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Ken Dauber enters Palo Alto school board race

Original post made on Aug 7, 2012

Parent activist Ken Dauber announced Tuesday, Aug. 7, he will run for the Palo Alto school board in this November's election, injecting some competition into the race.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012, 9:01 PM

Comments (61)

Posted by mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I'm glad to see so many good candidates for the positions! There are always people to add their snark to school issues, but before they do, I for one want to say I wish we could have all of these candidates serve on the board. They are all highly qualified and care a lot about our kids.

Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:29 am

Good to see.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

Given Duaber's caustic, dismissive responses to people who criticized this criticism, it will be interesting to see how he fares at the polls. Given a voter base of about 40,000, a FB following of 165 (who might well not be PAUSD voters) is not really much of a start.

The term "contested election" is not well explained in this article. Without there being more candidates than seats, there is no "election"--as the District simply appoints the candidates. There is no discussion about their qualifications, or their ideas, or anything that makes "democracy" work. Two years ago, there were no candidates, so rather than an "election", we had a "selection". Same was going to happen this time. Another reason we need "None of the Above" as a standard line-item on our ballots.

Posted by M&M
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:24 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

He is one of the most destructive influences the PAUSD has seen in years. He has pushed the agenda that we need to dumb down the curriculum and eliminate homework because students have too much stress. He says this while making the erroneous claim that stress led to the Gunn suicides (when the experts will tell you that mental illness that's behind 95% of suicides, not hard work).

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

He�s very willing to make baseless allegations (like claiming falsely that the board violated the Brown Act) in order to push his agenda.

I realize that the Weekly loves Dauber, probably because the Weekly has been pushing the no-homework, dumb-down agenda for as long as I can remember.

So the Weekly�s coverage of him will be entirely positive during the campaign. Then in October, Bill Johnson will endorse him, using phrases like �it's time for new blood� or that he is �a thoughtful activist" who has "earned a seat on the board�. I�m glad Camille is running again and will have a chance to debate this [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] point by point. I hope the Daily Post scrutinizes Dauber because I know the Weekly won't.

I wish I could use my name but I�m afraid that if this guy gets control of the school board, and succeeds in firing Supt. Skelly, he'll retaliate against families who opposed his agenda.

We can do better than Ken Dauber.

Posted by Pamela
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:52 am

I'm not sure having such a staunch activist who wants to change the Palo Alto School District like Ken Dauber is a good idea to represent our school district. I can't see him sitting on the board and listening to other board members views or opinions. He is way too centered on his own agenda. He argues with so many residents on these boards along with his wife Michele that I can't see him working with the community in a positive way. There are usually 2 sides that need to somehow meet in the middle in this community for everyone to be happy and Ken and his wife are extremely one sided thinkers.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:15 am

I am very pleased to see Ken Dauber running for 2 reasons.

The first is that the school race needed at least one other candidate or there would be no race at all, no debates, and no choices, so at least we now have something to debate and some choice.

The second is that there is an assumption that many, many people agree with the changes that the Daubers have been suggesting and implementing and this at least will give parents and the community a chance to vote for his suggestions or against them. I suspect that although he does have some ardent followers around town, there are many more (like the above posts suggest) who are not fans.

So I welcome him and thank him for his candidacy. I look forward to lively debate over the next few months and trust that the overall outcome will be a better indication of what the parents of our students feel is best rather than whose voice is the loudest.

Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:06 am

casey is a registered user.

M&M, can you explain your comment? The article said that We Can Do Better supported stiffening the graduation requirements, but you indicated that he was looking to reduce graduation requirements. Are you referring to something else?

Posted by pay per click
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:21 am

This will be interesting Heidi Emberling w/PTA vs. Ken Dauber w/WCDPA - should make for some fireworks.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

If Mr. Dauber is not elected, perhaps he and his spouse/team will finally get the hint that they do not represent majority of families as they seem to believe.

Posted by observer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

It seems like we would be getting two for one if Ken is elected. Do we want Michelle having such a direct influence?

Posted by Keith
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Ken is exactly what PAUSD needs! Our students are too pressured and stressed and it's about time someone criticized the policies of this district. There are very few places in the US like Palo Alto - our children need to be children! Yes, they need to be challenged but PAUSD takes the fun out of learning. There is so much pressure on these kids to succeed. I've been saying for years that PAUSD needs to stop cow towing to these crazy Palo Alto parents who keep saying "more homework", "push my gifted child" and "who cares about stress, my child needs to get into Stanford". This is craziness! Not all of our kids need to be at Ivy League schools. Palo Alto kids need to feel okay about going to a community college, a Cal State school or a trade school. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those options but PA kids feel like a failure if they go that route. This community is too elitist and it's hurting too many people. By the way, I am a parent of a Paly grad.

Posted by M&M
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Casey, in regards to your question, the Daubers forced the board to weaken graduation requirements by creating a system with two standards. One has the tough UC-CSU requirements most of us in the community would expect from PAUSD. The other "alternative" approach allows students to make up their graduation requirements. So if you have the "alternative" standard, you don't really have any standard at all.

