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Editorial: DiBrienza, Collins, Ladomirak for school board

Original post made on Oct 9, 2020

Out of a strong field, we recommend Jennifer DiBrienza, Todd Collins and Jesse Ladomirak for the Palo Alto school board.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 9, 2020, 6:58 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 9, 2020 at 7:52 am

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

A lot of us called this a long time ago because of the money given to the PA Weekly. The records show almost $10,000 in advertising from Jennifer DiBrienza. It will interesting to see how much Jesse Ladomirak gave because she had the most money. [Portion removed.] I’ve already voted so it makes no difference to me.


Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:02 am

S. Underwood is a registered user.

If you feel the status quo is fine, then these indeed are your candidates. There is an emerging understanding among parents of deep problems with the district.

Our level of service to students of color and those with special needs has serious, deep, and well-documented deficiencies. The "middle school problem" has becomes a common topic among community parents. Our enrollment is declining. We have lowered our bar of academic excellence, pushing to eliminate grades and model ourselves after San Francisco Unified (that's no joke). Our covid response has been chaotic, unmeasured, and riddled with communication and strategic errors. We haver money coming out of our ears, now up to ~$23,000 per student per kid.

The challenge isn't money. We have a serious crisis of leadership.

This election will be decided based on how much this understanding has spread from parents out to the general community, especially older voters.

Take Karna and Jesse for example. Listening to their responses in forums, my guess is that they are both dissatisfied with the district yet feel winning requires a positive persona.

The Weekly will only get the message when Palo Alto real estate starts to feel the impact. One friend, new to town, was shocked when her realtor gave her the rundown of private school versus public schooling options. She thought people moved here for the public schools. Historically, yes, and we need to make that true again.


Posted by Paly Student
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2020 at 10:09 am

Paly Student is a registered user.

Katie Causey has a perspective that has been totally missing from the board, often with disastrous consequences. She has the greatest perspective and is the most grounded in reality in terms of addressing the basic student health and safety issues. Students have not had their heard voice on the board, as shown by how the only two votes dissenting from the reopening plan were the non-binding votes of the student reps. Katie Causey would be a voice that listens to students on the board.


Posted by Karen Gibson
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2020 at 10:37 am

Karen Gibson is a registered user.

I usually agree with the Weekly’s picks, but not this time. Nagle and Causey are the only 2 candidates who want all proper safety plans in place before reopening, including the online option for those students who cannot/will not return during covid. They have my votes.


Posted by Ling Huang
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 9, 2020 at 11:34 am

Ling Huang is a registered user.

We still have very strong math programs at Gunn and Paly, but PAUSD's 1-8th grade math is heavily influenced by reform math. We have many capable and hard-working teachers, but they have been constrained and misguided by such notorious textbooks as Everyday Math. When PAUSD finally decided to drop Everyday Math in 2016-17, Jennifer DiBrienza, a student of the foremost math reformer Jo Boaler (see Jo Boaler's Reform Math Fallacy Web Link enthusiastically pushed Investigations (aka TERC), for which she was a contributing author, into PAUSD. TERC‘s Investigations is a notorious math-free textbook that is even much worse than Everyday Math (see Web Link Web Link and numerous comments on the web) . Last fall, after successfully transformed SFUSD's math programs, Jo Boaler and David Foster were welcome by PAUSD to help "reimagine" its middle school math.
Reform math championed by math educational professionals like Jo Boaler and Jennifer DiBrienza has been dumbing down American kids for years and decades. Disadvantaged kids are the biggest victims of the misguided K-12 education.


Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 9, 2020 at 11:35 am

Paly Alum is a registered user.

This assessment dismisses the value of being a former PAUSD student -- it is just as valuable as being a parent to students in the district. Katie Causey has the first hand experience of going through our school system, as well as a commitment to student safety and well being that's sorely needed in the school board. Causey has my vote.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Oct 9, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by For Karna
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 9, 2020 at 1:49 pm

For Karna is a registered user.

I vote for Karna - she has raised less money, so to me, that is the better choice. Also, people tend to overlook land use issues in a school race, and I think Karna is the best candidate to consider how the District properties should be managed during and after covid.


Posted by No on O!
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2020 at 9:57 pm

No on O! is a registered user.

The PAUSD 14th Day Enrollment Report, 2020-21 came out today, October 9. We are down 8% this year, continuing a declining trend.

What's the need for a parcel tax that represents 6% of the PAUSD budget when PAUSD has lost 8% of its enrollment? ($15.6 million projected revenue from the parcel tax/ $267 million 2020-21 projected annual budget)

Interesting how timed this was to come out after the weekly article on the parcel tax.

