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Palo Alto school board candidates share their experiences in education

Original post made on Sep 21, 2022

In their own words, the four candidates seeking two open seats on the Palo Alto Board of Education share their experience in local education and what qualifies them for elected office.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 7:11 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2022 at 8:00 am

felix is a registered user.

Excellent Forum. The Questioners from the Weekly and schools were very good, as was the Moderator.

I was impressed by Ms. Segal’s knowledge and experience that she would bring to the Board as an education professional. She went to school in town and lived here for a long time, so she knows the District culture, our kids and families’ successes, concerns and struggles.

[Portion removed.]

Shana Segal, and also incumbent Shounak Dharap, have the serious qualifications, knowledge and experience needed to be our School Board Trustees.

Posted by Ugh
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2022 at 8:50 am

Ugh is a registered user.

My vote is for Shana Segal-- she has the most experience as a teacher, volunteer, and parent in the district, and she also has had kids move through the district.

As an Asian American, I cannot vote for Nicole, even though she is Asian American-- she has no practical experience, isn't an educator, and only moved here a short while ago. She hasn't volunteered in school and can't see the intricacies and push/pull of parents/students/teachers/administrators that are apparent once you are actively volunteering or working in PAUSD schools for a long time. [Portion removed.]

Posted by CalAveLocal
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 21, 2022 at 11:38 am

CalAveLocal is a registered user.

Shana Segal, hands down, is the only one with real qualification to serve on the board and to make a difference.
Shounak Dharap, maybe - at lease he has experience going through PAUSD himself. Since two spots are open, I will somewhat reluctantly vote for him too (I was not impressed by his first term).
Nicole Chiu-Wang haș no experience in education, her children are in pre-school, and she has no experience of PAUSD not having grown up here. I am sure she is a lovely person, but she needs to gain a bit of experience with our schools first, IMHO.
Ingrid Campos - a hard no.

Posted by Father of Gunn Graduates
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 21, 2022 at 7:18 pm

Father of Gunn Graduates is a registered user.

Ingrid Campos has my vote. Her strong financial background will will provide helpful expertise to the board in both managing and using funds efficiently for the maximum benefit of our children. She will also be a strong, independent voice for parents and students.

Posted by jamiebarnett
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 7:24 am

jamiebarnett is a registered user.

All I have to say is attend and listen. You will be blown away by Nicole Chiu-Wang. She is smart, thoughtful, and really well-prepared. As an entrpreneur and legal exec at Google, she is experienced at all the things board members do: running a budget, managing the superintendent, and setting district culture. And as a student of gender and ethnic studies and the law, and an enthusiastic volunteer in schools throughout her life, she has the passion and demonstrated commitment we need here at PAUSD. Also, I'm proud to sign my name to this post. - Jamie Barnett

Posted by Greene and Paly Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 22, 2022 at 9:15 am

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

Thank you Palo Alto online for hosting the debate! I am concerned with the limited view expressed by board member Dharap of the role of PAUSD board. This is in sharp contrast to the more expansive view at similar districts. According to Dharap, hire the superintendent and dictate a "vision". But the "vision" examples were picturesque statements of the type designed to advance political careers rather than improve ground level experiences and outcomes. This view dodges accountability under some umbrella excuse that "board members are not education experts."

The board is the elected entity linking the interests of our community and families to a self-interested entitiy providing service. If the board does not ensure that the diverse needs and priorities of our students are met, then no one will! The role of the board should be to require transparancy, fiscal responsibility, that policies are data driven and evidence-based, that meaningful measures are in place and data is collected, that parent and student input is meaningfully taken. Board members do not need to be education experts to do that. And because they are not doing this, despite huge available funds, our students suffer.

For context, other districts (e.g. Los Altos, Cupertino, and Saratoga) make expansive use of "Board policies" that the district must follow with checks in place. A common practice is a board policy for math placement and pathways with board oversight of results. At PAUSD we have a process that is secretive, contrary to evidence and own data, often harmful to students, lawsuit layden, and ignores input from families and teachers. Other districts have a transparent sensible process in place. See Cupertino example:
A honest, detailed, LCAP report (PAUSD dodges collecting this data!):
Web Link
Math pathways board policy:
Web Link

Posted by D. in Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 12:10 pm

D. in Barron Park is a registered user.

The Forum was very informative, although one minute seemed to rush the answers. Your journalist's questions were understandable, short and to the point. I always enjoy reading her articles about PAUSD.