The Weekly is absolutely inaccurate when it describes the change as a stiffening of graduation requirements. It's the opposite. But I suspect the Weekly will tilt all of its coverage from here until the election to favor the Daubers and their crazy ideas.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Interesting Question
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

"It seems like we would be getting two for one if Ken is elected. Do we want Michelle having such a direct influence?"

Interesting question. Normally I would say to judge a candidate by his/her spouse, but in this case they have presented themselves to the community as a crusading advocacy team. While Ken has been more mild mannered, Michelle has been a negative role model in many ways - rude, abusive, arrogant, etc. Should they be judged as a team?

Posted by Interesting Question
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Sorry - Normally I would say *not to* judge a candidate by his/her spouse. Must. Proofread. Posts. More. Carefully!

Posted by RogueTrader
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Yes, there is stress in schools, but why do parents like the Daubers blame the PAUSD and Skelly? The PAUSD certainly doesn't force anyone to take AP classes or get straight As.

The stress comes from the top colleges and their absurdly high admissions standards. Indeed, we should be grateful that the PAUSD can meet their formidable admissions requirements - for those that desire the chance.

The stress also comes from companies like (heavy irony) Daubner's Google - which is known to prefer hiring only applicants from Ivy caliber schools.

Again, the top colleges and top companies are where the stress ultimately originates from, because their bar is so high. The PAUSD is just a means to that pathway, for those that are interested.

And the PAUSD does a fantastic job of preparing for college, for those that are interested. Anyone who wants to dismantle the PAUSD or fire Skelly is certainly not going to get my vote.

Posted by CalleyJ
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by graduate-resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I hope we hear a lot about the other candidates, as well.

I believe that the Daubers have the ability to damage the district seriously if Ken is elected. I agree with other commenters that Ken has demonstrated that he's so committed to his agenda that he's not interested in rational debate or working with others. The two base their opinions on their astonishingly fragmentary understandings of statistics, then shout "racism!" when anyone disagrees with them. I, too, see the incongruity between their initial shouting to reduce stress and their more recent shouting to require Algebra II, except for the kids who want to argue with administrators.

As far as I know, Ken and Michele have not had any of their children go through the Palo Alto schools. Based on the things that they shout, it seems like they haven't done their research to make up for it, either.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Correcting a few of the misstatements of fact here:

1. Aligning the graduation requirements with A-G was Superintendent Skelly's initiative, supported by Dauber and WCDPA. The goal is to increase the number of poor and minority students who graduate ready to go to college in California.
2. PAUSD, along with the city and others in the community, committed to reducing academic stress as part of Project Safety Net, the district's suicide prevention plan. The initiatives that Dauber has advocated for -- looking at homework policy, counseling, test and project scheduling, etc. -- are all listed in the Project Safety Net plan, specifically in section P-8, "Supportive School Environment" (Web Link These aren't coming out of left field, although the district hadn't made much progress on implementing them before Dauber's advocacy.
3. As far as I have seen, the statistics that Dauber has presented have all been completely accurate, drawn from the district's own data. He has done a lot of work (that really should have been done by the district), to illuminate issues like the state of counseling at Gunn and Paly, and the achievement gap. That seems like exactly the instincts and skills that I would like to see on the board.
4. Dauber has had several children in PAUSD.
As for Dauber's ability to engage in rational discussion and work well with others, that's exactly what I have seen him do time and again. He brings evidence to the table, makes clear arguments, and shows up to debate the issues. He and his group strongly supported the Superintendent on A-G, he put in a lot of hard work on the homework committee, and he illuminated the issue of counseling at Gunn much better than the district's own consultant. I think we are lucky to have him entering the race.

Posted by pay per click
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm

@GP, Accurate statistics while ignoring 60% of the data? Seriously?

Posted by TIme to run
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I applaud Ken for his courage to enter the race so that we now have an election where issues can be aired. I hope that everyone will participate and listen to what each candidate has to say. They all care deeply about our children whether we agree with them or not.

The February 2011 op-ed piece calling for new PAUSD leadership is old news. Ken has shown a willingness and ability to work with Dr. Skelly, district staff and the school board to bring about changes to improve our schools. Although Ken lobbied strongly for A-G for all, this was done in support of Dr Skelly’s initiative. The plan put forward was formulated by the school board working with district staff. Dr Skelly showed great leadership working with the board, teachers and administrators to build consensus and find a solution. I don’t agree that Ken is advocating to dumb down our curriculum to achieve greater success for students on A-G compliance. He is advocating that we make sure that the curriculum for the lowest level A-G classes is at the state standards and not beyond. If we need to adjust curriculum in the lower lanes this will not affect the higher lane classes or the honors and AP classes.

Similarly Ken has never advocated for no homework. He served on the homework advisory committee that was populated with a diverse group of parents, teachers and administrators. The committee’s recommendation to the school board was not radical; the time guidelines were in line with the National PTA’s recommendations. The time guidelines allow exceptions for honors and AP courses. The committee recommendations received unanimous support from the board.

I hope people will be open minded and not reactionary and fearful in this election. At least we now have an election and I thank all of those who jumped in ready to do the work.

