Meet Election Candidates: Patricia Low for Albany School Board

Patricia Low is running for Albany School Board against John Kindle and incumbent Ron Rosenbaum . The three candidates are competing for two seats at the school board. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

Patricia Low traced her decision to run for Albany School Board back to her kindergarten year.  When she was a kindergartner in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1960s, boys and girls were separated in the school yard.

She didn’t have Caucasian classmates until her family moved across the Bay to Berkeley two years later. At her new school, there were few students of color. She was the only Asian student in her class.

“People often regarded me as an exchange student, ” Low said.

That experience changed drastically in her third-grade year, when the Berkeley School District desegregated elementary schools in 1968.

“The school became entirely different. It was fascinating to me, ” Low said. “It led me into a life-long interest in public education.”

She thrived in the new school system. She graduated from University of California at Berkeley as a English Literature major, got several teaching credentials at San Francisco State University, and went on to obtain a PhD in Education at Stanford.

“As an Asian American woman, I was very fortunate to grow up during this time in California, ” she said.

She taught at several public schools and lectured at community colleges in the Bay Area for about ten years. Now she works for a non-profit educational research organization based in Oakland.

“I could talk about school education for ever and bore other people, ” Low said during a recent interview in her house, which was two blocks away from Albany Middle School, where her son was attending school.

Low and her husband moved to Albany 13 years ago, when they were expecting the child. Similar to many young couples moving to the city, the quality of Albany schools was a major reason for their choice.

When her son was attending Cornell Elementary,  Low was always around. She used to be a board member of the PTA,  a member of the School Site Council, and the Chairman of the International Potluck, an annual event during which parents from diverse cultural backgrounds cooked and shared food.

After her son finished elementary this summer, Low decided that it was time for her to run for the school board.

“With my extensive background in education, it makes sense and it’s the best fit,” she said.

She has got endorsements from two current school board members, Miriam Walden and Jamie Calloway. (Click here to view the full endorsement list)

She doesn’t accept donations, and she plans to spend less than $1,000 for her campaign.

“Given the current economic times, it’s better to run a simple and effective campaign, ” she said.  “It’s my contribution to the community. “

***

A message from Patricia Low:

I have decided to run for the Board of Education in Albany upon the encouragement of Board member Miriam Walden and other members of the community for the following reasons. I believe that the board would benefit from my broad educational and work experience in education. I also believe the board would benefit from becoming more ethnically diverse. Finally, I choose to run because I have long held community service as a value in my life and work choices and serving on the board would allow me to continue this tradition.

Now one of the most important things a school board member has to do is make sound, ethical, fiscally responsible decisions that benefit the greatest number of students, teachers and community members as possible. I have training and experience evaluating data, facilitating groups and conducting evaluations. My daily work requires me to summarize and process data and information quickly and efficiently. I understand school finance from my work on the Cornell PTA Board and School Site Council, as well as my professional experience. I am a voracious reader. I am equipped to make responsible decisions that benefit the community.

More than that, I have thought carefully about the context in which decisions about schools have to be made. What is our vision for Albany schools? What is our hope for the future of our children? Sound responsible decisions must be made in the context of such a vision. As a board, it is our responsibility to be visionary as well as practical. I have proven work experience showing that I can work as a team member to develop goals and accomplish tasks based upon these goals.

When I think of preparing Albany students for productive and joyful futures, I have many ideas. For one, we need to prepare students to live in an increasingly global and information based society. For another, while giving students an excellent education in the basic academic areas has certainly been a strength in Albany, we also need to recognize the increasing importance of multiple intelligences, including social and emotional intelligences and skills.

On a practical level, then, I am very interested in curriculum and instruction as they address the goals I have described in the previous paragraph. I also care deeply about the lives of children and their families in and out of school and recognize that quality daycare and enrichment are very important to Albany families. Particularly in our present economy, American middle class families are stretched thin with school and work and other activities and responsibilities. I am interested in addressing the academic, daycare and enrichment needs of students while recognizing that some long term planning may be in order as the district is short on space and facilities. But, again, this is where having a vision is important. We need to listen to all sectors of the Albany community to learn about and plan how best to support families of all kinds. If we do so, we could enhance our already good reputation as a community and school district that supports families and young people.

Finally, I have always been a good listener and I plan to continue to do so. On the playground, on the soccer field, at the band concerts and everywhere in the community, I have heard many interesting, insightful thoughts on education and raising a family in today’s world from so many of you. I will continue to listen if you give me the opportunity to contribute to the Albany schools and community by becoming a member of the Board of Education. Thank you for your consideration.

*This post is part of Meet Election Candidates, a special coverage on the local elections by Albany Today. Each candidate for this year’s local elections has been invited to write an article and record a video speech addressed to Albany voters, which will be published on Albany Today in the following days. Please read their articles, watch their speech, and feel free to write comments under the posts.

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4 Responses to Meet Election Candidates: Patricia Low for Albany School Board

  1. I endorse Pat Low. She will make our wonderful schools even better. Her background and experience is impressive. We as a community are lucky to have the opportunity to elect such a fine candidate. Thank you for offering your leadership to our schools.

    Mayor Robert Lieber

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