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SI graduates - have they done better?

Original post made by Parent on Jul 5, 2008

Now that we have actually graduated our first SI kindergarten class, I am wondering if they have indeed outperformed their English only peers?

What colleges have they got into, what majors do they intend to study and how many of the original kindergarten class did stay with the program and graduated with AP Spanish?

I think these questions are fair to ask so that we can see if the research being quoted all over the place actually warrants credibility.

Comments (82)

Posted by gimmeabreak, a resident of Nixon School
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:13 pm

"What colleges have they got into?" - That's a really feeble choice of criteria for comparison. Typical of Palo Alto thinking, sadly.

Posted by huh?, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm

so you want to take an unscientific post high school survey of a self-selected group of people and include some irrelevant personal data as a way of evaluating a large body of more rigorous educational research about a particular instructional method these kids didn't have during high school... that makes almost no sense.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Why feeble - isn't that what the fad is all about -giving the kids a second language advantage in the flat world? If not for getting spots in prime colleges, then for what? So they can ask directions in spanish next time they go on vacation in Mexico? Or so they can order off the menu in Mandarin?

I think the question about what colleges they're getting into is exactly the point.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Oh, now that we have results, actually publishing those results is irrelevent and unscientific - particularly since we can go look at 'scientific' studies that don't have anything to do with PAUSD to 'prove' that these programs work.

HOw convenient that no one has to be accountable for PAUSD results. Sounds like someone's got something to hide.

By the way, when the program was started, everyone knew is was elemenmtary school program - now you say well, of course its not working - it was only elementary school. Hmmm, sounds like a big waste of time and money for everyone, including those poor kids.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:39 pm


Yours are among the questions to be asked around the SI experience, how about your approaching the District office?

I do think that there are other questions and metrics that should be part of such analysis. The key outcome for Immersion kids is fluency in both English and the immersion language when they complete their secondary education. We should start with questions around that.

It would be good to ask some questions around how these students performed overall in their academic endeavors. I think they are but the start of a multi-year tracking effort, the number of students thus far would not provide a statistically valid set of data, but it is a start to doing so.

The notion of this cohort "outperforming" may or may not be the case, but there are findings from research that immersion students do perform better overall. We should first get the information about our students and see how they compare, not draw conclusions until we have done so.

I agree with you that it would be informative to understand how it has impacted their college plans, but care should be taken here as well. There are many factors that go into the college admission process, and I don't think the students who were part of the first SI cohort are likely different in their overall profiles than their non-immersion peers, so I would expect them to have a similar college admissions profile. Variances from that would be interesting, but I don't know that it would have bearing on the SI program per se.

There is a great deal of research out there, so it is unclear from your comments what research you had in mind when you suggested that PAUSD students be evaluated against the research that is out there about immersion programs. But, the tenor of your comments implies a skepticism about what the findings for PAUSD students would be. I think you are making a good suggestion, one that people on all sides of this issue should support and want to learn more about.

As the information is gathered and analyzed, there likely are many different implications that could be drawn. At an extreme, it could lead to a call for introducing more immersion programs, at the other extreme, eliminating them entirely. Most likely, for starters, there will be findings that suggest there are aspects of the immersion program in Palo Alto that are particularly effective and some things that can benefit from some tuning.

So, good suggestion, I urge you to go to the Distict and find out how such information can be presented to the community, and I look forward to learning what we know thus far. Until I see more information, I will withold judgment on how things are going and what it implies from an action standpoint.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I mentioned this at the bottom of the other thread, but I'll do it here as well.

How many of this year's National Merit scholars from Gunn and Paly came from the SI/Escondido program?

The names of the scholars are public. The test is taken by everyone, so it's a pretty easy comparison. Grades and other achievements are then taken into account to establish who should receive the scholarships.

Paul, the data I've seen on SIers outperforming their peers is largely focused on ESL kids. This is understandable given that our greater public need is to create Hispanic kids who are fluent in English.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2008 at 1:12 pm

The more data the better

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

I also think its important to keep in mind that the claim about outperforming peers would be only relevent for us in looking for outperformance of PAUSD students against PAUSD peers - and you are right Paul. I'm skeptical. Most of the "studies" will show immersion students outperforming peers in districts that are underperforming. Case in point - alot of hoopla about the so called success of programs like Starr King in districts like San Francisco.

And my further point being that the justification for using such claims as 'immersion students outperform peers' will be shown to be irrelevent if not utterly false in the PAUSD district when we finally see the data. The studies to me are meaningless - what matters here is PAUSD performance for PAUSD students, measured under PAUSD standards. Small sample set? Who cares. We're not conducting a scientific study here - we're educating PAUSD student in PAUSD. That's all that matters.

In the end the board and the parents may still have their reasons for favoring immersion, but outperformance of PAUSD standards will not be one of them. Parents have the right to understand what they're getting themselves in to.

Agreed - the more data the better. Yes I certainlt will CONTINUE to ask the district to publish specific results from our SI and MI programs.

Posted by SI Graduate, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Dear Parent,
We did OK. Actually, we did great across the board, but the rest of Palo Alto were no slouches. Here's a list of college choices at Paly, if you'd like to look us up: Web Link . As for APs, all but a few of us took the language AP, and at least half of us took the Lit AP (if you're looking for more precise stats, I'm sorry).
Is that even the important part? I learned while I was in Spanish Immersion, and I enjoyed my time there, which goes for most of us, I think. Speaking another language fluently has enriched my life in ways that have nothing to do with my college choice or which APs I took, and I'd venture to say that also goes for most of us. If you ask me, "asking directions in Mexico" is sort of a callous way to put it, but all right, we learned how to ask directions in Mexico. I love knowing how to ask directions in Mexico, and I'm grateful to the PAUSD for teaching me how.
Anyway, if you have any questions for any of us, we're not hard to reach. We can carry on the conversation here if you'd like. I'd love to explain what the "fad" has done for me, and maybe some of my classmates would, too.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2008 at 4:40 pm

"So they can ask directions in spanish next time they go on vacation in Mexico? Or so they can order off the menu in Mandarin?"

Let's change that to "So they can give directions in spanish (sic) when they're managing a corporate division in Mexico City. Or so they can read an investment diligence report in Mandarin?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Yes, numbers are important, but there are intangible benefits to second language instruction that FAR outweigh the puny sandbox statistics that some are after.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm


[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The international business language is English, at this point. In the future, computer programs will translate all languages in real time, and everybody can get happy over cocktails in multiple languages, as long as their earpieces are attached.

Language immersion, in our local schools, is not only a waste of time, but a real intrusion on our neighborhood schools. It is boutique for the sake of boutique.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

SI Grad,

I'm glad your head is on straight about the benefits of immersion--i.e. you speak a second language. The performance issue comes up because some of the pro-MIers insist that immersion kids outperform their peers. Parent wanted to know if that were true in Palo Alto.


Most of us don't question that there are some advantages to knowing a second language. What we question is the diversion of scarce school resources to making a small group of kids somewhat fluent in it while denying the rest pf elementary-school kids any language programs.

If second languages are highly valuable, then we should offer second language instruction to all who want it. If it's not, then we shouldn't be dedicating limited school resources to it.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 5:26 pm

MIke - if managing a corporate division is in their future, then there certainly shouldn't be any hesitation about telling us what colleges they're going to. So which is it?? Are they or are they not getting in to colleges better than the average PAUSD grad? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Parent and Ohlone Parent--

Don't stack the deck, don't expect the ground rules that you want to have are necessarily objective, copmrehensive, or complete. Don't look for findings to support your point of view, seek findings that inform your understanding.

I really don't mind that you have misgivings about language immersion programs, and I long ago stopped trying to parse the details around the types of observations that attend this forum.

