Palo Alto voters will select candidates on Nov. 8 to fill the two available seats on PAUSD’s Board of Education. Among incumbent Shounak Dharap, Ingrid Campos, Shana Segal and Nicole Chiu-Wang, The Campanile thinks Dharap and Chiu-Wang will best represent the interests of parents and students on communication, academic achievement and student well-being.
During his first term, Dharap participated in public working groups like the Property Committee, the Financial Advisory Committee and the Policy Review Committee. The Campanile thinks Dharap will remain an active community participant while working toward his priorities of academic equity and mental health in a second term.
In 2021 and 2022, Dharap chaired the Board Equity Oversight Committee to create the Systemwide Integrated Framework for Transformation, a plan to decrease the achievement gap and promote diversity within the district. With measures to implement universal design for learning in classrooms, emphasize early literacy and provide equity-focused training for teachers, we think the SWIFT plan takes important steps to ensure equal opportunities for all students at all levels. With his prior experience on the board and on the equity oversight committee, Dharap would best oversee the implementation of the SWIFT plan and continue making progress to improve the district’s equity plan.
Dharap has also supported creating more mental health resources within the district, which we think is important for reducing student stress. In 2022, he voted to allocate $16 million to hire therapists and counselors to make up for a lack of wellness staff after the COVID-19 pandemic, a valuable effort to improve student support.
The Campanile thinks Dharap’s experience and priorities make him a versatile candidate to represent parent and student interests and support his run for a second term for the board.
In addition, we believe Nicole Chiu-Wang deserves a seat for her commitment to supporting students at all grade levels, academically and socially, as well as her commitment to increasing diversity in the district.
With her experience as an entrepreneur and lawyer, The Campanile thinks Chiu-Wang is well-qualified to deal with administrative and operational challenges on the board.
To provide a solid foundation for the district, Chiu-Wang said one of her main goals is to strengthen early childhood education by extending programs like the Every Student Reads Initiative and creating a universal preschool to set students up for success in higher grades.
The Campanile thinks providing early education opportunities for all students is a critical step towards closing the achievement gap in the district.
Chiu-Wang also said she supports emphasizing student learning over test scores. In addition to tests, she proposed using teacher evaluations of progress and retakes on tests that demonstrate improvement to assess student progress. These alternative metrics would not only create a fairer, more holistic view of student achievement, but they could also contribute to lowering test anxiety and improving mental health among students.
Supporting diversity in the district is another of Chiu-Wang’s main goals. With greater social-emotional learning and cultural awareness in history curriculum, for example, students can experience a broader range of perspectives and gain insight into building an inclusive, multiethnic community.
The Campanile urges voters to vote for Dharap and Chiu-Wang on Nov. 8. They are the candidates we think will make the greatest positive impact on our community and our school.
Editor’s note: We urge voters not to vote for Ingrid Campos on Nov. 8 for her inappropriate comments on sexual orientation in education.