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All but one Palo Alto 'Tinsley kids' off to college

Original post made on Dec 22, 2009

Of the 22 "Tinsley kids" who graduated from Gunn and Palo Alto high schools in June, 21 reported plans to go on to college, according to Palo Alto Unified School District officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 2:25 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by Spec-you-la-tor, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I'd like to congratulate all of the VTP participants who graduated last June. Having gone to Palo Alto schools myself, I know that graduating from PAUSD is no simple task. I also know that a lot of VTP students who begin in PAUSD do not graduate from PAUSD. In the late 90s/early 2000s, a considerable amount of VTP students ended up going to continuation school in Mountain View at Alta Vista.

According to this article, PAUSD enrolls 60 VTP students per year, and nearly two-thirds of the VTP students who enter PAUSD do not graduate from Palo Alto schools. Of course, many of those students move away or transfer districts by the time they reach twelfth grade. I wonder how many VTP participants drop out. Assuming that 20 students move away, we could only say that 22 of 40 (55%) Palo Alto VTP students graduate from high school, which, unfortunately, is higher than the normal high school graduation rate of East Palo Alto (approx. 35%). Regardless, a 55% graduation rate is nothing to boast about; particularly when considering the normal PAUSD graduation rate.

If a significant amount of Palo Alto VTP students who don't graduate from PAUSD are STILL being expelled and/or sent to continuation school, which I'm guessing there is, PAUSD and the VTP program STILL need to assess and improve their approaches toward educating students from East Palo Alto.

"Goals of the program are to reduce the racial isolation of students of color in the Palo Alto, Ravenswood and other San Mateo County school districts; improve educational achievement of Ravenswood students and enhance inter-district cooperation." These efforts need go far beyond merely opening doors.


Posted by mmm, a resident of Gunn High School
on Dec 22, 2009 at 7:56 pm

well excuse me. I rode to Gunn almost everyday, and to JLS and to my middle school.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

What would be interesting to know is at what stage the attrition occurs. If the kids are dropping out in high school then that would mean that the program is not working. If however the attrition is in middle or even elementary, then families moving for all sorts of reasons may be the reason. As the article states, that if a VTP family moves to Palo Alto, then the kids are still here in the schools but not counted as VTP. The fact that a family is in VTP may be the contributing factor to why the family wants to move into Palo Alto, the idea being that the benefits of PAUSD do not only benefit the child, but gives the whole family a desire to do something better for themselves and moving to Palo Alto may be a good start.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2009 at 12:28 am

By comparison, 11 of 20 kids from my daughter's kindergarten class are still in PAUSD in 11th grade - so 45% are not. All but one were gone by 5th grade. I don't think there were any VTP kids in the kinder class, but I could be mistaken. People move, especially those living in apartments and renting houses.

Good job PAUSD!!




Posted by D. Merrow, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 23, 2009 at 7:12 am

I have had kids in the district since 1968, grandkids there after. In 23 years I have never known of, nor have my kids, or grandkids, any friends or families that have moved from EPA to PA. Data? I think that this is an excuse. The people who are in charge need to take a long hard look at what happens in High School in PAUSD, in particular. It's hard enough for white middle class kids to survive the PAUSD high school environment. Why would it be any more doable for kids that don't have the same advantages, advocates? I've seen the extraordinary steps taken at some PASUD elementary schools to build community and include all kids in a sense of purpose, and obtain success. Once that connection is gone, and that sense of belonging, there is not much hope in changing the outcomes.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2009 at 8:17 am

If you look at the PAUSD website, it looks like the VTP kids leave between middle and high school. Assuming that some of them fall into the economically disadvantaged group, the percents go from JLS 8%, Terman 6% and Jordan 7% economically disadvantaged to only 5% in both high schools. I wonder if this is partly transportation related, high school students need to find their way to school, the middle and elementary kids take the school bus.

BTW, Jordan does a great job supporting and building community for the VTP families (yeah Mrs. Roach!!)


Posted by Interpreting Data, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 23, 2009 at 9:29 am

Gunn Parent,

Barron Park is not the ideal school for comparisons. It has the most student movement and is known for having a lot of overflow students and for having many ESL students. Certainly, there were VTP student in your daughter's kinder class.

