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Palo Altans Barbara Spreng and Grace Mah candidates to fill SC County Board of Education vacancies

Original post made by Andrea, Crescent Park, on Mar 16, 2007

Enough said? Perhaps the County Board of Education would like imput from the Palo Alto community before they vote on March 27.

Web Link

Comments (13)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2007 at 10:09 am

If Grace Mah is testing the waters here, then she is obviously planning a similar run for the PAUSD BOE when the election for this gets going. We can definitely expect to see Mandarin and language issues the main topic and we must be in for the type of campaign we are not used to seeing here in Palo Alto.

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Posted by PAUSD Voter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2007 at 11:11 am

Parent, right you are. And as preview to the future, as part of the democratic process, I believe once a person throws their hat into the ring for a public office position, an informed and engaged community should discuss and debate that person’s qualities and qualifications for the position they are seeking:

Education Experience?
A whopping six year, SINGLE ISSUE drive at carving out a specialized enrichment program in PAUSD for an elite 5% of the student population, regardless of facility and staff resource shortages in this district, and regardless of the fact that the program is not supported by the district’s or the community's priorities, and regardless of the fact that PAUSD has no elementary level world language offerings for 95% of its students today. In fact her refusal to partner with PAUSD on alternative approaches to get Mandarin into elementary schools, for example through World Language FLES programs to reach all students, but rather to stick to her vision for an elite MI model, has been rock solid.

She's been turned down on this proposal for over five years, by multiple boards, and she’s steadfastly refuses time and again to take no for an answer, no matter how many PAUSD school boards turn her down. The school board and district staff has been yanked away from focus on a variety of pressing needs in order to focus, refocus, and focus again, on her program. Her latest iteration is using the charter school threat as a big stick to force the board into approving her choice program.

Dedication to Equity in Education?
Even though her program won't be able to be ethnically or socio-economically representative of the community, her program will require Mandarin testing for language proficiency for admission after first grade, will be virtually unreachable for achievement gap students, and non-Mandarin speakers after first grade, and special needs kids - she forges ahead anyway.

Champion of Transparency in Government?
She did a bang-up job of hiding the identity and number of donors that funded the MI feasibility study, steadfastly refusing to disclose the sources of funding that were lobbying the district to implement this program, raising unanswered concerns that this was a small special interest group of unknown locality, driving an unfair influence over public resources, and attempting to unduly influence PAUSD process.

Sound Process?
She was instrumental in driving the district’s Federal FLAP Grant application in 2006, requesting over $750 Thousand dollars for this small program. Inventing a $2.8M per year Mandarin program that didn't exist (claiming on the application it did), eclipsing even the scope of the PACE submitted MI program proposal, a grant outline that included a high school, middle school and elementary MI, included a wildly rich technology budget, fabulous classroom support, parent education, and layers upon layers of program management and claimed in the application that the program was in implementation phase (when in fact, the MI feasibility study hadn't even been performed, and none of it had been board approved.) When questioned on the methods, she had the common sense to explain on Palo Alto Online that the community was naïve and didn't understand the grant writing strategy; you pad a grant with "Gravy” (her word) which can be used by the district on other things. Ask for more, to get as much as you want. The grant was turned down, but if approved and accepted, it would have been a an end run way to lock the district into the grant defined program, (end running the PAUSD Board of education), by creating a written commitment between PAUSD and the Federal government

What kind of qualities do we value in candidates for our local government representation - someone who looks out for the full spectrum of student needs, is a champion of transparency in government, who is committed to sound strategic thinking, and someone who really resonates with equity in education, educational fairness and quality for all students, and someone who is a risk averse fiduciary of our public resources.

Being that PAUSD is a basic aid district, Palo Altans probably also favor someone who understands the financial impacts for PAUSD of enrollment growth, facilities at capacity, and understands the limitations and risk of the basic aid school funding model - who will fight for what’s right and fair and best for the 11,000 students and families in PAUSD.

Has Grace demonstrated these qualities here in Palo Alto? Has she proven herself to be an advocate of quality and equality in PAUSD?