But let's not pussy foot around. Here is your hypothesis, and the conclusion you will reach from your hypothesis:

1. Your hypothesis: PAUSD language immersion students, upon completion of high school, are not measurably performing at a level higher than a comparable peer group that has not had language immersion

2. Your conclusion from your hypothesis: language immersion programs are not indicated for students in the PAUSD and should be eliminated from the district.

Do I have it right? I am not trying to quibble about your point of view, I merely am trying to understand what it takes to inform such a point of view, and what information may be needed to inform me and others who may come from this from a different starting point.

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

Paul, I can't speak for others, but imho, that's a good job cutting to the chase. I agree with that hypothesis and conclusion, and would even extend somewhat - elementary foreign language programs (including FLES and immersion) don't seem to yield better academic outcomes (sorry, haven't seen a study yet that really shows that for circumstances like ours, though would be happy to read more), don't accomplish anything that couldn't be learned later in the normal course (ask Skelly, the adult Spanish learner), cause disruption, distortion and sometimes unfairness in terms of use of district resources, and generally aren't worth the trouble for a public school district. Not enough outcome bang for complexity buck. I would be happy to see it all go away and think we'd be the better for it.

I have nothing against foreign language study, of course. But building elementary programs around it seems unnecessary and impractical. The existing secondary school programs are there for those who want to take advantage; and for those who really want elementary programs there are weekend, after-school, computer-based, summer, and private school options.

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 5, 2008 at 9:31 pm

you can look at API test scores on Web Link

Interestingly enough, Escondido does about the same as Ohlone, but both are in lower 1/3 of elementary schools.

So OhlonePar, I think that means Onlone should be turned into a neighborhood elementary school - right?

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Paul, I'll answer for myself only...

#1 - correct

#2 - incorrect. PAUSD is not publishing results for the SI program so I can't draw any conclusions. That's the issue. However, if the data were to show that the SI (eventually MI) programs were not outperforming PAUSD peers - as was a significant premise of the sales pitch of these programs to PAUSD BOE - then PAUSD should not be offering them. I suspect (but can't prove until PAUSD offers its data) that we might even see a below PAUSD average performance. In which case, even more, PAUSD should not be in the business of running these programs.

#3 - the main issue here is truth in advertising as far as I'm concerned. The parents who are signing up for these programs have a right to know exactly what they're getting in to and understand how to compare that to PAUSD regular. And the BOE should be making the decisions based on hard facts stated in PAUSD terms, and the community should understand where their resources are going. Lets get the truth on the table.

The overwhelmingly lopsided favorable rhetoric on these programs is frankly one of the most disturbing parts of what's going on here. There is almost NEVER an honest dialog on pros and cons of the program. Absurd. (why not even a peep from the district on issues with SI Jordan implementation - it had to come out as a leak from a parent via Palo Alto online??!!)

I believe PAUSD staff has a responsibility to prove in PAUSD terms that the programs have value, and have the value that's been promised. Frankly, that's the only way we're going to move on from this particular point in the debate (there are others issues, such as equity, which are another conversation)

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2008 at 9:55 pm

SI Grad - nice try with the link, but you know very well we don't know the names of the SI students. A good example of non-data, pretending to be data. But, since you know the names of your fellow SI students, and you are a professional, high achieving representative of your class, why don't you do us a favor and go through the list, and tell us NOT BY NAME but simply the numbers of SI alums by college. In fact, maybe you could even report the Gunn grads too - because clearly the SI class would have been split between the two schools.

SI grad, the debate is not weather you were personally enriched, I doubt anyone would argue that point. The point is whether it is right and fair that a precious few of our PAUSD students are given that opportunity, while all others are given zero. Of more technical interest - I'm actually interested in knowing whether the immersion programs in Palo Alto are delivering above PAUSD average academic results for its students, which is the big claim that is being made by the supporters.

Congratulations on your graduation. Perhaps you'd be interested in helping research and publish some actual data for us.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 5, 2008 at 9:56 pm

John: "In the future, computer programs will translate all languages in real time, and everybody can get happy over cocktails in multiple languages, as long as their earpieces are attached."

Dead wrong. How far in the future, John? The challenges of contextual ambiguity in machine translation will not be solved any time soon, not for many decades. You show not an untrivial ignorance of AI in your statements.

Further, the cognitive advantages of inculcating another language cannot be replaced by a machine - not for face to face communication, or other forms of communication.

Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Jul 6, 2008 at 12:39 am

So tiresome... rehashing the same debate over and over. The immersion haters can't be appeased, because the data, if available and valid, wouldn't show any huge difference. There are too many other factors that make SI kids similar rather than dissimilar to their peers overall. And the haters will never accept the data from elsewhere because we're so Palo Alto. Why do you even bother asking, folks? You don't care what the answer is.

And the college info is really, truly, irrelevant. You'd have to adjust for legacies, athletic scholarships, and whether or not your two sets of kids even wanted to apply to or attend similar schools. The sample size is tiny, from a statistical standpoint (every student would be more than 1% of the total if I recall, or close to it). Could we all just relax instead? Fer cryin' out loud...

Posted by Higher Love, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 6, 2008 at 9:40 am

" performing at a level higher" In what regard? Because it surely doesn't make sense to cut SI just because SI kids are not performing at a higher level in, say, math.

Posted by Parent who started the thread, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2008 at 10:49 am

As the one who started this thread and hasn't yet posted again, I would like to tell you why I asked this question.

All the stats that have been mentioned on this subject over the past year or so talks about other districts and doesn't seem to tell us about what happens after graduating high school.

We are continually told from this data by the supporters that immersion kids outperform their peers in math and english from scores. My feeling is that in other districts the kids who enter immersion are likely to be from families that will make their kids perform very well regardless of whether they are in immersion or not.

Since we are a district where we have high achievers in all schools with or without immersion, it seems fair to ask how our own district is doing now that we have some graduates of our own. As the years go by, we will have more and more stats to work with. But, I would expect this information to be publicised so that incoming parents at the kindergarten level can see some results from PAUSD on which to make their decisions. After all, making a decision based on information from somewhere else when there is local information doesn't make sense. If I was considering an immersion program for my child for the next lottery, I would expect this information available or else I would think that there was something to hide.

The other reason for asking the question is to get back to the equity question. I am not talking about the supposed need of some parents for immersion. I am talking about the distinct need for all of us to want the very best education for our children. If the results show that the immersion kids are outperforming their peers, then I would want it. If I don't get it, then I am not getting the best available education for my child and it would seem right to me to start legal proceedings to find out why some children are getting a far more superior education than others.

If on the other hand, in this very high achieving district, the immersion kids are doing no better than their peers then that is fine and we don't really need to worry that there is a first class system and a second class system - they are just the same but different.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2008 at 11:31 am

Id like to know simply because I'd like to know if the actuals stand up to the claims.

Id also like to know because if I'm a parent of a kindergartner, I'd like to know if I'm signing my kids up for a program with results that can stand up to PAUSD or not.

Look, if someone tells me that 50% of the kids from SI go on to Foothill, and the other 50% go on to 'take some time off' to travel the world, as a parent I'm not likely impressed, and not likely to sign up.

Now, this is where SIPAPA and MIPAPA think they're going to get off cheap. See if they were a private school, or even a charter school, they'd be publishing results that would make their heads spin. They wouldn't be able to survive without them (their customers would demand it). So, because they are part of PAUSD they're off the hook?? Not if I'm a parent of an incoming kinder trying to make a decision. (which I am)

And that's also why I don't have a lot of sympathy for the SI parents in the SI Jordan issue - how much 'faith' do you think is actually appropriate when dealing with your kids education? Why isn't anyone demanding reporting of results. I would touch any program with a 10 foot pole unless I could see results. With Ohlone and Hoover - they're in a separate school, so you can see their results.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm


I think you are suggesting that there was an implied or overt "promise" that kids in Spanish Immersion were going to perform better than a comparable peer group. I don't recall it being "sold" that way, and I was one of the pitchmen way back when. I do remember that we presented data that showed that kids in some immersion programs elsewhere did perform better, but the key benefit pitched in PAUSD was that the kids would be bilingual when they completed high school, and that their overall academic performance would be as good or better than those who were not immersion students. No downside risk to their other academics, more than the upside to which you allude. And, that it would be cost neutral after the start up phase--different topic.

