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BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Longtime Santa Clara County Board of Education member Grace Mah says she will fight to keep her seat against Palo Alto school board member Melissa Baten Caswell this November.
Baten Caswell, who has been on the school board since 2007, has announced that she will run for Mah’s seat, which covers Palo Alto to Sunnyvale. The county board oversees things such as special education, charter school appeals, child care and teacher training.
Mah, also a Palo Alto resident, has been on the county board since 2007 and says she has worked on things such as expanding child care and preschool services. One of the ways she did that was by co-founding a program called
Strong Start, which is a coalition of officials who work together to increase educational opportunities for children up to eight years old.
Mandarin immersion program Mah may be best known in the city for bringing about the Mandarin immersion program at Ohlone Elementary.
Mah said she was so impressed with how her son did in a two-year preschool Mandarin immersion program, learning 200 Mandarin characters during his time there, that she wanted to see if the school district would offer a program similar to the district’s Spanish immersion program.
As Mah was formulating a program in Palo Alto, she was watching the trials and tribulations of Bullis Charter in Los Altos. The parents who were behind the Bullis Charter fought with the Los Altos School District over issues such as classroom space. A number of lawsuits were filed, and the debate over Bullis polarized the Los Altos community.
Mah said that one option to start a Mandarin immersion program would have been to open a charter school that would have brought in a quarter of a million dollars to the district.
But the district did not approve Mah’s application.
When she said she wanted to start a charter school, the board decided to go with the immersion program.
Meanwhile, Mah said she was tracking Bullis’ progress “very closely.” In fact, in 2003, before Mah was on the board, it voted to let Bullis open up.
If she stays on the board, Mah said she’d like to continue working to bring universal preschool to the county.