News


Parents urge board to consider middle school Mandarin immersion program

Group hopes to bridge gap between Ohlone program and high school courses

A group of six Palo Alto parents spoke to the Board of Education during a brief public comment session at its annual retreat last Wednesday, making passionate, personal pleas for the district's Mandarin immersion program to extend into middle school.

The parents submitted a proposal in February and are asking that the board institute this fall a middle school level pilot version of the once controversial and now successful program at Ohlone Elementary School, which began as a three-year pilot program in fall 2008. Since then, about 132 students have enrolled each year, with about 22 students in two sections each of three combination-grade classes, according to district Communications Coordinator Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley.

Palo Alto parent Grace Mah, who also serves on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, said expanding the program would fill a gap for students between elementary and high school and would also be aligned with one of the board's focused goals: strengthening middle school programs, specifically in mathematics and world language.

The proposal suggests modeling the extension after the district's middle school Spanish immersion program with a focus on social studies and literature content taught in Mandarin. Mah describes the program as "cost neutral" for the district, as instructional materials are already available (purchased through a Foreign Language Assistance Program grant in 2006), and parents could fundraise for supplemental materials or ongoing costs. The proposal suggests that existing Mandarin teachers at Gunn or Palo Alto high schools could serve as the program's teachers.

In advocating for language immersion in public middle school, Mah said that private after-school or weekend language programs can be less intensive or are inconsistent; some are not accredited; and they are insufficient in achieving full fluency.

Mah told the board Wednesday that she recently surveyed 62 parents to gauge their interest in having a middle school program and, if so, whether it should be an after-school program or part of the regular school day.

Respondents indicated they would be willing to transport their children to JLS or Jordan middle schools for an after-school program.

Other parents spoke to the impact the Ohlone program has had on their children – with one actually verging on tears.

"It's really transformed our family," said Kathy Howe, whose son, Sam, is an incoming third-grader with two years in the Ohlone program. How said neither she nor her husband speaks Mandarin. "Because Sam learned Mandarin so early in his life, it's really a part of the fabric of who he is. It brings tears to my eyes. ... I'm an educator in the community and also a parent, and I would like all Palo Alto parents to have this opportunity that Sam has to have another language."

Erik Lassila, whose daughter just graduated from the Ohlone program and son is enrolled in it, said having his children learn Mandarin is key to prepare them for a global future, personally and professionally.

"Now we're kind of struggling with ... how does she continue her Chinese skills? We want her to have that gift through her lifetime," he said.

Both Palo Alto and Gunn high schools offer Mandarin classes, but the parents all pointed to the detriment a three-year gap can have on students learning a foreign language.

"You created something special and important for the district, and now is the opportunity to sustain that," parent Matthew Kohrman told the board. "There are kids whose intellectual skills in this language could disappear. ... This is an opportunity for the connective tissue to sustain that, to pursue it and build a program that will be known around California and nationwide as one that works and that creates human beings, world citizens that make the community proud and go on as adults to use those languages."

Board President Barb Mitchell and Superintendent Max McGee both said they will discuss the topic in the coming weeks and follow up with the parents.

"We talked yesterday about preparing students for careers that don't exist and how they need to be prepared not just for global competition but, frankly, global collaboration," said McGee, who spent last year as head of an international school with 20 Chinese and 20 American students.

"It is important to sustain it," he added. "All of you made good points. We'll take it under consideration and act quickly on it."

Related content:

In NSA-funded initiative, Palo Alto students sharpen their Mandarin skills

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

We all knew that this would come into effect once the initial grade of MIers reached Middle School.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment] Those lucky lottery winners who managed to get their elementary students to learn a foreign language while the rest got nothing now expect free after school classes from our high school teachers, who would presumably expect overtime to teach this.

6th graders get no foreign language (just an introduction in wheel) and 7th and 8th graders get the opportunity to learn a language as an elective.

The MIers, if this goes through, would still presumably get the wheel offering and the choice of learning another language as one of their two electives, or still have two elective periods to choose something else.

It still sounds like they are expecting to get more than regular PAUSD students to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Now we have to deal with those parents pushing for Mandarim Immersion in middle school. If they have the money to live in Palo Alto why not pay for Mandarin classes for their kids instead making the test of the community pay while our kids don't get the opportunity to participate in Mandarin Immersion because they weren't selected in the lottery in kindergarten. Lottery programs only benefit the select few.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm

How many of the original class of 20 Kinders graduated 5th grade in the Ohlone MI program?

How many of each year's new kinders each year since ,have remain in the program through current grade level?

(not asking names, but asking about the program's retention levels of kids that start program at kinder level and remain in program throughout.)






 +   Like this comment
Posted by JW
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Only in Palo Alto. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment]


 +   2 people like this
Posted by former PALY parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

The foreign languages program for the district should be overhauled, to benefit all. I remember discussion back when, but nothing resulted. How about examining grade levels, languages, teachers, curriculum etc. as opposed to a tiny immersion program that offers a language readily available via commercial after school programs and weekend programs locally.
This is a select program benefitting the very few and I oppose it. As a unified district, PAUSD should do better for ASLL students here., not a select vocal constituency.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I think this program should be extended into middle school and language offerings in general improved across the district. The perfect way to bring all of our kids into the 21st century is to also offer language immersion in summer school to all. In a district that can budget $40million for a gym when an entire gym and athletic center was just built across town for $10 or $12 million, we can afford to give our children world-class language instruction.


But I have a peeve from the above story:

"A group of six Palo Alto parents spoke to the Board of Education during a brief public comment session at its annual retreat Wednesday, "

I wrote the district office asking if I could make a short comment myself. This is exactly what I wrote:

"Are there any opportunities during the retreat for the community to address the Board tomorrow?

I'd like to address the board at the meeting tomorrow if possible, to read a short letter asking PAUSD to adopt an indoor air quality management plan as a key step toward excellent, safe, and healthy schools. The EPA, CDC, NIH, CDPH, NIOSH, and a long list of other illustrious organizations including the California Department of Education, advocate for school districts to adopt Indoor Air Quality Management Plans because of significant research showing how they improve student and staff health and performance.

