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Public invited to discuss 'achievement gap'

Original post made on Apr 14, 2008

Members of the school community are invited to weigh in on how well Palo Alto schools are addressing the so-called "achievement gap" at a public forum Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 14, 2008, 10:09 AM

Comments (99)

Posted by mike w b, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 14, 2008 at 3:07 pm

All studies seem to point to family values as the source of the achievement gap.

Schools can not do much if the parents and social network do not support school performance.

Bill Crosby has pointed this out for years, so did MLK

Posted by Sue, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2008 at 6:20 pm

It's much more complicated than "family values," whatever that means. Some families, through no choice of their own, live haphazard schedules. Some kids live in overpopulated houses. Some parents are unable to read messages sent home in English. Some parents are functionally illiterate and don't advertise that they can't understand messages sent home. Some parents are not able to help their kids with homework. Some preschoolers don't live in language-rich homes - sure, people talk, but how much reading and conversation goes on between little kids and adults to develop their vocabularies and language acquisition so that they don't arrive at kindergarten with a huge "language gap"?

Maybe homework should be abandoned in favor of schoolwork. If parents can't support schoolwork in the home, then why not keep schoolwork on campus with teachers who know how to support schoolwork?

Parents who send their kids to Palo Alto schools value education. Their circumstances may not allow them to provide an ideal home environment or support structure. It's not lazy parenting, and it's not absence of family values. Some kind of specialized parent ed might be useful -- all parents can benefit from parent ed,

And we might try pulling the kids into preschool programs at age 3 to make sure the kids get good socialization and language-rich exposure to help them come to kindergarten more on par with their peers.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm

The Mercury News just published a week ago the results of a survey where high school students were asked what grade was associated with being 'cool'. For Hispanic and black you were only cool if you made Cs or Ds. For white (Caucasio-Americans) it was As or Bs. Oddly, Asians were left out of the published study. I suspect an A was cool for them, and everything below an A 'non-cool'.

As Bill Cosby said, paraphrased-"it's the culture, stupid."

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 14, 2008 at 7:11 pm

"Achievement gap" is racist and should be throw out.

Posted by Not politically correct, a resident of The Greenhouse
on Apr 14, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Quite frankly I am sick an tired of the achievement gap being made such an issue in the Palo Alto school district. This achievement gap involves only a very small fraction of Palo Alto students and they get a disproportionate amount of attention. How about focusing more on the average Palo Alto students and further enriching their education? I would welcome that.

BTW the achievement gap will always be impossible to completely close no matter what we do. It's just a reality.

I know what I just said is not PC. But I am getting tired of all the political correctness of this town.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Apr 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Not PC - it's rather pathetic to look at something created by people and then throw up your hands and think it can't be fixed. It's not a law of physics, it's a human system. And there are places that have made great progress in this area, so you're both pessimistic and wrong.

Of course, none of the critics here would actually be open-minded enough to show up at the event, listen to the dialogue, and see what the real details of the issues are, and how they play out in real ways in the lives of our children. No, better to snipe at entire "cultures" of people you don't even know while you hide on Town Square.

It's the province of economically advantaged white people to say it's entirely a matter of "culture" or "effort" - as if it were that simple and direct and singular cause/effect. Likewise, if anyone feels victimized and wants to lay the whole problem at the feet of a racist system, I reject that too. I do think Bill Cosby has been on target - it's important to call people on their acceptance of assumptions and values that won't serve them well. But we also need more white leaders saying, "yep, we've been advantaged by our skin color in this country, and we need to admit it, and do something to level the playing field."

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2008 at 11:06 pm


I wish I did agree with you on this one, but unfortunately I am inclined to agree with not pc. As far as my experience at the high schools is concerned, my feelings are that there are the exceptional high achievers, all being looked after very well, the low achievers with the sad background, being sympathetically treated very well, but the average, possibly lazy or lower motivated who end up being almost ignored. These students know they are not in either category, know that possibly from family background or even in spite of it, that they will not actually fail, but are not performing to their full potential and are not being motivated to do so. Many of these see their parents working long hours with little free time and not quite understanding what they are doing except that it is "high tech" and see that this sort of lifestyle is not for them. As a result, they are being switched off academics and just drift.

Yes, we have parents pushing kids. But, we have some parents who are letting their kids drift and the schools are not helping. These parents are often the ones driving Silicon Valley, but are failing their own families.

Should the schools be doing this or not is a good question. I remember one of my own school teachers saying that she would prefer a good B student to an A student any day, because it was these students that she could really help. I just wonder if any of our teachers today think like that.

Posted by YAParent, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 15, 2008 at 3:57 am

I tend to think that values impact educational success a whole lot. But values can be deep, and not easy to change. Sometimes they're not even easy to identity; many live their whole lives without needing to look at their values closely. I find this an interesting example:

"Some families, through no choice of their own, live haphazard schedules."

Whose choices lead to a family's haphazard schedule year after year? Doesn't that reflect the family's values? Surely it's their choices of job, living location, money management, household/transportation logistics etc. that impact their schedule.

I think one advantage that the "advantaged" have is that their values guide toward success in our environment. That makes it easy for them; they don't have to change deep values. But it doesn't reduce the importance of values to success in our educational system.

My point is that one way to help the low achievers is to promote values that assist in successful education. (But don't turn the whole educational system on its head for everyone in order to do that for the low achievers).

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 15, 2008 at 7:24 am

I beg all of Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals"...or even the chapter on Race in his latest "Economic Facts and Fallacies" if you don't have time to read a whole book. Or, for the more scholarly amongst you, read "Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb" by JOhn Ogbu. Or, read Juan Williams book "Enough, The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure that are Underming Black America- And What We Can Do About It", or anything by Bill Cosby, or Shelby Steele author of "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (HarperCollins 2006). He is also the author of "A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America", in which he argues that too much of what has been done since the Great Society in the name of black rights has far more to do with the moral redemption or self-satisfaction of whites than with any real improvement in the lives of blacks.

I have really turned off to the whole "achievement gap" issue now that I have really studied it more. How can a School District make up for a home life which does not do homework or praise academic achievement, a culture which denigrates "acting white" when a student does well, or a social structure which tries to keep its members from "moving up and out"?

The only answers are not pretty, and would completely destroy any semblance of equal opportunity (non-asian browns and blacks receiving much, much more in educational time IN school, for example), and result in de facto segregation ( again) in the schools.

Maybe the answer lies more in "ok, every kid who is below basic on the standardized tests, stay after school for an extra hour or two per day and get teacher help in extra school work". But, are we willing to pay the tax dollars for it? This would be a lot of kids!

Posted by joel, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:38 am

The low achievers should taught a trade in high school.

In the UK they are introducing such a system, non academic high school students will serve as apprentices in trades.

It will give them a sense of self esteem and a way to make a living.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

joel, for once we completely agree.

By 16 every kid pretty much knows if s/he is going to be able to make it through learning a college degreed profession. If it is clear the answer is "No", then I really believe there should be a return to the vocational school training of yesteryear, where at 18 a kid graduates high school with a solid step toward a good job skill in hand.

Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Apr 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm

One recurring theme at last night's meeting is that underestimating what some students are capable of based on a sort of racial profiling or stereotyping still exists in our schools. I doubt that the families who are most affected by the achievement gap would be served well if we try to segregate low achievers. Even under our current system, there are students who are mis-identified as such, in some cases taking up resources that could be used for other students who don't fit the profile but could use the extra attention. Neither child is served well.

Remember the discussions on an earlier thread about how some high school students were told by their college counselors not to bother applying to the better colleges because they weren't good enough? Imagine the harm inflicted by telling an even younger child not to bother to apply themselves, that they're not even capable of trying to get better grades. Try telling a parent that it's time to give up on their kid; they'll never make it at the same level as the others. Some children take longer than others to find their academic, disciplined, motivated selves. It doesn't always indicate that they can't; just that they haven't yet.

Athough it's challenging, it's not impossible or unheard of to significantly increase the academic achievement of students who've been written off as low achievers.

It's time we rise to that challenge.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Vocational training isn't giving up on a low achiever - its giving a student who is not excelling in a "College Prep" environment the opportunity to discover where they will excel and maybe even where their passions lie. Not everyone is meant to be an engineer or doctor although many of our students seem to feel that if they aren't great in science and math that they are failures. This is not limited to any ethnic group.

Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Apr 16, 2008 at 3:13 pm

"Vocational training isn't giving up on a low achiever"
True, pamom, depending on how it's implemented. I like the idea of offering a variety of options so students have a range of choices. On the surface I rather liked the idea of opening a third high school with an IB program. Vocational training would round out PAUSD, too.
What bothers me is who gets to decide on the path? It must be entirely up to the families – not the staff. I've seen too many cases of bright children who are misdiagnosed based on the color of their skin or their first language. I wouldn't want a child to slip through the school's cracks and then be told by the same school system that they ought to go into trade because they're not smart enough to keep up.
With or without offering vocational training, the achievement gap must be tackled -- a student, school and district at a time. I see vocational training as an additional choice, but I don't see it as a solution to reducing the achievement gap.

Posted by joel, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 16, 2008 at 3:27 pm

In Germany, where the have trade schools, the tradesmen typically earn more that liberal arts graduate.

Some people seem to have a very snobbish attitude towards tradespeople however.

It is silly to drag up so called racial profiling as an excuse for poor performance.

It is certainly true that some subcultures discourage school achievement and that the teachers are powerless against such parental and peer pressure among parts of the Black and Hispanic cultures .

We have wasted enough time and money trying to change this, we have only made the situation worse, it is time for the leaders of these subculture to follow Bill Crosbys example.

Stop blaming others and take responsibility

Posted by Different parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I don't necessarily disagree with vocational training at the age of 16 for low achievers. This as described above, may give someone a trade with which they can start work when leaving high school. It may, alternatively, be a kick in the pants of a low achiever who has chosen to not put in their best effort. As long as vocational training is not a one way ticket, but perhaps a semester where a 16 year old can see the folly of their ways, it may be the best type of second chance around. If someone who is refusing or unable to focus on their academics is made to focus for a short while on car maintenance, hair cutting or even something more mundane and realises that this is not for them, it just may help them to turn their grades around.

Remember, Frenchie the beauty school drop out, we just may be doing them a favor.

Posted by Carlos, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 16, 2008 at 4:55 pm

From my own experience growing up in a demographically diverse society in Latin America, I would say it's naive and unrealistic to expect equal results just because we try our best to offer equal opportunities in this country.