It is important that we start to see data now that some of the kids are graduating from the school district. But the higher standard that you are suggesting be set for evaluating this program is not one that I think was part of the original plan, nor do I think it is one that should be set at this point. My hunch is that the findings will not be clear cut in any case, and it would be difficult for people in support or not in support to come to firm conclusions around immersion kids' academic performance from the first couple of years of student data.

Believe me, I would dearly love for the information to come back showing the kids have performed better in Palo Alto, and I would be the first to be concerned if their performance against an appropriate control group was not as good. And now is a good time to identify what findings would be useful to have, and what targets are appropriate, much as was done in the strategic planning process earlier this year. I am of the opinion that the single critereon you have suggested is but one of several that need to be included. You are one who has openly expressed skepticism for some time about immersion policy in Palo Alto, which means the "hurdle rate" you are setting can be viewed as suspect.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm

When SI invaded Escondidio, complete with a new principal who drove the effort, and pushed out the regular students to portables, the SI parents were proud to announce that SI would achieve amazing results. Everything from future business and social success, to increased math capabilities.

Having taken over Escondido, and destroyed it as a typical neighorhood school, it is beyond fair to ask for measureable results, equal to the promises.

Paul, your metrics have a way of ignoring the pain that they have caused.

It is, finally, time for a reckoning.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Common Sense,

I think Ohlone's recent slide downwards is an indication that the school shouldn't try to do too many things at once. It should focus on the program it has--particularly in strengthening the 2/3 cluster--instead of trying to create a new one.

The point about immersion is that we have an MI proponent who keeps claiming that immersion kids outperform their peers. Parent's trying to establish whether that's the case in a high-performing district.

SI may not have been sold this way, but MI very, very much was.

The same kind of claim isn't being made for project-based learning (Ohlone way) for what it's worth. Our claims tend to be less quantitative--independence, creativity, teamwork, that sort of thing. Also (since this is Palo Alto), differentiated learning. Even if Johnny can't read, classmate Janey can be reading Harry Potter. There's some evidence that while DI is great for average and above-average kids, project-based is better for the gifted types who benefit from a somewhat more open, less-structured environment.

Ohlone never sells itself as the means to outperform peers. Susan Charles will tell parents who inquire about APIs to check out Hoover. The non-test focus is above-board. I wouldn't send my kid to a school that focused on the tests, myself. Howver, Ohlone's slide downward the last couple of years does concern me--not because of the actual scores, but because the drop's big enough that I'd like to know what's going on. So test as diagnostic rather than an end.

I'm not in favor of ending the SI program, by the way, but I do think there are some issues with it that should be addressed. I think SI should be better incorporated with Escondido main and the SI program should be more readily available to the neighborhood kids. As it's handled right now, it's inequitable.

And all programs should be represented honestly. You want your kid to be in a competitive environment? Don't send him to Ohlone. Does your kid need lots of external structure? Again, don't send them to Ohlone. Creative, hands-on type? Ohlone's a great fit. (Also a good fit for shy kids because of the community approach.)

Want your kid in immersion--fine--but wouldn't you want to know about some of the issues? The tough transition to middle school can be found in the literature if you look long enough (yeah, it's the Canadians *again*), but why not be upfront? Escondido's principal is upfront about the 2/3 score drop. A little more honesty would be even better (immersion's not ideal if there are reading primary-literacy issues.)

At the same time, SI does deliver on Spanish--so that's a real plus for the program--it fulfills its stated mission. It's the rest of the puffery that's so dishonest (and much more an issue with the MIers than the SI crew)

For me, the main issue with SI is equity. I'm not for shutting down established programs mid-stream. I see no compelling need to shut down SI. I *do* see a need to address the inequities at Escondido. The neighborhood kids should reap some real benefit from hosting the program. A trial FLES program should be established for one thing--maybe from third grade on. As long as overenrollment's an issue at Escondido, I think local kids should have more priority spots in the program.

As for the Jordan SI mess--whew--lots of problems all around. Certainly, expectations on all sides need to be communicated clearly and calmly.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2008 at 2:29 pm


Please provide some metrics that you think ought to be part of evaluating immersion policy in PAUSD. I don't know that I provided specific metrics that merit your constructive criticism, but I am sure that you have some suggestions for metrics that could be considered for inclusion.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2008 at 2:34 pm


Just read your post. Okay, so SI proponents did make promises.

Well, in a way, it doesn't matter. We taxpayers are owed information on the outcome of our investment.

Parent's right--we know how Hoover and Ohlone perform. So why don't we have this information for SI?

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Paul, how do you figure I'm asking for a single criteria? The thread started by asking what colleges they get in to. It was quickly attempted to devalue that as a criteria, and I'm defending that particular piece of information as informative and certainly of interest to parents considering the program.

I would say there are a whole host of performance metrics they should be publishing. Parents signing up for these programs, and the BOE who is making decisions about these programs need a complete and factual picture on PAUSD actuals. Including (not lmiited to): test scores at all grades in both english and foreign language, (these should be parsed out between the 'native' language spoken at entrance), attrition rates, demographics, actual total costs per pupil (regardless of who's paying the bill), what colleges they're getting in to, AP results, etc. Whatever parameters we use to measure the health, academic results, and costs of our regular district programs should be viewable for the individual boutique programs separately.

Paul, you made claims for SI, and MI has made claims, now I'm saying you should be able to prove your claims. Whether or not the results are good enough, should be a decision of the board based on facts, not based on rhetoric or political campaign, or by lopsided feasibility studies, or by members of the community who come waiving checks at board meetings.

And I'm not suggesting a one time 'study'. This needs to become an ongoing requirment for the choice programs in PAUSD. They are using our public resources, they need to come to SIP reviews every year with a comprehensive reporting of what they are doing, how much they cost, what they plan to work on, and why they deserve a spot in PAUSD.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2008 at 3:05 pm

What I'm taking parent here is that SI and MI should be treated as the schools within schools that they are with the same information made public about them as are made about any of the schools--with the addition of a breakdown by native language.

Why has this not been done as a matter of course?

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2008 at 3:23 pm


We largely are in "violent agreement."

Perhaps I did not take your earlier comments the way they were intended, but they came across to me as "are immersion kids performing better than their comparable peer group, and if they aren't let's scrap immersion."

Since I have my two PAUSD educated children now at college age, I can tell you without hesitation from being in those admissions wars that it is most decidedly ill advised to evaluate any program offered in PAUSD against where the students enroll in college.

I am in support of your basic notion here, which as I understand it, is to start collecting information about the immersion kids and see how they are doing. Great idea. Where I part company with you is that I think there are numerous measures that their experience should have evaluated, and I don't have a pre=conceived notion of what the results should be or what actions those findings will imply. You seem to be biased up front about that.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Being an original SI founding supporter Paul, I daresay you have some bias. My bias is for deciding based on information that should rightly be available to us now. I just said I think there are numerous measures they should be evaluated on (so how do we differ on that?)

Frankly, I think we disagree that PAUSD should be in the business of boutique programs for no more incremental value than warm fuzzy 'experiences' for the kids that attend, and that serve a limited few. The programs have cost and use our resources and should be proven to bring incremental value to our district that beats out other options for use of limited resources.