I understand the comment must be limited to 3 minutes, so I am really only interested in being there for comments. Please let me know when it's possible to address the board."


This was the reply I received from the district office:
"Open Forum comments (items not on the agenda) are not allowed at special meetings. Your first opportunity to speak to the Board would be on August 26 at the regular meeting. Open Forum at a regular meeting occurs at approximately 6:45 p.m. (after initial opening comments, but prior to the regular business to occur on that agenda). "


A knowledgeable member of our community commented on the above with the following:
"...by law there must be public comment opportunities at all board meetings, including retreats, and one was on the agenda. Are you certain [experienced district person who wrote] told you there would be no public comment? If so, you should respond back to [him/her] and complain. [He/she] knows better."


(Note: I'm not yelling, I just want to separate my question from the above, there is no way to bold or italicize text on TS.) WHAT DO I TAKE FROM THIS? IS THERE A REASONABLE EXPLANATION FOR THIS DOUBLE STANDARD? I'M GLAD THE ABOVE COMMENTS WERE MADE, BUT WHY WERE THEY ALLOWED TO COMMENT WHILE I WAS GIVEN THE SHAFT? IS THERE A REASON FOR ME TO BELIEVE I WASN'T JUST LIED TO HERE IN ORDER TO KEEP ME FROM ADDRESSING THE BOARD ON AN IMPORTANT ISSUE DEALING WITH STUDENT HEALTH AND SAFETY? (Seriously, give me a good reason - not a justification or handwaving, but a legitimate reason. I seriously want to not have to think I have been lied to and given the runaround for no reasonable purpose by these people again.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2014 at 10:40 pm

If PAUSD can spend $40+ Million on a Gym and another $10-20 Million on a performing arts building, it can afford to expand the Mandarin Immersion program and provide Language Immersion for all students who want it. The Mandarin Immersion program probably costs PAUSD less than what it spends on outside lawyers fees.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 2:39 am

Why don't we do more to offer language in middle school? Languages are only offered as potential electives, along with other electives. So, say, they might offer Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Spanish. But then usually only one or even none of the languages is actually offered, depending on how many students signed up for one and whether they have a teacher. If you are interested in taking a foreign language but signed up for the wrong one, you don't get a chance to sign up for the one that actually gets offered.

I do think if this program is extended, and it should be, it really should be a part of a revision of our language program, so that language instruction is more available to all of our middle school students.

(If economic reasons were important, why isn't German being offered? Germany is one of the strongest economies in the world now. We should be offering more options, not arguing for fewer.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2014 at 3:34 am

We should have foreign language for all students in elementary school. The world is an increasingly globalized place and it makes no sense to postpone language offerings until 6th grade, and then only in "optional" context. Mandarin should be offered early, and throughout middle school. It is absurd that we teach French and German but not Mandarin, or even Arabic in 2014. Palo Alto's language offerings are tied to a 19th century vision of Empire -- an older view of the world. Spanish makes sense because of patterns if immigration to California. But to prefer European languages of dead empires to a rising language of over a billion people is similar to opposing Vatican 2 and insisting on mass in Latin.

Now, MI is a different question. There, we need to realize that there are real students who have been taking MI for 6 years and we have to put them first. Whatever you think of Grace Mah or MI, that fight is over. Now we need to put students first.

I support Ken Dauber because he is the only candidate that I know of to have clearly articulated a position on both of these issues that is in agreement with what I believe on both issues: language in elementary school for all, expanded language in middle school, continuation of Mandarin in middle school on an equal footing with Spanish Immersion students, and recognition of the changed world in which we now live. Let's bring PA into the 21st century by electing a Google engineer who understands collaborative business across different domains.

Thank you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2014 at 7:55 am

Let's bring PA into the 21st century by electing a Google engineer who understands collaborative business across different domains?!
Not necessary. Engineering and school vision is not a succeessful mariage and appropriate choice of skills.
For the 'dead' European empires over rising with over billion population - what a comment. All you need is a handful interpreters. Why not Russian, Hindu, Arabic? And who knows where is the next population boom.

Re the mandarin program. As part of a public school system ANY student should have an equal access to the resources. It shouldn't be catered for the selected few.
Signing kids to the elementary mandarin program, parents were fully aware of the middle school gap. To continue, they should supplement with out of pocket expense, as the majority of us do. Otherwise, it's a school within a school with private benefits, paid with public funds.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2014 at 8:10 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

In our house, the 2nd language is taught by we parents speaking it at home, to our children, and by spending time in that country. As I see it, there are two types of people who'd want this:

1) those who already themselves speak the language;
2) those who don't, but want their kids to;

For (1), the solution is easy = speak it & teach it at home, like most of us do. For (2) your personal decision does not entitle you to unique access others in the school system do not have, as Neighbor explains.

As for those claiming the Asian century's started, I'd argue that for most Silicon Valley children who'll end up in tech, Portuguese is an easier and more immediately useful language to learn. Brazil is the new Europe = the natural first int'l market for tech companies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 9:28 am

> Let's bring PA into the 21st century by electing a Google engineer
> who understands collaborative business across different domains?!

And what evidence is there that ANY Google engineer knows about collaborative business across any domain? Google is one secretive outfit. And software engineers are generally not all that well educated about much outside their own project.

Let's look at the demonstrated credentials of each candidate and not get carried away with endorsements, or other associations that don't really have much to do with the administration of a school district that will soon have a $200M budget.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Didn't get into the lottery
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I agree with @Resident. We didn't get into the lottery for MI at Ohlone. I'm very curious about the kids who got in.....how many stayed in the program and are now entering 6th grade? From what I've heard, the retention rate is not that high. I have 1 child who took a year of private Chinese lessons(2nd grade) and is talented in language learning. I couldn't afford more private lessons, but would really like her to be able to take Mandarin in Junior High, since it is not offered at her Elementary School. The whole language component should be revamped and extended for all students to have access.
We also didn't make it into the regular Ohlone lottery! I tried for 3 years, but to no avail. There is something the matter with PAUSD that makes winners and losers out of so many of us. We are the "losers", but I just heard there is now a lottery for Connections........I think siblings get priority, that most likely makes our family "losers" again. I do have some hope that the new Superintendent will offer some creative/ innovate programs for High School, since we are not interested in more intense competition for High Grades and going to an Ivy League School! However, this could just be another winner/loser situation....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

@Dauber voter,
I'm with you on voting for Dauber.