Achievement gaps will always exist, regardless of where you live, and rather than throw scarce resources to bring everybody to the same level (which in many cases means catering to the lowest common denominator and ignoring the more gifted kids), we'll be better off accepting that not everybody will do equally well at school. Maybe our society could be more efficient implementing something like the German/Swiss model of different school paths based on each individual's skills. Just like not everybody could be a professional athlete, not everybody will be college material, either.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Dear Different Parent - your snobbish attitude is part of the problem. "car maintenance, hair cutting or even something more mundane and realises that this is not for them, it just may help them to turn their grades around" Who are you to decide that maintaining a car is mundane? Or that being a hair stylist is unimportant or not fulfilling? Not everyone wants to (or should) go to college, it doesn't mean they are lazy or bad students or "need a kick in the pants", just that their interests lie elsewhere.

Posted by Different Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2008 at 5:40 pm

PA Mom

Sorry if my post seemed snobbish, it wasn't meant to be. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of the professions I mentioned, but sometimes in the above posts it has been mentioned that trades should be taught at school for the lower achievers. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I also think that many who feel that they can't compete with the higher achievers just give up for whatever reason and it is for these kids and others who are just late developers or low focused but bright, may get the wake up that they need. I am all for training those who need it in high school. I am also for getting those who can do better but aren't motivation. Teaching them a trade may be just the trick. There is no point in having a high school diploma and no skill to get a job. There is also no point in having the brain to go to college and become more than can be imagined, but never having the motivation to put in the effort. Schools have to teach more than just academics and selfmotivation is one of these lessons.

Posted by mom who colors outside the lines, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

yet another parent: sorry, I am a parent of kids of color, and I have yet to see any "profiling" or lower expectations based on color in our schools. This may have been the case of the adults who are running the Kids of Color program, but it isn't the case now.

I have been to several meetings and have been completely turned off by the "blame the system" "blame the teachers" mentality.

Time to look inward, focus on parenting, and if in the RARE case there is a hint that there may be some "profiling" on color, discuss it with the teacher..but it is NOT the rule.

Posted by Sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 6:18 am

to the mom who colors out side the lines:...... from the numbers and the statistics, you seem to be the "RARE" case.

As it was explained to me, there is in fact a problem. It's subtle but it is there.

We have to be realistic... to some degree a program such as VTP brings with it a specific set of demands and the teachers in the district are being asked to be educators and social workers. Personally, Im willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if they drop the ball during this hat trick, but make no mistake the numbers tell us that they have.

There may be a situation in which the VTP is the best a parent can do for their child's education....and they trust the teachers know what they are doing. Well whoever thought of bussing kids from EPA into Palo Alto should have have anticipated the need they would be facing in designing such a program.

I don't think it's fare to describe the effort to "improve" or close achievement gaps as "blaming this system" or 'Blame the teacher". Thats like inviting someone over for dinner, forgetting to set out the silverware, and then becoming indignant when they ask for a fork. At best this is a conversation that needs to take place. Obviously not in your case.. but perhaps for
someone less fortunate than yourself.... Someone who colors inside the lines as well as out. If you are fortunate enough to have escaped racial profiling.... Don't insult the people who may have, in fact why did you even go to the event???

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2008 at 9:00 am

As a parent who has been in PAUSD for many years, I have seen very little variance in treatment of kids of different races, mainly because there are so many of them, unless they come from the type of family which is working on different family values than the rest of us. At present, there is a bullying problem for one of my kids and it appears to me that the bully comes from a family who have problems with law abiding as a history. If the parents are not playing the same game as the majority, then the kids are more likely to follow suit.

So, as Mom who colors outside says, there is no problem in her family, I believe it. But to someone who finds problems, I ask them what type of family background and family values are they teaching their kids at home. If they are teaching their kids to suspect everyone is out to get them just because of their color, their kids will not only find it but possibly act in such ways to promote it. If they are teaching their kids to treat everyone fairly and judge people as individuals not by the color of their skin and they are still being victimised in some way, then yes they should take the matter further. However, my instincts tell me that this latter scenario is rare in PAUSD.

Posted by outside the lines, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 9:13 am

I went several times hoping to part of the solution, which is to look inward into the families, and teach families how to promote academics..which is to read to the kids from very young ages, have a schedule for homework, talk to the teachers to make sure that the kid is doing what he is supposed to be doing in class and behaving, setting up rewards for the kids to work toward ..etc.

I have not seen a pervasive problem at all. I resent that any special anything should be done on the basis of color. Achievement, yes, color, no. If a poor, white kid with a single mom who didn't graduate from even high school, let alone college, is treated the same as the equivalent child who is non-white..ok. Fine. That is different.

But to imply that our teachers have a "subtle" difference in approach based on color is absurd. Like Parent said, or at least strongly implied, any differences are probably a result of a teacher understanding the limits of the FAMILY..THAT I have seen, and that is why I continue to believe that the most useful thing we can do is help FAMILIES teach their kids.

Posted by outside the line, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 9:17 am

BTW Parent..I have personally witnessed the difference in treatment of the parents who come in with a victim, everyone is racist, chip on their shoulder, and those who don't. I don't blame the teachers and staff one bit for retreating from the first. They are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If they do nothing, it is from racism. If they recommend help or try to talk to the parents, it is racism. They really can't win.

The only real losers are the kids who are taught to be suspicious and hate in the home, and don't receive the support in the schools because their parents call "racism".

It is horribly sad.

Posted by joel, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 17, 2008 at 9:58 am

The fact is that the era of white guilt is over, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton made a lot of money out of it in the past but those days are over for good.

Trade schools are the best option for those who are not academically oriented.

It is the parents job to motivate their children, if they do not there is nothing a teacher can do.

By the time a kid is in high school their future trajectory is predictable and the self reinforcing peer group is chosen.

For instance, if they do not have the basic skills of math thinking by that time then in unrealistic to expect them to thrive in math and science they are better off learning practical and marketable skills.

Posted by grandwizzard, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2008 at 10:22 am

I see we have more than a few racist here... particularly joel from charleston gardens.

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 10:29 am

grandwizzard, a resident of another community, 4 minutes ago

Race baiting is not going to get you anywhere here, glad you are from another community, we do not want your type here

Posted by friend of julie, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 17, 2008 at 10:40 am

julie im from palo alto area and i don't understand joel's point either. what do jesse jackson, al shaprton, or the money they make ...or white guilt ...have to do with palo alto schools???
why mention them??
why mention them??
funny how you don't see the racist overtones in joels statement and yet you attack GrandDodohead from another community. Both comments are silly...but you can only see the race bating in one direction.

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 11:15 am

I think the comments re sharpton and jackson are true and not racists at all.

Bill Crosby and MLK emphasize responsibility and family values as the path to closing the gaps in achievement.

Jesse and Al emphasize victim hood, blaming others and try to fire up resentment ( remember Als Tawana Brawley matter Web Link )

In this thread there have been suggestions that the reason some blacks and hispanics under perform is because of profiling and discrimination
by teachers in PAUSD.

This is nonsense and needs to be confronted head on for the vile slander that it is.

It is the sort of slander that jesse and al have made their fortunes out of.

Posted by julie's friend from epa, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm

julie, as parents with a child at hoover by way of vtp my wife and I knew what we were in for. At least we thought we did. As a bright African American student I can personally attest to this issue. I've had experiences similar to what we are talking about. Often I was the only black in my class, and there was a difference. I'm not sure why there was a difference, but there was. Despite this I was accepted to a top college prep school, and eventually went to UC Davis. So when we were given the chance to send our kid to a palo alto school we knew that we would have to be very involved. Originally I didn't see an issue either. My wife and I were happy, despite the many horror stories we heard about the achievement gap. But then two things happened to us that made us question things.

1. we were told that my child although reading at grade level would have to go to summer school for reading. no big deal as we were going to send him to summer school anyway. The issue.... why mention summer school so early in the school year?..... Why not simply enlist the parents to bring him along during the school year? BTW we asked to be involved....we felt as if the teacher had simply given up on teaching him. even at this point we didn't suspect that there was much of an issue, we just wondered why.

2.a conversation with a school administrator drew our attention to the achievement gap issue. We didn't bring it up, and we had not complained. in fact, we still aren't complaining and we never will. we will never complain because we are well aware of how it will be viewed...

However, looking at the post from both you and joel is of very big concern. jesse jackson and al sharpton... really?.....really? white guilt...? we have to be better than that.

My point. parents, teachers and administrators are trying to do a good thing. and in doing so they may have to consider all perspectives and all angles... and yes they may have to explore some uncomfortable topics involving race, discrimination, lowered expectations and yes... of course parents. I don't see anything wrong with trying to improve on a good thing. I mean if there is a better way of doing things, why not work towards it right?

but Jesse jackson and al shaprton... in this context screams of racism. We all want whats best for the children, all children. And we must go through the awkward, and sensitive task of finding a solution...bringing up jesse and al is a distraction, not a help.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Gee, I've seen teachers motivate kids all the time--it's part of what makes a good teacher. I've also seen the opposite.

Hate to break it to you, but teachers do matter.

As for a kid's future being decided at 16--I'd say one of the big advantages of the American education system is that this isn't set in stone. We've had a system that allows for late bloomers.

I know a kid who had okay, but not great grades in high school and okay, but not great SATs. She went to community college for a couple of years and lived on her own. She got motivated. Her grades soared.

She just got accepted to Smith and Mt. Holyoke as a transfer, as well as several of the UCs. At this point, I suspect she'll do better than some of the straight-A high school students with whom she'll be taking classes. In fact, the UCs came out with one study which showed their transfer students did just as well as the freshman admits. And we know plenty of those transfers are kids who didn't get into the UC of their choice as freshmen.

Kids aren't fixed for life at 16. And while I'm all for learning skills that get you a job, it's worth noting that work is changing. Jobs from 50 years ago don't exist today. Knowing *how* to learn is a key skill for *any* kid.

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

The term white guilt is, i believe, connected to the post

<Shelby Steele author of "White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (HarperCollins 2006). He is also the author of "A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America", in which he argues that too much of what has been done since the Great Society in the name of black rights has far more to do with the moral redemption or self-satisfaction of whites than with any real improvement in the lives of blacks.> close quote

I have read both these books and they opened my eyes.

Another post said

quote <One recurring theme at last night's meeting is that underestimating what some students are capable of based on a sort of racial profiling or stereotyping still exists in our schools.>

That is an allegation that PAUSD teachers are racist,

Frankly if the VTP program is causing problems and taking time and money without any gratitude in return then it should be cancelled.