Please write to the Santa Clara County Board of Education and Superintendent to let them know how you feel about Grace Mah's works in PAUSD.
Web Link

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2007 at 11:31 am

PAUSD Voter - You have a thorough and detail grasp of the facts and history on Grace Mah - I'm hoping you share that with the County Board.

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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2007 at 11:45 am

this is scary for those who care about equity and broad representation - not too many candidates, either

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Someone please give detailed instructions on how to write to the Santa Clara County Board of Education - and the deadliine for these letters. For those in this community that do not like these MI tactics, don't just sit there - do something, even if it means going in person to that Board meeting and saying so - enmasse.

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Board member bios, addresses and email if they provide it are at Web Link. The interviews will take place at the board meeting on March 28th.

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Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Mar 16, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

We're going to limit comments on this thread to those who register and use their name, with the hope that it will discourage personal attacks. To register, just click on the "Register" link in the very top portion of the Web page. It's quick and easy. Thanks.

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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Santa Clara County Board of Education
1290 Ridder Park Drive
San Jose, CA 95131

Who are the other two candidates? Do we need to be concerned about them, too?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2007 at 4:21 pm

pat is a registered user.

To contact the Santa Clara County Office of Education:

T.N. Ho, President

Gary Rummelhoff, Vice President

Jane Howard

Craig Mann

Leon F. Beauchman
No email address

Anna Song
No email address

Colleen B. Wilcox, Ph.D.
County Superintendent of Schools

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2007 at 11:14 pm

pat is a registered user.

Tyler: A serious question. How does registering guarantee that a person will use his/her real name? One could register with any name. And one could write anything under a real name or an alias. This "restriction" doesn't seem to really restrict anything.

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Posted by Karma
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Karma is a registered user.

PAUSD voter provides a good summary of Ms. Mah's track record in this school district. I've saved it in the event Parent is correct and there's a bid for PAUSD School Board on the horizon. I'd like to see further discussion of some of these points.
As to the SCCOE vacancy, I'll urge them to vote for another candidate who's track record has demonstrated a real committment to the educational needs of all the children of the community.

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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2007 at 1:43 am

anon is a registered user.

Who are the other two candidates? Do we need to be concerned about them, too?

Rose Filicetti and Barb Spreng

If you care about the candidates, ask them about their candidacy. Even Grace.

The above list of claims again Grace certainly are the voice of a vindictive MI opponent. But there's some nice words there, too:

o Six years of working with the school board, school district staff, and community.

o Attending more board meetings regarding school facilities, priorities, budget, curriculum, AAAG, and board policy than other Palo Alto candidates.

o Relentless and tenacious about something she truly believes in, and working with the system to make it happen. Commitment to task.

o Working with organizations outside Palo Alto, learning about best practices and "war stories" to be avoided.

o Effectively fundraising for a cause, and donating to the district with no strings attached.

o Encouraging cultural diversity, attending a VTP parent meeting and some meetings sponsored by the Parent Network Supporting Students of Color, being on the International Committee and Diversity Committee of the Palo Alto YMCA Board of Directors (7 years).

o Incessantly stating that the non-Mandarin-speaking students stand to gain the most from this program, and working on demystifying the Mandarin language.

o Contributed to an effective grant application which was only half a percentage point from the cut-off of winners.

Thanks for mentioning it!

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Posted by Barbara Spreng
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Barbara Spreng is a registered user.

I have spent the majority of my adult life working and volunteering on behalf of children and families, primarily in the areas of education and children/family services (e.g., PTA, Adolescent Counseling Services, Palo Alto Community Child Care, Facing History and Ourselves, etc.). In addition, both in personal practice and board membership (e.g., Leadership Midpeninsula, PAGE, etc.), I have strived to promote inclusive community-building and constructive civic engagement.

I would invite anyone who would like to learn more about me and my interest in serving on the Santa Clara County Board of Education to contact me, If you'd prefer a phone conversation, please send me your phone number and I'll call you as soon as possible. -- Barbara

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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