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MI status to change from "pilot" to "ongoing"

Original post made by padad on Nov 5, 2010

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"It is recommended the Board approve the change in status of the dual immersion English/Mandarin program from 'pilot' to 'ongoing' with the placement to remain at the Ohlone Elementary Choice Program School."

Let's hope the new building finishes in time!

Comments (214)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Very interesting, the number of applications is decreasing each year in both English and Mandarin speakers.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Was this already discussed and voted at a school board meeting? Or when will it be discussed? It seems even from this document (put together by the contractor that was hired to develop the program) that the issues that everyone thought would be the case, really are coming to pass - even in this rose colored assessment. (low test scores, and confusion/disagremeent and disatisfaction with materials and methods) These need to be understood by the board and by the community - what are their action plans.

What are the permanent incremental costs to the district when the FLAP grant is gone.

And their enrollment numbers are wrong. The start with 40, they add 22, they lose FOUR in the first two years, that 13% attrition. Then they backfill to keep enrollment full - that's 62 students, not 66. And yes, their lottery list keeps getting smaller. Also as class sizes may increase in older grades - will these class sizes keep equal in class sizes in mainstream classrooms at the older grades- or will this program enjoy special benefit of lower than normal class sizes?

Is it really a surprise that the contractor running the program is recommending it be converted to permanent? Shouldn't there be some independent (non-biased) review of the program before they approve?


Posted by Webster, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 6, 2010 at 4:28 am

"Attrition" is a word borrowed from the business world to refer to a reduction in numbers due to lack of replacement. Demand for PAUSD's alternative programs means students who leave are replaced by students transferring from other schools.

Student movement is a normal fact of life in schools across the country. No one talks about "attrition" when a student transfers out of one school to another, unless overall enrollment is significantly impacted. If you want an example of attrition in PAUSD, take a look at Escondido's English program, which shrinks by a full classroom as each cohort moves from K to 5. This attrition is no surprise because it happens year after year as Stanford student parents finish their education and move away, taking their kiddies with them.




Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

What a shame. This is a racist and discriminatory program and never should have started unless they were also required to have immersion programs for all ethnic groups. It is very bad for our children and sets a precedent of favoritism, elitism, and ethnic differentiation that go against the principles of our country.


Posted by Never-picked, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm

What about the sizable wait list at Ohlone? Who is considering those families? Why should MI get to have those highly coveted spots, when there is nothing inherently Ohlone about MI? If didn't get into Ohlone this year, as I didn't in years past because of a faulty "lottery" process, I would be calling the District right now and finding out when and where they are going to expand that popular program. I hear there are enough people on the waitlist now -- just like when my kids were candidates -- to run a second Ohlone school. Take a page out of the MI book, and start making noise, waitlisters. I wish I would have done that for you and your kids.


Posted by Spanish?, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2010 at 2:09 am

Observer, do you also consider the Spanish Immersion program racist and against the principles of our country? If not, why not?


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2010 at 5:13 am

And what about French language classes? Are they racist?


Posted by 3QFty, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

"Was this already discussed and voted at a school board meeting? Or when will it be discussed?"

No, it will be discussed at the next board meeting.

"the number of applications is decreasing each year in both English and Mandarin speakers."

Not really, the first year was for 2 streams (40 kids). All subsequent years have been for 1 stream (20 kids). So, the first & third years are about the same.

"And what about French language classes? Are they racist?"

What do language classes have to do with an immersion programs?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm

No the numbers are decreasing. The ratio of places to the number of applications may be different but each individual application is made regardless of the number of places available. Therefore it is completely accurate to say that the applications are decreasing in number even if the odds of getting in is about the same.

As for any other language education, true it has nothing to do with immersion. Immersion gives a few lucky elementary students a foreign language education. The rest get nothing.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm

"What do language classes have to do with an immersion programs?"

Are you kidding?


Posted by 3QFty,, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

"Are you kidding?"

No.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I think it's racist to set aside a program just for one group to learn their native tongue. It would be great if all students in our system had the opportunity to learn a second language or their native language, but we have not made this a priority. Instead, only certain groups get this opportunity. The rest are being discriminated against. It's a simple fact.


Posted by Polly, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm

One size doesn't fit all. Not everyone has the same priorities. That's why some parents choose a nearby school and why some parents choose a school that offers a program they value.

It's a shame the district wrings its hands over elementary foreign language every decade, then does nothing other than immersion. Immersion has start-up costs for the first several years, but plain foreign language has forever costs every year.


Posted by Elmo, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 7, 2010 at 6:21 pm

"it's racist to set aside a program just for one group to learn their native tongue"


Sounds racist to me to rail against a third of a class (7 kids) who speak the target language at home. Two-thirds of the class speak English at home. And if you look at the racial/ethnic make-up of immersion students, you'll find that quite a few of kids come from mixed heritages.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2010 at 10:25 pm

3QFTY

QED, then.

Observer,

MI is open to all races, so your argument holds no water. I have to agree that it sounds racist to rail against the Mandarin program.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2010 at 10:33 pm

What's racist is the choice of one language over all the others. Our district is full of kids who would benefit from learning a second language - as I said - their native language, or another of their choosing. Unfortunately, only a few languages have been singled out and the rest are not offered. This is racist. Sorry your political correctness pretensions are causing you to see racism in my opinions when it is actually racist to support something like this.


Posted by Come on, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 7, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Why must we fight?

I mean, come on. The Mandarin immersion program IS a little one-sided, but there's no need to go ballistic over it. I've been back to Ohlone, the beautiful school of my youth, on Halloween... and half of school is torn up. All the rooms are labeled in both Chinese and English. Ohlone is not the school it was. This may not be TERRIBLE, and MI is certainly not the only one at fault for most of the field being unusable, but I'd rather no one have to pay for someone else's child getting special treatment. Ohlone is, after all, a public school. I am assuming that all of you that have commented on this post are out of the PAUSD school district, and therefore you are merely Observers. At this time, the school district is more diverse than it has ever been. I have the PRIVILEGE of going to school with some amazing people from countries I had no idea existed, people who speak English at school, and other languages (Mandarin, for instance) at home. THEY are not the ones fighting for Mandarin Immersion, so who is? That is all I have to say.


Posted by M, a resident of Nixon School
on Nov 7, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Having a Mandarin immersion program is no more, no less elitist, racist or enlightened than having a Spanish immersion program. This from a reform Jew of Eastern European heritage, married to another reform Jew of Eastern European heritage, with a son born to us here in California and who has been in the MI lottery but not had his name picked for two years running. MI is a great idea, as has been the SI program. Sure, if the demand exists, then Palo Alto should have more immersion programs for other languages. In other words, if you think that MI is somehow unfair for favoring Mandarin, stop criticizing it, and take the initiative to agitate for another program, teaching a language you'd prefer. If you can show enough durable demand, well maybe the Board of Education will create an immersion program for that language. Why Spanish, why Mandarin? There is demand, the programs have been cost neutral, and our enlightened Board recognizes that immersion is a worthwhile choice option to include with the other choice options. Enough with racist rhetoric. We're all better than that.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 12:47 am

Actually our school board was bullied into having MI. It would have been better for the students in the district to use the resources to provide language instruction to all our students. Instead, a special program was created to cater to people who agitated on behalf of their own language. If these people had agitated for multiple choice language instruction for all I would have no problem with it. Special program, elitist, discriminatory, racist.


Posted by Yawn, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:47 am

Same old crab...

yawn.

we all know it is a done deal, no hope at all of defeating this now and bringing in more neighborhood kids into Ohlone,..if it didn't fly then, it certainly won't now. We knew when it passed then that this was no "pilot" study. It was a foregone conclusion this was made a permanent program at that point.

And, of course, any discussion of reality or policy effects on other programs get labeled "racist" ( see above comments for the predictable name calling to begin) and we live in an area where this still works to silence rational disussion.

Too bad.

Oh well.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 6:11 am

Same tired complaints, still don't make sense. One never hears the same said of SI. Why? Racism. Probably outsiders. Language is not racist.

Thank goodness we live in an enlightened district.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:19 am

If you don't like the word attrition- fine - then what's the word? Use whatever word you want for THIS problem, that is unique to MI, that does NOT apply to regular school programming:

The participants in this program must have grade level proficiency in both Mandarin and English - spoken and written. Therefore when students who have been in the program one, two, three years leave the program, the only qualified backfill candidates must have a very specific resume of qualifications - it can not be 'random' lottery admissions, open to all - AND/OR the program will fail to find enough of that qualified backfill, willing and interested in this program, from within the district boundaries - if the program continues to have a large number of leavers (attrition?). Class sizes at the older grade will start to become smaller than the average PAUSD class size, giving this program student teacher ratios advantages over regular programs in the district, and cost per pupil will become large.

So, the question is - why are students leaving and can this program retain its kids over the course of their entire elementary career, is it high quality enough, are the kids learning both languages and all other subjects equivalent to PAUSD regular programming (enough to retain the kids), and according to expectations, How many kids EXITED the program (not just how many kids are there now, because leaving kids are backfilled with new kids - is NOT a measure of success for the program) - the question is how many kids are LEAVING the program - AND WHY.

And of course, show us the test scores. In the PAUSD document, even this very rosy summary, the test scores appear to be poor relative to Pausd averages. And do poorer than average english and math test scores attract and retain students in competition with regular pausd programs? Over the long haul?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:27 am

The questions about attrition are legitimate.

What would be most interesting is knowing where these students are going? Are they leaving and going into regular classrooms at Ohlone? Regular classrooms at their neighborhood schools? Or leaving the District, and if they are leaving the District are they moving out of Palo Alto or just going private? The latter questions are probably only able to be answered anecdotally, but if they remain in the District then finding out where they are going and why will be illuminating.


Posted by Yawn, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:38 am

Actually, Q, you prove my point.

BTW, yes, indeed, if you had paid attention, you would have heard much about SI and the lessons we learned from it.

It was started with the expressed intent of IMPROVING academic scores of hispanic kids who came from poorly educated parent(s) who spoke no english...that really describes the kids we are talking about now, doesn't it?

But the kicker is we were promised it would grow to accomodate demand, and it did NOT. Most kids/families who want SI can't get in. We also learned the financial drain from attrition, ..can't replace a kid who drops out or moves after the first grade with an "equally adept" kid. So numbers shrink and the classes become less flexible.

Lesson learned from SI, but apparently we aren't smart enough to generalize to MI.

But, please, be our guest, be sure to throw out the race card again since that works so well and shows so much thoughtful interpretation, and we will just go back to the same old boring circle. "Enlightened"??? brainwashed more like.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:02 am

Q, my family comes from x, where they speak xish. Explain to me why my children and those of others from x can't learn xish in an immersion program in our public school? Our constitution guarantees us access to education, equal rights, and not to be singled out for lesser treatment based on our ethnic origin. This is racist my politically correct friend. It is. Check out Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It's there as well. Equality is an ideal in this country and you are arguing against it.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:22 am

Your arguments don't track.

You want SI to grow, but it has not, so you want to kill it. You have not managed to kill it, so you want to kill MI. Really?

No, let's be clear. The opposition to MI is much stronger and weirder than the whining about SI. There is one very good explanation for that: racism.

Observer,

They can't because there has been not enough demand and active support from families.

Yes, of course, you do have equal access. Why, you can go apply for MI if you choose. But you aren't _entitled_ to a boutique program just because your family wants it. See if there is wide support for it, and then work to support it. That is the American way, the egalitarian way.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:25 am

observer - there is no reason for any child not to learn a language, whether it is their heritage language or another one. The problem with any immersion program is that after 1st grade, you can only fill open spots with students who are fluent at grade level in the immersion language. How many 4th and 5th grade students are fluent in English and Mandarin at grade level?

If you can't fill in the spots when kids leave, then Immersion class size is significantly smaller than the regular class sizes, which is unfair. If I remember correctly, the Spanish Immersion 4/5th grade is significantly smaller than the other 4th and 5th grade classes.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:59 am

What always struck me as interesting is there are NUMEROUS specialty private schools in this area focusing on Mandarin.
Why was this highly specific language pushed to have a specific lottery program (limited availability/exclusive) in our public school district?
It's one thing to offer a variety of foreign languages in the public schools -- with the overarching focus on English Language - this IS the United States, after all; it's another to COMPLETELY promote a highly specific language like Mandarin. Just odd to me and a strange, selective use of public taxpayer funds (whether by my property taxes or other public funds in the form of grants or whatever).
I have always had the viewpoint that PAUSD BoE MUST work for the benefit of the ENTIRE district's population of schoolchildren, not small, select groups of activists. That's why I have always recommended a comprehensive plan for foreign language, including all grade levels (even if not implemented, at least examination should happen in this manner, looking at the needs/desires/best interests of ALL grade levels, since this is a unified district). When that is done, I do not feel it is appropriate to go out on a limb to provide highly coveted space and resources to a highly focused program like this. And as others have stated, when attrition occurs, there are only very select individuals who may enter this program to fill seats, and this is likely to lead to ethnic concentration, smaller classes, perhaps consistent with some - not all - parental desire. We all need to go to school together, separate and better is not fair to those of us in the general school population.


Posted by pamom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:59 am

Observer -- it's not possible to offer numerous immersion programs. I see the SI and MI as "test" programs to see how language immersion can work in our public schools. It's certainly not racist to try these programs out. It is necessary that a large enough group be interested in order to have an immersion program.

The benefits of learning another language when young are enormous. It is so much easier when you are younger. We live in a global economy and bilingualism is an asset. Both Spanish and Mandarin make sense.

Many countries make learning English (and/or another language) a necessary part of the curriculum. We in the US haven't had to do that. But the world is shrinking and it should be encouraged to learn a foreign language.

Instead of trying to get rid of our immersion programs, why not figure out other ways to support leaning a foreign language in our elementary schools? Maybe it would have to be an after school program that would meet two or three times a week. Or, have an half hour every day where students could choose an elective and some students could learn a language and others could go to the library or another activity.

Agree that the problems of running the immersion programs have to be looked at, such as attrition and funding. But let's support learning foreign language learning.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:01 am

Q, your arguments don't track. If I'm not entitled to a boutique program just because my family wants it, then neither is anyone else. That's equality. The loudest whiner is not entitled to more equality than anyone else. Actually, there are a lot of people from x in town and we'd more than fill up an immersion program. We simply don't go around demanding special treatment since our school system is already short of funds for meeting the educational needs of ALL CHILDREN. I don't want a boutique program for my kids. I want what's best for the most, not for a few. Attrition is not the main problem, however it does demonstrate how a boutique program is a frivolous waste of our tax dollars. My efforts in this community are often geared toward improving our schools for all the children. This is what I believe in and I put my money and my work toward this end. I do not spend it chasing after special treatment just for my kids.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

Anon,

You say you value language instruction, so put your money where your mouth is. Figure out a way to start language instruction for all in these economic times.

As for the immersion programs, they are revenue neutral, so they cost the system nothing (in fact, MI brought funds into the school system).

Observer,

"If I'm not entitled to a boutique program just because my family wants it, then neither is anyone else." Correct.

