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Why All This Controversy Over Mandarin Immersion?

Original post made by Shan Phillips, Midtown, on Jun 16, 2006

All the opposition to this new program puzzles me. Of course there was some concern when Hoover, Ohlone and Spanish immersion were started. However, these days I hear nothing but positive feedback- with a few exceptions from lottery losers.

I for one will be happy to see a new program if for no other reason than it will help alleviate overcrowding in schools. Some of the parents in the crowded north side schools where space is scarce will no doubt opt for this new program and in the process reduce overcrowding.

Palo Alto and the Valley were built on innovation- lets not be scared of something new!

Comments (47)

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Posted by enoch choi
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2006 at 12:12 am

For more arguments supporting mandarin immersion see the comments by Nerissa & Jocelyn here:
Web Link


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Posted by Julie Wong, Music Around the World!
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2006 at 7:40 am

I am writing in support of the Mandarin Immersion program. As Director of Music Around the World! a parent-child Immersion Mandarin, French, or Spanish music and language enrichment program offered through 6 Bay area community centers, including the Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto and a concerned parent, I can attest to the interest and commitment of a diverse and wonderful group of families in Palo Alto interested in exposing their children to different languages. In our Mandarin program, some of our parents have a Chinese heritage, some have adopted children from China, some simply have an interest in learning a language that is becoming increasingly important in a local and a global sense and which involves cognitive development in a very different language system than English. Children have a unique ability to learn languages and an opportunity to do so in early childhood is something to treasure. No children will be forced to learn a language they don't want to learn and at least some children will be offered the opportunity to learn a language that otherwise they might not be able to learn. Learning a new language can open new worlds to a child -- please support offering this opportunity in Palo Alto!


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Posted by Julie Wong, Music Around the World!
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2006 at 7:41 am

I am writing in support of the Mandarin Immersion program. As Director of Music Around the World! a parent-child Immersion Mandarin, French, or Spanish music and language enrichment program offered through 6 Bay area community centers, including the Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto and a concerned parent, I can attest to the interest and commitment of a diverse and wonderful group of families in Palo Alto interested in exposing their children to different languages. In our Mandarin program, some of our parents have a Chinese heritage, some have adopted children from China, some simply have an interest in learning a language that is becoming increasingly important in a local and a global sense and which involves cognitive development in a very different language system than English. Children have a unique ability to learn languages and an opportunity to do so in early childhood is something to treasure. No children will be forced to learn a language they don't want to learn and at least some children will be offered the opportunity to learn a language that otherwise they might not be able to learn. Learning a new language can open new worlds to a child -- please support offering this opportunity in Palo Alto!


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 21, 2006 at 11:53 am

In fact there is some growing support for FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) in the Palo Alto community. And the Mandarin Immersion proposal is a completely inadequate response to that need. NOT because immersion is an inadequate method. In fact immersion seems like one of the most efficacious methods available. Its like the Olympics of language learning. How can we justify offering such a highly enriched offering to so very few students and offering ZERO to the rest? Its like training 200 students for the Olympics and providing not so much as a jump rope for the other 5000 elementary students. If we agree that foreign language is a top priority for our public school district, we need to be reasonable enough to come up with a fair and measured approach for most students in a public school setting.

But first, we ought to listen to the community and confirm that foreign language has reached a high priority status that justifies allocation of public resources over science, math, english, technology, etc.. Based on the recently provided community surveys, it hasn't yet reached that level of priority.

To answer why all the controversy... Because the MI proposal on the table is an unfair approach to FLES, an unbalanced used of public funds, and creates a lot of undesirable side effects for the rest of the community which are not being adequately addressed.


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Posted by R. Rococo
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2006 at 10:27 am

Palo Altans dare to be different and on the cutting edge. Those who believe MI is detrimental to PAUSD elementary school programs as a whole should voice (and have) their opinions in public forums such as PAUSD school board meetings.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2006 at 12:20 pm

Regarding holding up the Spanish Immersion program as a successful model for MI, I'm wondering if it currently truly meets the standards set forth when the SI program was established. Is it now in existence simply because it is firmly entrenched in the system? Is the emperor wearing clothes?


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 30, 2006 at 4:38 pm

From the school board packet of March 28, 2006 (page 56 - 59):

Web Link


In Nov 2000, the Spanish immersion program was reviewed by the school board for its move from a pilot program to "on-going status". From the school district memo:

"...the Board authorized the creation of the Spanish Immersion Program, which began as a kindergarten class in fall 1995... The Board assigned pilot status to the program, providing for continued program growth by adding a new kindergarten class each year through the pilot period, which concludes in the 2000-2001 school year. In authorizing the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program, the Board stipulated that it:

•Develop bilingual proficiency and literacy in Spanish and English.

•Acquire knowledge in all academic subjects as outlined in the District's Curriculum Standards.

•Achieve academic proficiency at or above grade level in English and Spanish.

At the time pilot status was assigned to the Spanish Immersion Program, the Board directed the administration to include the following data in the final report to ensure full compliance with Board Policy:

(a) Programmatic Impact, including costs, student services and school climate;

(b) Enrollment Summary, with data for native English and Spanish-speakers; and

(c) Academic performance. These areas, as well as information regarding middle school implications, are summarized for your review."

These standards were set forth when SI was started, and the additional data on the programs effectiveness are included in this report.

With regards to Student Achievement:
"The goal of this analysis was to gain insight into the performance of students participating in the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program in the areas of Reading, Math and Language (Attachment A). Results revealed that the students enrolled in the Spanish Immersion Pilot were at or above the grade level in math and language."

With regards to School Climate - Transition Committees:
"Two key elements have been central to the positive incorporation and acceptance of the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program at Escondido School:

•The active participation of parents of students enrolled in the Spanish Immersion Pilot program

•The School Site Council

The leadership provided by these two groups has significantly contributed to the overall acceptance of the Spanish Immersion Pilot at Escondido School."

With respect to School Climate, the AIR survey was conducted:
"...the survey indicates the views of non-immersion parents at Escondido became slightly more favorable toward the presence of the Spanish Immersion Pilot from the first year to the next, and teachers became significantly more accepting of the program. In part, the shift in view can be attributed to increased opportunities for immersion/non-immersion teachers to work together across the curriculum and immersion/non-immersion parent participation in PTA, School Site Council, school committees and other activities."

With respect to Enrollment:
"Successful implementation of Two-Way Immersion Programs is achieved with enrollment requirements.

Spanish Immersion Pilot Program students come from throughout the District, including the Voluntary Transfer Program, and are distributed by original neighborhood schools (Attachment E). Enrollment in the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program consists of: children of employees (5), East Palo Alto-VTP students (35) and 12 elementary school neighborhoods (128). This ethnically diverse student body also includes Free and/or Reduced Lunch recipients, English Language Learners, disabled and GATE students."

With respect to Fiscal Impact (Student Services, Parent Contributions, and School Budget):
"The Spanish Immersion Pilot Program has not negatively impacted Special Education, school psychology or library programs/services. All students at Escondido are provided the same continuum of services as any other site with a similar enrollment. The allocation of Special Education and school psychology services is based upon multiple factors, such as staffing formulas, the total school enrollment, location of Special Day Classes and Individual Educational Program (IEP) caseloads.

...

When the Spanish Immersion Pilot was established in 1995, the parents of students in the Spanish Immersion Pilot assumed the responsibility to raise funds for Spanish-language books and educational materials. The parents organized the Spanish Immersion Parent Association of Palo Alto (SIPAPA), and its fundraising activities have been similar to those of PTAs and booster clubs, grants, direct appeals and a few small fundraising events.

SIPAPA raised funds to purchase approximately 1,670 books for a Spanish-language and bilingual library. Nearly half of these funds were from grants; fundraising events contributed about $2,000, with direct appeals accounting for the remainder. By the end of the school year, these funds will have purchased a minimally complete Spanish-language library. A similar amount has been raised and spent on classroom books and materials, largely from direct appeals.

