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Menlo Park considering suspending Tinsley Settlement

Original post made by palo alto mom on Dec 15, 2009

Tinsley settlement
The Tinsley voluntary transfer program resulted from a 1986 court settlement over a desegregation lawsuit. It requires the Menlo Park district to accept 24 new students every year from the Ravenswood district, which encompasses East Palo Alto and Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, according to Peter Burchyns, spokesman for the San Mateo County Office of Education.

Ravenswood students may apply to attend school in Menlo Park or a half-dozen other districts, including Palo Alto Unified, Las Lomitas, Portola Valley and Woodside. Once accepted, a Tinsley transfer student is guaranteed a place in the new district through eighth grade.

Turning away Tinsley students requires permission from a San Mateo County Superior Court judge, and is something no other district has done, said Mr. Burchyns.

Mr. Ranella said he is discussing suspending Tinsley transfers with the county superintendent of schools, and believes it would be legal. The court order says that a district does not have to add facilities or drop any element of its curriculum as a result of enrolling Tinsley students, Mr. Ranella said.

Board members said they'd like Mr. Ranella to explore the idea further, although board member Mark Box said the option raises questions not just about the district's commitment to support children from Ravenswood but also the commitment to its own students to increase diversity in the schools.

"We have a very legitimate problem," said Jeff Child, the newly selected board president. "I'd like to see where it comes back on that (Tinsley) issue."

Comments (65)

Posted by Grandma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2009 at 10:44 am

There is a huge problem if Menlo Park decides to suspend Tinsley; where will the rejected students go to school?

As a result of Tinsley (the volunteer transfer program), East Palo Alto closed many of their schools and sold off the land for development; the Tinsley children will have no schools in East Palo Alto to return to.

Menlo Park may have forgotten that the Tinsley case came about as a compromise agreement to forced busing and the desegregation of schools of the mid-peninsula. It was voluntarily agreed upon by the parties and the order was signed by a Judge.

By rejecting the Tinsley children, Menlo Park will be re-segregating the schools. Twenty-five years on, it will be interesting to see how the Courts will deal with such a request.


Posted by Very right, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

Palo Alto can do this too if they want to. It would be very interesting to hear all of the parents talk about how much they support the Tinsley program and then see how many would actually vote to keep it behind a closed curtain.

Tinsley isn't desegregating the schools anymore in Palo Alto. Many of the transfer students are Latino, not African-American, as the suit intended in the 70s.


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm

> There is a huge problem if Menlo Park decides to suspend Tinsley;
> where will the rejected students go to school?

This is a problem for East Palo Alto, it should not be Menlo Park's problem. The gentrification of East Palo Alto is on-going, even though it's clear that most people in East Palo Alto don't want the City to evolve to its full potential. There are now 1+M homes being built there. This means a property tax base will be developing over time.

Technology (distance learning) should be considered as a cost control educational technique in cases like this.

Palo Alto also should be looking hard at terminating the Tinsley agreement--although going to Court makes more sense than just shutting its doors. The cost of educating these kids in the coming years will cost PAUSD taxpayers millions and millions.

If East Palo Alto is going to be an official town, then it needs to pay its own bills.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm

@ Very right: EPA's demographics have shifted quite a bit since the 1970's as well. But your assertion that "many of the transfer students are Latino" should be based on data, not on personal observation. Wouldn't you agree?

It would be interesting to know the actual demographics of EPA and compare that to the Tinsley demographics for each school district.

It would also be interesting to know how much the Tinsley program costs each school district - including transportation, meals, after school care, etc. Also - due to the mandated increase in head-count, what are the additional costs for teachers, classrooms, administration, etc. to cover all of the Tinsley students at each school and school district? Further, what are the additional costs to the local PTA's and/or PIE-type funds for funding associated to cover the grants and scholarships to cover the Tinsley students (waiver of athletic fees, computer loans, meals, teacher aids, music instruments, etc.)?

I'm sure there are many who want to eliminate Tinsley based upon costs. But how do you measure the societal/financial, perhaps mostly subjective, benefits of the program for the region and the state at-large?


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

In this day of Google, and bazillions of web-sites providing us a cornucopia of information:
---
Web Link

As of the census[12] of 2008, there were 33,575 people, 6,648 households, and 5,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 12,585.5 inhabitants per square mile (4,859.3 /km2). There were 7,573 housing units at an average density of 3,784.3/sq mi (2,073.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 6.1% White, 23.5% African American, 0.73% Native American, 4.1% Asian, 11.8% Pacific Islander (mainly Tongan and Samoan immigrants)[citation needed], 11.8% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 74.3% of the population.
---

it's a shame people don't take the time to answer these questions themselves.

As to the other questions, all of this is known. The Court requires a yearly status report, which is generated by one of the school districts under the Tinsley Decree; copies are available to all affected schools. The demographic shift has been noted in these reports.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:13 pm

If you read the Weekly Article "A Leader's Challenge" about the superintendent in EPA, it seems they would welcome the enrollment growth and accompanying funding. Perhaps our energy would be better spent helping Ravenswood improve their school district.

"Ravenswood loses about 900 students a year to the court-ordered Tinsley program, a 23-year-old desegregation plan that allows 160 non-white kindergarteners each year to enroll in neighboring Palo Alto, Menlo Park and other area school districts as far north as Belmont.