"The loudest whiner is not entitled to more equality than anyone else." Fully agree.

"Actually, there are a lot of people from x in town and we'd more than fill up an immersion program." Perhaps, but you don't care about your language and you don't have the organization or ambition to set it in motion.

"I want what's best for the most, not for a few." Me too, that's why I support immersion programs.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:13 am

"Student movement is a normal fact of life in schools across the country. No one talks about "attrition" when a student transfers out of one school to another, unless overall enrollment is significantly impacted"

Student movement is normal - but how you backfill for the open positions in a LOTTERY program is not normal. The premise of a LOTTERY program is that all students still have a fair shake at getting in by virtue of entering the unbiased blind lottery. However in this program, students older than about grade 1 must come with a RESUME of Mandarin Proficiency. That's not a fair lottery system open to all.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:23 am

Q, you have no idea whether I care about our language or not. Once more, these immersion programs only benefit a few, and they only teach, so far, two languages. You are wrong Q.


Posted by A Mom, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

We have Mandarin because the people who wanted a mandarin immersion program did the hard work and tough wrangling in an imperfect system to make it a reality. I did not like the process, either, but we have the program now, the kids aren't doing terribly compared to the rest of the population, they've integrated into the rest of Ohlone -- it seems to me if Ohlone isn't complaining, we should give it a chance.

It's easy to criticize, and many of those criticisms are valid -- but much harder to be open to the opportunities and possibilities, some we aren't even aware of yet.

Can we argue that the district isn't handling our infrastructure improvements wisely or strategically enough? Absolutely, yes, we should. We should because if they handle the money wisely, there's room for this and other opportunities that other interested parents can bring to our district in the future.

I'd love to see our district start offering language immersion summer schools, open to the rest of the district not enrolled in SI and MI, in some of those other languages people think we should be making available. If we can, we should be thinking of what other opportunities we can make available. If we are so smart, we can find a way.


Posted by A Mom, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

I want to also add that, as in the past, the people who comment to support MI on this forum may not be the best ambassadors for the program (they can be downright abrasive and insulting, and I think that's done a lot to stir up rancor -- at the very least, it hasn't helped the public's perception of the program).

Most of the core MI people have focused on the program and are (per their own admission) not commenting on this forum -- these abrasive commenters may feel protective but do not speak for them, so please do not hold arguments or abrasive/unsupported/one-sided views by people who support MI against the program or the people running it.

This is a good place to have an open discussion, but this discussion may or may not be representative.


Posted by Maximize Choice?, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

As a believer that Choice is one of the unique benefits of PAUSD, I feel the BoE and staff have a duty to maximize (within reason) the number of families who can partake. Having MI at Ohlone reduces instead of maximizes the number of Choice spots available in the district.

Ohlone has historically had many more lottery-entrants than spaces available - this is not a short-lived fad but an historically demonstrated demand in the district. Having another Choice program at Ohlone (currently MI but it could be anything) limits the number of families who can participate in Choice. Were MI at a non-choice school, the MI-seeking families still have that Choice, AND 6 additional classrooms of students have the possibility of the "regular" Ohlone Choice.

Of course, this would require 6 classrooms to be available at a non-Choice school, which may be a non-starter given our crowded situation...


Posted by Another Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:19 am

As a mother considering the MI program, I am still wondering about the MI program. I feel that most of the "data" is held close to the chest of a few supporters, so I have no idea if I would really want my child to be in the program. As opposed to SI, where you can learn to read English as you learn to read Spanish, this is not true for Mandarin. The fact that the scores are a bit lower in English does not seem scary at first, but I assume that many kids self select OUT if they are poor in English and gifted kids select IN, I bet the gap in English is SUBSTANTIAL, particularly how little English the MI program teaches (note that ISTP realized they needed to go 50/50 to keep the kids English up).

Let us really hear what is going on, PLEASE!


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

There are enough local private options for those who wish to study this specialty language (Mandarin)whether in immersion format or not.

PAUSD BoE MUST look comprehensively -- K-12 -- when they review anything along the lines of foreign language, IMO.

I just don't get niche things -- don't think we have the resources.

Someone posted above MI is revenue neutral or some such -- well, the FACILITIES are at a premium in PAUSD -- I think such aspects must be examined by the BoE in the context of what's best for all K-12 students.


Posted by Language D'art, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

A Mandarin immersion program and no Cantonese equivalent?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Q,

So you're saying racism is involved in opposing MI, but not SI? Right, so Hispanics don't face racism in this country?

Wow. You're funny.


Someone asked about the drop-outs--the study gave some reasons--couple went back into the regular strands. One kid got into Hoover, another homeschooled.

In other words, they're not moving. The parents are leaving the program because, for a variety of reasons, it's not working for them.

Here are some of the things I hear on the ground; some native MI parents have been unhappy with the progress of their children's English. In other words, the classic reason for an immersion program--that ESL learners will do better starting in their native tongue--isn't washing here.

In other cases, kids who aren't academically inclined struggle and rebel in the program. The rest of Ohlone looks a lot more fun to kids who aren't into it--though, to be fair, there are MI kids who are happy enough.

And, yes, the school looks AWFUL. It hurts every time I go there--it's being turned into a permanent overcrowded megaschool.

And, honestly, no one outside the MI program receives any benefit from it. The one-day-a-week afterschool language program is very popular and was before MI arrived.

It's interesting that MI hasn't had an increase in lottery applications--while Ohlone main has. Just the increase in school-age population should mean an increase in applications.

But, the thing is, there are lots of affordable Mandarin programs in the area--Ohlone's approach, however, is harder to come by.

MI at Ohlone actually limits choice for people because it limits the expansion of Ohlone main.


Posted by 3QFTY, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm

This was discussed back in May as part of the K-12 Mandarin program: Web Link mandarin immersion ohlone&ei=ibrYTNDRJIm4sQONmr31Bw&usg=AFQjCNFs7tTET0aOcpQ10FuhEG9wDDnXYQ&cad=rja


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Given how California is growing and how/where the world economy is changing, consider how speaking and reading Spanish and/or Mandarin might be a reasonable skill to acquire. Duh.

We should all be at least bilingual, if not trilingual. Even waiters are in other parts of the world...but power brokers are too.

Time to broaden our horizons, or get left behind.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Given that MI is a vehicle for the China communist propaganda they should pay for it.
Today Sprint denied Huawei a contract because it is a similar agent of the China communist party

Web Link


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Bizarrre ... "Given that MI is a vehicle for the China communist propaganda they should pay for it." Surely, you are kidding. This kind of hyperbole and jingoism does no one any good.

Let's keep the discussion rational.

Don't you think it might be strategic to learn these languages? Just as these other countries think it is strategic and economic to speak English as well as their native language and many others as well.



Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm


Google and many others have developed machine translation software that will soon be embedded in cell phones and other devices

There is no advantage for US children to delay their education by trying to learn mandarin --it is a waste of time


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Who pays for educator to visit communist China?

"In a letter to Obama administration officials, Mr Kyl said he was concerned that Huawei's had ties to the Chinese military and its presence in Iran, among other issues.

The revelation that the administration had at least some reservations about the potential transaction represents a blow to Huawei, which has aggressively sought to overcome persistent concerns about the Chinese company among defence and intelligence officials in Washington and some lawmakers.
Huawei has said it is an independent company and denied allegations that it is linked to the People's Liberation Army.

Naivety is a fools paradise---get real about the threat--


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Mi brings a huge educational benefit to those who enter the program. Of course it gives them a useful linguistic skill, but immersion gives them cognitive benefits and broadens their worldview. Complaining that it does not benefit all kids is a little silly--after all, AP biology doesn't benefit all kids. So what?

Beyond that, it does, of course benefit all kids. One has to say that having broad-minded, bilingual, biliterate kids in the district is a benefit to all school children. And of course there was the money the program brought in to the entire district.... And the program brings greater choice to the district, which means the whole district benefits, even if parents choose not to apply for the program.

The federal government certainly agrees, and is funding lots of Mandarin programs for strategic reasons.

Ohlonepar,

"Right, so Hispanics don't face racism in this country?" I don't think you would say that if you knew latinos, which is the preferred term.

"the classic reason for an immersion program--that ESL learners will do better starting in their native tongue--isn't washing here." That just doesn't follow.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Q,

My comment about racism was ironic.[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I was pointing out a basic flaw in your argument.

Anyway, at the time SI was implemented--A) it was controversial, B)there wasn't an issue of overcrowding and C) SIer didn't use a charter threat to blackmail the district into bringing on a program that was opposed by a majority of people in the district.

MI at Ohlone is actively detrimental to kids not in the program. It severely overcrowds the school--and there is ample data to indicate that oversized schools lead to a deterioration in school quality.

What we have is less and less space for more and more kids as well as an overtaxed administration.

Mandarin instruction is both affordable and readily available in the private sector. There's no reason to burden an overcrowded school system with it--particuarly since it benefits such a small number of children, while limiting the ability of a far more popular program to expand on its own site.

If bilingualism is truly valuable then foreign-language instruction should be readily available to all children in the district. If it's not, we don't need boutique programs that come at the expense of other students.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:53 am

Ohlonepar,

So your point is that since Latinos face discrimination it is impossible that other groups face racism. Do you see why that makes no sense? Do you think blacks face discrimination? Do you think Asians do?

SI was simply not controversial in the way that MI was, overcrowding is beside the point, and SI didn't have to consider a charter since it was uncontroversial.

As for "overcrowding" at Ohlone, that was coming down the pike regardless of MI. And no, Ohlone school is not the Ohlone program's "own site." It is used by the two programs that are housed there, and it really is up to the board to decide which programs to expand. In any case, it doesn't actually make sense to expand the Ohlone way on that site. If there is truly demand, then the Ohlone way should be implemented at another school.

MI is not a burden to the district but a gift that enriches the entire community. Sure, richer parents can go private, but in America we have a long tradition of providing a public education. Programs like this are not a zero sum game. Students studying in Mandarin take nothing away from others.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2010 at 7:37 am

AP Biology may not serve all students, but I believe it serves all students who want it. There is no lottery, no waiting list and the numbers in the classroom will not remain small because there are not enough qualified to fill empty seats.

poor analogy.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2010 at 8:41 am

Q - Serious question, how does the MI program "enrich the entire community"?

As far as I can see, it has negatively impacted a school that would like to expand (and has long had the demand for) its current program, it limits the flexibility of class size at Ohlone, if kids drop out in grades 2-5, they can't be filled from the "waiting list" unless they happen to be reading and writing at grade level in Mandarin. Not to mention the huge resentment this program has caused because of the threats which got it established in the first place and the fact that the rest of the elementary kids get no foreign language instruction.

SI was established to help ESL kids improve their English skills and to bring students to Escondido at a time when our district was shrinking.


Posted by pamom, a resident of Hoover School
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:16 am

palo alto mom --not in agreement with <SI was established to help ESL kids improve their English skills and to bring students to Escondido at a time when our district was shrinking. > Since living here for 20 years, the schools have been expanding and were expanding at that time when SI was established. It might in part have been established for helping ESL kids, but that wasn't the main attraction.

Having these two immersion programs in our district does benefit children. Q -- yes I wish learning a foreign language at an early age could be available to all our students. That would probably take an after school program, or dedicating 30 minutes of the school day to this. Not only does learning a language stimulate cognitive skills, it also opens up exposure to another culture. That is something very valuable in today's economy. And someday it may be very helpful in landing a job.

Neighbor, I agree with you.

Ohlone parent, you are bringing up issues with the school site which I didn't know about. Sounds like Ohlone has such a large waiting list that it could use the MI space. I can see where this brings friction between the programs. Maybe MI needs a different space? I wish these type of problems could be worked out.

Sharon, your comments are nutty and seemed only designed to irritate.

Maybe AP Biology is not the best analogy, but our schools have different classes and programs and not all students participate in them. Hoover and Ohlone are special programs, and high school has sports, music, different classes in math, science, GRT, etc.




Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

There are many activities, classes and programs to which not every student has access, including certain ap classes, football team, certain language classes, Hoover, Ohlone, SI and MI.

It would be great if we had the resources to permit every student do everything, but we don't.

palo alto mom,

Well, I just disagree that it has negatively impacted Ohlone. I also don't think it's fair to say MI has had a negative impact because people resent it. I would say that those who resent it are having the negative impact.

As to your question, MI (and SI) enrich the entire community in several ways. First, it increases choice. Even if I don't opt for them, I am glad to have the opportunity to apply and grateful for the way they push me to think about language education for my children. Second, we deepen our faculty with a new dimension that can enrich language instruction at all levels (where is regular Mandarin at the middle school level? hello?) and language pedagogy. Third, and most important, the programs turn out students with a broadened worldview that will rub off on the students around them as they progress through the system.

Now that's a resource.


Posted by niehgbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

Sharon says..."Google and many others have developed machine translation software that will soon be embedded in cell phones and other devices" Wow! I don't think she's kidding.

Maybe translation devices can help a tourist trying to find a bathroom or read a menu -- but they aren't going to close a deal, communicate technical data, or help the user develop a relationship in another country. Well, clearly Sharon's kid's future doesn't include interacting beyond the U.S....definitely no China deals.

Look, PA parents...learning other languages is essential in this world for business and international relations That fact isn't your decision --- look beyond your doorstep, the world moved on a long time ago. Only the U.S. doesn't think they have to learn other languages. Americans just think everyone should speak ours.

We are a global village...The US isn't running the whole operation. People from many countries need to interact in a meaningful way.

To participate from a strong meaningful position, we need to be smart, savvy, and flexible. Don't deny your kids a role in the future. The schools are trying to prepare them for their future in the world --- and they will THANK their parents for giving them the opportunity to learn MANY languages.




Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

The international language of business is accounting and the standards are set by the US.
The international language of science and technology is largely English and machine translation broad and effective applications in these disciplines.
The international language is software.
40 years ago engineers used slide rules now they use computers.
Our troops already use machine translation devices in AfPak and Iraq.
There is nothing illegal about Chinas propaganda efforts in promoting MI in schools and Confucius Institutes at colleges---it is in Chinas interest.
MI is not in the best interests of PAUSD or our kids.
If parents want their kids to learn Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Cantonese etc they can pay for private instruction in addition to speaking the language at home.
PAUSD kids need great math and science teaching to thrive in the modern world.

Google already has simultaneous translation capability built into devices--a lot of the machine translation technology was developed here at Stanford.
These applications will be ubiquitous within a year and will solve the Tower of Babel issue for good.


Posted by Link to MI Report, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

Here's the link to the district written report on MI.
Web Link.

Of note (as pointed out by the first person to comment) the number of applicants has dropped from 140 to 69 for the most recent school year. That's quite a drop for a program that has 88 currently enrolled with 22 kinder openings per year.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

Interesting question about Mandarin in the middle schools. I assume for their to be Mandarin there would need to be:

A certified, secondary teacher
Enough interested students (probably 25 per grade level)
time in the schedule
classroom space

How many kids take Mandarin at the HS level? I would assume that could be an indication of interest at the Middle School level also.


