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Save the 2,008 gives final push with email campaign

Save the 2,008 co-founder Marc Vincenti pleads to Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education members to put his campaign back on the board agenda. Vincenti started an email campaign to get parents to show how much support there is for Save the 2,008. “There’s not a single thing in Save the 2,008 that suggests it’s about improving academic performance, it’s about social and emotional well-being,” Vincenti said. Photo by Takaaki Sagawa.

Save the 2,008 campaign coordinator Marc Vincenti is launching an email campaign to prompt the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education to put Save the 2,008, a plan to combat stress in high schools, back on the board agenda.

According to Supt. Max McGee, he has recently received nine notes from community members but none from faculty members regarding Save the 2,008.

On Oct. 9, McGee sent a message to Vincenti stating that the school board “will not be returning the plan to the agenda for discussion and action.” This decision came after the board meeting on Sept. 8, during which the board discussed the plan.

In response, Vincenti is imploring community members to flood McGee and other board members with emails about Save the 2,008. Vincenti says he is unsure if the campaign will be a success.

“I honestly have no idea at all what the email campaign will or won’t accomplish, and I can’t read the minds of the Board or of Mr. McGee,” Vincenti said.

According to Vincenti, he was not pleased with McGee’s decision, partly because of the way the discussion at the Sept. 8 board meeting went.

“Not a single detail of the Save the 2,008 plan had been brought up, let alone discussed,” Vincenti said in an email. “Some key facts of the plan had been misstated. Then, subsequent to the Sept. 8 meeting, a district official sent out a communication to the school community that got three of our six proposals wrong.”

At the school board meeting Oct. 13, Vincenti spoke in the open forum portion of the school board meeting to address the discussion of Save the 2,008. Gloria Simon, a community member, also spoke in support of Save the 2,008.

Gloria Simon
Palo Alto community member Gloria Simon addresses the Board of Education during the open forum portion of the Oct. 13 meeting. Simon expressed her disappointment with the school board’s discussion about Save the 2,008 at the Sept. 8 board meeting. “Clearly there is a lack of understanding of the six components,” Simon said. Photo by Takaaki Sagawa.

“I urge you to reconsider the news of this decision [to stop discussion of Save the 2,008 during board meetings],” Simon said. “It is disappointing since there hasn’t really been a true discussion. … I am just not convinced that there is an understanding that there is a crisis here.”

In a letter to community members concerned with the Save the 2,008 verdict, McGee defends his decision by highlighting various plans inspired by similar Save the 2,008 proposals, including the new Advanced Placement class parent sign-off requirement.

“No one has cut off discussion,” McGee said. “There are numerous touch points between Save the 2,008 and district policies and practices and we credit Save the 2,008 with having stimulated important discussions that in turn led to changes in practice such as the AP sign-off for parents and students.”

Additionally, McGee points out that Save the 2,008’s proposals are not proven to have the full support of Palo Alto teachers and others.

“Likewise, neither Gunn [High School] nor Paly [Palo Alto High School] teachers nor members of the administration were included in the development of his [Vincenti’s] proposals,” McGee said. “That does not mean they are not good ideas.”

For board member Camille Townsend, attacking the broad issue of student stress is a problem that isn’t about implementing a single group’s plan. Townsend says it is the school board’s duty to consider ideas concerning schools from the whole community.

“We have over 12,488 students, 25,000 parents, almost 900 teachers and a community who help guide us to where we can do better and improve learning and the environment,” Townsend said. “The Board seeks input from diverse opinions and crafts programs and ideas from those diverse, and often, divergent opinions.”

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