About this site

I was a Governing Board Member of the San Carlos School District, elected November 2007 and again in November 2011. This site was originally used for the purpose of communicating with school district constituents, however now it is used for surfacing ideas and expressing opinions on various subjects in education, politics, business, or otherwise.

Please note that any opinion express here is purely personal and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of anyone else or any organization with which I am, or have been, associated.

I will not accept anonymous comments, and all persons who post comments must have a valid e-mail address. Note that I reserve the right to edit, reject, or delete posts based on spelling, grammar, readability, or my judgment of what is appropriate discourse.


August 2015
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A High-Class Problem

As I’m sure most of you know, my second term on the San Carlos School Board ends this year, shortly after this November’s election (which is an odd thing to call it as in San Mateo County it will be an all-mail election). This will end my eight-year stint on the board, and I am grateful for the experience and having had the opportunity to be part of some extraordinary times in this District. I will save until the end of the year larger reflections on this time, but I did want to write a post about this year’s election.

This year, two of the seats — mine and Adam Rak’s — are up for election. Adam has also decided not to run for re-election, so this gives the opportunity for two new community members to join the board. The filing period for declaring candidacy ended earlier this week, and we have four individuals who have filed. Those who have been in the school district for a number of years will note how unusual this is — in the recent past all elections have either only garnered enough candidates to fill the slots (and hence no election) or just one one more candidate than positions with (in my opinion) a generally clear-cut choice among the candidates. I have always taken the stand that school board service is different than any other political position in that, among other reasons, we often encourage people to step up and take our places. It’s the healthy cycle of continual growth fueled by newer faces that enter our school community with a new energy and a strong stake in its success. As I end my tenure, it is very exciting for me to see so much interest in picking up the mantle. Perhaps it’s related to our relatively better financial position or perhaps it’s based on the progress this district has made over the last period. Or perhaps it’s just serendipitous. In any case, it’s a great gift to this community to have this level of interest.

Of the candidates, there are three very strong contenders — (in alphabetical order) Eirene Chen, Neil Layton, and Michelle Nayfack. I have met with each of them, and I find them all to be excellent candidates for school board. They are all young, energetic, intelligent, and strategic in their thinking. They are each big supporters of the District’s direction and Strategic Plan, and they each understand the incredible opportunity we have to fulfill the potential of that plan. Yet none of them are naive — they realize that the hardest work may be yet to come as we really re-think so many elements of a century-old education model.

Naturally, having such a strong pool of these three presents us all with a dilemma. I am often asked by friends and supporters for whom they should vote in these elections, and I have made endorsements to express such advice. But I must say with sincere honesty that based on what I know now, there is no clear-cut choice other than that two of these three should be elected. All three have my endorsement. I hope that the one who doesn’t win maintains his/her strong interest in serving and will consider running in two years when there will be three board seats up for election.

I realize that doesn’t help a whole lot in deciding for whom we should all vote. But given our historical challenge in attracting many high-quality candidates, this is a high-class problem to have. Also, I predict that Eirene, Neil, and Michelle will each run a very thoughtful and thorough campaign. I encourage all San Carlans to pay attention to their campaign materials, attend their community coffees and other get-togethers, attend and/or watch online the candidate forum which should shortly be scheduled, and talk to them directly if you can. It will help them be better board members, and help inform you on how to vote.

In any case, maybe I will look back and be most proud of the fact that our school district is in such a place to continually attract passionate interest from the community to play a key part in its public service. A high-class problem indeed.

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