Posted by Sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 2:08 pm


Please understand you are making it a race issue when it may not be. There may not be a word to describe the cause of the gap. but from what i have been told a gap does exist. and to be honest there may be many reasons to explain it... none of which suggest that teachers are racist. i don't think that the PAUSD would stand for racist teachers. what would be the point right?

is it at all possible that a teacher comes from a background far removed from the students she/he is given charge over? not a racist but rather unfamiliar?

is it possible that some students respond better to a familiar figure/face/persona??
not racist children just unfamiliar.

is it possible that parents are doing the best they can?
not meaning to imply racism or show ingratitude just wanting the best for the children.

is it possible that the books you have been reading has twisted your understanding?
not that you are a racist, just that you have shifted so far from white guilt and moved into black resentment? All the people are trying to do is educate their children.

I won't apologize for being a vtp parent, the program will work, and in so many cases does work. It is worth the effort and the time.

Finding away for teachers and parents to close the gap is bold...a very worthy cause. At the end of all of this work...PAUSD will only be better.

Imagine the PAUSD teacher on steroids...a super teacher if you to teach, motivate and inspire children of all socio economic profiles. Able to reach across language barriers to involve and include parents with the thickest get the point.

you seem very intelligent and passionate. we could use your help. nevertheless a way will be found to improve achievement levels with or without you.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

notice i said children of "All" socio economic profiles....All. not just the poor vtp student, or the driven and gifted student but "All" students

without giving up on anyone. this is good yes??

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Shelby Steele is a leading black intellectual, you can call his books twisted if you want.

How about the CTV adjusting to the norms of the PAUSD.

I tell you many PAUSD are fed up with bending over backward to help CTV students, treading on egg shell and getting only insults in return.

How about making it the responsibility of the CTV students and parents to make the program work? Lets put the program participants on a probationary period

If they cannot conform, adjust and make it work then the program should end.

Enough is enough.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 4:44 pm

please forgive any of my comments if they have insulted you. That doesn't help out either.

I'm really trying to understand you. you seem to be focusing on the vtp program

you seem to think that there are no vtp parents who take an interest in there child's education.

are you sure that it's a vtp issue??

does this 'gap' only affect vtp families?

are vtp parents the only parents concerned about achievement gaps.??

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 17, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Of their is range of achievement in schools, I do not see calling it a gap helps.

What will help is trade schools.

The vtp program takes up a lot of resources, I think it is a failed attempt a social engineering and should be canceled.

As you see in threads above people who attended the meeting made allegations of racism re PAUSD teachers. I believe the vast majority of parents and teachers are sick and tired of this slander.

The statistic show that some black and hispanics do less well academically.

The reason is because they do not care. When the black and hispanic parents care the black and hispanic kids children care and they perform.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 17, 2008 at 6:22 pm

you are right, unfortunately there will always be "those" people... and for the most part they cant always be reached. however i don't think that their sentiment is shared by all.

as an african american i have seen our people hold some questionable views. please don't get me wrong. im not defending them rather im looking to see if there is any merit to the things they are saying.

and unfortunately i think there is. now I don't know if my child has been affected in fact i don't feel that he has and we have no real complaint at this point. but when a school administrator pulls me aside to explain that there is an issue, specifically regarding race. What do you expect me to do when im told that this issue exist

I went to the meeting. me my three kids and my wife. we listened to many stories. and just to let you know it wasn't the stories from the parents, but the administrators who established for me that there was an issue... specifically regarding race.

again, beyond the few people who have posted what may seem to be an unwarranted attack on your personal sensibilities, i still don't see your point. Moreover, im more inclined to believe these people when their claims are supported by school administrators, and my own personal experience as one of two blacks in an all white private school.

I had really hoped that you would have supported you argument better. I though there was some point i was missing.

regardless of what wording you use, or racial classifications you recognize, there are many people who simply want to push their kids to be the best that they can be, and will continually ask, HOW CAN WE DO BETTER?

Im sure I'm misunderstanding you, but you come off just a tad bit bitter without more to back up what you are saying. if there is something i'm missing please inform me. until well

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2008 at 1:26 pm

The question is HOW CAN YOU DO BETTER.

The PAUSD and Palo Alto parents have done enough and put up with enough insults from VTP students and parents.

We have 600+ VTP students in PAUSD, the program was a mistake when it was implemented in 1986, it is time to END the VTP program.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 19, 2008 at 11:21 am

You know, I have issues with bringing in kids via Tinsley when our schools are so overcrowded, but this idea that somehow they're innately problematic and that we have no responsiblity toward kids in our system is just ugly. They're here and while I support reducing Tinsly transfers when there's no room, I don't support moving kids already in the system out of it.

So these VTP kids are PAUSD responsibilities. And, yeah, maybe some of them aren't future academic all-stars--but guess what, we're a public school system. The district's job is not to educate the best and the brightest, but all of the kids--whining about how some kids need help is petty.

I know various kids who use reading and math specialists--not from EPA, I might add. Do these kids matter less to you because they didn't pick up reading as quickly as the kid at the next table?

And blacks do continue to face particular challenges because of race. We talk a lot about white v. black racism--I've also seen some truly ugly racism about blacks from Asians. Honestly, I could see this being an accidental and subtle issue for one of the few African-American kids at Hoover. Heck, given that I know white families from Palo Alto who felt excluded at Hoover . . . not, I think, because anyone wanted to be mean or exclusive, but because you're looking at very different cultural expectations in many ways.

A lot of being a parent in Palo Alto is being in the loop--knowing what the families are doing at your school to prep their kids to succeed--because there's a lot of that. Coming in from the outside, no matter what your background can be a challenge. I mean, reading at grade level probably *isn't* enough at Hoover, though it would be a non-issue at Barron Park.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Dear Sad but True:

You have confirmed my worst fears. You said that your kids have no issue with race, and that you have seen no issues.

The ones making an issue of race are the usual culprits, misguided folks who are kind in heart, but wrong in action and words, making an issue out of the wrong component, and in fact CONTRIBUTING to racism. That is what I have been fearing..that is what I have been hearing.

There is a way in which some kind hearted people, trying to do the right thing, actually contribute to the problem by wrongly naming the problem one of color..when it is so many other things, such as culture of all involved.

I am sorry that now you have a problem whereas before you did not. What will be the result? Will you or your children now get a chip on your shoulders?

Will it be like it has been with so many women, ( being a woman, I speak from personal experience on this as well as the issue of race, being Hispanic and having seen the results of blaming problems on race in my people also)...Back to women, how many women have I heard complain about the "glass ceiling" for example, and blame sexism, and get a chip on their shoulders, and have troubles feeling equal to and friendly to men because of the sneaking suspicion that men are trying to "keep them down" with their sexism..when it is really because so many of us choose, and in my opinion rightfully so, to cut back or quit our paying jobs in order to devote more time to our kids. What man who does that will go to the next level? None.

It isn't sexism, but our choices in our we compete in our world, and the consequences of our choices. How many women choose professions friendly to being "part time" so they can spend time with their kids. "Part time" professions will not advance as much, and will not pay as much.

The result is that there may be "sexism" in that folks pretty much assume that most women will not be willing to work 60 hours per week throughout their 30s and 40s in order to go on to the top level. And this may affect in subtle ways how women are seen in the office.

The same is true with race. It works many different ways. When an Asian kid walks into a classroom, a teacher would be a fool to not know that the statistics are on the side of the kid behaving well in class, doing all his homework, and having parents ( 2 married parents) monitoring the kid closely. This expectation probably colors her thinking so that she is chalks up any deviation from her expectation as a "deviation from the norm", not proof that her norm is wrong.

Sadly, the statistics are in the reverse as we go "down" the academic achievement scale. Whites are as much below Asians in academic scores as Blacks/Browns are below Whites.

The statistics, not surprisingly, show a corresponding increase in single parent homes, also, as well an increasing value on sports achievement over academic achievement. Throw in a strong cultural pressure to not "act white" ( though one would assume that it should be to not "act asian" in this area) by achieving, and you end up with some pretty powerful disincentives to accomplish much.

You also have a situation where the teacher becomes ever less surprised when homework doesn't get turned in or there are behavior issues or difficulty getting in touch with a parent. 95% of all teens in jail for violent crimes come from fatherless homes. That is a pretty big correlation with single parent homes = behavior issues.

So, of course, and through no fault of the teacher, there are some underlying backgrounds. This is not "racism", but a natural and necessary component of human beings surviving through the ages. We assume that if we come across a very large dog, for example, that we should be more wary of it than a very small cat. This is not animalism, but a realistic assessment of what to expect given our knowledge of probability.

Add to it the problem of teachers/administrators being accused of "racism" if they call in the parents and note a problem or offer help ( because of the strongly erroneous conclusion that because more kids of color or in Special Ed there must be racism involved, which a very destructive conclusion and contributes more to the problem than it solves) and accused of "racism" if they DON'T offer help, and you can see that the school system is screwed.

In the end, like with any group of people trying to improve themselves, it has to come from within the group. No outside agency is going to fix the families, increasing the percent of kids born in wedlock. No outside agency is going to teach parents to talk to and read to and play with their kids before they are five so that they enter kindergarten with twice the vocabulary and cognitive exposure. No outside agency is going to knock on the door of kids' homes and make sure they are doing their homework and praise/reward the kids for good work in the home.

So, by the time the kid reaches kindergarten, he is already condemned to being "last" in the class.

Add to it the fact that any attempt to channel help to kids on the basis of color will only add to the racism of others who see the "stupid" group of kids are all of color, and you have a real problem.

In my very humble and completely non-academic opinion, the best help anyone of color can give to improve the situation in the Achievement Gap is to go back into the community of color and teach, teach, teach how to pull families back together and help kids succeed in school. As groups of immigrants have done since the beginning of the USA, teaching each other how to assimilate and achieve the "American dream". I would have more respect for the Students of Color group that has been forming over the last few years if I saw more classes aimed at teaching parents of color how to help their kids achieve, taught by adults of color who have succeeded well and therefore would have some credibility with the audience..

It would help if high achieving students of color would "big brother" or "big sister" younger kids of color, also, to help them learn good study habits and attitudes toward school.

There is no way a white or asian person can do these two needs. They would have no credibility with the target audience/pupil.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm

sorry for the long post above. I doubt many will read it, but I hope someone of influence will.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2008 at 12:44 pm

For a fascinating, short but dense, read on prejudice and the VALUE of what we often automatically assume is bad, ie "prejudice", please read

"In Praise of Prejudice, The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas" by Theodore Dalrymple, an English physician and psychiatrist who worked with prisoners and in the slums of England. I never thought till now to wonder what color the author is, so I have no idea.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Just re-read my post, and someone could infer that I am saying that it is just fine to treat an individual as if s/he is going to behave in the way of statistical probability of gender, color, nation of origin etc.

