Town Square

Come Meet the Palo Alto School Board Candidates - this FRIDAY!!!

Original post made by J.asher, Addison School, on Oct 23, 2007

I wanted to let you know that Silicon Valley Moms Blog Web Link and the Palo Alto Menlo Park Parents Club Web Link is hosting an event THIS FRIDAY EVENING at the Palo Alto YMCA (Ross Road) to come meet the Palo Alto School Board Candidates. This open forum will be moderated.

More information about the event can be viewed here:
Web Link

Even if you can't attend this event, please leave a comment on SV Moms Blog and the moderator will compile the list of questions.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 25, 2007 at 12:34 am

Just a reminder that this will be a different sort of candidate forum from the PTAC-sponsored events. This is open to the whole community and will be professionally moderated by Nancy Yeend, an affiliate of the Palo Alto Mediation Program.

A national dispute management specialist, Nancy maintains a dispute prevention, resolution and management practice. With over twenty years of mediation background, Nancy brings extensive insight and wisdom to her profession.

Web Link

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Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 25, 2007 at 1:22 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Grateful
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 7:51 am

Wow! What an insult to PTAC and our District!

PTAC, I am extremely grateful for all the hundreds of hours you have put into our District in the multiple forums just a few of you have managed, with the help of many parents at every school.

This has truly been a professionally done job with nobody paid anything at all, done in the name of good for the whole district, which is the PAUSD way.

Thank you!!

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:10 am

Just out of curiosity, why is there a need to have a dispute mediator running a candidate forum?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:37 am

Interesting that this particular forum, organized by PACE (Grace Mah) will be using a professional mediator and pre-screening of questions. Looks like an attempt to control the tone if not the content of the questions the candidates will face.

Who benefits from that?

If the candidates can't stand up in front of their community and answer tough questions, perhaps they shouldn't be running for office. I think they call this "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". Afterall, this is the job they're signing up for, and exactly what they'll be doing for the next 7 years (Answering to the public). The least we can expect is that they can do this for one hour.

By the way, I'm wondering whether Mah has ever actually gone to a PAUSD Board of Education meeting. The community input there is on the whole quite respectful, even in the most difficult of issues. I've NEVER heard anyone be insulting, rude, disruptive, personally attacking, combatitive, threatening, or anything remotely reminiscent of what we would traditionally consider 'bad form' in a dispute situation. The community does stand up to the board with the hard questions though, important questions, that need to be answered (not filtered for niceties.) Why would a candidate forum be any different?

This format seems like it could lean toward censorship of political debate. A big no no in this country's political process.

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Posted by well, a little disagreement on a detail
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:54 am

I am not defending this "professional" process, but I can say I have heard a few pretty disrespectful, arrogant and rude comments directed at the Board and at various pro and anti positions on various issues in the last couple years...but, I believe that it just reflects on the person speaking, not on the process or the "side" that person is on.

We see this all the time throughout all public discussions...So what? I certainly don't want it "filtered", and if a candidate can't take it, s/he shouldn't be running for any elected job.

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Posted by A point of error
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:56 am

By the way, all of the school candidate forums and the District Office Candidate forums WERE open to the WHOLE community...

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:58 am

My take on this one is that the MI crowd are going to be giving particularly MI orientated questions and they expect those in the audience who do not support MI to misbehave. I don't think it is the candidates that they expect to get out of hand, but the anti MIers and probably they will be doing some deliberate taunting. I expect they expect the local press which is probably why they are using Town Square for publicity.

The MI supporters have their own means to publicise the event. The fact that they are publicising the event on Town Square indicates to me that they want the anti MI crowd there as they read Town Square. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by GOOD GRIEF
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 10:07 am

well, I can't imagine what any of the Board Candidates would say would change just because of the venue. I mean, if anyone DOES give different answers than they have been giving to the rest of the Forums,...NO VOTE!

So, why would anyone, "pro" or "anti" more immersion programs ( even that labeling is absurd, since most folks support immersion as a great program..just not here, now, in this this way, before anyone else has even a little FLES)...anyway, why would anyone get bent out of shape?

Good grief!

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Posted by good grief
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 10:08 am

Furthermore, all the other Forums had written questions, not public comments, and question sorters who usually did a great job of trying to get the most representative question on each issue.

So...setting it up this way is truly an insult. But, oh what?

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Posted by Wheres the Transparency?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 25, 2007 at 10:15 am

Not only that - but the disprespectfulness "Well" mentions usually tends to occur here, on the online forum (annonymously). I've NEVER heard it in a face to face board room setting. Maybe I missed it, but have the PTAC candidate forums been disintegrating into name calling cat fights or something? I don't think so - I believe they've been pretty respectful and mature.

Besides, a candidate has to have some thick skin, and a way to handle that kind of nonsense. Part of what we want to see is the candidates ability to handle adversity and stay on track.

Again, Grace, since we know you are there, can you explain why you feel the need to have a professional conflict mediator run a candidates forum and prescreen the questions?

In the name of transparency, this isn't. If I were a candidate, knowing how bruised this community is on lack of tranparency, I'd be crying foul here.

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Posted by defending the Forum?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2007 at 10:26 am

Again, not defending this "professional" forum, but why should a Candidate cry foul? It is a privately run Candidate's Forum, so they have every right to run it as they wish. So what?

I hope it is run online or blog line or something so I can watch it at some point. I think it should be interesting.

Besides, it isn't illegal to have disdain or contempt for vocal and active PAUSD parents who disagree with you, just revealing.