Posted by template
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

The homework committee is a great template for homework policy, why can not district use it as a template to include all: teachers,students,board,adminstrators,parents to solve future issues.

Posted by Really?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

"The February 2011 op-ed piece calling for new PAUSD leadership is old news"

Not sure what the poster means by this. Mr. & Mrs. Dauber have never disavowed or otherwise retracted what they wrote. If the implication is that they have changed from confrontation to collaboration, I think that is naive - they simply shifted from bullying in public to bullying in private. Their emails, released as part of the public records requests they made and/or instigated, show clearly this is the case. The leopard doesn't change its spots.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

The point of the 2011 editorial was that PAUSD wasn't implementing the parts of the Project Safety Plan that involved addressing the causes of academic stress in the schools, and instead was focusing on adding on mental health programs (that is section P8 -- see Web Link That includes homework, counseling, pre-break finals, test and project scheduling, etc. That was completely true, it seemed as though the board and Superintendent Skelly had not even heard of P8, even though it was the district's own plan and it had agreed with PSN to implement it. It took months of advocacy, including looking hard at the data on counseling, to move the school board to adopt focused goals that make a start on addressing academic stress.
I completely agree that we should expect that senior district leadership should take social and emotional health seriously and be accountable for progress.
In terms of confrontation versus collaboration: what makes Ken unusual in Palo Alto school politics is that he makes careful arguments, based on data, and he isn't afraid to tell the truth as he sees it. Calling that "bullying" is just silly and defensive. I've seen him praise Superintendent Skelly many times, especially on the A-G issue. I've been more worried, frankly, by the lack of willingness on the board and in the district to engage in reasoned discussions based on data. Instead, as in the Gunn counseling issue, we more often get attempts to hide what's really going on. How can we make the best decisions for the district if we don't have open and honest conversations?

Posted by 1,2,3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Time to run,

#1. It is disingenuous to call Ken Dauber's bold 2011 shot in the newspaper, the one where he demanded that the Superintendent be fired, “old news” because Mr. Dauber is reformed and works well with people now.


Look through the 1000s of pages that Mr. Dauber's group forced the district to produce to the public (costing $20k of tax payer dollars wasn’t it?) under threat, saying that he'd consider suing the district if it didn't have it all ready for him in 10 days.

Web Link

In there is a huge number of emails from Mr. Dauber and his wife to every school board member and district head, some as recently as a month or two ago, which echo the same shoot-whomever-happens-to-disagree-with-me tone.

A pattern?

Anyone whose deliberate and repeated approach is to demand instead of collaborate and to call for heads to role instead of politely debate will make temper and working style an election issue this November.

#2. Double check your research.

Ken Dauber debated with a Town Square poster about the same claim you made on the National PTA homework guidelines.

The problem: the National PTA does not have homework guidelines.


#3. While technically it may be accurate to say that Ken Dauber did NOT put out a call for "NO" homework, he pushed repeatedly for homework NOT to count toward a student’s grade.

To him homework is stressful for some students, so no student should have to do it. If he loses on that, then he says at least students should not be docked if they turn their assignments in late.

Isn’t de-valuing homework to 0 –and teaching kids that deadlines don’t matter - the same as saying to kids you don’t have to do it aka putting out a call to PAUSD to have a “no homework” policy?

It will be fascinating to see how voters vote on candidates who have completely opposite views on these kinds of very basic, long-established and widely used education practices.

Posted by 1,2,3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Gunn parent,

The homework discussion on Town Square from a few months back helps illuminate how much care Ken Dauber takes to make sure his statements about the research behind his claims are based on the research:

** What Ken Dauber said about homework **

I was on the homework committee, and I agree with you that the exclusions for honors classes, AP classes, and accelerated classes weaken the policy. The national PTA/NEA standard of 10 minutes of homework per grade per night doesn't have these exceptions, because the best research shows that homework isn't effective after roughly that time, and actually becomes detrimental. But the policy is a compromise, and getting time limits for the first time seems to me to be worth it.

In addition to that issue, the homework policy really isn't done. It doesn't deal at all with excessive penalties for late homework, and excessive weighting of homework in final grades, both of which are a significant source of stress for students. Hopefully the school board will make continued work on the homework policy a focused goal for 2012-13.

** What one of the reader’s response to that was **

* where ever did you get this from: “The national PTA/NEA standard of 10 minutes of homework per grade per night”?

There is no National PTA position on homework (just a petition urging it to develop one). The NEA’s handbook, arguably its governing document, states succinctly that the “amount of homework assigned should be determined by the classroom teacher.”

*Despite what you say (“the best research shows that homework isn't effective after roughly that time [90 -120 minutes in high school]” and that any more than that is harmful to kids), that is not what the researchers say:

- Duke Professor Cooper, the current expert on homework research who is cited in the committee's work, found that there were no diminishing returns for homework that stretched to 2.5 hours a night.

- Local Denise Clark Pope's student surveys show students had no physical or emotional problems with more than that. Dr. Pope: "At some point, we say too much is too much. In our study, that's 3.5 hours."