Although the district has not sought to alter the terms of Tinsley, De La Vega questions the fairness of losing 160 kindergarteners a year, a number that was set decades ago, when Ravenswood's enrollment was three or four times what it is today.

Another 1,200 Ravenswood students attend K-8 charter schools.

All told, the district loses about 40 percent of its potential enrollment to charter schools or the Tinsley desegregation program, leaving around 3,000 students in the district's seven traditional schools.

"As far as academics go, we're on the right track. Our biggest challenge is the budget and enrollment," she said."


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Even in the 1980s East Palo Alto had a large Latino and South sea island population as well as black. It was known that desegregation of the schools was not just about integrating black and white students but integrating all minorities with a mainly white school population.

An example of Court ordered desegregation was Los Angeles when thousands of hispanic, black and white students were bused miles to integrate the schools. In fact that's where magnet schools were formed.

Yes, the demographics of East Palo Alto fluctuates but this was known to the Court in 1986.


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The Tinsley Case went into the Court system in 1976, based on the demographics of the early 1970s in the section of San Mateo County that was to become East Palo Alto later. Resolution was in the mid-80s.


Posted by John, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm

EPA could become a very interesting and progressive laboratory of future education. How? Just hand out educational vouchers to each parent, and let them figure out which private academy or public school is best for their kids. The leftists and teachers' union will oppose it, but they are not really interested in success. EPA could really bloom, but they are inhibited by dysfunctional educational theories, brought to them by white elites.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2009 at 3:33 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Ah, yes. The diaspora. Substituting bus riding for classroom time; tearing the guts out of civic pride. Busing was never about education, it was admittedly a retaliation for "White Flight", using children as pawns. My daughter was in the last class to graduate from Ravenswood.


Posted by mom x 4, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

Time to end Tinsley. It's not helping Ravenswood to have their best students attending other schools and to lose the associated funding. And as the parent of children who attend and have attended schools with Tinsley kids, I don't see a lot of integration occurring, despite the best efforts of many people (including parents who go to East Palo Alto/Menlo Park to pick up and return kids for sports practices, Scouts, etc). Almost without exception, the Tinsley students do not seem to take advantage of the presumably superior academic offerings and my anecdotal observation is that most do not graduate from high school.

It may not be politically correct to say so, but Tinsley is an expensive experiment that no longer seems to be paying off. Sounds as though all affected districts might be better off if Tinsley were set aside.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

I have very little to add here apart from some personal anecdotal information.

The families who apply for Tinsley and do not get in often move into Palo Alto to get into the schools. I know of one family who lived in EPA in a rented 3 bedroom house and moved into a 2 bedroom apartment in Palo Alto when they did not get in and this family tells me it is a common practice.

Many of the EPA Tinsley families are so motivated for their kids that they go over and above some of the local families when it comes to sharing in the classrooms. This is a bonus for our kids.

I know of one family who own a home in a gated EPA privately owned community. They work in Palo Alto with good incomes and choose to live where they do because they can afford a nicer home than they would in Palo Alto. They applied to Tinsley and got in, but if they had not got in, they would have gone Private!!

I feel sure that there are myriad other stories of families that do not fit the perceived typical EPA residents.


Posted by Garry, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2009 at 11:50 am

I presume that educational outcomes have improved for the kids involved in Tinsley over the years. But has anybody ever studied and quantified this presumption?


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:27 pm

> But how do you measure the societal/financial, perhaps mostly
> subjective, benefits of the program for the region and the
> state at-large?

Standardized tests (STAR) provide a lot of insight into how effective an education program (school system) might be. While the PAUSD has been very guarded over the years about how the Tinsley transfers are doing academically, the State's DoE web-site provides a breakdown by demographics for each of the tests administered by the State. There is well-established data that Whites and Asians post the highest scores, which Blacks and Hispanics post low scores. The test data here in Palo Alto reflects that there is a more-or-less "underclass" of students that are Black and Hispanic that test 15%-30% below the rest of the students. By comparing the demographics of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, one comes to a strong suspicion that these "underperforming" come from EPA.

If the Palo Alto "experience" was so good, then these students should test about the same as their Palo Alto/Los Altos Hills/Stanford classmates. But they don't. So .. some "data" is available to attempt to answer the question above.

Since schools do little to follow their students after graduation, it's almost impossible to consider the value of going to school in Palo Alto and testing in the bottom one-third of the class.


Posted by Parent who pays PA mortgage so we can be in PAUSD, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

EPA/Menlo Park are in San Mateo which should educate them, not Santa Clara County.

I know of some really nice kids from the Tinsley program but there are too many loopholes. I know of a family who has a child who appears Caucasian but the dad is half Hispanic (appears Caucasian) and the wife is Caucasian. The parents have advanced degrees yet they live in EPA because they cannot afford Palo Alto. This family is not disadvantaged per the the intentions of Tinsley (minority, poor) yet their children were accepted through the Tinsley program and the children attend elementary and high school in Palo Alto.

Who checks the ethic background of Tinsley applicants? Can a person simply have a Hispanic name and qualify? There could be a lot of deception going on.

Many (not all) of the Tinsley children struggle with the PAUSD curriculum beginning in middle school. Tinsley may help some students, but it more of a disservice to our community than a service to help minority/poor families.