Posted by Choice for whom?, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:21 am

Give Ohlone back to the neighborhood. At least give nearby residents preference in the lottery so they have a CHOICE to attend the school across the street. Their neighborhood school site was taken from them to house a choice program. Now kids from that neighborhood are scattered around multiple south PA schools sites where there happens to be room. Choice for whom?

Does PAUSD still need magnet schools to attract enrollment? If we don't need more magnet schools to attract enrollment, do we need to permanently add a NEW choice program? Is this a decision that recognizes the new, growing challenges of an overenrolled district? Let's see the forest for the trees, please.


Posted by 3QFTY, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

"nteresting question about Mandarin in the middle schools. "

Seems my previous link didn't work. Here it is again: Web Link

This presentation was produced back in May and covers Mandarin across K-12.

Elementary:
- Will serve 88 students in K-3
- Applications remain high (Eng = 43 for 14 seats; Mandarin = 26 for 8 seats)
- Retention remains at or above 90% per year
- Curriculum standards in place K-3; drafted 4-5
- Mandarin assessment template in place K-5
- Pilot of Better Chinese print and online system in place for 2010-2011
- Summer programs for students and teachers 2010

However, the following slide shows this pilot extension was already approved back in May. So putting it in front of the board now is really just to rubber-stamp the process including development for middle school:

FLAP Grant No-Cost 4th Year Extension:
- Approved: Carry over $120,000 to continue program development at elementary and middle school levels in 2010-2011
- Complete Mandarin Immersion curriculum standards gr. 4-6
- Adapt Chinese 1 curriculum for grades 7-8
- Complete Mandarin assessments for grades 3-5
- Support and training for new and continuing Mandarin immersion teachers
- Increase technology use in immersion program


Posted by Glammy, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Q,

No, my point is that your claim that the increased furor (according to you) over MI v. SI is because of racism doesn't hold water given that Hispanics are, if anything, more subject to racism than Asians--as is born out by the socioeconomic and educational status of Hispanics in the United States.

More to the point, the race card has been played by the MI crew as a way of NOT addressing the very real problems with having MI in this district in its current form. An elementary school site designed for 300 kids shouldn't have 600 kids at it. That, in and of itself, is a huge negative consequence for Ohlone and one that Marilyn Cook's self-serving and biased report doesn't address.

Is Ohlone a better school for having MI? No, it's not. It's worse--resources are getting severely strained and will be more so.

Does Ohlone serve the community better by having MI? Again, no. Ohlone main is in more demand than MI--and cannot come close to meeting the demand for its program, which IS a true alternative to other public schools in the district.

MI at Ohlone means no expansion of Ohlone's own program is possible.

And, yes, Ohlone would have expanded without MI--but it would have been by a more reasonable half strand instead of full strand as is the case with MI.

And, yes, Amarillo is Ohlone's own site--believe me, though of us in the Ohlone community know exactly how much MI takes and how little it gives back.

Just for the fun of it, why don't you specifically tell us what wonderful thing MI has brought that offsets, oh, the fact that two-thirds of the playground is gone for the next year-and-a-half?

Or even begins to compensate for 600-plus students on the site if the program stays?

Be factual and be specific. Because Marilyn Cook sure dodged that very basic question in her report.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Sharon,

Machine translation of written text is close to being usable for some languages but certainly not for Chinese. Translation of spoken language is not even close.

Glammy,

So your new point is: Latinos in the U.S. are poorer than Asians, therefore they face more discrimination than Asians in the U.S., therefore they face more discrimination in Palo Alto, therefore racism played no role in the flap over MI. Can you see the gaping holes in each part of your argument?

You have a shopping list of things you demand for your kids' boutique program, and you blame MI because you don't have them. MI is not to blame for any of it.

The district and Ohlone are lucky to have a program like MI, which enriches Ohlone, the district, and the community.

Also, I should point out that saying someone has "played the race card" is inherently racist.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Sharon
Perhaps your chain of irrational comments is the strongest argument of all for beefing up the language instruction programs in Palo Alto. Learning another language is great brain exercise --- and by the looks of this "thread" (pretty strange), some brain exercise and some logic are in order.

Why are Palo Alto parents holding their hands over their ears while wearing blinders? It's the 21st century folks --- don't you want your kids to be prepared as possible?

It's an international world. The future demands that we learn languages other than English. Computers are wonderful, but nothing will substitute for communicating while knowing the idioms and subtleties of your partners' language (before making some very embarrassing mistakes).

Actually, the kids know this and they pick up languages quickly. They are being held back by their narrow parents.

BTW -- my husband, who is not Chinese, speaks Mandarin fluently and it has been a lifelong gift financially, intellectually, socially, and in every way possible


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Q and resident - You are both correct that learning a foreign language as a child is a gift and it is an international world. All the more reason that we should be using our collective energy to implement a program that allows ALL the elementary students access to a foreign language, not just a select few.

As it is, even our high school students do not need a foreign language to graduate.


Posted by equality at its best, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Let me get this straight - of the 905 kinders that enrolled this year (Web Link), we are teaching exactly 14 Mandarin?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Our priority should be math, science and engineering.

If madarin, arabic,hindi etc are not spoken in the home then kids will not learn proficiency--it is essentially a waste of time and brain cells.
Writing in these languages is an order of magnitude greater in complexity.
Spanish,German, French Italian are easy to speak and write for English speakers as they have the same routes and alphabets.

Machine translation is here and getting better all the time ---it will take care of all business, science and engineering transactions with simultaneous translation--check out what Google has for the market.
NSA and DoD have even more sophisticated software--how do you think they translate the millions of e mails and phone calls that they do?

Look -- there are companies in Palo Alto that have Cantonese and Mandarin native speakers-- they cannot understand each other--so they conduct their meetings in English.
Just about everyone in the world with a graduate degree speaks and writes English at this point.

The only jobs for the multilingual will be as translators at the UN---the UN is a late adopter of technology--everyone else will use English or machine translation.
Or take India -- which will soon overtake China in population and the GDP---a GDP based upon high value service economies-- not manufacturing economies like China---educated Indians speak English.

This whole push for Mandarin and Confucius Institutes
Web Link
is part of China's propaganda campaign---a benefit to China--not PAUSD students.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm

There is nothing controversial about speaking several languages. Why do Americans resist learning other languages?

Yes: math and science are important. Art and music are important. Languages are important. Get it????? IT'S ALL IMPORTANT IN THIS COMPLEX WORLD.

And, BTW. Altho the United States computer programs for low level translation, we use live people, not machines, to do sensitive real-time translation for diplomacy and for military intelligence all over the world. Context, inflection, etc. can mean life or death, so machines can't do the whole job. In business, politics and ALL human communication eye contact, subtlety and inflection are important. Speaking each other's languages helps us understand one another better.

Our children have to be prepared in multiple ways for this complex world. 1st-2nd-3rd World definitions and relations are changing fast. We'd better be able to communicate clearly and precisely.

Palo Alto kids are smart. They can handle the challenge.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm


Look -- our own local company In-Q-Tel has funded these statistical machine translation companies--it works--its here--get over it.

Germany most recently and the rest of Europe have acknowledged that the multicultural experiment was a terrible failure and mistake.

Fortunately in the US we are re establishing the founders belief in " E Pluribus Unum" and yes Google has translation applications for Latin as well as Mandarin---even Irish.

If you want to live in the USA learn English.

In terms of business--India offers much greater opportunities moving forward than China---- do we now force Hindi Immersion on PAUSD kids and taxpayers? no we will not.

China has a lot of people, it was a cheap manufacturing location for a while- its demographic reality means it will get old before it gets rich.

We can have good relations with China-- but we do not need to swallow their propaganda campaign -- hook-line and sinker.

We have a very negative trade balance with China--that will change as we relocate our manufacturing to other states like Indonesia and dramatically increase our trade with India -- that is why Obama is in those countries right now.

In short-- the economic argument for MI is false--the educational argument for MI is false----PAUSD should end it--the private sector will fill any residual need at no cost to we Palo Alto taxpayers


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I think we all agree "If you want to live in the USA learn English." That was not the subject of the discussion.

The subject was "If you want to participate effectively in the broader world, learn another language besides English."

Since when does learning a language mean you adopt a country's political line -- hmmm... France? Don't think so.

No one is suggesting forcing any particular 2nd language on anyone --- just making the options available (Actually a 2nd language was required when I went to school and it definitely came in handy....so I learned a total of 3 besides English).

And, finally....Offering Hindi is a GREAT idea.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Oh yes....LAST COMMENT:
Did you know that kids who excel at learning math/science learn languages especially fast? Your kid can handle Trig and Chinese. Both are left-brained skills. (Using language creatively, artistically,poetically, etc...is right-brained)


Posted by Joop, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Gunn Junior, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Posted by Sharon: "Our priority should be math, science and engineering."

Yep. Forget English and History. Who needs to learn those?


Posted by A mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

OhlonePar
"there is ample data to indicate that oversized schools lead to a deterioration in school quality"

Agreed. So why are parents arguing about MI instead of dealing with the bigger issue that the expenditure of Measure A money is going in large part to make the high schools and some of the elementaries into what are considered oversized schools (per data on school sizes and outcomes)? The district is charging ahead with those construction projects.

We should put MI at Greendell, especially if the district is going to buy that nursery school property. IMO Young 5s should be expanded and moved onto elementary campuses into PACCC spaces, though maybe it won't need expanding with the move of the cutof date.


Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 6:55 am

How in the world is having Mandarin Immersion "racist" or "elitest"? Is having Spanish Immesion or French Immersion "racist" and "elitest"? No, so why is Mandarin? Think where you (we) live, people!!! Palo Alto is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. We live in a global environment and whether you like it or not, China is going to be the world's economic leader in the not too distant future. Why wouldn't you want your children to be given a head start on learning the language that is 1) spoken by the majority of people in the world, 2) valued and viewed as an ADVANTAGE by Silicon Valley employers who are seeking to expand and do more business in China? Ridiculous objections.


Posted by equality at its best, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:26 am

John, why are we giving this wonderful advantage to only %1.5 or the elementary population? And, when that number drops to %1 through attrition, we then choose to give back fill this advantage to children based on their background?
Preposterous stance.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:11 am

John, Your comment doesn't make any sense. It is racist and elitist to offer immersion in only a few languages and to only a tiny number of kids. As I pointed out above, our laws guarantee us equal rights, an equal education, and that we not be treated differently because of our race. How is it not racist to offer any language, whether it be Spanish, Mandarin, French (which is not offered as an immersion program as far as I know, so you threw it in as a red herring), or Tagalog, while not offering the language of other students in the district. I have nothing against Mandarin. I am offended by the people who bullied our district into providing it while they did not advocate for any other language than their own. Elitist, racist, discriminatory.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:28 am

Anyone know what happened at the meeting last night about MI? It went on a little too late for me.


Posted by pamom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:34 am

Observer, you are determined that MI is racist and elitist, but many here do not agree at all. I didn't think having SI was racist/elitist either. Hello, it's about having a large enough group to support an immersion program. You say people "bullied" but that's nonsense. They advocated for a good cause. My children were not able to participate in either SI or MI but I still support language immersion programs.

Equality is in the opportunity to participate which is what the lottery is there to do. Some will not get in with a lottery system. Hello, that is true of all kinds of programs in our district, be it sports, AP classes, music programs, etc.

Sharon your comments drift way off topic to say the least. You seem to have no clue that employers like to hire people who can speak or at least understand another language. It is very useful when visiting other countries and helps us to understand other cultures.


Posted by equality at its best,, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

"You seem to have no clue that employers like to hire people who can speak or at least understand another language. "

Really? I've never used it as an interview question or to screen applicants. Being able to speak another language is of little to no consequence in most lines of business.
Don't try and build this up into something it isn't. Speaking Mandarin is a wonderful advantage if you want to live and work in China. However, it's a waste of time if you end up living in Europe. You would have been better off studying philosophy at that point.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

Observer,

I believe you are using the word "racist" differently from other people. A language is not a race. It cannot be racist to offer a language. By "racist," you seem to mean a language that is predominantly spoken by a race you dislike.

(I should add that it is racist to assume that the only people in favor of Mandarin are Chinese.)

MI is not racist. SI is not racist. Hoover is not racist. And Ohlone is not racist. These are just choice programs, and we are lucky to have them and the benefits they bring to our community.

Equality,

"Really? I've never used it as an interview question or to screen applicants."

I have. Language is crucial for some jobs and increasingly important for many. Its importance will only grow.

"However, it's a waste of time if you end up living in Europe."

Ah, but this shows how limited your horizons are. Many of us are preparing our children to work in multiple cultures and languages. Also, would you care to guess which country is Europe's biggest trading partner right now? Chinese is actually a rare and valuable skill in Europe as we speak. Europeans are gearing up to learn it--with naysayers like you around they'll no doubt overtake us.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:10 am


The Chinese bubble is about to burst and many European and American companies are stocking stock and moving out because of industrial espionage, intellectual property theft etc---look at what Google did.
If you are not Chinese you are never going to go anywhere in a Chinese company---there is no net advantage in learning Mandarin.

The smart money is now going to India, it is a democracy, has a tradition of English common law, institutions, education standards, free markets and property rights.
Just last month there was serious discussion of including it in the Anglosphere
Web Link

For both defense and trade.

Web Link

Any one who has traveled in China knows that it an ecological and public health waste land with a demographic time bomb about to go off.

If the parents in Palo Alto want their kids to learn Mandarin they can pay for it like parents who want their kids to learn Arabic or Hindi

The MI program has destroyed Ohlone School and the neighbors must be furious about the traffic and congestion --- it used to be an attractive neighborhood--- not any more


Posted by racism, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Nov 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

"A language is not a race. "

True. In my opinion, there is a human race, but inside of that, there are no races at all.

But our laws sometimes treat it as such, requiring certain documents to be provided in multiple languages, translators to be available for certain government services, illegality of discriminating against certain languages because the language is a marker for race etc.

Also, what if it turns out that only a certain race makes it through the whole program. That is, in eighth grade all the remaining students are of the same race. Would that convince you that the program benefits that race? Would it be a racist policy to provide a program with public funds that benefits only one race?

The thing tries and claims to be cost neutral, but that ignores huge opportunity cost for time, attention, and money spent on the curriculum.


Posted by laura, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:00 am

It is infuriating to think of all the dollars being sucked up by this program when there are so many other more important needs in the district.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:53 am

Laura - while I think the MI program is inappropriate for many reasons, the funding for it comes mostly (all?) from a FLAP grant, not from the District.

I also think that if MI were at another site (Greendell, Barron Park) there would be a lot less opposition. It would allow the traditional Ohlone program to expand, which has a huge wait list (as opposed to MI which has a greatly decreased number of applicants this year)


Posted by equality at its best, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm

"Language is crucial for some jobs and increasingly important for many. Its importance will only grow."

Yes, for jobs in the service industry!
If it's importance was growing don't you think the district would find the funds to teach it to more than 1% of kinders?


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Racism,

Race is not just a legal notion--it has a social reality.

If I understand you right, your question is what if only one race comes through the program, even though all criteria are strictly race-neutral?