Why is PAUSD announcing its enrollment in a parents only email on a Friday night rather than as an agenda item at a public board meeting, as it has done every year for the past 5 consecutive years? The 10th-14th day enrollment report is not on the Oct. 13th board agenda - Web Link

Vote No on Measure O!


Posted by Reality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2020 at 10:19 am

Reality is a registered user.

I strenuously disagree that this board has taken “corrective personnel actions.” Failing to respond to demonstrable parent complaints of retaliation not even to investigate, ignoring parent complaints of failing the district’s duty to special needs students (responding mostly to the ones who sue), this is not taking “corrective action.” Allowing problem personnel -- including one we had told the previous superintendent and board members we would take a restraining order against if we could to protect a child from that person’s mean, petty vindictiveness, which continued to be inflicted — to simply move to nearby districts is hardly “corrective action.”

Turnover with NO attempt at truth and reconciliation, ignoring anyone damaged by past district misbehavior, and claiming credit for the quiet resulting from the unprecedented destruction of federal agencies and trust in federal government operations of last 4 years — the pointlessness of turning to OCR in that time — and the fear of further retaliation where absolutely zero attempt has been made to address past complaints of retaliation — has done nothing about the “culture of non-accountability.” It’s just the same old same old turnover after a shake up in which the district thinks the best thing is to ignore it’s wrongs as if that’s the same thing as resolution and rebuilding trust. I see everyone surprised by the dam breaking again. (Recall the sexual harassment mess came about after the same people were already claiming this same victory.)

You don’t get the title of good listener or “a willingness to call out mistakes when they happen” if your response to a difficult case is to freeze them out, hoping to create an artificial, temporary calm.

Just a reminder. Under the LAW, “Every school district has the legal [and ethical and moral] responsibility to identify, locate and evaluate children who are in need of special education services. “ Including this district. Including older children who have already been failed by the district, including if you think a case has been adequately swept under the rug.

Nobody has been building trust for years.

I ordinarily have common ground with the Weekly recommendations, but this time, I don’t know who to vote for. Probably Causey since she was a student here.


Posted by Accountability watchdog
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2020 at 10:21 am

Accountability watchdog is a registered user.

By endorsing the incumbents, the weekly is wearing blinders and is brushing the ineffectiveness of the current board during this crisis under the carpet. The role of trustees is to hold the school administration accountable for proper leadership. Why is the weekly letting both the incumbents off the hook when there are very qualified alternatives standing? Even if they had to endorse one e.g. say Collins' finance background and corresponding strong performance on fiscal oversight merits credit, and something we continue to need in the future. But endorsing both is weak in my opinion. Let the vote not be swayed!


Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 11, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

I already voted for two challengers. I’m not voting for more of the same, that would be insane.


Posted by ByeByePausdPie
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 11, 2020 at 5:29 pm

ByeByePausdPie is a registered user.

You seriously believe those responsible the $6 million blunder "have served the district well"? Web Link

Those raises continue to drain the district each year. They've wiped out all of PiE in perpetuity.

And you want them to stay on?


Posted by Giselle Galper
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Giselle Galper is a registered user.

I am supporting a new voice with community board experience, experience requiring accountability as a deputy General Counsel of a large company, and skin in the game as a parent of 2 kids, one with an IEP and one without.

The only person who meets this criteria is Karna Nisewiner.

Bonus: she wants to lift the bar for ALL students.


Posted by Kay
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2020 at 6:12 pm

Kay is a registered user.

Trust the Weekly as much as you trust PAUSD. The Weekly can and will recommend any candidate that knows how to play to their perspective. What you need to do is choose for yourself.

All 6 candidates are intelligent, prioritize social/emotional support, equity and education for all. Mix the board up and bring in someone who will question, and look from another perspective. The Weekly recommended 3 like candidates. Two that brought in the questionable Dr Austin. Is it ideal to have two current parents on the board ? Not one candidate who sees the the teachers perspective as well as the perspective of the large percentage of parents that have actually chosen to remain in remote school?

Think twice, what do you want your 3 elected board members to bring outside of the standard ? Do you want more of the same? Time to mix it up and look at again at the other candidates.


Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Paly mom is a registered user.

I am considering between Jennifer DiBrienza, Jesse Ladomirak, Todd Collins and Karna Nisewiner. I felt like Jennifer DiBrienza and Todd Collins cared about the students and listened to the families during their board services. Karna has the decent experience/knowledge from her previous professionals and she has kids in PAUSD which is very important that she knows how the families feel. Jesse Ladomirak strongly wants a change in the district after she experiencing herself as a parent.
In my opinion, Katie Causey lacks of experience in handling a big school district. She sounded frantic in the school re-opening topic in the zoom meeting. Also she got the endorsement from the Teacher Union which I disagree with them.
I would suggest to involve current high student representatives in the future meetings just like the zoom meeting last time. Their opinions are important indeed.