PAUSD is overcrowded. Tinsley is outdated.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm

The Tinsley school districts themselves proposed an agreement to avoid loosing in court once more (they were down to their last appeal).

It is a pity that there isn't any curiosity on how this came about and what the agreement entails. Many of the comments refer to pedestrian, uneducated and lay interpretations that have not much to do with the legalities involved in the VTP.

The Tinsley transfer program is a Court approved settlement, NOT a court order. The parties* ( school districts and the plaintiff, Margaret Tinsley) agreed to end the lawsuit with this settlement.

A settlement is essentially a contract and the Tinsley doesn't have an end date. All parties have to denounce it in order to put an end to it or under if certain conditions were present when it was signed it is valid and enforceable.

The settlement provides for an end to the VTP ONLY when the defendant school districts become integrated. It doesn't matter what happen in East Palo Alto. According to the agreement it matters ONLY what happens in the defendants' school districts (they have to become integrated and they aren't)

I supported the transfer of the Willows' students (in Menlo Park) from the Ravenswood School district to the Menlo Park school district. I was then living in the Willows and both Ravenswood and Menlo Park school districts had to let us go and let us in, respectively.
We had to go to ballot and vote. My oldest child was one of a first batch of students bused from the Willows to the Oak Knoll school .

This was a very different process and completely separated from the Tinsley suit . But it just to shows that there were many ways to execute a student transfer.

The Tinsley settlement is not easily overturned and in my opinion shouldn't be.

It is doubtful that all signatories and the court that approved the settlement can be shown to have been impaired when it was signed.

As we fulfill our long-term obligations we have to bear in mind that this agreement (again, proposed by the defendants, not the plaintiff), like many others has had and will have long last implications.

This isn't about a transfer program - it has always been about WHO can attend the schools. I don't believe that it will be ultimately overturned, but instead we will revisit a version of Tinsley once more. Menlo Park school board should be very very careful what they ask for- they may get it and be stuck with the bill.

As a Menlo park resident I oppose the action Menlo Park S D and would like them to listen to Mr. Box. Also, it would be good if board members and Mr. Ranella look at the agreement entirely, instead of inflaming an issue that has been brought about in part through Menlo Park actions allowing too much housing to be built without pairing that action with correspondent infrastructure and long term funds to fulfill fiduciary obligations such as schooling... East Palo Alto cannot be blamed for that.


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2009 at 1:47 pm

> As we fulfill our long-term obligations we have to bear in mind
> that this agreement (again, proposed by the defendants, not
> the plaintiff), like many others has had and will have long
> last implications. At some point, the individual

At that is the problem. The fact that an individual, living in one county, can claim that the taxpayers of another county have the obligations to educate their children, perhaps into perpetuity, is the basis for people's objections to the Tinsley Consent Decree.

Since the claim that this transfer program is a "contract" .. then it should terminate when the individual dies, not linger on for thousands of years because "the Court says so". Who will be a party to "repudiate" the agreement once the plaintiff has passed away?

What is true is that the PAUSD gave up fighting the case. It caved in. The people elected to protect the School District (the Board of Trustees) decided not to uphold the expectations of the voters to follow the law, failed in those roles.

And .. their failure will affect the finances of the PAUSD for a long, long time .. whether this be a "pedestrian" point-of-view, or not!


Posted by mom x 4, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm

There are good reasons for retaining Tinsley and for trying to end it. It is informative to read the arguments on both sides.

What I find disturbing are the posts from a few Palo Altans who believe that Tinsley should remain in force but that their district should be exempt, even though it is arguably closer to East Palo Alto than any of the six other districts. The fact that Ravenswood is in a different county is markedly irrelevant, but your insistence on inserting this red herring into the discussion just screams bigotry.


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

> The fact that Ravenswood is in a different county is markedly
> irrelevant, but your insistence on inserting this red herring
> into the discussion just screams bigotry.

It really never takes long for the "racism card" to be played in this group. Counties turn out to be the building block of the American governmental system. In fact, counties came into existence during the early colonial system--long before the States obtained their freedom from England, and their political identities and sovereignties.

Anyone who knows anything about California government knows that there are certain "walls" you run into when you cross country borders. Like it or not--Counties do matter in every aspect of our lives.

Rather than showing "bigotry" .. making that point shows a keen knowledge of California political and governing principles.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm

The problem with the Tinsley program is that it is using locally generated tax dollars and giving that money away to people who don't pay a dime to fund (via taxes) the schools they are attending. And since the participants are coming from EPA/San Mateo Co, whatever tax dollars they do pay for education goes to SMCo BoE - nothing to PAUSD or SCCo BoE.

Further, the cost per Tinsley student is actually higher than the average PAUSD student cost when you add in the extra benefits of free transportation (K-8), in-school meals, after school supervision, etc. In the meantime, our own local students don't receive the same free benefits - such as bus transportation.

Frankly, if the Tinsley participants were to pay their fair share of PAUSD annual per student costs, then I'd have no issues with the program at all.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Again Wallace,

You have any right to terminate a settlement because the conditions have changed unless that change is contemplated in the settlement. Even if some arguments on this matter were to be right in some form or for some reason, those arguments should have been made when the settlement occurred, not years after. The "oops. I shouldn't have signed that" school of thought ignores what a contract settlement is.