Well Paul - lets put it this way, if the immersion students are not performing better than their comparable peers, and that info gets public, you can be sure that PAUSD won't have to shut down the programs - the parents will do that for you. You wouldn't have ANY CUSTOMERS if you aren't actually giving them a PAUSD comparable education. And the parents have the RIGHT TO KNOW if that's the case.

You keep saying I have a preconceived notion - what I have is an absolute vacuum of PAUSD data. And I do have a bias toward believing that the supporters of these programs are HIDING something - because all we get is stonewalled. We get grossly one-sided feasibility studies, we get nonsense links to inapplicable studies, we get links to blantant PR articles and our concerns get ignored, never answered.

With no data you can be sure that people are going to continue to question. The surest way you can get people to knock off the speculation about performance is to prove them wrong with some actual information.

Believe me, as soon as they start proving the PAUSD programs delivers on the promises in PAUSD terms, I'll be the first to move on to other issues.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 4:13 pm


Your essential metric is:

1. "I am passionate about world language instruction being part of the basic curriculum"

2. "I was on the USEFL task force that studied immersion, FLES and other world language instruction methods in the early 1990's, which gave rise to Spanish Immersion being introduced in PAUSD."

3. "If we assume that in the near future, the District policy is in place to make world language education a priority (it's not now, but for this string, let's assume that becomes the case) I would forecast a 2 year effort to put together a curriculum plan that incorporates FLES, and works with the rest of the curriculum that is important in the District and assures comparable or better outcomes for the students. "

( Web Link )

4. You have mentioned, several times on this blog, that you are not particularly concerned about how immersion programs affect neighborhood schools, as long as they are not your neighborhood schools (e.g. Addison).

Escondido has been hugely impacted by SI, Paul, and you are among those most responsible for this impact and pain.

At a minimum, Paul, you need to explain (again), why a world language recruirement is so important, in an English-speaking world. In doing so, you will extend your metric. Perhaps you can explain to me why my kids would be fundamentally enhanced by learning Hungarian.

Here is my metric:

Preserve neighborhood schools, at all costs.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 6, 2008 at 6:17 pm


I have no first hand knowledge of the Hungarian language, and I am not prepared to advocate that your children study it, let alone assert that it will change their lives for the better.

You offer as your metric for evaluating an immersion program in PAUSD its impact on a neighborhood school.

Thank you for your suggestion.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 6:21 pm


Hungarian is a world language. You support world language instruction in PA schools. Do you support it (Hungarian) being taught, as an immersion school, in Palo Alto? If not, why not?

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 7:35 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

"You will never convince John that language immersion is a good thing"

Mike, don't be silly. I never said that. I think immersion, to learn a language, is a good thing. I just don't think that it should be done in our public schools.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Paul, Like I said, John believes that the vast majority of American students (those not capable of affording a private education) should not learn a second language. Like I said, just let John's opinion lie; evolution will take care of the rest.

Posted by Don't Feed 'Em, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:30 pm


Your comments about John are a good example of why you don't persuade people. When you disagree with someone, you have, more than once, made a sweeping condemnation of their character. It's very black and white.

I don't agree with John about the value of choice programs, but I've found that we share some views and not others. I don't share Paul Losch's views on languages, though I respect his genuine desire to get others to share his views. And there are views of his I share.

Honestly, given what you've written, I don't think you're all that well-informed about the immersion debate. No matter how pro-immersion or pro-choice you are, I think John's comments about Escondido as a neighborhood school reflect a real issue about resource use.

If John felt that SI had benefitted Escondido as a neighborhood school, I don't think he'd have his views about choice programs. And I think it's pretty clear that there's been an issue of hubris with some of the families who lucked out on the lotteries.

My own view is that choice programs can be great, but not when the district starts playing favorites.

Instead of trying to browbeat people, why don't you listen to them? At the very least, it will refine and improve your own arguments.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2008 at 10:10 pm

OP, Rhetorical style can be altered for rhetorical effect. Has it ever occurred to you that some people in these forums - including yours truly - are not always trying to change minds, or persuade? You might think about that.

There are many angles to rhetoric; there are many tactics employed. The tactic most used in this thread is a mildly bastardized version of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. The assumptions underlying criticisms of MI are themselves highly suspect.

As for "understanding the MI issue", there's not just one issue. It's an amalgam of issues; bureaucratic incompetency; power plays from both sides; private agendas; lack of staff and teacher input; challenges to the idea of neighborhood schools; claims for optimal use of resources that are so obsessively wrought that they defy efficient deployment (a typical Palo Alto problem), and so on.

About listening. Palo Alto is too much about listening, and too little about action. You listen; I'll act. We can compliment each other. Vive la differance!

As for language immersion, it's here, and I don't see it going away anytime soon. I know for a fact that teaching staff have not liked the immersion programs, but have learned to adapt to them.

About brow beating: Some people need to be brow beaten, because they arguments are consistently passive-aggressive. Engaging passive-aggressiveness in these forums is the single biggest waste of time I can imagine. One often needs to drive home the truth, or impose it.

to play with the bibical reference, and with apologies to Proverbs 22:15.....
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a passive aggressive poster; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him/her.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:55 am

And Mike's favorite - when he doesn't have a leg to stand on, try to divert the conversation with name calling, trolling, etc. The fact is he lists the issues in his post, and knows that they are ALL valid issues, the pro-immersion argument is unwinnable on merits or logic, so the best he can do is to bob and weave into ??? Watch out, the next thing coming is for him (or his alter egos) to start calling everyone the "r" word - another favorite 'rhetorical' tactic used to shut down the conversation by the pro-MI camp. Mike does speak the truth on one point - that he's not trying to change minds or even attempting to discuss the topic - his goal is simply to shut down the conversation.

Mike pulls out the old favorite - and probably the best argument pro-immersion camp can muster - "its here, so get used to it". Well guess what, I'm here, not going to let up on calling the district on their poor decision making, their lack of transparency, their inequitable programs, their failure to execute on promises, their being led around by nose by $$$ dollar signs, their shoddy one-sided workmanship, their failure to communicate, etc etc etc. You're right, the arguments against MI are so numerous that the pro-MI camp has been overwhelmed by them - in fact more than once asked if we would please keep the objections down to just one - would make it so much easier to counter!

when a bad idea is bad, is there really some requirement out there that it only be bad on one aspect? Like Bush is just bad because he's a moron? A BAD thing can be bad in countless ways.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As for content on topic - you know for a fact that teachers don't like them, but have learned to adapt?? You mean sort of like the SI Jordan teachers learned to adapt? Now THAT's passive aggressive in action. If the teachers don't like them, only a matter of time until they're a gonner. I'm glad to know that you know that the teachers don't like them. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:38 am


Your points have been aired before. You believe them to be valid, but others do not. You seem to be saying you will keep repeating your points (actually, you don't even repeat them any more, you just refer to them), though I'm not sure why--you're not convincing anyone.

Hoover, Ohlone, and SI are firmly ensconced. The newest jewel, MI, will be soon, too. It seems likely these programs will be around for a while. My kids don't go to any of these programs, but I am glad the district caters to the needs of the various families. I don't begrudge them their choices since it doesn't come at any cost to the district.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:58 am

Cater is a great choice of words.

SI and MI are up for debate. Lets start seeing some data on the SI results, and we'll see how 'firmly ensconced' they are. We already see that SI Middle school is anything but firmly ensconced.

BTW - esconced means established, it also means 'sheltered, concealed'. Exactly. Because up to this point the BOE and a district staff sigularly in love with these programs has sheltered them from the need to publish their results and prove their value. Esconcement time is over. Time to air this out for once and for all.

BTW - how do you know they don't cost anything to the district? Have you ever seen any reporting on the cost of these programs? Where? Lets just shine a little light of day on these fabulous programs shall we? The avid supporters should be all in favor - not a darn thing to hide, right?