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Posted by Rather Bored
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 25, 2007 at 5:04 pm

From what I've heard, the candidates would say that the forums are pretty much a blur of very similar questions. Must get mind-numbing after a while. They all know each others' answers and have borrowed the good ones, so at this stage of the game we can conclude they're fast learners. This upcoming forum has multiple sponsors separate from the PTA, so maybe it will inject new flavor, new life.

There was another forum this week, not a PTA event. It focused on special ed, Two years from now, why don't we stop having a bunch of same-old, same-old forums, and hold just one or two general forums and then a series of specific-issue forums. It would force the candidates to go a little deeper into the things that are on people's minds.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 25, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Bizarre post by Grace. I mean, the other forums were both open and the questions screened. Also, they've all sounded pretty tame.


Grace Mah has been to a ton of board meetings--and even at the peak of the MI stuff, people were pretty polite.

To me, the post comes off as a bit self-serving--creating a paper tiger--all these rowdies disrupting PTAC meetings, whereas this will be well-behaved--*controlled*.

Or maybe it's just revealing.

Alas, this rowdy has more interesting plans.

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Posted by Another Perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2007 at 10:29 pm

"Even if you can't attend this event, please leave a comment on SV Moms Blog and the moderator will compile the list of questions."

Sounds like the format of this forum will be different from earlier forums. Typical school district forums a have a moderator whose main job is to read questions chosen by other volunteers. Apparently this moderaor has a bigger role, not just reading questions but also reviewing and compiling questions. I wonder if she will also ask clarifying questions if candidates skirt the topic without addressing the point, as sometimes happens when candidates just fill their 60 seconds of air time. I like the way journalists sometimes push candidates to give a more direct answer and I'd welcome that in school board forums. This could be interesting.

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Posted by PAUSD
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 25, 2007 at 11:12 pm

was the first person to post on this thread, and my remark, and Ms. Mah's response was removed.

At least I am satisfied that Ms. Mah knows the extent of damage that she has done to our schools, and our entire community.

Her tactics may have jeopardized the passing of future measures and bonds in this city because the voters (with or without children) lost trust.

It is unfair that our President, City Manager, Mayor, and school board members are allowed criticism on this forum (many times undeservedly), but Ms. Mah, always seems to manage to have it neatly removed.

As an appointed Santa Clara County Official, Board of Director at our local YMCA, and the founder of Palo Alto Chinese Education (PACE), perhaps she should considering wearing one more hat - a hard hat and ear plugs.

She cannot handle hearing the truth from an overwhelming majority of citizens in this community, and feels the need to have a National Dispute Specialist mediate her forum.

This is very bizarre.

I have been to several PTA sponsored candidate forums at our local schools.

BTW - Ms. Mah did not attend the two forums that I attended.

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Posted by Joel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2007 at 8:20 am

PAUSD (not!),

There is just a handful of malcontents, like you, who hold a grudge against Ms. Mah. The "overwhelming majority" want to have nothing to do with your venom and vituperation and personal attacks. Beyond the pale.

I hope that you are coming to see the damage you and your handful are doing to our schools and community, not least by jeopardizing future bonds. You also make any cooperation--on any issue--much harder down the road.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

I thought PAUSD was right on. Joel, perhaps you've been out of town for a year? Most of the comments I've heard in the school yard, and in the grocery store, in the neibhgorhoods pretty much ring true with PAUSDs comments.

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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 26, 2007 at 5:34 pm

I know that people have opinions on MI, choice, charters. So do I. And while I do still hear disparaging remarks about MI, I have to say that it is RIGHT HERE at Town Square Forum where the hostile din continues. In fact, my neighbors and parents in groups I hang out with are not talking about this stuff anymore. Most people I know, even those with strong opinions pro or con, just want to get on with other things. MI will flourish or wither, so let be what will be. In the meantime, there are plenty of important matters that need our district leaders' attention and upon which I certainly hope they can and will agree.

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Posted by Vote for vision
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2007 at 8:30 am

I have to agree. The disparagements both ways tends to just be here.

I don't think that the memories are gone, and I note clear tensions by a couple people in public, but MI is clearly here, whether or not you were for or against it or the way it happened or the way it ended up.

It has been born, now let's just accept it, and move on with making decisions that are best for all of our district. I will certainly not do anything to support it over any of my other priorities, but I am done thinking about it.

The only thing left is to try to vote in people who support your vision for the future of our District. So, vote in people who are friendlier to establishing more immersion/other lottery programs for a few kids, or vote in people who are friendlier to holding the line on neighborhood elementary schools and improving the education for every child. There are 3 one way, and 3 the other. It is extremely obvious which are which.

Go vote.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

I find it rather odd that the year's hot topic is supposed to be dropped a week before the election.

I mean, c'mon.

And MI's not here yet--the board could put a moratorium on it and that would be that. Not one kid's education disrupted because the program does not yet exist.

And, of course, it's a program that outgrows its site in three years and has not place to go.

It's so not a dead issue that it strikes me as kind of silly to pretend that it is. And, of course, the way it was mishandled is a huge comment on the board--and what kind of board we want to have.

So don't read here if you don't want to hear about it, but don't pretend no one cares. They do.

And so do you--in fact, it's easy to guess who you support. There's exactly one candidate who benefits from having the MI debate dropped. She's the one keeping her heavy involvment in it out of her campaign literature.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Los Altos

on Jun 5, 2017 at 6:09 pm

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