Wallace says:
"Since the claim that this transfer program is a "contract" .. then it should terminate when the individual dies, not linger on for thousands of years because "the Court says so".

HOW MANY TIMES IS it necessary to point out that this was NOT a "Court say so". The Court was limited to approving the settlement proposed by the DEFENDANTS. But this settlement is NOT a court mandate. That is exactly the problem for the proponents of its termination. They cannot ask a court to change a mandate because it's not a mandate. It's an agreement and doesn't have an end date. So, please stop saying things that do not apply here.

Wallace says:
"Who will be a party to "repudiate" the agreement once the plaintiff has passed away?""

Margaret Tinsley (whose children were too old to benefit from the settlement) was the plantif in the name of others., collective persons. Legally, you always need someone to be named and so Margaret agreed to this. But the settlement has nothing to do with any one person. It is the school districts that are involved and those don't die.

As it is legal, the legal representatives of the defendant districts proposed and signed the settlement- it is BIDING on the districts, not individuals.

The "why should I " crowd isn't reasoning well on this. Maybe they are right, maybe not, but time for this discussion is gone. It was a discussion Before, not After the settlement.
After the settlement there is no discussion. It's signed. The provisions of which are to be abided by , just as in any settlement. If you sell me your house and after the signing of the papers and deed you tell me " I want it back-my conditions have changed and I need you to give me the house back". What do you think I would say?
it is done.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

According to the Menlo Park Mr. Ranella, a district does not have to add facilities or drop any element of its curriculum as a result of enrolling Tinsley students. If this is true, then there really is grounds to end the settlement or at least suspend it.

Adding these students back into the Ravenswood District sounds like it would actually benefit both Ravenswood (additional funding, plus a group of parents who are serious about education) and the school districts these children are sent to.


Posted by old skool, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm

The fact that Ravenswood is in a different county is markedly


> irrelevant, but your insistence on inserting this red herring


> into the discussion just screams bigotry.




It really never takes long for the "racism card" to be played in this group. Counties turn out to be the building block of the American governmental system. In fact, counties came into existence during the early colonial system--long before the States obtained their freedom from England, and their political identities and sovereignties.




Anyone who knows anything about California government knows that there are certain "walls" you run into when you cross country borders. Like it or not--Counties do matter in every aspect of our lives.




Rather than showing "bigotry" .. making that point shows a keen knowledge of California political and governing principles.
--------------------------------------------

It in fact goes back much farther than that, right to the dark ages Merovingian times. Also in use by Saxon and viking pre Norman. Scīrgerefa, scīr beind the county or shire, gerefa being the high official or Sheriff/sher/shire, riff/refa or reeve. There were battles over these shires and that was adressed in the Magna Carta. This system followed the colonialists to the english colonies in the present US with a new twist that the Sheriff would be elected. (some are elected some are appointed depending on location or colony). This was an almost peculiar developement, and still fairly unique in the world. The great majority of states and counties adopted elected sheriffs into their constituions.
So denying home rule and calling it a red herring is just another attempt to perpetuate theft and further destroy western civilization, which is what it's really all about anyway. The system that created upward mobility must be dismantled even if it has proven to be the most effective distributor of wealth in the world. Is Palo Alto an elitist enclave? probably yes, at least in some aspects. But by and large it's an acheivement based elitism, not a preordained one. Punishing achievement based elitism is just another tool in the trickbag of monpolistic globalism. Which is why Tinsley will be staying.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I did some research. PAUSD receives 70% of the state per student funding (which was $120/day...$84/day before budget cuts). I don't think it is unreasonable to require the Tinsley participants to pay the difference between the approx. $84/day and the actual costs of hosting a Tinsley student at PAUSD.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm

No Palo alto Mom, no again

The settlement will end ONLY when the defendant school districts are integrated*. That IS the clause for termination. The agreement stands in perpetuity (when you meet the signatories and their lawyers ask them why it is so, and then tell us).

No settlement can be changed unilaterally, which seems to be what Menlo Park wants. Also, the settlement has no provision that would require payment of any fees.
PLEASE READ THE SETTLEMENT instead of airing opinions that have NOTHING to do with it.

I understand that you are wishfully thinking. But it won't help at all.

* of course, the defendant districts can argue that in court...but that seems to be it.


Posted by 15k/yr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm

In my immediate neighborhood, I know of 4 families (with children) that rent homes that are taxed at less than $2000/year. Given the abundance of Palo Alto children that live in rental apartments, rental homes, or homes purchased by their grandparents, I would be very surprised if less than 30% of Palo Alto school children live in properties that are being taxed a property valuation of more than 30% of market value. Compared to these inequities posed by this situation, the funds received for the Tinsley students is a gift.

As for modifying the Tinsley settlement, it's not going to happen. Legal settlements usually cannot be modified unless all the parties agree; otherwise you are just wasting your money on lawyers.


Posted by Wallace, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:12 pm

> Is Palo Alto an elitist enclave

About 50% of Palo Alto rents, and 15%-30% are seniors, who may be well off--but many claim not to be every time the utility bills go up.

