The Huttlinger Alliance for Education has endorsed Los Altos resident David Cortright for the Area 1 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.
The group of Los Altos School District parents and others who formed over the summer, said in its endorsement statement that Cortright's educational values aligned more closely with its own than that of incumbent Grace Mah's.
The group interviewed both candidates in person and extensively considered both candidates’ positions on the key elements of the Alliance’s mission, it said.
Cortright is a Los Altos resident who has no children, and the Alliance said it "gives him an important degree of objectivity that a parent with a vested interest in one program or another may not have."
Cortright had displayed his ability to be a quick study on the subject of public education, the Alliance noted. "Early education, social and emotional learning (such as the Yale RULER program) and parent involvement are all facets of public education he believes should be included in the conversation."
It noted Mah's long commitment to public service, first to Palo Alto Unified School District, where she helped get a Mandarin immersion program started (exploring the idea of a Mandarin charter school as well). It also noted her work on the county board, working on the San Jose 2020 initiative, which is focused on eliminating the achievement gap, and served on the search committee for the new superintendent, Xavier De La Torre. In addition, it noted her work as an appointee to the Children’s Agenda Vision Council, and desire to ensure quality childcare, medical and dental care are available to all students.
"On the subject of charter schools, Mah’s positions are difficult for us to reconcile" however, the Alliance said. It called the large number of charter schools approved by the County Board of Education "a fundamentally overbroad application of the “choice” concept that has become the charter school movement’s raison d’etre."
"We were also perplexed by Mah’s acknowledgement that the County Board has insufficient staff to supervises the charter schools it approves, but that such lack of staff does not impact her decisions whether to approve a county charter school over the objection of a local school district," the Alliance wrote.
"We believe Mah’s assertion that she has no choice under the law but to approve charters is overly legalistic."
The organization said it hoped that she will continue to engage in the dialogue on the many issues important to her constituents, and will continue working to improve the opportunity for the under-served and under-privileged students in our community, but it could not endorse her candidacy.
"In sum, we admire Cortright’s enthusiasm for diving into a challenging role and his willingness to listen and to learn," Huttlinger wrote. "We particularly value his close alignment with the Alliance’s education philosophy in favor of high-performing neighborhood public schools."
The full text can be seen as an attachment, above.