And in the end you write, "Good job, PAUSD!!" I agree, good job, PAUSD. Academics are too rigorous for the less than average Palo Alto student so it's survival of the fittest.


Posted by Gunn parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 23, 2009 at 10:01 am

Although it's true BP elem often has overflow students, in my daughter's kinder class all were "neighborhood" kids. I can tell by the addresses from that original student directory. Because it was a new school & the district hadn't opened a new school in years, VTP kids didn't attend the first year.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Wouldn't the EPA kids go to Menlo-Atherton if they dropped out of the VTP program at high school? Menlo-Atherton's a good high school. Why not, in that case, drop out of the PAUSD VTP to attend Menlo-Atherton, where you'd be closer to home and be in a more ethnically and economically diverse environment?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2009 at 6:03 pm

The EPA high school students go to one of four schools in the Sequoia Union School District depending on where in EPA they live.

And my son's kinder class still has 75% of the kids in the district (he's a senior).


Posted by Most likely..., a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Students who are not economically disadvantaged move into or return to PAUSD for high school... this could also lower the percentages from middle school.



Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 10 hours ago

If you look at the PAUSD website, it looks like the VTP kids leave between middle and high school. Assuming that some of them fall into the economically disadvantaged group, the percents go from JLS 8%, Terman 6% and Jordan 7% economically disadvantaged to only 5% in both high schools. I wonder if this is partly transportation related, high school students need to find their way to school, the middle and elementary kids take the school bus.


Posted by Lynn Ware, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 23, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Congratulations to the kids and this program. Coming from an economically disadvantaged family myself, I know the value of being able to attend a good school and having peers who are going places. It made me feel like I was one of them and today I have a Ph.D. and live in Palo Alto. Hurrah!


Posted by EPA Resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 24, 2009 at 5:12 am

I am surprised that such a blatantly racist program can exist today. I am a white EPA resident and received the Tinsley notice. As the article noted, only "nonwhite" children are eligible to participate. I wonder how the people posting comments here would react if they received a notice saying that their children could participate in a government program only if they were white.

This program appears to be a sop to white guilt in certain communities. It may help a few students, but the appalling graduation rates in EPA certainly show that there is a systemic problem that the Tinsley program is doing nothing to address. Enabling a few lucky children, chosen on the basis of race, to attend a good school district while the rest languish does not sound like a success to me.


Posted by Moira, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2009 at 9:56 am

The social and economic differences become more apparent as time goes on which is why so many Tinsley kids don't continue in the upper grades (yes moving may account for some, but not all) and go to high school with their EPA peers. Also, not having transportation may be a factor (certainly to Gunn). So then the question is how much benefit did they get from being in PA for elementary school? Hard to know without tracking them through high school compared to their peers. I would assume they still do better academically.

I have known many of the Tinsley kids and am glad that my children have had the opportunity to know some black and Latino classmates since PA consists of Caucasian and Asian/Indian students. However, I agree that this small program does nothing to address improving the school system in EPA or to re-open a decent high school there so the students don't have to be sent to several different schools. The program benefits a small group whose parents are motivated to apply and fill out the paperwork.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Tinsley = Crow Jim.


Posted by Ammonium NightRate, a resident of University South
on Dec 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm

"Tinsley = Crow Jim."

Very well phrased. These kids are going to college instead of prison -- a far better outcome for society culturally and economically. Go, Tinsley!!


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 25, 2009 at 4:41 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I excoriated racism not primarily for what it did to blacks, but for what it did to whites who accepted it. I see this same attitude in the not so subtle condescension of those who, nobles oblige' at ready, decide to reward some by bringing them into their circle away from their tawdry existence. The Tinsley diaspora gutted EPA, denying its "beneficiaries" thousands of hours in classrooms and untold more hours of non-academic experience so important to the educational experience.
To deny the racism inherent in Tinsley is to elevate Newspeak to a new height. When you read this print it out because it will disappear down the history hole, like most affronts to the smug hypocrisy of the missionaries.


Posted by Ammonium NightRate, a resident of University South
on Dec 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by HPA, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I am interested in how coming to PAUSD through VTP compares to the new charter school options in EPA? Some of them seem like very fine schools.

