Shana Segal, a graduate of Palo Alto schools, former teacher and current Palo Alto parent, has announced plans to run for a seat on the Board of Education this November.
If elected, Segal wants to focus on better meeting the needs of kids regardless of their academic level, as well as improving communication and collaboration with parents and teachers, Segal said in an interview.
"I want to build this partnership back with the teachers, the administrators, the board, the parents and the students," Segal said. "I'm not seeing this partnership right now."
Two seats on the Palo Alto Unified School District's board are up for a vote this November. Incumbent Ken Dauber isn't seeking reelection. Shounak Dharap, the other incumbent, is planning to run for a second term. Nicole Chiu-Wang and Ingrid Campos are also seeking spots on the board.
Growing up, Segal attended Ohlone Elementary School, Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School and Gunn High School, and currently has two kids attending Palo Verde Elementary School.
Professionally, Segal taught English and English Language Development for a decade at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, including serving as chair of the English Language Development department for seven years, according to her campaign website. She is currently a substitute teacher in Palo Alto schools.
She also works as a "school consultant," where she helps families choose what preschool, private school or public school to send their children to. If elected, Segal told the Weekly that she would stop working as a school consultant.
From her own experiences and those of other families, Segal doesn't believe the district is "adequately addressing the achievable needs of our children." Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Segal said the district needs to have more mental health resources for kids in all grades, including a strengthened social and emotional learning curriculum for elementary schoolers.
She is also a supporter of what's known as "differentiated instruction," where educators tailor the curriculum to the skill level of each individual student. Teachers can't do this work alone, Segal said, adding that she wants the district to put resources and appropriate personnel into the effort.
"Data shows that students of all levels need to be appropriately challenged in order to feel engaged, happy and supported, so I'm not in favor of a one-size-fits-all type curriculum," Segal said.
Segal is also interested in working to remedy the gaps in opportunities that students with fewer resources have by offering free after school support programs for kids who are struggling in math or English, as well as providing greater support for students who are learning English.
Another focus for Segal is on making sure teachers and parents are included in decision-making. She pointed to two recent examples where she didn't feel that was the case: the board's decision this spring to adopt an English Language Arts curriculum that many teachers who participated in the pilot program didn't support and a separate decision last fall to temporarily relocate Palo Verde Elementary School to the Cubberley Community Center site this coming school year while Palo Verde's campus is under construction.
"When they made this decision, it did not appear as if parent input was being heard, respected or validated," said Segal, whose children attend Palo Verde.
The window for candidates to file the necessary paperwork to formally run for office opened on Monday, July 18, and closes Friday, Aug. 12. That period is extended five days if an incumbent doesn't file paperwork to run.