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Mah/Santiago article from MV Voice

Original post made by Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2008

PA Weekly.

Why haven't we seen an article like this?

Web Link

Comments (7)

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Posted by fred
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2008 at 7:14 pm

because it may not be important

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Posted by county board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Thank you for posting this article.
On the other hand may be it is important. The reporter who interviewed Ellen Santiago and the appointed incumbent, and the editor who probably asked her to do the story probably thought it was important. Granted it is not the presidential election -and this county board has been low profile for a long time- but 285 million dollars that they oversee seems like a lot of money. Whether the districts get charter schools or not is another important item they oversee. They also hire the superintendent, and oversee many schools 33, I think. Too bad the incumbent, Mah who has been there for more than one year has not informed the constituents who she represents, about the activities of this board. Maybe then you would by now know whether it is important or not. Today there was an article in the P.A. Daily about them. Santiago wants to bring that board up to this century by making the meetings more accessible to us. Mah said that it is fine as it is! We can get audio tapes of it! She did not mention that these tapes cost $10. and take about 2 weeks to be mailed! She went on to say that few people have asked for the tapes. No one knows much about this board! Santiago would change that.
Please vote for Ellen Santiago!

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Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 28, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Grace Mah was part of the shameful arm-twisting of the Palo Alto school district that aimed to force the creation of a Mandarin immersion program in the district despite the compelling reasons not to do so. They succeeded with their arm twisting.

There is no way I'll vote for Grace Mah. I'll vote Santiago.

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Posted by county board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2008 at 10:23 pm

I agree. It was a case of high-jacking the board to get an exclusive language program for just a few students, well and her own. Never did Mah encourage the board to give foreign languages to all of the elementary students.
And now she says that she represents all of us. I don't think so!
Anyway, pls tell as many people as you know to vote as you are for Ellen Santiago!!

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Posted by Grace supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2008 at 12:08 am

The Palo Alto Daily had an article, too. Sorry, I couldn't find a way to just include a link to the online version. (The Daily's new newspaper viewer is very cool, giving a greater graphical "feel" of the newspaper on line.)

Palo Alto Daily News 10/28/2008, Page A01


Newcomer has eye on Mah’s seat

In March 2007, toward the end of her successful six-year battle to bring a Mandarin language immersion program to the Palo Alto Unified School District, local parent Grace Mah jumped at a chance to be appointed to a vacated seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.
“I was interested in the position because I didn’t have to run a campaign,” Mah said.
Now she does. After a year and a half on the seven-member body, which oversees the county’s 32 school districts, Mah is facing a challenge in the November election from political newcomer Ellen Santiago of Sunnyvale.
Since Santiago is a relative unknown, the election appears likely to hinge on voters’ opinion of Mah. Many respected her grassroots campaign for Mandarin immersion, but she also drew ire from opponents, who tried to appeal her appointment to the board almost as soon as she was named.
The seat in question represents Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Mountain View schools.
Mah is best known in Palo Alto, but has steeped herself in the issues of surrounding districts since joining the board. She’s been sitting in on meetings of the Mountain View-Los Altos Challenge Team, a group that focuses on kids in those cities who are at risk of dropping out or getting into trouble. She has also visited several county-run alternative schools and met with the superintendents of each of the four districts she represents.
Mah says her top goal is addressing the gap in educational achievement between Hispanic males and their peers. She proposes new outreach programs to Spanish-speaking parents, perhaps working with local employers to offer bilingual seminars on topics such as how grades work and why college is important. She said she would also like to see the county improve its vocational offerings for kids who are not on the path to college.
Santiago, a Web content manager at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former middle school teacher, also talks about closing the achievement gap, though she offers fewer specific proposals. She said the county could do a better job of identifying best practices and communicating those to the local districts.
A centerpiece of Santiago’s campaign is making the board of education more accountable to voters.
“The board of education is in charge of a $285 million budget,” she said. “I’d like to know more about where all that money is going. I’d like to see more transparency for the public, too.”
Her ideas include videotaping the board’s meetings and making its Web site more user-friendly.
Santiago also said the board should have more publicly vetted new Superintendent Charles Weis’ September hiring of a deputy superintendent at a salary of almost $200,000 per year.
“In these tight economic times, is it necessary to hire a new assistant?” Santiago asked rhetorically. “He already has four assistant superintendents.”
Mah agreed the hiring process could have been more transparent but noted that the money had already been set aside for salaries, giving Weis the authority to make the decision.
In regard to transparency, she noted that the board already conducts open meetings, audiotapes them for the public and posts agendas online.
“You could always do more, it’s just at what cost and what return. ... We haven’t had a lot of people complaining about transparency. There’s certainly nothing we’re hiding, and I feel I’ve always been very accessible.”
E-mail Will Oremus at

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2008 at 1:14 am

Resident, Grace supporter,

Thanks for the link and repost--though, yeah, the latter should be a link.

So Santiago has a background in education and accounting--that seems like a reasonable fit for the position. I'm always for greater transparency.

I don't think the vote will be a referendum on Mah--I don't think MV and Sunnyvale voters could care less about what's going on in our district.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 29, 2008 at 10:36 am

I think Ellen Santiago offers a more experienced, balanced background with regards to broad educational needs and interests in the county. I recommend voting for Ellen Santiago.

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