threatened with a charter school.
There are many other languages in the world. Our community should help decide which ones they want their elementary students to learn. Even in China most families are not teaching their children Mandarin except for the farming areas.
But, back to now- I was standing beside Dana when Camille lashed out at him. It was not courteous. It was rude.
As for Gail- people sometimes do not feel that it is the right time to take a position; and then one year it is the right time. Good for Gail for knowing what is right for herself. It would have been hypocritical to vote for Camille when she wanted the role. She did no bashing. It was certainly not insulting. And she would have done a better job! Again we need 3 new board members! Ones who at least know how to act respectfully with each other even when disagreeing.
And they are Wynn, Melissa and Barbara.

Posted by Factual??
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:56 am

To We Need 3 New Board Members,
So it is Camille's fault that the other board members VOTED for Manderin Immersion? Are you saying that they were under such pressure from Camille that they had to vote for a program they didn't really want? And this is Camille's fault? And, you let's be civil comment - that it is ok for Price to "slightly" roll her eyes, but Camille can't refer to someone as Ms? Are we really stooping down to basing our vote on facial expressions?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 8:58 am

OhlonePar and We Need, you are in full time spin mode.

You complain that Townsend doesn't listen, berates, etc. Nonsense. She just disagrees with your viewpoint.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Grow up and have a look at the world of human relations. Just because a politician votes in a way you disagree with does not imply she hasn't listened. Just because a politician states a point of view does not mean she is berating.

Your views were heard, but the board disagreed and voted MI in. You lost. It merely means you lost a political battle. Your loss does not mean anyone was less than honorable and upright. Your fabricated, ad hominem attacks are, however, dishonorable. Do the upright thing: take your loss and move on.

Posted by Bwana
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:19 am

"Even in China most families are not teaching their children Mandarin except for the farming areas."

Yes, it is their secret weapon on the way to world domination. Most Chinese families are teaching their children Swahili. Your child will arrive in Beijing saying "Ni hau," only to be greeted with "Jambo!" (Cue diabolical laughter.) Where do you get these ideas? All education in China is in Mandarin. Whether in farming areas or not.

"So, again, what's the point of our kids spending their childhoods attempting to become fluent in Mandarin?"

The reasons have been explained to you many times, but you don't get it.

That's OK. Our community has been far-sighted in instituting a choice policy, and community activists have been similarly far-sighted in working for Mandarin immersion under choice policy. This means your children won't be forced to benefit from that skill.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Frankly, I think the opposition to Townsend in this thread is way off track. I oppose Townsend NOT because she supported Mandarin language education, but because she supported a choice program without regard, interest in, or consideration of any of the side effects of another choice program on our district.

I also oppose Townsend because she flouts the concept of equity in education across all districts by coming up with a lot of pie in the sky excuses why we should let a FEW kids learn Mandarin (ala flat world) without making sure we have equitable curriculum offerings across all students first. She has proven she favors moving PAUSD to a choice/academy style district, instead of supporting strong equitable neighborhood schools.

when it came to representing the constituents in the MI decision: She couldn't be bothered with financial impacts due to DIRECT enrollment growth from the program (which staff confirmed would be a significant impact, in their feasibility study), with questions (which are still not answered) about a feasible long term location, with never-answered - and never ASKED - questions about whether an MI program in an Ohlone style has ever been studied or would be feasible. No interest in ensuring transparency, no concern that the feasibility lacked sound data as backup. No concern about the demographic imbalances the program would create, etc. No questions about the impacts on equity across our schools, or the committment of PAUSD with regard to accepting the FLAP Grant.

In fact, she posed No questions on any of the practical issues on the MI matter. Just pushed it.

And on the matter of the Superintendent problem - no questions there either. So she has proven that she is either random (blind, unquestioning, driven by emotion or desire, not by factual input) or she was following an agenda (whos agenda???) with extra care to sidestep real issues.

This to me points to a candidate who did NOT support transparency and accountability on behalf of the people she represents when she had ample opportunity to do so.

for the sake of getting board members who commit to being accountable and holding the superintendent and staff accountable to the community, please consider voting for three new board members.

Posted by well said
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Beautifully said, Parent. Many, many of us support the idea of MI, or any immersion program, just not the way it, (and it could have been any choice program), was pulled off in this district at the leadership of Ms. Townsend. Good goal, bad prioritizing and methods of achievement.

But, the election is a week away. I truly hope that once it happens, and whatever the results, we can really just drop re-hashing the past, hopefully having learned from it, and move forward.

I understand it coming up ad nauseum now because of the election and having to make smart choices on that voting ballot..but please, everyone, can we make a deal to stop all of this after the election?

Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Equity in education does not enter into it. The district has a choice policy, and MI fits within it.

Townsend never said she favors "moving PAUSD to a choice/academy style district." This is just a quote you invented.

She and the board heard your arguments, weighed them, and rejected them.

Posted by we need 3 new board members
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 1:53 pm

I am not nuetral on MI, but I also recall Japanese and also Russian being the language dejour, as well. And MI may be the next one. I agree, it is clear that China has huge domestic problems-one main one being pollution, and maybe another one being that the government is trying to pressure other countries to include Mandarin in their language programs. For those families who want it great. But it should not at this point be forced into the public school systems- we have a lot of other more urgent advancements to make in the curiculuum that benefit all of the students- such as working on the achievement gap, updating our math, writing, art, and computer skills.

Factual?? I never said that it was Camille's fault that the board finally voted it in. I wrote that she was pressuring, and inappropritae when they took the first vote on Jan. 30 and it got voted OUT. She kept asking are you sure, this is a great program!When a president asks for a show of hands for a vote-yeah or neah she should not give her opinion. She should remain unbiased and just take a count of the votes.
And then I said that after that vote, Camille and her husband berated Dana for voting against it- which was Dana's choice.
If you do not know what happened, re the second vote- Dana explained it- he stated that he and Mandy received a letter that was signed by 9 MI proponents stating that if the board voted MI in-(eventhough a democratic vote had already been taken- and the community and the board wanted to move on) they would not pursue a charter school. So, then the board had to take more time to study up on charter schools. Dr. Callan said that a charter school would be more costly, time consuming, and less under their control, as a charter school has its own board. Many more hours were spent trying to compare these two programs. Finally, the board decided that MI was the less of the two evils, or less damaging to PAUSD. The board did not want it- that is why they had already after much research voted it OUT on Jan.30. Many residents felt that this was a terrible way to get a program in-not democratic, not equitable, but threatening and some called it blackmail. Was it Camille's fault? She brought it up in 2004 and never let it go. She also never responded to a question that since her husband's work in a think thank at Stanford has some work with the Chinese government re its economy, it might be a conflict of interest, or at least gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. So, no this is not just about facial gestures. I did not make the comment re Ms.
Parent- Good idea- the MIers should have done the upright thing of taking their loss on Jan. 30 and move on. Instead they sent that letter and held the board hostage. Quite self centered.
Bewana- read the minutes of the meetings your comments are not factual-the community does not institute a choice policy- they have no authority to do so. Besides most of the community was against MI. The board had stated earlier that they would not develop any more choice programs. They needed to study if the choice programs were at the tipping point, as they described it. For our district we have more choice programs than many districts of a similar size.
Again- my main point is that we neeed 3 new board members-Wynn, Barbara and Melissa who will listen to both sides of an issue, not be swayed by threats, and decide what benefits most of our children-seeing as this is a public school district.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Another parent- secnod time you said they heard and rejected the argument. In fact, they accepted the arguments and voted MI down on the merits of the argument.

Only when they were faced with a hostage situation (charter threat), engineered by the leadership of the MI movement, did they reverse their vote. What was Camille's role in the charter threat tactic??? Since we know she was cozy with the MI leadership from the very first day of her membership on the board going as far back as 2004?

In terms of 'engineered quotes'. I didn't quote her. Her actions speak louder than words. When Townsend was repeatedly asked to consider equity, to consider neighborhood schools, to consider language programs to reach all, she ignored and didn't respond, and pushed her agenda for MI forward regardless of all those negative consequences. The FACTS of her ACTIONS and her VOTES speak for themselves. In fact, I'd like to hear her TRY to say now that she favors neighborhood schools over choice model for this district. She never would - even SHE knows it would be entirely hypocrotical and antithetical to what she just put us through.

Posted by Bwana
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:20 pm


You need to do more research. Look at the PAUSD website, where you will find our choice policy. You don't know if "most" of the community is against MI, and that is irrelevant in any case. The board makes those calls.

MI fits nicely within the choice policy and makes a great addition to our district.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 2:36 pm

In PAUSD - equity in education certainly does enter in to it!

Ask any property owner if they want 12 (or 13) equal schools, or if they want to create pocket enrichment schools, and let the others be whatever's left over.

And if we've got a board member (like Townsend) who doesn't understand that, we need to vote her out, and get three new board members.

Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Er, actually the board somehow didn't factor in relevant information (charter) in their original decision. They rectified their mistake and voted MI in on the merits--a democratic, equitable decision.

Why do you use inflammatory language like "hostage situation"? Was the district held hostage in the first vote when community members threatened to vote down future bond measures if MI passed? It's just politics, consequences.

"I didn't quote her." Oh, you made it up, then. OK.

Posted by not a whiner, and just the facts please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 4:11 pm

It's been a while since I've been goaded into responding here, but I'm compelled.

Mandarin may be a fad. And Japanese and Russian were very popular at the time. I don't think anyone has regrets that Japanese and Russian were taught in the 80's. Do you?

Dana and Mandy always knew that a charter was a possibility. The letter was not new news to them. Grace had mentioned a charter years ago, asking the district to co-sign on a charter start-up grant of $250K.

Dana and Mandy democratically called for more discussion and information about charter schools and charter laws. Very reasonable since charters are encouraged by state and federal legislation.

And they democratically changed their vote to bring MI into existence. Camille did not coerce board members to bring up charter schools. The letter did not ask Dana and Mandy to change their vote.

The letter was posted on Palo Alto Online, but I can't find it now.

The MI proponents took the Jan decision and moved on with their goal to start a charter. The letter was just a formality to some board members. It was the board members' free will to do what they wanted to do.

Although some of the community didn't learn a lot about charters, the MI supporters had worked hard to educate themselves and the board about them. Can't make a horse drink, though.

I'm glad the board changed its mind and started drinking.

As far as the community goes, the majority of the community doesn't know or care about MI. The constant mantra of "most of the community is against MI" is just not valid. 1000 petitioners here, 900 petitioners there. That's not a majority of the community, and even combined, that's not a majority.

A majority of the community is consciously or unconsciously unaware of MI, so don't overheat your tempest in the teapot.

Posted by we need 3 new members
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2007 at 4:36 pm

You are right it was not most of the community-one board member told me that she knows that THE community is against MI- but she felt that a charter is worse. It is not irrelevant- you are forgetting that the board represents its constituents. So, the board should research what the majority want. We live in a democracy.
BTW- Camille received thousands of emails from the community and about 90% were against MI. I think that this program therefore is not a great addition to our district- unless you do not care about the community and just want what you want- it sure looks like that!
Parent-I agree with you-equity is crucial, and we have maxed out the choice programs. You are correct we need 3 new members.
Another parent- they had 20 meetings on this subject and 6 years to get it right. They told us on Jan.30 that they had researched it, spoken to their staff, staff attorney, Callan, read the feasiblity study, considered commuity sentiment and concluded that it was the wrong program, at the wrong time, and in the wrong district. Mandy mentioned that if we were not over-enrolled it might be ok. But, we were over-enrolled and this year we are even more over-enrolled. About 250 new students came to our district.
To write that " somehow the board did not factor in relevant information(charter)in their original decision" is a serious accusation. However it is not accurate-the board has known about charters for years- and they did factor it in as well in that first vote. They did not factor in a threat. But if that is true that the board did nto factor in relevant info- since Camille is the only one we can now get out- we better do just that!

Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Mandy Lowell finally voted for MI - not because she thought it was a program to implement at this time - but because she felt that a charter would be more detrimental to the district than a Mandarin Immersion program. She did not make this decision until she was told "as a formality" that a charter was being planned. She chose the least of two evils.

Immersion is a great way to learn a language, choice is wonderful too, but too many kids currently do not have the choice to attend their neighborhood school. Any new program which reduces our flexibility in placing students and potentially brings more students into our already overcrowded district, should not have even been considered. There are also many other choice programs which could have benefited a larger group of kids, those 20-30% of under-served students we are concerned about.

That said, I actually agree with Dr. Skelly's decision not to revisit MI. It has been approved, has used far too much of our emotional resources and has caused great contention. Let the program start, revisit its success and appropriateness in our Strategic Plan in three years with the soon to be elected board, our new Superintendent, etc.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 2:22 am

You wrote:
"One reason why it may be possible for someone to support both Camille and say someone like Krausner or Caswell is that one recognizes that a team works well often when differing talents are represented --and differing viewpoints. A team that all barrels in one direction with one style and one viewpoint is a team that risks extreme behaviour."
"I am voting for her not because I support the particulars of MI, but because I believe Camille would support a future broader district wide foreign language initiative and see the critical value of it. "

These are precisely some of the reasons I have decided not to vote for Camille. I like her as a person, but she has shown herself to be exactly the kind of person who barrels in one direction with one style and one viewpoint and never seems to let in any differing viewpoints.

That would not mesh well with any of the candidates up for election, all of whom seem to have the capacity for engaging and considering different viewpoints. (I wonder could this have come from Townsend's experience as a parole officer? Having to take a particular perspective and not waver from it regardless of how compelling the person she is dealing with may be? Certainly appropriate for dealing with parolees; not appropriate to treat PA parents in a conflict. How Townsend handled things had everything to do with why it became a conflict.)

I also support a district-wide language initiative, and soon, but again, this is why I won't be voting for Camille. She has shown a propensity for pushing her own pet project at the expense of everything else. If any proposed language initiative were to be at odds with the MI program - for example, if Mandarin and other language fluency elective instruction were proposed available across the district, MI would be (from the district's standpoint) redundant and far less manageable. I know Townsend well enough to know which path she would doggedly push, regardless of the feelings of the community.

Other candidates support language for our district, they also support making such momentous decisions through strategic planning.

My spouse is pretty smart, but cannot pack a suitcase worth beans, because he picks out what he wants and puts it in the bag. He then complains when he needs extra bags as he is packing. I can pack fully three times as much in the same space, more neatly and more accessibly, because I put everything on the bed and see what I have first. I realize that I don't have to take everything I wanted. In the end, though, I get to take far more with me, usually everything my husband wanted, too, because of the additional planning step.

I liken the argument over the MI debate to this - some parents see the bag as half empty... (sorry, couldn't resist a little levity) ... - Camille and MI supporters jammed what they wanted into the bag, and got angry and accusative with people who said, Wait, we can't take everything everyone wants, there are more things we have to consider, let's put them all out and see if we can get as much as possible in the bag, yes, including what you want.

If you go back and read the many, many threads, this was the essence of the argument, which got nasty on both sides.

In the context of a public school district, I would like to see people on the board who would get the most for the district, who will look at everything and all opinions with an open mind - which requires an ability to look at the big picture. Townsend just has proven not to be that kind of person. I want language for my kids - I feel Townsend would support MI over any language initiate that would even remotely conflict. (And we shouldn't be developing a district-wide language strategy by working around the elephant in the room.)

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:22 am

Well put, PA Mom. The board voted recently (4-1, with Price opposed) to accept a federal matching grant for Mandarin instruction in the district which will help pay for clerical help, staff oversight, educational materials and technology. We were assured that the technology was for high school Mandarin electives and could be shared by other language classes when not in use for Mandarin. We were assured that 40 kinder/first graders at Ohlone would not be using iPods next fall to reinforce classroom learning, or otherwise have materials and technology that are superior to what all other elementary schoolers in the district have.

And Kevin Skelly assured us that spending of grant funds would be closely monitored and reevaluated in the spring.

Your concern about putting time, energy, and dollars into FLES in light of all the intense focus on Mandarin is valid.

And to everyone else who is tired of this discussion, it is completely valid to look at an incumbent’s record in assessing whether or not to support that person for a second term. Mandarin immersion is Townsend’s baby, and will be her legacy whether she ultimately serves one or two terms on the board, and whether or not she wants to admit that she was instrumental in bringing it about.

It’s also true that, unfortunately, the discussion will continue long after the election because this program was put into place in spite of the fact that the district had, and still has, a moratorium on new programs. It was put into place in spite of the fact that Ohlone is only approved for three portable classrooms and that MI will run out of space there after two years. It was put into place in spite of the fact that the majority of board members did not think it was a high priority for the district.

As someone said on another thread, this is just the beginning. Every step of the way, every aspect of this program is going to have to be negotiated and other programs compromised in order to make room or accommodate Mandarin immersion.

What will give me faith that the district will implement the program in the fairest way possible, given that it IS going to be implemented, and minimize its impact on the rest of the district, is if we have three new board members.

I like Wynn, Barbara, and Melissa.

Someone above was disparaging Wynn’s experience, but in my opinion he would be an outstanding board member, and would provide exactly what we need to get back on the right track in our district. He has a masters’ in communications from Stanford, and what we really need right now is someone who can listen to community input, synthesize the information and articulate a vision for the district. Wynn has a passion for helping kids by serving as a coach, referee, and on the boards of the Little League, Positive Coaching Alliance and Palo Alto Community Child Care. He has expertise in education policy, strategic planning and conflict resolution. He will be accountable to his constituents. He and his wife both work full time and I think it’s incredibly important to have that perspective on the board, since many two-working-parent families here feel disenfranchised. Please use one of your votes for Wynn Hausser.

Posted by Elem Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:35 am

Melissa was outside our school this morning, talking to parents, handing out literature. She appears to be a very friendly, willing to talk, open and genuine person.

This is what true campaigning is all about, getting out to talk to the people where they are. True you don't get to meet everyone this way, but it is being interested, willing to listen and willing to put in the hard graft that is to be recommended. If she and her supporters can do this and in enough numbers, then they can reach a lot of people.

Well done.

Posted by Just the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:15 am


Some data:

"this program was put into place in spite of the fact that the district had, and still has, a moratorium on new programs." There is no moratorium.

"It was put into place in spite of the fact that Ohlone is only approved for three portable classrooms and that MI will run out of space there after two years." Where's the problem?

"It was put into place in spite of the fact that the majority of board members did not think it was a high priority for the district." Irrelevant and possibly false. A majority of the board voted in favor because it was high enough priority to vote it in now.

Posted by get your facts straight
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:28 am

Just the facts, how about including the rest of the fact you started?
"A majority of the board voted in favor because it was high enough priority to vote it in now" because they preferred caving to MI over the alternative charter threat. This is a fact which the two reverse-vote board members explained very clearly when they reversed their votes. The other fact is that MI itself was voted down in January.

So when you say "it" was high enough priority, "it" refers to avoiding a charter in the district; "it" does NOT refer to MI.

Posted by Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:44 am

"because they preferred caving to MI over the alternative charter threat.... MI itself was voted down in January." True and true. You seem exercised. What's your point?

Our elected representatives should take into account all the relevant information. In this case, it included the blackmail threat to vote against bond measures if MI was approved and the simple intention of some to file for an MI charter if MI choice was not approved.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Since MI is such a fabulous accomplishment for Townsend, I'm just really curiuos why the MI accomplishmetn isn't a cornerstone of her campaign. IN fact, not only is it not a cornerstone, but she refuses to discuss her involvement and support from the start.

And not only that - it was her ONLY accomplishment. And refusing to talk about it, leaves her floudering for something to point to as an accomplishment. Seems that it would really help her campaign to really show folks how hard she worked to get MI through, and all the creative ideas she came up with for pushign it through - how closely she worked with her community on that, etc.

Why won't Townsend talk about her instrumental role in pushing thruogh the MI program for the greater good? And her perspective on the charter threat that finally got her board members to see the light? And her viewpoints on how choice policy trumps strategic plan and equitable neighborhood schools?

As voters, this is what I want to hear - all about Townsends accomplishments. How odd that she won't talk about it. What is she ashamed of?

Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Wynn, Barbara, and Melissa

Posted by Lets at least get the facts right
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Just the facts- There is a moratorium. Grace, actually was quoted in the paper saying that she knows that there is a moratorium and the board needs to resolve the issue of more choice programs. But she also hopes to get MI in.( That was when there was going to be a second vote- but it had not yet been taken.)
One problem with Ohlone getting three portables and MI running out of room- is that there is currently a waiting list of families who want their children to go to Ohlone, and with MI being placed there these families will not get in.
Someone mentioned that MI will be assesed in 3 years- actually the grant requires that it be assesed every year for the grant to continue; also since it is only a pilot program it is necessary that it be evaluated each year. SI was also a pilot but I understand that somehow the evaluating of it fell under the radar- and just kept going without any evaluating. I have heard from some parents who have gone there, that SI is not the success that it is described as - but that is for another time.
The majority of the board first voted it out. MI was not on the strategic plan, therefore it was not a priority as Dana and Mandy said. Those items on it -are the priorities. They voted it in because of the threat factor that has been explained in other posts.

We need to get 3 new board members who will address the strategic plan, and not postpone it because they are too busy fighting about a program that will only benefit 2% of our students. We need to address the needs of 100% of our children.Lets get back on track!

Posted by hmmm
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Good point. I truly am sick to death of the MI thing..but someone above really has a good point..why isn't Camille Townsend proudly trumpeting the MI program, which IS due to her leadership, and yet she is trying to trumpet the fact of Skelly coming on as part of her accomplishments when she is just one of many people who searched and met etc?

Methinks she really does know how the vote would go down if it were common knowledge. Most people have no idea what happened and how...

Posted by Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 2:01 pm


There WAS a moratorium of sorts--in the sense that the board did not want to take up consideration of new choice programs. But it lifted the moratorium when it voted to do the feasibility study.

"One problem with Ohlone getting three portables and MI running out of room- is that there is currently a waiting list of families who want their children to go to Ohlone." That's not a problem for MI. This is symptomatic of many objections to MI. You don't want to do MI until (fill in your pet project here) is instituted. I don't understand your sense of entitlement.

"MI was not on the strategic plan, therefore it was not a priority as Dana and Mandy said." Again, the strategic plan is irrelevant to choice programs. The district has a choice policy, and part of its intent is to address educational needs that are not part of the strategic plan but are nonetheless important to some families.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 31, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Facts, you just don't make any sense. Please reread you words.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:07 pm

To Just the Facts:

I said, "This program was put into place in spite of the fact that the district had, and still has, a moratorium on new programs." You said, “There is no moratorium.”

--Um, yeah there is. Since spring of 2003, and reiterated by board members multiple times to MI proponents. “Facts” said, “There WAS a moratorium of sorts--in the sense that the board did not want to take up consideration of new choice programs. But it lifted the moratorium when it voted to do the feasibility study.”

Show me the minutes where it says that. I can’t find it.

