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Why not expand Ohlone program?

Original post made by Morgan Bricca, Ohlone School, on May 11, 2007

The glowing atricles on Susan Charles and Ohlone school begs the question:why not expand the Ohlone program?

My husband went to Ohlone and we would love to give our children the "Ohlone Experience" but we did not win one of the lottery slots to get in.This year only 1 in 8 of Palo Alto parents who applied to send their child to Ohlone were accepted.

Comments (91)

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Posted by Wow!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 11, 2007 at 11:06 am

Our kids are too old for Ohlone, so I was unaware that the odds of getting in are so poor.

Clearly, fans of the Ohlone program just need to circulate a petition for a similar charter school to get the board's attention!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 11, 2007 at 12:27 pm

I think there are more parents who'd like to put their kids in Ohlone but can't (due to space limitations) than parents who'd like to put their kids in Mandarin Immersion.

This is one reason why, in my opinion, expanding Ohlone "as is" would be a better move than adding Mandarin Immersion to Ohlone.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 1:04 pm

If Ohlone, Hoover, SI, MI, etc. were allowed to be charter schools, on newly rented properties (empty industrial buildings) they could exapand to their heart's content. There would probably be no waiting lists. People would vote with their feet. The rest of us would have our neighborhod schools back, and they would be less crowded.

I simply cannot understand why charters are so feared. Is it the teachers union? The current bureaucracy? Philosophical hard-heads?


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Loss of control and $$.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Palo Alto mom,

Why is 'control' so important? One of the values of a charter is that it allows alternative approaches. As long as the kids are required to take standard achievement tests, to establish that actual learning occurs, who cares what the approach is?

The $$ argument is complex, I think. If those who choose to attend the charters open up space in the neighborhood schools, this would reduce the need to do major upgrades (re major bond issues). This assumes that the charters will go into newly rented buildings (and plently of portables).


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 1:48 pm

Putting charters into rented industrial buildings and portables won't fly.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 1:55 pm

"Putting charters into rented industrial buildings and portables won't fly."

Booth,

Why? When SI displaced Escondido kids into portables it was considered just fine. The SI folks used to describe it as "an unfortunate price for progress".

There are several private schools that have opened up on former industrial buildings in Palo Alto. Industry is no longer on parade in Palo Alto - it is a good time to scoop up the bargains!


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Bargain or no, one could not put charters into them. Charter law requires the district to give charters "reasonably equivalent facilities," even if no unused district facilities are available.

That would also rule out putting the entire charter into portables.

Sticking the charter into an industrial building would invite lawsuits, and the district would lose.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Booth,

Go take a look at Kehillah Jewish HS. It is in an industrial building, and it is a really fine place. I just saw a new private school on W. Basyshore (Emerson?). The old private HS in Palo Alto (used to be at Garland) is now in an industrial building in Menlo Park. The International School is also in an old industrial building (off E. Bayshore).

There are many possibilities, but the minds (and hearts) need to be open to them.


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Yes, it's possible but hardly desirable to put kids--especially elementary age ones--into a former industrial building.

(I'm not familiar with most of the schools you mention, but the international school off bayshore is a newish purpose-built elementary/middle school.)

Most charters will see these buildings as undesirable. You seem to say that in exchange they'd have room to expand. But charter laws don't restrict them from expanding, so I don't see the quid in your quid pro quo.

Flip your example to see why: try telling, say, Palo Verde that it will be moved into an ex-industrial building on bayshore and in exchange will no longer need to turn away kids from the neighborhood. I would guess that this suggestion would not be met with open arms.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Prop 39 provides that the district let charters use unused school buildings, it does not require that the district rent space. Not sure how the schools that are rented to private schools would be handled, if the district would be forced to break the lease or not. Charters are typically in districts that are losing enrollment - not over-enrolled.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2007 at 3:23 pm

From the CA dept of Education

Is the charter authorizer required to provide facilities to charter schools it approves?

Not necessarily. Education Code Section 47614 requires the district in which the charter school is geographically located to provide facilities to the charter school under certain conditions. The district that may be required to provide facilities may not always be the charter authorizer. For instance, a State Board of Education (SBE) or county office of education approved charter school could request facilities from the local district in which it is located. Under Proposition 39, a charter school seeking district facilities must request facilities from the district according to the timelines and process described in these regulations. This does not require the school district to lease and rent facilities for charter schools if the district can establish that it is utilizing all available space for enrolled students. The Title 5, Sections 11969.1 through 11969.10 of the California Code of Regulations, and may be found on the CDE Web site at Web Link .


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 3:24 pm

But if there are no unused facilities, the law requires the district to provide equivalent ones, whether rented or not.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Booth,

You should take a look at these private schools. They are BETTER than the current PAUSD facilities. If my neighborhood school (Escondido)had an opportunity to assume a nearby industrial building in SRP, remodel it, and dedicate it to a pure neighborhood school, then let SI/MI/DI/Ohlone take over the current Escondido site, I would be fine with it (except for the traffic!).

But you seem to have the priorities bass ackwards. Why should neighborhood schools need to give up what has always been theirs? It should be the special choice programs that need to make the move.