I was most impressed by Shana Segal. Her refreshing non-political viewpoint will serve our community and, most importantly, our children well.

Ms. Segal also mentioned something that I've been hearing about for a few years... Low teacher morale. People have forgotten how teachers were put up on pedestals at the beginning of the pandemic. They should always be held in high esteem. With the increasing teacher shortage, teachers have the ability to go where they feel most appreciated. Good teachers make a difference in how a child feels about themself and whether they enjoy school. We can't continue to lose good teachers!!!

Ms. Segal's credentials and passion for education and educators make her the best candidate for a more balanced school board.

Posted by Palo Alto Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 2:59 pm

Palo Alto Mom is a registered user.

I have long been impressed with Shounak’s calm, kind, wise presence on the school board. He has gone above and beyond and proven his steady leadership through all the uncertainty and angst of the pandemic which triggered our already intense over-involved parent community to rise to new pressure cooker heights. I am so thankful that he is willing to serve another term in this unpaid and often highly stressful and thankless role as a PAUSD board member. He has my gratitude & vote!
The fact that all 3 of my favorite board members (Shounak, Jennifer, Jesse) endorse Nicole would really be enough for me to vote for her, but I have had the opportunity to get to know her and attended her kick off which made it abundantly clear why she is who they hope to work with. What a breath of fresh air Nicole is! She is incredibly smart, accomplished, personable, hard-working, has done her homework and cares deeply about improving the lives and school experiences of all of our students. She has a lot of skin in the game with her kids having just started PAUSD. And I love the fact that she is Chinese. Representation matters and with 40% of our students being Asian (most of them Chinese); we have never before had a Chinese woman on the board. It's high time. Her educational, work and volunteer experiences are incredibly valuable and relevant to managing a school district. She will strengthen and add diversity to our board. Nicole gets my enthusiastic vote! 
[Portion removed.]

Posted by Greene and Paly Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 23, 2022 at 7:04 pm

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

@Palo Alto Mom
Your language says it all to me:
-- "Most of THEM" (referring to our Asian students)
-- "Chinese woman" (reference to US-raised and educated half-white Nicole Chiu-Wang).

I find it disrespectful that you assert that your chosen candidate represents a group that you are not a member of. Let me try to convey why.

I am a PAUSD parent (of 20 years) of what you call "Chinese kids." Our community had been demonizing Asian family values of academic excellence and dismissing priorities of Asian families. Asian parenting was blamed for the heart breaking incidents of PAUSD students dying by suicide [facts: Asians have HALF the suicide rate of whites, CDC investigation dismissed that link for PAUSD]. PAUSD Asian parents felt profiled and helpless when approaching district staff, especially on issues related to academic needs. The worst (IMO) was "Trusted" adults at school (well-meaning in their conspired world) messaging students that their parents are harming them. Just try to imagine how harmful this is, especially when parents are foreign-born.

A board candidate that stood for Asian families got hammered by committee after having "many Asian names" in the list of supporters. The "old guard" board, elected by voters that bought these conspiracies, are now hand picking and endorsing candidates of Asian descent (but "certified" to share "the right" (YOUR) priorities).

Mutual respect (even when your family choices are different) should be the hallmark of a liberal community. You can have your private clubs and football and beer and I can have my math fun and I still respect your choices. Why are you vilifying mine? For years I wondered. Here is an explanation (read the whole thing):
Web Link

Posted by D. in Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2022 at 12:03 pm

D. in Barron Park is a registered user.

Greene and Paly Parent,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for speaking your truth. The article was enlightening as well, thank you.

Who knows, one little school board contest could open the eyes of our community to more than anyone expected. Let's not forget and continue to deal with this subject after the election.

Also, having board members hand pick a candidate and outwardly support them with parties and money isn't the way It's supposed to be.

Posted by Greene and Paly Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 30, 2022 at 8:45 pm

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

[Post removed; repetitive of prior comments by same poster.]

Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
1 hour ago

toransu is a registered user.

Love how a "Father of Gunn Graduates" wants a bigot like Campos on the school board who will gleefully enact policies that will cause more tragedies like the ones that occurred when I was a student at Gunn.

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