* Homework counts in each of my daughter’s classes, from 10% to 33% of her grade. Test scores count from 33% to 85%.

How Mr. Dauber is that excessive weighting of homework? If anything it is exactly the opposite – excessive weighting of tests. If teachers dialed the homework credit down more, you’d have classes where almost all of a student's grade would rest on test scores.

Your proposal would penalize diligent students who, thanks to their teachers' homework assignments, are developing great work habits and who, per Duke Neuroscience Professor Cooper, are improving their test scores because of the homework they do.

Few would stand with you to support a policy that says that a test day is a better reflection of a student's ability than every day.

* AP/Honors Limits

As to limiting homework on AP and Honors courses, are you really suggesting that those advanced courses, which are voluntary and cover up to 4 times the material as their entry level counterparts, should be subject to similar limits?

Or are you suggesting that our schools water down their AP and Honors class curricula, which is what would happen if students were not assigned more homework? The time in class is the same whether the class is easy or hard. It is the homework where the extra learning occurs.

Those actions would be silly and are unnecessary. Enrollment in AP and Honors classes is voluntary; if it is too much for your child, don’t enroll in them. AP class homework expectations are clear. Students and parents are not surprised; they sign permissions slips stating that they know the work load before the student can enter the class.

* Future Work

Hopefully you stand alone too with your thinking that the homework issues still to be resolved are credit for turning in homework late and teachers giving less weight to it. The Homework Committee's report is clear about what work remains to be done. Neither of those is on its list.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm


The 10-minutes-per-grade standard is the recommendation of the National PTA and NEA, as Associate Superintendent Charles Young told the Board when he presented the recommendations to them. Dr. Young also promised the Board that he would work on amending the administrative regulations to address the problem of excessive penalties for late homework -- in other words, students getting a zero grade for turning in homework late, which often leads to a cycle of declining grades and motivation.
(By the way, did you go down to the school board to make all these arguments when the policy was being considered? It's a lot easier to type out anonymous attacks on a board than to actually get involved).
The problem, which I understand was extensively discussed in the homework committee, is that homework doesn't do a good job of representing student's performance, separate from factors like tutors, stay-home parents, organizational ability, the availability of a quiet place to work, etc. The same problem arises when homework is a large part of a student's grade: it's not fair to turn these background differences into differences in final grades. (I don't think Dauber or anyone else has said that homework shouldn't count at all, or that students shouldn't do homework -- that's just a distortion).
As far as the public records requests are concerned, Dauber and the others (including the Weekly) who made requests did us all a great service. They uncovered a serious governance failure at the district, and therefore made it possible to improve it. I would chalk up that cost to the board and Superintendent who weren't being transparent, not to the public.
This debate is exactly why I'm going to vote for Ken in November: he's been very clear about what he thinks and why, and willing to do the work to make our schools better despite a lot of opponents of change. I think that spirit and intellect will make a great addition to the school board.

Posted by Interesting
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm

"Dauber and the others (including the Weekly) who made requests did us all a great service"

Really? Let's be clear - according to the PAUSD public records release web page (here: Web Link , there was one request from the Weekly, one from the Post (which was about the same as the Weekly's) and 8 from the Daubers, one of which was deemed "too broad to be completed."

We can each decide for ourselves if this constitutes "a great service" or just harassment and a personal vendetta, just as we can read the Dauber's emails and decide if that's the tone and approach we want on the school board. How did Mrs. Dauber's signature line to a school administrator go? Something like "F**k it ... Get ready." Nice.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Yes, for me I'm going to vote on the issues, not whether the wife of a candidate used the "F" word in an email. I think the public records requests were actually a "great service". As retiring board member Barbara Klausner eloquently said at a school board meeting, they revealed that the governance process on the board is broken, and that the Superintendent has to fix it by becoming more responsive to board direction and more transparent in his dealings. (I would add that that board needs to be more proactive and responsible). Melissa Caswell and Dana Tom agreed with her, if I remember.
As a citizen and parent, I would much rather know what is really going on than be in the dark, even if it is less comfortable. So I appreciate Dauber's commitment to honesty and transparency, and I do think that we have all already benefited from it. The schools are too important to our community to expect less.

Posted by William
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Self-described "socialogists" should never be elected to anything, because they are full of ideology. Their data set(s) is/are a cover for sophistry.

Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Great to hear there is a chance for fresh views to join the PAUSD BoE -- they certainly need it. Mr. Dauber is intelligent, outspoken, cares about all the students, and has worthwhile ideas. Good luck!Change is good.

Posted by Interesting
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

@Gunn Parent, well, that's a difference between you and me. I think if the candidate's partner in his reform efforts, who happens to be his spouse, curses at a district employee, as part of a barrage of efforts to harangue and harass to get their way, that reflects quite badly on the candidate. When we lose civility and constructive relationships, we lose the ability to move forward as a community. I'm sure we'll have many issues along the way - but we descend to that level, it doesn't much matter what they are, we'll have trouble tackling them. I want good people, first and foremost.