According to the Y2K Census, about 20% made more than $200K. We'll have to wait to see what the 2010 Census says about our current make up, relative to wealth. The basic data suggests that PA is not an "elitist enclave"-- like Black Hawk, or similar communities. It is a place where a lot of hard workers choose to live, however.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:12 pm

let me address briefly Mr. Ranella's belief that it would be legal to suspend VTP.
There is nothing legal or illegal about the proposed suspension. What there is proposed breach of the settlement agreement as a civil matter.
Mr. Ranella believes that the court order says that a district does not have to add facilities or drop any element of its curriculum as a result of enrolling Tinsley students.
That was true when the settlement was signed. And indeed MP didn't have to have to add facilities or drop any element of its curriculum as a result of enrolling Tinsley students. If it has to do it now it's not because of Tinsley students. It is because the city of Menlo Park added too much housing and therefore had an increase in the number of its OWN students. The number of students from the VPT remains constant. They are not the cause of fewer resources. The lack of vision of the consequences of overbuilding has caught up with the school district whether VTP continues or not.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2009 at 7:25 pm


It would be useful to have an evidence based analysis about this matter
How many Tinsley students graduate?
What is the income level of their parents?
How many graduate from college in 4 years?
Why is EPA not providing K-12 education despite the massive efforts of Stanford,the 49ns, Cisco and many others to make this happen?
We in PA seem to be enabling a dysfunctional situation in EPA


Posted by David, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Is there a criteria for successful completion of the entire Tinsley program?

I'm actually surprised that the number of Tinsley students going into the Menlo Park School District is as low as twenty-four. But I'm equally surprised that in twenty-three years, a community has not been able to accommodate and entice the families of twenty-four of its children. Do the advocates of the Tinsley program have a plan for successful completion?

While other commenters are talking a lot about the cultural make-up of EPA then and now, the cultural make-up of Palo Alto now is equally as important. My children go to Palo Alto public schools that are culturally diverse even without Tinsley students. Therefore, this is no longer an issue of introducing mono-cultural Palo Alto children to children of other cultures. The program now is just a redistribution of financial resources.


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm

"EPA/Menlo Park are in San Mateo which should educate them, not Santa Clara County." It was this kind of racist thinking that got Palo Alto involved in the first place. Palo Alto was included in the Tinsley case because we were the closest white School District to Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto not because we were in Santa Clara County.

As other postings have pointed out Tinsley will be almost impossible to overturn because it will required all seven School Districts to agree including Ravenswood.


Posted by mom x 4, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Thank you, Grandma. I fully understand and appreciate the value of the county as a unit of governance. But Palo Alto was in a different county 30 years ago, and the reason it was included in Tinsley was its proximity to Ravenswood. Those of you who choose to ignore that fact and point to invisible lines may not consider yourselves to be racist, but that's sure how you sound. And Palo Altans live up to your elitist stereotypes with the snarky comments about families renting apartments for relatively modest amounts.

Menlo Park, unlike Palo Alto, has developed almost no new housing. The increase in student population appears to be a result of two factors. Most significantly, the people who bought homes in Menlo Park and Atherton in the 1950s and 1960s are now selling their homes, and families with young children are moving in. The other contributor has been the economic downturn that has motivated families to move their children from private or parochial schools to our excellent public schools. Unlike Palo Alto, we don't have a Garland-like campus that would allow us to expand easily.

Given that many of the parties, including Ravenswood, are beginning to understand that Tinsley may no longer be the optimal solution for school problems, overturning the program may not be as impossible as some seem to think. It's hard for me to imagine that in 100 years, kids will still be riding buses from EPA to neighboring cities. At some point, it's going to end. May not happen this year, but I suspect it will be sooner rather than later.


Posted by Parent who pay PA mortgage so we can be in PAUSD, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 18, 2009 at 12:14 am

Well, it's about time the race card was posted. Grandma has two grandkids who are African-American and she has called people racist in the past. This is not a discussion about racism and should not digress to that level.

Fact is, Tinsley students cannot keep up with the other students when they are in middle school and above. My son won't work on projects with Tinsley students anymore because they don't help out on the projects and they refuse to meet after school, citing that they need to take the bus home. Or, if he wants to do the project by himself and have total control, he pairs up with a Tinsley student. My point is that it is a disservice to PAUSD children to have other children who do not take academics seriously, whatever their ethnic background.

And everyone who has children at the secondary level knows that parents need to oftentimes help their children with homework when they have questions. Many of the Tinsley students have parents who do not have the educational backgrounds to help them.

So before people call me a racist, let me say that I would have no problem with Tinsley students if they could keep up with the others students academically and in behavior. Because there are behavioral problems too.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2009 at 2:43 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Tinsley is unconstitutional on the face of it because it, like the KKK, agrees that a government is allowed to determine how the law reacts to someone based on that person's color. it is fatuous to suggest that unequal treatment that benefits is O.K. It is indeed the soft bigotry of lower expectations. Black and Latino academic performance deficits are primarily cultural, and yet we can't touch that because "all cultures are equal".
Please do not think that, because I am critical of a program that is sacrosanct to liberals, I bear liberals malice; - Some of my best friends are liberals.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2009 at 6:44 am

Parent who pay PA mortgage*, as I read you, your child seems to be the one who needs help.

I have met EPA students at every level ( at close at Jordan M. S.) and they are every bit as studious as others. Actually more, in general, because of the extra effort and difficulties they have to get to and from school and keep at it even if, as you say their parents can't help them and classmates flatly refuse to work with them. They don't deserve the contempt you display. You don't even know them personally you are already ready for an attitude that's really disgusting and biased towards them all. You are a poster child for the continuation of the VTP. Palo Alto, as I can see from your post, has not become integrated.

