Posted by FormerMPAEFadmirer, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 2, 2006 at 2:15 pm
Why would Ted Schlein misuse his position as co-president of the Foundation (Menlo Park Atherton Educaitonal Foundation), which we have personally supported with thousands of dollars annually, and treat a wonderful organization as his personal marketing device to promote candidates to a local city council(one of whom conveniently serves on the Board too.) Endorsing as an invidual: OK; endorsing as MPAEF president: not OK. Ethics and good judgment are in severe shortage on the other side of the political aisle. Yuck!
Posted by could have been an MPAEF donor, a member of the Laurel School community, on Nov 2, 2006 at 9:47 pm
I just cringed when I saw that endorsement--no matter who you support for the council race, this does such big damage to MPAEF! I cannot believe the leader of MPAEF would jeopardize the success of the donation drive just to help friends get elected to political positions. I'm a new parent at the school system and was thinking it was an automatic thing that I would donate to MPAEF, but now I'm thinking it's not a good idea this year. I'll find other worthy causes that have leaders with better judgment to support.
And I agree with the other comment--endorsing as an individual person is ok, but when you attach a title to it, the meaning of the endorsement changes.
Posted by StopPersonalAttacks, a member of the Oak Knoll School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 7:21 am
It is normal, customary and important that the community positions of political endorsers - representing only their own personal views - are included as part of a political endorsement. A quick review of the Heyward Robinson webpage at SmartVoter.com is a useful example. Mr. Robinson is endorsed by Stanford Environmental science faculty, members of the Committee for the Green Foothills and the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District. The inclusion of those individual's titles does not suggest that those organizations endorse Mr. Robinson. It does infer that people in the community who are knowledgeable and involved in environmental matters support his candidacy. This is useful information to me as a voter because it suggests where Mr. Robinson's values and priorities might lie.
Mr Schlein is identified both with his title as a Partner,Kleiner-Perkins and as Co-President, Menlo Park Schools Foundation. The inclusion of these titles provides important context as to why I as a voter should listen to his opinion. The titles in no way suggest that either Kleiner-Perkins nor the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation (MPAEF) endorse the slate. This does provide useful context to me that Mr Schlein has some basis to express his opinion about management teams, business plans, and a future vision of Menlo Park that has our children in mind.
Mr. Robinson, Mr. Boyle and Mr. Schlein are all very involved citizens -- doing great work for our kids raising money, coaching, pushing for a better Menlo Park. All three are parents of kids at Oak Knoll School. The example I want my kids to see is one where leadership is a part of citizenship, where the expression of an individual's thoughtful, positive opinion is applauded (not jeered or called naive), a community where freedom to think like an individual is protected and savored. Let's all calm down.
Posted by DaretoDisagree, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2006 at 8:39 am
StopPersonalAttacks, your letter highlights the problem with the endorsement. When someone with expertise in environmental issues supports a candidate, the voter can infer that the candidate is "politically correct" from an environmental perspective. Similarly, when someone describing himself as the CEO of an organization indicates his support for a candidate, the voter can surmise that the organization is favorably disposed to the candidate.
The problem arises when a nonprofit organization, barred by the IRS from becoming involved in political campaigns, appears to endorse a candidate. And Schlein, perhaps inadvertently, gave that impression in his endorsement. As a private citizen--absolutely, he can endorse anyone--but it appeared that he was speaking on behalf of the organization, and that is not acceptable and also violates the IRS rules. It would be a shame if the MPAEF lost its 501(c)(3) status because of this.
By the way, MPAEF is not about creating a vision for our children. Its sole purpose is to support education in the district through fundraising. The school board, which also has three openings in this election, is the body responsible for creating a vision.
Posted by FormerMPAEFAdmirer, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 9:01 am
One board member's response was that "Menlo Park School Foundation" could refer to any of the nine private schools or three public school districts in our area. The bumper stickers refer to it as The Foundation, they hold a "Foundation Week" every May, so aren't we seeing more dissembling here?
The Board's official response so far has been insipid in that it doesn't look like they will do anything public too soon, but will look into the matter down the road. And this as they get into full gear for the massive November 7 fund-raising. Wish we could get our contribution back this year, until they find their spine!
Posted by Get a Grip, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:19 pm
Mr. Schein did absolutely nothing wrong. Stop attacking people for voicing their support of one candidate or anohter. Stop attacking individuals in general. This over reaching sensitivity and strident criticisms of individuals for only participating in a community discussion has to stop if we are ever going to have a civil political process in Menlo Park. Stop it - please!
Posted by Aghast and agape, a resident of the Menlo Park: University Heights neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:22 pm
Maybe in your next post you could address the issue of how Mr. Sclein's endorsement made an utterly false statement, and explain to us all how that falls within the noble tradition of campaign endorsements.
Posted by FormerMPAEFAdmirer, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:28 pm
TO get a Grip (indeed): A civil political discourse starts with ethical participants. As a generous contributor to the MPAEF coffers (and even if I weren't), I am fully entitled to object when an admirable organization's name gets mixed up with politics. As for calling this "personal attacks," where is the call for personal responsibility?
Posted by MenloParkMomma, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:45 pm
Anyone who's been in the MPCSD for very long knows what the Foundation is.
The only positive thing I can say about Schlein's endorsement is that it's one of the more benign pieces of misinformation being spouted by the incumbent slate and their friends, not nearly as duplicitous or damaging as other material they've produced.