No, not my intention. My working assumption is to accept the reality of preconceived notions of a group of people, but then to react to the individual as an individual. Thankfully we are in America, and this is more the norm here than in any other part of the world. Individualism is built into the fabric of our national soul, and I am hoping that we don't unravel that be reverting back to "grouping" people and how we respond to them, either as institutional reactions, or individual reactions.

My fear is that we are swinging back to grouping on the basis of race in institutions, which I had fervently hoped we left behind us in the 60s and early 70s.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2008 at 10:23 pm


please understand... I'm not asking you for anything..not for help...not anything.

but I must strongly disagree with anyone who suggest that my child doesn't deserve a good education. vtp or not

as i said before, you seem bitter.

who has insulted you? how have you been personally hurt by vtp?

my child is in kindergarten .... and its true...he has yet to come home complaining that he has been profiled.

He is at hoover...and no it's not enough to read "at grade level" at hoover and I don't expect him to at this point. so he is not what some would call "Hight Achiever" however he has many other qualities that will serve him well.

1. not afraid to work hard at learning
2. good self esteem.
3 two parents who are willing and able to work with him regarding his education.
4 is at this point well adjusted

in my opinion, he is a "high achiever"

many of the children in my kid's class may be able to read now, but can't sit still in class, can't follow directions from the teacher and display other behavioral problems which aren't taken into account. so the term "high achiever" is RELATIVE!!!!!!!!

my concern is that the teacher is called to deal with behavioral issues and therefore has less time to focus on teaching, cheating my child out the attention he might need to bridge an "gap" that may or may not exitst.

yet i don't complain...we don't wine...or spew out simi racists comments.

WHEN WE ASK......WHAT CAN......WE DO........TO IMPROVE THINGS..........??? .....we are recommended for summer school....???

WHEN WE ASK....why recommend summer school so soon in the school year?.... we are given several different reasons... one makes very good sense. and the other involves race...and the achievement gap. we were told by a school administrator specifically that some teachers may not be "sensitive" to the issues of race..... WHAT ARE WE TO THINK?

julie, whatever issues you may have...We as a family have not complained about ANYTHING.
And we refuse to be ran out of palo alto or feel guilty because we are vtp parents.

We know that not everything is a racial issue.....yet we have enough experience to know that racism may be present in some issues.

julie, as a critics of vtp... neither you or your children are perfect.

and yes there are cases in which a parent may not be very involved....vtp or not

and yes there are cases in which a teacher...for whatever reason is pre mature in their assessment of children of color. vtp or not

and yes some parents feel that the issue has racial overtones. vtp or not

between the critics of vtp, and the proponents...there are some children slipping through the crack as we speak.

I don't intend to let my child be a victim of this ridiculous petty argument.

i will post,,blog, meet....i will do what i have to do to get my child educated.

to julie and the critics of vtp... my child is biracial...... which half do you have an issue with the most??

or are we back to the days of the three fifths compromise??

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2008 at 12:38 am

ol lady of midtown.

Sorry but I didn't mean to confirm your point.

please remember, my child is young, and biracial.. his experience so far shouldn't suggest that there is no problem for other children of color who are not biracial.

Also, I personally don't attend many of the functions. in part because of my schedule and in part because i am black.

I can't tell you how many play dates my son has been invited to... that is until the parents became aware that we lived in epa,,,

or they see me and my son together and realized the origins of his nice tan.

So until a situation needs it, or it can't be avoided I keep my distance, and let my caucasian wife take the lead just in case we run into someone from palo alto who is nervous around black people. we call these our "special needs group"

any yet there are some beautiful white people in palo alto who simply don't care...We call them our "High Achiever" Friends.

This is what we feel we have to do...As uncomfortable this issue is for some white people, it is a reality for many people of color... it is...indeed..very......SAD BUT TRUE.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2008 at 1:57 am

just a thought on statistics:

95% of all statistics are 100% incorrect 50% of the time, with a standard deviation of 4 in most cases, 6 in some cases and 15 in other cases. unless of course it is a full moon in which case gemini must be entering, leaving, or passing trough the house capricorn, otherwise we must divide by two.

Beyond this we must always leave room the slight chance that some children are holding out..... example einsteine. according to some who have posed here, einsteine should have been relegated to the pursuit of plumbing or bricklaying instead of physics. because he went to hoover and couldn't read harry potter books when he entered kinder. ridiculous

or that Geroge Washigton Carver one of the worlds greatest scientist should be denied access to the school of his choice due to his race...JLS didn't allow kids from epa.(again ridiculous)

Statistically speaking.... the stastistices we "choose" to acknowledge may not be speaking of a child's true potential but rather the limits and expectation of the educators and people like Julie who "Cling" to them as a way to justify a position.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2008 at 7:21 am

I will tell you the other side of the story, Sad.

I have avoided playdates for my kids with kids who live far from me or in vastly different economic status for several reasons..

if they come to my house and do not have the money we have, it is awkward and I severely question what happens to the "poor" kid. I say "poor" in quotes because I grew up as poor as most people are in EPA, but then we called it "middle class". And I was quite happy with our circumstances until we moved to an area where a lot of kids were rich and I saw the difference.

second, distance. It is a pain to drive 20-30 minutes each way for a play date..regardless if it is in Atherton, Sunnyvale or EPA.

re: Statistics, I "cling" to facts, logic and statistics no more than you "cling" to your unsupportable beliefs. I prefer seeing the broad picture..I don't like making decisions based on the gut feeling of a few, based on some sentence by some administrator who has been educated in the now dominant PC academic culture which doesn't question that, of course, all whites are racist and therefore have no room to speak..sorry, doesn't fly.

I reject the assumptions that all of a society must implement policies in the off chance that in every generation there might be an Einstiein or Carver. Did you know that neither one of them grew up in an environment friendly to Jews in the first case or Blacks in the second? No affirmative action, no awareness training of non-jews or non-blacks of their inherent "ism", no special help by school admins for their learning..nothing?

I recommend reading "Why I turned Right", a book of essays by people like me who considered themselves "left" in the 60s and 70s, who have seen how the "left" has abandoned all principles of true liberalism..and that the "right" is now the way of true liberalism.

I especially recommmend reading the essays of Kurtz, Mac Donald, Satel, and D'Souza for an understanding of what has happened in academia over the last 30 years. That administrator at your school has been well brain-washed into saying the PC thing, instead of trying to address your particular issues.

By the way, one of my kids has had to go to every academic support program offered by the District..Saturdays, before and after school, summer school. I am GRATEFUL for the help given, which has been great, not thinking it is a racist solution. I have noted that about 1/2 of the kids are of a color other than white in these classes. So what? WE MUST FACE REALITY and work on it, rather than blame "racism". If the reality is that our kids are not performing up to the average in this district, then we work on it, or we move somewhere that our kids can be average.

We are in a very high achieving district. That is our choice. The last thing I want to do is develop resentment of the very district which is trying to hard to help EPA students, and low achieving students. Remember, in most of the nation, our "low achievers" would be "average".

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2008 at 8:49 am

For those who are parents of kids who can't sit still, whether in kindergarten or higher grades, my experience shows that if they walk, ride their bikes or get exercise before school starts, their bodies will be ready to sit still until recess. Children who arrive at school by car, just before the bell rings, walking to class still eating their breakfast bagel, will arrive at school just as their bodies are waking up and are raring to go. It will then be hard for them to sit still until recess.

If you are at a commuter school and there is no alternative to driving to school, I strongly suggest that you arrive 15 minutes early so that your child can play on the structures for 15 minutes before school to get that exercise. And, for teachers whose classroom is open before the bell, please remember that it may be a better idea for some kids to spend time playing before class so that they can behave better when they get in the classroom at bell time.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 21, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Wow ol lady,

I grew up as a well-off white kid who attended an integrated school. It would *never ever* occur to me to not invite a kid over because they were not as well off as I was or they came from the other side of the tracks. It would never occur to me to exclude a VTP kid from my kids' birthday parties or refuse an invite because it came from the wrong zip. And I don't buy your "inconvenient" argument. Midtown is *wonderfully* convenient as far as EPA goes. You're quite a bit closer to EPA than you are to the ritzy Palo Alto hills--but why do I get the feeling you wouldn't turn down an invitation to one of those mansions and that somehow you could get over your discomfort with interclass mingling if it meant hobnobbing with a few more upscale types? I mean yeah you're general about it--but the problem you describe specifically relates to dealing with kids beneath your perceived class level.

(Ummm, you do realize that Midtown isn't "all that" as far as traditional snob barriers go around Palo Alto? Do you also avoid Crescent Park?)

Okay, now to the some of the logical flaws in your assertions. Just because Einstein and George Washington Carver succeeded doesn't mean discrimination doesn't damage the lives of people and hinder the success of others. That some people succeed despite the odds doesn't mean that discrimination is therefore somehow justified. You're never going to be a great writer if you're not allowed to learn to read (as were most American slaves as well as women in many parts of the Third World even now.)

The U.S. has been a successful country in many ways and from the get go, Americans, for various reasons, tried to establish basic literacy skills. My kid doesn't need extra help, but because I understand the role of public education, I don't deny that help to your kids.

Regarding women and the "glass ceiling". Hmmmm, do you really, really think that the lack of support in terms of childcare has nothing to do with the choices women make regarding their careers? France has affordable, state-licensed childcare. In European countries where there's good, affordable and available daycare, women work. The more reasonable work weeks and vacations also help. We don't make an issue of something that deeply affects the career and earning potential of women--to pretend that this is simply a matter of individual choice instead of a reflection of our society's values is naive--and yeah it could be called "sexist"--note your underlying assumption that women are the ones to make the choice between childcare and career. Basically, we don't deal with it because we bolster our population with immigrants. Europe deals with it because of its declining birthrates and lower immigration rates.

As for the joys of stereotyping. Yeah, there are all sorts of stats--but it *is* an issue with a teacher who judges an individual by those stereotypes. The term for that is prejudice. A half-decent teacher should look at the actual child instead of jumping to conclusions about how a child will perform because of his or her address, skin color or sex.

As for your politics, so you were left with the crowd and then right with the crowd--I'm not impressed. Basically, what comes across is that you hit a certain status level and want to make sure you don't move down in the hierarchy.


Jeez, you're managing to be a lot more polite and gracious than I would be about this, I have a feeling this comes from years of practice. Do you think things might be easier in one of the other PAUSD schools--Hoover can be really rigid--at Ohlone, your kid's reading level wouldn't be an issue this early since a lot of learning to read is a developmental issue. The school brings in reading specialists in first grade if it's a real issue. I'd think if it were just an issue of reading at grade level that creating a reading-friendly environment would help more than summer school. I've known comic books to work miracles. <g>

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2008 at 6:34 pm

OP: your bias is showing. could you be prejudiced against life experiences which resulted in viewpoints which disagree with yours?

try reading it all again without the emotional background you have.

as for France, affordable childcare? You mean you want me to subsidize your choice to raise children and work?