* maybe you don't realize that you don't pay enough to cover your child's tuition and you are the ungrateful recipient of a bounty -taxes and mortgage deduction-from the rest of us.



Posted by mom x 4, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 8:35 am

The Tinsley students do not deserve contempt, but my own observation, having known a few of them very well, driven them everywhere (because their parents couldn't or wouldn't), bought them food and sports equipment, and generally done everything possible to support them, is that by middle school they generally succumb to what appear to be exogenous pressures. With few exceptions, they start acting out, they steal from their classmates, and they don't do the work. Middle school is tough for everyone, and I can't even imagine how miserable the experience must be for these children. In high school, most of them disappear. The majority aren't on the honors track, and when I ask my daughter about the whereabouts of the girls we knew the best, she has no answers.

Mark Box says that we have a commitment to increase diversity in the schools. Well, yeah, and I guess that's why so many of the parents in the MPCSD (and remember, we are much smaller than PA with only three elementary schools) have gone above and beyond to support the Tinsley students. But the overriding consideration must be whether or not this arrangement is working for them. The program has been in existence for, what, 25 years now? Where are the Tinsley alums on this board? I would love to hear their assessment.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2009 at 9:24 am

Just because Tinsley students appear to disappear doesn't necessarily mean that they failed. I know of two incidents from elementary school where 2 separate families, one family having had 2 kids in elementary school here and the other 1 child, where the families decided to move out of the Bay Area altogether and move where housing was cheaper into smaller towns where the parents were able to get reasonable jobs and live in a safe environment. In one of these cases, the kid stayed in touch with mine by email for a while, and attended school and did well. The parents worked hard and were determined to do something positive for their kids and they felt that moving out of EPA was the best thing for their family.

Whether these 2 families would have made the same decisions if they had not got into Tinsley is of course unknown, but by mixing with the kids of Palo Alto the whole family benefitted and made a move to benefit themselves. Was this due to Tinsley, who knows?

I am not using this as an example of why Tinsley should continue or be dissolved, but in my opinion there is no such thing as a typical Tinsley family and it is not a good idea to generalise and say that because they do not stay in PAUSD until graduation that they have failed.

The more we get to know the Tinsley families (which I agree is difficult) the more we get to understand where they are coming from and why they make some of their decisions. Usually, if a family decides to enter the Tinsley lottery it shows that they are the type of people who are going to do the best for their families. It may mean that at some stage this means doing something we are not aware of.


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2009 at 1:21 pm

"Well, it's about time the race card was posted. Grandma has two grandkids who are African-American" Wow! to correct the facts, I have one grandchild and another on the way. When I last looked my grandson looked very Irish to me!!!

However, I was very much involved with the School District when Tinsley was being debated. At the time we were all very aware that this was about race and desegregating the schools of the mid-peninsula.

As desegregation with forced busing orders were being enforced throughout the country; the predominantly white school districts of the mid-peninsula were under enormous pressure to integrate with the Ravenswood School District and Tinsley was the vehicle used to accomplish this. So, yes it was very definitely about race.


Posted by Tinsley Grandma, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

It is sad that in 2009, we continue to have individuals with negative attitudes regarding the Tinsley Program, but what is worst is the attitude towards children.

My grandson a Tinsley student beginning in grade 2 and finishing with his graduation from grade 8, oh did I mention he was also a special needs student. He benefited from the program with the assistance of his family seeing that his needs were met and the benefits guaranteed through state & federal laws were administered. Now at a private high school he is very capable of doing the work, having made the honor roll each quarter.

Would he have succeeded at Ravenswood we do not know, but because of the benefits of the Tinsley Program, we know he can compete with children from communities outside of East Palo Alto having finish as one of the top achievers graduating.



Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Tinsley started with a group of Atherton residents who where shocked at the deliberate way school districts and towns had organized themselves to exclude children of color. The The school districts* as we know them, and the towns, as we know them nowadays, have been around only a few decades. Tinsley, well documented in "The conscience of a community", a document written by an Atherton resident, is the product of that deliberate and ilegal exclusion with overtones of Jim Crow, That is why the defendant districts were sued and they proposed the settlement because they knew they had a losing battle- their efforts to exclude people of color were well known and documented.

The result is an enforceable agreement. Maybe with room for discussion, maybe not at all. Ever wondered why the other school districts are not eager to join Menlo Park?

* Why is it called Palo Alto UNIFIED school district? Where does the Unified come from?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Why does Sequoia Union High School District use "union"? Why does Fremont Union HS District use "union"? Why does Los Gatos Union School District use "union"? Why does Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District use "union"? Why does San Mateo Union HS District use "union"?

Do you really need to ask that question? Or are you trying to stir something up that doesn't exist?

PAUSD was established in 1893. It covered the towns of Palo Alto, Mayfield and some unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County (including Los Altos and Mountain View at the turn of the Century - both in Santa Clara County). As per earlier discussions - school districts typically operate within a specific county or city. It is very rare that a school district operates in more than one county - as there are oversight issues for the county board of education.

Did you know that residents of Los Altos and Mountain View attended Palo Alto HS at one time? My grandfather moved to Los Altos from San Francisco a year after the great quake. While living in what was "rural" Los Altos, he went to Paly and graduated in 1918.