...

During the spring of 1997, the School Site Council reviewed the preliminary budget for the 1997-98 school year, to determine if the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program was having a negative effect upon the discretionary income allocated to Escondido. The School Site Council concluded that the income generated by the Pilot Program enrollment paid for all program-related expenditures.

...

Since the Board of Education assigned Pilot status to the Spanish Immersion Program (1997-98 school year), the District has either allocated or encumbered $3,276 for program costs. This expense does not include administrative, secretarial and/or consultation time of District administrative staff, representing approximately 4-5 full days per school year."

SUMMARY FINDINGS (from the Nov 2000 staff memo):
"When the Board placed the Spanish Immersion Program at Fairmeadow and Escondido Schools, the response of the community was mixed. There was considerable concern that the choice program would result in a loss of resources (fiscal and human) for the host school and that the program would compromise the school's climate. The combined efforts of (then) Fairmeadow Principals June Schiller and Escondido Gary Prehn, parents of the Spanish Immersion students and parents of resident students resulted in a majority of parents at each school ultimately viewing the program as an asset to their communities."


The SI program, like the other alternative programs in PAUSD, are oversubscribed with long waiting lists of students wanting to get into the program. This fall, SI's enrollment has been increased to accomodate eventually two strands (two kinders, two first, etc.) in the four-strand school.

I believe the program has earned its great model reputation, being often visited by other schools across the nation.

Grace


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2006 at 8:29 pm

I read the report cited by Grace Mah. The information provided seems to be dated at least 5 years ago. I'm interested in today's information. For example, what is the current cost per student for the SI program? What is the ethnic demographic of the classes? What are the sizes of the classes? How do these conform (or not) to current PAUSD guidelines for the rest of the schools? And while we're at it, the Cupertino MI program also seems to be used by PACE as a model program. Can you answer these same questions about the CURRENT Cupertino program?


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 30, 2006 at 10:58 pm

Yes, that report was done in 2000. I don't believe a follow-up report on SI has been done, nor asked for by the board (I believe they would direct staff to do that type of special report).

From the Sept 27, 2005 board packet (page 163 - 170)
Web Link

The 11th day enrollment report shows the class sizes for SI were the following:

K - 3, 20 students per class
4 and 5, 18, 18, and 19

Table 5 (page 168) shows all the class sizes for all the grades in all the elementary schools.

Table 6 (page 169) shows the ethnicity report for all the schools. They are not broken out by grade, and not broken out for the SI program.

When comparing ethnicity reports of immersion programs, make sure to take into consideration the community ethnicity, which can be found in the Census2000 database:

Web Link

An interesting special report from the Census 2000, "We the People:
Asians in the United States":

Web Link

For the Cupertino program, we are investigating the answers to some of these questions, as they pertain to the feasibility study approved by the board.

The 2005 - 2006 Cupertino Mandarin immersion program enrollment was the following, along with the projected 2006-2007 enrollment:

2005-06 Projected
Actual 2006-07 Grade
60 60 K
60 60 1st
66 60 2nd
47 60 3rd
35 45 4th
34 32 5th
22 26 6th
6 18 7th
6 8th

330 367 Total


Important info for interpreting this information:

1) Cupertino Unified does not participate in Calif's class size reduction for kindergarten. Kindergarten classes can have as many as 30 students per class. Only for 1st - 3rd grades is the class size limited to 20 students/class.

2) After 3rd grade, Cupertino allows about 30 students/class.

3) This chart was received from Jeremy Nishihara, Communications Manager for the Office of the Superintendent (nishiwara_jeremy@cupertino.k12.ca.us)

4) Cupertino's Mandarin Program goes up to 8th grade.

San Francisco has two Cantonese immersion programs which have both been in existance for over 20 years. They are also models of teaching Chinese in an immersion setting. You can dig around their websites and find out some of the information that you're interested in.

Web Link
Web Link

Alice Fong Yu Alternative School is a K-8 Cantonese immersion program. West Portal Elementary School has a Cantonese immersion program along with a regular English program (a school within a school like SI is within Escondido).

Grace


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2006 at 9:27 am

From the data provided by Grace Mah, the web links seem to show that immersion programs in Cupertino (Mandarin) and San Francisco (Cantonese) are populated over 60% by Asian children. Is it the job of our public school systems to preserve and enhance the language of origin/heritage for a small group of children? I think the time, funds, and district resources would be better spent on the WHOLE student community. The immersion programs for any language seem more suited for private schools.
Also, the data provided does not show the cost per student of any of the immersion programs, including the Spanish Immersion in PAUSD. I suspect that if the School Board looked at the latest figures, and if they are fiscally responsible, they would have serious questions about whether these language choice programs are good use of district funds. Hopefully this will be one of the areas of discussion this fall when the Mandarin Immersion proposal is on the agenda once again.
In the meantime, if there is more specific and current info about cost per student, class size (how many in each grade, each strand) including the Spanish Immersion in PA, I'd love to see it.


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Posted by Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2006 at 6:40 pm

So, Andrea, if Asians disproportionately sign up for a program, we should cancel it. Hm, we may have to axe somel high school math and science classes.

This is disarmingly frank racism.

You lump all Asians together and assume they have a single heritage. I urge you to acquaint yourself with global geography and meet new people. A fourth-generation Japanese-American is not a third-generation Chinese-American is not a recent Korean immigrant is not a second-generation Vietnamese-American is not a Dutch-Indonesian-Hawaiian mixed-race foreign national. One could forgive them if they did not understand why you think a Mandarin immersion program would preserve their heritage.

The programs in Cupertino and SF are open to all, even white people. The final mix is just a function of who signs up. I feel certain PA would also permit non-Chinese heritage children to enroll.

On your logic, we should we cancel high-school French since most of the kids who sign up are of European ancestry, right?

If more "Asians"--whatever you mean by it--sign their kids up for this program, what do you care? What if 90 percent of the families that sign up for Mandarin immersion have Chinese ancestry? So what?

Shame, shame, shame.


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Posted by Disbelief
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 2, 2006 at 7:00 pm

I object to programs that create segregation. Is segregation 'by accident' OK?

Open to all, but who will sign up? If a program is only of interest to a single group, the result is segregation. Then layer on that, unfair distribute of wealth to certain segrated programs? Sounds like reverse discrimination to me. Love it when they 'play the race card'...


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Posted by Parent for choice
a resident of Hoover School
on Aug 2, 2006 at 7:50 pm

What about the high percentage of Asians at Hoover? Is that a problem? For those who think it is, do they believe that the lower than average percentage of Asians at Ohlone is a problem?!!?? Probably not. Where do you draw the line? Is Addison, at the lowest percentage of Asians, "accidentally segregated"?

Wear the show on the other foot, and take a look from the other side.

Cheers!


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Posted by Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2006 at 7:53 pm

Yeah, I can feel your concern about race relations all the way across town. Or would you call it Yellow Peril?