Well what if it skews white (careful, Ohlone does)? What if it skews Asian (Hoover does)? What if it's all white? All Asian? All fifth-generation Japanese American? All Chinese.

Answer: no, not racist in any of these cases since everyone has an equal chance to get in. No need for a racial balance.

Equality,

"Yes, for jobs in the service industry!"

Er, manufacturing is not in the service industry. Neither is high tech. Neither is finance. Neither is shipping. I could go on, but you get the picture.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 1:35 pm

No, the problem is the kids whose native heritage languages are not being offered. They are experiencing discrimination. I don't know how many ways there are to say this, but you have a resistance to admitting the truth that it is racism. I wonder why.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

No, the problem is the kids whose native heritage languages are not being offered. They are experiencing discrimination. I don't know how many ways there are to say this, but you have a resistance to admitting the truth that it is racism. I wonder why.

I'm posting this again. Perhaps you'll read it.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Observer,

So the district is racist unless it offers immersion programs for every single heritage language represented. Are you serious or just making fun of the anti-MI gang?

That has nothing to do with racism. Again, language is not race.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

The district is racist for offering immersion programs of only a few languages. Obviously it can not afford to offer it for all. Instead, as I've suggested above, the resources should be used to offer a foreign language education program for all students with choices of as many languages as possible, an equal opportunity for every student to choose a language to learn. No, a language is not a race, however, when people are treated differently because of their racial heritage, that is racism. Children whose heritage language is neither Mandarin nor Spanish are being discriminated against based solely on their race. This is an interesting discussion for me as I can see, in action, the function of denial and dissemination that must be how racism was swept under the rug in the past. If you refuse to see the people who are being oppressed, then you don't have to admit there's a problem. Thank you Q for demonstrating this so well.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Sorry, typo, I meant dissembling.


Posted by equality at its best,, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm

"Er, manufacturing is not in the service industry. Neither is high tech. Neither is finance. Neither is shipping. I could go on, but you get the picture."

None of the industries you quote requires you to learn a foreign language. Just look at all the very successful people in these fields.
Service Industry is all you've got where knowing another language will be of any major benefit. If you want you child to enter the service industry then, great, you're on the right path.
NOW do you understand?


Posted by anon, a resident of Triple El
on Nov 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

note to observer, in response to "the problem is the kids whose native heritage languages are not being offered. They are experiencing discrimination."
If you look at the make up of the students in PAUSD, the number one (non-English) language spoken at home is Mandarin, the number two language spoken at home is Spanish. So having immersion programs in those two languages seems practical, not really discriminatory?


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Anon, That's ridiculous. Nice try. I know the urge to stay in denial is really strong.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 10, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Observer,

You still haven't explained why teaching language is racist.

You want the district to "use the resources" to teach "as many languages as possible." The problem is there are no resources (MI is funding neutral), and even your proposition (as many as possible but not all) would be racist (by your admittedly meaningless definition). And surely if we were to pick languages, then it would make sense to teach the No. 1 and 2 heritage languages, right?

No one is treated differently because of their racial heritage in pausd. Even "oppressed" white people can apply to MI and SI.

equality,

"None of the industries you quote requires you to learn a foreign language."

You don't read very carefully. Let me repeat: crucial for some, increasingly important for many. If you don't know of senior positions where this is the case in manufacturing, high tech, finance, and shipping, then you're out of touch.

The service industry, and here I mean flipping burgers, is really reserved for the monolingual.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 11, 2010 at 1:23 am

Q,

You seem really confused here. First--"race" is a social construct. Scientifically, there's not a lot of basis for it. Ergo, looking at something like language can very much play a part in a discussion about "race."

Second, the teaching or not teaching of language has, historically, been used for racist purposes. What language is taught in a school has been a fraught matter in many instances--outlawing a language has been a means to supress ethnic identification. At various points, indigenous languages have been banned.

But all of this is a little besides the point because Mandarin is readily available in the community *without* the stress the Mandarin Immersion program puts on our overcrowded schools.

MI should not be at Ohlone--it places an undue burden on the campus and limits the expansion of the more in-demand program.

There have never been a persuasive argument for giving MI the preference it has gotten, which is why PACE resorted to charter threats.

But, of course, it's very hard to defend MI as it's played out, which is why it's easier for its supporters to squawk about racism.





Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:19 am

Ohlonepar,

Er, if you really believe that choice immersion programs will stamp out English in PA, then ... well, this discussion about this planet will hold little meaning for you.

Another laundry list of demands, but you forget this is a public school system with limited funds. Demanding ideal conditions for your own children at Ohlone is selfish because it would come at the expense of other children in the district.

It would be better to think of the good of the entire district. That is why I like the choice programs so much--they give parents of all kids choices at no cost.

It's always the anti-MI gang that brings up race first, so since you ask, yes, the opposition to MI has been marked by a streak of racism. They never managed to articulate a reason not to adopt the program, and the emotional but scattered reasoning on that side was underpinned by racism. Very sad.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:02 am


>>It's always the anti-MI gang that brings up race first, so since you ask, yes, the opposition to MI has been marked by a streak of racism. They never managed to articulate a reason not to adopt the program>>>

The above statement is absurd, untrue and irrelevant.

We do not have Arabic nor Hindi Immersion imposed on our schools

Why should we have to burden of MI?

It is unfair, the vast majority of voters and parents oppose MI
it is past time to end it.
Parents can pay in the private sector for Arabic, Mandarin or Hindi language instruction.

As for the straw man of any fantasy advantage

Machine translation will be part of smart devices in months, by the time our kids are in the workforce our major trading partners will be India and the rest of the Anglosphere--through English

The China bubble will have burst and it will preoccupied with providing for a huge aging population, public health crisis and massive toxic pollution.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2010 at 8:50 am

Teaching language to all elementary students would make sense. However, time constraints and cost tend to be the arguments against it.

As an alternative, we have two immersion programs.

I don't care to sound biased against any particular language so will not identify them.

Our first immersion program started when enrollment was at a low point, when we had space in our school campuses and was viewed as a possible magnet for our schools and one campus in particular. There is also the reason that it may have helped one segment of the community which traditionally had lower scores. It was popular enough and after a few years it moved to a campus which traditionally had less stability due to a high turnover of students each year. This program brought stability initially, but also neighborhood students with stability increased in number and the turnover of students was less percentagewise. As a result the school is now struggling with integration between the immersion and non-immersion programs and different sources give different views on how divided the school feels.

Our second immersion program was discussed for some time. Mysteriously, funds were given to the District for a feasability study. This study, although positive to the immersion proponents, had left out some serious areas of study. Due to lack of space, even though there was a grant available and it would be "cost neutral" it was voted down citing lack of space and the fact that with increasing enrollment we didn't need a magnet to attract new students to our district. As a result the proponents threatened a charter school to get their own way. This was then forced on us reluctantly and a pilot program was initiated.

The site chosen for this second program was decided on purely on the size of the campus and the possibility of being able to expand the number of students on the site. The fact that the two programs didn't academically mesh well or that the poorly accessed site was already a commuter school with more vehicle traffic than a neighborhood school didn't come into the decision.

We are now looking at the end of the pilot. The school is full of construction, portables and once again struggling to integrate the two programs.

These are the facts. It doesn't matter what languages are being taught so it is nothing anti-any particular language.

Immersion is not teaching all our elementary students a foreign language. It is teaching a few lucky lottery winners to be bilingual. Some of these lottery winners are learning a language spoken in their homes and are learning to read and write this language without any expense or outside time. Some of these lottery winners are learning a language which is completely foreign. Some parents of all these lottery winners are paying for outside tutoring. This tutoring is sometimes in the target language and sometimes in English to make up for the lack of English they are getting at school.

The rest of our elementary students get nothing.

And, no we still have heard nothing about what happened at the Board Meeting discussion this on Tuesday evening.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:21 am

Q, I have explained many times why it is racist to teach the language of one child and not that of another. You don't understand it. Discrimination is one of the definitions of racism, which I included above. Treating one child differently from another because of his or her racial heritage and not based on individual merit is discrimination. Clearly, you have a blind spot where racism is concerned. This kind of blindness has led, by a series of illogical conclusions like the ones you formulate, to many horrible events in the history of our species. It may start with something that seems nice, offering a choice, but when left unchecked it blossoms into genocide. We are all equal and we are all entitled to equal opportunities. I find it very disturbing that you argue so vehemently for something so wrong.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:24 am

Resident, Thank you for the clear and honest summary!


Posted by equality at its best, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 10:56 am

Q, I do want my children to strive for more than: "要不要加薯條?"
But, hey, if that's what they really want to do, I'm cool with that. I know lots of people that "flip burgers" who can speak more than one language.
Bottom line, being multi-lingual doesn't help you get ahead. That requires something else.
Here's a simple one, list the (many in your opinion, since apparently it's a requirement) top executives in non-service industries that went to a mandarin immersion school.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

Q,

You're being evasive.

Again, Because of MI Ohlone will have 600 kids on a campus designed for 300.

What benefit does MI bring to the rest of Ohlone? Be specific.

If you approve of choice programs, why do you think it's okay to severely limit access to the most popular one in the district?

You make lots of accusations, but you can't seem to answer basic questions.

It's telling that you avoid addressing these very basic issues.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

Resident,

Apart from the inaccurate, biased summary, your argument is a non sequitur.

You complain about the lack of language instruction in the elementary schools and insinuate it is related to immersion, but there is no causal link.

The reason we have no language for elementary students is a lack of fund and a lack of interest in the community. The reason has nothing to do with immersion. Your point would make as much (and as little) sense as saying the high school swim team is denying elementary students language instruction.

Observer,

As I pointed out to you, there is no discrimination. Even oppressed whites can apply for SI or MI.

But thanks for the laugh: MI will lead to genocide--that just cracked me up!


Equality,

"Bottom line, being multi-lingual doesn't help you get ahead."

Not in your limited circle, but it's clear there's a wider world outside your ken. And language will be even more important in the future.

Also, you seem to think that the only way to learn a language is through immersion programs. This is not the case. Your comments also imply that Mandarin is the only foreign language. This, too, is false.

I think what you mean to ask is: are there multilingual top executives. I'm certain you can find many using google.

Ohlonepar,

Well, now you resort to outright falsehood. MI is not the reason the district decided to expand an elementary school.

MI brings the same benefits to Ohlone that it does to the rest of the district (scroll up). What benefit does plain Ohlone bring to MI? Be specific.

You keep making demands for your pet boutique program. Why should the rest of the district pay for your wish list?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Q,

In other words, you can't name anything specific.

No falsehoods here. Ohlone would have expanded by three classrooms without MI. Thanks to MI, we're well over that already and have a big construction site to boot. Retaining MI means DOUBLE the expansion we would otherwise have had, while eliminating the possibility of expanding Ohlone's strand DESPITE a huge waiting list.

If it weren't for MI, we wouldn't have three cubicles on the blacktop across from the 2/3s, further cutting off play space while there's construction. We'd have two--sitting in the corner of the field.

You don't even have the facts to play this, do you? Just wishful thinking. Must be nice not having to actually see how awful the situation actually is.

Must be nice not to have wonder if a kid's going to get hit in the heavy pick-up and drop-off traffic times.

So, MI's at Ohlone and you can't name *one* benefit to the Ohlone community from it? Not one? Vague comments about the district? Come on.

The reverse? Wow, you really want to go there? Okay, let's start-- MI exists because Ohlone's administration was foolish enough to take on and try to implement your little project. Ohlone administrators hire your teachers, work with the various researchers to make the project work. Someone's running MI and it ain't the members of PACE.

MI gets a lot out of Ohlone, which is part of the reason MIers resist any move. Ohlone makes it easy for the PACE crew, but it's been very much at the expense of the rest of the community.

Marilyn Cook couldn't answer the question and there's a good reason why she avoided asking people outside of MI how they felt about the program.

Does MI work to benefit Ohlone--and, remember, Q, MI is an OHLONE program--no, it doesn't. It's actively detrimental.

It should be shut down and other alternatives considered. Since I'm not anti-choice, I think MI and SI should be moved to Greendell--the administration there can then focus on immersion. Escondido needs its space back because of housing growth in that area. Ohlone should expand to full four strands and cap growth at that point, since more than that has too serious an impact on kids, the neighborhood and the actual physical environment.

NO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOULD HAVE 600 KIDS.

Got it?


Posted by equality at its best,, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm

"Not in your limited circle, but it's clear there's a wider world outside your ken. And language will be even more important in the future."

The facts don't show it. Languages have been declining for decades and you can't dispute that.
That's not to mean that they isn't any value in languages, just not financially. Reading classical books in the original language is far more satisfying than reading the translation.
However, for all the good it will do you in the corporate world, you might as well have learned to play the piano.


"I think what you mean to ask is: are there multilingual top executives. I'm certain you can find many using google."

No, I asked you the correct question. Funny how you couldn't name even one.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm

OhlonePar,
I think that you can't assume that Ohlone expansion would have only been a half strand without MI. Once the decision was made to not open Garland, I think 600 kid schools became unavoidable.
On a related note, I was surprised to see that all the money set aside for Garland is being spent (see discussion item 13 in the last board packet.) $240,675 from Garland is being moved over to fund Hoover Child Care construction. With out money, I don't think that Garland or Grendell could be open. Without those sites, Ohlone has the 3rd largest acreage in the district and will get 600+ kids, MI or no MI. If the board votes to not switch MI to on-going Ohlone will still be 4.5 strands. Can you funnel some of your anti-MI energy into that cause (opening another elementary) because I would completely support it. And having an "immersion" campus with MI and SI and maybe even throw in another language or two sounds great. If you can convince the neighborhood schoolers to support "choice" at another campus that sounds like a really cool idea. Politically fraught process, but still cool.
Also, I would actually like to know the lottery numbers for Ohlone/English. You said they are higher than Ohlone/Mandarin, are those posted anywhere?


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

OhlonePar,
One more thought, I read your question "What does MI bring to Ohlone?" and it is a good one. I think that you are angry at the BOE (and who isn't after the MI flip/flop, followed by the Garland flip/flop, followed by the calendar mess).
But I think that the Ohlone/MI parents, teachers and children have made a huge effort to fit in. I think that it is hard to tell which parent/kid is in which program. I am sure they would love your thoughts on anything else they could do or bring to Ohlone. Do you have any suggestions? (and please don't just say "go away" because it is hard to build on that.) Just in case intent is hard to read this is a heartfelt question, what can MI bring to Ohlone that they aren't already?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 6:29 pm


Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Hebrew, German etc Immersion programs should all be in the private sector---
PA Parents already pay for German and Hebrew Immersion--- why not Mandarin?

Allegations of racism in these matters are in appropriate, false and should end.


