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May 13, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, May 13, 2005

ReaderWire ReaderWire (May 13, 2005)

Vote and nap

As the parent of a preschooler I spend a large part of my day saying "no" to my child: "No more cookies. No more television. No, you may not go to the library wearing just your underpants and a superhero cape."

On June 7 I will have an opportunity to say "yes" to my child and all of the children of Palo Alto when I vote to approve Measure A. I will say, "Yes, you need to have a well-funded education. Yes, you need to have a small class so that your teacher can give you the attention you need and deserve. Yes, you live in a community that supports neighborhood schools."

Each of these is threatened should this measure fail.

I know that when our children are young it's difficult to see how quickly they will become students in the elementary schools. We just want them potty-trained and to sleep through the night.

Because it is a six-year funding plan for schools, it is our preschoolers who will most feel the benefits of Measure A, or the losses should it not pass. I know I won't be ready when it's time for my son to attend kindergarten, but I will do my part to make sure kindergarten is ready for him.

I urge all parents of preschoolers to vote yes on Measure A. And then go home and take a nap.
Ann Smitherman
Moreno Avenue, Palo Alto

Time to thrive

Like many other Palo Altans, I moved my family here to take advantage of the high-caliber Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) schools.

My own parents made the same choice in 1974 and frequently I reflect on how that move enriched my childhood. Palo Alto's steep real-estate prices can be daunting, but less so than the alternative: to stay in another, more affordable town and place our children in private schools.

Parents typically view their move here as a costly but worthwhile investment in their children's education.

So far it's been a wonderful investment for my family. We've benefited from some excellent PAUSD programs, such as Young Fives.

Measure A ensures a future for such programs by providing funds to prevent more than 100 teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, reduced curriculum and possibly a school closure. PAUSD has already made sharp staffing cuts and further reductions will affect every classroom.

All of us who pay property taxes here have an investment at stake. For Palo Altans with or without children, our homes are often our most valuable assets. Good neighborhood schools draw families from other areas, bolstering real-estate values and preserving the investments we've made in our homes.

I can't imagine paying the hefty property taxes that come with a Palo Alto address without seeing a significant return on investment. For many of us, that return translates as an excellent school system where our children, those next-generation Palo Altans, can thrive.

Let's foster that investment.
Joanna Holmes
Addison Avenue, Palo Alto

A question of ethics

I commend the school board for having all those Measure A lawn signs sprinkled about the city. Their emotional slogans will prod us to go to the polls.

Unquestionably the district can use some parcel-tax money. Unfortunately there are a number of clear-cut cost-saving measures the board needs to address before it should be granted this increased tax. While these issues are complex and must be carefully scrutinized, my gravest concern is a question of ethics, which I'll take up here.

Witness results from Escondido Village in last November's election, where there was 80 percent support for the Measure I. Just as then, the vote for Measure A will not be on a level playing field.

Residents in high-density complexes, such as Stanford's student housing, enjoy representation without taxation. Seniors, such as myself, may opt out.

In either case this unavoidable privilege contradicts a basic tenet of our country, yet the board and its supporters do not appear to address the issue by any suggestion that these voters consider whether it is ethical to exercise their legal privilege and vote, and if they do, what vote they should cast.

In fact, the supporters appear to be urging us privileged citizens to help pass the measure. This leaves the board saying in effect it values money over morals. This fact will not be lost on our school children. It may well cost us more than what the money gained can ever purchase.
Michael Goldeen
Tasso Street, Palo Alto


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