I said, "It was put into place in spite of the fact that Ohlone is only approved for three portable classrooms and that MI will run out of space there after two years." You said, “Where's the problem?”

--In year three of the MI pilot there will be 80 kids in the program and so far housing is only approved for 60 of them. Ohlone hasn’t been approved for a fourth portable and Garland won’t be ready to be reopened yet. If you don’t think that’s a problem, far be it for me to try to persuade you otherwise.

I said, "It was put into place in spite of the fact that the majority of board members did not think it was a high priority for the district." You said, "Irrelevant and possibly false. A majority of the board voted in favor because it was high enough priority to vote it in now."

--Well, I’ll reprint actual minutes from the two meetings which resulted in the reversal of the board’s January 30th decision, and let people decide for themselves if my statement was irrelevant or false. These are excerpts from Dana and Mandy’s comments, the two board members who changed their minds. See all the comments at Web Link
FROM 6/26/PACKET, MEETING DATE 5/22/07 P. 24
Tom said that while this topic had thoroughly consumed the Board’s time out of proportion to its importance, the entire District had continued to devote attention to the education of all students. He then said that after MI was voted down, he had heard people say that because a program was feasible it should be approved. He believed the decision should be up to the Board to approve or deny a program, even if it was judged to be feasible. Whether a strong MI program could be implemented at Ohlone, was different from whether or not it should be implemented. He said he believed charters had the potential for being a huge financial drain on Districts, and that he felt strongly that PAUSD did not have the resources for both a choice and a charter. Because a charter application was likely imminent, he was carefully considering voting for the choice program as the best way to preserve attention on the District’s priorities...

Lowell agreed with Tom and apologized to everyone for the amount of time being consumed by this very divisive issue. She wanted to stay with her original decision, however her job as a school board member was to weigh the costs to the District. What she read in the reports presented to her had been corroborated by all her other research. She said the charter option was a way to circumvent the democratic process, and she believed it would be more burdensome in this District than a choice program, so she had to do what was in the best interest of the students...

FROM 6/26/07 PACKET, MEETING DATE 6/5/07, P. 69
Lowell said she would be supporting MI. To her, a choice immersion program would not be the best thing to happen to the District, but it would not be the worst either. She believed the same about a charter program. Whatever happened, the District would continue to offer its students an excellent education, including successful language instruction in middle and high schools. On January 30, she voted against MI in the best interest of the students. The only reason she was reconsidering this item now was because a charter was likely to occur if a choice program were not adopted, and she felt it was her duty to address this development. She understands that most of the public did not want this choice program now, but neither would they be pleased if the same program occurs through a charter...

Tom said he agreed with Lowell’s comments, saying they had shared a great deal of research and information, and the Board and the community shared the goal of doing what was best for students. He said bringing foreign language to all students was still more important to him than an MI program, but the threat of a charter school was very real. He concluded that it would be better for the community to provide Mandarin education through an immersion program, because a charter would be a financial drain, and take up staff time and facilities...

Posted by Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:46 pm


"Show me the minutes where it says that. I cant find it." Look for the part where they approve the feasibility study. That lifts the moratorium.

"--In year three of the MI pilot there will be 80 kids in the program and so far housing is only approved for 60 of them." We're not in year three or year two or even, yes, year one.

"Well, Ill reprint actual minutes from the two meetings..." Don't need the minutes. It was irrelevant because choice programs have their own policy within the district precisely so that they do not need to line up in the priority list. False because the board did approve MI, and hence did think it was a high enough priority, on balance.

It's hard to tell where you're going with this. You seem to imply that MI was passed without following rules or something

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 9:55 pm

I think "facts" is summing up the campaign position of Townsend versus the Caswell, Hauser and Klausner position(s) pretty well:

Townsend camp: Strategic plan means nothing. Neighborhood schools low priority/not worth preserving. Equity across schools means nothing. This district should be run as a series of specialty programs and maintaining neighborhood schools is a low priority. OK to design the district around solving special interest programs 'wants', one classroom at a time.

The others: Strategic planning is critical. Neighborhood Schools are a high priority. Equity across schools is critical. The district should preserve and give priority to solving our problems through the equitable neighborhood school model. Special interests should not be defining the district.

Its not a judgement, just pick your candidate based on which philospophy you favor.

And by the way - for Skelly and the BOE candidates, who seem to want to think the MI debate is about Mandarin Immersion and we should just 'move on' - its not. And because its actually about equity, preserving neighborhood schools, and strategic planning process, we can't just move on. Fix these things, and we'll move on.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Funny, facts thinks a written document called the choice policy is the end all be all which defines the district - but the written document that is the strategic plan is meaningless. Interesting selective reasoning.

By the way, there's nothing in the choice policy that says a program presented has to be approved. Its a judgement call on whether it meets the goals of the district. You know and I know the debate is on whether the MI program meets the goals of the district.

For those parents out there who are prepared to sign their kids up - yuo should be very proud that you will be part of a program that is so important to the district that the best that can be said for it is "its not a charter school", and who's leadership (Townsend and Mah) are afraid to even make a peep about their support for it. Good luck with that.

Posted by thank goodness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Well, I'm glad that Skelly said he would not feel threatened by a charter school. And I'm glad that Dana and Mandy are not running for election.

Camille has supported MI from the beginning, but it's not a big deal in the scheme of the whole district. Camille worked on more things in her four years than just MI. Blowing it out of proportion by all of you anti-MI folks is your main pasttime. Luckily, not Camille's.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Let's get it straight.

Camille, Claude, and Barbara.

Camille has lots of experience for four years of service in all aspects of the school board operations. She doesn't ballyhoo MI because it's not the most important thing that she's done.

She's worked with budget cuts, keeping cuts away from the classroom, supporting the parcel tax, working with sustainability for schools, talked to *tons* of people (many of the anti-MI people), worked with management, worked in hiring Dr. Skelly. She did not spend a ton of time pushing MI. Grace Mah did.

Mandy Lowell and Dana Tom spent a lot of time researching other programs, learning about charter schools, and changing their mind.

The moratorium on new programs was until the budget issues were resolved. Dig deeper in those board minutes. That was when the basic aid was threatened (and Camille heroically worked on saving that), and we were considering pink-slipping teachers.

The budget issues with Sacramento were resolved, and the moratorium went away. Call all the board members and staff idiots for bringing MI back when you can't find the minutes lifting the moratorium is not helpful to your cause.

But there's not much going for your cause. Dr. Skelly has said it's time to move on, all the candidates have said they won't bring it back, so your only outlet for your frustration is here on TownSquare.

Luckily, most people exercise their right to not read this stuff, which you exercise your right to write it.

The main thing is for everyone to exercise their right to vote.

Camille for experience. Claude for business sense, Barbara for educational background.

Not Melissa because PTA presidency does not qualify you for board membership. She hasn't championed anything significant in her position of bringing schools together. She widened the divide on MI.

Not Wynn because his communication experience makes him a smooth talker, but he still doesn't have much school experience or understanding of board policy. He's got too much to learn.

Not Pingyu because he has the least experience of all, although he has a purity of conviction and open honesty that is very refreshing. Not the spinning characteristics that Wynn (he's a professional, he's good) and Melissa (she's a good talker, but there's not much substance).

It'll be interesting to see how the election goes, and how the new mix on the board along with the new superintendent leads the district.

Posted by Tired of Townsend
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:18 pm

"Camille has lots of experience for four years of service in all aspects of the school board operations. She doesn't ballyhoo MI because it's not the most important thing that she's done.

She's worked with budget cuts, keeping cuts away from the classroom, supporting the parcel tax, working with sustainability for schools, talked to *tons* of people (many of the anti-MI people), worked with management, worked in hiring Dr. Skelly. She did not spend a ton of time pushing MI. Grace Mah did."

Let's spin that top back into the right orbit....wheeeeee.....

Camille has lots of experience for four years of service in all aspects of the school board operations, yet she fails to to be accountable for her contributions in helping to make the MI decision one of the most dissention producing events in the recent history of PAUSD.

She's worked with budget cuts, help keeping cuts away from the classroom - as would any BOE member in their right mind; she supported the parcel tax (what BOE member wouldn't - they all did); she worked with sustainability for schools (as opposed to unsustainability for schools?), derided staff input during the Management team crisis; created a re-crisis with her collaboration and approval of a senior district position that was not opened up to recruitment; broke early promises to teaching staff; talked to *tons* of people (many of the anti-MI people, whom she blithly disregarded at public meetings); worked with Mary Frances Callan - supporting her dissention-producing personnel policies to the letter, and took undue credit for hiring a new Sup, even though she had little to do with that (MFC's resignation forced the hiring). Camille did spend a ton of time pushing MI, along with Grace Mah, eventually knuckling under to Grace Mah's threat to either force PAUSD to do MI, or face the threat of a charter school creation."

Now, that's about right...can yo spin it back around the other way? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Dad
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2007 at 7:02 am


"Camille for experience. Claude for business sense, Barbara for educational background." Thanks, you sum my thoughts up perfectly. That's how I plan to vote. Don't sweat this forum. It's a spin hangout for 3 or 4 die-hard anti-MI people who plan to vote on one issue.

Posted by pa parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2007 at 7:25 am

I'm with you, PA Dad.

Claude, Camille, and Barbara. A winning combination with broad and diverse experience.

Posted by Tired of Townsend
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:09 am

No way that's PA Dad posting, because he's one of the die-hards here.

Hausser, Baten-Powell, and Klausner

Townsend = negative baggage. PAUSD needs to walk the runway without a weight on its shoulders.

Posted by Different Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:13 am

Now it is getting to something when moniker's are being hijacked.

For those who seriously think that there are only 3 or 4 people who do not want Townsend back, just talk around at the school yards.
I hear it whenever the subject of the election comes up.

Additionally, many older residents who do not know the current situation in the schools, have got the message that Townsend is not the one to vote for.

By this time next week, there will be a different topic of conversation, but at the moment, the hot topic is Camille.

Posted by Tired of Townsend
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:17 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Perhaps
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2007 at 10:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2007 at 11:20 am

Yup, that's another PA Dad we've got here (I guess there are a lot of us!) from another neighborhood. I'm still backing Hausser, Baten-Powell, and Klausner, like many, many other people I know.

As for the 'under employed, negative' comment, that's not me. I'm snatching moments on short breaks from my long work day to post here. I'm plenty employed and I'm plenty positive about elections. But if you are going to have meaningful elections you need debate, and we have real issues of substance to debate here.

Sure, it's too bad to have candidates running whom we think would be poor guardians of the district. I'd love it if I could feel that each of the six would be equally good. But I don't and to suggest that any of us who feel that way stop posting, simply to maintain an atmosphere of positivity, seems to be advocating for a shallow kind of democracy.

I don't like being negative. Indeed, I think one set of choices for our BoE would be very, very positive for the district. That's what has me posting here. I want the best slate of candidates to prevail.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 11:40 am

Its Baten-Caswell

Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2007 at 11:58 am

Thanks Parent! -- That's what you get by cutting and pasting names from the post above and not proofing properly. Was the original error made by someone with a background in Scouting, I'm wondering?

Posted by thanks for the chuckle
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Good one, PA Dad, for an "inside joke"..Scouting..HA!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 12:55 pm

For those who do not know, Robert Baden-Powell, a General in the British Army, is credited with starting the Scouting movement by writing a book called "Scouting for Boys" in 1907 from whence came the Boy Scout Association.

Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2007 at 2:42 pm

A couple of quotes ago, "Parent" claims that Townsend's position is that neighborhood schools don't matter. That's nonsense. Essentially every candidate has basically said the same thing - our District is primarily neighborhood based with a healthy dose of innovative choice programs. This includes Young Fives, Ohlone, Hoover, Spanish Immersion, and next year Mandarin Immersion. There are differences in the different candidates' emphasis on the importance and openness of strategic planning, but very little difference on issues of neighborhood schools. Insisting otherwise is just putting words in the candidates' mouths that they haven't been saying in public.

Posted by A parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Nov 1, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Interested Observer,

Thank you for your even-handed remarks. The last thing we need is made-up election planks!

Posted by Another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 7:07 pm

Actually, someone asked a question about the candidates' value of neighborhood school concept during the forum I attended. Klaussner was the only one who gave a straight answer to the question. Klaussner, Hausser, and Baten Caswell seem to support the neighborhood school concept most strongly.

Townsend and Ezran seemed willing to tip toward choice programs, Ezran in particular didn't seem to appreciate how important the neighborhood schools are to most PA parents, he shrugged and indicated that if we opened a new campus we may as well put a choice program there. Liu seemed to think such a conflict in values could be resolved through more grants.

I don't think anyone is using their views on the relative importance of the neighborhood school concept in their "planks" but it's clear from their own words that the different candidates have very different values in this regard.

Posted by Clear difference on Value of Neighborhood schools
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2007 at 8:33 pm

We must have gone to the same Forum. I went to the Juana one, and the question was along the lines of "If FORCED to choose between all neighborhood schools and all Choice programs for our District, which would you prefer?" I liked the question because it forced each candidate to choose their preference.

Klausner, Hausser, and Baten-Caswell stated clearly that if FORCED to choose, they would go for neighborhood schools. And, of course, they each made sounds about defending the status quo on current choice programs etc.

The other 3 obfuscated along the lines of "This is not a good question so it can't be answered" then went into how great it is to have a balance blah blah blah. So, I knew they would have preferred to say "all choice" but they also knew it was political suicide.

Enough for me to know who I trust to do what s/he can to defend what I value the most, which is an equally great curriculum at each school, with priority for neighborhood kids to get into their neighborhood school.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:14 pm

It is interesting how many supporters of K, H and B explain their leanings by relying on made-up positions the other candidates "hold."

It goes something like this: "Townsend/Ezran/Liu won't admit it, but s/he wants X, and X is bad. (X here is a position conjured from pixie dust.) That's why I favor K/H/B."

Kinda messed up thought process, and not exactly a ringing endorsement.

: they make up a position they imagine the other candidates hold, and vote against it.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 9:16 pm

The community is forced to use the actual experience of the past year, rather than what the she says during the campaign, to determine how the she feels about neighborhood schools versus choice program. (Because she avoids the issue with spin or just dances around it, during the campaign so far.) However her actual record on supporting choice, and disdain for neighborhood school equity is clearly demonstrated in her record. And folks are starting to pickup on that in the forums apparently based on above posts, by what she refuses to say, as well.

Actually, its a good practice for every voter to study every candidates actual voting record, and record of accomplishments and pet projects to determine what the truth is about what they support. Generally politicians say (or avoids saying) whatever they need to say to get elected. What have you done for us lately - is what really matters. ACTIONS speak louder than words.

But that's the pitfall of being an incumbent - we actually have some board action history to go by. Every silver lining has a cloud I guess.

Frankly, when I hear dissonance between what they do and what they say, that's even more cause for alarm than when they say something I don't particularly like. At least I can respect a straight shooter

Posted by AmericanPAHomeowner
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 2, 2007 at 4:11 am

The Chinese are busily teaching their children to learn English so that in 20 yrs time they can effectively trade/work in either the East (it is also easier to learn Japanese characters once you know Chinese) or the West (once you know English --it is easier to pick up French, German, Spanish).....

I would not want my child to be handicapped in comparison...

Food for thought, many of my smart talented college buddies had the ability to pick up and become conversational in French, Spanish, even non-tonal African languages within 1 year of intensive study...but these same individuals were barely able to ask "where is the bathroom" after the same year of studying Mandarin because they can not hear tones....

From what I've read, the ability to hear speech tones must be trained at a very young age...the sooner the better.

With French, German, Italian, intelligent 20 yr old mind can learn grammatical structure and vocabulary and though, not speak with a perfect accent, can still be understood by a native French,German,or Italian speaker.

On the other hand, no matter how well one can memorize vocabulary words and understand the grammatical structure of a tonal language like Mandarin, if you can't hear or pronounce the tones, no native Mandarin speaker can understand your verbal not only can't speak with a proper accent you can't speak....period. The difference between buy & sell is a mere tonal adjustment...they are both "my"....

The top five largest economies speak English, Japanese, German, Mandarin, and hope is that when my child is an adult, a real shot at attaining at least 1st grade conversational proficiency of any of the above languages within 1 yr of intensive study is a possibility....right now I know German and French are taken care of since our family speaks English....Mandarin I'm worried about.

With the world shrinking I hope the next Palo Alto school board members will take heed.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2007 at 5:30 am

I learned to speak a tonal Asian language at age 28-33, while working and living in Asia. My tones were so perfect that native speakers did not know I was an American if I were speaking on the phone. I went many months (6-9) without using a single word of English. It was survival.

I learned Spanish when I was in college (my easiest class as a molecular biology major). I then taught Spanish speaking students health classes (5th grade and 12th grade) in Los Angeles during my junior and senior year.

Mandarin is not as widely spoken as Beijing would like you to think. The PRC has been launching these programs worldwide through Hanban and the Confucius Institute. If you don't believe me, just Google it.

My husband is Senior Global Director of IT at a major company here.
His managers in Singapore, India, France, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam all brainstorm their ideas together on conference calls in English.

None of his Chinese managers speak Mandarin. There are many other dialects of Chinese in Asia, and within China.

In light of China's massive launch of Mandarin programs worldwide, it is currently on the agenda to be reviewed this January in Washington, D.C. If you ask people in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. about Mandarin Immersion, you will find answers.

A lot of the things you read online about Mandarin are nothing more than propaganda if they originate from sources linked to China. Check the URL's closely. Some sites are managed right here, and in the U.K.

It is fun for high school kids or college kids to learn a new language, but elementary school children need to learn perfect English skills (oral and written), if you expect them to write great papers in high school, and give confident presentations. This applies to college, and later in the workforce.

If your child does not learn a foreign language in his/her elementary years, please don't worry. They have a lot of time.

I am able to speak a little Cantonese, in addition to conversational Spanish and Thai (which I became very good at). It is no use to me today, unless I like to chat with the employees at restaurants, or eavesdrop on what they are saying (which is kind of fun). All of the top corporations in Thailand and South East Asia use English.

English is the unifying language in Malaysia, between 3 different cultures. The most widely read newspapers in Malaysia and Singapore are all written in English. The Sun, The Star, and The New Straits Times. In Thailand, all the Thai businessmen that we know read The Bangkok Post.

Posted by here we go again.
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2007 at 7:06 am

The research is quite clear...the ability to hear and distinguish different sounds ends for most people around 2 years old, and is certainly gone by 5 ( for most people).

Starting something at 5 versus 10 or 11 hardly matters for most people. Using that "gotta start it at 5 because of the tones" is bogus, given we lose "new sound differentiation" by about 2.

If you can do it at 5, you can do it at 11. There is virtually no biological difference in our minds, except speed of neuronal connections growth. Just a little bit slower at 11 than at 5. That is all.

Also, to say it must begin at 5 makes a mockery of the absolute fact of all the people who move to Mandarin ( or Japanese, or Cantonese, or African) language areas, or vice versa, when they are teens or older, and still somehow manage to learn the language.

So, don't bother reviving that one.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:57 am

It is possible for speakers of European languages to learn tonal languages as adults, even possible to achieve near native pronunciation. But it is much more difficult. I say this as someone who has learned as an adult to speak six foreign languages, one of them tonal.

Research shows that there is a window of opportunity to learn to produce sounds, and that window shuts by 8 or 10 years old. Research also shows that kids easily attain fluency when enrolled in immersion programs from a young age. The evidence shows it is best to start learning languages early.

The remarks about Mandarin not being widely spoken are odd. Mandarin is the national language of China. While there are local dialects, all education takes place in Mandarin, so all Chinese kids today can speak it. It is true that the Chinese government supports the teaching of Mandarin around the world, but I don't follow what that has to do with this debate.

Someone claimed that her husband was a senior IT manager hereabouts and has been successful without needing to speak Mandarin. I don't doubt that, but it is not germane. If you are raising the question of the economic value of being able to speak Mandarin, then you need to consult someone besides an IT guy doing conference calls with Amsterdam and India. Anyone who does serious business in China (and even in some other parts of Asia) will tell you that having Mandarin would make them more effective. No question.

She also said that learning language could be "fun" but was better left for high school. Many people see it as not just fun but valuable for many reasons, the economic one being just one. As for the need to learn perfect English during elementary school, it turns out that immersion kids develop better English skills than their mono-lingual peers because learning to read and write is additive, not zero sum.

It is important for Americans to get a better grasp on what goes on outside their country and to debunk the idea that English will get through everywhere. Someone said, for instance, that English is the unifying language in Malaysia, which is simply wrong. Malay is spoken by the majority, and is the unifying language. Several other languages are spoken. English is the first foreign language that kids learn in school. The most widely read newspapers are not in English as is claimed but in Bahasa Malaysia.

It is certainly possible to go abroad, find an expat community where English is spoken, get along without speaking the local language, and not engage with the local culture. This does not mean that the local people have stopped speaking their language or reading their newspapers when they are not speaking your language to you.

Posted by Another PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:19 pm

The argument over the MI choice program is not an argument over value of language instruction. I am strongly on the side of the importance of teaching language early and am appalled that Palo Alto has no language instruction for elementary children. However, I did not support the specific MI choice program, nor the poisoned process by which it was foisted on our district.

Many of us feel that PAUSD cannot sustain this kind of model that requires a separate school essentially for every language. Many of us feel it is fundamentally unfair to offer such an important educational opportunity to such a tiny number of students in the district. This is not the only approach to teaching fluency. Townsend's role in keeping the MI debate so inflexible and contentious and refusing to engage in honest communication and compromise is why I will not be voting for her. Had she worked to find a compromise that brought fluency instruction to our district in a more fair, responsible, sustainable, and practical way, I would be singing her praises.

Posted by here we go again
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Well said PA Mom. You get the point completely. The erroneous belief that immersion must start at 5 and is the ONLY way to achieve the ONLY goal we should have for foreign languages in our district is what has caused so much of the problem. Most people completely get it, that foreign language is important. The debate is around what the goal is for all our kids, and how to deliver the goal.

Posted by addtionally...
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2007 at 1:36 pm

I would add that there should probably be a debate/discussion around whether or not childrens' families could "opt out" their child if there are good reasons for doing so..and what the good reasons could be.

Posted by BP survivor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Are you referring to opting out of schools or what? Because currently no one can opt out without the principal's permission and I personally know some people who tried to opt out of a school and were not allowed to even though it was clearly in the best interest of the child and family to move schools. It would be good if there were some sort of rational balancing test for letting people move, so a child's not forced to continue in an untenable school situation based solely on the whim of the principal and administrators at 25 Churchill. Absolute power corrucpts absolutely.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Only 53 percent of the Chinese population can communicate in Mandarin. The percentage of Chinese who speak it fluently as a first language is, of course, lower.