It would be segregation if the district barred non-Asians, and so far there is no sign of that. In any case, you can put your worries to rest. I saw a number of far-sighted white people speaking up in favor of MI when the district meetings were broadcast. Some white kids will be in the first K class in 2007.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:25 pm

You're right. Shame, shame, shame on me. In my bumbling attempt to voice my objections to the MI proposal, I opened the door to the race card being played. Now those who have objections to the proposal, and who attempt to explain their reasons, can easily be dismissed as racists. End of reasonable discussion.
My error is that I failed to add one element to my observation about the percentage of Asian students in the SF and Cupertino programs. These percentages may indeed be representative of the demographics of the surrounding community. However, I question whether that would hold true in PAUSD. The district's guidelines for choice programs seem to be that they must be racially and socio-economically representative of the school community. Can Mandarin Immersion meet that standard?
To Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori I'd like to point out that I took my "Asian" data directly from the web link provided by Grace Mah. There the San Francisco Cantonese Immersion data labeled the categories as Asian, Filipino, Pacific Islander, etc.
In conclusion, I'm not a racist. I have wonderful grandchildren who have "Asian" heritage, as you define it. But I would not suggest that they deserve to step up to the head of the line, carve out their own piece of the district pie, and let everyone else make do with the leftovers. I'm hoping that they will see the value in being team players. Perhaps that's just as valuable a "global" contribution as Mandarin, considering the state of the globe today.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 3, 2006 at 1:38 am

In answer to some of Andrea's questions, here is more information about Cupertino's program, from the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL, www.cal.org) Directory of Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Programs in the U.S.:


"Cupertino Language Immersion Program at Meyerholz School

Program and Student Demographics
Percent of students in program who are Native English speakers: 40
Percent of students in program who are non-native English speakers: 29
Percent of students in program who are Native Bilinguals: 10
Percent of third language speakers: 1
Languages spoken: Cantonese

Ethnic breakdown of native English speaking students:
African-American: Less than 5%
Asian: Between 26-50%
Latino: Less than 5%
Native American: Less than 5%
White, Non-Latino: 51-75%

Percent of students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch:
Native English speakers: Less than 5%
Minority language speakers: Between 6-25%"


Does Andrea's question, "Is it the job of our public school systems to preserve and enhance the language of origin/heritage for a small group of children?" apply to immersion programs specifically, or foreign language classes in general? Certainly the goals, as stated for starting the MI program do not include preservation of the language or heritage for anyone.

When students not of Chinese ethnicity are interested in this program, are they trying to preserve their heritage? When 5th generation Chinese-ethnic families, who have no relatives in China, who speak no Chinese at home (including grandparents), are interested in this program, are they trying to preserve their heritage?

*Hypothetically*, if immersion was offered to all students at all schools, would there still be the claim to preserve heritage?

Learning Mandarin has significant professional, cultural, and developmental benefits for our children, as it fits into the PAUSD school district Goals 1C and 1D (from the State of the District Report 2005 - 2006):

"Goal 1C: Foster social-emotional-physical health and resilience in every student as measured by improved student behaviors.

Goal 1D: Provide diverse avenues for student success that honor the unique talents and abilities of each child.

Goals 1C and 1D recognize the District's commitment to developing individuals who are academically able, socially and emotionally healthy, and appreciative of visual and performing arts. The fulfillment of this goal results in citizens who are well-rounded and positive contributors to a democratic society."

I personally would like to change the last sentence to "...results in citizens who are well-rounded and positive contributors to a _global_ democratic society."

Grace


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Posted by Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2006 at 10:18 am

[Portion deleted by Palo Alto Online]

Andrea,
You oppose a Mandarin language program if the kids in it are disproportionately Asian. Partly because this unfairly “preserves their heritage." And partly because Asians make up only a “small group of children" within the community.

The heritage claim is meaningless. A language program will not preserve cultural heritage. Non-Chinese Asians do not have the same heritage as Chinese. And a fifth-generation Chinese-American, whose forebears spoke Cantonese, is not preserving her heritage by learning to speak Mandarin. And even in the case of a new immigrant from Beijing, your idea makes no sense. How is it unfair for him to take part in this program? It would be open to all races. Those who benefit from it will be those who enrollâ€"and I think you underestimate the interest from non-Asian races. Your chatter about heritage (and stepping to the head of the line) amounts to a bald objection to Asians.

And, exactly what racial test are you proposing for PAUSD programs? How close would they have to hew to the overall demographics? Shall we close Hoover because it over-represents Asians? Shut down Ohlone because it underrepresents Asians? If it turns out that high-school French is disproportionately taken by those of “European" ancestry, shall we cancel it? Suppose Asians are overrepresented in an advanced high-school math class. Lock er down? This is a crazy, fearful proposal.

MI will skew toward Asians because immersion programs require a relatively large number of native speakers. Globally, most native Mandarin speakers are, as it turns out, Chinese. Yes, Asian.

The whole district will benefit from having kids of all races who learn to speak Mandarin, just as it does when they all take part in Black History Month. I encourage you, as an American, to embrace the history of Chinese-Americans as part of your own American heritage. This is for everyone, not just for a “them."


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Posted by Disbelief
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 3, 2006 at 1:49 pm

The PAUSD Choice program guidelines state the choice programs are to be racially and socio-ecnomically representative of the community. Is that racist? Hmm.. They put that there I think to make sure underrepresented groups don't get the shaft. Yep that applies to all the programs, so if Hoover is skewed, then they better fix that one pretty quick or shut it down too. I don't know about that one, go ask the board.

Segregation is segregation whether its 'by accident' or 'voluntary'. Same negative effects. And the ACLU fights it all the time. When you select a racial group for special attention its racist. Lets put it this way; if all white kids were sitting in the AP classes, or in Hoover program, you better believe there would be cries of racism from all over town. But when 'your' group is getting the benefit, its all good, no need to worry about this silly little discrimination thing...

In fact, this whole conversation is a little like the pot calling the kettle black - what we're talking about, and what you're even admitting to is a program that will "skew toward Asians" (Wald - did I hear you use the term 'Asian' - wow, how very racially unsensitive of you. I think you meant to say it will skew toward Chinese. There's a difference you know between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.)

And there will be a whole bunch more money funneled to MI than to the average PAUSD program per student. So far, no one has offered up the true cost per student of the MI program, the calculator must still be cha-chinging that up...

So the 'racism' here is in dividing up on racial lines, and then funneling a whole heck of a lot of cash and prizes to one of the groups. Its discriminatory.

The MI program better NOT skew to "chinese" because the board has promised it would be balanced. And, that's one of the claims that was written down in the MI proposal itself. Is that all a big lie?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online]


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Posted by Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2006 at 2:47 pm

Disbelief,

The Mandarin program is not for any racial group. You've conflated language with race again.

The board has promised balanced admissions, which ought to be color-blind and not skewed toward any race. Every kid should have the same chance to get in, no matter what race. This is non-discriminatory. The board won't be worried about white kids "getting the shaft" since they can apply.

So far, you seem unable to mount an argument that isn't grounded in racial fear.


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Posted by Disbelief
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 3, 2006 at 10:14 pm

The board has established a written guideline for choice programs that says choice programs will be racially and socio economically representative of the community. You can find that in the choice guidelines on PAUSD online. I didn't make it up. It doesn't say anything about promising a lottery admissions process. Will the board enforce their own guidelines?

So far, as predicted, you seem unable to refrain from crying race. Since you're eager to discuss the actual issues, here are a few..