And you think a barrage of records requests is the solution, or even a useful tactic, to address meaningful governance issues in the district, I sincerely wish you luck, as you will need it.

Posted by College Freshman
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

What is the age requirement to run against the Daubers?

I've seen the impact that "We can do Better Palo Alto" has had on our district firsthand, and I can say that I do not believe they are making changes in the best interest of the students. They just want to bother the school board into dealing with issues that are already beaten to death, and distract from meaningful change and progress. They want to be seen in the news. Having a position of power on the school board would not be a good thing for this couple in my opinion.

For the record, a mere 150 likes on Facebook is horrendously small.

Also, as a side note, I'm disappointed how Palo Alto Online has addressed this story. As a alumni of the terrific journalism program at Paly, the journalism advisors would be upset if we wrote such a one sided story. Report the news, then if you feel the need to endorse a candidate, do so formally at a later time.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

@Interesting - So I guess I disagree that the public records requests, from the press and the public, were part of a "barrage of efforts to harangue and harass." I think they were part of an effort to find out what was going on behind the scenes, so that the public could participate in governing its schools.

The proof is in the pudding, of course. In this case, it turned out that the Superintendent hadn't been following board directives and that he was engaging the board in communications that were pretty clearly inconsistent with the Brown Act. That led to Barbara Klausner, followed by other board members, concluding that board governance is broken and needs to be fixed. Without those requests, none of that would be known, and we would all continue to be ignorant. I get why you would like to shoot the messenger, but I prefer knowledge to ignorance, and principles to personalities. Change is sometimes hard. I'm just happy that Ken is willing to take on these challenges and take this criticism -- that's what I want in a public official.

Posted by Rajiv Bhateja
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I have met and talked with Ken Dauber and in my opinion he has done great service to the community at, I might add, some personal cost -- as seen from some of the postings above. Ken has caused important issues to be debated and several changes he's supported have been adopted by PAUSD.

There are many people who embrace the status quo in PAUSD, and do not want change to wake them from their comfort zone. Some of them may feel threatened by the power of the data-driven, evidence-based approach that Ken brings.

Frankly, I find many of the arguments against his candidacy to be vacuous. One great example: 'Self-described "socialogists" should never be elected to anything, because they are full of ideology. Their data set(s) is/are a cover for sophistry.' This is simply an opinion, devoid of fact, and a over-generalized statement of bias against "socialogists".

Another issue is that Ken cannot be held accountable for his wife's actions any more than any of us can be held accountable for another family member's actions. Ken is running for PAUSD. His wife is not.

For those who don't know Ken first-hand, I suggest meeting and judging him for yourself rather than taking the word of a person you don't know, who attacks under cover of anonymity -- on an online forum with little or no accountability.

Personally, I was impressed by Ken's calm demeanor, his fact-based analytical ability and his dedication to student welfare. I think he would make a fine addition to the school board and would complement the skill set that's there today.

Oh, and my name is there in black and white, for all to see.

Posted by Interesting
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

@Gunn Parent, in your last post you did not address the part about his spouse/advocacy partner using the f-word at a school employee (and if you read the emails, that's just one gasp moment), so perhaps you are coming around on how that reflects on them.

We can ask Mrs. Klausner if she feels Brown Act issues are at the heart of her concerns about District governance. I strongly suspect that they are not. Her issues were plainly out there well before the recent Gunn counseling issue. If you weren't aware of the control issues between the Board and the Superintendent, well, you haven't been paying as close attention as you seem to be. We can do records requests till the cows come home, but it won't do much to illuminate or address those issues.

@Rajiv, normally I would agree with you that one is not accountable for one's spouses action. In this case, though, his spouse has been his partner side-by-side in their actions, founding their advocacy group, signing their editorial. Given that, it is hard to say "well, that wasn't him, it was just her." Perhaps Mr. Dauber wants to condemn and disassociate himself from her actions? We'll wait for that one...

Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2012 at 7:40 am

> the journalism advisors would be upset if we wrote
> such a one sided story.

The Weekly is not so much a newspaper, as it is a publication masquerading as a journalistic endeavor. Its main goal is to push various agendas (mostly political), as well as provide a platform to attack opponents of those agendas. As to journalism advisers in high school, these people don't work in, or live in, the real world. Their views are to be taken with a grain of salt about just about everything.

> Another issue is that Ken cannot be held accountable for his
> wife's actions any more than any of us can be held accountable
> for another family member's actions.

Ah .. when they (the Daubers) work as a team, common sense says that when one spouse acts irresponsibly/offensively, and the other does not publicly apologize, then then that silence is an endorsement/acceptance of the irresponsible/offensive behavior. It's really hard to believe that Dauber would not listen to his wife's views before voter's/parent's views. So--claiming that Dauber's wife can say and do anything she wants and Dauber this does not reflect one way, or another on him, is silly. Bottom line--decent people do not curse at school officials, nor anyone else in the public square.

> concluding that board governance is broken and needs to be fixed.

This is going to pop up a lot during the coming months. In order for this statement to be of value, a full analysis of the district, and its governance, needs to be performed. That is not going to happen during the next four months. So, when people start flinging this claim around, they should be challenged to explain themselves fully.