Posted by (trying not to be) racist, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I have a terrible admission, one that I feel guilty about. On the front screen for paloaltoonline today is the story "Palo Alto Students Among Nation's Top 30 in Siemen's Science Competition." My first thought (the one I feel guilty about) after looking at the smiling photo of the adorable contest winners was "…overachieving Asians – again?!" My reaction was probably intensified by the fact that 5 minutes before seeing that photo and headline, my (not overachieving) son's response to a "do your homework" reminder was to throw a shoe at me. My snarky response to the photo came out of fear about my child being out-competed. And I think (meaning this is totally my opinion) that this is the type of underlying racism that leads to people having a different response to a Spanish immersion program than to a Mandarin immersion program. I want my response to the photo to be pride in fellow Palo Altans, and Gunn and Paly for producing award winning scientists. And I did get to that perspective ultimately.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Ohlonepar,

It's hard to imagine you were not pleased with the list of specific benefits I provided. Your attitude seems to be more more more for your own boutique program. Never enough.

First, no, MI doesn't exist because of Ohlone's administration. It exists because we had farsighted board members.

As for administration of the program, that's not the Ohlone program doing MI any favors. One could as easily say that MI does Ohlone a big favor when "MI administrators" hire your Ohlone teachers, etc. Someone's running Ohlone, and it ain't Ohlone parents.

I note that you cannot name anything Ohlone contributes to MI. Hmmm.

As for expansion, that has been explained to you. MI had nothing to do with district plans to expand the Ohlone site. You seem unhappy about the expansion, and in your unhappiness you lay the blame on an easy target, the newly arrived MI. It's really a kind of bullying. I hope you refrain from spreading this attitude to your children.

Equality,

"Languages have been declining for decades and you can't dispute that." Actually, that is false, and their importance grows by the year.

I do get what you're saying: in your limited world, languages bring no financial benefit. I'm just pointing out that in the wider corporate world they do. You seem entirely unfamiliar with that world.

Your other question betrays an ignorance about language learning and immersion programs and their benefits.


Posted by equality at its best!, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:09 am

No, in the wider corporate world they don't. You say they do but have no experience you can either share or evidence you can show. We looked at successful executives and found none had gone to an immersion program. Come on, I'm using baby steps here, trying to give you something to show.

My other question betrayed no ignorance but your bias. I came into this discussion with the quote that we are teaching just %1.4 of our kinders Mandarin. You go on to say that there are no successful executives who went to an immersion program but you can google others that are bi-lingual. If you truly believed in languages, betrayed by your own words, you would be pushing for FLES and not immersion. As it is, you've provided no proof for either.
I've always stated that languages are great in the same way that learning a musical instrument is great. Just stop trying to sell this as some sort of fast-track to success. It isn't. And you are doing your children and anyone else that believes you a disservice by continuing to push that line.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Equality,

You betray deep confusion, but I will try again.

You said language is unimportant in business based on your own lack of experience, so I pointed out that that is wrong, that a second language is important and even crucial to some executive-level jobs, and that the trend is toward greater linguistic competence. (Google it.) You then got lost talking about immersion. Language learning can come in many forms, and one of them is immersion.

You said no top executives have an immersion background, and I pointed out this betrays your ignorance. First, there is no database for executives with an immersion background so we have no way to cite data. Second, immersion programs are relatively new, and very few and far between. So, of the fraction of a percent who have been in an immersion program, how many 18-year-olds with an immersion background would you expect to be executives at large companies now?

You then told us that learning language was a neato thing because it lets you read classic books although it serves no purpose in business. Again, you are ignorant of the many reasons people learn languages. (I'd have to guess you are monolingual with no international experience. Probably an engineer.) Economic advancement is one of many reasons. No one said it is a fast track to success--it is just one of many skills that can help a career.

You seem quite threatened by the idea that language could bring an economic benefit, and that shows a personal insecurity and worry about your own children. I can understand that, but the rest of us are moving forward in a multilingual world, and making good money while doing it. Immersion is an education that will pay many dividends over a lifetime: professional, cultural, and personal.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Q,

You didn't list any specific benefits. Your claim is that MI increases choice in the district. Well, it *inhibits* choice at Ohlone, overcrowds the school severely and limits the number of people who can choose Ohlone Main.

*You* can't deal with some tough truths here.

And, no, the school board does not administer MI--Ohlone does. The board grabbed on to Susan Charles' proposal to create an MI/Ohlone style program, which since no template for this exist has been a royal headache.

You just don't want to give credit where credit is due. All you've established is how little you know about the actual workings of MI.

So space, administration, teachers--hell, Q, it's an Ohlone main teacher who interviewed the prospective kids and established their fluency in Mandarin. You want further advantages--read Marilyn Cook's report--there's a reason she wants the MI program to stay at Ohlone. It makes her and the district's job easier.

Funny thing is that anon, who sounds like an MI parent, is aware that there are possible quid pro quo issues here.

The truth of the matter is that various PACErs and members of Ohlone's various groups were told that the MI program at Ohlone would be a temporary thing--because it does overcrowd the school so badly.

The backroom deal was to have the program move when another site opened. In return, Ohlone would have a building in which to expand its own program--bumping up to its three-and-a-half strands had already put modulars on the site and not have to move to Garland and lose the Farm (which is now overtaxed between the increased number of classes and the building site next to it.).

That was the deal Susan Charles was trying to cut. I always thought it was a bad idea--suspect Susan Charles realized it, too, when she abruptly retired. Her ego had gotten the better of her and she played a bad hand.

The district, however, reneged on Garland and is now trying to make Ohlone/MI permanent without regard to the severe overcrowding of the site as a means of limiting operating costs (hell, they haven't even coughed up the once-promised assistant principal.)

But you, Q,, are so out of the loop that you don't begin to understand what's really going on here.

You want to benefit all kids--then argue for an immersion school at Greendell--I'd say Garland, only it's not available and there's likely to be more of a neighborhood-school protest. Greendell's a good commuter-school site and combining SI and MI at one school would work on a lot of levels.

And, frankly, the MI program could then be focused on teaching Mandarin instead of trying to be a hybrid test program that only sort of works. Neighborhood kids could get their slots back at Escondido and Ohlone could expand a half strand and meet some of its demand.

Hell, if you want to get real ambitious, you could even think about expanding the immersion programs to eighth grade at Greendell and not have to worry about the middle-school transition.

You, Q, however, have such a chip on your shoulder that you can't see past your own biases.




Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Q,

You shouldn't try to bluff here. Thanks to the MI debate, I became familiar with much of the research on immersion.

First of all, immersion isn't new. It's been around for decades. Canada, in particular, has heavily invested in immersion programs with very mixed results. They require their civil servants to be bilingual, so there's a strong motivation for people to have their kids in immersion programs--and they still don't get great results. And it's been nearly 50 years.

Bilingualism *is* important for success for non-English speakers. But the fact of the matter is that English is the international language of business and will continue to be.

Why? Well, obviously, it's the language spoken in the world's largest economy. It's also the predominant second language of Europe and India. It's also a widely spoken second language in Hong Kong and is being widely taught in China.

You don't need to be fluent in Mandarin to get a factory to make your components.

Or, as a friend of mine says, when was the last time you saw a keyboard in Mandarin?

We *do* need to keep up our real strength--which is in innovation, preferably more in technology than in financial instruments.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

equality,

Q.'s anxiety is something you see among a certain type of MI parent--though Q doesn't seem to know very much about the actual program, so I don't think it's actually an MI parent.

Anyway, this parent tends to be an engineering type who's convinced that all our jobs are going overseas--and that the only jobs that matter are jobs in his field (engineering/programming).

They tend to be kind of rigid--it's honestly a lot easier to deal with the MI parent who's there because they want the kids to be able to talk to the grandparents.

It's that weird fixation with A solution.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Q - I read through all your comments and I can not find any concrete benefit to Ohlone. Adding "choice" to the District is not an Ohlone benefit. For example, can you fill in the blanks:
ALL the Ohlone kids now have access to (fill in the blank) because of MI.
ALL the Ohlone students are learning about (fill in the blank) because of the MI program.

Just because you think an additional choice program is good for the District doesn't mean that benefits a current Ohlone student. (And I question whether ANY new choice program is good for PASUD because we don't need to attract more students, nor do we need to give any school additional constraints on how they can best structure their classroom sizes).

I could be funny and fill in the blanks with "a crowded, divided school" and "overcrowding".
BTW - my kids are totally unaffected by MI or Ohlone.


Posted by Farsighted?, a resident of Ohlone School
on Nov 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm

"[MI] exists because we had farsighted board members."

This ain't true no how, unless you are referring to aspects of life unrelated to responsibilities of education.

The board voted against MI and was threatened with a charter school. That was the public threat. At that time, the board changed its vote.


Posted by RST, a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Hi Q, my recollection of events leading up to the MI program is different than yours. Here is how I remember it:
Step 1 – BoE votes to do an MI feasibility study
Step 2 – Superintendent and staff find the program feasible. This included proving that the program would be cost neutral to the district. They also found a creative solution to the major constraints that 1. no neighborhood school kids are displaced, and 2. the program is fully integrated and is run like it's host school. (These constraints really made Ohlone the only feasible site because 1. it is a choice school (no neighborhood kids displaced) and 2. it has mixed grade classes so the program can be a single strand and still have 2 class options and teachers for each grade.
Step 3 – BoE goes against staff recommendation and votes to not do MI
Step 4 – Many parents who have rallied behind the MI efforts decide to do the program anyway as a charter school. More parents join charter effort and planning for a school begins.
Step 5 – BoE realizes that a charter school could actually cost the district money, whereas the choice school option would not. The BoE, if not farsighted, was probably being at least frugal.
Step 6 – BoE asks charter school to stop their efforts and come back and do the choice program, thus ending up annoying just about everybody.
That's how I remember it anyway.


Posted by RST, a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2010 at 8:41 pm

To be fair, I should actually not say "the BoE" in that each board member has their own vote and opinions. 3 of the board members were fairly consistent in their position on MI (1 always against and 2 always supportive). There were 2 board members who went back and forth on their votes and (in fairness) they are the ones that "annoyed just about everybody."


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

So many misconceptions!

1. The staff at Ohlone school administers two programs: Ohlone and MI. All the alleged "benefits" flowing from Ohlone program to MI are nothing more than Ohlone school staff doing their jobs. It reveals how self-centered some Ohlone program parents are when they say that the administration staff "belongs" to them.

2. MI is not responsible for the decision to expand Ohlone or for the size of the expansion--despite all the wacky fantasies about backroom deals.

3. Immersion has a proven track record of educating bilingual, biliterate kids. You just need to do a little research to find this material.

4. No one claims that Chinese will be the international language. It is revealing that anyone would make this remark. I mean, if someone said they were studying German, would you hear a bunch of idiotic statements about how German will never be the international language of business? No. You hear this all the time about Mandarin, though, because some people are petrified of being out-competed because they don't speak Mandarin and are fearful of Chinese people. Mandarin is becoming increasingly important across a range of industries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. It's just a fact.

5. People in China and Taiwan do not type on "Mandarin keyboards" because there is no such thing. They type Chinese on qwerty keyboards.

RST,

I would merely add that the BoE was leaning toward approval after the feasibility study. They went against staff recommendations and voted down MI only after some parents made public threats to cut contributions to PIE and vote against future bond measures.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2010 at 6:24 am



The Ohlone parents and the vast majority of Palo Alto parents do not want MI in the PAUSD.

MI activists threatened to impose the costs of a charter school on PAUSD and intimidated the BoE into approving a pilot program.
The pilot is over, MI has even less support now and has shown no benefit
therefore MI should end ASAP.

The private sector will fill whatever need there is for MI --- as it does for Arabic I, Hindi I, French I, German I etc.


Posted by nothing begun ever stops, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 13, 2010 at 6:41 am

Bottom line; name one government sponsored program that has ever been cut.

Can't.

No government program, once started, ever goes away. Be it something as small as MI, or as big as the federal DOE.

Once the camel's nose is under the tent, it is IN.

I knew, the moment this became a "pilot", that it was here forever. Entropy takes over. Defense of actions taken takes over. " What do we do with those in the program?" takes over....




Posted by RST, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2010 at 7:39 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names; later restored under prior name used.]

Hi Sharon, I am curious about your comment "The Ohlone parents and the vast majority of Palo Alto parents do not want MI in the PAUSD." Can you actually support that claim in any way? I am an Ohlone parent and my characterization would be "The Ohlone/English parents overall are fairly postive about MI (with one angry exception that posts on townsquare often). The Ohlone/Mandarin parents are incredibly positive and grateful. The vast majority of Palo Alto parents probably could care less, and most people without kids in elementary school who live in Palo Alto don't even know about it."


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Date please -

I don't know if the majority of Ohlone parents - MI or not - want the program. I do know that the few Ohlone parents I know feel that there are two separate schools on one campus, with perfectly nice parents and kids in each program, but little interaction. (SI and Escondido is probably similiar). The regular Escondido STUDENTS I know felt like the SI program took away from their ability to be a cohesive school and they missed out on something that the regular neighborhood school students received in terms of community building.

I think the majority of PAUSD parents are aware of the MI program and many resent it and the SI program because it gives a very small number of kids an unfair advantage, while the majority of the k-6 kids get no foreign language at all. In addition to language, the attrition factor and need to be at grade level in the target language means that the immersion students are guaranteed a small class size even when the other classes grow to 25.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Interesting fact.

My eldest child has just graduated college. When she started Kindergarten here in Palo Alto our neighborhood school started a 3 year trial program whereby the same cohort of kindergarteners and the same teacher did 3 years in the same classroom as some type of experiment. The kinders in this room did not mix with the other kinders and when it came to 1st and 2nd grades they still did not mix. It was like they were on another planet, or at least in another school. It wasn't until 3rd grade when the groups were all mixed up together for regular classroom time that they started to get to know each other and were cohesive.

I suspect that the same will go on in SI and MI. If the kids don't mix in the classroom they do not get to know each other from playing outside at recess and lunchtimes. In the upper elementary classes when they get mixed for pe and music some of this may happen, but otherwise I can't see it happening on its own.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Q, again, you couldn't come up with a concrete advantage for Ohlone main from MI.

As for just doing their jobs. Hello? Those teachers and administrators already HAD full-time jobs and put together the MI program on top of them. Sorry, Q, I knew the people involved and they were tired and overworked as a result. Again, you don't know what you're talking about.

And, unfortunately for you and me, I do. It's been painful to witness what's happened to the school

data please?

Really, you haven't heard one parent complain about the overcrowding at the school site? You didn't notice the large crowd of Ohlone parents at the MI meeting a few years back pushing against having the program at the school? They were wearing green. Do you really think they all left and all changed their minds?

Do you really think any of them are thrilled with a nearly unusable campus while construction goes on and more kids on one-third the playing space?

Ohlone parents are polite--I know what I know about the program because I am always polite at the school. You would have no idea how I feel about the MI program.

But, whatever, in some ways my question about how does Ohlone main benefit from MI is the key. Because if there were an obvious benefit, I think we'd hear about it. Heck, I think *you* would say what it was.

How enthusiastic are people really going to be about a program that strains and overcrowds their school site and administration that doesn't offer them something in return? And, frankly, makes it less likely that our friends with younger children will be able to get into the Ohlone-main program.

Was Ohlone a better school for non-MI kids before MI arrived?

I think, like it or not, the answer's pretty obvious.