Try checking out the economic state of France, the unemployment rate, compare the buying power of any employed person, regardless of professional status, to that of an equal job American...Ask why the EU is threatening France with penalties because its debt to income (national) is so high, nearly twice what ours is...

France is on a pedestal by liberals as a nation to be emulated, but these are people who don't see the effects of the policies of France on the actual people.

Check out how integrated their Arab minority is, how employed it is ( because of their highly regulated labor market), how this plays out in the destruction of neighborhoods and hundreds of cars every time there is a riot. Check out how Bardot, yet again, is being hauled into court for "hate speech" for expressing an OPINION about how she doesn't like the Muslim influence on the culture and laws of France.

Check out how well received gays are in France..gosh, they are so in the closet, even in France, that it would take a crowbar to open those doors.

Check out how employed women are in France. Very difficult, since unemployment is so high and employment is so highly regulated, women are less likely to be hired..what employer wants to hire a woman who will suck up a lot more employer resources in paying for long leaves for maternity, and childcare? Or, an unknown "foreigner" who presents a risk since you can't fire him, when the guy that you know is available for work?

You do not understand what is happening in France. Why do you think they just elected Sarkozy?

France has been where we are heading, and is pulling out of it with great difficulty..with riots and unemployment and tremendous social ills.

Don't blame a "lack of affordable childcare" for women choosing to stay home with their kids unless you can cite me something to support it. I don't believe it. To state that is to state that you believe women are incapable of making intelligent decisions. If a woman cannot afford childcare but desperately wants to keep doing the job that pays her so poorly that she can't afford childcare, then she chooses to not have kids. We all make the choices we want to live with.

Most women who stay home with their kids are making choices about what lifestyle they want, not from lack of childcare, but from what kind of life they want. To imply otherwise paints women as victims, and I won't accept that. I am too much of a feminist to disempower women in this way.

Gosh, I can't wait to emulate France.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2008 at 6:37 pm

many apologies to all..I just realized I was responding to OP, but should have started another thread to do so. We have wandered far from the plantation with this discussion.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Stereotyping and prejudice is not the same thing at all. The assumption of the typical stereotype of an african american from EPA being poor readers or the Asian child living in the Gunn district as being good at violin and maths are very different when it comes to how they are treated. A teacher could easily (and I am not by any means saying that any of our teachers does because I have no experience of it) could be over-concerned with the former child in their class if reading is a problem for them and not be at all concerned if the latter had poor reading skills. In the former case, prejudices could kick in and the teacher could think that they are doing the very best for that child by recommending summer school. In the latter case, if the child was having reading problems, they may just remind the parents to practice at home and feel sure that the parents will work hard to bring the child up to par. This may be called prejudice by some, but it could just as easily be called stereotyping from experience of what happens. In each case the teacher would be making an educated decision based on experience and stereotypes but not necessarily on prejudices.

Posted by Upset Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2008 at 7:36 pm

The most apparent achievement gap, and downright racist comments that I have seen are against Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics, and most come from Chinese families.

I am white, and have been told (right to my face) that my child was not as bright as theirs due our cultural difference.

Yeah, right. They force their kids to study advanced math, music, and advanced everything else - at the expense of their children having fun.

Chinese parents push their children to be better than the all the rest, even at the elementary level. They are teaching their children that they are above everyone else.

It's funny how my child plays with anyone. As a child, I also played with anyone. I didn't care what color they were or where they came from. My parents didn't care either.

The schools must also stop celebrating differences and just treat all kids the same. Our child does not care where and when another one of her classmates came from.

I am a bit upset about this "smarter than thou" attitude which prevails in Chinese families. Most non Chinese parents know this but we say nothing. It is insulting to every other ethnicity here.

I was told that I should prepare myself - that this will get much worse out of the Elementary School level.

It is clear that our community is polarized and it has very little to do with children from the VTP.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 21, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Ol Lady,

Yes, France has problems--childcare isn't one of them. So, yes, your diatribe about France is irrelevant to the conversation.

Should you subsidize my child care? If it's a benefit to the society as a whole, yes. The same way I'll subsidize your kids' public eduction, the freeways and roads upon which you drive and public libraries.

It's funny to me that you got all huffy about how you can't believe the childcare issue has anything to do with why women would leave the workforce and then promptly make an unsupported statement about the *real* reason women leave. Gimme a break.

And then do a search on "affordable childcare" and "women leaving the workforce". Nice little column from the Washington Post popped up for me--affordability is one reason women leave, quality and availability of childcare are two others. Sounds like you're older--you should talk to some younger mothers--you'll find the childcare issue is huge--particularly when there's more than one kid.

And I just *love* your declaration that women who want to work and can't afford child care just shouldn't have kids. Nothing like a little Malthusian 'tude. And how you don't seem to be even able to consider the role of the father in the whole thing--seems to be a non-issue for you. Women stay home with babies, period.

So, I'm afraid you flunk Feminism 101 on this one--it's okay, you're a rightwinger. Rush might yank your credentials if you passed.


Prejudice means, literally, to pre-judge. You can have stereotypes about groups, but not pre-judge the individual. It's when the pre-judgement kicks in that you're dealing with prejudice. We tend to think of negative prejudices, but there are positive ones as well.


Don't let the notions of a few idiots get to you. Yeah, I've known some Asian parents who say that kind of stuff, but most of the ones I've known don't. It tends to not last more than a generation because it can be very, very hard on the kids--particularly when they leave home and school.

Ironically, I think a lot of it as a form of insecurity--not feeling totally accepted and therefore the push of having to be the best and go to the best colleges. I was once surfing the Web and came across an Asian student thread at Stanford. The consensus of the Asian students is that white kids could afford to go to an average college and succeed, but Asian kids had to go to a top school.

As you can see, an incredible amount of internalized pressure as a result. I found it illuminating, myself.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 21, 2008 at 9:14 pm

ol lady of midtown

The "cling" statement wasn't meant for you. go back and read it please. I wasn't attacking you in fact you may not know this but i think you make very valid points. it's not always about race. so i wasn't attacking you. I'm trying to dispel the argument that suggest that vtp should be abandoned.

I'm also attacking the assumption that all vtp families are looking for some sort of affirmative action... this is not true.

I was trying to show that some vtp families actually value a good education, and welcome the opportunity to compete with good students. my intention was to clear up some of the "misperceptions" some people have expressed.

in some cases we just need a "fair" opportunity to compete, without feeling that some teachers are quitting on our students should they struggle a bit with their studies......(struggling is a good thing) or having some teacher lower expectations for some kids according to a set of stats.

we are not asking for you to do anything "Extra" for our children we simply don't want you to do any "Less" for them either.

I can't speak for every vtp parent, but i don't like the idea of that happening, especially when we are willing to participate, and have witnessed our child display incredible determination and drive.

the comment about the play dates wasn't meant to accuse every white parent in palo alto of being a vicious racist....

I just wanted to show that there are some people who...for WHATEVER reason... become uncomfortable with "black" people.

if its possible at all, then it's silly to suggest that it's not possible in an educational setting. or any other setting.'s discovered that this exist then it's worth the time and effort for all parties to take appropriate measures to end it.

I'm sure we cold go on and on... I'll end with this one last point.... the administrator you are speaking of is no slouch, and far from being brain washed or PC.... how can you comfortably make such a claim??

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2008 at 9:32 pm


Yes, you are quite correct that prejudice just means prejudging and if this is what we were discussing then I would agree. However, I feel that the word prejudice in this thread and elsewhere is usually taken to mean negative judgment. Particularly if one stated that there was prejudice against EPA families, it would be assumed by all that this was negative prejudgment and if one stated that there was prejudice against Asian families it would be a critical comment rather than a supportive one.

So, in my scenario of two families with a child with reading problems, a teacher could easily be judged of prejudice in a negative manner if they asked a poor reader from EPA to go to summer school, but would hardly be called prejudiced if they asked an Asian family to read more at home to catch up. The teacher may in fact be doing what they thought the family background would suit best, but because of the ethnic background as well as where the family lived, the prejudgment would be taken as negative by one family and supportive of the other.

For this reason, I think that prejudgment is done all the time by our teachers as they are the ones who know the child, know the family and know from experience what would be better for each poor reader. To call any of this prejudice would be a bad call, to call it stereotyping would be equally bad whether it be for negative or positive reasons. Calling it prejudgment might be the better word, but unfortunately that phrase is seldom used.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 12:05 am


like i said, I have had my share of experiences. I know that issues involving race are very flammable. after some time you realize that you are not dealing with the issues but rather people with issues. issues of ego and insecurity and in ol lady's case Neurosis. been there done that

I think I have a good read on my child... he has plenty of fun being silly with me. and we also have lots of fun with school work..His grandmother was the Head Mistress of the French American School in Palo Alto, so there is some support.

however i feel that hoover offers the perfect opportunity for my competitive child to develop the resiliency, and work ethic needed to succeed. hoover is a challenge both academically, and socially. But while we are not in direct competition with the asians, we do use them to motivate our very competitive child. knowing that some things will not come easy for him.....we hope to develop in him an understanding that practice and repetition are needed in order to improve.

At first there was a great deal of frustration, and maybe a hit to the confidence. but after a while spent working at it, things are good. we no longer have to force a reading lesson, he comes right in and does his work before playing...he has warmed up to the idea that learning takes some work. this was the goal for us..not to have him read harry potter in kinder (what's the point of that?) his reading is on par with normal kids his age,,,,he just got an extra lesson.

the problem with summer school was the timing. I simply didn't understand how the teacher could make such a recommendation so soon into the school year, and felt as if she was deferring the teaching of my child to summer school rather know.... actually teaching him or pushing him. I also wondered if the behavioral issues of the asian kids had interfered with my child's teacher time. Hell i even wondered if any of the asians were recommended for some sort of summer school for children who can read but can't sit still, or take directions from the teacher, tie their own shoes, wipe their own noses, dress themselves.......................sorry...i got a little carried away.

We chose not to push the issue, even though we still question the recommendation: Could it be that this....for whatever reason is in part the cause of the so called achievement gap ?..... passing the buck? I don't know... all I know is that my has no difficulties in learning and acquiring new skills, and I can't understand the rec so soon in the year. it would be different if my child displayed a learning disability. why not just teach him??? where is the teaching if my child is slotted for summer school, and the asians already know how to read? so we take extra time at home because....i just might not know what the hell im talking about.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 22, 2008 at 10:59 am


Maybe I missed it, because I've mostly been skimming these comments, but when was the reccomendation for summer school made? You have repeatedly expressed surprise at how early in the school year it was brought up. What month was it first mentioned?