Posted by posting twice, to make sure this has a voice on this thread. Won't post again., a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:59 am

I supported SI because at the time I supported teaching as many kids from poor Spanish speaking families in Dual Immersion programs as possible, based on the data that showed that those kids did much better in HS and were more likely to go on to post HS education. I thought it was a happy side benefit that English speaking kids got to learn a second language also. I also believed the claptrap that it would expand to meet the "need" ( desire, let's be honest here), and frankly hoped my kids would be able to benefit. ( Dual language family, here, but English primary).

I supported Ohlone and Hoover because I thought it was a good idea to have programs that teach with different styles for different kids. I actually naively believed that they would be used for kids who actually learned better in certain situations.

What a bunch of bull. The years rolled by, the lottery was instituted, the program didn't grow until just a couple years ago, and then only by 1/2 thread, the odds of English speaking families getting in ever decreased. Including mine.

And then, after my child didn't get into SI, a few years later it turned out that my kid could really use a certain teaching style, but it was too crowded by the time we figured out that he was in dire need, so we still had to find a private school for him that would be able to help him grow.

So, 20 years of supporting programs with my vote and my tax money, assuming that it would work like insurance, so to speak. There for who needs/wants it. Wrong. Imagine an insurance program working by lottery!!!

Ok, call it anger. Call it growing up. Call it getting kicked. But here I was, supporting with taxes and words programs that I BELIEVED in, BELIEVED were equitably open to any and all kids and families, therefore suited to what I used to believe was the basis of a public education...and learning how wrong I was on a very personal basis.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I am now completely and firmly against starting any more such programs. The basis of the deals were good, but the execution lost my trust.

IN ADDITION, I see now that across this State, and even in some other parts of the country, the original bases for Dual Immersion has been perverted. Language immmersion for the sake of language immersion, with no goals by the originators other than to improve the basis of heritage language for heritage reasons, ( Mandarin, Arabic, German, are the 3 that come to mind), is one base. The second base is because it would be a cool thing to do, to use your crystal ball and predict which language is the language of the future, and proudly state your child is bilingual ( until 80% of the kids drop the language in HS, never to go back to it again). So, now, the Choice programs i am MOST against are the language immersion programs, k-5.

Don't you guys see how this has, like so many "good ideas", been completely inverted? Instead of dollars used for the good of all, we have dollars used for a few. All that energy and money spent on a new MI program, and is there yet a full language program even for the 6th grade in our district? It is a shame that we have no ability for ALL 6th graders to start a language, but now we have 2 programs for a lucky few to start languages in kindergarten.
And yet, so many people were afraid to speak up for fear of being called "racist"! And, suddenly there is a new program shoved down our throats. Oh My God! I saw at last how the freedom of speech erodes, and our basic equity of opportunity then erodes. Watch out people!

The abuse of the system has turned me into someone who no longer supports ANY choice programs, even those that promise to not displace neighborhood students and grow to be open to all who want it. Because those promises will be broken.

I will be firmly against "choice" programs of any type in the future. And in particular against any more programs which have no ability at all to transfer students in and out of the program as the numbers shift ( such as language programs, regardless of language, for those of you ready and waiting to cry "racist")

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:04 am

Posting Twice - right on. Thanks for sharing your views and experience.

Posted by To Ensconced Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:08 am

Be careful of your kind of thinking. Yes, tolerance is great, but not at the expense of intolerance of others.

It leads to closing public pools for some of the days to "cater" to certain religions, ( happening in France), forbidding certain opinions from being expressed ( throughout Europe and England), teaching certain "holy scriptures" and giving specific religion prayer time to the exclusion of others in a public school setting ( a few Choice Charter schools now do this), not publishing certain "offensive" pictures/drawings in order to "cater" to various needs, etc.

More locally, your thinking leads to your child not being able to go to the next door school because of the "needs" ( desire) of someone else, and money/time being diverted from, say, "good enough" foreign language instruction for all so that a few can get GREAT.

Be careful that your kind heartedness does not destroy you, our city, our State and our Nation. You have to protect our equitable access system against the gradual destruction by special interests.

Posted by Thanks to Me, Too., a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:29 am

Just couldn't keep it in anymore.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2008 at 11:41 am

Right - this time its your needs that are being catered to - and that feels just fine for you.

How hard is it for you to imagine the next guys needs being catered to - which (woops, sorry) encroach on yours? Not too hard, I bet, if you give that a try.

Equity in education is not just a buzz word, take a look at Federal Equal Education Opportunity Act to see what kind of protections we have to put in to law to make sure our public schools are giving every kid access to an equal education. (One of those by the way is that we are by law not allowed to discrimate based on language barriers.) Web Link

"(f) the failure by an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs."

(I've never been clear on how a public school could offer a language immersion school that denies access to 3rd or 4th graders that don't speak a particular foreign language. We certainly would be breaking the law if we were denying access to our regular 4th grade classrooms to kids who don't speak English!)

Equity just doesn't happen on the honor system. Its something that has to be guarded and specifically managed to by our district BOE, Staff, employees and parents. As soon as you start 'catering' to a few special interests with a few bucks, and undermining the silly provincial little concept of equity in education - its EVERYONE's future at risk, including yours, mine and ours.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm

MI is not, in fact, here yet. When it does arrive in the fall, it's at Ohlone on a three-year trial basis.

At which point, the school will go over the maximum number of students allowed at an elementary school in this district.

At which point, the board allows Ohlone to exceed enrollment limits--ever seen the data on overcrowded schools? Not good.

Or closes MI

Or bumps it elsewhere.

Again, MI/Ohlone is a trial program--not all trial programs make it. This one has a lot going against it.

The current BOE is not the same one that caved into pressure by PACE. The current superintendent is not the one who pushed for it partly as a means of distracting people from her own ignominious record.

The board's biggest proponent of MI went out of her way to omit any mention of it in her campaign literature last Fall.

So MI's here--but here to stay? There's no guarantee of that at all. There are several people, if they choose to, who could throw it under the bus. The SI/Jordan mess is a nice example of that.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Why is PAUSD not showing us SI academic and financial results? They have 11 years of history. Its time for full reporting.

When did the BOE approve expansion of SI into middle school and why are they not disclosing that it didn't work? (Or what went wrong, what are next steps?)

Is PAUSD going to self-audit and report out, or do we have to force the issue?

By the way - who is SIPAPA - sounds like a parallel PTA organization on behalf of SI. Do they operate under the same rules of organization and disclosure as regular PTA? Where are the yearly budget reports? Their meeting minutes, etc. Do they hold electinos for their officers?

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm


You have described the Escondido experience, in terms of numbers and approaches. You have learned from Escondidio. SI was tranferred to Escondido, from Fairmeadow. Escondido has been invaded and overrun. It went from being the lowest student enrollment to the highest, over only a few years.

Ohlone, as a boutique choice, is not in an ethical position to complain. However, I can still feel your pain (in advance).

As you and I both know, the crtical decision for Ohlone will be Garland, in three years. If Garland become a neighborhood school, as it should, Ohlone will need to conform to the wishes of MI. It won't be the other way around.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm

A must read, the Google Day care story reported in the PA Post, from the New York Times,

Web Link

the conclusion of the story,

"Google may be providing the greatest day care ever, but so what? It doesn't matter how good the day care is if only its wealthiest employees can afford to use it. If Google had really wanted to do something path-breaking about its day care crisis, it would have spent less time creating elitist day care centers and more time figuring out how to "scale" day care for everybody no matter what their salaries."

familiar story? replace Google with PAUSD, and day care with world language offerings in elementary schools, and it would read like this

PAUSD may be providing the two greatest immersion programs ever, but so what? It doesn't matter how good they are if only its luckiest lottery winners can benefit from them. If PAUSD had really wanted to do something path-breaking about its world language offerings crisis, it would have spent less time creating elitist immersion programs and more time figuring out how to "scale" world language offerings for everybody

since we're not Google, every penny matters and transparency

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Excellent link. A very elite attitude, resulting in fabulous perks for a few - but at least a few get the best, so what if the rest get zip?? And the few who are benefitting are bragging besides.