Or let me put it another way--how many parents who wore green shirts to that meeting three years ago have changed their colors and have come out as supporters of MI at Ohlone? I can't name one. And, yes, most of them are still there.

Sorry, I think my view is about as good as it gets--which is I think it would be fine if the district found a place for the program at one of its unused schools.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names; later restored.]

I am in the MI program and I am really happy with how much our family feels like part of the whole Ohlone school. One of the things I have found to be really special about Ohlone school is how many of the kids know each other, across classes and even across grade level. When I was in school it was my experience that I knew and played with the kids in my class. My kid's friend pool is so much bigger than mine! As an example, my child has 2 birthday parties tomorrow. One is for an MI classmate and the other is for my child's best friend of many years who is in the Ohlone English track. The friends met in preschool and are still very close. We also had 2 playdates with 2 completely different friends this last week. One friend is in his Ohlone/Mandarin class, one friend is in Ohlone/English. I also just thought of 2 carpools in my child's class where one of the kids is in MI and one is in English track. So I think that the kids actually mix quite a bit.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names; later restored.]

I am late to this thread, but OhlonePar, you seem frustrated that your question "how does Ohlone main benefit from MI?" is going unanswered. I am an MI parent and would like to think of, or find an answer for you. I genuinely don't understand what you are looking for. I can think of tons of examples of things that specific parents who are in MI bring to the school. They are on the CVC, on site council, PTA, green team, they comprise half of the foreign language council, they are volunteering at the farm and library is that what you are looking for? Can you give me an example of "what SI brings to Escondido" or what "Ohlone brings to the district as a whole" to work with? I think that the "MI parents" are as unhappy as the "English track parents" with the construction and cramped play areas. As was mentioned before, without opening Garland or another 13th elementary campus, Ohlone will be over 600 kids MI or no MI, so blaming MI for construction and traffic is not really accurate. And you forget that we are with you on campus experiencing it, and we are even in the portables with less room, toxic PVC out-gassing and no running water. (Not that I'm complaining! We are happy to be in our portables at Ohlone.)


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 14, 2010 at 1:04 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2010 at 5:43 am

Language immersion programs have no place in PAUSD.

Arabic,Hindi and a host of other language immersion programs are provided by the private sector and mandarin should be in the same category.
MI pilot has taught Palo Alto parents that the MI program in PAUSD should be terminated ASAP

Enough is enough-


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

OP
In my opinion we either support all types of "special" programs or we don't. For years now I have heard from you how MI should not be in existence but Ohlone should. This doesn't make any sense. They are both specialized programs. My personal opinion is that we should just have neighborhood schools (no SI, MI, Hoover or Ohlone) BUT since we have some special programs, why shouldn't MI be one of them? Once you start offering special programs ie Hoover , Ohlone and SI, it is only a matter of time before other groups with specials interests want a piece of the action. Seems to me you can't think that just your special group should get a school - that is the ultimate in entitlement.

Your earlier post said" And, frankly, makes it less likely that our friends with younger children will be able to get into the Ohlone-main program." really made me laugh. Are you saying that Ohlone should be there for YOUR friends? talk about a double standard.


Posted by Resentment runs high, a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

Parent...by your reasoning, because some programs that are open to ALL students regardless of language orientation and based on learning styles are in the district, we should just roll over and create specialty programs that limit enrolllment in grade school to specialty kids..maybe a performing arts elementary school, a math/science elementary school, an arabic language immersion school (with 50%r enrollment by English only speakers and 50% by Arabic speakers)...etc.

And, of course, make sure they are all limited by lotteries, so that not all kids can get what they want.

The point of the different learning style schools was not to exclude kids on any one basis..but unfortunately rather than grow a very popular program like Ohlone so that all who want it, get it, our district has chosen to cause yet more division and separation in our "one for all, all for one" public school, tax paid system.

Oh well...now let's just wait for the next boutique program limited to a few to displace both more neighborhood kids and deny yet more kids from already impacted and popular programs.

Resentment runs high in those rejected already from SI and/or Ohlone but still forced to pay for it..as the years go by, there are more and more of us.

Easy fix would have been, and still could be..enlarge what already exists to allow more to enter, without impacting already existing neighborhood schools.




Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

I apologize to the group for not reading the terms of use! I picked names relevant to the points I was making (mom of friendly kids, data please and question), I am also RST. I guess that is not how the blog is supposed to work? I am obviously a newbie.
I would appreciate it if I could have my posts back somehow though, I spent a lot of time writing them and thinking about them and I don't think any of them were mean... it is a bit discouraging I didn't think to save them. I will actually go read the terms of use now. And I guess I'll stick with RST. And again I am really very sorry to the group and to the paloaltoonline people for my ignorance on this format.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

@
RST aka Q aka etc.etc.etc,etc

Your behavior is technically know as Sock Puppeting----in your case multiple fake identity Sock Puppeting

Such egregious behavior gets you banned for life from most blogs and forums.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm



As Q, under its many aliases on this blog,was the sole supporter of MI---what does this say about ethics?
Qs earlier posts under multiple fake identities remain

--but a very good catch by an alert PaloAltonline employee of this fraud--he/she deserve praise, reward and commendation for a job well done -- in America we have standards--best to keep them


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hi Sharon,
I am not "Q".
I am not a blog person, townsquare is the extent of my blog reading. I saw names like "ohlonepar" and "choice for whom" and "link to mi report" and thought that the "name" was supposed to connect to the content you were including, like the title of a book report. I made an honest newbie mistake, I am embarrassed at my ignorance and I took the time to apologize. Can you accept my apology, and can we move back to the topic at hand?


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Resentment,

Your online name says it all....

"Parent...by your reasoning, because some programs that are open to ALL students regardless of language orientation and based on learning styles are in the district, we should just roll over and create specialty programs that limit enrolllment in grade school to specialty kids"

Nice try, but that's just a strawman argument. Accepting MI doesn't mean every program is acceptable. If we have sufficient interest in a program and the district determines that it is educationally sound, then the board should consider its impact on the district. Only then should a program go ahead. There is probably room for more language immersion in the district (not sure about the demand for a performing arts school in these parts), but you need to be motivated and organized if that is your goal....

You are hypocritical in criticizing MI and yet defending your own boutique Ohlone program. One could just as easily say that resentment runs high among those rejected from MI and those displaced from their local school (Ohlone) by the Ohlone program.

Let's see. You defend SI and Ohlone, but attack MI. What is the possible explanation for that? Hm, could it be?


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Some people commenting here are missing the point of the difference between Ohlone, which is an educational style, versus the language of a particular group based on ethnicity. Our schools are supposed to offer a good education, and for some this is exemplified by the Ohlone way of teaching elementary school. Mandarin immersion may be taught in a particular style, however, what sets it apart is its language, Mandarin, which has nothing to do with improving the learning environment for all students involved. Ohlone is not a perfect learning environment, but it is a huge improvement for many kids, and the whole community at least tries to be inclusive, tolerant, and not to favor any one race, or ethnic group, or religion - it does oppress those of Christian faith by not allowing any Christmas symbols on campus, while including symbols and traditions of many other cultures. However, it is not specifically based on just one ethnic or racial preference, which MI is. This is the difference. To pretend that the Ohlone way and MI are somehow the same thing is dishonest and undermines the effort to have a productive discussion. To keep harping on racism and pretending that nobody says a word against SI is also just lacking in integrity.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I think what OhlonePar is looking for an answer to is "what benefit does Ohlone receive from MI that it would have gotten from additional students and families admitted to the traditional Ohlone program" . Its wonderful that MI parents are involved in the school, but it is just because they are parents of students at Ohlone. It has nothing to do with whether their kids are learning Mandarin or not. Does Spanish Immersion by virtue of being Spanish add anything to Escondido (I've actually heard a lot of the opposite because there is a whole separate parent organization)


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I wanted to comment on Observer's comment that MI is ".. specifically based on just one ethnic or racial preference."
I think that the reality is actually much more interesting and complicated than that. My observation from being in the program is that the majority of the kids in the program are very multicultural. I think that Ohlone as a school is very diverse.
So if a child has a Chinese speaking mom and a Portugese speaking dad what does that mean for racial preference? What if the ethnically Chinese child is adopted and being raised in a Caucasian home, is racial preference in play? What if the parents are Japanese, Indonesian or other "Asian looking" ethnicity and speak no Mandarin? What if the child is Chinese, but his parents and grandparents all speak Cantonese and not Mandarin? What if a Caucasian child went to a bilingual daycare and preschool and comes into the program as a fluent Mandarin speaker? What if the child is Hispanic and speaks Spanish at home? Each of these categories represents atleast one actual child in the MI program… so I think that your "racial preference" just doesn't really apply to what is happening in the classrooms and in the program.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm

On diversity, I realized that in the MI program we have representatives from all over the globe! We have Africa, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, South America and North America all represented. In terms of continents, I unfortunately can't think of anybody from Australia, and Antartica doesn't count....


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm

As I've explained many times on this forum, Mandarin is just one language. Yes, the children being offered it are from many different ethnic groups, but the language being offered in the MI program is Mandarin. Mandarin does not represent more than one language as it is just Mandarin. My problem with it is not the students to whom it is being taught, it is with the many many languages that are NOT being taught in our school district. Please stop reverting to this same old argument. It is disingenuous.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm

This is the first time that I addressed your point, so maybe somebody made the same comments I did earlier. If they did I am sorry to be redundant.
Can I try and clarify your argument? Are you trying to say that PAUSD should either teach ALL languages or teach NO languages?


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Observer,

MI is not based on "one ethnic or racial preference," despite your misconceptions. All races are welcome.

paloalto mom,

"I think what OhlonePar is looking for an answer to is "what benefit does Ohlone receive from MI that it would have gotten from additional students and families admitted to the traditional Ohlone program""

You may be right, but that raises the question why she demands that MI give her program benefits. MI doesn't ask what benefit it receives from the Ohlone program that it would not have gotten from additional students admitted to the MI program.

Observer,

It makes no sense to blame MI for the "the many many languages that are NOT being taught in our school district." MI is not to blame for that. Seriously, what else is it to blame for? Lack of air conditioners? If you truly favored having more languages, you would work for it with other parents.

Interesting how vehement you are towards MI and have nothing to say about SI.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 9:19 pm

From an ethical American point of view if we have MI we should have Arabic I, Hindi I, German I etc

The logical and rational approach is to have NO immersion programs in PAUSD
If people want their kids to speak their various ethic languages then they should pay for it.
The language of the USA is English---get used to it


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm

RST, as I've said before, I'm against the immersion program because we can't afford to offer immersion in all the languages that the population of our schools would benefit from. We could, however, teach a greater variety of languages based on the population of the district and the needs and preferences of that population. No, we don't have to have immersion in every single language on earth. But what do you tell the child who would love to learn his or her heritage language but it isn't offered when they see Mandarin being offered? You can only admit that we have a racist system that discriminates against him or her.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Observer,
I think that your point is that if we are (for example) Italian-American, my daughter might want to learn Italian. She gets to JLS and her only world language options currently are Spanish, French and Japanese. So she might feel that the other kid's cultures are more important than hers? Is that your point?
I think that you might be over emphasizing the heritage connection. I took French in middle school, without any cultural connection to France, unless a love of brie cheese counts.
PAUSD was awarded a $300,000 FLAP grant to develop it's K-12 curriculum, including the K-5 immersion program now at Ohlone. Another grant recipient was the state of Utah which started 8 MI programs last year. I am guessing there are not "8 MI programs" worth of Chinese heritage speakers in Utah, although I could be wrong.
I think you bring up an interesting point though, how does the district select which languages to offer. SI and MI both came out of a strong interest among parents in the district for those programs to be offered. And both had parent champions. I think that the languages at middle school are selected by what students want to take. There needs to be a sustained community interest in it. I think that there is a sustained community interest in Mandarin (here and in Utah).


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:56 am

Observer,

Languages are not races, and it is not racist to teach languages. You don't really understand the word.

But it is racist to oppose languages on the basis of what race speaks that language.

I was, however, amused by your suggestion that we teach languages based on the population. Are you award that Chinese is the most widely spoken home language in Palo Alto? So, I suppose this means you will advocate eliminating German and maybe French from the middle schools so that Mandarin can be offered.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:33 am

Q, Since it is widely spoken at home, perhaps the children who are not learning their heritage languages at home are the ones in need of the resources.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 16, 2010 at 7:39 am

RST -you are correct that MI (and I assume SI) came about because of parent interest and support. The continued success of both depends on student interest. ALL the electives in middle and I suspect high school are based on interest, which is why some have disappeared over the years. No more German is an example.

The only issue with an immersion program is the requirement to participate. You can start Spanish or French at Jordan in 7th grade, but you can't join SI unless you are fluent at 6th grade level in Spanish. If you can guarantee that there will continue to be enough kids to sustain the program with the same size classes as the non-immersion classes, you would get less protesting.

It also would make a lot of sense for both immersion programs to be at a commuter friendly location.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 8:45 am

Observer,

"Q, Since it is widely spoken at home, perhaps the children who are not learning their heritage languages at home are the ones in need of the resources."

Er, it was your master plan that language instruction should follow racial lines, not mine. (See above.) But now that you discover that the largest group is Chinese, you don't think your original idea is such a good idea after all. Why am I not surprised that you changed your mind?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You again conflate race with language. Just because you're Chinese, doesn't mean you speak it or want to learn it. Just because you're white, doesn't mean you don't.

palo alto mom,

It's not entirely correct that the electives in middle school are based on interest. They will drop a language if the interest is insufficient, but it's not like the students or parents have a say in what's on the menu. The process of selecting languages is opaque, to say the least.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 16, 2010 at 9:05 am

Q - there are a lot more elective in middle and high school than just languages and students and parents certainly can give their opinion on what is offered. In addition to interest, there also needs to be a qualified teacher, classroom space, etc.


Posted by Racial Preference, a resident of Ohlone School
on Nov 16, 2010 at 9:18 am

"MI is not based on "one ethnic or racial preference," despite your misconceptions. All races are welcome."

This is good positioning, but not reality.

If you look at nearby MI programs, by the 8th grade, all or almost all remaining students are Chinese.

This is completely understandable and even predictable. The program may not be racist, but it is based on an ethnic or racial preference. To deny that is disingenuous.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

Palo Alto mom,

"parents certainly can give their opinion on what is offered." Sure, but to no effect. The middle schools offer what they want to offer, and there is no mechanism for checking with the community as to what is in demand. This is very teacher-driven and caters to their interests rather than student interest.

Racial Preference,

"If you look at nearby MI programs, by the 8th grade, all or almost all remaining students are Chinese."

Not true. But even if it were, so what? All races are welcome. If you disagree, please bring forward a single person who was denied entry based on race. Still waiting.......