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 11:20 am

Sad But True: Very well written posts and your points are well taken. You are right, I get a bit of a chip myself when race comes up because I am sick of the victim thing. IN any case, I wish you well.

BTW, before you answer, I will tell you that the recommendation for remedial summer school( but they call it Academy) for my kid was made each year about February or March, and I got the letter for acceptance into these programs in March or April ( every year was a little different). If it was before February, I would say it was a missed recommendation for Academies that begin earlier on Saturdays.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm

according to my wife,

mention was made in nov. at the parent teacher conference.

we received the letter of rec in feb.

and please understand ...I am in no way challenging the teacher or the administration..... I am not an educator.... so if anything my question could be only exposing my own lack of knowledge, and not any real problem.... or... there maybe reason for concerned.

I often highlight this issue because it has been the ONLY one we have faced so far at hoover.....

Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Our schools are overcrowded as it is

It is time to END the Tinsely VTP program. How do we achieve that goal?

Why is their no high school in EPA?

Also this is not a black/white issue. Only 20% of the population in EPA is Black and it is declining while the Asian population of PA is increasing

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:25 pm

It is a pity that, if there was a question back in November, there was no recommendation for before or after school assistance, or the Saturday Academy school. The Saturday Academy runs from November through March, or whatever 17 weekends works out to.

It is a big commitment, but well worth it.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Oh, Sad but True: I wouldn't assume that the question of playdates etc has to do with color, but more with proximity.

maybe I didn't understand what you were saying, but I had the impression that you feared it was color based. I don't believe it. In fact, frankly, I find it to be just the opposite in this area, that anyone of color is "cool" to have over or be friends with...maybe for the "racist" reason to prove that one is not a racist, even! You know what I mean?

But I HAVE found there to be discomfort with vast socioeconomic differences, and in the case of a private school one of my kids attended, DISTANCE from where one lives.

So, in my opinion, I wouldn't advise anyone to assume color is an issue. Not saying it never is, but in my experience it is rarely color that enters as a divide.

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm my "diatribe" on France. Please, I beg you, live there and tell me how much better it is for women. Or Gays. or Minorities. Oh, but they have "affordable childcare". Actually, I don't know where you get the "affordable childcare" thing from. Is it from the fact that schooling starts at 3 years old? This is not subsidized child care 50-60 hours per week.

You don't see at the very least a correlation in assumptions that result in both being true?

I don't flunk feminism 101. I believe that everyone is equally responsible for their own choices. That means women also. That means that if a woman cannot afford to have kids, she shouldn't have them. Simple. If she can, then she should. That means that she and her partner make decisions on how they wish to live, and then do it. That is true feminism, each person, man or woman, being alllowed free choice to live their lives as they wish, and bear their own consequences.

Women hold all the power in making family decisions. All. In this world there is no reason to have a child if she doesn't want one. None. The decision rests fully in her hands and her choices.

It sounds like you are young. That means you have been raised in more of an attitude of "others should support my choices in the name of it is better for society as a whole". Well, I submit that it is NOT better for society as a whole to encourage mothers to leave their kids to 50-60 hours per week of day care by subsidizing day care. Therefore, I should not subsidize your childcare or anyone else's.

Frankly, the more social engineering our public schools do in the name of "the greater societal good", the more I am also developing an antipathy to public schools. The more private property rights are subjugated to city govts deciding to confiscate private property in "the name of the greater good", the more I am inclined to not support government. Much evil has been done "in the name of the good of society". I trust the cumulative effect of individual choices for their own selfish good more for its effect on the greater good of society. The more we muck with "the greater good", the more we muck up our society. Witness all the wonderful social engineering projects we have undertaken in the last 40 years, with my support I may add to my shame, and the not necessarily causative, but at least correlative destruction of the family and education as a result. Need I say more?

But, that is a subject for another thread.

The world is not as black and white as you think.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

I must be totally open regarding this...

my child enjoys his.... there is no doubt about that.

as for the asians.... they have been very helpful.. once my wife initiated things they warmed up.

My child Loves his teacher, and gets along with EVERYONE....regardless of race, location politics religion economics..... really.. ask his teacher. lol

we have been included, and invited to dialogue with teacher and administrator, and given contacts who may be able to help us navigate our way through. .. in fact i have been very impress at the determination of the principal there to do a face to face with me to explain things....

yet i still scratch my head at the rush to rec summer school while there is so much time left to teach..... what's wrong with teaching through the year?

Posted by ol' lady, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 2:24 pm

it could be that your child is showing a need for more drilling/practice than can be given in the classroom, and the teacher can see that it can't hurt to give your child a more solid foundation to build on.

Posted by ns, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2008 at 3:07 pm

"my concern is that the teacher is called to deal with [other children's] behavioral issues and therefore has less time to focus on teaching, cheating my child out the attention he might need to bridge an "gap" that may or may not exitst."

SadButTrue/julie's friend from epa,

If you are really worried that the children in Hoover's kindergarten classes are unruly then I think you have unrealistic expectations of kindergartens in public schools anywhere.

Apparently, "Teachers [at Hoover] report every two weeks to the parents through our bimonthy progress reports. The academic progress and social/work habit skills of the child are communicated to the parents. This communication hold students accountable for their actions."
This is more than you're likely to get from most other kindergarten classes in public schools, including other PA elementary schools. If your child's teacher brought up summer school, you should investigate the reason and understand why it wasn't part of this communication.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2008 at 3:40 pm

In my experience, whether in math, reading, science or anything else, teachers in PA teach to the average child in each class. If a child is ahead in reading they are held back, if they are ahead in math, they are bored, and if they are slow in both either of these, they are put in after school catch up classes, or go out of class to see a specialist in that area. We have less than 20 kids in the class and volunteer parents as well as aides, yet teachers are only teaching at the average level. I ask myself why, and discover it has things to do with too many field trips, too many Earth Day (or whatever assemblies), too many conflict resolution and other psyche type lessons to teach, and too many subs in the classroom. If we got back to the teachers teaching the three rs and left more of the other stuff out of the classroom, we would get back to the teachers teaching the kids to read, write, add, subtract and learn basic science techniques in early grades.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm


I CANT BELIVE IT, YOU MAY HAVE A POINT. at least for the high school level.

EPA does have a high school in fact there are two. both are founded by stanford grads and one of them graduates 100% of its students into 4 year university.

This school is not for the curious. Im told that the kids who so with a clear destination... ITS COLLEGE OR BUST!! and if they don't perform they get the boot.... as it is a private high school, it doesn't fully support julie's arguments.

100% college entrance numbers... with such a diverse student body!! that is quite a feat..... "High Achieving Teachers" nevertheless the goal is made clear from the beginning. Parents, and students must be together on this. It works......but then again...this is not a public school, it's a private. so as far as a close, convenient, high school alternative for willing epa's palo alto or bust.

it does bring about an interesting question. one im sure julie will smile at. should kids who are not on the track to college, take up space and resources in any school? If it's public... and not college prep..... maybe, There is room for argument.

but if it's college prep, there isn't much of a question.... the college prep courses are requirements met, or requirements not met.

with regards to the PAUSD, and vtp...... I would try to figure out if Paly and Gunn are "College Prep".....if they are not.... then Vtp should stand and the efforts continue as this is a public school for the "public", not the private interest of julie or people like her who hold such views. (no offence)

but if it's College prep,,, this means that there is a clear focus on college. no one has a right to college, kids must actively pursue it. and if they do as in the case of EastSide College Prep in epa they should be provided the tools and resources required to achieve their goal.

From what I have seen from these post.... it looks as if some people are attempting to make PAUSD into their own..."Tuition Free" private school. If I payed money for my kids education... I would have an attitude similar to julie's. However, i don't and neither does she.

you guys get my point??
nothing but luv for ya julie lol

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

dear ns of crescent park,

please relax... you may be late to the issue. I have defended hoover....i was just showing how the argument could be turned either way.....sorry you missed the point. and frankly I'm a bit tired of this whole thing.... there are many colorful issues for you to take issue with...and plenty of people willing to give you some time, find them and have at it.....good luck


Posted by julie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Then give the Parents in EPA vouchers and let them send their kids to private schools in the community base on the success temolates of the schools you identified.

There are plenty of very wealthy individuals in PA and foundations that will invest in a EPA school that WORKS

I would give money to support such a school

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

NS, of Cresent park

funny you should mention the bi monthly reports. can't tell you that we have ever seen one of those....oops!

again, good luck

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:42 pm

jules,, poor poor jules

you seem willing to do anything not to have to mix with children from epa. even pay your own money..... if you feel so strongly about vtp....and you are willing to spend money, don't you think your money would be better spent to pay for your own kids to go to private school, where you would have a level of expectation? why work so hard at the hateful pursuit of preventing someone else from getting educated?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Ol Lady,

Again, your diatribe about France is mostly off-topic, though, coincidentally, I did see today that life expectancy is quite a bit better in France than in the U.S.--I've also seen some experts say France has the best health system in Europe. Hmmm, preschool at 3--sounds like what has been recommended here.

So far, you're not making much of a case here.

Hmmm, let's see, then there's everyone's responsible for his or her choices--but you ignore the very obvious fact that there's no such thing as equal opportunity--even as you acknowledge that you've actively discriminated against children of lower social economic status--lest you experience "discomfort".

Again, in your discussion of women and childbearing, you put the entire onus on the woman. It takes two to tango--but that doesn't enter into your equation. Nor for that matter does the harsh reality that staying home with the kids has a longterm negative effect on a woman's income potential. When divorce happens, the results can be very hard on stay-at-home moms. Taking your idea--that financial solvency should be a pre-qual for parenthood--I suppose stay-at-home moms who don't have the skills and work experience of their ex should just surrender the kids.

Things don't happen in a vaccuum.

And, no, all family making decisions don't rest with the woman. Again, you act as if people act in isolation on an even playing field.

No, I'm not particularly young--though I'm young enough to be skeptical of the 60's crowd--both left and right--and, yes, I've very little respect for the liberal-when-young-and-convenient, conservative-when it turns out I might have to pay to keep the system from which I benefitted going.

I also am the child of a mother who worked at a time when there was social condemnation of mothers who worked. I'm old enough to remember when she couldn't have her own credit card and when certain kinds of discrimination and quotas were the norm. I don't share your sentimentality about the woman's traditional role.