MI not cost neutral, the proposal is incomplete
MI program benefits small population of the district, but draws disproportionatly high resources requirements.
MI does not address stated district priorities
MI does not address stated community priorities (established through legitimate means)
MI requires program funding, much higher than district per pupil avg
MI requires skirting, or out-and-out breaking of PiE rules
"Model" Immersion programs have not proven to maintain class sizes as the students progress through grade levels.
Due to last three, MI threatens to damage the districts fund raising capabilities (such as te PiE premise and supplement tax assessments) by breaking down the premise under which it operatates.
MI displaces large numbers from their neighborhood schools
MI continues to chip away at our valuable neighborhood school concept
MI creates another commuter school, increases traffic issues
The teachers, curriculum and materials for MI are scarce, not well developed, we can 'borrow' from Cupertino, but are basically going to charter ourselves with a 'start up' program. This is a more expensive program to run and maintain for the district than average.
MI. The quality of what we will be able to provide will be below par.
Grace Mah stated in last board meeting it could take up to 20 years to establish.
Since there is a huge groundswell of pent up need for Mandarin language education, it would be a much wiser financial decision for the district to wait until districts far and wide jump into MI program development, which will develop a wide selection of curriculum and materials, and huge demand for Mandarin teachers will drive growth in teachers trained in Mandarin. All we have to do is sit back and wait for like one or two years (since the demand is so HOT HOT HOT), and let demand pressures increase supply. You know...economics? No good reason to carry the burden for all these outragous start up costs when we reap no benefit for being first to market.
Future funding for MI is ? Unknown. Lacks any assurance of cost neutrality beyond the initial grant period.
MI is an irresponsible drain of scarce district resources (staff time), to reap very minimal benefit for very few students.
MI does not address the need for elementary language program for all students
MI using a lotter system, does not target kids who need language support.
The immersion programs appear to require a significant amount of supplements private outside assistance for the students to achieve adequate standard skill levels. This would indicate that only wealthier families will be able to support the kids through the immersion programs. (This is addmitedly via conversations with various immersion participants, so its about as scientific as the MI petition, but I'd love love love to see some real data on this. Do you have actual data on this?)
The district 'claimed' to need Measure A parcel tax assessment to solve some critical gaps in the basics of the district, teacher aids, restoration of programs, teacher salaries, etc. No accounting has been provided of the measure A programs, but Superintendents State of the District speech (PAUSD, on line), states that all of that has not yet been restored, and district staff is too overburdened to accomplish their basic district priorities. Its frankly puzzling and completely lacking in logic, how they can justify spending even one more minute on a frivolous scheme.
MI doesn't ~do~ anything for the district. No district benefit can be stated whatsoever. Perhaps some personal cap feathering for board members, who can put it on their next resume. Hopefully a few of them will be getting those ready sooner, rather than later.
MI divisive, not unifiying.
900 petition signatures... Hmm are those verified Palo Alto residents? Will that be proven? how? when? (Luckily the board cares not apparently about petition signatures, or so they claim.)

I would go on but I seriously doubt you care to actually pursue the list of reasonable objections. But, here's hoping this will help jog you on to the the right track in terms of the MI discussion. I'll send more if you get tired of these.



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Posted by Wald-Bois-Lin-Mori
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2006 at 11:09 pm

Disbelief,

Financials: since you have a conspiracy theory about how MI will not be cost-neutral, no rational answer could satisfy you on any of these points.

There is, so far, no reason to think this MI cause a net displacement of kids; it may alleviate that problem. Thus there's no reason to think it undermines neighborhood school concept.

What makes you think the program will be "subpar"?

It's true that MI doesn't address the alleged need for an elementary language program. It also won't bring world peace. Not designed to do either.

Not sure what you mean by kids who need language support.

I think you're right about MI kids doing best if they get lots of support outside the class. That requires time and probably resetting family priorities, not wealth. I believe native-speaking parents in Cupertino volunteer to help out in after-school study periods, for instance.

MI doesn't bring any benefit? That depends on how you define benefit. Multi-lingual, multi-cultural kids would bring diversity, open the district to exchanges, bring a more global perspective, etc. The city will be better off with this program.

The divisiveness is not inherent to this proposal. It derives from reactions like yours.


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Posted by member
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 4, 2006 at 9:46 am

As I read the comments above, I remembered a quote from an article about MI, so I went back to see if my recollection was correct.

from the Palo Alto Weekly, March 31, 2006
Parents already pay for private Mandarin lessons and tutors for their children. Many consider the money they would pay for the public school program "a bargain," Mah said.

It seems a bit harsh to come down on Andrea as a racist when she questions whether this proposal might have some element of personal agenda related to preserving their Mandarin language/heritage and asking the school district to subsidize the goal.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 4, 2006 at 11:44 am

Since I was misquoted, or my words taken out of context, I'd like to respond to Disbelief's the list of reasonable objections.

1. "The board has established a written guideline for choice programs that says choice programs will be racially and socio economically representative of the community. You can find that in the choice guidelines on PAUSD online. I didn't make it up. It doesn't say anything about promising a lottery admissions process. Will the board enforce their own guidelines?"

The guidelines for new programs asks a series of questions to be answered.

Web Link

With regards to Disbelief's above comment, this is exactly the _question_ that is asked:

"What steps will be taken to reach students representative of the racial / ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the community?"

The actual board policy that discusses Alternative Schools and Alternative Programs is online (pages 2 - 3):

Web Link

With regards to the enrollment of students, I quote within context:
"Enrollment would be on a first come, first served basis, lottery or other device which could ensure equal opportunity for enrollment for any student in the Palo Alto Unified School District."

Also,
"Enrollment in alternative programs will be on a non-discriminatory basis."

2. MI not cost neutral, the proposal is incomplete

Please see my latest response to the thread, Will the Mandarin Immersion decision be unbiased?

The budget is not final and will be worked on during the feasibility study.

3. MI program benefits small population of the district, but draws disproportionatly high resources requirements.

From board policy:
"The Board of Education supports alternative (¡°choice¡±) programs that are educationally sound and consistent with the PAUSD mission of addressing diverse educational needs of children... Such programs must be fiscally sound within existing financial resources, and similar to the cost of other school programs."

4. MI does not address stated community priorities (established through legitimate means)

From board policy on alternative programs:
"Interest must be demonstrated by survey, or by other means, that a sufficient number of parents and students exist for an educational alternative to be implemented by the Board."

5. MI requires skirting, or out-and-out breaking of PiE rules

Please precisely state the PiE rules which are being broken.

6. MI threatens to damage the districts fund raising capabilities (such as te PiE premise and supplement tax assessments) by breaking down the premise under which it operatates.

What does MI funding have to do with supplement tax assessments? Which premise is broken down?

7. MI displaces large numbers from their neighborhood schools

The program, at full capacity, would have 240 students, two full strands. As Dana Tom mentioned at the board meeting, that's less than 5% of the elementary student body. The area attendance review committee will be looking at the capacities of all school, and anticipated enrollment growth, and recommend the location for MI, if it is approved by the board.

8. MI continues to chip away at our valuable neighborhood school concept

Please state your interpretation of the neighborhood school concept.

9. MI. The quality of what we will be able to provide will be below par. Grace Mah stated in last board meeting it could take up to 20 years to establish.

I stated at the board meeting that San Francisco's two public school Cantonese immersion programs are over 20 years old. I did not state that our MI program would take that long to establish. Our program, if it is approved, will be outstanding.

According to board policy:
"Students in alternative programs are expected to meet academic outcomes established by the district."

10. MI using a lotter system, does not target kids who need language support.

From board policy:
"When alternative programs exist within a school, space will be reserved in each classroom for students with special needs in order to ensure equity with other programs."

11. The immersion programs appear to require a significant amount of supplements private outside assistance for the students to achieve adequate standard skill levels.

Specifically where do immersion programs "appear to require a significant amount of supplements"? How "significant" is the amount of outside assistance you are mentioning?

In closing, there's one more section of the board policy:
"The Board acknowledges that groups of teachers and/or parents may have concerns with programs of choice within a school, because of possible effects on the culture of the school, and therefore expects reasonable care to address these considerations."

Grace


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Posted by Disbelief
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 4, 2006 at 2:50 pm

Wald
Financial Conspiracy Theory: Facts that conflict with your beliefs = conspiracy theory. Notice Grace states the wide discrepancy between PACE's estimated cost structure and the Board's: about 100K. Interesting vocabulary choice.

Displacement: If 40 kinders sign up, unless they happen to all be from the same neighborhood school, somewhere 40 kinders will have to move out to make room for the MI class. If you meant that it may relieve displacement because North Palo Alto displacement will be relieved because some north palo altans will choose in to MI, I think you've missed the side of the equation for the school that will receive the MI program. If you mean a new school site may be opened, well, that's a neighborhood school for someone too. (And then PAUSD loses lease income? Interesting thought. A whole new meaning to the word 'cost neutral..'