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Hm, well the charter priorities are set by law, not me. I read the intent as making sure districts cannot stiff the kids in charter schools (or their parents).

As for choice programs, the district has already made clear that a fundamental principle going forward is no kids displaced from neighborhood schools, which is why they chose Ohlone.

But I think it's your priorities that are backwards. Neighborhood schools ought not be sacrosanct, especially at the cost of innovation. Parents interested in a different educational model for their kids shouldn't be stymied by those who don't, even at the cost of displacement. Neighborhood schools should give ground.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 5:40 pm

"But I think it's your priorities that are backwards. Neighborhood schools ought not be sacrosanct, especially at the cost of innovation. Parents interested in a different educational model for their kids shouldn't be stymied by those who don't, even at the cost of displacement. Neighborhood schools should give ground."

Booth, FINALLY an honest answer from the internal 'choice' side of the equation! I thank you for that. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Bah Humbug
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Innovate away, but not in my neighborhood school. This is one time I am a NIMBY. If you want to be innovative with Mandarin or anything else, use Greendell when the JCC leaves. As it stands, leave Ohlone as it is, expand it for the demand and let Garland return to being a neighborhood school. Public schools must have priority over private and neighborhood must have priority over choice. Innovation, Bah Humbug.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Booth -

The Title 5, Sections 11969.1 through 11969.10 of the California Code of Regulations. This does not require the school district to lease and rent facilities for charter schools if the district can establish that it is utilizing all available space for enrolled students.

Innovation is wonderful, but as one of the best school district in CA - should our successful, neighborhood schools be displaced by an untried curriculum?


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 9:33 pm

Hi, Palo Alto Mom,

In all cases, the district must provide charter schools with reasonably equivalent facilities. If no space is available, the district must still provide equivalent facilities, even if it incurs costs (Prop. 39).

The educational needs of the community--whether choice or charter--should be met, even at the cost of neighborhood schools. Not sure what you're refering to by "untried."


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on May 11, 2007 at 9:54 pm

"The educational needs of the community--whether choice or charter--should be met, even at the cost of neighborhood schools"

Booth,

Again, thanks for your honesty.


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Posted by wouldn't it be nice
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 11, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Booth: "The educational needs of the community--whether choice or charter--should be met, even at the cost of neighborhood schools"

Define "needs." Do you mean that any subject matter wanted by any special interest group, irrespective of size, constitutes an educational need of the community?

What about the fact that a student can attend this district from K through 12 and graduate without ever studying a foreign language? The federal No Child Left Behind Act defines foreign languages as core academic subjects, yet our district neither teaches them in elementary school nor requires that they be taken by students in secondary school.

What about gifted students and those with learning disabilities or emotional disorders that interfere with academic performance? Not all of those children's needs are being adequately addressed by our current system.

There are still millions of dollars in budget cuts that were made years ago that have not yet been restored. When you say that the educational needs must be met, you are assuming a bottomless pit of money, but that isn't the case. Programs, especially brand new ones, must be carefully evaluated and prioritized in terms of whether or not they can make a dent in our greatest educational needs. It's only in some fantasy world that all of those needs get met.


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 11, 2007 at 11:24 pm

Brian,

Define "needs." Do you mean that any subject matter wanted by any special interest group, irrespective of size, constitutes an educational need of the community?

Ideally, size wouldn't matter, but that would be unworkable in practice.

"What about the fact that a student can attend this district from K through 12 and graduate without ever studying a foreign language?" Terrible. If you plan to start a charter to address this, I'll support you.

"What about gifted students and those with learning disabilities or emotional disorders that interfere with academic performance?" Also terrible. As I understand it, the support for "gifted" is more for show than anything. Kids with learning disabilities already are guaranteed appropriate education by federal law, so the playing field there is already uneven (disproportionate resources).

"There are still millions of dollars in budget cuts that were made years ago that have not yet been restored." Talk to Jarvis and Gann, not me.

"When you say that the educational needs must be met, you are assuming a bottomless pit of money, but that isn't the case." No, I just support charter schools and cost-neutral choice programs.

"It's only in some fantasy world that all of those needs get met." Sure, but when you get a critical mass of dedicated parents, you ignore their needs at your peril.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 11, 2007 at 11:45 pm

The law doesn't rule out putting whole charters in portables. It's been done. Old industrial buildings on busy streets, however, aren't the same as schools with playgrounds.

And one more time, Ohlone and Hoover aren't going to be turned into charters. Until this MI nuttiness appeared, the schools weren't a bit issue.

And for the first poster, yes, of course, if the board were responding to demand instead of blackmail, the obvious thing would be to expand the Ohlone program at Ohlone--another half strand would shorten the waitlist and not completely overcrowd the school.

It might help if you let the school board know how you feel.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on May 12, 2007 at 7:47 am

Booth,

"when you get a critical mass of dedicated parents, you ignore their needs at your peril."

Not sure what you mean by that. Could you expand?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 12:30 pm

OhlonePar,
I appreciate your posts as some of the most insightful on this subject. I hope you won't find what I have to say next too harsh, but it's what I'm seeing. My impression from the board, especiall dana tom and barb mitchell, is that they have mainly changed their minds BECAUSE of Susan Charles' willingness to take the MI program, and thus to take the whole business off their hands. If Ohlone parents feel otherwise, they should let Susan Charles know.