> Daubers emails

It would pay for the someone, even the District, to obtain these emails and post them on a publicly-accessible web-site. That way, if there has been abuse, or bullying, on the Daubers' part--then all of us can see what they have said.

Presumably the Daubers' are setting a new baseline for how they would like the public to communicate with the Board, if they are elected.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:18 am


On the one hand, we have a private email from the candidate's wife, in which she used the "F" word (horrors!), and for which she publicly and privately apologized months ago. (The context for that email was apparently a decision by an associate superintendent to drop the homework time limits from the Homework Committee's report to the school board, after the committee had unanimously adopted them, and as far as I can tell it the offending syllable wasn't even directed at the staff member).

On the other hand, we have 12,000 students and a host of issues, from governance to social and emotional health to comparable services in different schools to budget choices in difficult economic times.

Everybody's vote is worth the same -- I'm going to use mine to vote on the issues. You can use yours to vote on an old email, if you like. I think the voters of Palo Alto are going to be more interested in the issues too.

Posted by palo verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

I plan to vote on the issues and I will not be voting for Ken Dauber. I have read through the requested e-mails and followed WCDBPA pretty closely and it seems that he/they are only interested in one side of the story and will do whatever it takes to push through their agenda. That is not what I am looking for in a school board member. I am not saying the current process/governance model is perfect but I believe it would be worse with Ken Dauber as a school board member.

Posted by pay per click
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2012 at 8:48 am

If anyone is in any doubt, it is worth reading the mail re-posted in this previous thread: Web Link (search for "emails Charles received yesterday from Michele Dauber").

Why is this relevant? The issue is with Ken's response to this email.
The email was uncovered as part of Ken's public record request listed here: Web Link

Now, any reasonable person would have been horrified by a member of their group sending out this sequence of emails. It was definitely a mea culpa moment and really that person should have been removed from the group. You can't have individuals issuing this kind of abuse to staff and your group maintain credibility.

How did Ken and WCDBPA respond? He fired off the following additional PRR request! Web Linkdownloads/Dauber-PRA-052212.pdf
and stated: "I would hate to believe that our school district employees believe that it is an appropriate use of staff time to complain to Board members about members of the public. What legitimate Board policy concern could such communications possibly be relevant to?"

Seriously? WCDBPA members are abusing district staff and he doesn't want staff members to bring this attention to the board? And this guy's running for the board now? Scary stuff!

Posted by Old Steve
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 9, 2012 at 9:26 am

The Daubers appear to be like many other married couples -- The rest of us can't figure their relationship out. Since many have observed that about my wife and I over 32 years, and since I've recently been on Ms. Dauber's "chew-out" list; I plan to give Ken the benefit of the doubt as to his public conduct. He's definately well informed, data minded, and really smart (even by Palo Alto standards).

And let's be thankful we get to have an election!

Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2012 at 10:36 am

"I would hate to believe that our school district employees believe that it is an appropriate use of staff time to complain to Board members about members of the public [i.e., me, my wife, my group]. What legitimate Board policy concern could such communications possibly be relevant to?"

Wow. The guy may be smart, he may even care about kids, but this kind of tone deafness to how people treat people seems like a very poor choice of an elected Board of education. If he wants to browbeat people from the outside, fine. But that's just not appropriate.

Posted by CalleyJ
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

@Wow -- That's a perfectly appropriate question to ask, actually. Why is our Superintendent of Schools spending his time cutting and pasting emails from citizens and sending them to the school board? Why does the school board care about this? If he doesn't like what they're saying, why not tell them so directly? Skelly was obviously trying to discredit them with board members, probably because they were calling attention the fact that he was not following the board directive on counseling at Gunn (that's what caused Klausner to finally let loose in June, in fact). My question is why our current board members didn't tell Skelly to stop sending them this stuff and get back to work.
So what do we have? Dauber is smart, knows the data, is willing to spend a lot of time advocating for positive change despite ridiculous personal attacks, but since he objects to secret staff communication with the board about members of the public he's beyond the pale?
By the way, I think the right thing for everybody to do is to focus on the issues. I don't like a lot of the stuff that Skelly has pulled and how defensive he has been, but I do like the calendar change with finals before winter break, and the A-G change at the high schools. How about an election about those issues?

Posted by pay per click
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:35 am

@Huh? Really? Abusing district staff should be condoned and be hidden from the board? That's your platform?

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2012 at 11:58 am

Unless PAUSD district staff is composed entirely of 5 year old girls, I don't think sending a sharp note protesting overturning the work of a citizens' committee (and then apologizing for language) turns into "abusing district staff". There was actually a lot of protest from members of the committee over that, which eventually led to Young reversing that decision. You would have to ask Young if his feelings got hurt over that. I personally care more about getting reasonable limits on homework.
If I had a "platform", it would be: the Superintendent's communication with the board should all be public, so that the public knows what is actually going on in the district. That might make it less likely that he'll waste time on stuff like this too.