There is another option, which would be a privately owned site. You could also raise grant funding, develop curriculum (or borrow from CUSD), write books, and hire teachers - and you'd have a lovely private school. Remind me why this isn't being proposed as a private school program?

My definition of neighborhood school: Kids go to the school in their neighborhood. All the neighborhood schools in PAUSD are equally high in quality and resources.

Doesnt address elementary language program... The reason I mention this is that the huge value of elementary language education is one of the 'strong points' supporters use to defend the MI concept. But if its such an important need, why don't all the kids need it? If so valuable, how come district isn't considering an urgent solution for language education for all students if its so critical, urgent? Because in reality its a 'nice to have', not a basic need.

Don't understand 'kids who need language support': Allow me to clarify. Some kids don't speak english and have difficulty succeeding in english speaking classrooms. They need extra language support. A lottery approach addmissions doesn't meet these needs, even for native Mandarin speaking kids, because everyone gets to roll the dice. Parents who think its ~nifty~ get just as much chance as parents who's kids have a real need. (Grace's response is not adequate. Confirmation from the board that ESL students have first priority in the MI program? When provided, I'll stop using this argument). By the way, experts say Mandarin is an exceptionally hard language to learn - can 'special needs' kids benefit from MI? Will any special needs parents actually choose this option?) Grace, any special needs kids signed up for the first year K class? By the way, are you going to share any statistics/demographics about who IS signed up for the first year K class? When? That ought to put to rest ALOT of these agrumenents. Sure.

Outside support: Time = Money. Common sense. Parents who earn low wages, both parents working, etc. don't have time or money to send kids to second school after work. This is another 'natural selection' process inherent in the MI process - it will only work for well positioned (wealthier) families with plenty of time and private resources.. I don't have stats, only conversations with immersion families on how they manage homework, tutoring, etc.. The board should really considering gather this hard data. I guess we'll see that in the feasibility study? This also speaks to quality of the program. If this pans out, high high is the quality of the PAUSD offering if lots of families need private supplemental instructions?????

Doesnt bring benefit to PAUSD: True, it will wildly benefit about 20% of 40 or so Kinders that sign up. Roughly something like 8 of them will stick with it and go on to graduate from 5th grade under MI. So THEY beneift. What about the rest of the district? Explain again the benefit to the DISTRICT? What's the justification?

Divisiveness stems from the sheer folly of the proposal given that we're talking about a public school system, the MI supporters lack of a reasonable defense that is something more than 'its good for me', and the Board's weird unwillingness to put us all out of this misery.

In fact, since Mandarin (and Immersion) is the wave of the future, the demand is about to explode! Which means supplies will shortly follow. So why wouldn't PAUSD want to wait and let the program, materials, curriculums, qualified instructors, etc., grow up elsewhere? (Why do WE have to pony up to create it? Its not like we're a private company that gains from being first to market.) Then we can get all the vast benefits of matured and high quality options, and we don't have to divert all our time, attention and resources to a costly start up project! You know - make vs buy? Can't we wait 1 or 2 years? Why not? Perhaps you think it will take longer, 10 or 20 years,????


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Posted by Excellent News
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2006 at 7:58 pm

Ah, more Disbelief and confusion.

Cost neutrality means it won't cost more than a regular classroom. Neutrality is not a specific budget outlay. The board will work out the budget. But YOU know this will all be a sham. So, you'll stick with the conspiracy theory.

You have no basis to think that a class of 40 kinders would displace 40 kids or any number. The program has not been sited yet.

Immersion and standard language instruction are two different things. Standard language instruction would not be cost-neutral. If you believe it is urgent and critical, why haven't you organized a proposal?

For some reason you'd like MI to take care of all (?) the district kids who need ESL. Are you paying attention as you type? This is incoherent. As Grace Mah writes above, PAUSD policy is to accomodate kids within MI who have special needs.

There is no need to send MI kids to a second school to become bilingual, just a need for the family to commit itself. It's an issue of priorities, not wealth.

Oh, and no, no linguist would say Mandarin is hard to learn.

Just as the district benefits from having AP classes, it will benefit from MI. As a community, we can pursue education as a zero sum game--as you suggest--and push for the elimination of everything that doesn't directly benefit our own child, or we can take a global approach. Globally, the district would be greatly improved by a bunch of bilingual, biliterate kids who can share their experiences.

Sure, you're right we could sit on our hands and wait, and maybe someday it would be cheaper. But remember? The program will be cost-neutral, so this wouldn't save the district any money, resources, etc.

You seem to believe that the only people who back MI are those whose kids will attend ("it's good for me"). The zero-sum mindset.


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Posted by Movin On
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 5, 2006 at 3:53 pm

It took me about four mouse clicks to discredit the following statement:

"Oh, and no, no linguist would say Mandarin is hard to learn."

Here's a quote from TIME Asia, "Is it Too Late to Try?" June 19, 2006.

"The U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Institute ranks Mandarin as one of five "exceptionally difficult" languages (the others are Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean). The average English speaker requires 2,200 class hours to reach proficiency, according to the Foreign Service Institute. That's more than three times the amount of time needed to master French or Spanish. If you could somehow make learning Chinese your 40-hours-a-week job, it would take you nearly 13 months—and forget about technological shortcuts. "Computerized language-learning programs and materials have helped marginally," says John Berninghausen, professor of Chinese at Middlebury College in Vermont."

Which leads me to believe I don't need to waste any more key strokes on the above thread than I already have. Adios (Spanish)


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Posted by Excellent News
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Yeah, well sure, you think you're making sense because you don't grasp the context.

Any linguist will tell you: 1. the expected time to learn a language depends on what languages you already speak, 2. learning to read and write is a separate skill from learning the speak and understand, 3. when a child is young enough, all that goes out the window.

So, yes, a foreign service adult who speaks only English will have an easier time learning Spanish than learning Mandarin. Fortunately, MI won't have to train Foreign Service personnel. (Or take on all the ESL learners, or teach the entire district a foreign language--by golly, you want this program to do a lot!) The accelerated learning curve for children is part of the appeal of elementary-level immersion.

So, no: no linguist would say Mandarin is a hard language.

Just 4 mouse clicks away, but light-years from your grasp.


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Posted by not interested in sales pitches
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2006 at 8:46 pm

Okay, "Excellent News", let's see if you can answer a question without irrelevant personal attacks: Will the children in Mandarin Immersion just be achieving fluency in speaking Mandarin? Not in reading and writing?

There is no getting around the fact that achieving even rudimentary fluency in writing and reading Chinese **will** take much more time than learning a European language. Kids learning to read English can easily transfer their decoding skills into Spanish and vice versa. And the same pencil strokes work for English and Spanish, with the addition of accent marks and the tilde over the n.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2006 at 11:41 pm

Whoa. Talk about missing the point. I guess EN thinks MI will be teaching speaking and understanding, but not reading and writing? Or would that be R&W, but not S&U? (Cause all 4 at that same time? Whew,now THAT would be hard. EN, you did realize its gonna be all 4 didnt you?) Or maybe you meant MI will only work for kids already speaking Mandarin? Cause I could of sworn you just conceded yes, its hard for English speakers. So maybe were gonna load MI up with Cantonese, Korean or Arabic speakers or something? (depends on what language you already speak). Im sorry EN, now you're losing us. So,which languages make it easy to learn Mandarin? I also didn't catch the part in that quote that said that it takes 2200 hours to learn ~for those dumb old foreign service personnel~ or 2200 for ~adults~, but for everyone else its easy. EN: I'm disappointed. The quote was pretty straight forward and came from a fair source. You might want to stick to name calling, you were more entertaining in the good old days.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 6, 2006 at 7:37 am

Here's the complete article, talking about the difficulty for adults to learn Chinese, but reiterating that for children, it's easier. Grace

Web Link

Language Barriers

Is It Too Late to Try?