Yes, it sounds precisely like PAUSD languages programs.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 6:19 pm


I disagree. My kids' school didn't take over an occupied school, nor did it cause overcrowding at another school.

I don't share your views on choice program--though I understand what your view is. I think co-existence is possible--but choice programs need to benefit the district as a whole instead of the chosen few at the *expense* of others.

I have a conservative approach to programs in that I am cautious about throwing them out and cautious about bringing them in. In either case, you're affecting the education of kids. I'd feel differently if the MI arguments had actually been persuasive instead of basically a bunch of charter threats. When the board caved it set an ugly precedent.

So I consider the how of MI to have been unethical. Though my practical objections to the program are, in my mind, just as important--wrong time, wrong place, wrong kind of program.

MI in three years? I know PACE was big and scary, but I also kind of think they shot their wad. They'll be in a weaker position regarding a charter and the district will have some space (Half of Greenfell will be vacant in 2010.). It also won't be the board that passed it in the first place.

I think MI at Garland is actually the most likely result--Ohlone will go over the limits for elementary school sizes and that's an ugly business if another elementary's opened up. Also Garland won't have an in-place opposition--it's the "safe" option in that sense.

And, obviously, the MI crowd wants to run their own show.

However, given the SI/Jordan mess and what it shows about the SIPAPA crew, I don't see the district going out of its way to further empowere the MIers.

There may be some larger political issues that come into play as well--Barack Obama, today, said our kids *all* ought to be learning Spanish. That would be an argument for Spanish FLES like Menlo Park and against specialized boutique programs like the immersion ones. If he's pres, federal funding for language programs may change.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

" My kids' school didn't take over an occupied school, nor did it cause overcrowding at another school"


At the time that Ohlone boutique was started, you are correct. However, with the expanded school population in Palo Alto, you are no longer correct.

Both the Ohlone site and the Garland site are prime property for newly expanded neighborhood schools.

My suggestion, if you want to stick with it, is to have Ohlone and Hoover join together at Pinewood. Throw in SI and MI. Make a documentary about it, in order to record an educational history/war.

At least we will, finally, have our neighborhood schools back. Praise the lord(!), even though I am not religious.

Gets me excited just thinkin' about it!

BTW, you vastly underestimate the power of dedicated boutiques, like MI, becasue, I think, you have taken for granted the true believers that created your own Ohlone boutique. You have come to believe that your way is a legitimate highway, thus it cannot be challenged. Beware! Been there.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2008 at 9:15 pm

I think MI needs to be canceled when the three year trial is over. Enough fun and games, how do you just hand over a whole site or school to a program that serves so few. And SI should also not be immune to equity issues. A parent driven program with no accountability, that gets to raise money for themselves only, and practically does not belong to the rest of the community? No amount of money covers us for that handover.

Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,

Is this intended to be a unique identifier in the Palo Alto online community? In this thread it caused confusion for the initial poster, and certainly for readers who don't know posters' writing styles enough to keep them separate when name duplication occurs. If there is one poster who writes often on education topics as "Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood" could that person choose another anonymous, but unique, pen name so that readers can keep straight who's speaking?

This is only a suggestion.

Posted by pam, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:00 pm

"Barack Obama, today, said our kids *all* ought to be learning Spanish. That would be an argument for Spanish FLES like Menlo Park and against specialized boutique programs like the immersion ones. If he's pres, federal funding for language programs may change."

obama will say anything to get the latino vote. he is a shill and a chameleon. he actually voted for the border wall. do you really think the congress would mandate such an action? you are dreaming. how about more funding for better english skills?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:15 am


Ohlone still doesn't occupy a neighborhood school. At best, you could argue that it occupies a site that could be used as a neighborhood school. However, since Ohlone has a sizable local draw and takes kids from the overcrowded north cluster, I think in terms of moving kids around the district it's a net benefit as it frees up spaces *at* the neighborhood schools.

Also, of course, trying to redistribute the kids in the largest choice programs--Ohlone and Hoover would actually cost the district money.

Which is why I'm conservative in both directions on this--Hoover may not be my personal style, but it has a function in the district as does Ohlone. Unlike the immersion programs, neither program is closed to later transfers because of the limitations of the program.

Why I accept that you value neighborhood schools, I don't see anything about them that is more intrinsically valuable about them than Hoover and Ohlone--certainly no reason to juggle around several hundred kids--I doubt, in fact, that you could fit them all at Pinewood.

In other words, I don't think the unfair treatment of neighborhood families at Escondido justifies treating kids in the alternative programs like dirt. It's not black and white. (And, seriously, you really think PAUSD is *ever* going to close its highest-scoring school? Or its most popular alternative school?)

This is one of the reasons, in fact, that I consider shoving in MI at a site that's already at capacity in an ad-hoc program for political reasons was a reckless action by the board.

I don't see any reason why there can't be a better balance--though the board needs a better way of dealing with charter threats. Which is a huge strike against Mandarin--it used coercion not persuasion.

I'm dubious about the MIers political prowess in part because they did have to be so ruthless. That strikes me as a sign of long-term weakness.

It's pretty clear to me that there's no one entrenched to protect Garland from MI--and unlike Ohlone putting it there won't put the school over capacity. At least not immediately.

It's been clear from the things Susan Charles has said that she thinks MI/Ohlone is temporary--no she hasn't said it directly, but it's there between the lines.

Basically, how is anyone really going to argue for pushing Ohlone over capacity *permanently* when a new school is opening nearby?

And one that has no voice. All they have to do is to decide MI will go there *before* deciding the exact draw area. It also gives them a way to start filling the upper grades without pulling too heavily from Duveneck, Walter Hays and Addison.

The would-be draw area of Garland is divided among two neighborhood schools--Duveneck and Walter Hays with another chunk at Ohlone. I suspect Garland's eventual neighborhood parents don't even know each other.

Camille Townsend dingily said she thought the program could stay at Ohlone, but I think the rest of the board knows better--Garland's an easy way out for them. I don't think it's an accident that its reopening coincides with the end of MI/Ohlone's trial run.

This all depends, of course, on the program working. That's a whole different kettle of fish.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:21 am


Of course, Obama wants the Latino vote. Doesn't mean that he won't encourage the language thing. We haven't had a government interested in second-languages for English speakers--so Obama even saying this is different--and, of course, there could end up being some education seed money as a result if he's elected.

I'm not sure why people seem to be shocked that Obama's a politician who wants to win. I've no huge enthusiasm about him myself, but the moral outrage regarding him seems kind of extreme after the last two presidents.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:26 am


One Parent is Parent with the cap, the other one is lower case--parent.

Then there are some others from other locations. Sometimes, there's been a deliberate attempt to muddle the identities, I think, by oppenents of Parent, the original.

Posted by Parent without handles, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:55 am

No idea if I'm the Parent spoken about, but I will try to remember to become Parent without handles attached.

I like John from College Terrace's idea. I don't think many of those in the choice programs will though.

Putting all the choice programs in one location makes a lot of sense to begin with. Making that site one that is not located in a neighborhood also makes a lot of sense. My thoughts though are that they would not be quite as popular as those who live near a certain site seem to choose that program which means it may be the site they like rather than the program.

If Pinewood could be called and returned to elementary school status (it is currently a high school) it would be ideal for commuter programs. Those who really valued the programs would be happy to commute to them and Pinewood is ideally situated to be a commuter school due to its proximity to good commuting routes and not to residential neighborhoods.