Hiwever, you are incorrect that French and German are offered but not Mandarin. The kids get almost no language instruction at middle school level. At high school, at least at Gunn, Mandarin is a more stable program.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by English First.
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

I'm all for Mandarin language education for kids who have no access at home to a practical Mandarin knowledge.

I am concerned that the program is a means for native Mandarin language households to avoid an English immersion education in hopes of improving GPA outcomes.

It is in the public's interest to have kids who can fully negotiation life in our country in English and assist our nation's overall goals in being an active participant on the global basis. In this framework, if you speak Spanish, French or German at home, its really not in the public's interest for you to enter a Publicly financed Spanish, French or German immersion program.

I find this much the same with regard to the active conversation surrounding Publicly financed Mandarin education in Palo Alto.

If you are a Mandarin speaking household and wish your family to have a Mandarin immersive K-12 experience, then you really should send your kids to a private school that focuses on this type of education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I don't know the number of kids who didn't make it through, but I can think of at least three. Parents who aren't Mandarin speakers seem to feel at a disadvantage.

I also know that the program had a lot of issues finding teachers who could teach the program.

Thanks for the heads-up on Dauber. I've had mixed feelings about him--admire the desire to reform, less impressed with the contentious approach. He's getting a "no" vote for me. There are a lot of ways to approach the language issue without extending a boutique program that benefits few. His views sound more like a plea for votes than a thought-out position. (i.e. we have overcrowded middle schools, but we're supposed to move heaven and earth to fit a program that benefits a few kids. A benefit which is readily available in the private sector.)

I've said it before, I'll say it again--Ohlone-main received no benefit from having MI. Instead, it resulted in turning even more kids from Ohlone main, pushing the schools enrollment from fewer than 400 to more than 600 in five years and burning out the administration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

@OhlonePar,
Dauber does not have a contentious approach. You are confusing him with his wife. Dauber has a really calm personality. He really brought together a lot of competing sides to hammer out a homework policy with buy in from all parties.

Whatever you may feel about Dauber's stated views right now, what sets him apart is that he will engage with people he ostensibly doesn't agree with and try to hammer out win-win's. He has the backbone to do it, and then stand by the result even if the administration has some nefarious reason to sink what the parents want. We desperately need that kind of ethics and conviction on the school board, I think it will make all of the existing members more effective.

I know Dauber, and he is the real deal, he is not the kind of person to say things for other reasons. I think he would rather have spent our money in the Measure A funds differently to open more school sites -- making the pie bigger rather than arguing over the crumbs. From everything I have read from you, I think you are that kind of person too, if you aren't given no choice, as our recent administration has done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I'll vote no on Dauber if 'putting MI on equal footing with SI" is to him a worthy measuring stick. Putting all kids on on equal measuring stick with each other for language education opportunities is the right measuring stick.

Two wrong's don't make a right, and frankly, the SI program should also be shuttered until there are equal language opportunities for the kids across the district.

And, we need to put the kids in MI first? What the heck is that all about? They come in to regular PAUSD middle school they're perfectly equiped to succeed because they've had a fair and equal chance at PAUSD elementary level, and they've had more than enough special curriculum treatment up to this point. And how is it they are deserving of being 'put first'. How bout they get put on par with the rest of the middle school students in the district?

And frankly, no, the MI fight is apparently NOT over, because here comes Grace Mah agin pushing for more special treatment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Menlo Park also wanted to add and MI program and were turned down by their board. "In April, the board of the Menlo Park City School District declined to take any action on a request to start a Mandarin immersion program by fall 2014. "I know it's simply not something that the district can do at this point in time," board member Terry Thygesen said then." The same group is now looking to start a Charter School and interestingly enough, Grace Mah is speaking at the informational event.

Web Link

I would also like to know how many of the original class of MI students finished 5th grade at Ohlone and whether the MI classes were as large as the rest of the classes at Ohlone or if they received an extra advantage of having small class size in addition to foreign language instruction that most of the District is denied.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 16, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Palo Alto Parent,
I'm sure they'll tell you they graduated full classes, I'm sure they were very able, and more than happy to fill any attrition with mandarin language experienced students in the upper grades. Or did they fill upper grades attrition, also with Lottery?

What will be particularly more interesting to know would be where those 5th graders came from. Did they come up through the program? Or were they filling attrition openings in 3rd, 4th, 5th grades with experienced Mandarin speakers?
Were kids tested in order to come in to the program in 3rd 4th 5th grade? And what results did that net?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2014 at 7:55 pm

MI boosters are quick to point out the benefits of learning a foreign language, and I agree with much of what they say. However, I will not support any foreign language immersion program in PAUSD until there are real foreign language options for ALL PAUSD students, not the few who win a lottery. I am not agitating for language immersion for everyone, but something significantly more than what's offered now.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent of PAUSD graduate
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm

Why do they call it MI and SI? When students can enroll in a world language, beginning in 7th grade, both Spanish and French classes are immersion, meaning, no English allowed in class. I suppose "immersion" simply means students who began learning the language in elementary school. Apparently, it's not easy teaching middle school immersion students because since they can already speak the language, they have bad attitudes about learning about grammar.

German is available at Gunn. It's listed in the Jordan catalog but there isn't a class unless enough sign up to make a class, which doesn't happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I agree with the sentiments that we need to overhaul our languages program, and I think we should have summer immersion programs, it's the perfect time for it.