By Austin Ramzy

Posted Monday, June 19, 2006; 20:00 HKT

When the humorist Dave Barry went to Japan in the early 1990s, he attempted to learn the language by reading a paperback phrase book, Japanese at a Glance, on the flight over. "That is not the method recommended by experts," he wrote. "The method recommended by experts is to be born a Japanese baby and raised by a Japanese family, in Japan."

The language of the moment is Chinese, and the expert advice is depressingly similar. If you didn't start speaking Mandarin while you were in diapers, it's highly unlikely you'll ever be mistaken for a Beijinger. The U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Institute ranks Mandarin as one of five "exceptionally difficult" languages (the others are Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean). The average English speaker requires 2,200 class hours to reach proficiency, according to the Foreign Service Institute. That's more than three times the amount of time needed to master French or Spanish. If you could somehow make learning Chinese your 40-hours-a-week job, it would take you nearly 13 months¡ªand forget about technological shortcuts. "Computerized language-learning programs and materials have helped marginally," says John Berninghausen, professor of Chinese at Middlebury College in Vermont. "But there are, at least thus far, no magic bullets."

It's not just Chinese that vexes us. Our ability to effortlessly absorb a new language¡ªany new language¡ªbegins to decline by age six, according to Robert DeKeyser, a professor of second-language acquisition at the University of Maryland. By the time we are 16, we have lost just about all hope of being able to speak a second language without a telltale accent, DeKeyser says. The reasons why children have a remarkable capacity to absorb new languages that adults generally lack are unclear. Some researchers studying the brain believe the answer may lie in a fundamental process by which grey matter develops. As we age, nerve fibers in our brain become sheathed in a protective coating made of fats and proteins. This coating, called myelin, boosts the speed of signals moving through the brain, but it also limits the potential for new connections. "It's as if you have a lot of tracks where people walked around the countryside and somebody came down and put asphalt on them," says Mike Long, who also teaches second-language acquisition at the University of Maryland. "Those roads are stronger and better, but they also limit possibility." In other words, adults find it difficult to alter the way they communicate because they become wired for their native tongue.

Difficult¡ªbut not impossible. In some areas, such as vocabulary memorization, older students can actually outperform younger peers. "Adults shouldn't say 'I'm too old to learn,'" says Long. "All over the world, millions of people have become extremely good in a second language, even when they started in their 30s and 40s." You can't expect to soak up Chinese like a sponge, but you do have the ability to concentrate and to study for hours on end. Unfortunately, if you want to learn Chinese, that's what you'll need to do.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 6, 2006 at 8:22 am

The other articles from TimesAsia are interesting, too, including the cover article, "Get Aheah, Learn Mandarin":

Web Link

060619 A Humbling Education - For TIME's Beijing correspondent, learning Chinese is an ongoing pursuit
TimeAsia article, June 19, 2006

060619 Get Ahead, Learn Mandarin - China's economic rise means the world has a new second language¡ªand it isn't English
TimeAsia article, June 19, 2006

060619 Study Aids: Homework - How to get started learning Mandarin
TimeAsia article, June 19, 2006

There's a great short primer, SPEAKING OF CHINESE, which is easy to read and gives a cultural history of the language:

Web Link

It's also available at the Palo Alto library.

For those of you who want to check out some websites about the language:

AUDIO: Shanghai-based ChinesePod makes free Mandarin podcasts available through the Internet (chinesepod.com). Dialogue topics include first dates, downloading music online, and expressing anger when someone is smoking in a nonsmoking area.

SOFTWARE: Rosetta Stone Chinese is a set of CD-ROMs that instruct through the interactive use of pictures and audio.

Rosetta Stone is available for free from the Palo Alto Library website under online resources, Languages:

Web Link

Enjoy,
Grace


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 6, 2006 at 10:18 am

Grace
Can you clarify the enrollment statistics you provided in answer to my question a few days ago?

Cupertino MI:
Is the first figure the 05-06 actual and the second figure 06-07 projected? Would I then read it to mean, for example, in grade 2, 66 actual for 05-06 and 60 projected for 06-07? How many classes per grade? Total enrollment for 05-06 was 330; projected 06-07 will be 337?

Palo Alto Spanish Immersion:
I see 20 students per class in grades 1-3. How many classes per grade? In 4-5, how many classes per grade; how many students per grade? Total enrollment in program? Does SI currently end at 5th grade in PA?

Do you have any statistics comparing end of year to beginning of the year enrollment in these programs? (Perhaps the previous year's actual compared to the next year's projected is a way that I can calculate that for myself?) Thanks for any clarifications you can offer.


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Posted by Excellent News
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2006 at 11:58 am

Dave and Not Interested,

You missed the point. Disbelief implied there are hard and easy languages. I just gave him/her information so he/she could see that this is a misconception.

Of course, MI would teach reading and writing, too. And learning to read and write Chinese (and Japanese, for that matter) takes much longer for native speakers than learning to spell in Spanish for native speakers, for instance. But there are successful programs, Cupertino among them, in which non-speakers learn to speak and read and write. This is just a fact.

I'm not sure where you get your information as to the degree of dumbness to be found among foreign service personnel, but this issue has nothing to do with IQ. Up to a certain age, children find it much easier to learn a foreign language than adults. This is part of the reason why immersion programs are so successful. In MI, kids will learn to speak Chinese in a similar way to the way they learned their mother tongue. You, as an adult (benefit of the doubt), will learn a foreign language very differently.

Yes, it does SEEM like the writing systems are so different that reading and writing Spanish would reinforce English, but Chinese would not. But as it turns out reading skills are reinforced. A SJS professor who spoke at a board meeting has info online that shows this effect. The kids come out of MI with better English reading skills than their peers.

I'm puzzled by these critiques of the immersion concept. Are you trying to claim that small children who cannot speak Mandarin cannot learn it via immersion? Poof! You're Harry Potter. Where's Cupertino? Careful with that wand.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 6, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Andrea, It looks like Grace's column headings got accidentally jumbled somehow for the Cupertno MI statistics. I believe the left column is actual number of students in the 05/06 year, by grade level. So I guess the right column is the projected totals by grade level for 06/07. Grace is this correct?

So for Cupertino MI 05/06 actuals it looks like the enrollment was

K 60
1st 60
2nd 66
3rd 47
4th 35
5th 34
6th 22
7th 6
8th 6

Andrea, I also followed the weblink Grace provided to find the Palo Alto 11th day enrollment statistics. In that report the Escondido SI program had the following totals by grade level for 05/06:

K 30
1 30
2 30
3 30
4 30
5 25

The SI enrollment is less than enough for two full strands, so they combine grade levels for the second strand. Then in 4th/5th, they have three 4th/5th combination classes, at class sizes of 18, 18 ,19 respectively.

These are beginning of year statistics. I don't know if they count end of year statistics or 'graduates' per grade level. Perhaps Grace knows if this is available somewhere.


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Posted by By the Numbers
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Aug 6, 2006 at 1:42 pm

Cupertino MI's "success" is apparently debatable, judging by the fact that only 6 of the original 60 that start in Kindergarten make it all the way through to the end. 90% leave, 10% finish.

By fifth grade, Cupertino's MI program is at 34 students, down from 60 in K, about 43% shorter of students than K. (Thats just data provided earlier in this thread.)

Those grade by grade enrollment numbers are eye opening actually. Lead me to serious question of feasibility and sustainability of the Cupertino MI program as our model.

Maybe SI ~almost~ holds on to its 30 students for the entire course of the program because Spanish is alot easier than Mandarin. Would be consistent with the article that was quoted above.

Question for the PAUSD Board: will graduation rates be one of the measures of a "feasible" program?

This discussion seems to be wallowing in the muck of politics and smart alec name calling. Are we actually interested in evaluating the best ways to deliver highest possible level of education to our kids? Or are we going down a path of experimenting on our kids.