The NYT ran an interesting article on the Chinese "dialects" in, I think, 2005. Those "dialects" are different languages, with as much in common, for example, as English and French. It is politically convenient for the Chinese government for it to pretend China is far more monolingual than it actually is. There are hundreds of Chinese languages. Languages, not dialects, as the speakers of different "dialects" are not comprehensible to one another.

So, no, not every schoolchild in China understands Mandarin. Because it is difficult for non-natives to acquire, it will never be universal in the way English is. I mean, if it didn't become universal under a ruthless dictatorship, it's not an easily acquired language. It's worth thinking about how little it's spoken outside of China. In contrast, the relatively small country of Spain has a language that's spoken by nearly an entire continent.

Oh, and, of course, it's a poor language for universal written communication--the whole issue of tones and alphabet--which is why there's an article in today's WSJ that mentions how China's madly hiring English teachers.

I'm sure Mandarin will continue to be spoken in China. I don't think it's going to be in major demand in California. And given China's large population, I don't think we'll be getting the Chinese equivalent of H-1 visas to work there either. Nor, for that matter, will we be going there for college . . .

So, why is learning Mandarin such a huge priority for the district? More so than anything actually on the strategic plan?

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Another PA Mom,

I too did not support the poisoned process.

You raise several arguments.

1. "The district cannot sustain this kind of model." We have, for some time, had this kind of model, and it is working well. There is no reason to think MI will break the camel's back.

2. "It is unfair." This is a sloppy argument built on fuzzy thinking. In a weak sense, it is obviously true: some kids get in and others don't. In this sense, all choice programs are unfair. This is fundamentally an issue of resources: it would cost too much to make every choice program expand and contract each year to match demand. So the question we are faced with is: What is fairer, a program that can never match demand exactly or no program at all? I vote for choice programs, and so did the district. At times, people seem to think however that there is an additional unfairness that attaches to immersion programs but not to other choice programs, a stronger notion of unfairness. This argument says it is unfair to offer lots of language (immersion) while denying any language (FLES) to most kids. It makes as much (and as little) sense to say it is unfair to offer lots of language (immersion) while denying sculpturing instruction to most kids. Immersion is not sculpturing, nor is it FLES. Immersion is not lots of FLES. It is entirely distinct.

3. "MI supporters were inflexible and contentious for refusing to compromise." Your notion of compromise seems to involve giving up MI and pursuing FLES. That is not compromise but giving up.

I think that it will be difficult to move on while clinging to the idea that supporters of MI are "foisting" their program on us, that they are unfair, irresponsible, and impractical. You demonize your opponents, instead of looking for dialogue.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2007 at 11:17 pm


Possible MI compromises included delaying the pilot until there was room instead of placing it at a school which is already full. No other choice program has ever taken up space at a school with a large waiting list. So, yes, the situation is different.

No other choice program was approved when the district faced severe overcrowding issues. So, again, very different situation, thus the high level of resentment.

MI is in an inflexible program--it will be hard to compensate for attrition because of the program's requirements. It's a crazy program to institute when there's a shortage of space for students.

Also, there is no place for MI to go when its trial run is up. It's a piece of sloppy passing the buck by the current BoE.

Truth is, the BoE didn't approve it because they were sold on the program's merits, but because they feared a charter. This isn't a secret and it says very little for the MI crowd's ability to convince everyone that MI benefits the districts. It simply reduced the debate to one of the lesser of two evils.

Posted by Another PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 12:09 am

This issue has been debated to death on other threads and doesn't really belong here. But since you seem not to have read them, I'll cover the basics:

We have had one program, SI, for quite awhile. I'm not debating it's effectiveness at teaching spanish, I am only pointing out that this model for teaching fluency cannot be duplicated many times in a small district like ours. When it was instituted, people brought up the same concerns that the WAY in which it taught fluency would make bringing other fluency and similar choice programs to our small district more difficult. Well, it happened to MI, because this is not a model that can be infinitely multiplied in our small district. It's just the reality.

We are not a huge city like San Francisco, we cannot afford an infinite number of choice schools on this model, meaning, a separate school site essentially for each one. You could read some of the suggestions on threads previous about other ways to teach FLUENCY - please read my previous message again, I said FLUENCY. (Maybe search on the term "Yew Cheung" if I've spelled remembered it right.)

I think we ought to have a FLES program, too, but I didn't bring that up at all in my post. There are other ways to teach fluency which Nico Janick admitted on one of the threads that PACE never considered. There are other ways to implement optional fluency programs across the district that do not require separate school sites for each, that would allow more flexibility to teach students not just those entering kindergarten but starting at every grade level, and allow the flexibility to change languages over the years depending on interest, and would not require new school facilities at all.

If you could offer fluency instruction (note I said FLUENCY not FLES) at every school site for anyone who wished it, in more than one language, with far less impact on our district than offering immersion education to a very small number of students in a separate language school, wouldn't that be more "fair"?

You wrote: "Your notion of compromise seems to involve giving up MI and pursuing FLES. That is not compromise but giving up." Please actually read my post. I never even brought up or referred to FLES. This is exactly what was wrong with the MI debate... Please listen to what the other person says or we end up back in the same rut. The problem here is that you believe I have different goals, but that's just not true - I have the same hope for fluency instruction, I just don't think there is only one way to go about it. (Especially a completely untried Ohlone Way MI.)

If one of our leaders had insisted on exploring different ways to reach the GOAL of fluency instruction, there could have been compromise. But the few people pushing that particular program had other requirements they would not compromise on: the program HAD to be in Palo Alto, it HAD to start by next fall, etc. etc.

My notion of compromise would have been discussing other fluency instruction models that could be duplicated more realistically in a district like ours, for multiple languages, different sites, etc. Or at the very least, studying the proposed MI program in context of the strategic plan. How exactly is that "giving up", to search for something that is more sustainable, fair, and more likely to engender broad support?

Supporters of MI did "foist" their program on the district via the charter threat. The MI program was voted down first, remember? Two BOE members said they only changed their vote because of the charter threat, not because they thought the specific MI proposal was right for our district at this time. There was broad dissent in the community for this particular proposal (not language instruction or even fluency instruction, just this proposal). I would say that qualifies as "foisting."

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2007 at 5:38 am


Can you back up that statistic with data? In any case, my points stand: Mandarin is the national language, all education takes place in Mandarin and all Chinese kids can now speak it. It is worth pointing out that Mandarin is increasingly a regional language. In South Korea, for instance, it has replaced English as the most-studied foreign language. Mandarin is also spoken by many more people than Spanish.

The Chinese government has no interest I know of in "pretending" that China is monolingual. The government is quite forthcoming about what languages are spoken there. I don't quite see what you are driving at with this point.

I would agree with you that it is unlikely Mandarin will become universal in the way English is, but again I don't see your point. I don't think anyone is choosing to educate their kids in Mandarin under the assumption that it will replace English! It is a language that is increasingly in demand in our area and in our state, and so worthy of being taught in an immersion program.

As for the strategic plan, we'll have to part ways on this. The strategic plan could never take on choice programs because they are by definition desired by a minority of families. That is why we have a separate choice policy. So there is no question of MI taking priority over the strategic plan. They exist on separate planes.

Posted by Another Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 10:14 am

I don't think you understand what a strategic plan is. Go ask your parents and come back to the discussion.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 10:27 am

"The strategic plan could never take on choice programs because they are by definition desired by a minority of families. That is why we have a separate choice policy. "

You are missing so much there, Seth. Why does language fluency have to be taught in a separate school for just a few people? Why can't it be taught on a model that is open to everyone in the district who wants it? Isn't that the essence of choice?

You are also missing the history of choice program development in our district. Initially, choice programs were developed for teaching the same curriculum as taught in other schools, just in a different teaching style. They were introduced in a time of decreasing enrollments. SI is different since it teaches something to a few students that isn't available to everyone; it was predicted when the program began that this exact feature of the the program, that fluency instruction cannot be available to others in the district, would be a future problem for other programs. It has come to pass.

I have no idea how you can make the nonsensical statement that MI has no place in a strategic plan. Going through the strategic plan is the way to find a place for something like MI, just as working out your family budget is how you find a way to afford as much of what you want as possible (or save, whatever your priorities).

Since working through a strategic plan is basically about priorities, you are saying that MI could never be a priority, and I think that's a bad argument. Maybe you're right, that this MI program could never be a priority because of how it is structured - that's not the same as saying that fluency instruction and other language instruction could never be worked in as a priority. I think it could. If you work through the strategic plan, that's how you find a way.

Posted by Please change the channel
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2007 at 12:28 pm

For ease of reading, I suggest that everyone who wants to start yet another MI-in-context ( or not) discussion start a new thread to bring the "newbies" up to speed...

And let's get back to the School Board Candidates' stuff, ok?


Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2007 at 2:11 pm


I gave you the info to Google it, but here's a link:

Web Link

Otherwise, the article's by Howard French and ran July 10.
I mean, are you aware that one of the big reasons why China is hampered by a symbolic writing system is because there is such a huge diversity of written languages.

I'm sorry, but when the Chinese government says that only slightly more than half of its population can communicate in Mandarin, you've got a problem.

You don't seem to know what the strategic plan is. And I'm not sure why the MI minority is entitled to more privileges than other groups of parents who want a special perk for their kids at the expense of other people's--which is the case when you do a space grab at an at-capacity school.

Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Please change the channel,
I agree, thanks for getting us back on track, this thread already has over 300 posts!

I want to see board members who will get us out of this morass - meaning the WAY we are arguing about this. Someone who will listen to all sides and help come up with something that works for the district AND people with special educational wants. (Meaning not just MI, but other issues looking into the future, especially at the high school level.) Camille Townsend will only guarantee us more of the same, she has demonstrated a propensity for listening only to those who already agree with her position.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Another PA Mom,

I would agree with you that we cannot have an infinite number of choice programs. But I think that we can have at least one more: MI.

You talk vaguely of other unspecified options that are not FLES and not immersion, but there is only one model I know of for achieving fluency at a young age: immersion. I agree with you that we could offer optional language programs that allow flexibility for kids to enter and leave and change languages over the years. But it is a pipe dream to think such programs could bring those kids to fluency by the end of elementary.

In honesty, I don't know if you share the goals of MI supporters because you believe fluency is something achievable across the board, and I don't think that is possible unless we convert the district to a mandatory immersion model.

It is easy to make hopeful, optimistic statements, but we can't run the district on sentiment. If you have a concrete suggestion, please spell it out.

Posted by PA Mom2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 1:47 am

This is a thread for talking about the school board members. The points you are bringing up have really been talked to death on previous MI threads. I can see that you are earnest in your questions - if MI supporters had been this earnest and interested in seeking other ways, there could have been a discussion. Perhaps some might have been - but Townsend managed to miss every opportunity to foster such.

Spend some time reading some of the previous threads before asking anyone to rehash the whole thing yet again. There were suggestions for other fluency instruction models that would fit better within the constraints of our district, some happening right in our area. Some I heard parents express an interest in around the schoolyard. I can see from the last post that you might be inclined to pick up and run with some of those ideas - please start another thread then and post the link here. And be sure to send any ideas to the language task force.

So you think there could be at least one more dual immersion program and that it should be MI, and you admit it might be the only other one our district can sustain. Fine, but if that's the case, we all have a responsibility to take approving it all the more seriously, and if we can reach the same goal in a way that allows for more flexibility, we have a duty to do that. Pushing it on the district means that the next group that is just as earnest about their choice program will find it next to impossible. How would you feel if another group had beat MI to the punch? MIers were already hopping mad at the hurdles they faced because of concerns from SI's introduction that came to pass. That's a lesson we should learn, especially since this one way is not the only way. And since our district is getting more crowded by the minute and more people WILL be bringing their diverse educational wants to the table as well. If there are other fluency models that will work well without locking out any and all future innovations, don't we owe it to the kids to explore those? Why would you be skeptical about other proven fluency models and not about a completely untried shotgun marriage of Ohlone Way and Mandarin immersion?