If we could move Ohlone, plus farm, Hoover, SI and MI, to Pinewood, we would get space in all areas for elementary except the North. That would mean that Garland would make sense to be opened as an elementary school.

Unfortunately though that does not help our middle school crisis, which soon there will be. So, we would have to put connections and DI into Pinewood too.

Wow, maybe we are making some progress.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 10:54 am

Interesting to bring federal level politics into the discussion.. Mainly because the FLAP grant that is funding our MI start up is part of Bush's national security agenda, and its curious to think about what might happen to that funding when the new administration (with a different set of priorties) takes over. Or will 'everyone learn Spanish' become the new fad and the new grant targeted programming, under the new president? And does PAUSD have a plan for MI if the grant goes away? (Plan B - shut it down?)

And its further interesting to observe what's happening right here in PAUSD as we pit these languages against each other. We've said all along that resources are stretched too thin to properly support these programs without impacting other programs, and so we see that SI Middle school has been apparently starved of resources (expert time), while (coincidentally), the staff and BOE were focused on MI. The two organizations might have originally thought they were 'cousins' in the fight for immersion programs, but are they? Or does the survivial of one in PAUSD necessarily mean the demise of the other (because the pie is only so big)? Might the temporary infusion of grant funds be only postponing the dog fight? Particularly if the BOE continues to take a stance that its not really all that interested in either.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 11:53 am

it's not about the cash or grants

SIPAPA and PACE will come up with the cash, I bet the Chinese government would be happy to keep MI alive

that's how this is being "sold" to us, and we're "selling" our school sites to SIPAPA and PACE

Posted by Parent without handles, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:07 pm

I am beginning to agree that there are too many of us Parents and in the hopes of sorting some of this out, I will say that I am not the Parent who mentioned the federal politics, but I am the Parent who started this thread and wants to see results on how SI students perform after high school as well as the Parent who started the thread about SI problems at Jordan after a conversation I had with a couple of friends who told me that they had heard rumors about SI closing at Jordan but couldn't tell me why.

I do have kids learning languages in school and know that these programs, although they have some great teachers, have problems of their own, often to do with over or under subscribed classes and lack of money for up to date text books and technology in the classroom. I know this not only from my own experience but by talking to other parents whose kids are doing different languages. I think that the overall language policy at PAUSD is spotty or non-existent in the sense that the favored language(s) change with the tide and what is flavor of the month. I have had one child start one language and the next child not able to study that language which makes sibling assistance not available in our family and it shows me that while we "pride" ourselves in immersion programs for some, that the language policy as a whole needs to be addressed.

If this was science or math, or even English or social studies, this would not be tolerated. Why are we allowing such a mish mash of policies in language to be allowed. Since teaching language, at any level, helps English comprehension then we need to address this. Having read many of my kids' written English and am pretty shocked by what poor writing abilities they have, I think we could end up with a crisis in English as well. If we could give our high school seniors a writing test and they had to write their essays without computers and spellchecks/grammarchecks, I think we would see a dismal result. But wait, they have to write essays like that in the SATs now. So perhaps we will have to see if they start practicing for that in the classrooms. Unfortunately though, I am told that they do not prepare for SATs in the classroom because they don't have time.

This brings me to another point, but it would be a tangent here so I won't go further. Suffice it to say, language is not valued in PAUSD and we should strive to do better with what we have already rather than worrying about more immersion unless we can see that the SI students are actually outperforming their peers.

Posted by hear hear to Handle-less!, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 1:21 pm

"we should strive to do better with what we have already rather than worrying about more immersion unless we can see that the SI students are actually outperforming their peers."

Hear, hear, parent without handles.

That should be our priority right now, not adding more immersions.

More language lab time for kids in languages ( two periods per month does NOT teach a language)

Foreign language, well articulated between grades, focus on SPEAKING what is learned, available to all 6th graders and upward.

Take care of these two issues first..then let's talk about putting more money and time into requiring more langauge years if we wish. Maybe we start in 8th grade requiring all 8th graders, 9th and 10th graders to take an FL.

That alone would do wonders for ALL of our kids, instead of what we have now..a few getting fantastic education, and others absolutely nothing until 9th grade.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 1:45 pm


Putting 20 percent of the district's kids at one mega-elementary school in the Palo Alto Hills ain't gonna happen. You really think one of the wealthiest parts of Palo Alto is gonna allow that kind of traffic without getting anything back (like a neighborhood school?)

Hoover's very close to two neighborhood elementaries. I'm not sure the area could actually take another neighborhood school right now--Palo Verde's got issues (and no space--there's not much in the way of playing fields there), but El Carmelo and Fairmeadow don't.

The argument for moving Ohlone is better, but there, too, the population issue should settle down somewhat with the opening of Garland.

Basically, you can't put all the choice programs in one place because you're dealing with around 1,000 elementary school kids.

It is true that the PA Hills would probably take an immersion program as a way of getting an elementary school up there--they're never going to have big townhouse projects up there, so it's unlikely that they'll have the population surges the other elementaries are experiencing.

Parent w/o handles,

Languages aren't valued by the district, but that's a reflection of American society at large. We just don't have the same compelling reason to learn a second language as other groups have to learn English.

I mean if the Internet consisted largely of Spanish-language sites, I'd probably pick up more Spanish. You have to actively acquire a second language here, but in a lot of places, rudimentary English is a norm.

Which doesn't mean that I don't think we need to develop a decent second-language policy in this district. It's a mess.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Parent without hands - agreed. Thanks for bringing us back to the main issue first, which is does it work? and if so, Show Us.

Its time.

By the way, college attended, is just one of many ofthe measures of success, but I never heard back from anyone offering the actual data on what colleges our first year of SI grads are going to.

Don't get me wrong. No shame in Foothill, I graduated from Gunn, started at Foothill, saved a good deal of money there (put myself all the way through college and grad school without student loans, actually), went on to bigger and better universities, and then on to earning a nice enough living in corporate America to be able to afford to buy a home and send my kids to school in one of the most expensive places to live in the world. So frankly, I personally don't think what college you get in to makes a hill of beans of difference. I happen to think all this nonsense about who takes what AP exams is snobbish and irrelevent. HOWEVER, there ARE a lot of competitive parents and kids out there (or else why all the hoopla about AP exams???!!!) that really would want to know this info so they can decide if the program is in alignment with their plans. So do we have this info? Where?

Posted by Pay to play?, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Is it legal to charge for a public school (program) that costs more to run?

Can the district charge a fee for Hoover, Ohlone, MI, SI, etc.?

If we could actually identify the costs of these programs, such
fees might help get to neutrality from the district's point of view, and also reduce the lottery fairness issues.

(Sure, means-tested subsidies could be funded by the fees).

Let's leverage the fact that we have money here rather than suffer for the fact that we indulge in our arrogance and selfishness.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Pay to play

"Let's leverage the fact that we have money here rather than suffer for the fact that we indulge in our arrogance and selfishness."

you seem to think that this is about arrogance and selfishness and if that were the case, I think you could pay people off

actually so far, MI is succeeding in paying to play, some of us just think that some things are priceless, and a few bucks our way won't do it

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Pay to Play,

I'm pretty sure that that would violate the law as well as the spirit of public schools.

The lottery programs are supposed to be cost-neutral. Hoover and Ohlone seem to be--i.e. same curriculum, the requested PiE donation at Ohlone is average and we're not asked for more.

MI seems to violate the spirit if not the letter of the law with its sizable grant (and the mystery funding of its feasibility study.)