My impression, as a parent in a neighborhood school outside of Ohlone, is that Ohlone is encouraging the program at their site so that their kids can get some Mandarin instruction (you scratch my back...), while the rest of us have to wait for the district to let us have FLES (IF we get FLES), which really rankles. Existing parents at Ohlone don't have to care so much about those who didn't get in, because of sibling preferences, their families are set. Which gives prospective parents and parents at our school a very different impression of what "community" means at Ohlone than we thought before. Perhaps it's not the case, but it represents the Ohlone philosophy poorly to the rest of us.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Booth says "when you get a critical mass of dedicated parents, you ignore their needs at your peril."

Are you talking about the critical mass of parents who are FOR more choice programs or the critical mass who are AGAINST? Which one is the dangerous group that puts the other in peril?

Interesting, and relevant, attitude.


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Posted by More Math Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm

How about a choice program for gifted students? Or a math/science magnet? I think Mandarin has a relaively small constituency compared to either of the above.


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Sorry to have been unclear.

I meant that we are a community, and ignoring (or worse denigrating) the needs of part of our community risks dividing the community.

When a group comes to us and says their needs are not being met, one option (the exclusive) is to say (take your pick: not in my district, I don't like your program so you shouldn't have it, my neighborhood school is more important than your educational need, etc.). By treating your neighbors like this, you create unhappiness.

Another option would be to say if it's educationally sound, does it affect the budget, etc., then let's go for it because we have a standard mechanism--choice--for dealing with this.

Setting aside the contentious dispute over the budget, I think we saw many exclusive responses. This created divisiveness. Now, I don't know why you would do this if you are opposed to charters in this district. That was the next obvious step and the only move you left open to the PACE group.

Someone suggested a choice program for gifted students or a math/science magnet. In principle, why not? (I think some might object on the basis that such schools would admit selectively.) On the other hand, that won't happen soon because no dedicated group has come forward with a proposal.


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Posted by curious
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm

What's the difference between "a mass of dedicated parents" and a mob?


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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 5:41 pm

We have a lot of needs that are not being met in our neighborhood schools. We don't have infinite resources and we can't do everything for everyone. If people want more, that's the niche that private schools meet.

PACE parents do have other options open to them, especially one that many, many other parents have chosen -- live in a cheaper community and send the kids to private schools. A lot of parents sacrifice to live in Palo Alto to send their kids to the existing neighborhood public schools, and see the many priorities we have to address in our existing system as, well, the priority here. This is not a time of underenrollment and excess resources. The only fair thing to do for the community is to establish priorities (through strategic planning) and find ways to accomplish as many as possible.

You said, "I meant that we are a community, and ignoring (or worse denigrating) the needs of part of our community risks dividing the community." Why do you not see that this is what PACE has done, how a very small number of parents (PACE) is ignoring and denigrating the needs of a very large group of parents who are sacrificing to send their kids to the public schools in PA. Schools that PACE members don't think are good enough for their kids. They have other choices that don't cause this kind of divisiveness and controversy, which many others have made before them. There are numerous private school options for MI in this area, and even one public option (Cupertino).


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Hi, PA Mom,

I think your approach is an example of the exclusive approach that is causing such trouble. Your responses to your neighbors:

--go to a private school
--you (PA mom) and your friends define what is important to the district and those who disagree should just move out of the district
--the PACE members must think PA schools are "not good enough" since they want a different choice.

Do you seen why this would cause divisiveness? Do you see how aggressive and confrontational and exclusive this approach is?

As for the resources issue, that has been rehashed to death. I'm buying the only professional study done on this, the feasibility study, so I think this is something the district can do. You don't buy the study, so you don't agree.


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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Booth,
Well, we will have to agree to disagree on all of it. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I would love to have MI in our district, too, but now is not the time for THIS plan, for the numerous reasons that have already been listed. If I felt MI were a NEED, I would myself have already bought a house in another district and be sending my child to private school, or another of the local public districts that provides MI already. Or, if I were a PACE member who felt being educated in Palo Alto was also a NEED, I would have considered other types of immersion or language instruction that would take the constraints of our district better into account at this time. I am very determined that we will have FLES in our district, music down to kindergarten, physical education more represented in elementary education, etc, (none of which are available now to our kids and which I consider priorities over MI), and I will work for these but I also don't believe that it's the job of a public school system to provide my child a special private school education that it cannot provide for all students.

Private school is an option open to these people -- you said there were no other options than to threaten a charter in this district alone, and I answered you to point out that there ARE other choices that other parents make all the time. In fact, there are other choices as far as a charter, but PACE members have dismissed those options as well.

We can't always have everything when want all the time. Do you not see how aggressive and confrontational and exclusive demanding such in a public school system is? Do you not see why this would cause divisiveness?

Have you read the feasibility study? There are no numbers. It missed some pretty big issues, some of which PACE members have admitted so, such as the need for more facilities in three years, not included in the "cost neutral" equation -- nor any of the costs now already proposed, such as the vice principle at Ohlone, etc. etc. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] If it were submitted to a good financial analyst, it would not be "cost neutral".