I'm going to start going by PA Mom2, there are too many posters going by similar Another PA Mom/PA Mom monicker's.

Posted by Back to the Vote
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:37 am

Seth: There is a severe disagreement in what the goals of a public elementary school education are, and it was manifested by the MI thing and Camille. In your view it seems that the goal should be fluency by the end of elementary school, in which case you would vote for those who would support as many immersion programs as possible so every family who wanted it could have a chance to win the lottery and get their kids fluent by age 11.

The other goal is to give ALL kids the ABILITY TO BECOME fluent ( in language or math or science or whatever specialty the kid is drawn to) by the end of High School, so we will vote for the people who have this kind of vision of public education: to give everyone the same great opportunity at every school.

So, I am voting for Hausser, Klausner and Baten-Caswell.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 7:38 am

PA Mom,

There is only one method for teaching fluency at an early age: immersion. It does not have to be for just a few kids, but I do not think most families want their kids in an immersion program. The cost effective way to do this is to consolidate those kids at one school.

The district developed the choice policy to serve diverse educational needs with no restriction on whether those needs were style or curricular. (I think some of the MI people would disagree with you that their program differs in curriculum.) In any case, the choice policy is intended to address those needs, whether they are part of priorities of the strategic plan or not. I am indeed saying MI is unlikely to ever be a priority for ALL families and so unlikely to be part of the strategic plan. Fortunately, there is a good fit with the choice policy.

PA Mom2,

"Why would you be skeptical about other proven fluency models" Because various posters have referred to these models in a theoretical way but never saying what they are. I may not know the ins and outs of MI immersion in PA, but I think I'm pretty up to date on language acquisition. I've never heard of these "models," so I am skeptical.

Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2007 at 8:26 am

I'm voting for Baten-Caswell, Hausser, Klausner. CT was on the BOE and did not see or hear those of us who called for disclosure of the donors who funded the MI feasibility study. The pro-MI leadership refused to disclose and the BOE protected them. Townsend didn't respect the call for transparency; she allowed the district to be bought by five or six anonymous donors and the community was not privy to the who and why. I realize that she was not the only one making that decision, but she had a voice and a vote and she failed us. Right now she's the one who's asking me to vote to re-elect her. I won't. The others will be asking in the near future and I won't vote for them either.

Posted by vote for the vision
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 9:28 am

Seth, to take the discussion back to the basic issues exemplified by the huge schism over MI, I agree with the vision of public education that Baten Caswell, Hausser and Klausner have.

The other 3 have a vision that is, by their own words or through agreement with each other.."gray"...I can't trust a "gray" vision.

You have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.

None of these other 3 have been able to categorically state they prefer a district that has the same great educational opportunities for all kids at every school, stating that the issue is not "black and white".

I disagree. If you don't support working toward a unified equal opportunity vision, you will fall for the next distraction which gives super enriched by lottery to a few, or great facilities for one school and not another, or takes anonymous donations toward a program or facility which isn't "next" on the priority list.

To acknowledge that there are inequities and differences between all schools, regardless of the effort to keep everything equal opportunity is one thing..this is simply realistic, and in my opinion demands that we strive to keep inequities at bay as much as we can.

However, it is scary to me for anyone to state or imply that this is normal and conclude that therefore it is unrealistic to work toward equal opportunity. I want people who strongly support equal opportunity for all subject matter for EVERY kid in our district, and who want to work toward it, not embrace inequities in the name of "school choice".
The 3 not endorsed honestly believe ( at least, through their words up to a couple months ago when they were still open about this) that there was some sort of moral parity between Special Education and immersion programs, because they are both "for a few kids", or between AP programs/after school competitive sport programs and elementary school immersion programs, because they both "don't accept everyone". They tried to make these cases equal to justify their beliefs that "choice" won by lottery was "good". They couldn't see that Special Ed is for every kid who needs it, not for those who "win" it, and that competitive sports and HIGH SCHOOL classes are just that..competitive..not like for those who "win" the lottery at age 5 for an education.

If you agree that Special Ed, AP, and Sports Teams are ok to use to justify having kids win an elementary school education, then vote for 3 not endorsed. If you don't, vote for the 3 endorsed, Baten-Caswell, Klausner and Hausser

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 9:32 am


Well, the article doesn't contradict what I said: Mandarin is the national language, all education takes place in Mandarin and all Chinese kids can now speak it. It certainly does not support your claim that China has "a problem." I simply don't see what you are trying to show here. Mandarin is a pragmatic choice as a second language because it is spoken across China, by the largest number of people on earth, by many people in Asia, and by an increasing number of people in California and our city.

Delay the pilot until there is room? But there is room. It's coming to your kids' school. Let's be honest: there will never be a "perfect" time to start a choice program so we have to make do with this world. MI isn't going to affect our shortage of space--that's something the district has to sort out separately by opening another school.

The truth is that the board made a political decision to implement MI, a program most of them believe will succeed in our district and be a great educational addition. Yes, many political pressures were brought to bear: blackmail over bond measures, threats of a charter, etc. That is as it should be. It's called politics.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:20 am

I am still in the process of watching all the videos here on townsquare and have not yet made up my mind who to vote for.

That said, I see two odd trends here.

One is to take the single issue of MI, and vote based on that. The problems the district faces are diverse, and that kind of petty decision-making holds no promise of moving us forward.

Another is to attribute spurious positions to candidates one opposes and then dump on the spurious position. I suppose this is a type of spin to be expected in a political campaign, but it is quite transparent here and ends up looking silly.

The biggest challenge I see for us is growing enrollment, and I am looking for candidates who have given careful thought to how to handle this in a fiscally conservative way. I was struck Ezran's forthright, positive and careful approach to this, but I have not yet seen his video.

I also think we need candidates who can unify the community. I have seen Baten-Caswell's video, and I find her worrying. It seems to me she tries to draw a false distinction between two types of choice program, setting up more uncertainty and conflict for the district. Perhaps she is trying to please some supporters with those remarks, yet I see a danger of more contentious disputes if she is elected.

I think the videos are revealing and urge all to view as many as you can.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:35 am

To those of you who think this election is not about MI and other issues should be paramount, you are right.

I know that the MI issue caused a great deal of tension. However, it is not MI that is the problem, but the way the whole issue was treated. In the future we may come up with another issue that causes emotion and it is how it will be handled then that is the issue now.

If the way MI has been treated is the way any problem is treated it is very worrying. I would rather see someone learn from the mistakes of MI and become a better board member as a result of it. We need to use this contentious problem as a tool to see how problems in the future can be treated harmoniously. We have seen a great deal of disharmony, now we need to see that the errors in the past will not be repeated.

These are the questions voters should be asking themselves. Not the merits or demerits of MI.

Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Parent is right that we need to look beyond MI at how our leaders and potential leaders propose to address challenging issues. If you are voting for anyone in particular only because you think that person will support or revisit/defeat MI, you are short-sighted. If you plan to vote for fewer than three candidates you are equally short-sighted.

Many people seem to be substituting a focus on personability (of which there had been a great shortage) for one of qualification and leadership. We should not lower our standards that way. We need leaders who can lead transparently and thoughtfully, open-mindedly but ultimately decisively. We need leaders who are willing and able to hold PAUSD personnel and management accountable for their actions and failures, not just to congratulate everyone for good work because they do any work at all. We need less of a "_________ is the management staff of the month at PAUSD" bumper-sticker style positive reinforcement approach and more of "How did you arrive at this conclusion, did you consider these factors and if not, why not," etc. We need leaders who understand that result-orientation does not serve the district well, but working flexibly toward a common goal does. We need leaders who are who they say they are, have qualifications that really exist and can be independently verified, and who are willing and able to lead a SCHOOL district. Will we get that? I think we can.

Please use your votes thoughtfully, in the same way we are asking candidates to approach the issues -- looking at ALL the pieces and considering all the data before making a decision. VOting vindictively or reactively in any direction is bad for the District.

Posted by more discussion on the BIG picture.
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Seth you are transparent. Stating that it is "false" to distinguish between choice that offers different educational styles and programs that offer different educational curricula is spurious in itself.

Just tell the like the idea of choice programs and are going to vote for the 3 who are most open to implementing more choice programs.

If you are truly worried about growing enrollment, you would be concerned about the inflexibility of different curricula "choice" programs. Equal programming means that kids/families can be coalesced more efficiently. Inequal programming means they can't.

Not that kids are just "numbers"..but when you have multiple classrooms that are 17 and 18 in the same grade, there is reason to wonder if we couldn't figure out a way to free up classroom space by being more efficient in the way we assign incoming students. This is impossible when there are programs that have "prerequisites" for attending them.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 2:00 pm


You are right that I favor choice programs where practical, but I think we need to consider other issues when deciding who to vote for. You may be comfortable voting on one issue, but I'm not.

I don't see why you think it's relevant to draw a line between "style" choice and "curriculum" choice, and you and Baten-Caswell don't try to justify it. In the absence of a reasoned justification, it begins to sound like an ad hoc way to attack MI and SI that is couched in abstract language and aimed at fellow travelers. It does raise the question of why you (and Baten-Caswell) oppose those programs. Is this personal? A vendetta? Doesn't really matter, but it would be more honest if you didn't dress it up. Just come out and say you have some kind of personal dislike of SI and MI, if that is what it is.

Growing enrollment is an issue, and all the choice programs constrain us somewhat. But even if we eliminated all the choice programs, we'd still have a problem. The trick is to find spots for all the kids while working within all our constraints. So we need someone who can look ahead and make decisions--including facilities ones--that are cost effective.

Ezran stands out in this regard.

Posted by PA Mom 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 4:16 pm

I don't know why you a pushing such a limited view of fluency instruction models, I've seen several different approaches to fluency instruction mentioned in previous threads, but then, I bothered to read those threads and I know how to use Google if I want more info. Here's a local one with proven results (I did spell it right):

"Yew Chung has developed an international curriculum. English is the primary language of instruction. We also offer a strong Chinese Language Studies Programme and students are expected to attain a high level of fluency in both oral and written English and Chinese."
Web Link

It's not the only one I've seen mentioned. And no, I don't want to get into a discussion about pros and cons of these programs here. And I don't intend to waste any more time digging up things that you seem intent on remaining ignorant about anyway. But you asked: this is a proven model for bilingual fluency instruction which is structured very differently than the proposed MI program and in the details would probably work better in our district. There are others.

I'm not the one you should be arguing with about this, I really know little about these different approaches - which is exactly the point. Different approaches to fluency instruction were never discussed or considered along the way in context of the district's developing constraints. The program on the table five years ago never took into account the constraints of the district that we face now.

A good leader would have had foresight, and if not that, at least a willingness to work out a big picture compromise.

Posted by pa resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 4:18 pm

I think it's important to note that neither Townsand's or Ezran's kids (at least in elementary school) went to their neighborhood school. Perhaps this is why they aren't such neighborhood school advocates. They don't fully understand how much this concept is valued in our community. I will vote for those candidates who support quality neighborhood schools, which will ultimately result in downstream decisions regarding enrollment that match what I value. If you are a neighborhood school proponent, then I think voting for Hausser, Klausner and Baten-Caswell is the way to go.