But I think it's the wrong thing to go after this program because things aren't perfect. It's innovative, children are benefitting, and if people have concerns, they can be problem solved, we don't have to keep fighting old battles.

Realistically, innovation doesn't happen in this district unless a) parents are willing to do the work, b) parents are willing to push, c) parents are willing to persist in the face of a recalcitrant administration that treats any suggestion of innovation by parents like something the cat dragged in.

I'm very hopeful McGee will change that. But everyone here is just talking. Mah wanted the MI program so that's what she worked on and I'm sure it was really hard. I was like everyone else and didn't initially understand her tactics. Then I tried to get the administration to look at adopting an Indoor Air Quality Management plan, even though we are promised improved IAQ in Measure A, and saw just how major the resistance could be even over something so uncontroversial and beneficial for students and staff. Then I realized just how savvy she had been.

While I suspect she will support expansion of languages, someone else will need to step up and ask/push/be willing to take the abuse the administration will likely heap on you for suggesting anything should be in the least bit changed, even for the betterment of students. Again, hopefully this new administration will fundamentally change the way it works for the community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm

@Ohlone Par I just don't see how you reached your conclusion from what I said. Dauber advocates for world language for all students in elementary school, and for continuing Mandarin in middle school for everyone, including those in MI. I don't understand how you got from the fact that he wants to extend language for all to the conclusion that he's in favor of "boutique programs benefitting a few." It seems to me as though you had a prior view that was not as open as you represent it based on that logical gap.

In terms of the substance, tbe vitriol against MI is surprisingly extreme. The comments are just to my eyes tinged with racism (fears that Asians are somehow getting a mysterious GPA advantage, or use of the word "pushy" for example). Why isn't there this same level of anger (rage really) about Spanish Immersion, a far bigger program? Why aren't people up in arms about a K-8 two-way SI program? The evident emotional double standard is interesting to me.

Whatever you think of how the board bungled MI in the first place, we have real kids in it now. Those kids should have access to Mandarin instruction in middle school, just as the SI kids have access to Spanish instruction in middle school. To do otherwise is failing kids, and is unfair. It also makes no economic sense for the district to invest in the teaching of a language for 6 years and then walk away from it.

The irrationality alone suggests other motivations.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 16, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Here's a link to Ken's website regarding elementary world language for all:

"Preparing every student to succeed in a competitive 21st century economy is a critical mission for our district. This should include improved computer science literacy, particularly for girls; and foreign language instruction for all elementary school students, with expanded offerings in middle school, including Chinese. Climate change demands a greater focus on environmental science and sustainability. We must also ensure that teachers and students are fully supported as we align our curriculum with Common Core standards."

Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

I too would like to know more about the immersion programs. SI has been with us so long that nobody really takes too much notice of it. MI has only just graduated the first group of students, so it is still a new concept. We were told that there would be a 3 year pilot, which is past, but since we have just graduated the first group, now is the time for the community to see some statistics.

How many of the original kinders remained in the programs? (both SI and MI)

How many of the original kinders who left the program remained in PAUSD elsewhere and how many left the District?

How many students refilled the empty spaces? Were these native speakers or had they come in from after school programs?

What happened to class size in the older grades when typicall the classes have more students than the early grades? Were the classes the same size as the other grade levels in the same school or were they still the small number as in the early grades?

What happened about finding the right teachers and the right materials for the older grades?

What were the STAR tests for the target immersion groups compared to the STAR tests results for the non immersion groups? Were they the same (particularly in English) as the peer grades in the same schools?

How well did the immersion groups integrate with the non immersion groups in the school? In the regular programs, students are mixed around every year so that for students who have been at the same school since kindergarten, they have probably been in class with every child at least once in the 6 years. Obviously this can't happen when there is an immersion program, so do those students mix well with the others in the playground, on field trips, in music, or do they appear to remain in their cliques? This is probably a harder question to answer as there are no statistics, but it is still a valid question.

So all these questions in my opinion are very valid and should be available to the community at large. We were promised the Earth, now at least some of the results should be made known to us.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dauber voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:36 am

I agree 100% with Resident.^^^ We should always want to see program evaluation results and adjust course accordingly based on data and metrics, which has been -- not to belabor the point -- Ken Dauber's key point that he has urged repeatedly in all contexts for the past several years of his work for youth well being in this community.


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Posted by background checks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

This has been going on for some time. Back in May there was this request from Grace Mah: Web Link

"The middle schools have offered Mandarin as an elective for 7th and 8th graders for three years now. But there have not been enough students who sign up to run the class, with sign ups running anywhere from 8 to 10 students per site. Part of the problem is that there are students at all three middle schools who would take Mandarin, but there aren't enough at any one site.

With Grace Mah's request to extend the Mandarin Immersion program to middle school, we looked at some possible options for sixth grade, and came up with an after-school class option. No World Language classes are offered to sixth graders. They are enrolled in the Elective Wheel, which is designed to expose students to many different electives which they will then be able to select from in the 7th and 8th grades."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NO DAUBER FAN
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:12 am


From the Dauber web-site on his views about what he wants to do to our schools—--

> "Preparing every student to succeed in a competitive 21st century
> economy is a critical mission for our district.

This is absurd on its face. The 21st century has 85 years yet to go. Ken Dauber has no idea what will happen in those years—and certainly the teachers of the PAUSD have no idea, particularly since few (if any) have ever held a job in the this, or any future, real world.

> This should include improved computer science literacy, particularly
> for girls;

Perhaps Mr Dauber should consider the value of technology education over computer science in the public schools. Computer science tends to be a bit archane—whereas general technology is much less focused, and would be, over time, more useful to more people.

> and foreign language instruction for all elementary school students,
> with expanded offerings in middle school, including Chinese.

To what end? The 21st Century will see vast strides in automation, robotics, and tools like machine translation of natural languages. Spending a lot of time learning foreign languages in a public school setting may please the parents of a few students—but it's unlikely to be of much value to the bulk of our students as they move into adult life. If parents want their children to learn a foreign language—they can enroll their children in an extra-curricular program somewhere locally, or via the Internet.