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 12, 2007 at 9:30 pm

PA Mom,

OK, agree to disagree. Just one small point: no self-interest (narrow or otherwise) in my case. My kids are much too old.... It's not a need for me but for others.

You sound very committed, so I wish you luck in bringing FLES, PE and music to the district.


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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Booth,
You sound earnest, as I believe most people on both sides of this debate have been. It's too bad we haven't had more consensus building leadership.

You don't have to benefit personally for your take to be narrow self-interest; "self-interest is perhaps not the right word, but I'm not great with words. when someone doesn't broadly take into account the interests of the whole but rather just a small part, it's deemed selfish or self-interested, I don't really have a better word. perhaps "special interest-ed?"

I have a strong belief in fairness in public schools. I wouldn't take a group of kids out and give only my kids a really special treat, even if I could afford it. I think FLES should come first, because it's the right thing in a public school district to provide special educational opportunities for everyone, not just a tiny vocal fraction. Our kids have no language instruction at all at the moment, and the opinion that MI wouldn't negatively impact FLES is just that -- an opinion that many of us believe is wrong. We could argue it, like everything else, but that doesn't make the basic issue of unfairness go away.


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Posted by Dedicated parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2007 at 5:45 am

"Sure, but when you get a critical mass of dedicated parents, you ignore their needs at your peril."

Which critical mass are you talking about? The tiny handful of vocal proponents of this MI plan or the very large number of dedicated parents who think the rest of the kids in the district deserve some foreign language first? The board seems to be ignoring their needs because it took $60k to do a feasibility study that doesn't hold up to scrutiny. So, because it took money and doesn't want to correct a mistake or take the due criticism, it is ignoring the needs of the majority of dedicated parents in the district in order to service the few that gave them money and threaten when they don't get what they want, rather than admit to the flaws and correct them.

I hear people ready to recall the board if they vote this MI plan in. Who knows, maybe they are a minority, too, but they would also be a "dedicated group" coming forward -- which is what you seem to respond to, and what the board has made loud and clear that they put first above everyone else. You "ignore their needs at your peril," as you have pointed out.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2007 at 8:03 am

Booth - Your logic, that minority opinion should be bowed to because to ignore their needs imperils the rest, means that there should be no rules or laws concerning the good of the whole.

Applying it in the microcosm - on the school playground the 5th graders parents decide their kids "need" the playground all to themselves at lunch so that they can have the best experience. They just can't play the way 5th graders should with all those littler kids around. They pay taxes, too, and deserve this, after all. Bye-Bye k-4th graders.

Better to band together and build their own playground with their own resources elsewhere.

A little bigger - The public pool is inaccessible to women of some factions of some religions because it is co-ed, so it is shut down to all men 3 full days per week because this group "needs" the public pool. They pay taxes, too, so...Bye-Bye men.

Better to group together and build their own pool.

A little bigger - A group wants to establish a part of town that is ONLY for them, maybe to immerse in a language, maybe to immerse in a religion, who knows? They pay taxes, too, so demand, and get, 1/2 of the town hall and 1/2 the public park for use only by them.

well, you get the idea.

Where does it end?

When are you going to realize that need is different from desire, and that public is different from private?

Groups form together all the time to pay for their own desires that the public should not or does not wish to pay for.

For example, the Indian ( from India) community formed their own community center..they promote the languages and culture of India. Nobody forced the taxpayers to pay for it. The Jewish community formed the Jewish community center. They teach Hebrew and culture. Nobody forced the taxpayers. The French Alliance formed their own association, with language and culture taught and promoted. Nobody forced the taxpayers to pay.

A desire is not a need or a right.





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Posted by Resident, Too!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 13, 2007 at 9:43 pm

Resident, your comments, to the extreme, are quite racist.

MI is supported by non-Mandarin speakers, many who are not Chinese.

You don't get it. Choice programs are supported by the board. Charter schools are supported by the Calif Ed code and the federal government.

PAUSD has decided to support a choice program over a charter school in this particular incidence. Your shutting down alternative programs via eccentric personal rights is not the same thing.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Resident Too,

PACE itself said on its Web site that MI should be in Palo Alto to reflect the population. One of the points it used to push is that Mandarin is the second-most common language in PA. When the PACE began to be criticized for this angle, it switched to the rainbow coalition. Not a particularly convincing one, I might add.

Because the MI program must have 30 to 50 percent native speakers, it is skewed heavily toward a particular ethnic group. Sure there are non-Asian parents interested in Mandarin, but from PACE's own surveys, they appear to be in the minority--around 20 percent.

I suspect one of the reasons PACE is willing to take the Ohlone mash-up is that they would have a real problem getting a student body that represents the ethnic breakdown of Palo Alto instead of Hoover.

Parent,

My understanding is that Susan Charles originally opposed the program. She then decided that if Ohlone was going to get stuck with MI, she was going to run the show--thus, all the emphasis on the Ohlone Way, but in Mandarin.

Personally, I see no point in getting Mandarin in a FLES format--I'd prefer a language with an easier-to-learn written language.

