I'm a member of the Havens Dads Club and recent board member of the Piedmont Makers group. I've also been a member of the Piedmont Neighbors and Newcomers group since we first moved to Piedmont.
I love the Piedmont community and enjoy connecting with fellow parents and showing my out of town friends the beauty of living in the Bay Area.
Both my parents were educators. My father was a high school math and science teacher and my mother was an elementary school teacher. However my parents insisted I did my own homework and made sure it was done. If I got questions wrong I had to understand why it was wrong. I think my parent's focus on education led me to go for higher education myself. I was the first person in my extended family to get a PhD in any subject.
I earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1993. While finishing my degree, I volunteered to join a search committee for selecting the Vice President of Academics at the University of Waterloo. Being a public university, that process had to be very rigorous and transparent. I learned the importance of a paper trail to accompany decision making. I see the same level of rigor in hiring for Fin-Tech and other Internet startups over the past 20 years of my career. These include a thorough job description with job requirements that materially impact on the job performance.
In 1993 I taught college level Computer Science courses at a small liberal arts school and experienced first hand the difficulties of teaching students with a wide variety of skills, interests and levels of commitment. I found most students unprepared to learn programming and were in the class because it will lead to a career. This is likely an artifact of teaching at a smaller college and should not be the case for good schools.
I spent most of my career working in California as a "Big Data Scientist". This field is vital to financial firms and high tech companies. Huge volumes of customer data like from credit card and banking transactions or to online activies are analyzed to help firms predict risks and opportunities at an enterprise level. I also have a U.S. patent on using and explaining the behavior of advanced computer programs that are used to identify highly suspicious fraudulent activity on credit cards.
My wife, Roopal, and I moved to Piedmont in November 2008. We moved here because we loved the beauty of Piedmont, the feeling of a safe community, a very high performance school district and the comparative value we got for the home price we paid for at the time. My son briefly went to Piedmont High School and we have a daughter who is now in 5th grade at Havens Elementary.
I am still amazed at the performance of PUSD students on scholastic tests. This remained generally true during the 2008-2011 recession and is still true post-transition to common core (CAASPP) testing. I built an online app to view CAASSP test results for all school districts in any county in CA. I believe student performance has a lot to do with being raised by high performing parents, good teaching methods in school and dedicated caregivers and tutors who provide abundant extra curricular support and learning opportunities.
In late 2013 I was at a Haven's Club meeting where a presenter talked about renovating the Alan Harvey theater that would require no incremental taxation. I found this to be mathematically suspect and decided to investigate prior PUSD bond offerings. It felt like I was in uncharted waters. Most of the school board thought process was outsourced to bond consultants who had a hard time correctly explaining the details of what they were doing. Taxpayers were paying fees to these consultants for work that was not being done by salaried district staff. Like math, finance works in favor of whomever is crunching the numbers. I did the math and helped inform the Piedmont community about CABs (capital appreciation bonds) which cost the taxpayers much more money than a traditional bond. Thanks to my articles in the Post, the school board backed down from CABs for the AHT and for Measure H1. Hopefully Piedmont taxpayers will never again be forced to repay $64 million dollars for a $12 million dollar bond like we did for the 2013 seismic bond (Series E, Free AHT).
I also researched new theater construction in comparable school districts and found the price we would have paid for a remodel was more expensive than new construction. My research was not well received in the school district and was forwarded to the Post. Subsequent investigation and coverage of the San Leandro theater in the paper resulted in the overpriced theater renovation bond measure failing.
I also indirectly helped with the evolution from the defeated theater renovation bond to the new Measure H1, which has an emphasis on updating classrooms for STE(A)M, full-day kindergarten and energy efficiency. I first wrote articles relating to these topics on this website (K, STEM, EE) which got thousands of hits from Piedmonters since 2013/14.
Many of you might have seen one of my periodic surveys. I do this to take a pulse on what other parents are thinking and see if my ideas resonate. This helps me fight for things the public actually agrees with. The School Board should engage in more public opinion surveys to get ideas (with open questions) and gauge priorities before holding formal elections.
You'll find a lot more details on my ideas on the "Campaign of Ideas" tab.
Click the "Contact Hari" link near the bottom of this website to send me your thoughts.