> Climate change demands a greater focus on environmental science
> and sustainability.

And what the $&%&^% does this man know about climate change? Anyone using buzz words like sustainability more likely than not has no idea what the concept means. This is just more political posturing on Dauber's part.

> We must also ensure that teachers and students are fully supported as
> we align our curriculum with Common Core standards."

It would be very interesting for Mr. Dauber to explain to this community why the California Standards that have served the State since the early 1990s are so unacceptable to himself. And after this explanation—we should then demand that Mr. Dauber explain Common Core to the community—where it came from, and who has been behind its adoption. Lastly, we should be asking Mr. Dauber about his belief in local control of our schools. Does he support local control, or does he believe that, like Common Core, the values, and directions of the District should be dictated by, say, the Department of Education, in Washington?

This man will NOT be getting my vote.


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Posted by background checks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

Also worth reading this document (search for MSMI) for background on this discussion: Web Link


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Posted by HM
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 17, 2014 at 11:45 am

I also agree we need to overhaul our language program however this feels like deja vue. More than 6 years ago this discussion came up and floated about for a few years before resulting in MI for a select few. HUGH! I did hear many parents say, they would love to have their kids learn a second language in elementary school, many didn't care what language but just being exposed to language instruction at a young age would be very beneficial.

Why was MI allowed in the first place? And why is it even a topic of discussion for Middle School? Would this be lottery with many requirements? Is PAUSD influenced by a select few?


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Posted by absurdity?
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Aug 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

"> 'Preparing every student to succeed in a competitive 21st century
> economy is a critical mission for our district.'

This is absurd on its face."

To call this goal absurd is to call out an axe to grind.

Also, there is a difference between computer science literacy and computer science.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

MI came about because the parents who wanted a Mandarin Immersion program were told no, then threatened the School Board with starting a charter school (same thing is currently happening in Menlo Park). The BOE gave in and voila - a Mandarin Immersion program! The MI program is hosted at a choice school - Ohlone - that was already turning away many from its own core program. Rather than expand the traditional Ohlone program, which had LOTS of demand, the BOE chose to put MI there because the principal at the time was willing to work with the MI proponents.


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Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Aug 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Has anyone asked the kids if they are interested in Mandarin immersion or if they think it will still be a language in demand when they are grown?

It is, though, an easy language to speak, no declensions, no conjugations, only four tones. It is difficult to write if one is not artistic.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Background Checks, thank you for the links to the board documents.

I'm not clear now on what is being proposed. Is it a full blown additional middle school choice program that would regular english, math, science, social studies, and/or wheel classes for the students enrolled?

Or is it an after school program, that students would enroll in, in addition to regular middle school.


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Posted by Left of Boom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:02 am

Left of Boom is a registered user.

This discussion of the MI extension reads like the original debate over the MI program 5-8 years ago. I have to ask the MI advocates, why bother? Just start the charter school and be done with these ..... You don't need them.


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Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

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What lunacy. What use is learning Mandarin anyplace but San Francisco and Palo Alto. Likewise the Latinos need to learn English better to succeed in their studies.
Teach the kids math and science, two areas that American children need to learn to go to college and be successful. The US is now 23rd in countries in Math and Science. Stop playing with the kids education, it is the basis for their future lives.


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Posted by staygreen
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:34 pm

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NO NO NO,

No more programs that benefit a section of the population unless that population is underprivileged and cannot afford to go elsewhere for the same service.

I will vote down every funding measure if this passes and I suggest other like minded people do the same to avoid being bullied as we were during the MI program debate for elem. school


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Posted by pearl2sea
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:35 pm

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My kids were part of Ohlone MI program and I was very pleased with the program. It had to be a lottery since there was only a limited number of spaces in the program and we were truly lucky to have had the opportunity to participate.

China is the next super power and the sooner our education system picks up on it, the better for USA. The massive development they are undergoing is impressive, it is a force to be reckoned with - have you been to China lately?

I would have enrolled my kids in Spanish program too but due to overwhelming siblings participation - there are 1-3 spots a year for their lottery program. Or any other world language so my children would understand the value of immersing themselves in a different mindset, becoming more cosmopolitan and expanding on their multicultural values.

My intent is to raise children without myopic view of the world and only "American" language as my sister-in-law eloquently put it voicing her disagreement over our desire to enroll our kids in Mandarin Immersion program (in spite of not knowing a word of it ourselves).

I read some comments and I will support Dauber if it means that he will support more foreign language programs in our school district in the future.

I will vote for Grace Mah in a moment!

European countries are so advanced. My Swiss friend's 5 year old son already speaks German, French, English and Mandarin, plus some Italian - he learned it all as a part of public educational program prior to elementary school. It is an eye-opening experience.

While we in the "land of the free" still debate the value of knowing foreign languages. If there are resources, why not?


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Posted by staygreen
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

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Totally agree with Jerry99.

spending money on Math/Science/Tech programs will benefit all and in my opinion be way more valuable than learning mandarin for a select few.


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Posted by staygreen
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm

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@pearl2sea - sure - I'm all for widening our language offerings to include Mandarin, German, Hindi but to not for an immersion program that will only benefit native mandarin speakers..


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Posted by mom of teenagers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

Ohlone MI's own survey shows that there is NOT enough interest to form an after school MI class: From District Documents: "We created a survey for the families of fifth graders now enrolled in the Ohlone Mandarin Immersion program. We have been looking at the possibility of providing a bridge for those students as they move to middle school. The survey was open April 9 - 21, and the results show there are not enough committed families to warrant starting an after-school class in sixth grade at a middle school next year. "

@pearl2sea - I agree we are behind Europe in many ways, language instruction is one of them. But European students aren't "immersed" in a foreign language and ALL of them receive instruction. And no I haven't been to China lately, have you noticed home many Chinese people have either moved to Palo Alto or purchased property here. Does that tell you anything about need to learn Mandarin in particular?