I haven't met any Ohlone parents who want MI, thought I'm sure there are some. We tend to think the school is very special and there's a general concern that the MI crowd won't appreciate our values. I mean, we're big on community and, given the behavior of PACE, well, would you want to be on a committee with someone who's my-way-or-the-highway?

And, yes, there's the sibling preference thing, but we do have friends and we'd prefer seeing people who want to be part of the Ohlone community instead of people who are sort of exploiting it.

In other words, I don't think Susan Charles and the Ohlone community are on the same page here, though it's a sticky situation given Susan Charles' public stance.

However, I think it's also possible that Susan Charles sees the three-year trial MI program as something that will move and that Ohlone will then get to fill out its fourth strand, which Charles has been trying to do for some time. I think, though, that the evangelical educator thing is also playing a part.

I do not agree with her here. I think there's been too big a community rift at this point.

Seriously, I'm grateful it's put off for a year, so my child will have another year of a playground that's not a mob.

I ran into a Mountain View parent the other night who has nothing to do with these forums. Fist thing he said about MI was, "Why don't they put it at Slater?"

It drives me crazy that PACE's ego won't allow them to go for the solution that would actually benefit everyone involved.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2007 at 9:06 am

I think Slater in MV is where Google is putting its new childcare center.


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Posted by more choice
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 14, 2007 at 9:43 am

"Why not expand Ohlone program?"

They are expanding the Ohlone program. Just doing it in Mandarin.


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Posted by Dedcated parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 10:03 am

Palo Alto mom,
Google is at slater, but they have an extremely short lease. MV does not have to renew it. Also, Google is no renting the entire site, MV retains some of it. Also, Slater does not have to be the only solution.

OhlonePar,
If the majority of Ohlone parents are against this plan, they need to let SUSAN CHARLES know, and the board. Again, my impression is that this is the major reason for the reversal, that Susan Charles is willing to take the whole business off the board's hands. Also, cynically, the board wants to make sure certain people get into the program so they don't have to face that ol' charter threat again and again, and Susan Charles could make that happen. Please don't tell me Susan Charles is above being expedient, I'm guessing this is part of why MI-ers are so set on Ohlone.

Resident, Too!
Resident's comments were reasonable and intelligent. Calling him/her racist was unfounded and nasty. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on May 14, 2007 at 11:21 am

Resident, too: It seems that everytime the word "minority" is used, there are some who jump at the opportunity to cry racism. Here's another definition of minority that you and others may not be familiar with:
1. the smaller part or number; a number, part, or amount forming less than half of the whole.
2. a smaller party or group opposed to a majority, as in voting or other action.
Every time someone refers to "the minority" it is not necessarily referring to race or ethnicity, despite the spin you seem to desparately want to impose on the term whenerver it is used.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 11:33 am

To Resident, Too: You use the classic "Call a name because I can't refute it any other way" approach. Please quote precisely what was racist about my post, even if taken to the extreme.

If I were to use the same logic to make the "to the extreme" point you are trying to make, your points, taken to the extreme, result in a society completely fragmented into little enclaves of different cultures, languages, values, even laws. So, don't be silly.

You also ignore the points of the post, and go on to use the "choice is good and legal, charters are good and legal, so any and all choice/charter in any time/place are good/legal".

Poor thinking skills in assumptions, nuance and logic. Choice programs are AN OPTION in the district, not required, and Charter Schools are AN OPTION, not required, and are legal WITHIN THE LIMITS of the Charter laws. Where they run up against Education Code laws and community values has not yet been challenged, though the time is coming, I am sure.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 11:40 am

By the way, what the heck are the "eccentric personal rights" Resident, too is referring to?


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Posted by Resident, Too!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 14, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Examples of my opinion on racist comments in the previous post:

Applying it in the microcosm - on the school playground the 5th graders parents decide their kids "need" the playground all to themselves at lunch so that they can have the best experience. They just can't play the way 5th graders should with all those littler kids around. They pay taxes, too, and deserve this, after all. Bye-Bye k-4th graders.

Better to band together and build their own playground with their own resources elsewhere.

*** 5th graders example is not racist. It seems elitist to me, not allowing other kids who are entitled to the playground to play.

A little bigger - The public pool is inaccessible to women of some factions of some religions because it is co-ed, so it is shut down to all men 3 full days per week because this group "needs" the public pool. They pay taxes, too, so...Bye-Bye men.

Better to group together and build their own pool.

*** This religious example is not racist. It may be sexist, not allowing men access to the pool, when the public pool is meant for everyone.

A little bigger - A group wants to establish a part of town that is ONLY for them, maybe to immerse in a language, maybe to immerse in a religion, who knows? They pay taxes, too, so demand, and get, 1/2 of the town hall and 1/2 the public park for use only by them.

*** Grouping in a town by language use or by religion happens all the time. "Establishing" a part of town means what? Not allowing non-members to buy in that area? That's discrimination, not racist. Any grouping can reserve the town hall or public park for their gathering. "Establishing" or limiting access to only parts of public places is wrong.

well, you get the idea.

*** Clearly you don't get the idea.

Where does it end?

When are you going to realize that need is different from desire, and that public is different from private?

Groups form together all the time to pay for their own desires that the public should not or does not wish to pay for.

