Two-way race opens up for county board of education

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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.


  1. Go Grace Mah!

    Melissa Baten Caswell is a stalwart teacher’s union supporter. She backed the teachers’union over OCR when OCR was investigating PAUSD for its misdeeds not following the law. Never mind about the students.

  2. Mah hasn’t done anything for the public schools in Santa Clara County. She has never bothered to show up or communicate with the public school parents in our area. Does anyone get updates from her? Invitations to town halls or coffee chats? She is invisible to anyone who is not a charter school parent. It is time for change!!

  3. I remember how Grace Mah held a gun to the head of the Palo Alto school board (figuratively, of course) and said that if they didn’t start a Chinese immersion program, she’d start a charter school in the Palo Alto district. It was extortion. I’ll never vote for her.

  4. I will vote for Grace Mah in a heartbeat. I am a resident at Stevenson House. I have a firsthand knowledge of how competent and compassionate she is. Grace Mah is leading our Board of Directors with huge responsibilities to ensure safety and wellbeing of our aging population. Her dedication, and her vast knowledge in many areas including government regulations, modern technology and financing are tremendous benefits to us here. Please vote for her.

  5. I’m sure Mah has a “vast knowledge of government regulations”. That’s how she got the Chinese Immersion program in the Palo Alto schools that nobody wanted except her. Her vast knowledge of government relations kept Bullis going. She’s sneaky and won’t be getting my vote.

  6. ll of the comments above are from teachers’ union proponents, no doubt. The CTA (Calif Teacher’s Assoc) is backing Melissa Caswell — and seeking to smear and oust Grace Mah for simply supporting a families right to choose where to send their child to school and to give them that opportunity to choose — in particular like low income children trapped in failing unionized public schools — like Ravenswood — for example, or failing schools in East San Jose and elsewhere in SCC. The teacher’s union can’t have that — competition is anathema to their monopoly model and especially because most charter schools are NON UNION. That’s why they hate charter schools and smear them. The teacher’s union seeks to trap all students and most importantly their MONEY in their virtuous circle. While education for children is compulsory; holding teacher’s union members accountable for providing an actual education, measured by student academic performance, is not. That’s why the teacher’s union can’t have that real competition — the money moves with the student if the students opt for charter schools. Lots of money and rich pensions are at stake. Looking at the CAASPP academic performance results for the state, the CTA members and school districts are doing a very poor job.

    And btw, saying someone is sneaky seems awfully close to making a racist comment. Stop that.

  7. [Comment deleted because the poster is using two different identities on this thread. Please, no sock puppets.]

  8. @janice says: “saying someone is sneaky seems awfully close to making a racist comment. Stop that.”

    “Sneaky” is verboten now by the PC police, even if the person is sneaky?

    Janice, what other words should we stop using?

  9. You’ve got to be racist to even think that sneaky is racist. That wouldn’t have occurred to me in a hundred years.

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