It's funny that you describe my thinking as "black and white" because that's how I would describe yours--it's got that sheltered libertarian thing going--that what happens to other groups of people doesn't concern you and has no effect on you.

Take public education, for example, you don't like it--but you don't seem familiar with its ideological underpinnings. Basically, self-government requires educated citizens. The only way to guarantee that is to make education freely available--a public trust.

Public education in the U.S. has actually been magnificently successful in creating what has been a strong workforce. One of the most successful government programs was the GI Bill which made it possible for huge numbers of people to get college educations for the first time in their families--this was followed by a period of huge economic expansion. Hmmm, creation of educated workforce followed by economic expansion and technological innovation. I don't think it was an accident.

Education is an investment, so is good childcare. Why should well-educated, capable workers be forced out of the workforce because they're mothers? It's a waste from an overall economic standpoint to force out capable workers. It's also inefficient to limit reproduction to a relatively small segment of the population.

Just because you don't want connections doesn't mean they don't exist.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm


I've heard a lot of similar comments to yours about the teaching to the middle in the PA schools. I don't know that this happens because of too many projects and assemblies--it seems to be some sort of choice. Ohlone has all that, but there is also differentiated instruction built in--since the classes are mixed grades, teaching a range is necessary. I'm not convinced it actually takes more time per se--not when classes are 20 kids--so it seems like there's some sort of active decision to teach that way--goes along with not having separate GATE programs.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 6:15 pm


For me, the issue with Tinsley has been the overcrowding. All our schools set aside a certain number of VTP spots, regardless of whether the school is meeting the demand for kids within its draw area. I understand why a parent would apply for the VTP program--I respect the dedication and care, but I have an issue with kids getting bumped from their local school. Once again, this year, the district's banking on enough kids going private in order to provide enough spots. It currently doesn't have enough. (I'd never, however, favor booting out VTP families currently in PAUSD. That's not fair to the kids.)

Thanks for explaining your choices for your kid. It makes sense. I would talk to the teacher about why summer school instead of a less-structured approach. It's a good question and I'd ask it as well as discuss alternatives that might work with your schedule.

From my volunteering in the classroom, I do know I've seen a huge range of reading preparedness in kinders. You get kids who come in reading chapter books and you have kids who don't even recognize all the letters in the alphabet (let alone make the sound associations). I'd also find out what level your kid's really expected to read at at Hoover in first grade--12, 16, 20, 28?

And, frankly, I've always learned the most from other parents--and, yes, seeing what stuff their kid has at the house during, er, yes, playdates. I've seen mellow-seeming parents with piles of extracurricular workbooks, libraries of leveled reading books and even the Singapore math curriculum. And I'm at the granola-laid-back school (it's all very, very relative--I know gung-ho Waldorf parents.)

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm


yes, i can understand your point, there may need to be an adjustment.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 8:25 pm


you seem to know what you're talking about?...I have read your response to the ol lady of midtown. You seem as if you have had some experience in this area as well....

"Take public education, for example, you don't like it--but you don't seem familiar with its ideological underpinnings. Basically, self-government requires educated citizens. The only way to guarantee that is to make education freely available--a public trust."

i love that and wish i was that eloquent. if you ever think of running for public office or for the school board...send a shout out to "sadbuttrue" and you have my vote.....if im allowed one....after all i am only a vtp parent. lol

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm

As an echo to Sad, I do think OP has some wonderful comments to make, and particularly so on the MI issue. However, there are times when being an Ohlone parent, I get the feeling that some of the views expressed are because of experiencing Ohlone and perhaps knowing a great deal about Hoover, but often not getting it quite right in respect of the regular elementary schools.

This is not a bad reflection on the comments made, but it is worth remembering that having a child, one child, at Ohlone, is not the same as having had several go through a different school where the experiences for each child can be so different.

And, don't stop making the comments OP because what you say is always worth reading and thinking about.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 8:36 pm


You're a truly polite guy. Honestly, I wish the overcrowding weren't the issue that it is and I really, really wish there wasn't such a huge difference between the "good" districts and average districts. I mean if I were in EPA I'd also look outside the district--VTP if I could, private otherwise. So, I know why the VTP is a real lifeline.

I keep wondering if there's some way or if someone will create a true magnet school in EPA--like Northstar Academy in Redwood City. The Stanford college-prep programs are encouraging. Right now, there's nothing public in EPA for kids like yours at the elementary level.

And, who knows, maybe if such a school developed, PA could handle a lower number of VTP transfers without some of the current issues.

If there were truly viable alternatives in Ravenswood, we'd all benefit. The VTP could be used by families who have particular reasons to want their kids in Palo Alto, a good magnet school would provide a strong education closer to home.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Thank you for your comments, sadbuttrue. I don't think I'm decorous enough for public office . . .


Sorry, I never intended to sound as if I'm an expert at to what happens at the other schools--including Hoover, though I'm familiar with the educational philosophy behind Hoover. I also know some educators, which influences some of my comments. I do run into other parents, of course, and ask and listen, because I am curious about the differences.

It's just that I'm about to drive my umpteenth field trip of the year--so I know Ohlone has its endless share of field trips--so I'm not sure that its time, per se, that limits differentiated instruction at the other schools. I don't know what it is--but I know you're not the only parent I've heard talk about it--the first description I heard was that Palo Alto schools are great unless you're in the top 5 percent or bottom 5 percent. (I'm also not trying to make it sound like Ohlone Way is the way for everything or everybody--just that it does have differentiated instruction.)

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Well, like i mentioned before, the Eastside Prep school in epa is part of our plan. They begin admission at the sixth grade level and from what i've been told they carefully track each student looking toward high school. Before high school they evaluate the student in order to get a feel for the kid's interest in college. So, I don't anticipate taking up space in palo alto past the fifth grade. however while im here, i have tried to contribute for the use of that space by organizing several fundraisers for PiE. Soon my small business will grow some stronger legs. i intend to be a contributing vtp parent.

There is a "Charter School" in epa. ironically Parents here have the same concerns..... the classes are made up of a majority of esl it actually slows the pace of the class for english speaking students. So some parents may prefer to have a student who is pulled along by "stronger" students in pa. (this is a theory)

So i recognize the concern for the parents in pa. i wish there was something i could do But you can't blame a guy for trying. Would a sincere "Thank You" make things better? i honestly don't know what i can say......

..........I would suggest that we convince the ol lady of midtown to throw some of her cash towards that magnet school idea.. however I'm sure the long drive from midtown to epa would pose too much of an inconvenience. lol

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2008 at 12:39 am


I can tell by what you've written that you're working hard as a parent--the situation is just a thorny one--we don't have enough good schools in the state so of course we do what we can as parents to get our kids into good ones--and then we have the overcrowding issue. A lot of the debates in recent school district history result from the scarcity or resources (money, space).

I know the EPA charter isn't a high-flyer academically. I'd guess that Tinsley, ironically, siphons off the top EPA kids. I think to reverse that trend would require something akin to Eastside prep--where there's some screening to get in and, frankly, the Stanford connection never hurts.

As for our midtown friend, while I think those views are a minority view around here, she's not the first person with quasi-isolationist views. There was another thread about the Baskin-Robbins robbery in which people wanted cameras documenting the entry of every non-PA car into Palo Alto . . . maybe we could just divert San Fransiquito and Matadero creeks and get a moat going . . .

Though I still have to wonder about ol lady's 'tude--I mean, it's Midtown. I know people who moved to Midtown because north Palo Alto was too snobbish. Midtown's Eichlers, Sterling Garden military slab housing and an assortment of McMansions. I mean, I like Midtown, but it's not like it offers a high-end lifestyle that would overwhelm and inspire uncontrollable envy in a kid from the wrong side of the freeway. A lot of Palo Alto is ordinary houses at extraordinary prices. It's only shocking when you know the sticker price. (Or make the mortgage payment.)

I suspect your perceptions of discomfort on the parts of some parents are, unfortunately, right on. I've run with a mixed-enough crowd over the years to see different reactions and assumptions. A friend of mine has a mixed-race child--people have assumed she's his nanny. No harm was meant, but when it happens multiple times it starts to say something about people's assumptions. And, frankly, I don't know how well I'd react if it happened to me on a regular basis.

And there are numerous variations--lots a little dings and pricks that make it clear judgments are being made based on levels of melanin. People who make the remarks don't think of this sort of thing as racism, but from what I've seen, it just sort of tires out the recipient.

Posted by ns, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2008 at 10:29 am

"funny you should mention the bi monthly reports. can't tell you that we have ever seen one of those....oops!"
It sounds like there's your starting point. There does appear that you have a communication issue with this teacher.

As to VTP & Overcrowding, I don't agree with OP's comments. Yes, overcrowding in the north cluster is an issue but I wouldn't like to see all the VTP kids pushed to one or two south Palo Alto elementary schools.
Overcrowding in elementary schools needs to be dealt with via boundaries & Garland. Addison is over-subscribed by 35 children, removing VTP kids from Addison isn't really going to help.

Posted by odd one out, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2008 at 10:55 am

Okay, so my opinion is going to bug a lot of regulars on Town Square who like to push their "end VTP agenda" on any school thread they can take over. (Can't you guys start your own thread?) VTP is a BONUS for my kids and most kids in Palo Alto. They get to know and hopefully make friends with kids who aren't cookie cutter replicas of themselves. They learn that the world is not filled with children of lily white executives and overachieving Asians. They learn that there are some really smart kids from EPA, and some poor ones, too. In some cases they learn to appreciate what they've got (for example, monetary and parent support), while also learning that not everyone who lacks money lacks intelligence or family support. Without VTP, we'd have to teach our kids these things on our own outside of school and wouldn't have the same opportunities to forge these friendships. For purely selfish reasons, I'd be sad to see VTP go.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm


It's not like we haven't been emailing and speaking with the teacher regarding our child's progress. Let me be clear, We Have Tried !!!!! We are willing to do whatever we can. but thanks for your input.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2008 at 1:16 pm


I'm not in favor of putting all VTP kids at one school and I also oppose moving any families already in the system out of it, but overcrowding is a big issue--not just in the north cluster, but also in the south cluster. Neighborhood kids got bumped from Escondido this year (because of the SI expansion). With the developments in the south of the city, it's easy to see overcrowding is just a matter of time for schools like Juana Briones and Barron Park, which are currently the spillover recipients.

I agree Palo Alto benefits from the diversity, but the overcrowding issue is only going to get worse and super-sized schools are a bigger negative factor than large classes. And, realistically, I think that's what we're looking at.

Also, II think East Palo Altans *deserve* a strong school. Wouldn't it be great if EPA parents had an option to send their kids to an academically competitive school in their own town? If that existed, I suspect PAUSD could handle the remaining VTP transfers. I mean, I suspect some parents would love having a strong school that doesn't involve a commute.