Now do you understand the meaning of "union" or "unified"?

And to answer your baiting question - EPA did not exist in 1893. And as EPA established itself as an area in *unicorporated* *San* *Mateo* *County*, the school district story falls on the San Mateo Co. school districts.

Don't try to pull PAUSD into the undercurrent that you are implying.

School districts have been closely tied to county governments and oversight for 100's of years. EPA is part of San Mateo County. Move on.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Unified just means that the elementary and high school districts are combined into one. Most districts have separate districts, one K-8, and on high school district. Palo Alto's is unified.

As for the Tinsley kids, the data I have seen in the past (can't seem to find it right now) indicated that their achievement level fell about midway between the EPA non-Tinsley kids and the Palo Alto kids. Whether the improvement over the non-Tinsley kids can be attributed to better schools in Palo Alto, or to the fact that they have motivated parents who were willing to go the extra mile to get them into Palo Alto schools, I can't say. But it looks like it is beneficial to those kids to be in PAUSD.

As for the Palo Alto kids, I think it does them no harm to have to interact with kids who are not like themselves. Whenever one of my own kids complained that a Tinsley project partner wasn't pulling his or her load, I would remind my kid that perhaps their home life made it harder for them to do the work. There's the time it takes to ride the bus, the necessity some of these kids have of child care for a younger sibling or cooking for the family. Plus maybe they don't have a quiet place to work, or all the necessary poster board/markers/glue sticks whatever. I try to encourage empathy in my kids, and have them recognize that they live in a very privileged bubble, and they should appreciate their own opportunities and not bellyache that another student is getting away with less work.

I happen to agree with the basis of Tinsley, that it's unfair that educational quality should be proportional to affluence. The Palo Alto kids get not only the advantage of educated parents and a better homework environment, but also better school facilities and higher paid teachers. Tinsley doesn't solve all of this by an extremely long shot, but at least it's helping some kids.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:49 pm

toi Crescent Park Dad: Union and Unified are entirely different. As I stated above, unified means elementary and high school districts rolled into one. Union means the district is made up of more than one city. Entirely different concepts.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Correction - EPA did exist in the 1800's. But it wasn't a town called EPA at the time. There were some farms out there and a brick factory. According to Wikipedia (I know - not the most reliable source for information), African Americans did not start moving to EPA until after WWII. And that was only because the Japanese Americans who owned the farms in that area were forced to give up their land because they were shipped out to the infamous WWII internment camps.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Not quite. Los Gatos Union School District covers only schools in the town of Los Gatos...

I would suggest that "union" or "unified" are interchangeable terms when it comes to school district naming concepts.

No conspiracy...


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I meant to say LGUSD - only covers Elementary Schools and one Middle School.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2009 at 5:03 pm

what a silly rant, Crescent Park Dad. Why did you feel compelled to answer what was a trivia question?


Posted by another parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm

*sigh* I usually don't get into pissing contests, but according to wikipedia (I know,not always totally reliable, but a pretty good source): A union school district or union high school district in California state law is a school district that has been formed by the consolidation of "two or more school districts situated in the same county"[1]. A Joint union school district is similar, but the component districts are "situated wholly or in part in different counties"[2]. Union school districts are distinct from unified school districts in that union districts do not necessarily have both primary and secondary components, whereas a unified district by definition has both.


Posted by parent, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm

A bit of history folks....African Americans began moving to what is now EPA in numbers after WWII precisely because it was the only area that did not have restrictive covenants preventing blacks from buying property.

Most anyone whose home was built in Palo Alto prior to WWII should look at the original property deed...many will have an amendment to the deed post 1960 or so removing the restrictive covenant preventing blacks from purchasing the property.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2009 at 7:07 pm

The same old property deeds excluded Chinese and Asians

Look at Palo Alto now and particularly Gunn HS

Tinsley is way over its sell date in our view


Posted by demoagogues run amok, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 18, 2009 at 8:22 pm

This is just a simple mismanagement of MP district enrollment and space optimization by a facilities wonk superintendant, desperate for validation with a clueless board. He finally sees the tsunami of enrollment increases that long time MP residents/taxpayers, but chose to play to the MPAEF power centers with grossly exagerated facility enhancements ($100 million and counting) at the expense of maintaining future reasonable class sizes. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] They may have first class facilities coming on line, but they can't even hire music teachers!!! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2009 at 10:52 am

Please remember when you are formulating your arguement or comments that Belle Haven is Menlo Park. So the Tinsley agreement applies to Menlo Park students in teh Ravenswood School District, not just EPA students.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

Really ugly discussion...lots of circular rigamarole to disguise the main point. You are all saying "we don't want those kids here" "those kids are lowering our scores"

What a community. Merry Christmas.


Posted by pleb, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm

No, neighbor, what they are saying is: "We don't want our kids pushed from our neighborhood schools for those kids". Though, what they are probably really saying is: "We don't want to pay for those kid's education". With the first comment a thin excuse for the second.


Posted by mom x 4, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I have not heard anyone in the MPCSD object to paying for the Tinsley students or suggesting that they somehow don't belong in our schools. Most of us appreciate the fact that Tinsley kids add diversity to the classroom (even if the "integration" aspect of Tinsley doesn't always seem to work so well.)