Posted by PA Mom 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Sorry for my irritation in the last post. I was reacting to the old threads where posters could say something and the PACE people would just talk over them like they never said anything, never acknowledge facts that disagreed with their beliefs, etc. I was irritated that you repeated your belief that there were no other fluency instruction models, which is just not true, when you hadn't at least tried to look some of them up before repeating it again. They're really not that hard to find.

Again, I apologize for my irritation, I can't go back and reword my post to be nicer, so please accept my apology here. You have tried to keep your posts civil, and I appreciate that.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 5:08 pm

I think pa resident has touched on a good point.

If you have had your kids in a private school, or a non neighborhood school, you really do not get to see how a neighborhood school becomes part of the neighborhood community. One of the reasons we chose our home was the proximity to the neighborhood school. For almost every school day from kindergarten to 5th grade, we have walked or biked to school, sometimes complete with stroller and dog, other times using the time for family conversation. We have got to know neighbors with and without kids we would never have got to know without this. We know practically all the kids on our block and the only exception is the families who have chosen to opt for choice schools or private schools. We see them drive by on the way to their schools, give a friendly wave and get one back, and that is the sum total of our knowledge of them. It is not that we are not friendly or that they are not friendly, it is just that the two groups do not mix.

For some, getting to feel part of the neighborhood and the kids able to play outside with the others in our neighborhood may not be important. For me, knowing that I have a dozen families to choose from as to who I should put on my emergency list at school, someone to call if I need help at pickup time, or someone I can borrow construction paper for a homework project, is all part of the reason why I choose to be close to my school. Worth thinking about.

For board members and candidates without this experience, it is understandable that they don't get it.

Posted by Curious
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 4, 2007 at 5:32 pm

"Ezran stands out in this regard."
Really, he does stand out... This year he had some interesting ideas about specialized high school for kids who don't want to go to college. Last campain for school board in 2005 he also expressed some unusual solutions for high school:
Web Link
"Should the school district limit the number of Advanced Placement courses a high school student can take each year? Why or why not? "

"Ezran: Of course it has to limit the number of such courses because funds are limited. It has to basically find the ideal compromise between demand and paying for the supply. That means looking at what students the students want, what's useful because some requests are not going to be that useful. The district needs to sort out between all those things. I think there's a tendency among high school students to over do it and we need to counsel them and tell them they don't need to take a plethora of AP classes to get into college."

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2007 at 7:09 pm


If 47 percent of the Chinese population can't communicate in Mandarin after decades of Mandarin instruction, no, all school kids can't speak it.

There's not room at my kid's school--that's the problem. Ohlone is approved for three cubicles--a strand of Mandarin requires six. So, no, there's no room for it. And no one seems to know where the program should go in three years.

Also, since Ohlone has a large waiting list, no, it doesn't have room even for three cubicles of MI except by bumping its own waitlist and giving priority to the MI crowd.

Now, one possibility if MI were delayed until there was room for it is to move it to the half of Greendell being vacated in 2010 by the JCC. There's no reason for the district to have rushed the decision except for the desire of some parents to see their kids in the program. Talk about favoritism.

Blackmail's not politics, by the way. I'm amazed that you used the term for something you seem to think's okay.

And it's not about MI except that the BoE will have to decide what to do with MI in three years. Townsend's thinks, somehow, it will be squeezed in at Ohlone, despite that doing so puts the school way over the elementary school limit and pretty much wipes out the playing field while boosting enrollment to over 600 kids. (At which point, if I lived on Amarillo, I'd be picketing the board.)

It's jusr rotten policy-making when you start a program in a place that can't hold a full strand--it's just passing the buck.

So, do I want another board that seems incapable of thinking ahead. I mean, MI is an issue, in part, because the board so badly dropped the ball on both the complaints about Callan (of whom Townsend was a big supporter until the principals rose up en masse) and about the enrollment crunch in the north cluster the previous year.

I think, frankly, it's a huge mistake to vote on Mandarin Immersion as a litmus test. And, frankly, I think that this is a bigger problem for the pro-MI types. It means they're ignoring Townsend's overall poor performance as a board member because she supported this one thing.

There were multiple solutions to the PACE crowd's desire for Mandarin instruction--including private school, later institution of the program, a mix of immersion summer school with year-round afterschool instruction (it works in Europe, why not here?), afterschool programs,etc.

But, no, it had to be one thing in one way at one time. And, yes, it's a mistake to have done it this way--and Townsend, who was in the best situation to have found a real compromise--say one where arguments weren't required in another year and maybe even one where we wouldn't be winging the curriculum--and didn't do it.

The whole thing's been single-issue thinking at its dimmest.

Posted by PA Parent the 3rd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 7:20 pm

Townsend's kids did not go to their neighborhood school, Palo Verde, since it was overcrowded and her children were overflowed to Nixon. In spite of Nixon not being Camille's neighborhood school she got involved and was PTA President.

Posted by Last post on this.
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Seth, it is not voting on "one issue" is voting on what the vision for our district is. All other issues and/or problems...achievement gap, special education, enrollment growth, etc..will have to be decided within a Big Picture of the District.

If our Big Picture is to have many different schools with different subjects from each other...then the solutions will match that vision. If the Big Picture is equal curriculum at all the schools, then the solutions will match that vision.

So, try as anyone might to keep paring this down to being just "one issue", it is like saying that you can't pick a house based on "just the one issue" that its' foundation is bad..the doors and roof are great, but the foundation is crumbling..but why would you let that decide which house you buy? It is just "one issue"

Posted by pa resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 7:46 pm

PA Parent the 3rd - I know that Camille's children were overflowed. I've spoken with her directly about how much I value neighborhood schools, not having had these as a child, but having them now for my own kids. My point is simply that she and I differ on this. She made it clear to me that her vision of this district regarding neighborhood schools versus choice programs is significantly different from my own, and so I will vote accordingly.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2007 at 9:16 pm

PA Mom2,

No problem--this issue touches hot buttons.

The Yew Chung model, as I understand it, follows the immersion approach with a reduced percentage of the target language. These models have been studied, and the approaches that work best have a higher percentage of the target language.

And of more relevance to this conversation, that general approach is not more or less flexible than what MI is talking about. Also, as I understand it (any Yew Chung parents out there?), Yew Chung has two teachers (one for each language) in the room at once, so that aspect would blow the cost neutrality out of the water.

I wish there were other viable models, but I just have never come across any despite looking. I think if others were having success we'd hear about it. I don't think folks resist talking about other approaches; it's just that those approaches are not out there.

I have skimmed the threads, but I cannot find any concrete models....

Posted by remember the goal
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 5, 2007 at 6:27 am

"I wish there were other viable models" per Seth: The context of this wish of yours is "to be completely bilingual by the end of 5th grade". There aren't any for THAT goal. You will have to remember there is a difference of opinion on what the GOAL of public elementary education is, and furthermore what the GOAL of any foriegn language program in elementary school should be in a public school.

Until then, you and others will never be able to speak about this subject, because you are talking apples, and they are talking oranges..( to use an overwrought but very appropriate cliche)

THAT difference is a big part of what differentiates the candidates.

Posted by also made lemonade
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 5, 2007 at 6:34 am

Re: Difference in valuing neighborhood schools..In multiple Board meetings, I have heard Ms. Townsend say how valuable it was for her family to be overflowed to Nixon and that she was glad they were and that she didn't think that those of us who wanted to send our kids to the closest school understood the benefits of having to drive our kids to a school further away and have our kids not be in school with their neighbors.

So, because of her admirable trait of making lemonade out of lemons, she has made it clear that she expects everyone else to happily embrace losing their neighborhood spots.

I made lemonaide out of lemons also, and would not change my decision. But, I also see the tremendous advantages to people who actually live close enough to walk or ride a bike to school. The community is so much tighter and I and our family will never be fully in it..because we don't live it. I wouldn't force this choice of mine (to overflow) on anyone... I think that is where there is a tremendous split in vision for our district.

Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2007 at 6:54 am

One more time, for the record, Camille has never said she wants to take away anyone's neighborhood school. That is a completely spurious charge, trumped up at the last minute.

Like all the candidates, she agrees that a healthy mixture of choice and neighorhood schools is best, with the preferences of the parents paramount.

Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2007 at 6:54 am

BTW - what's wrong with lemonade?

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2007 at 8:42 am


You have jumped to conclusions again. The focus on teaching kids Mandarin in school is recent, not decades old. All the kids now in school, including those who speak dialects at home, have come up through a system in which all subjects are taught in Mandarin, so I'm afraid they do speak it. And it is still a mystery to me what your point is. What are you driving at? Why are you pursuing this point without data?

You point out that Ohlone does not have room for a full strand of MI, but no one has suggested putting in a full strand where there is no room. And no one was bumped from a waiting list--MI won't take any seats from Ohlone. This district is adding space for MI at Ohlone. No one has suggested taking seats from the Ohlone program, I'm sure the principal there wouldn't permit it, and parents would protest.

Sure maybe in 2010 or 2020 or 2050 conditions would be perfect, but I doubt it. Someone would have a pet project. The district exists in a real world with real-world constraints, so we need real-world solutions.

You object that the board has started the program without a place to hold a full strand, but it would be irresponsible to put a hold on classrooms when we don't know if the program will be around or how big it will grow after the pilot. That's not rotten decision-making but a prudent choice.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:00 am

OhlonePar, I have a question for you. On Feb. 13, 2007, the board authorized staff to bid for four modular classrooms for the 2007-2008 school year, one each for Ohlone, Fairmeadow, Briones and Barron Park.

This was right after the board voted against putting MI at Ohlone, so the plan at that time was to expand Ohlone by 1/2 strand, as implied by a part of the discussion from the board packet:

“Lowell asked if the approved classrooms would definitely be placed on these campuses. Matranga said they would. Lowell then asked who would use the Barron Park and Briones modulars. Matranga said that planning would continue through August, so it would not be known for sure until just before school started. Callan added that these two sites were being brought up to three strands at each grade level. Bowers noted that this was because of increased enrollment in these neighborhoods.

Tom observed that Ohlone appeared to be an exception because it was a choice school, then asked if a K/1 class would be added. Bowers said this was the case. Tom asked if this would change the lottery. Bowers said this would allow the school to admit 80 kindergarteners and another 10 first graders.”

Did this actually happen this year?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:01 am

I have told this story here before, but I will say it again because I think it is a useful analogy.

I know of one child who moved to a foreign country when she was about 10. She attended an international school where the teaching was done through the native language, but she and all the English native speakers, of whatever age, met for 40 minutes per day for English. She was in a group with English speakers from many countries, England, Ireland, Canada, US, Australia, etc. and this was the sum total of their English experience at school. Here they had to learn to read and write English, learn grammar rules, and express themselves creatively and factually in the English language. All their math and science classes were done through the local language.

As a consequence, when she moved back into her native English speaking environment, her English skills were way behind her peers. She could read well, but her written work was just not up to par. All through her high school years she strugged in her written work. Her grammar was the biggest problem, but she also strugged in math and science as she was not used to using English for these subjects and often did not understand the English vocabulary words for many of the simple procedures she had learnt for the three years. She was tested, but told that what she had lost during those crucial years of language development were extremely difficult for her to make up.

She is now in college and although she is doing very what she really wanted to do, she still has problem with grades as her English language skills are still not coming to her naturally. As she struggles to write a paper in her chosen field, she has to reread it constantly for simple grammar errors, those which she failed to learn while abroad.

Now I know that this is just one experience, but it is a valuable lesson to me that not having enough English at the right time can hold you back. I have heard that some of her classmates from this time are also having similar problems once they returned to their home countries.