My gut sense is that direct instruction model school (like Hoover) could work in EPA. It's been a model that's worked well in some difficult areas. What I'm picking up from sadbuttrue is that he wants his kid to be in a competitive environment--that there's a useful lesson about how to learn and how to try. It also seems like the DI model creates increased expectations which would also be valuable in these conditions.

I think in some weird way, there's an assumption that East Palo Alto can't and will never have good schools. I think it could--maybe not across-the-board, but certainly one contender.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm

News Break..

for those following my story, there is breaking news. The early rec for summer school for my kid has more to do with the teacher's observation of his confidence and not his aptitude, ability or color. (we are happy to know that he is making good progress.)

In other words... she is more concerned that the "reading" kids in his class may frustrate my child who in any other situation would be on par.

He reads fine with us at home, but I can imagine how watching some of the other kids in his class read without much effort could shake his confidence. Summer school would help to address this issue, and I think the teacher is right on.

This I understand. Confidence... never even considered confidence as a reason for any disparity in performance. I mean, if any of the kids from pa, even the "High Achievers" were shipped off to Taipei and asked to compete in that system it would be understandable if there was a drop in performance however measurable. Add to that the lack of cultural familiarity, and the sometimes present feel of lowered expectation, and Bam !

This is just a theory and yet it does seem to re frame this whole argument-at least at the kinder level, who knows.

I know it doesn't address the Middle % group. But I think it deserves some consideration. i think it deserves some consideration because it is on topic......"public invited to discuss the achievement gap" ( top of the page)

There have been some issues brought up which smell of racism, elitism, and just plain selfishness. We have hit on everything from France's economy to white guilt. They have been a distraction from the intent of this discussion.

There should be a forum for the Critics of the VTP program to vent. They have a right to their points. however, we are not discussing the merits of the program, rather reasons to explain the unexpected results.

I imagine that the VTP program was implemented with a certain logical outcome in mind. Take some of the "disadvantaged" kids from epa, or wherever, expose them to the seemingly "superior" academic environment of pa,- and the logical conclusion is that while they may not out perform the children native to pa - they should be more competitive academically, and better suited for college. I'm guessing.

The numbers have proven otherwise, and people (parents and administrators) are asking why.... understandably so.

Critics. please understand this... there isn't a vtp parent today or in the past who is'nt aware that you exist. without a single word from you on this issue, we already know where you stand, your arguments, and your sentiment.

Posted by sally, a resident of Hoover School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

The Tinsely case began in 1976 when the Midpeninsula Task Force for Integrated Education, representing disgruntled Ravenswood parents, claimed that their kids were not receiving an equal education to that ofwhite students across Highway 101.
They filed a lawsuit alleging that unconstitutional segregation existed in all the school districts from Palo Alto to San Carlos.

After eight years in court, the case gained momentum in 1984 when California high courts ruled that the inter-district conditions violated the State Constitution.
At this point, administrators within PAUSD and the other cities decided to seek a compromise through the court of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge William Lanam.
Rather than attempting to bus kids all over the Peninsula, the parties agreed to begin what became known as the Voluntary Transfer Program
Starting in the 1987 school year, Palo Alto agreed to take 60 kindergarteners and first-graders whose parents wished to transfer them from the Ravenswood district.
7 other cities took varying numbers of Ravenswood transfers and a new group of youngsters would be added each year.

The situation now is completely different, Palo Alto has a large Asian community. EPA is now only 20% Black and declining

According to Superintendent Callan, EPA schools now get significantly more funding per child than PA schools, something like $13K per child per year vs. PA's total of $10.5K pcpy. This should completely negate any argument that Tinsley is addressing economic disadvantage of EPA school district.

It is way past time to sunset the Tinsley litigation

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2008 at 3:35 pm


I think this explanation makes a lot of sense and I agree, it is something that I have never thought too much about before. However, in an area where we have such affluence mixed with working class backgrounds, it appears in many different ways. We can all identify with the everyone wearing Nikes to the child wearing the Walmart best sneakers (although that isn't always the best indicator of who has money and who doesn't), but when a child lists his favorite food as pizza and the next child says sushi, or the child who just got back from Europe for spring break, whereas the EPA child who was babysat by Grandma, we do have a lot of things to look at. These differences are often not just as cultural as we adults think, but to a child it is a difference between what is acceptable and the norm to what is outside. My own child did an assignment showing that he was born in Stanford, when in actual fact he was born in Kaiser Redwood City. He said he felt ashamed when most of his classmates had been born in Stanford to say that he wasn't. We live in Palo Alto and yet, he felt ashamed of where he was born. Often we can't imagine how something so trivial can really affect how our kids perform in school in front of their peers.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Sally, very nice research. I too am a member of the Hoover School community.

epa was part of palo alto in 1976. So while i wouldn't describe the Ravenswood parents as "disgruntled" I think it's understandable that they would be concerned about the level of education they were receiving at that time.

yes, many things have changed since 1987. What has not changed is the quality of education. I don't think anyone is making the argument that Tinsley was ever intended to tackle economic issues. As I said before, it's about education.

I don't dispute Callan. so correct me if im wrong, but PiE has been successful at offsetting the price per child issue. I donate to PiE all the time. Even when my child was not in school.

your data on the population change of asian and blacks...I don't see how that is relevant.

You seem to be making an economic justification against Tinsley. We are making an educational justification for it.

Im not sure which will win out.

"its way past time to sunset the Tinsley litigation"..... I guess heartless is the new "black"

It's sad but I often wonder how many Hoover Parents I run across who smile in my face but don't think my child should be there. The thought that my child who has done nothing wrong to anyone would have a member of the Hoover Community suggest that he shouldn't be there is very disturbing.

What is wrong with you people?

Sally, thank you for your data and your opinion.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2008 at 5:35 pm


I think this has more to do with the value system at home. I truly believe that a parent can get into the head of their children and plant seeds. Kids are resilient and durable and malleable. To use a term from John Locke children are a "Tabula rasa" or blank slate.

it could be as simple as the affluent parent planting the seed of how to handle affluence and privilege or the parent of humble means planting the seed of dignity, and self reliance. This may also have academic implications as well.

either way a child will believe what parents teach,.....and also what parents don't teach.

Caught you all off guard with the Latin.... not bad for a vtp parent lol.

Posted by ng, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 23, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Tabula rasa is a discredited concept, IQ is predominantly genetics and prenatal nutrition.

Vocational schools make sense for kids who can not keep up academically

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:46 pm


There is absolutely no scientific consensus on the origin of IQ. To pretend that it all comes down to prenatal nutrition and genetics is ridiculous.

IQ tests--even the "abstract" ones--are dependent on cultural contexts. Thus, the Flynn effect where average IQ scores rise over time--people become more sophisticated as a group and have a better sens of how to take the test. The Flynn effect is too rapid to be explained by genetics.

Also, there are some studies of IQ tests done on babies--guess what? No difference between sexes or race. Those differences don't appear until around age 3--right when environmental influences have had time to kick in.

Sadbuttrue, just want you to know that why I have my issues with Tinsley, it's not something I'd hold against any VTP parent or child. (And, yes, I've dropped off my kid in EPA--the biggest issue was trying to stay out of Ikea.) In your shoes, I'd have done the exact same things. I completely respect the effort you're going to to procure the best education for your child. Congratulations on getting things clear with the teacher. For what it's worth, I think teachers here are pretty sympathetic to your issue--their kids also tend to be in a out-of-the-district situation.

Thank you, too, for speaking up here--it's helped me refine my thoughts a bit on the issue--that really, the only long-term true solution is to create better schools outside a few star districts. I'm getting a little tired about reading how we should become Fortress Palo Alto.

Posted by ng, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:16 pm

The Bell Curve argues that:

1. Intelligence exists and is accurately measurable across racial, language, and national boundaries.
2. Intelligence is one, if not the most, important correlative factor in economic, social, and overall success in America, and is becoming more important.
3. Intelligence is largely (40% to 80%) genetically heritable.
4. No one has so far been able to manipulate IQ long term to any significant degree through changes in environmental factors - except for child adoption - and in light of their failure such approaches are becoming less promising.
5. The USA has been in denial regarding these facts, and in light of these findings a better public understanding of the nature of intelligence and its social correlates is necessary to guide future policy decisions in America.
Web Link

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 24, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Just because IQ has predictive value doesn't mean it is determinative. That's part of way family values and other environmental values do matter.

Posted by sadbuttrue, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2008 at 8:10 pm


I agree, Ikea rocks. And thanks for the kind words. you have helped me understand this issue from the other side of 101 as well.

We are on the same page- there needs to be more done with the schools in epa.

I never once got the feeling that you had any issue with me or my child.

I'm sure there are many self reliant people in epa who would rather not have to send their kids into palo alto in order to receive a quality education. -

You can't imagine the anxiety a vtp parent feels sending their child into such an environment, an environment which lends itself to all sorts of "issues"- race, intelligence, bell shape curves...blah blah blah.

and's worth it when we run across someone like you. I have met a few... who transcend the boarders of Palo Alto.-it's always nice to be able to transcend the differences.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 26, 2008 at 9:10 pm


You're using the Bell Curve as the basis of your argument? It has all sorts of problems.

1. What's being measured is debatable--Malcolm Gladwell wrote a good essay on this issue a few months ago in the New Yorker. I suggest you look it up.

2. As was pointed out, predictive value says nothing about origin.

3. 40 to 80 percent inheritable? That's a pretty huge range. If it's 40 percent than most of the influences on IQ are environmental.

4. See the Flynn effect--obviously IQ scores *are* influenced by environment and various environmental factors *do* influence IQ scores. Or as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out, the emphasis of IQ tests on "abstract reasoning" isn't a measure of innate ability as it is a measure of the degree we've been trained to think that way--or as he puts it, IQ are a measure of how "modern" we are. And, yes, the more modern a culture, the higher the average IQ scores. A nice example of this is that, currently, American Jews score well above the average--around 113. In the early 20th century, they scored below the average. Different genetics--or the difference between immigrants who had had few educational opportunities and one of the more urban and educated groups now in the U.S.

Please do some more research--If you're going to read Murray also read Stephen Jay Gould.


Thank you again for your kind words. Palo Alto's always been a bit pleased with itself, but I think the dot-com boom and the real-estate zoom has been a bit bad for the community's character. Much of what's desirable about Palo Alto comes from a time when there was a lot of focus on what would benefit the entire community--all the parks, the theater, the libraries and, of course, the schcools--now it seems a bit more that people are out for what particularly benefits them. The problem of scarce resources.

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