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Beginning Journalism Editorial: Endorsing Dauber and Caswell

Published November 5, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following editorial reflects the views and opinions of Paul Kandell’s 2nd period Beginning Journalism class. These views do not necessarily reflect the views of The Paly Voice.

The Palo Alto Unified School District has long carried a reputation of academic excellence, and with school board elections around the corner, it is important that we are able to maintain this standard.

The district’s budget continues to decrease and enrollment growth continues to inflate. We need leaders who can rise to the occasion and effectively ensure that students, the future, are able to thrive in an environment that will nurture their creative and cognitive abilities, their social well-being, and most importantly: prepare them to succeed later in life.

It all starts with the school board. Who are you planning to support?

As Palo Alto High School beginning journalists from Room 213, we feel that it is our duty to help you pick the best candidates to lead our community in its mission to continue growing our schools and preparing our students for the future.

After careful deliberation, we have decided that Melissa Baten-Caswell and Ken Dauber are the best candidates for the job. We endorse these candidates for several reasons.

First, both candidates have a strong business background; Dauber works for Google, and Caswell gained experience from her days on Wall Street.

Caswell managed to contract the prestigious consulting firm, Mckinsey & Company, to help create a long term financial plan for our schools; pro bono.

Dauber has been a strong advocate for change.  Unlike other educational advocates, Dauber was willing to take initiative. He formed the student advocate group, “We Can Do Better Palo Alto”, in order to help increase student-well being. Due to Dauber’s involvement in various programs aiding students, we believe his experience will allow PAUSD to implement new and refreshing programs that will decrease student stress. Clearly, these candidates know how to put their ideas into action.

If they were to become elected to the school board, both these candidates would have strong, identifiable goals to put into effect.

Caswell strives to have students attempt find their passion through education as opposed to obsessing over their grades. With a strong grasp of the system, Caswell can efficiently guide the school board and carry out initiatives that she has already started. Caswell continues to prove her ability to create new ideas and answers to numerous problems developed at PAUSD.

Caswell expressed interest in a specific program for Palo Alto High School that would eliminate finals for seniors allowing them to intently focus on their college applications.  This program would grant students more time to polish their college essays and receive help from the numerous college guidance counselors.

Dauber has advocated strongly to promote student’s social health, and is not afraid to voice his opinions. Earlier this year he publicly called out superintendent Kevin Skelly, in what Dauber saw as a failure to fully protect student well being.

While some see Dauber as a radical, this should not be a point of concern. In today’s world of wishy-washy politics, with bland, desaturated politicians, it is more important than ever to have leaders who are willing to take a firm stand in something they believe in.

Caswell, while not quite as outspoken as Dauber, has stressed important points on key issues in a unique way from the run of the mill views voiced by other candidates, Camille Townsend and Heidi Emberling.

Caswell is particularly adamant about fostering creative abilities in public schools. She has stated repeatedly that she wants to continue to provide students with fun, engaging electives such as glass-blowing, which helps bring out the inner artistic abilities in students. She also maintains that classes, ranging from Spanish to Algebra, must be meaningful and relevant in order to better prepare students for their life outside of school and help them discover their passions by being excited about learning.

There are those who feel that incumbent school board president Camille Townsend should be re-elected for a record third term, in large part based on her substantial experience.  However, if you look over Townsend’s track record, you will be hard-pressed to find anything particularly exceptional. In reality, the biggest impact she’s made in her recent term has been to help organize a new homework plan. Her efforts were well-meant, but ultimately did not create much change, as the homework plan has yet to be fully enforced in any school.

Other feel that Heidi Emberling could bring a new perspective, but she still appears to be a bit of a wild card in that many are unsure of what sides she takes on specific issues. While she is no doubt a wonderful person and a devoted parent, she doesn’t seem to have strong enough views to bring anything significant to the school board.

Dauber may be relentless on his quest for increased student well being, and some have taken this in ill will, perhaps feeling him to be too progressive. He may be outspoken, but at least we know for sure what he wants and how he intends to bring about change, as opposed to others like Emberling or Townsend.

Yes, we of Palo Alto need school board members who have strong opinions that they aren’t afraid to fight for; school board members who are willing to take a stand; school board members who will take the initiative and follow through with their efforts to prepare the next generation for the future.

We believe the overall strengths of Caswell and Dauber complement one another in creating diverse and varied ideas that will lead the Palo Alto School Board into its next chapter.  For all these reasons, we of Palo Alto High School room 213 Beginning Journalism are proud to endorse Melissa Baten Caswell and Ken Dauber for school board.


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