Academically, socially, and emotionally

Ken Dauber(Esta página en español).

Our community shares a vision for Palo Alto schools where all children thrive academically, socially and emotionally.  Palo Altans are justifiably proud of our schools, but like any institution there is still work to be done. In 2011, I joined with a group of concerned parents to urge PAUSD to fully implement Project Safety Net’s plan for improving the social and emotional health of PAUSD students. This effort has had some notable successes. For example, we successfully advocated that the school district adopt a focused goal to reduce unnecessary academic stress, and in particular to form a committee to examine the purpose and volume of homework districtwide and to examine counseling in our high schools in order to determine whether all of our students are receiving strong support. Some of those efforts have already borne fruit: for example, as a member of the district homework committee I was a strong advocate of time limits for homework, a position that is now official PAUSD policy for the first time.

An Effective School Board. Based on this work, I am convinced that we can have a school board that plays a positive role in the district's work by setting clear priorities, encouraging the use of data and metrics to set goals and assess progress, and holding the board and district staff accountable for results. Our kids deserve our best work and our best thinking. I am committed to building consensus on the board for full transparency, streamlined decision making, and a data-driven governance process. A more open and public process will also pay dividends as we tackle together the hard problems of managing budget uncertainty, planning for enrollment growth and stewarding our physical assets.

Improved Health and Higher Achievement Go Hand in Hand. Our community's focus on ensuring the social and emotional well-being of our students stems most recently from our reaction to the tragic suicides of the last several years. I believe that our best roadmap for that work is the Project Safety Net plan, and in particular section P-8, "Supportive School Environment." P-8 calls for us to examine the practices of our schools -- homework, curriculum, counseling, test and project scheduling, etc. -- and to ask whether in each area we are doing all we can to support learning and student well-being. The payoff is higher academic achievement by more students and healthier, happier kids. That's a vision that we should all be able to get behind, and it's the one that spurred me to run for school board.

Planning for the Future. Our neighborhood schools are a strong community asset, building important connections and serving as a source of stability. We need to ensure that our planning process works to protect this resource. Our facilities are a shared asset for Palo Alto, from the schools that anchor our neighborhoods to the community hub at Cubberley. Navigating a future of demographic change and budget uncertainty requires that PAUSD develop planning capacity that it currently lacks. I’ll reach out to the community to tap expertise so that the school district can plan and partner with the city based on insight and confidence.

Closing the Achievement Gap. The highest purpose of public education is to meet each child where they are, and to enable them to achieve their full potential. Palo Alto has historically embraced this purpose, yet we have struggled to realize this promise for lower income and underrepresented minority children. I have spent the past ten years working with nonprofit and governmental organizations using data to illuminate causes and solutions for the achievement gap. Most recently, I played a key role in developing the US Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey of school districts nationwide. Before that, I worked extensively with the Education Trust, including conducting a study of intradistrict disparities in teacher salaries in California that resulted in legislation sponsored by State Senator Joe Simitian mandating greater transparency by school districts. This background is why I strongly supported the Superintendent's proposal to align our high school graduation requirements with the California A-G requirements for attending public universities in our state, and worked in concert with groups like the Parent Network of Students of Color and Student Equity Action Network to ensure its adoption by the school board. Now comes the hard work: ensuring that all students are supported in graduating ready for college, using data to track progress and ensure curricular alignment, and identifying and overcoming barriers to success earlier in students' academic careers.

A Wealth of Experience in Education Data and Policy. My involvement in Palo Alto schools stems from my experience with my own kids -- I've had three children in PAUSD schools, including Nixon, Barron Park, JLS, Terman, and Gunn. It also comes from my consulting work on educational data and the achievement gap over the last decade with several nonprofit and governmental organizations, including the Education Trust, the Gates Foundation, and most recently the U.S. Department of Education. That work draws on my background as a sociologist (I have a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and was an assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern), and as a software engineer (I work on the user interface for search at Google). I combined these interests in four years at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning. I believe that solving complex problems requires good data, clear metrics, and strong analytical capabilities. These have not been core strengths of PAUSD in the past, but they can be in the future and I will work hard to move the district in that direction as a member of the school board.

How You Can Get Involved. Please check back frequently, as this site will expand to include more information about my qualifications and my position on the issues. I'd like to have your support, and there are already opportunities here to endorse me, volunteer in the campaign, and donate to help with costs like yard signs and mailers. I'd particularly like to hear from you directly, and you can email me at [email protected] or give me a call at 650-906-4340.

Photo © 2012 by Paige K. Parsons Photography

Do you like this page?

Visit Ken on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Contact: [email protected] or 650-906-4340

Download literature