Midpeninsula Post

Nicole Chiu-Wang

(Yoochan An)

Nicole Chiu-Wang is running for the Palo Alto Unified School District board.

Chiu-Wang is a product and strategy operations lead at Google and previously founded and operated a fashion technology startup. She received a J.D. from Loyola Law School and formerly worked as an attorney. Chiu-Wang moved to Palo Alto earlier this year and has two young sons. Her older son attends transitional kindergarten in PAUSD. 

“We moved to Palo Alto specifically for the schools here,” Chiu-Wang said. “I believe that with privilege, which we are privileged to have the quality of public education we have here, comes duty, and in this case, the duty to tackle the tough systemic issues that I believe prevent our district from serving all of our students or allowing all of our students to thrive and succeed.” 

Chiu-Wang said she hopes to start fixing issues rooted in PAUSD culture by having conversations to find out how to combat the issues. 

“I think a lot of work has been done, certainly, for both mental health and equity and issues of racism,” Chiu-Wang said. “But it’s an iceberg, and so I feel like we’ve tackled the stuff that’s above the water, but we need to go … below the surface.”

Mental health and wellness

Chiu-Wang said she thinks the district has taken steps in the right direction by creating wellness centers and integrating mental health professionals on school campuses. However, she said she thinks PAUSD still needs to add more staff and trusted adult figures by hiring more mental health professionals, offering more professional development resources for teachers and increasing staff diversity.

“I think we have to address the cultural issues behind mental health and wellness,” Chiu-Wang said. “Let’s talk about the pressures faced in our school community, and let’s talk about what drives them. … If we’re a pressure cooker, how do we start to release the pressure?”

Equity

Chiu-Wang said she believes standardized tests aren’t sufficient to measure progress or success and advocates for more innovative ways to evaluate student achievement. 

“We may have some of our ethnicities within the Asian American community consistently scoring at the top when you look at standardized tests, and some communities are consistently scoring at the bottom,” Chiu-Wang said. “And so that’s an equity issue.” 

To help address equity issues, Chiu-Wang supports initiatives like the Systemwide Integrated Framework for Transformation, or the SWIFT plan, which is a framework PAUSD’s Equity Oversight Committee created to support diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in the district.

Communication 

Improving communication is one of Chiu-Wang’s top priorities.

“We need to be talking to everyone and hearing from everyone, making them feel like they are a part of this process as opposed to being dictated to, and told what will help them,” Chiu-Wang said. “I think the biggest thing we need to do is communicate.” 

She said she believes her ethnic background as a Chinese American will help her communicate and connect with the community. 

“I’m a biracial Asian American woman and that has shaped my entire life and the experiences that I’ve had, and that is the number one driver behind my ability to be a bridge builder and to build positive culture,” Chiu-Wang said. 

To learn more, visit Chiu-Wang’s website here.

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