Posted by pay per click
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

@Huh? Since you're portraying this as a "sharp note of protest", people should read it in full and make up their own minds. I, for one, find the language unforgivable and staff should not have to put up with this. For Ken to respond with a PRR that blames the victims goes to the root of the issue with WCDBPA and his candidacy.

Posted by Issues please
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I know Charles Young and know that he and Michele Dauber have been quite friendly and in fact he took her email as an effort to help him avoid a political misstep - which it did. If anyone actually cares about this they should just ask him. More to the point this is a lot of inside baseball and many of these posts sound like district staff who have been quite happy with a board that doesn't really hold them accountable, and don't have the knowledge and skills to do it anyways. I am not surprised at all to see the wagons circling. As a parent though I want strong board members and having Ken there would make a big difference. Our current board means well but none of them have the background and personality to effectively play their correct role. That is why governance has been such a disaster from endless meetings to staff who ignore their decisions.

Posted by Huh?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

@Issues please - Exactly. More of the status quo is the wrong choice for this election, given the board's record. A little more transparency and accountability for district staff would be a welcome change, and we may actually get some this time around.

Posted by Wow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm

@Huh - I guess voters will make up their own minds whether that tone a and approach are good for our town and for our board. Personally I have never seen anything like it in twenty years of involvement across three similar suburbs/school board. And then to question sharing it with the Board members [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by RogueTrader
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

The email communication from Michele Dauber to a PAUSD staff member has been referenced, but it is a little hard to find on the link, so it is reprinted here

"If you do this you will delegitimate your own work. We are trying to help you but you are not making it easy. You have choices here that are better than just taking a red pen to what the committee did. You are delegitimating your own effort. People will not trust you if you do this, and we would like the community to see you as trustworthy. Agh. This is such a dumb mistake.

Just bring it to the board as is, and say that you are respecting the integrity of the committee's work and the community consensus so you are bringing this as is. If the principals object to the limits, then they can say that. This task force is advisory to the Board. You cannot just edit what was done. That's not your role and it makes you look unreliable and untrustworthy.

If you want more time with the committee then choice 2 is to reconvene and make your case. But to just send a unilateral email saying "[portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] you committee and your unanimous vote" is not worthy of you. And in terms of unfairly characterize us (the entire system) and our efforts in a very negative light

You don't send your kids to these high schools and until you do, don't presume to lecture me about whether or not my characterization of the environment over there is unfair or not. If you want to drink the PAUSD kool-aid and join Kevin in his Nixonesque view of his "enemies" go ahead. Makes it easier for me not to constantly have to figure out how to defend you. Nope. As Sally pointed out the sites had representatives on the committee. Every site was represented. They had a chance and the vote was unanimous. You can have whatever view you want of this, but you picked these folks, you worked with them all year, you set the agendas, you timed the votes, you managed the process. The people have spoken, INLCUUDING THE SITE REPS. For you to go an undo it by fiat is unworthy of you. And obviously there will be consequences with the public legitimacy of your process, your recommendations and your reputation. You are putting your own rep as an honest broker at risk and over nothing. First you tried to stack the committee with sycophants then when that didn't work you by fiat cancelled the effort of the people.

If you can't predict what that is going to look like to the community then you should go back to Pleasanton.

We have been trying to get a good homework policy in PAUSD for TWENTY YEARS and you are throwing out the work of many people over a 20 year period right now. If the sites don't like what their reps agreed to then that is what public processes are for. THey can come to the board meeting and say that. Then the board can decide. This is what democratic governance of schools looks like. This is an issue in basic democracy. If you don't like it then go work at a private school. You all may think that you are entitled to run this like a private school but it isn't.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] I give up. Get ready.

I hope Kevin is paying you extra to be the spearcatcher on this because you are walking into it probably without being fully aware of what is really going on. This is my last message to you about this. You are making a terrible mistake. People are very angry about homework practices. This had good consensus support. It was a compromise. It had homework for first graders even thought here is no basis for it, for example. When people find out and it is in the Weekly that you did this you will be the only person at the district more distrusted than Amy Drolette. I am trying to help you. But have it your way." (end quote from Michele Dauber)

Posted by Tired mom
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Finally someone is standing up for the kids. Thanks Mr. Daubber, I know it won't be an easy race. I am proud of you for having the guts to to it, and for trying to take one of the seats. Camile has been there forever, and it is time to let someone else take important decisions for our students. They are the future of this world, and we need them alive. People who are against you should have the guts to run for a seat too, instead of sitting down behind a computer and attack you anonymously. Good luck, I and my friends will vote for you.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

If we want to talk about issues, I think it is a shame that the election will be over before we have had time to experience the new calendar, particularly the December busyness. Since Mr Dauber was the instrument whereby this new calendar was instituted, he will be judged by whether or not families, and in particular the first senior class, find this helpful to their holiday season.

Since school is starting next Thursday and there was lots of talk about not bringing in events before the start of school, it shows failure when we have already had at least one event (JLS jump start day) and various high school events including picture day and schedule changes before school starts. Many students are not coming back to town until next week. Are they going to start the year at a disadvantage?