Posted by Maximize Choice?, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:55 am

For those interested (but unable to stay up past midnight on a weeknight for a Board of Ed. meeting), you can view the MI portion of last week's meeting here:
Web Link

You can also view the information prepared by the staff here:
Web Link


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Racial Preference-

I am responding to your comment "If you look at nearby MI programs, by the 8th grade, all or almost all remaining students are Chinese."
I have an editing suggestion for you, I think that "remaining students are Chinese-American" sounds better than "Chinese". I honestly don't think that you wanted to suggest that the kids in the program aren't American.
And finally in an earlier post, I list some of the many nationalities that are actually in the program now. Of the 45ish families I know, I can only think of 3 or 4 off the top of my head that would meet the image you probably have in your head of Chinese-American mom and dad and Chinese-American kid.(Although this really shouldn't matter!)
The program is limited to a max of 1/3 of the incoming kids being fluent in Mandarin. There is no racial or heritage requirement and legally can't, and shouldn't, be. The kids that fill those 6 Mandarin speaking spots each year have been many races, including Caucasian and mixed race. The mixed race kids include Chinese/African-American, Japanese/Chinese-American, Taiwanese/Chinese-American, and many different European/Asian-American mixed families. So when you look at a group of people and see "Chinese" the reality, especially in the Bay Area, is more complex than that. It is also wise to not make assumptions about race, remember Nevada politician Sharron Angle telling a room full of Hispanic students that they looked Asian?
I also have a simple question for you, what nearby MI programs are you talking about? My kids aren't in 8th grade yet, but I didn't know of any such programs. Thank you for the research if you have some.


Posted by Never-picked, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Resentment Runs High -- I couldn't agree with you more; more people who want the boutique programs, and fewer are getting them. From SI and Ohlone to Hoover and Connections. At least at Ohlone and Connections, there was enough interest in the last few years to begin a new strand at Connections -- -- and an entire new campus for the Ohlone property. That is incredible. When the demand in the district is strong enough to have enough people for another building of a boutique program, and the Administration ignores that fact, even the administration at Ohlone and Connections, that is a serious problem.

What is preventing the district from responding? Not enough people being squeaky wheels. How did MI happen? Pressure. If you're going to an information meeting for any of the boutique programs, you should seriously consider collecting names and emails of people interested in the program you are interested in, and start making noise.

I wish I would have done this when my first kid was rejected from Ohlone. Perhaps my other two kids could have gotten a boutique education if I and the other "losers" in the lottery had gotten organized and gotten loud.


Posted by PAPD-Critic, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Mandarin will replace spanish at some point in time and become the "universal" language of the future. Similar to the vision of Esperanto
by the late Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

The official language in the USA is English.

Bilingual education failed for good reasons,it does not work.

Germany,England, France, Sweden and Holland now acknowledges the multiple disasters of their multiculturalism approach.

E Pluribus Unum is the foundation of the USA.

The challenge for Mexican immigrants is to get fluent in English and that should be a condition for immigration--those who are not fluent are handicapped.
It is fine to have a variety of language instruction in PAUD
But Immersion programs are dysfunctional and should be prohibited in the public school systems,parents who want Arabic, Hindi,Spanish etc Immersion programs should pay for it in the private sector---it is time to end this nonsense--enough is enough.


Posted by Escondido parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Coming from Escondido, I can tell you that there are two schools there. Everyone tries to say it's one but the two sets of parents don't mix. There is definitely a sense from the SI parents that if you are not part of the group you are invisible and that you don't contribute to the school. I find it ironic that many of the SI parents are actually in the Escondido neighborhood and their kids would be attending Escondido anyway, but they act as though they are different from the other neighborhood parents. It's extremely frustrating. When one of my kids was moving to middle school, one of the SI parents asked the Jordan principle, "What are you going to do for the SI students who are used to just being with each other?" My child was just used to being with her two strand of English kids. What's the difference? The sense of entitlement from the parents and the kids is huge.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

2 billion people speak English world wide and it is by far the major language of the internet
Web Link


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Sharon fails to provide any proof for her claims about the failure of immersion programs.
We do business with the whole world. We need a new generation of people who can speak foreign languages. immersion programs are a good gateway for that. Immersion programs arre not new to Palo Alto or the US.
Look how our efforts to combat terrorism are hindered by the lack of aran speakers as an example.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2010 at 2:30 am

RST,

I'm sure Racial Preference is referring to Cupertino's MI program which runs through eigth grade.

As for the MI students at Ohlone, the bulk of them have at least one parent of Chinese ancestry--it's an easy check if you have a directory. Marilyn Cook admits as much by claiming MI makes Ohlone more diverse. According to PACE's own survey, of the families interested in MI, 80 percent were Asian, 20 percent were Caucasian.

I think the actual MI program isn't quite as lopsided simply because the Ohlone Way doesn't appeal to many East Asian immigrant parents, but the interest is still primarily among families where a form of Chinese is a heritage language.

In this way, it's quite different than SI.

I don't really agree with Cook about the increased diversity since kids who are ESL speakers but not Mandarin speakers aren't eligible for the program. We have a ton of immigrants in this city as well as among the Tinsley kids. I think your average Ohlone-main class has more diversity.

Back to a few days ago. Palo Alto Mom has it right--Ohlone parents are expected to volunteer. MI parents haven't made the volunteer situation at Ohlone easier. In some ways, it's somewhat worse for a couple of simple reasons. One, MI has its own volunteer needs (Lunar New Year) and MI parents tend to put those first. Two, volunteer recruitment works best with parents you know. Since MI children are never in the same class as the kids in all the other strands, there's not a lot of cross over.

In other words, Ohlone expanded by half strand would have made for a better volunteer environment.

Note to Q--you come across as someone searching for a racist under every bed. Racism is the strawman you use when you can't respond.

You live in a multiracial society, you'd do better, I think, to try to understand the viewpoints of others instead lobbing personal attacks at them.

I do know various MI parents--it's quite possible to disagree with someone without thinking they're evil incarnate as a result.

You should try a little open-mindedness Q--particularly if you actually want to convince someone who doesn't already agree with you.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:46 am

Ohlonepar,

Hm, you spend most of your post complaining about how many Chinese kids are in MI, and yet you don't like it when racism is raised. More than a little funny!

The fact is that I don't need to look for racists under every bed--they've been out in the open for some time with the MI thing. Don't take my word for it, though. The Merc and the NY Times both talked about it. Heck, even board members complained about the anti-Chinese racism.

Claiming that racism is just a strawman is itself a strawman, which you erect when you can't beat the evidence.

It is deeply touching that you are so deeply concerned for ESL speakers who don't speak Mandarin (I think I've seen you giving full-throated support for Tinsley), but you can rest easy now--the whole thing about them not being eligible was invented by someone with an ax to grind. Imagine that. I'm surprised you weren't aware of the ESL kids already in the program.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:39 am

This argument about racism is ridiculous. Just like all pc issues, it appears that discussing any topic in this country has become almost impossible without using discrimination of any kind as an ism.

Whether it is crime, religion, education, politics,etc., someone losing their point of view uses ism as a reason why their opponents oppose them. It makes all rational discussion pointless.

We must be able to agree to disagree with each other without it being any type of judgmental call on character. If we can't do this then we are no better than the thought police. We must be allowed to have our own opinions, support those opinions with valid reasons, without being accused of any type of ism.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 8:22 am

I agree with you Ohlone Par. Q, you are disingenuous in service of your own opinion. You have not addressed the question of why it is that one child should have his or her heritage language offered in our district while another should not. I'm talking here about the child, not the language. As you keep saying, language is not a race. What do you say to my child, whose heritage language is not offered? That he is welcome to apply to study someone else's? Why? What makes that other language more valuable than his? A family could sue this district for discrimination because of MI and SI.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

Observer,

"What do you say to my child, whose heritage language is not offered?" Study another language.

Why do you equate language and race? They are not the same thing. Picking a language to teach has nothing to do with race. This is clearly a deep confusion for you.

The choice of language really should be driven by demand and strategic needs of the country, not race.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:59 am

Ohlonepar,
Race and ethnicity are not in any way prerequisite for admission to the program, in my opinion this is a non-issue. The district does not, and cannot, ask a child their race for any program. The program is incredibly diverse.
I think that the fact that you can say "..the bulk of (the MI families) have at least one parent of Chinese ancestry--it's an easy check if you have a directory" shows an over simplification of race. And can you give the benefit of the doubt, and consider that reading this comment if you were of Chinese ancestry might feel at least kind of "icky"? Can you tell how many generations a family has been in America from a surname? Can you even tell a Chinese surname from a Japanese one from a Taiwanese one from an American one? Can you tell what language they speak at home? How do you account for mixed race families and name changes?
And MOST IMPORTANTLY why would you bother to conduct such an exercise? Why does it matter? Is there some racial balance that feels "safe" or "OK" or "just." What if every class were twenty-five percent Chinese-American and seventy-five percent Caucasian-American? Is that "OK" to you? When a Hispanic family joins this hypothetical class, would you want to categorize them as "non-white" (=bad?) or as "not-Chinese" (=good?). This gets really complicated, and potentially "icky" really fast. And the reality is that it ethnicity doesn't matter to the BoE, it doesn't matter to Ohlone and I wish that it didn't matter to you.
In any set of criteria to judge success of the MI program, race/ethnicity/heritage should not come in to play. And it is not part of the criteria used by the school board, or the criteria for admission to the program.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:29 am


Unless the PAUSD also implements immersion programs for Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Russian, German, French etc as well as MI and SI then it should have NO language immersion programs.
To just have MI and SI is discriminatory, unfair and divisive and probably illegal.

The private sector provides for immersion programs and the parents should pay for it.
Enough is enough.


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

"Unless the PAUSD also implements immersion programs for Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Russian, German, French etc as well as MI and SI then it should have NO language immersion programs."

Why is that Sharon? Why do we have to have immersion programs in 20 different languages?
Please provide an explanation for your comment

"To just have MI and SI is discriminatory, unfair and divisive and probably illegal."
Why is it discriminatory, unfair and divisive? we have SI for years and no one has seemed to complain. Where were you before the MI program started? Please provide proof for your allegations.
if you think it is illegal, you are free to bring a lawsuit against the PAUSD.

We need a new generation of bi-lingual people. Immersion programs will help answer this need. It is for the good of america--our economy and our security. STrange that people would oppose these goals


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

Sharon,
Do you think that it is discriminatory to offer only Japanese, French and Spanish at JLS? I am just still trying to understand your point.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

RST
The topic of this blog is the divisive, discriminatory nature of having language Immersion programs starting at elementary schools to the detriment of PAUSD kids, parents and staff.

Elective languages in HS and middle school are a completely different matter ---they are not immersion --if you want to talk about that open another thread under one of your many aliases

If parents want immersion programs they should pay for their kids to go to private schools--there are such French and German private immersion schools in the area--MI should be the same.


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 11:35 am

"The topic of this blog is the divisive, discriminatory nature of having language Immersion programs starting at elementary schools to the detriment of PAUSD kids, parents and staff."
That is not true. The topic of this blog is: MI status to change from "pilot" to "ongoing".
The fact that one poster continually claims that Mi is divisive or discriminatory and/or is detrimental to PAUSD kids, parents and staff does not make it true. Especially when said poster provides no proof whatsoever for her claims.

We have had immersion programs in Palo Alto for years. Why the outcry now?

What about our country's need for foreign language speakers in the future? Strange that people would oppose what is probably a good investment for our future.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Real Sharon,

While I've enjoyed posts of yours in the past, you sound unfamiliar with the debate about MI.

It's not recent, it's been going on for years. Unlike other programs, it's a pilot program that has taken up space at a school that is already unable to meet the demand for its own permanent program.

This has not been the case with the other choice programs. Hoover and Ohlone were both established when the district was shutting down schools. SI, though this is not the case now, was established when there were spare classrooms at multiple schools.

SO, space is at a premium in the district--what is it about MI that makes it entitled to this space at the expense of other programs and plain old neighborhood schools?

What does it bring to anyone who's not in the program given the space premium? The board, it's worth remembering, did not initially approve of the program, but only okayed it when threatened with a charter--at which point two members switched their vote for that reason. It was seen as the lesser of two evils. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

It's an ongoing issue.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:45 pm

RST,

Please quit misusing the term "race"--Chinese is not a race; it's a nationality and, loosely, an ethnicity, though there multiple ethnicities within China, so "Chinese" isn't all that precise.

You're kind of grasping at straws here. You tried to argue that the MI kids were a diverse group--I pointed out why this isn't the case. Do I care that much? No, not really, except that I'd like a little more honesty from MIers on the subject.

But, anyway, since you want to go there, I'll explain (yet again) that the issue here is what is the justification of MI as part of the public education system. One thing you don't want in a public education system is a program that caters to the desires of a particular priviledged ethnic group.

The big issue with MI in that way is the Mandarin requirement for transfers and one third of the class. Whether you like it or not, there aren't a bunch of Mexican kids around here who are native Mandarin speakers.

It's like this--there may be no stated discrimination on the basis of ethnicity for MI--but the 1/3 native Mandarin speaker requirement results in a de facto discrimination.

And, yes, it does matter. And, no, foreign language programs in middle school with no native speaker requirement do not have this issue.

If bilingualism is that important than foreign languages should be available to all students in the district, not just a tiny percentage of them.

By the way, I take it you concede that MI offers no benefit to the rest of Ohlone?


































































Just out of curiosity, RST--have you ever had a non-MI Ohlone parent tell you what a benefit it was to have MI at the school?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm


actually racism is a big deal in China--it is the Han against the rest-
these conflicts will probably lead to the demise of China and the Han would be empire.
The imposition of Mandarin on Cantonese and other languages-- such as the Tibetan language -- is seen as part of this imperial domination by one racial group in China.


Posted by Never-picked, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:15 pm

OhlonePar -- Has anyone from the district talked to non-MI parents about their feelings about having MI on campus? During the survey process, was anybody asked? I have friends on that campus, and at least according to them, they already knew it was approved and going to stay there. They feel irritated that no one asked them, but they are also uncomfortable about making waves. They were not surveyed, but it is a big school, so they may have not been in the sample.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Never-Picked,

No, no one outside of MI was surveyed. There's been no attempt to do so. Part of what makes Marilyn Cook's report such a joke is that the people she surveys are people whose livelihoods depend on the project continuing.

It is a curious omission, isn't it, for a program that's supposed to be part of the Ohlone Way? Sort of a tacit admission that everybody knows that the program isn't wanted by most of the school community.