By the way, the MPAEF got its start as a very clique-y kind of organization, and for years its main fundraiser was a winetasting that was open by invitation to a select few. Then the Foundation went through a period of trying to appeal to the broader community. Unfortunately, the current board appears to be trying to reinvent itself as a country clubish let-them-eat-cake sort of organization. I'm afraid they have lost my support with this one.
Posted by concerned, a member of the Laurel School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 1:52 pm
My concern with this situation isn't a personal attack at all. My biggest worry is the damage to the organization of the MPAEF--they are really important to our community and our schools are excellent largely because of the enriched programs their funding provides. But when the leadership of an organization this important does something that is damaging to the organization, they need to take responsibility and apologize and attempt to rectify the situation, not blame people for mis-interpreting them. Mr. Schlien could have avoided this situation had he made sure the foundation title wasn't used in his endorsement.
Posted by MP Mom, a member of the Laurel School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 3:52 pm
I personally believe that Ted Schlein made an error in judgement in citing his foundation affiliation in his endorsement of John Boyle and the Boyle / Duboc / Winkler slate. However, I'm very concerned at the postings I'm seeing on this forum, regarding holding back donations based on Mr. Schlein's actions. The Foundation raises a significant amount of money for our local schools, supporting important programs that help enrich our children's educational experience. Withholding donations may make a political point - but only at our kids' expense. I think that's an unfortunate trade-off. My understanding is that the Foundation Board plans to review its policies related to its Board members making political endorsements. Write a letter stating your opinion to the Board! If they don't take action - then more drastic measures may be warranted. I hope not - I'd hate to see valuable programs for our children put in jeopardy because of this controversy.
Posted by FormerMPAEFAdmirer, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 3, 2006 at 4:05 pm
I completely agree with the overall thread here. The solution proposed by the Board, though, isn't wholly satisfactory because there is no public disavowal of the mistake before the election, which allows a perception (at least) of tacit approval. No standing up to state the obvious, which is unfortunate, as a missed opportunity for taking responsibility. We have already made our annual contribution to the MPAEF for this year, other than e-scrip and the Foundaiton Week, and haven't asked for it back (as some have) but will definitely hold back further donating until I see a new policy in place. There are MANY other valuable organizations. They may not service our kids, but they service others, who are in more dire need.
Posted by Agree with FormerAdmirer, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2006 at 4:39 pm
Former Admirer, you got it exactly right. The fact that the board has offered such a lame remedy is making me queasy. Why can't they step up and issue a statement indicating that the board itself does not endorse any candidates? Doing nothing more than forming a committee to examine board policy is tantamount to condoning Mr. Schlein's misuse of the MPAEF's name.
Although the MPAEF has done good work, count me among those who will be sending my contribution to other local educational groups.
Posted by dismayed Hillview parent, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 4, 2006 at 9:33 am
The parents who have threatened to withhold their contributions to the MPAEF are holding our children's education hostage...children who have nothing to do with Bressler/Cline/Robinson vs Boyle/Duboc/Winkler. I hope that Mr. Bressler, Cline and Robinson are not advocating that their supporters refrain from donating to Laurel, Encinal, Oak Knoll and Hillview. It's time to talk about the real issues facing Menlo Park and not focus on a school foundation as a political chip in this corrosive campaign.
Posted by Don't worry, a member of the Laurel School community, on Nov 4, 2006 at 2:03 pm
To Dismayed Hillview Parent,
Don't worry, there has not been any involvement by the three challenging candidates on this at all. I volunteer for them and they have made absolutely no mention of it and didn't know there was an uproar about it when I told them about what I've read here this week, except to say that it is sad that an endorsers name was used in this way when it doesn't help the foundation. They all care about the schools, all 6 candidates that is, and 4 of six have young children either in schools now or about to be. The uproar is entirely individual parent driven and simply reflects a lack of awareness or judgement on the part of Ted Schlien. I'm upset he allowed the use of his title in that way, along with false campaign information, but I can assure you this was brought on entirely by himself with the endorsement, not the three other candidates. I also don't see it as holding the kids hostage by withholding donation money until he takes responsibility for what happened. People are forgiving when someone apologizes for a mistake. If he cannot see why this is important, I hope he'll be able to make up any monetary losses the foundation may incur from his own generous coffers.
Posted by Don't worry, a member of the Laurel School community, on Nov 4, 2006 at 5:23 pm
After further thought on this, I need to correct something I wrote in my last comment. The slate of Boyle, Duboc, and Winkler should have taken the reputation of the MPAEF into consideration before using their officers for an endorsement for their own political gain. This is a lack of judgement on their part as well as Mr. Schlien's, for it says we don't care what happens to the foundation as long as it helps us get elected.
I was assuming at first that they all have the schools best interests at heart, but now I realize that they don't.
Posted by FormerMPAEFAdmirer, a member of the Hillview Middle School community, on Nov 4, 2006 at 5:30 pm
One PTO chair (not with school above) decline to endorse any of the candidates, either privately or publicly, because she deemed it inappropriate given her public role. (The slate still used her name, much to her outrage, I'm told.) Would that Mr. Schlein had used such good judgment and class!
Posted by Former MPAEF doner, a member of the Oak Knoll School community, on Nov 8, 2006 at 9:54 am
Having generously given to the MPAEF foundation for more than 5 years, I have decided to withhold all future donations until Mr. Schlien resigns from the Board of MPAEF. Our foundation's leaders should not use the Foundation's name for political gain. If Mr. Schlien is as misinformed on school matters as he is on the canidates position for tax increases, he should be removed.