Nobody is getting pushed from neighborhood schools. We don't do that in Menlo Park. Ultimately, we will probably just squeeze more kids into each classroom, possibly losing funding by doing so (exceeding the state maximums), resort to split shifts, or maybe run the schools year round. And whatever sacrifices our kids make, the Tinsley studets will also make.

The level of bigotry I see among the Palo Altans posting here is just astounding. Makes me so glad I moved to Menlo Park before my kids started school.

It would be nice if some more energy could be spent on figuring out how to help Ravenswood retain students. Now that they have shed their corrupt management, they seem willing and eager to improve their academic standing. It is a win-win for everyone if they succeed.


Posted by perspective, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Writeup: Web Link


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Reality check for Wallace: while there is some gentrification in EPA, it's been hard hit by the economic downturn. Churches and community organizations work very hard to bridge the gaps left in municipal services. EPA will be a community of color for a long time.

One of the main differences I see here in the last few years is moer of a commitment to our youth, more understanding and awareness of the issues they face and more of an overall community commitment to support them in developing into productive, educated, cared-for people. These are daily efforts, even though we all know we can't fully make up for what their parents & schools don't provide. However, EPA does now have some excellent schools, but we need ALL the schools to be excellent.

Sharon, when you talk about Tinsley, please remember it applies to EPA AND the Belle Haven area, so it's not just EPA.

It would help all of us with an interest in this topic to read up on the agreement so that we understand the details.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm

A good question would be is the Tinsley program helping or harming the Ravenswood students as a group. I don't have an answer - but someone on the Menlo Park Forum suggested absorbing the whole district into Menlo Parks school district. Would that be a better solution?

BTW - I truly don't think parents "don't want those kids here" or worry about lowering a schools test scores. I do think parents are upset when neighborhood kids get overflowed across town to another school. (Siblings and Tinsley transfer students get a priority over neighborhood kids). Parents are also concerned about the school district's deficit, which is worsened by overenrollment.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm

So is the total number of Tinsley students 24, dispered throughout several cities? If so, it doesn't seem like it would have a huge impact on any 1 school, unless the majority of the Tinsley students chose 1 school over the others.

I recall Tinsley students when I was in school in PA and it wasn't a big deal.

I am pretty skeptical about the mix of real reasons behind this current issue. I believe there are PLENTY of parents worried about lower tests scores, just as there are plenty of parents not worried about it. Mixed bag, all around, but still, my skepticism as to what's real about changing Tinsley and what's being lied about persists. I'm white, no kids, so my stake in the matter is as a taxpayer and resident.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:17 pm

There are about 560 Voluntary Transfer (Tinsley Program) students just in PAUSD - the equivalent of a whole elementary school.


Posted by narnia, a resident of another community
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:37 am

As a mom who was part of the Willows area transfer from Ravenswood School district to Menlo Park and whose child was bused to Oak Knoll I think that an integrated district is the best solution. Menlo Park accepted the Willows, why not others? Don't the Willows kids fill up the schools too?

Of course, integration might not be the intended result Mr. Ranella and the Board of Ed had in mind.
That's one of the reasons why I said in a previous post to be very careful what you ask for...


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:34 am

"I do think parents are upset when neighborhood kids get overflowed across town to another school." Don't blame the Tinsley kids for this, educating overflow students across town happened long before the Tinsley students were part of the PAUSD.

So long as parents and teachers insist on having a set number of students per class "say 20" there are always going to be overflows. If parents and teachers were more flexible and accepted larger and differing numbers per class the kids could stay in their neighborhood schools.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:53 am

Grandma - class size flexibility (which we already have) helps, but this is not always a situation where we need to add a child or two to per classroom. Some of the north elementary schools have had enough extra kinders to add a WHOLE class.


Posted by Lucy, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 1, 2010 at 3:13 am

Could it be that some of the Tinsley students don't perform as well as they could in school because of lower expectations of some teachers, counselors and other students? I noticed when my daughter was in elementary school that some of the teachers didn't seem to expect as much of them as of the P.A. children, and most were already falling behind by the second grade. (In the case of some students who started school not knowing English, the situation was more complicated.) Now that she's in high school I've been told that most of these same students identify as "ghetto"(what a surprise!) and aren't doing very well in school. It seems likely that as long as these students feel like outsiders who are supposed to feel fortunate that they are allowed to study in P.A., they will continue to underperform, with some exceptions. A lot of the problem after elementary school seems related to identity and the feeling of being marginalized.


Posted by Don't hold EPA back!, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 1, 2010 at 6:43 am

I wasn't shocked to find the "race card" ( yawn) thrown down in a discussion of rightful place of local government over local childrens' education, and whether or not it is right, just, Constitutional and, frankly, American, to determine anything on the basis of color.

Bottom line, should local governments take care of their own kids, or not? Should neighboring govts be responsible for neighbors' kids?

And, lastly, the unintended consequences of our kind "liberal" policies have been completely ignored in this discussion. Please note the number of kids lost from EPA to neighborhing communities, lost kids which odrain the EPA budget (from our wealth distributive model of student reimbursement whereby someone in Manteca supplements a student in EPA, for example). EPA wants the students back..that is fine. It is time to let EPA finish growing up. That would be the kindest thing to do in the long run, same as our kids. Let everyone grow up and be independent.


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