But people who want extras and want to pay for them . . . well that's what private schools are for. PACE is pretty much a bunch of International School parents who went immersion at a bargain.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2008 at 5:46 pm

News Flash - immersion method only works on a willing subject. I have a child who ASKED me repeatedly to give him spanish class. I signed him up for Spanish in summer school. Unbeknownst to me, it turns out to be an immersion setting (which was NOT in the catalog description) (PAUSD JLS Middleschool by the way). And he hates, it, doesn't get it, begging me to take him out, not learning anything, boo hoo hoo. BIG drama. So apparently, we took a kid who was willing, (and by we I mean whoever's bright idea it was to make this beginning Spanish class an immersion class) and apparently turned him off to language lessons. And he's a good student. I don't have the heart to tell him yet that its going to be required of him when he gets to Gunn.

So, here's a question - are 5 year olds people too? With their own will and their own learning styles? - or is this the kind of thing that can be forced on them (because they're young). How much stress and distress can we put them through? (And they'll still be OK with school in general andnot be turned in to school haters?)

And how do parents who put their kids in these programs know in advance that their kid has the right temperament? And how do they know at the end of year one if they're struggling with 'immersion' or if they have other learning issues?

It just strikes me like a pretty cruel thing to do to a kid who doesn't want to be there - and are 5 and 6 years olds really THAT much more compliant than 11 year olds? Not the ones I've known. The fact that we have programs like SI and MI touting NO ATTRITION - makes me wonder how many kids we forcing to be in these classrooms that might actually thrive more in regular classrooms?

How is PAUSD staff caring for this type of kid?

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:30 pm


I was reading some Canadian stuff last night--and there was a comparison of early v. middle immersion. That is, starting in K-1 v. grades 3/4. The K/1 starts have an advantage initially, but are more likely to burn out and drop immersion in middle school and high school than are the kids who start in the later grades. There's also some indication that while the K/1er are a bit more fluent in spoken French, the later starts have better writing skills--possibly because of established primary literacy.

So, yeah, kids get bored. I think that a lot of 5/6 year-olds are still young enough that they're going to try to please their parents--and the message is very clear that MI will please their parents. It's in the later grades when light bulbs go off.

Oh, one other thing--those French immersion programs for middle grades where kids became reasonably fluent? They're only two years long.

In other words, it's not at all clear that we *need* six-year immersion programs for kids to be fluent in, say, Spanish.

We could offer two-year immersion programs in 3/4th grade and get equivalent results.

Which would make upper-grade attrition much less of a problem. The first three years of school would be normal, then kids could apply for two-year immersion programs in the later part of elementary school.

We could offer more kids the advantages of immersion and use fewer classrooms at the same time. You could do it in two classrooms and do it at more than one school. At some of the smaller schools, you could even do it in one as 3/4 split.

If you really wanted to offer flexibility, you could offer a 3/4 and a 4/5 option.

Of course, in two-year cycles, there might be less opportunity for powerful cliques to form, but such are the sacrifices.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Parent, it's pretty clear that MI is all about the parents and their bragging rights to their buddies.

Posted by mother of two, a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Parent & ohlone parent,

I have had one child go through a few years of elementary immersion, and because kindergarten - 3 curriculum tends to be really hands-on and object oriented anyway, those years seemed to me to be a good fit for learning a new language. The normal curriculum matches the way a foreign language is often taught --- observing & describing objects & the weather, going over the calendar, establishing routines, etc.

I remember my junior high foreign language class utilizing some of the same strategies, but it always felt a bit forced.

-Mother of two

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:21 pm

mother of two,

I did immersion at the college level--and it works fine at the level--you talk about things and try to make sense of what you read. It is harder to mimic sounds at that point so there's the accent issue. However, being highly literate in my own language meant that I could use my primary literacy skills to suss out the second language more quickly.

The indications are that reading in one language helps you read more readily in the second. And if you mastered reading in English as a kid, you could then take what you learned earlier and use it to learn Spanish as a third grader (while still having the advantages of early exposure.).

There doesn't seem to be a strong need to have kids learn languages in kindegarten v. 3rd grade. That seems to be about the age that Europeans introduce second languages and they're reasonably successful in creating bilinguals.

That the Canadians have seen some studies that show middle-immersion kids doing better in some areas than their early-immersion counterparts may be tied to the greater emotional maturity of the kids. At that point, those kids are actively choosing to study something.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Mother of two,

Just to clarify, "middle immersion" isn't immersion in middle school, it's immersion in the upper grades of elementary--so grades 3,4,5.

The Canadians call middle-school immersion "late immersion"--and that's a different kettle of fish.

Posted by Joining the fray, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2008 at 9:50 pm

An Ohlone friend told me that Susan Charles will probably only stay one or two more years at Ohlone. If she leaves during the time MI is getting established, that could be pretty devastating to Ohlone as a whole. Also, it's going to be a rude awakening when the MI'ers discover there's no homework assigned at Ohlone. I wonder if they really understood what the 'Ohlone Way' is. In the MI program in Cupertino (Meyerhof Elem) there is plenty of homework and most kids need tutoring after school in order to keep up.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2008 at 1:14 am


Interesting info. and entirely possible. Charles isn't young and I suspect she could make a bundle as a consultant. And, yes, her leaving in the middle of this mess would be a big problem for the school.

Ohlone's educational philosophy relies on kids developing a sense of responsibility and ownership about their work--that's its great strength and its great weakness. It relies heavily on internal rewards--and finding the internal rewards of massive rote memorization can be a challenge.

I suppose the tutoring will be the de facto homework.

Posted by stay tuned, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2008 at 7:28 am

That was my first thought when Charles sprang this on the District. She had just gotten her PhD, she clearly has aspirations above being a principal, she gets to take this program to look "good" to the Admin in the District at the time and get them out of a pickle, gets to latch onto a current fad for her resume..then will leave before the *&^% hits the fan in 3 years and move up and/or out into a higher level position, probably in another district where she won't have to deal with the fall-out.

Call me a cynic, but that was my very first thought. Not blaming her if this is what she thought, given that it would be consistent with her other self-serving thoughts. To remind us, the biggest "self serving thought" was the one when she derisively and self-righteously said that she doesn't want to shut down Stanford because she didn't get in, trying to compare that to the arguments against a public school MI on the basis of denying access to kids who lost the lottery or who didn't speak the right languages. AS IF those people fighting MI were doing so for the reason that they were simply ennvious people who would want to shut down Stanford because it is a competitive private university and some people don't get in....I will never forget that!

Whatever: In the end we are stuck with the fall-out. It will be interesting to see what happens. We will be stuck. We will have kids who have been in the program for 3 years who we can't abandon...we will have another school opening which will be able to fill up with just the neighborhood kids...we will have Ohlone which will only be able to keep the program if it hits 600 kids on campus...what are we going to do?

Will we even consider simply allowing the kids in the program to finish it out, then shutting it down so that Ohlone doesn't overfill or 1/2 the Garland neighborhood kids aren't overflowed? Or will that be completely off the table?

Stay tuned

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 13, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Stay tuned,

Some of your comments are exactly why I continue to stay on top of the MI issue. I think Ohlone at 500-plus is bad for the kids (big schools are bad for young kids) and dangerous--Ohlone has little street frontage and its on a narrow residential street. The Ohlone program itself requires strong administration and coordination.

I like Charles better than you do--in part because she has kept Ohlone pulled together academically. But she's near retirement age--and spearheading a couple of major trends would make her desirable as a consultant. Lotsa money, little headache.

And then what? A weaker principal just by the circumstance of being unestablished at the school. That leaves a power vaccuum--and the parents will step in. And you've got parents who've been in the Ohlone system for 10 years--yep, all that volunteering. Part of the reason the anger hasn't been more overt is because there is a basic respect for Charles. She goes? Who knows?

Along with Garland, I think Greenfell is still an option that ought to be considered--half a vacant elementary in a location that's better for commuting than for walking. There's already grounds maintenance; it's already being partly used for school programs. It already has modular classrooms.

I think sunsetting the program is also an option--and then letting the PACErs start their charter and let them run half of Greenfell. It would probably be a financially better deal.

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