If JLS were telling me that they were proud of a 10% graduation rate relative to the kids that entered the system in Kindergarten, I'd be alarmed.

(By the way, why does SI get to operate at class sizes of 18 in 4th and 5th grade? The rest of the Palo Alto 4th 5th grades seem to be at class size around 22. Is that equitable? I thought reduced class sizes were a big big big deal around here. At least the teachers will tell you class sizes matter.)


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 8, 2006 at 6:48 pm

Yes, Jamie unscrambled the enrollment numbers that I posted (TownSquare didn't translate the tabs separating the columns).

The two prior PAUSD 11th day enrollment reports are in the board packet archives.

Sept 28, 2004, pages 66 - 73:
Web Link

Oct 14, 2003, pages 53 - 60:

Web Link

SI has been a 1.5 strand program for a number of years. That means there's 30 kids per grade, so there are combo classes (K1, 23, 45). That is, as you'll see in the "table" below, there is a "straight" K and "straight" 1st (each with 20 students) and a combo K1 (10 kinders and 10 first graders) to have a total of 60 kinder and 1st graders.

The reason for 1.5 strands I believe is from the initial class size of 25 when SI started 11 years ago, so when class size reduction was implemented across the district, the number of students for each grade was bumped up from 25 to 30 for each grade. This fall, with the increased demand of SI, the program is moving to two strands, or 40 kids per grade (starting with Kinder this fall).

I'm going to try to create a table here to show the yearly SI class sizes (Jamie, much obliged if this doesn't work, for you to unscramble it again!):

SI in 2005 (note the combo classes K1, 23, and three combos for 45):

K_________1st__________2nd__________3rd__________4th__________5th

20________20___________20___________20__________(10__________8)
(10_______10)___________(10__________10)__________(9___________9)
________________________________________________(11__________8)

Total 176


SI in 2004 (note the combo classes K1, 23, and three combos for 45):

K__________1st__________2nd__________3rd__________4th__________5th

20_________20__________20___________20___________(9___________10)
(10________10)__________(9___________11)_________(9___________9)
___________________________________________________(10___________9)

Total 176


SI in 2003 (note one combo classes for K1, and three combos for 23 and 45):

K__________1st__________2nd__________3rd__________4th__________5th


20__________19__________9____________11__________10___________9)
(10_________10)_________(11___________8)___________(10__________10)
_______________________(11___________9)___________(9___________10)


Total 176

SI continues beyond K5 to Jordan for middle school. I do not have the enrollment numbers for SI in middle schools.

Looking at the class enrollments through the district, 2003 had 9 fourth and fifth grade classes with 19 kids, and 2004 had 3 (in addition to SI's 3).

For Cupertino MI, here are the numbers (another attempt at making a table, forgive me if it gets messed up):

Grade__________2000__________2001__________2002__________2003__________2004__________2005__________Projected2006

Kinder_________28____________25____________64____________64____________59____________60____________60
First___________19____________31____________40____________60____________67____________60____________60
Second________19____________19____________38____________40____________49____________66____________60
Third________________________14____________19____________39____________37____________47____________60
Fourth_____________________________________9_____________18____________37____________35____________45
Fifth_____________________________________________________6_____________18____________34____________32
Sixth___________________________________________________________________6____________22____________26
Seventh______________________________________________________________________________6_____________18
Eighth_____________________________________________________________________________________________6

Totals_________66____________89____________170___________227___________273____________330___________367

Notes on these numbers:
1) Cupertino Unified does not participate in Calif's class size reduction for kindergarten. Kindergarten classes can have as many as 30 students per class. Only for 1st - 3rd grades is the class size limited to 20 students/class.

2) After 3rd grade, Cupertino allows about 30 students/class.

3) This chart was received from Jeremy Nishihara, Communications Manager for the Office of the Superintendent (nishiwara_jeremy@cupertino.k12.ca.us)

4) Cupertino's Mandarin Program goes up to 8th grade.

5) We can only estimate how many classes there are in each grade, since this information was not provided.

Numbers can be interpreted in many ways. The success of Cupertino's MI can be seen by the jump from 24 kinders in 2001 to 64 kinders in 2002. That is, after two years of the program, the program was allowed to expand to meet the request of the community.

The first years of a new program (the "pilot" class) always struggle with higher than average attrition due to a number of constraints:

1. The first class starts small since it is the first and least risk-taking.

2. In the beginning of a new program, parents, students, and staff have different expectations (commitment, fluency achievement, English exposure, etc.) resulting in higher early attrition. As the program matures, expectations are better matched, and attrition is low.

According to the Cupertino numbers, the first pilot class had in 2000, 19 students, then 14 students in 2001, then 9 students in 2002, then 6 students in 2003, then 6 students in 2004 (in sixth grade). So, the class sizes for one set of kids over time through sixth grade:

19 -> 14 -> 9 -> 6 -> 6 (pilot class started in 1998)

For the successive classes:

19 -> 19 -> 19 -> 18 -> 18 -> 22 (second class of kids started in 1999)
28 -> 31 -> 38 -> 39 -> 37 -> 34 -> 26 (third class of kids in 2000)
25 -> 29 -> 40 -> 37 -> 35 -> 32 (fourth class)
64 -> 60 -> 49 -> 47 -> 45
64 -> 67 -> 66 -> 60 (kinder class started in 2003)
59 -> 60 -> 60 (kinder class started in 2004)
60 -> 60 (last year's kinders will be all moving to first grade)

Grace


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 8, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Hi Grace, Thank you for the additional detail.

I wonder if you could also tell us more about a few cases where we see enrollment go up in the middle of a class. For example, the fourth class goes up from 29 in first grade, to 40 in second grade.

What is the admission process for this in Cupertino? Do the children take assessments or something like that in order to be able to join after kindergarten? What sort of Mandarin experience do the children have that has prepared them for the later start?

Do you know if Palo Alto is expecting to take this same approach?

This is somewhat off topic, but I was also wondering if the MI programs are taking all the same STAR testing in English (or other standardized testing) as the regular classes? Are those results available for review somewhere?

Thanks again for your help.
Jamie Maltz


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2006 at 5:26 am

Grace:
You seem to have detailed test score data on the SF Cantonese Immersion program, I assume this means that this program is being looked at by PAUSD for comparison purposes. Can you provide the 2000-2006 CIM enrollment data, similar to the table you provided for Cupertino?

Additionally, SF Chronicle stated yesterday that SF has 17 immersion programs running. Are any of those being used as comparables for PAUSD's program? If so, can you send the enrollment statistic for those?


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2006 at 7:19 am

Hi,

For the feasibility study, a number of schools will be researched. For the work that I've done myself, I do not have the CIP enrollment numbers for the last few years. That's something we can ask for, but not necessarily get.

As you can tell, there's certainly lots to investigate, but given our limited resources, we will do our best to gather as much information as possible.

Any volunteers to help on the feasibility study?
Grace


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2006 at 8:44 am

Hello,

Cupertino's program, CLIP (Cupertino Language Immersion Program) has an assessment process for screening kids entering after 1st grade. Our SI (Spanish Immersion) program also does assessments for kids entering after 1st grade.

Some children requesting later transfer into both CLIP and SI are recent immigrants from foreign lands. Some children transfer from other immersion schools.

Palo Alto's MI program will most likely have an assessment similar in objectives as CLIP and SI.

STAR testing results are out:

Web Link

If you want to slice and dice numbers, you may want to check out the following public schools:

Escondido, Palo Alto Unified, about half the school is SI
Meyerholz, Cupertino Union, about half the school is CLIP
Alice Fong Yu, San Francisco Unified, K-8, all Cantonese immersion
West Portal, San Francisco Unified, half the school is CIP

Grace


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Posted by Lorraine Sparaco
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2006 at 6:56 pm

Last spring I began attending the PAUSD Board meetings in an effort to understand the process and ramifications surrounding the proposed MI choice program which was being proposed to the board. Since that time I have attended almost every meeting, read comments from both proponents and opponents in this forum and in newspapers, and I remain unpersuaded that MI is a fiscally responsible course for this district at this time.