Posted by Greene Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2020 at 10:10 pm

Greene Parent is a registered user.

Really sad to see this paper just endorse 2 incumbents that did NOT represent the community despite that being their job in the spring. They gave up control to the superintendent to let him do as he pleases (NOTHING) And still expect us to vote for them??
The new Math curriculum that the board wants to implement and use our kids as guinea pigs to experiment on is totally going to be a disaster. Its sad to see 3 board members who don't even have any kids in the district on the board.


Posted by Gunn Papa
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 15, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Gunn Papa is a registered user.

Already voted for Matt Nagel and Katie Causey. Nagel was principal when my kids were in elementary and IMO has won the two debates I saw on YouTube. Causey is really inexperienced but she is not another Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza crony. Collins and DiBrienza had four years to show us what they got, and I wasn’t impressed. I voted for new people and if they can’t hack it, out they go.


Posted by The Voice of Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2020 at 1:10 pm

The Voice of Palo Alto is a registered user.

@Kay
You were being nice and very polite by calling Dr. Austin “questionable.” Don’t worry, I will say it. Dr. Austin is terrible and I would love to see him GO. One can only dream.

@Palymom
I’ve dealt with you before. You are way too obsessed about the Teachers Union. Move on. Katie Causey is the BEST candidate. Katie Causey wasn’t frantic at all. That’s just a silly lie. She’s an outstanding candidate and has been prepared and professional the entire time. Also, don’t pull the “lacks experience” card. How can you gain experience if you don’t get the position and no one gives you a chance? That’s nonsense. Katie Causey will be fantastic. She will be receiving my vote and she will win this election for sure now.

Do not vote for Todd Collins. Anyone else is a better candidate than him.

Finally, YES on Measure O. Kindly and sweetly pay your parcel tax increase and support our great teachers, students, and schools.


Posted by Bogdan Lev
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 22, 2020 at 7:47 am

Bogdan Lev is a registered user.

Katie is first rate!


Posted by ralphjstinson1
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 29, 2020 at 1:31 am

ralphjstinson1 is a registered user.

If you feel the status quo is fine, then these indeed are your candidates. There is an emerging understanding among parents of deep problems with the district.

Our level of service to students of color and those with special needs has serious, deep, and well-documented deficiencies. The "middle school problem" has becomes a common topic among community parents. Our enrollment is declining. We have lowered our bar of academic excellence, pushing to eliminate grades and model ourselves after San Francisco Unified (that's no joke). Our covid response has been chaotic, unmeasured, and riddled with communication and strategic errors. We haver money coming out of our ears, now up to ~$23,000 per student per kid.


Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2020 at 7:05 pm

parent is a registered user.

@ralph

There is definitely an increasing understanding amongst parents of deep DEEP problems with the Board + Supe.

Unfortunately, this paper handed the incumbents re-election with this endorsement — most voters don’t have kids in the district and chose based on this endorsement.

Unless PAO steps up impartial reporting here, its reputation will sink with the Board’s.

Why isn’t our local paper covering, for example, the extremely dubious process via which Austin was just extended for 2 years so that his buddy from PV would fill Karen Hendrick’s vacancy?

Nor the fact that Jennifer DiBrienza motioned to uphold the two meeting rule saying it would be a “violation to a commitment to transparency” otherwise...

but then SHE herself seconded Ken Dauber’s motion minutes later to do EXACTLY that.

Where is the accountability here?

Why is this paper also not covering the extreme irony that Ken Dauber and Jennifer DiBrienza are now running to be Democratic Party delegates on a platform of.... you guessed it... ACCOUNTABILITY.

The same Jen & Ken who constantly insist they have no political aspiration beyond serving students.

More of our community would recognize this if our local media were functioning impartially.


Posted by ralphjstinson1
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 30, 2020 at 12:15 am

ralphjstinson1 is a registered user.

This is a wonderful culinary recipe for quick and tasty lunches. I read this recipe in an old book by Mergerie Magnets and I didn't like its addition. I ordered a detailed report Web Link of the first edition of the cooking class book. My students couldn't make fluffy dough for filling. It seems to me that we have found the perfect option.


Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 30, 2020 at 9:54 am

parent is a registered user.

What do people mean when they say the Board resigned control to Austin? Did something happen officially?

Or is it a more general reference to Todd+Don running the show without any real oversight?


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