For example, the Indian ( from India) community formed their own community center..they promote the languages and culture of India. Nobody forced the taxpayers to pay for it. The Jewish community formed the Jewish community center. They teach Hebrew and culture. Nobody forced the taxpayers. The French Alliance formed their own association, with language and culture taught and promoted. Nobody forced the taxpayers to pay.

*** Many of these racial examples are racist. Yes, any group can form their own community center. And if they form their own center, they can limit membership to their race, religion, or whatever (whether it's explicit in their membership regulations or implicit in discouraging non-racial/religion people from feeling welcome).

*** MI is not formed by a particular race. MI is open to all races. MI is welcoming to all races and religions. The community is not paying for it, it is cost neutral to the community and the school district. MI's extra funding will be by private donations (without limiting membership), grants, and parent contributions. The money will go thru the school district so that it is compliant with all the fundraising policies and restrictions of donations.

*** Very different animals.

A desire is not a need or a right.

*** A desire is only that, a desire. The rights of the minority (not racial) are guaranteed by law. A majority may not approve or agree with those rights, but you have to change the law.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 4:23 pm

Funny, Marilyn Cook says MI will have a language proficiency criteria for entry after first grade. That is a racial barrier to entry. Is Mandarin a language that is broadly used across a wide diversity of ethnic boundaries? I think not.

If I limited a math program to english only speakers, would I be faulted on charges of discrimination?

Language barriers to entry are racial discrimiation.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Professorville
on May 14, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Of course they will have language proficiency criteria, but language is not race, so there is no racial barrier. These kinds of criteria exist all around the country, but only a fringe in Palo Alto thinks they amount to racial discrimination.

This is one of the far-fetched arguments grasped at by the die-hard kill-MI-at-all-costs element. As an argument, it makes no sense.




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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2007 at 4:47 pm

While Spanish is a language spoken by many countries and races, Mandarin is spoken primarily in one country and by one race. The requirement to speak Mandarin to enter the program will excluse most other races.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 5:33 pm

To Resident, too: Sorry, still doesn't hold water. Your focus on the "race" of one of the groups to the exclusion of the fact that the remaining groups have the same basis in the string tells me you are missing the point.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] The chosen language of immersion is completely irrelevant. The consequences, regardless of chosen language, be it Hebrew, French or Arabic, are the same on the district. It doesn't matter how much you wish to make the language of choice relevant, it isn't.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Funny the federal governemnt doesn't think its so far fetched. The Equal Educational Opportunities act says language discrimination is a form of racial discrimination.

It only seems to be the people who are benefiting that refuse to see the connection here...

TITLE 20 - EDUCATION
CHAPTER 39 - EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
SUBCHAPTER I - EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
Part 2 - Unlawful Practices


1703. Denial of equal educational opportunity prohibited
No State shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, by -

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


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 5:44 pm

The difference is, most other language immersion schools in other areas, are usually set up to break down barriers for english language learners - so they actually work to meet this federal law. Take a look at the communities in which they happen, they have a high concentration of that language speaking population, and a high ESL needs population as well.

However, in PAUSD, the district is proposing to put mandarin language barriers in that will reduce access for english speakers to this program, and very few if any Mandarin ESL speakers will be served - the intent of PAUSD's MI program is not, and never has been to serve ESL students.

If it hasn't been challenged yet, the board should realize it will be here. I hope they factor litigation expense into their equation.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Professorville
on May 14, 2007 at 6:00 pm

"While Spanish is a language spoken by many countries and races, Mandarin is spoken primarily in one country and by one race." True.

"The requirement to speak Mandarin to enter the program will excluse most other races." So what? It's still not a racial criterion.

"Funny the federal governemnt doesn't think its so far fetched." The law says you can't exclude kids based on race using language as a proxy or by failing to offer help in overcoming language barriers. First, language is not being used as a proxy here. Second, the law just means the district has to help kids get up to speed in English in K. The law doesn't require the district to admit kids who have had no Spanish into second year high-school Spanish, nor does it require districts to admit anyone into an immersion program at higher levels.

In any case, these programs have tiny attrition, so backfilling won't be an issue.

It doesn't matter what reason you think other immersion programs were set up to achieve (in fact there are immersion schools in Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, etc., not just Spanish as you claim) or what community they are set up in. The same rules would apply, and by your logic Spanish immersion would be against the law.

"the intent of PAUSD's MI program is not, and never has been to serve ESL students." Well, I'm sure there are many intents, but even if that is true, so what?

These programs run all over the country with no legal issues. It is only a fringe in PA that see an issue here.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 9:49 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
It doesn't matter what the language is it would still be a race issue. The examples you give of other languages could still follow - Hebrew would attract jews (race and religion, Arabic - muslims and middle east, french - europeans. Language, to some extent will always show a race inbalance.


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Posted by And others?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 10:05 pm

So, Parent (the previous, not the previous previous), would you say that SI and all language immersion programs are problematic?

I think that's been said before and the principles of immersion education have been upheld. Language is not race.


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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Unless you are willing to submit to an official survey or vote please stop referring to the majority of parents in our district who are against this MI program at this time as "fringe".