In attending so many meetings, hearing about other pressing financial issues facing this district, I have come to the broader conclusion that this board desperately needs to focus on an overall strategic plan, that includes both long term and specific short term goals, within the context of district and community priorities and the need to resolve such issues as unfunded retirement reserves, unrestored pre-Measure A programs, 20 year facility plan (ie: overdue facility upgrades like MP rooms at the elementary schools), obsolete school bus fleet, improved school site security, enrollment growth and the implications for 13th elementary school, and 3rd high school, boundary issues, to name a few.

A lot of "old business" needs to be resolved before we start looking for new directions. Becoming sidetracked by proposals such as this new choice program is wasting the district's time and resources and the board has much more pressing matters at hand. The MI proposal needs to be taken off the table at this time.




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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 8:43 pm

I applaud your dedication in attending so many board meetings to get a clear sense of what is going on. You are correct that the school district faces a number of unresolved issues. However, this is no reason to paralyze decision making by ignoring new initiatives that have wide support/demand and a clear precedent through choice programs in general and Spanish immersion specifically.

The reality is that there is a set cost to educating any student. The key additional costs for Mandarin Immersion (or any other choice program) are the design of the curriculum and purchase of textbooks. In the case of Spanish Immersion, the parents were able to cover the costs by raising an additional $2,000 in the first year of that program. Lets be clear the magnitude of costs do not lead to the conclusion that MI is not "fiscally responsible".

We have a stellar school board and a top-flight administration. Implying that they can't multitask and are being sidetracked by any one initiative is unfair. Lets embrace the can-do attitude that makes Palo Alto such a great place to belong and avoid freezing out new ideas and initiatives.


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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 8:43 pm

I applaud your dedication in attending so many board meetings to get a clear sense of what is going on. You are correct that the school district faces a number of unresolved issues. However, this is no reason to paralyze decision making by ignoring new initiatives that have wide support/demand and a clear precedent through choice programs in general and Spanish immersion specifically.

The reality is that there is a set cost to educating any student. The key additional costs for Mandarin Immersion (or any other choice program) are the design of the curriculum and purchase of textbooks. In the case of Spanish Immersion, the parents were able to cover the costs by raising an additional $2,000 in the first year of that program. Lets be clear the magnitude of costs do not lead to the conclusion that MI is not "fiscally responsible".

We have a stellar school board and a top-flight administration. Implying that they can't multitask and are being sidetracked by any one initiative is unfair. Lets embrace the can-do attitude that makes Palo Alto such a great place to belong and avoid freezing out new ideas and initiatives.


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Posted by Lorraine Sparaco
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 10, 2006 at 10:28 pm

My information is that the staff spent 300 hours this summer just to write the grant application. Hopefully they are very very good at multi-tasking, because my question is what tasks did not get done on behalf of the district while they devoted this time to MI.

Any decision-making this board does right now should be focused towards solving those major unresolved issues, not charging the staff with analyzing and implementing new choice programs. This district has plenty to offer it's students within it's current format. Take MI and other choice programs off the table; these days, the Board and the staff have more than enough to keep them multi tasking. They're getting dangerously close to fiddling while Rome burns.

By the way, anyone know the status of that grant?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Shan, since you seem to be quite 'clear' on the minimal costs of running an immersion program, can you please share the total cost breakdown of the Spanish Immersion program? These are not really available to those of us who have been looking, so perhaps you can tell us where to find these?

For example, how much do textbooks costs? For Mandarin Immersion, my understanding is that Cupertino is the closest model existing program and its not clear whether theirs would meet PAUSD and/or California Standards, and so are we talking about purchasing textbooks? or WRITING textbooks? What other matierials are required? (My son has spelling booklets, math workbooks, etc.) So what would be the cost of purchasing or creating all this from scratch? (for Spanish - that is 'clearly' known, as it already exists today in PAUSD.) Also, when curriculum is updated and new standards are mandated, how much does it cost to rewrite or repurchase those materials?

How much does it cost to purchase language specific software?
How mcuh does it cost to purchase library books in the target language for grades K-5?

How is Spanish Immersion tested? Do they just take the standard Star tests? Or do they also take Spanish assessments (STAR equivalents of some kind) to assess their biliteracy in Spanish? Where do those assessments come from? Are they purchased off the shelf also (like at Borders or something?) or are they written by experts? So we can go buy those for MI or do we have to develop and write those as well? How much time does that take, and do they ever need to be updated, revised? Do we write a K-5 curriculum once, and tie it up in a bow (all done), or does it require ongoing revision and management.

How many headcount and what is the cost, of managing the performance of Spanish speaking teachers and staff, for their Spanish responsibilities? Who manages the Spanish Program and Curriculum ongoing? Does the Spanish program require any administrative support, or instructional supervisors that have language experience? Who runs their website and how much does that cost?

What financial reporting and student performance reporting is done today on Spanish Immersion program? Where can we get copies of that? Do you have it? Who's doing all that special reporting? and who's paying for those costs?

Are there any costs to parents or the district for tutoring or classroom aids beyond the costs of non-language PAUSD classrooms? If so, how much and who pays for that?

If you have this information please let us know where to get it so we can all be as 'clear' as you are. If you don't have it, how are we to be 'clear' that the costs are so minimal? How can you be 'clear' on it? Please share so we can all be on the same page.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Oct 13, 2006 at 10:34 am

Hi Shan

I have to challenge a statement you make. You say

"However, this is no reason to paralyze decision making by ignoring new initiatives that have wide support/demand and a clear precedent through choice programs in general and Spanish immersion specifically"

1) Paralyze - I don't think anyone is paralyzing decision making. Those of us who oppose another lottery-based choice program are PART OF the decision making process. I believe it is not only my right but my duty to work against an idea I believe is not good for any reason, just like you can work for an idea you think is good. I, by working against this idea, am no more paralyzing our District than proponents are by working for it. In the end, our elected officials will make better decisions if they have active citizens helping them gather information.

2) Have wide support and demand - Proponents have 900 signatures gathered over 4 years, opponents gathered over 300 signatures in 2 weeks. What could we do with 4 years? I think the only way to know if there is wide support is to have a well-done survey of all the people paying the bill, which means all of Palo Alto. If there is indeed a majority who support this program in particular, and/or moving our District further into the Lottery Choice model and away from neighborhood schools, then I will step out of the way, because then I would know there really is wide support and I am in the minority. The thing is, I don't believe I am in the minority.

3) Clear precedent - I am always telling my kids that "just because you could have a cookie/playdate/new toy/late movie etc yesterday doesn't mean you get one today". I don't think "precedent" is valid as a reason to continue in a direction. Just because we start walking down a path doesn't mean we have to tumble all the way down the mountain. We can always adjust course. That is what I am hoping for. I just want us to sit back and ask ourselves if we really want another lottery choice program in the district, and if it turns out we do, then figure out a way to make such a decision to implement one.


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Posted by Lorraine Sparaco
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2006 at 1:21 pm

In a previous comment I listed some looming and/or continuing financial issues which I feel need to be resolved before this district commits to any new choice programs:unfunded retirement reserves, unrestored pre-Measure A programs, 20 year facility plan (ie: overdue facility upgrades like MP rooms at the elementary schools), obsolete (i.e safety features) school bus fleet, improved school site security, enrollment growth and the implications for 13th elementary school, and 3rd high school, boundary issues, to name a few.

Let's add the latest: CONSULTANT FEES to resolve the latest personnel issues in the district. At the rate we're going, even if MI proponents bribed the district with a guaranteed yearly bonus for implementing the program, we couldn't justify it.


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