There is great value in learning another language and learning about other cultures. As it stands, only a tiny percentage of our students receive ANY language instruction in elementary school. Those that do receive language (SI and MI) have the added advantages of smaller class size at the higher grades.


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Posted by swmommy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm

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For those asking about data - the data basically shows that the OMI kids are doing very well academically. There was attrition for the first class of kids who had to deal with the brunt of being the guinea pigs for the program. Interestingly, the younger sibs of these kids are still in the program with no plan to switch out.

Web Link

If the main concern is about costs of extending MI to middle school, despite claims of being "cost neutral" - best to pass on a big portion of the costs to the parents? As a MI parent, I understand how fortunate we were to win the lottery (off the waitlist) - and I agree - ALL kids should have the opportunity to learn a second language. I hope the new leadership can come up with innovative strategies to make this happen

I also agree that the vitriol against MI seems racially based. Comments about how the program only benefits native speakers (we are not) or insinuations that Asians are a special interest group pushing an agenda. Anyone here long enough to know if SI experienced at the outset as well?


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Posted by BarronPark5
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

BarronPark5 is a registered user.

I support parents who want their children to learn foreign languages.
Congratulations to the Immersion folks - spanish as well as Mandarin - for all they have accomplished for the students!
I do not support PAUSD creating any more special programs that only a few families have access to via lottery and then siblings are "golden" and automatically placed. This happens in "choice" programs such as Ohlone Elementary School and Spanish Immersion, and Mandarin Immersion, to name just three.

All students in PAUSD would benefit from Spanish or Mandarin instruction from Kindergarten. Why are we waiting until 7th grade to teach the majority of our students a foreign language ?

PAUSD should offer foreign language instruction in elementary school to all students.


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Posted by cmarg
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Aug 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm

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I would hope that PAUSD would focus on Common Core teacher training. As a teacher outside the district, I know how challenging it is to learn more effective strategies for teaching for the future leaders of the world. MI is not as vital as the fundamentals of math and english. Our country has enough challenges with education and California is one of the lower states in the nation. Let's focus our money where it will benefit all students. Everyone always complains about education. Why is there always requests to spread things so thin. We need quality education, not quantity.


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Posted by bg
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2014 at 10:09 am

bg is a registered user.

My daughter is part of the MI program at Ohlone and I feel very lucky to be part of it. Our family does not speak a second language and this is a skill we highly prioritize in our girls' upbringing. We have found a way to live in PA just so we can attend this program despite long commutes, expensive cost of living , and challenging child care. I like that our girls see their school and community prioritizing communication and diverse cultures. If our kids were not in the MI program but going to Ohlone I would want them to see other kids speaking another language and learning about other cultures.

In terms of the future, we only know what the problems are today and even that is not well defined. Communication tends to be at the heart so many problems. I can't imagine thinking that improved communication is a negative. Yes, there are only a few with access to this program (through luck). However, any program or company has to start small with improvements being made at a smaller level then it can grow. I know through being in the program there are many parents who have anxiety on how time devoted to Mandarin will take away from time on other subjects, this is not for everyone or at least not yet. Also, not every kid does well in languages. I know my child benefits from the specialties of other kids and for that I am grateful and hope other kids can benefit from my daughters specialties. I hope that Palo Alto continues to be an example in communication and language learning.


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Posted by Anonymous22
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

I'm not clear now on what is being proposed. Is it a full blown additional middle school choice program that would regular english, math, science, social studies, and/or wheel classes for the students enrolled?

Or is it an after school program, that students would enroll in, in addition to regular middle school."

Currently, choice programs in elementary school are Direct Instruction (Hoover), Project-based (Ohlone), Spanish Immersion (at Escondido), and Mandarin Immersion (at Ohlone).

The programs end at middle school. However, there are choice programs kids can take to continue those instructional models in middle school. They aren't separate schools, and the kids are integrated with the rest of the school for wheel, so there's no additional costs there. It basically means the kids in those programs are in the same classes as everyone else, but with teachers who are able to continue the chosen instructional model, either Spanish Immersion (at Jordan), project-based (Connections at JLS), or direct instruction (at Terman). I can't speak for the other programs, but I know Connections has all 4 core classes within the program in 6th grade, then in 7th and 8th, only English and Social studies are Connections, while Science and Math are mainstreamed. But the kids are still definitely in a different program, they have a major year-long ROPES project in 8th grade that is integrated with their school instruction. (They choose some major thing they've always wanted to do or learn, get a mentor, work on it all year, and prepare a major presentation at year's end.)

So, what would probably happen is that the district would plan for which middle school would have the MI choice program. It's likely to be no more than one classroom's worth. The next core class teachers they hire would then probably also be able to teach in/teach Mandarin. The great advantage to the rest of the school if we do this is that then it's very likely the teachers will be available to teach Mandarin as wheel electives for the rest of the school.

I'm just guessing based on what the existing choice programs are like. It really should be far easier and far less controversial, with many potential benefits for the existing school community.

I agree that we should be using this as an opportunity to overhaul our language offerings and offer more language instruction throughout. I would like to advocate once again for summer language immersion. In fact, in this well-heeled community, where someone can donate $20 million for a gym facility -- do we have any well-heeled residents willing to step up and help make summer language immersion summerschool available to our students? It makes it available and takes away the arguments. Anyone?



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Posted by swmommy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

swmommy is a registered user.

To Anonymous22 - My understanding is that the MI program in middle school would be an after school class - and I agree, if we can get Mandarin teachers in the middle schools, it creates an opportunity for more kids (not just MI kids) to get Mandarin instruction.


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Posted by Those 183 Votes
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Those 183 Votes is a registered user.

Here's the blurb on how the current Jordan MSSI version works: Web Link

"Spanish Immersion (3 year program offered at Jordan)
The middle school Spanish Immersion program is a continuation of the bilingual curriculum of elementary Spanish Immersion. We accept students who have been promoted from the elementary-level as well as other students who demonstrate grade-level bilingual fluency in Spanish and English."