"Fringe" would be more appropriately applied to a group of 9 people militantly agitating for a private school for their kids paid for by public money.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2007 at 1:04 am

It is saddening to see some of the vicious comments here. I am not sure if it is useful to call others' comments "racist," for instance, aside from hurting their feelings. If we use less loaded language and try to respect others intentions, we will probably get further in the discussion.

How did this interesting thread about expanding the Ohlone program end up as an MI shoving match anyway ;-)


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Interesting how deletions start happening AFTER they are literally quoted back to the original poster who posted the comment.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Sorry, unless you take an official survey, the "majority" of parents probably don't care about MI. There may be 100 parents who are agitated against MI, but that's not a majority of parents.

Fred,

Sorry, if calling someone racist hurts someone's feelings. I think the person calling out the racism has had their feelings hurt, too.

I don't see an apology for the comments which were considered racist. Just denial.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Another Parent,

Given that 1000 people signed a petition opposing MI before the infamous flip-flop, which further alienated people, occurred, I can guarantee you that way more than 100 parents oppose MI.

I don't think a successful job was done of convincing people that the comments were racist, thus, why would there be an apology? Indeed, given the weakness of the accusation, the namecaller would be the one expected to apologize. Okay, I'm not expecting that, not really.

Re: the racism issue--of course, the MI program favors one ethnic group because of the native speaker requirement. If it then creates barriers to entry for other ethnic groups, you start to have a problem. At which point, you have to wonder why public money should be used for this. Creating a ghetto, no matter how gilded, should not be the aim of public education.

We have become an extremely diverse area--because our kids will grow up in a place with no one majority, I think there is *much* to be said for a focus on diversity. There's a whiff of separatism about MI in Palo Alto that has always been unpleasant. I don't think you're doing kids who are, nationwide, in a small minority group a favor by creating these sort of enclaves. One of the things that's easier for kids than adults to learn is how to deal with people who don't share your background.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2007 at 2:22 pm

Another P -

I hope you will take care in tossing around verbal grenades like "racism" (or "fascism," "elitism," "anti-Semitism," etc.). These terms tend to inflame a debate without always informing it.

They suggest (or more than suggest) that the intentions of another person are not honorable and the person holds views that are unacceptable in our society. I try, and I hope others will too, to assume that others have honest and honorable intentions and views, and address them as such.

In this case, I am not sure what the "racism" was (after reading your explanatory posting). By itself that doesn't matter - but I know my stomach tightens when I turn to this thread, lest I or someone else be tarred with that brush.

Fred



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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2007 at 5:10 pm

"Given that 1000 people signed a petition opposing MI before the infamous flip-flop, which further alienated people, occurred, I can guarantee you that way more than 100 parents oppose MI."

I have to agree with OhlonePar. And I am opposed to the MI plan but never signed the petition, neither did most of the people I know who stand opposed to this plan. The opposition to this proposal vastly exceeds the support for it. BTW, I did not sign the petition because I did not want to go on record as opposing *MI* per se. I hoped that proponents would come up with a better plan and did not want to put my name on something that gave the appearance of opposing any immersion plan. I am no longer holding my breath that proponents will come up with a good compromise, so you can make that 1000+1 at least.


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Hi, Resident,

Taking into account the educational needs of minority (I'm not speaking in terms of race here) groups does not imply chaos, nor does it ignore the good of the whole.

The interests of the whole are quite well protected in this case by various requirements (e.g. not displace neighborhood kids, be cost neutral). You may disagree with the district's assessment that these requirements are being met in this case, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or that proponents of choice somehow trample on those interests or are not interested in the well-being of their neighbors.

Yet, I think when you make dismissive remarks denigrating the educational needs of these groups you show you are not similarly interested in their well-being.

So, although your examples were slightly amusing, I think they're all off base. No one argues that all minority groups (again not racial) should get whatever they want. Each of your cases is a strawman.




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Posted by wouldn't it be nice
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 15, 2007 at 8:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Booth
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2007 at 11:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 7:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 9:52 am

Back to the Federal Title 20 law copied above.

The law doesn't say anything about English language barriers. It says, it is illegal to discriminate (based on race,color,national origin) BY creating language barriers to equal education.

(Not English language barriers. Language barriers).

And in PAUSD - NO elementary children receive bilingual proficiency except those in specialty immersion programs. (YES, THAT'S SI AND MI). That is a very special and extra benefit that not all children receive. Some are turned away.

If the access to this opportunity is doled out based on pure lottery, then it would not violate this law - because entry would not determined (or prevented) based on language ability (or language barriers).

But when entry to the program is doled out using a language ability, then PAUSD is violating equal access laws. They are giving out more enriched education to a few that have a language advantage.

Bringing conversation back to the title 20 law which says (in item f) that language barriers to entry ARE a form of discrimination that is not legal. (Whether lawmakers considered that race, color or national origin, I don't know - doesnt really even matter.)

In item F it says clearly that language is one of the forms of discrimination that is not allowed.

Has this ever been challenged? Or do the immersion programs that are out there exist without challenge?

Perhaps PAUSD can go down in history as getting this discriminatory practice rectified.


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Posted by pa mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 10:43 am

"You may disagree with the district's assessment that these requirements are being met in this case, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or that proponents of choice somehow trample on those interests or are not interested in the well-being of their neighbors."