Posted by Whoa
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I do hope the Weekly cuts out Wow's last comment. It crosses the line for a public forum - and yet it reveals the irony in so many of the comments in this thread. The very people decrying the tone and tactics of Mr/Mrs Dauber are more than capable of serving up their own helpings of negativity, ugliness and personal attack.

There's no bad people here. But we could all try to be more kind.

Posted by Issues please
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thanks for posting the email. Behind this is, unfortunately, a pattern of staff not acting transparently, in this case deleting time limits from the report of a citizen committee after the fact. Thankfully there were people paying attention. And I am sure that wasn't the only angry email to hit an inbox. This is what Barbara Klausner meant by broken governance. I can see that district staff isn't happy at the prospect of real oversight. Wow seems to be getting particularly hysterical. But from a parent perspective I am more interested in the stress level of kids than the comfort level of bureaucrats. As far as I can tell, Ken is smart, honest and not easily cowed -- just what we need.

Posted by Eugene MCarthy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

First of all Mrs Dauber seems Like she is trying ro give Dr. young a heads up. Second I agree with her about community sentiment on homework. Third she isn't running for anything. Fourth wow is making scurrilous slanderous character assassination on her. I looked at the Stanfors website and she was university teacher of the year a few years ago. Maybe she is emotional about this issue because he daughter committed suicide. Did any of you think of that? Where is the censor of this board. Let's get back to the issues and stop talking about the mans wife for gosh sakes. There are real issues here-- budget cuts, cubberly, minority children, homework. Slandering this man's wife just makes no sense unless you just want to avoid the issues. Maybe those who have been on the staff and board for the past few years would prefer that.

Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm

village fool is a registered user.

Just wondering (again) -
What can one learn from the fact that ~55 comments were posted in less than two days, none after postings were limited to registered users?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 10, 2012 at 12:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"What can one learn from the fact that ~55 comments were posted in less than two days, none after postings were limited to registered users?"

It is reasonable to infer that most posters do not wish to be able to be held accountable for their statements, given that registration is easy and only requires disclosing your name and email address to the Editor.

I quote from Medscape Psychiatry:

Our Uncivil Society and Internet Abuse: Time to End Anonymous Postings?
Ronald W. Pies, MD

"In my view, anonymous "flaming" on the Internet is both a symptom and a cause: It is a symptom of a society in which, all too often, "anything goes" and is a contributing cause of further abusive behavior. Declining levels of civility in our culture have encouraged anonymous, "drive-by" postings on the Internet, but these postings, in turn, encourage further abusive remarks, in a vicious cycle of reinforcement"

"A free society thrives on robust and passionate debate. I am not arguing that our online discourse should sound like conversation over tea and crumpets at Buckingham Palace. However, I am urging that our exchanges be marked by basic respect and civility and by a willingness to take responsibility for what we say and how we say it."

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 10, 2012 at 9:54 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Good catch, village fool. Do you have any thoughts as to why?

Thanks Peter. I appreciate the "taking responsbility" for your posts thought at least at the minimal level of registering.

Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

village fool is a registered user.

Stephen Levy - Thank you. I think that not all anonymous comments/subjects/situations are made alike. I think that Peter's thoughtful response applies to other types of posting/subjects - those are really where "everything goes." An example of those would be a thread you started few days ago: Web Link
This thread we're in now is different. I think that many who comment are afraid, as embarrassing as it may sound. Some of the anonymous commenters above have kids in the school system - I'm assuming they will not take any chance of having any type of retaliation for expressing their honest point of view. Their concerns are real, and I think of great interest to all. Some anonymous commenters apparently do not even trust the editor; you can see above, and in other threads, that they think the editor has an agenda, and that may prevent some people from registering.
The fascinating part is that commenters above do care - dearly. Otherwise they would not take the time, or post so many comments - this thread is just a sample. The following link is another example - an anonymous satisfied parent responding to an anonymous teacher, asking teacher come forward... I have posted a response there.
Web Link
This occurrence about which you asked my thoughts represents, I think, some deeply rooted issues. Having written the above - I am well aware I'm posting anonymously here, I'm not proud of doing that.

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Aug 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Thanks Village Fool.

I get the part about being annonymous on school related posts if you have kids in school.

My objection is when personal comments are made as apart from disagreements and the dialogue losses civility. There are also many cases where the threat of peraonal retaliation to the poster does not exist.

Posted by chini
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

chini is a registered user.

"Shooting the messenger" is a prevalent problem that drives many with ideas away.

Giving a choice to the voters should never be feared, unless the system itself is flawed.

Having parents with kid(s) in/been through PAUSD schools serve the board is definitely better than someone with their kid(s) in private schools.

Using data as a basis to advocate changes is good, but one should have the proper skills in interpreting the data; the same piece of data can be interpreted in multiple ways, like 99% or 1%.

I have a kid in school, and another one went through K-12 in PAUSD.
I'm not sure about all the hype about "tough" school, etc. because
the teaching and school system could definitely be improved, maybe
at the expense of the tutoring business.

I'd certainly agree that a person must also be able to "sell" their
ideas to others in order to be effective.

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