Are there any people with experience with both systems that could comment on this?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 28, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I think Beechwood has over 80 percent of their grads going to college (Beechwood is k-8)


Posted by Lisa, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

The Tinsley program is a positive option that should be greatly expanded. If it is true, as the person below mentioned, that only "nonwhite" may apply - that is certainly unfair to those EPA students who are motivated and able to commute to a Palo Alto school.

It would benefit our Palo Alto student body greatly to include more students and families who represent the full economic spectrum, since we increasingly lack true economic diversity on our campuses. It might be educational for our teachers too. Palo Alto schools often lack inclusiveness, sensitivity, and an understanding of the world at large. I have heard shocking racially charged remarks coming from teachers and students. Adding economic, racial and ethnic diversity to our population would certainly improve everyone's perspective.
I had two children graduate from Palo Alto schools, and I grew tired of teachers making assumptions about students' affluence. Making huge financial demands on students in school is another way in we add unnecessary stress to students' lives.In middle school the "class trip" for French, included an expensive trip to France which the parents were supposed simply pay for.Of course only some families decided to go, and the teacher was fine with that = the attitude was they are teaching that "life is not fair." In fact, that could be Palo Alto's motto "We teach that life is not fair."
In high school the first day of school you receive a packet asking for huge donations to a long list of programs. As the year progresses, it is common for teachers to ask that a project be turned in using Power Point, or as a video - on the assumption that students have access to the most current computer hardware and software at home. The graduation party cost $175 for each student, and those who "could not afford it" had to endure the embarrassment of asking for a scholarship. I believe one of the advantages of the Tinsley Act, is that it teaches Palo Alto schools some much-needed lessons about economic realities in public schools.

In response to this comment posted by EPA Resident, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Dec 24, 2009 at 5:12 am

"I am surprised that such a blatantly racist program can exist today. I am a white EPA resident and received the Tinsley notice. As the article noted, only "nonwhite" children are eligible to participate. I wonder how the people posting comments here would react if they received a notice saying that their children could participate in a government program only if they were white.

This program appears to be a sop to white guilt in certain communities. It may help a few students, but the appalling graduation rates in EPA certainly show that there is a systemic problem that the Tinsley program is doing nothing to address. Enabling a few lucky children, chosen on the basis of race, to attend a good school district while the rest languish does not sound like a success to me."


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 1, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Lisa -

I too have been amazed at the assumption by many teachers that their students have unlimited funds and high speed access to the internet, Powerpoint, etc. Some of the project the students need to build require significant investments in materials, etc. I've noticed that Jordan is doing a lot more large project at school, which is great both from a financial standpoint for the students and also because the kids actually do the projects, not the parents.

Our district is actually more financially diverse than people think, even in North Palo Alto. Downtown has many small apartments and some low income housing.

Ravenswood needs more help than Tinsley educating a small number of its students of color. Between Tinsley and the charter schools, many of the parents who could help make the District better are missing from the Ravenswood schools, not to mention the funding they take with them.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Lisa,

Yep, only nonwhites may apply through the Tinsley program. It actually has some pretty nasty ramifications--i.e. it's cheaper to buy in EPA than PA--so if you're not white, you can buy instead of rent and still attend PA schools. I wonder, in fact, if part of the achievement gap is linked to this--whites below a certain economic strata simply can't attend PAUSD schools while nonwhites can.

I don't object to economic or ethnic diversity--however, I do have an issue with bumping kids from neighborhood schools while continuing to admit kids from outside the district. Palo Alto, it should be mentioned, was never part of the original district zoning issue--that was in San Mateo County--not Santa Clara. To some extent, we bear the brunt of misdeeds by other districts--i.e. why was EPA excluded from Menlo Park's school district when it was unincorporated county lands.

PAUSD, as I say, is in another county and had nothing to do with it.

Do we really continue to have room and money for several hundred transfers a year? Under Tinsley, there are 60 kinder spots a year--there are kids who get sent across town to school because of overcrowding, there are multiple campuses originally designed for 300 students that have over 500 kids. Tinsley's just one part of the issue, but it is one.

I also question whether the same issues that Tinsley addressed still apply--PAUSD was pretty lily-white when it went through, but it is far from that now. It only indirectly and inequitably addresses issues of economic disparity.


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