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm

OhlonePar,
- Thank you for the clarification on the word race, you are correct, I was not very precise.
- You can't "point out" that the kids in MI are not diverse, because it is not true. As I mentioned earlier there are people in the program with ancestors from Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South and North America, India and Asia. And the program is tiny, 88ish kids. Maybe I should turn my hypothetical question into a real question for you; "Is there some (ethnic) balance that feels "safe" or "OK" or "just?" If so, what is it?
- Thanks to the MI program there will be "some Mexican kids" who are fluent Mandarin speakers in a couple years.
- There are non-Asian kids that are coming into the program as fluent Mandarin speakers due to bilingual preschools, babysitters, daycare and classes. There are Chinese-Americans that are coming in as English speakers because they don't speak any Mandarin, their parents only know English.
- I agree we should have more foreign language for anybody who wants it.
- Characterizing Chinese-Americans as "..a particular priviledged ethnic group" once again sounds if not racist, than at least "icky." Do you have any Chinese friends willing to proof read for you, or at least run these comments by?
- I think about the school and the program so differently than you do the MI benefit question just doesn't really make sense? As was requested earlier, can you give me a template to work from? Maybe, I could work off of what benefit does room 12 give to the rest of the school? What benefit does the k/1 cluster give to the 4/5 cluster. It is all one school to me, so the question doesn't make sense. Again I gave plenty of examples of things that individual parents do for the school but that didn't seem like the answer you were fishing for.
- Yes, I have had great conversations with parents about the MI program and most people I interact with are genuinely positive and curious. Nobody has avoided the subject with me. Some parents with older kids have expressed regret in not starting or following through with language for their kids. I think that for families with kids that came to the school since MI has been here, it is really no big deal. There is a lot of mixing happening. Instead of thinking of the MI program as "them" and "us" for these families MI is a natural part of Ohlone. I have had many Ohlone English families ask me about the program because they want to put younger siblings into the lottery for it. I have also had 2 families say that they would enter the MI lottery but they were worried about giving up an Ohlone spot for a program that is in pilot stage.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 11:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Yawn, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 19, 2010 at 6:20 am

Thought I would check to see what the latest was...and nothing has changed in 3 years.

Those opposed to MI offer why it doesn't fit our American model of "one for all, all for one" education, paid for by all property owners in Palo Alto.

Those for it scream "racism!!" in response.

Nothing changes.

I hope that, before I die, this canard of "-isms" dies and I can see my country return to a discussion of issues on relevant principles, instead of name-calling.

Shall I set up a betting site? How shall I configure it? Based on percentage of times in a discussion an '-ism' is thrown down?

Been my experience that the first one to throw down an -ism card is the one who has lost on merit.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2010 at 6:40 am



The logical and just solution is to set up a private Mandarin school in the area to cater to those who want MI for their kids.

We have French Immersion schools and German Immersion Schools in the area and we should have private Mandarin Immersion ones too.

The German government provides grants for the German Schools, the Chinese government likewise could provide grants for the Mandarin/Chinese schools.
Not every kid at the German or French schools is German or French--same diversity will apply to the private Mandarin School.

MI has no place in the PAUSD-it is being forced upon the district, schools, teachers, parents and kids by a small activist group who use threats of forcing the expense of a Charter school on Palo Alto taxpayers and the district if they do not get their way--

This is an outrage, and will not stand!

We did not get such threats from German or French immersion activists--they set up their own schools and paid for it themselves.

Allegation of racism in this matter is an inflammatory tactic which is beneath contempt.


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2010 at 7:47 am

Not sure why Sharon is so dead set against MI but has no problems with other immersion programs in Palo Alto. Immersion progarms are not new to Palo alto--why the sudden outrage over MI?
Sharon once again does not provide any proof for her claims regarding other immersion schools, but that is really irrelevant, as we have come to expect a lack of proof with regard to Sharon's claims.

"MI has no place in the PAUSD-it is being forced upon the district, schools, teachers, parents and kids by a small activist group who use threats of forcing the expense of a Charter school on Palo Alto taxpayers and the district if they do not get their way--"
Perhaps Sharon would provide us for some proof for this allegation?

"This is an outrage, and will not stand!"
Apparently Sharon has not read the title of this topic. It apparently will stand and will continue.

"Allegation of racism in this matter is an inflammatory tactic which is beneath contempt."
I think we all know what is really beneath contempt. However one has to think about why someone would rail against a single immersion program in PA but not against any of the others.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

Sharon - there is a private Mandarin Immersion school in Palo Alto - the International School of the Peninsula Web Link. Tuition is about $20K per year, $180,000 for a K-8 education is a pretty good reason to want our public school to have a program..

Real Sharon - The comment "MI has no place in the PAUSD-it is being forced upon the district, schools, teachers, parents and kids by a small activist group who use threats of forcing the expense of a Charter school on Palo Alto taxpayers and the district if they do not get their way" is very provable. Just read the old BOE transcripts, the Board was not planning on implementing MI until PACE threatened to start a Charter, which the Board felt we cause more harm to the District than a MI program at one of the school. There were and still are Staff members who support the program (including our old Superintendent) but it always felt a bit like they just wanted to be in on the latest fad.

I think there are some people who are protesting MI because it is Mandarin. I think there are a lot more who feel that both MI, SI and any other program which requires a certain skill to enter, has no place in PAUSD.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 10:50 am


I am a mom of a child who could probably test into MI as 2nd or 3rd grader (and have friends in similar situations, and not that it matters, many are blond including mine). However, I still can't get the information to make an informed decision. I went to the Ohlone meeting, and all they talk about is Ohlone and something like "Trust Us". I do trust them for the traditional Ohlone program, not MI. Maybe they can do it, maybe not. However, hearing that in 1st grade there is a total of 1 or 2 hours per week of actual instruction for English reading and writing scares me. Does anyone know what it is for 2nd grade and 3rd grade?

Most of the studies that immersion students do better than nonimmersion seem to be for Spanish, NOT Chinese. That makes sense because if you learn how to read in Spanish, you learn to read English, too (basically). Not true in Chinese. And the "grammar" in Chinese doesn't seem to help, either (but maybe I am wrong on that). In addition, I do believe the weak students drop out, leaving the stronger students to test better than non-immersion (plus, really academically challenged kids probably are not in the lottery, any way).

I am just not sure if the MI program is strong enough in English for my child who is not strong in reading and writing. In the SI program in Menlo park, the reading specialists teaches an hour of English EVERY day, which sounds great compared to what I am hearing here.

Any suggestion on who I can really get information from, including the English part of the program for older kids? If they want kids who have Mandarin skills, they need to give us the information to make the decision.



Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 10:54 am


Also, if they make it a permanent program, will they have a MI middle school program like SI? I assume it would be at JLS because the MI one is at Jordon? Or is that not true?

Thanks!


Posted by RST, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2010 at 11:10 am

mom,
For your very specific questions about the MI program, I would contact the Ohlone office and have them direct you to the right resource. Did you try that? Maybe you can ask the office to put you in touch with a current 2/3 parent. good luck.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

Mom,

The district currently has no plans to expand the MI program to the middle schools--and I really don't know where they'd get the space? Maybe when they get the two-story building at JLS, though that's where they're expanding Connections.

And, yes, you're right to be concerned--MI/Ohlone is a pilot program. The first scores are out, so I'd take a look at them and Marilyn Cook's report and see what you think.

Also, there is no other Mandarin immersion program taught using a constructivist educational method. Period. There's some debate in the education field in general about whether this is a good educational approach for immersion. MI/Ohlone is an experiment.

On a purely practical level what it means is that the MI teachers are a relatively inexperienced group. Project-based teaching takes quite a bit of skill--Ohlone's best teachers, I've noticed, are serious veterans--20 years of experience and up.

Ohlone's has an open-door policy. Go and observe a class.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Mom,

You need to do some research of your own and figure out what specific questions you have for the district.

I can see you're trying to reason your way through the thicket (reading in spanish helps, etc.), but you really have no way to reach a conclusion. Many things about learning are counter-intutitive, and that is particularly true of language acquisition. You should just read the research.

If you do, you will find that there are many studies of immersion programs with a variety of languages, including Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French, and Spanish. This research shows that learning to read in languages very different from English and with different writing systems (like Chinese) does indeed help children to learn to read English.

And no, there's no evidence that weak students drop out of the programs.

As for the combination of Ohlone and MI, the notion that it is unique is mere hype. The Ohlone approach was once cutting edge but has long since been overtaken. Those approaches have been refined and adopted around the county, and every teacher that has been educated in California over the last 10 years has been steeped in that approach. All immersion programs today are constructivist.

Project-based instruction is the norm, not the exception nowadays.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by research and evidence, a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2010 at 4:34 pm

"you will find that there are many studies of immersion programs with a variety of languages, including Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French, and Spanish. This research shows that learning to read in languages very different from English and with different writing systems (like Chinese) does indeed help children to learn to read English."

I have looked for years at this research, and this statement is patently false. At best, with these languages, you might find some claims that "it is possible for students to be bilingual and still keep up with public school in English."

Also, "there's no evidence that weak students drop out of the programs" is also patently false. This evidence is plain from Cupertino's program.

wtf.

Someone is throwing words, twisting reality around and directly stating falsehoods with nary a twitch.

It reminds me of the arguments for MI before it was approved.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm

The parents electing to put their kids in an immersion program are likely the type of parents who will push or help their children succeed ahead of their peers regardless of the program. For this reason, I can see why they do better in English later on. It more than likely has very little to do with the program but more the type of families they come from.

I would be very interested to see how the Tinsley kids in MI do in the later grades. Is that something that is published?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Resident - a more interesting question is are there Tinsley kids in the MI program?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Project-based instruction is NOT the norm in immersion language programs. At the time of the MI debates three years ago, I couldn't find ONE project-based MI program. Not one. Anywhere. And none of the MI proponents could name one.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

And, yes, there's plenty of evidence that weak students drop out of immersion programs. Not just in Cupertino (if anything, Cupertino does better than most.)



Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Can anyone actually point to this research that learning to read Chinese helps you learn to read English?


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2010 at 1:40 am

mom, Start with lindholm leary and go from there.

research and evidence,

You may not like it and it may be counter-intuitive for you, but in fact there are many studies of multiple languages that show students in these programs outperform their monolingual peers.

Keep in mind, it's not me making these claims but a large body of research.

OhlonePar,

You obviously don't know that project-based learning has long since gone mainstream. A refined version of the Ohlone way is found all over, all the way up to high school (and even in some cases college). It is now standard.

It is more than a little odd that you claim immersion programs are not project-based merely because you couldn't find the data.

Also, I'm not sure why you say attrition is a problem for immersion programs. This is again false.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2010 at 1:42 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2010 at 10:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Commander McBragg, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2010 at 10:23 am

I signed up for Chinese in high school because I thought it would be fun. The class got cancelled because of lack of interest. That was too bad, because later on I spent many years working with Chinese people at high-tech companies. It sure would have been nice to be able to crack their secret code when they switched to Chinese as soon as I entered the room, so that I couldn't get any valuable technical information from them. It was usually "us against them" with the immigrants and the Americans.

Since then, I've learned that Chinese is an archaic character-based language, while Engish is a modern language with an alphabet. Not only that, it's a modern alphabet with vowels.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Q,

You offer zero evidence to support your assertions. Yes, project-based learning is being tried with immersion programs, but is far from the "norm".

Oh, and why is it being tried? In part to deal with the problem of attrition ....

The only source you ever cite is Lindholm-Leary and then you overextrapolate like crazy, drawing conclusions not warranted by the limits of her studies.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm


The Lindholm-Leary study had very small sample size and a serious selection bias.
A number of academics have questioned her conflicts of interest situation as she consults for MI activists but does not declare this in her research.

The logical and fair solution is a private MI school on the lines of the private local German and French Immersion schools.
The German government gives significant financial support to German Immersion schools---China can do the same for the MI schools.


You do not see the French and German school advocates threatening the PAUSD with imposing a charter school or accusing Palo Alto parents of discriminatory motives--- instead they founded their own private schools and the MI activists should follow their civil, rational, collaborative example and do the same--- ASAP.

With the private school option everybody will be happy.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Sharon - There is already a private Mandarin program in Palo Alto, the French school (International School) is actually French and Chinese - it just happens to cost about 20K per year, public school is a bit cheaper. (said tongue in cheek).


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm

@palo alto mom

What is wrong with competition? Another IM private school in Palo Alto
Great idea!
Competition-
It brings the price down in all products and services.

Also, as China is promoting these MI programs they can pay for them---they have a lot of cash to do it --

Private IM schools are the rational, fair, just and collaborative solution.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 21, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Ohlonepar,

As I said, your failure to do the research doesn't prove the phenomenon doesn't exist--it just shows your lack of skill.

And no, it is not being "tried" because attrition. You weren't paying attention when I explained that no one at the district believes attrition is a problem.


Posted by complicated, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

With China's overt disdain for any sovereignty other than their own, it's clear they are likely soon to fall into economic and informational war with several countries, and possibly military war as well.

For that reason it is a great idea for us to accelerate learning of Mandarin among good young future thinkers.

But I actually think MI does not do that. It sucks up resources without providing a good environment to master Mandarin, and may take some students who could learn Mandarin elsewhere and turn them off to it at Ohlone.

The private schools do a better job, and a charter school dedicated to the purpose would do a better job.

Not many believe the odds are great for China to be at war, but maybe more believe it to be already at "war" - meaning economic and informational war. So this is perhaps a weak argument. But as I see it, national security votes for assisting in the learning of Mandarin, but against MI in PAUSD as part of Ohlone.


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

SHaron has yet to provide any real proof for any of her assertions. Any way, what is this latest idea about competition for education? And why this fixation on Chinese immersion program?
We eagerly await Sharon's answers.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Q. When I read the research years ago, it was ALL based on French or Spanish, NOT on Chinese.

Can you provide a link for Chinese? Lindholm-Leary had many links, and most to books to buy. It would be great if there was a Chinese study that addresses the problem of self-selection (the low drop out), was statistically significant and without a bias. But I am not holding my breath.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Q,

In other words, you can't back up your own assertion that project-based learning is the norm for immersion programs.

No surprise there.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Mom,

I came across the reference to one study that said that there was some language skill transference between English and Chinese, but less than was the case between English and Spanish/French. It was a fairly old study, however, and didn't necessarily deal with elementary-school dual immersion. As I'm sure you've realized, the MI programs are fairly new, which means limited research.

I would be very wary of transferring your child to the Ohlone program if he's having reading issues simply because the program's still very much in a trial stage particularly for the older grades. Your child would be in the "first" fourth-grade class and thus subject to a teacher who's never taught fourth-grade MI/Ohlone-style before (because, despite Q's wishes to the contrary, there isn't a template for it). Some teachers have been satisfactory, others haven't, but they're pretty young and inexperienced (whereas most teachers of Ohlone-main have been teaching decades). Not such a big deal with a strong student, but it sounds like you have concerns.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Mom,

When I did the research a couple years ago, there were studies out that included a variety of languages. I'd suggest combing Leary's academic research for citations and following those. There is also a good journal devoted to bilingual immersion around the world, but I don't recall the name off the top of my head.

I'm not sure what you are looking for in terms of "statistically significant." These programs are by definition small. As for bias, I'd suggest sticking to peer-reviewed academic papers.

Ohlonepar,

Again, you need to do your own research. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You also are misinformed about immersion, and Chinese immersion in particular. There is actually very good evidence that Chinese and English reinforce each other in reading--I'm surprised you didn't find that in the literature. This is the reason why immersion kids end up with better reading skills than monolingual kids.


Posted by Q, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 23, 2010 at 8:41 am

Q - when the original MI debate was going on (back in the time of PACE threats) OhlonePar did some very thorough, extensive research on Immersion programs. She really does have a lot of information.

The one Ohlone trait that seems to be counterproductive to any language program is the lack of homework. That would seem to be a hard concept to adhere to while learning two languages, two alphabets, etc.


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