Posted by A completely different parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2007 at 11:37 am

3 new board members,
I'm not OhlonePar, but I can say that there are seven k/1 classrooms at Ohlone this year, as there have been for as many years as I can remember.

Posted by PA Mom 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2007 at 11:39 am

The people at Yew Chung would disagree that their methods work less well than the MI model dual immersion, in fact they would argue that they work better in light of above "parent"s concerns.

The majority of instruction is in English. I think some kind of overlapping curriculum with before- and/or after-regular-school hours for those who want the fluency program would avoid the space and facilities issues that cannot be worked around with the current MI program. Even with two teachers, if taken from existing staff, additional costs would be nominal. Plus, because it's a different model, in many cases you could combine students based on fluency level for language instruction and not have an absolutely requirement of separate classrooms for each grade. (How did you suck me into the discussion - the point is that these issues were most definitely NOT explored by the district.)

No, these issues were not explored, and never discussed at the district level in light of district constraints.

Even if you believe the current MI program is better (debatable, but let's assume), fluency levels achieved through Yew Chung methods are extremely high, not compromised, and that model is more likely to be adapted in a cost-effective and fair way in our district. Adapting that model to our district is certainly less experimental that a new Ohlone Way-MI.

I like OhlonePar's suggestion of summer immersion. Maybe you think it's not good enough - but once again, we never had that conversation as a district, so let's not assume - but it would offer fluency instruction accessible to to whole district, would be more flexible, wouldn't require separate facilities, etc. etc. Maybe PACErs don't think it's good enough for them, but then we get back to the brick wall that in a public school district, everyone can't always have exactly what they want, and summer immersion quite probably would offer the goal of fluency instruction in a more fair and accessible way to more children. OhlonePar's suggestion would do a good job bringing language fluency instruction, in several languages, to our district, without the costs and restrictions associated with MI.

Those programs, frankly, would be accessible to my children, where the current MI would not. I would dearly love for my kids to have some fluency instruction, as would they. Why are the specific educational wants of PACE kids more important that mine? Because I'm not willing to say "who cares about everyone else" and blackmail the district?

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 5, 2007 at 1:30 pm

To A completely different parent,
Thanks for your response. So, the board voted to expand Ohlone by 1/2 a strand in Feb. of this year, then at some point retracted it? That would have had to happen prior to reversal of the MI decision in June because the Ohlone lottery is held in early spring, isn't it?

Do you know if the portable was approved for Ohlone was actually installed? And if it was, what it is being used for?

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2007 at 2:13 pm


Hi. That's another discussion. The context of this discussion was finding other ways to achieve the same goal, not giving up the goal. PA Mom2 suggested there were other ways to reach it, and I'm all ears.

You're right that there is a difference of opinion, but it centers on whether we should have choice programs. I don't see anyone differing on the broad goals of public elementary education. Certainly the candidates have shown no difference on those.

Posted by 3 new board members
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 5, 2007 at 2:18 pm

I found what I was looking for. At the 5/22/07 meeting, a revised proposed Mandarin Immersion timeline was presented, which included the following:

“May 2007
Reassess placement of new modular classrooms for fall 2007 to delay expansion of Ohlone until 2008-2009. Plan for the placement of up to four modular classrooms at Ohlone beginning with two classrooms to house the beginning Mandarin Immersion program in the fall of 2008.”

In other words, Ohlone was approved for expansion to four full strands, but the approval of MI on June 5 caused, by default, those plans to be jettisoned for this school year.

The haphazard way in which these decisions were made, buried inside timelines and approved as part and parcel of the whole MI package is pretty galling to me.

Posted by consequences count
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Seth: The disagreement is primarily over choice programs which have different curricula from the neighborhood schools...there are also a few folks who would like no teaching-style choice schools, preferring that each school continue to make progress in differentiated instruction so that every child can be fully integrated into his/her neighborhood school and still be taught in the way that suits him/her best. However, I have heard only a couple folks say "shut down Ohlone and Hoover". So, not too much controversy there.

As for saying that Ms. Townsend has never said she wants to take away neighborhood supporting a new choice program, the only result is to decrease neighborhood school options unless there had been an ironclad vote to keep MI at Ohlone. We all know MI will move out of Ohlone in 3 years and take 1/2 of Garland. This is a forgone conclusion..ergo, 1/2 of a neighborhood school is taken away.

The consequences of a decision matter. If Ms. Townsend had been committed to "balance" between neighborhood schools and choice programs, as you say, then she would have tried to figure out a way to lock MI into a school that is already a "choice" school. In that way, there would have been no neighborhood school loss, though there would still have been, of course, the fight with whatever choice program lost space for THEIR choice.

Or, at least there would have been a discussion about how to make it work into a "balance". The only thing that happened was a solution which was done in the hopes that in 3 years there won't be a ruckus when MI moves into a neighborhood school.


Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:10 pm

The Ohlone lottery's held at the same time as the other lotteries--mid-Winter.

And, no, the portable wasn't installed and Ohlone's program did not expand to four strands. So, yes, Ohlone's own expansion was bumped by MI.


China has been a dictatorship for decades--and yet it failed to get its own population on the same page linguistically--even though Mandarin has been the official language of China since *1913*. We're talking close to 100 years of an official language that, even now, barely half the populations speaks.

You think there was no Mandarin instruction in the schools prior to 2001? Nearly a century of a single official language with little more than half able to communicate in it? In a communist dictatorship? They could restrict the number of kids people had, but not the language they spoke.

I mean, it's sort of both tragic and funny in light of the brutality of the Cultural Revolution. I was quite surprised how low the percentage was. I mean, compare it to English in the U.S. which is picked up all the time by people who started off with another language. How do you think they'll repress people this time?

Obviously, by the way, MI is taking seats away from Ohlone--it will occupy portables that were approved for Ohlone's expansion--not MI, but Ohlone's expansion to four strands.

2010 is little more than 2 years away--hardly comparable to 2020 or 2030. You're using slippery slope argumentation. In 2010, the JCC vacates half of Greendell, which already belongs to the district and could house a small elementary program. No compelling reason at all to not have waited a couple of years until there was a place to actually put the program. One that would not take place from neighborhood schools or a full choice school.

So why wasn't this done again? Oh, yeah, in your word "blackmail." I prefer to think of it as a certain sort of self-absorbed blindness to things outside the cause.

Your last paragraph makes no sense by the way. There would be no hold on classrooms--Ohlone would grow to a full strand since there's already shown demand (unlike MI with its nine PACE signatures). The JCC lease goes to 2010, though if the JC gets built ahead of the schedule, they'd probably be glad to go.

And, of course, we could probably get an MI curriculum that's not a mash-up. I mean, I assume you want the program to succeed--or are you a big fan of project-based learning and eager to see how the self-learning approach jibes with the memorization of several hundred symbolds a year?

Posted by ReturnedHome
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2007 at 5:51 pm


Beyond "Yew Chung Int'l School", there is "Chiltern House" in Singapore, and "Western Academy of Beijing" in China...all of these schools teach a majority core program in English and a supplemental Mandarin language arts program (taught in Mandarin) for one period per day (in Yew Chung's case, some days may have more than one period).

These schools cater to the chidren of expats (non-Chinese citizens) who come from around the world and from primarily non-Mandarin speaking backgrounds....using this model, students may be grouped by foreign language ability during foreign language time...rather than strictly by age. At a minimum, proficiency in Mandarin is attainable if a child attends from kindergarten thru grade 6.

Fluency/literacy on par with a native-mandarin speaker of the same age is attainable if, in addition to the daily Mandarin language period, the child additionally participates in daily afterschool interactive language-immersion enrichment activities.

This, I know from my own experience, as well as those of family friends.

To the parent who claims the ability to learn new tones is the same at 5 yrs old as it is at 12 yrs old...I would have to strongly disagree based upon personal experience and the experience of friends. It is definitely easier to learn new tones at 5, more so than at 6yrs old, more so than at 7 yrs old, etc...the ability diminishes exponentially with each following yr, but it's a continuum, there's no bright line cut off at age 5....that's just dead wrong based upon my personal experience and those of my friends.

Proficiency (more than exposure and less than fluency), even in Mandarin, is attainable for every child in PA elementary schools if models such as these are followed...the key is quality teachers and an interactive, engaging program....Palo Alto never looked beyond dual-immersion programs...never looked at "hybrid" or "enrichment" immersion programs such as the ones I mentioned above...perhaps if it had, than a pilot program could have been tried out that could more easily be replicated throughout Palo Alto schools to give ALL Palo Alto school children a shot at foreign language proficiency by grade 6...perhaps it's not too late...I hope the next BoE, whoever joins or stays, finds a way to improve process so that we as a school community can heal...whether Mandarin, Spanish, French, German,'s a shame that our children don't learn foreign languages when its easy for them during the very young elementary just seems entirely backward to me to give them public foreign language acquisition options only in highschool.

Here's to improving PA education..fingers-crossed, I respect all the candidates are all braver than is not an easy job to process and synthesize the needs/priorities of this community...hats off for trying.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2007 at 7:02 pm

PA Mom 2,

Sorry, I didn't mean to cast aspersions on Yew Chung. Leaving aside which model give better results, I'm saying that I think it's also a dual immersion program--the difference from MI being the percentage of time the kids are immersed in the target language.

-It's not an after-school program, as I'm sure parents would tell you.

-I don't follow your idea for combining students based on fluency. They also teach reading and writing, so you couldn't just drop a fluent Mandarin-speaking kid into YC fifth grade--even though his spoken skills would be fine his reading and writing skills would not be. Same with English.

So it would present the same challenges to the district that MI does.

As for money, I think it would cost much more because they have double the teachers (is this right, YC parents?) with two teachers in the class at the same time. I didn't follow why you think this cost is merely nominal. It's an entire teacher's salary.

I think that programs like Yew Chung were considered. PACE and an immersion professor provided the board some years ago with information (sorry, I came across it before and can't find it now; it was contained in a board packet) on different immersion models, including those that have a lower target/local language ratio like Yew Chung. So the board and the district were aware of those models.

I think most MI supporters would be glad to latch onto a sound program that delivers fluency, etc. at a certain level, and they are not wedded to the details.

But once you get to summer immersion, that is a different ball of wax; it could never come close to the same goals as MI. So then, instead of working with MI people to compromise in meeting their needs, your asking them to give up.

Posted by Seth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2007 at 7:14 pm


That was a nasty anti-Chinese diatribe that says a lot about you and nothing about the issue at hand. I think you were trying to concede that you'd made claims that had no basis in reality, but correct me if your remarks had relevance.

MI will not take seats away from Ohlone. Just because you'd like Ohlone to expand doesn't make those portables destined for Ohlone. Don't forget, MI will be an integral part of Ohlone.

You seem intent on putting off MI until conditions are perfect, but someone will always have a gripe. Now is a reasonable time to do it, so we should just get on with it.

As for the blackmail, that came from anti-MI folks who threatened future bond measures. It's just part of politics--no need to work up such a lather.

Last, you suggested it would be best to put off MI until there is a place to house a full strand. That would mean holding hostage a bunch of classrooms until the program grows into them. That would be irresponsible. I'm not sure you were seriously suggesting that. Perhaps it is your roundabout way of saying we should never start MI?

Posted by MI at YMCA?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2007 at 8:13 pm

What about using the large conference rooms at the YMCA to house this new Chinese school, before impinging on our city's overcrowded schools? It does not seem fair that we have to give this group any space since the residents who have been supporting the schools for years never wanted this program. Us older folks will never understand how this was passed. Don't expect us to contribute to these things anymore. We feel like you pulled a fast one on us.

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

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