Palo Alto’s quest to fill two vacant seats on its five-member school board has become a debate over priorities: Does the city prioritize implementation of Common Core educational standards, combat student stress or tackle challenges related to soaring enrollment?
Palo Alto’s schools, which ranked sixth-highest last year in statewide academic performance, are the crown jewel of a town whose prominence has grown with the boom of the technology sector. Maintaining high quality schools is a top priority of parents, making the school board election in some ways even more or at least just as significant as the city council race.
Below is a chart with information on the candidates in the Nov. 4 Palo Alto school board election.
Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera
Founder of Unity Network
Top Ideas in Platform: Interactivity within the school district (“Bringing our 18th-19th century democracy of voting every four years to 21st century technology and interactivity to every school board decision, constantly being updated.” + Computer programming and coding becoming a basic Silicon Valley public education staple.
What Makes Him the Best: “The primary thing I bring to this election is an alternative perspective. I am an outsider,” referring to involvement in school district now, only non-parent.
What the Other Candidates are Saying: “Jay is an innovative thinker and I really appreciate that through the process.” –Gina Dalma
Senior Education Program Officer at Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Top Ideas in Platform: Interactivity with other learning centers in the area (Stanford, Menlo, DeAnza, etc.); “Intentionally reaching out to thought leaders in education in our community.” + Implementation of Common Core standards + Consistent scale to evaluate innovation throughout the district.
What Makes Her the Best: “There’s no better investment than investing in education…I do education innovation, I do education excellence, I do education efficiency, I’m a professional at this, this is what I do."
What the Other Candidates are Saying: “She is an encyclopedia of knowledge about educational progress.”—Jay Cabrera
Software engineer at Google
Top Ideas in Platform: Social & emotional well-being progress with policies + 13th elementary school to deal with overpopulation (30% population growth over the last 20 years; no new schools built since 1998) + Collaborating and cooperating with the Office of Civil Rights following resolution.
What Makes Him the Best: “I have been very involved in advocating at the board level for policy changes that will make a difference for kids. I think I have a substantial experience already...”
What the Other Candidates are Saying: “Ken is a very good, strong person who I could see myself collaborating with.”—Gina Dalma
Catherine Crystal Foster
Independent consultant serving several education non-profits
Top Ideas in Platform: Successful implementation of Common Core Standards (“Using these as an opportunity to engage our students and provide an innovative curriculum for all of them.”) + Effective communication through district (Parents and district can use Common Core to come together to do best rollout possible.”) + Closing the achievement gap in the district.
What Makes Her the Best: “I have a really broad range of experience that includes policy work, evaluation, and hands-on work with kids, and I’ve worked for 20 years with kids.”
What the Other Candidates are Saying: “I think that all the candidates are strong and I could work with any of them.”—Terry Godfrey
Independent consultant working with New Americans Campaign and Grove Foundation
Top Ideas in Platform: Ability to be more innovative due to financial climate and new Superintendent + Renovations through PAUSD + Further education of teachers (Over 800, making sure they have what they need to get kids through the process to reach their idea of success.”) + Foreign languages in elementary schools (Easy change that can make big difference.”)
What Makes Her the Best: “If I look at the folks who will still be on the board, the skill set I bring is a unique set of skills (MBA in Finance, financial experience) that does not exist on the board already.”
What the Other Candidates are Saying: “I think Terry has a real record of commitment to students in Palo Alto.” – Ken Dauber