I believe if there are space restrictions, while they state anyone can test in, those who have gone through SI at Escondido have priority. That was mentioned a long time ago and I can't locate the document so may no longer be relevant.

Someone was asking about the pushback for MSSI when it started - you may want to review these links:
- Web Link (original course description, 2004)
- Web Link (2008 discussion on suspending SI at Jordan)
- Web Link (re-vamped MSSI minutes 2008)
- Web Link


On a side note, the participation rate for Tinsley students in the Ohlone MI program is very low.


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Posted by mom of teenagers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

I think what Ms. Mah is looking for is an after school class to be offered for school credit at PAUSD's expense even though the survey of the Ohlone MI 5th grade parents did not show enough interest to warrant a class.

@swmommy and anonymous22 - Mandarin IS offered at both Jordan and JLS per their course catalogs for 7th and 8th grade. Generally a class needs 24 students to sign up for it to be offered. If there is not enough interest in a class, its not offered. That is also how additional sections of electives are added at a middle school, if there is enough interest and enough staff, an additional section of a class can be offered. I don't know if there was enough interest in Mandarin for it to be taught at either school.

@bg - I'm very glad your children have enjoyed being part of the Ohlone MI program. But your moving here simply to be part of the program is one of the reasons that people were against adding any new program in the first place. As a basic aid district, more students means less money per student.


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Posted by Anonymous22
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

"Mandarin IS offered at both Jordan and JLS per their course catalogs for 7th and 8th grade. Generally a class needs 24 students to sign up for it to be offered. If there is not enough interest in a class, its not offered."

It's my understanding that availability of teachers is also an issue. The trouble here is that several languages are offered, so people choose their favorite language and then no one gets a language class. It happens every year. Plus the language classes are up against a whole menu of other classes like industrial tech with no other chances to learn language. We should have short summer immersion programs for anyone who wants them. Especially since we can mix kids of different age groups then, and instruction is intense enough to teach fluency, it makes a lot more sense.

I don't see where they were asking for an after school program. For it to be revenue neutral, it would be like the SI middle school program. If they're suggesting an afterschool program, maybe it's the pilot? I don't see that. The other point here is that an MI middle school program would be pulling students from all 3 middle schools not just one, just like the other choice programs.

@mom of teenagers - people move to Palo Alto because our schools are excellent. I think it's silly to even entertain the idea that we should be just a little bit good but only enough so people don't want to move here for the schools. People move here for the schools. If they are able to learn Mandarin fluently AND the Ohlone way, more power to them. If we can afford to throw in $20 million to make a $40 million gymnasium when we just built one across town for $12 million, we can afford to extend this program through middle school on the model of the other choice programs. We can afford to overhaul our pathetic language program in all the schools. We should be looking at how to cost-effectively provide more individualized learning, not digging in on one-size-fits all. If you have an issue with the calculation that the program is revenue neutral, then look into it, but it seems to me we are providing a great and unique educational opportunity that is within our power to provide, we should make room for it. Spend the energy making the pie bigger to the benefit of all students, don't argue over the crumbs.


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Posted by mom of teenagers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2014 at 8:03 pm

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

@anonymous22 - Per the BOE article regarding Mandarin classes - "Respondents indicated they would be willing to transport their children to JLS or Jordan middle schools for an after-school program." Because of the way our Middle school program is structured, a MI program would be hard to add in a revenue neutral way. There would need to be a full 6th grade core class of 6th grade levee Mandarin fluent student students, at least 24-30 of them. And based on the Spanish Immersion model at Jordan, only ONE core class would be taught in Mandarin, then in 7th and 8th grade they would receive Mandarin instruction in a World Language elective (again, there would need to be 24 7th graders and then 24 eighth graders interested in Mandarin as an elective.

The idea of a summer immersion language program is terrific. But because of the recent enforcement of laws, it would have to be free if offered by PAUSD. But that seems like a great business opportunity for someone.

I realize "people move to Palo Alto because our schools are excellent", our family is one of them. But BG stated that they moved to Palo Alto specifically for the MI program, the have found a way to live in PA just so we can attend this program despite long commutes".

Even though construction (new gym) and staff (new program) comes from different budgets, I agree that we need to overhaul many things in our middle school. But if you have had a middle school student (I've had 3) many look at middle school as a time to try new things - like industrial tech or biotech or creative writing (all electives). 7th and 8th grade kids get 2 elective periods per year. And many of them choose to take something fun and out of the academic box (which I include music and world language in) before they get into high school and HAVE to focus only on traditional classes to start building their college resumes.


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Posted by BarronPark5
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm

BarronPark5 is a registered user.

Is the proposal to have PAUSD pay for after school language classes for MI ???!

If so, I vehemently oppose -

All other students in PAUSD must wait until 7th grade to begin studying a foreign language (unless their parents pay for after school classes)

Before any more money and time is spent on choice programs in PAUSD attention should be paid to what the teachers need, and then what is best for all students, not just a few


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Posted by Anonymous22
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2014 at 9:07 pm

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@ mom of teenagers,
Thanks for the clarification. You made some very good points.

One thing I wish our school district was a little better at was cultivating philanthropy to pay for some of those wish lists, like summer immersion language... I wonder if having Gina Dalma on the board would help in that respect LOL.

@BarronPark5,
In Finland, their highly ranked educational system has a philosophy of whatever it takes for each child. Maybe the best way to do a better job for all students is to figure out how to better provide all of them with an education that better meets their individual needs... Again, rather than arguing over the pie, the idea is to make a bigger one.


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Posted by George Orwell
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2014 at 11:11 pm

George Orwell is a registered user.

Well done! Restrict the thread, silence thee discussion!


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Posted by Parent1
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 20, 2014 at 12:31 am

Parent1 is a registered user.

swmommy: Actually, the link you provided, if that was data supporting the effectiveness of the program, the retention ability of the program, or other other performance metrics of the program - link doesn't work.

Where can we obtain the data?

Specifically, your statement that the MI program works while also stating that the program had turnover problems in the early years simply reinforces that the MI program has not yet graduated a class of 5th graders that were made up of a randomly chosen population of a random variety of language speakers, which MI successfully tranformed in to bilingual students.

If the program is, or has had significant attrition for any reason, and populates itself with proficient heritage language speakers at older grades who are tested in for proficiency, its not proving it has the ability to teach kids to be bilingual, only that it teaches Mandarin speakers up to 5th grade level. We simply need to see the data that follows Kinders through the program and measures the success of children that take the program all the way through, to understand if this has been a success or simply morphs in to PAUSD elementary taught in another language. There's a difference, the district was specifically promised MI, not PAUSD in a different language, and the program and the school board should be able to show us that data before expanding.

Now coupled with underwhelming evidence that the parents of MI program are all that interested in continuing with the true MI approach in to middle school it speaks to the real measure of confidence and satisfaction with the program results.

Now in the board letters that were posted in a thread above, it looks like Mah was suggesting that they could patch together numbers for some sort of aferschool program that would entail mixed grades, 6th-8th, potentially a social studies type curriculum, and would also rely heavily on heritage speakers to make the necessary numbers. This quickly morphs from an extension of the MI approach as sold under the proposal for a lottery program open to all, to an extracurricular language program.

And with mixed grades, I'm really not clear on the underlying social studies curriculum that would be of any value to a 6th-8th grade population, other than for value of the language lessons, in a mixed 6th-8th grade setting. What would the social studies curriculum contain that would be of PAUSD caliber and content? It seems like a thin veil for simply teaching kids Mandarin. A worthy goal in and of itself, but lets not pretend that its going to be a PAUSD equivalent middle school subject course.

Swommy - would I expect parents to foot a large part of the bill? No, in fact I would expect parents to foot the entire bill for their after school enrichment programs, as do we all for our after school programs of choice. Perhaps those that feel that advanced Mandarin classes are a priority during middle school years, should put together the after school program, and offer it at cost through City of Palo Alto Enjoy.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 20, 2014 at 1:16 am

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Posted by Dauber voter, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2014 at 3:34 am
We should have foreign language for all students in elementary school. The world is an increasingly globalized place and it makes no sense to postpone language offerings until 6th grade, and then only in "optional" context. Mandarin should be offered early, and throughout middle school. It is absurd that we teach French and German but not Mandarin, or even Arabic in 2014. Palo Alto's language offerings are tied to a 19th century vision of Empire -- an older view of the world. Spanish makes sense because of patterns if immigration to California. But to prefer European languages of dead empires to a rising language of over a billion people is similar to opposing Vatican 2 and insisting on mass in Latin.

Now, MI is a different question. There, we need to realize that there are real students who have been taking MI for 6 years and we have to put them first. Whatever you think of Grace Mah or MI, that fight is over. Now we need to put students first.

I support Ken Dauber because he is the only candidate that I know of to have clearly articulated a position on both of these issues that is in agreement with what I believe on both issues: language in elementary school for all, expanded language in middle school, continuation of Mandarin in middle school on an equal footing with Spanish Immersion students, and recognition of the changed world in which we now live. Let's bring PA into the 21st century by electing a Google engineer who understands collaborative business across different domains.

Thank you.
**************************
While you're so eager to rid schools of the French and German languages, why not also rid them of EVERYTHING to do with dusty ol', irrelevant Europe? For starters, literature, science, music, philosophy, film, art--all could easily be ditched. Shakespeare, Mozart, Homer, Sartre, Newton, Madame Curie, Renoir, Rimbaud, Da Vinci, Stravinsky, the Bronte Sisters, Freud (Sigmund and Lucien), Picasso, Einstein, Colette, Kafka, Descartes, Fellini, Virginia Woolf, Cocteau, Oscar Wilde, Chekov, Tati, Monteverdi, Van Gogh, Joyce, Michelangelo, Ibsen, Ravel, Schubert, Schumann, Bergman, Victor Hugo, Beethoven, Fritz Lang, George Bernard Shaw, Debussy, et cetera, et cetera--who needs 'em and their tired old mother tongues?


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Posted by LY
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 23, 2014 at 1:23 pm

LY is a registered user.

As more and more Chinese American have been choosing Palo Alto as our second hometown, percent of students in PAUSD is increasing year by year. School district should recognize the trend and how to educate our kinds on what they need to learn, The fast rising China economy urge our kids to learn Mandarin language, furthermore understand the culture. To improve the strength of next generation American, providing the immersion at schools will encourage more kids learning Mandarin language in the long term. So far, no Chinese class is provided in the middle school, that's a hole need to filled. Chinese American community pay our property taxes at much higher value as they moved in last couples of years, they deserve the same chance as others' races.


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Posted by mom of teenagers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

@LY - Mandarin is offered at both Jordan Middle School and JLS Middle School in PAUSD. So your statement that "no Chinese class is provided in the middle school" is incorrect. At least 24 students would have to actually sign up for the class for it to be taught, so if it is not being taught, there wasn't enough interest.


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Posted by palyguy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2014 at 8:48 am

palyguy is a registered user.

When do the middle schools vote/survey if they will have at least 24 students to have a Mandarin class at Jordan, JLS, or Terman? Is this something students do or parents do? I find it hard to believe that we can't get at least 24 students to make this a 7th or 8th grade elective.

I know it is listed in the catalog, but my understanding is that it has not been taught at a middle school for a few years.


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Posted by mom of teenagers
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

mom of teenagers is a registered user.

@palyguy - in 6th grade, students pick their electives for the following year. It's not a vote or survey, it is registering for the following years classes (and this happens all through middle and then high school). If enough students register then the class is taught, this is only for electives, not core classes. Students have to pick their first, second and third choice electives, if one is not available, they get their next choice. Sometimes this results in additional sections of a course being taught, I think JLS added another period of industrial tech because there was so much interest. Sometimes that means that 8th grade students get preference, the Jordan TV elective comes to mind.

That is actually one of the advantages of having a larger middle school, a richer selection of electives (more students, more interests).


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