Booth, read your own words. That is exactly what it means.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 11:50 am

Parent,

Immersion programs do not run afoul of discrimination law.

The law doesn't say it is illegal to use language as a criterion. The law says it's illegal to discriminate against race BY USING language. That is, it is illegal to discriminate against language as a proxy for race.

So it would not be enough to show that, say, SI admits a disproportionately high number of hispanics; you'd have to prove that the intent here is to sort people by race. And since immersion programs have an enshrined educational philosophy that depends on a certain mix of languages, their defense would be obvious and simple.

"Perhaps PAUSD can go down in history as getting this discriminatory practice rectified." More likely PAUSD would go down in history as trying, and failing, to turn equal opportunity laws on their head to benefit white people at the expense of minorities. I can hear the snickering already.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 12:01 pm

I'm looking for the words in the law "intent to sort by race". And "language as a proxy for race". I don't see it there.

However, I do agree with your first statement: "The law says it's illegal to discriminate against race BY USING language."

Which is exactly what happens if you filter on language and end up with a disproportionate representation of a single race. Is that what will happen with MI or not?

I think it's informative that you said that PAUSD attempting to use this law would be "to benefit white people at the expense of minorities", when all along the contention by MI proponents is that MI has no race-based appeal, no disproportionate benefit to one race or another. It either does or it doesn't. Which is it?

We certainly could not fight the language barrier if no racial preference was the outcome. The question is - will a racial segregation occur after the language barrier is put in to place? Intent or not, segregation is segregation. We'll soon see and then we'll know if there is racial discrimination. Proof will be in the pudding.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 12:21 pm

And by the way, what leads you to the assumption that this would be an issue of 'white' people against a minority? Perhaps I am a black person that sees that some group (of any size, race or creed), is manipulating the system, and creating a program with barriers to entry to a very beneficial enrichment program that my children will not qualify for, and will be prevented from participating in, simply by virtue of the fact that they don't speak an obscure foreign language.

Or perhaps I am of one of the very many "minority" groups that make up the diverse Palo Alto population and see clearly that this is a discriminatory program. Do you laugh and snicker at me for fighting discriminatory programs? Or only at 'white' people?


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Posted by another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Hm, which race definitely benefits depends on who signs up.

Last I heard, the program will reserve 1/3 of slots for native Chinese speakers and 1/3 for native English. This would almost certainly mean that the ethnically Chinese will be over-represented as compared with Palo Alto.

Disproportion is not segregation. It doesn't run afoul of the law because no one is trying to discriminate against race.

It's curious how emotional these objections have become when it comes to Asians. You shy away from talking about SI, which has had a system of preferences in place for some time now.

Impersonating minorities is beneath this discussion.




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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 12:53 pm

It isn't using language criterion to discriminate against just race, but against color and national origin that the law says is illegal.

Any immersion program which requires 70%-50% English speakers and 30%-50% "target language" speakers, is using language as a barrier to entry.

In an area with kids who speak..does anybody know the number? ..I know it is at least 15 different languages at home, that knocks out 13 of the languages in the home as "qualifiers".

If this were an area which was 70% native English speakers and 30% native Mandarin speakers, ( or 50-50..whatever the target percentage was) with no other languages natively spoken in the homes of the students..maybe it could be considered non-discriminatory to create a program "by lottery" with this percentage.

But, the moment one non-English, non-Mandarin speaking kid comes into the district and can't enter the public school because of language, it is discriminatory use of public education funds, creating a barrier to race, color and/or national origin of the kid.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 1:00 pm

If this is the case, does this mean that anyone who is not using English or Chinese as the primary language at home is excluded. I have no ideas of the numbers, but I know that there are a great deal of students whose primary language at home is Russian, or Hebrew, or Japanese, or Korean, or German, or, or, or, the list goes on. Are all these students therefore excluded from the MI or SI programs?


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Oh, I see now, the concern is for non-English-speaking, non-Chinese-speaking kids. Well, most of those parents will wisely choose to mainstream their kids. But the system can handle those who want in. They'll just need some ELL support. (CLIP does this.)



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Another Parent,

You know, it really isn't just American whites and Chinese here. Some of the strongest objections I've heard have been from Indians and Europeans. There actually *is* a big objection to the MI program from other minorities who consider MI a perk for one minority. It's seen as favoritism.

Why doesn't SI raise the same issues? Well, there is the poverty factor--hispanics aren't seen as privileged or competing for resources--in Palo Alto. Actually, over the years there have been huge negative reactions to special programs targeted toward hispanics.

Also, the Hispanics are very large minority in the state as a whole. Chinese are not. Like a lot of other minority groups (all?), there are clusters.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 1:56 pm

"Why doesn't SI raise the same issues? Well, there is the poverty factor--hispanics aren't seen as privileged or competing for resources--in Palo Alto. "

Nail on the head. It is a race-fear of economic competition with Asians.

Of course, the ethical problem remains. it has the ring of psychological truth to say that no one objects to SI because they don't fear being economically out-done by Mexicans. But it is morally bankrupt to say Kill MI because we're afraid of competing with Asians.

(I had to laugh when you cite opposition by your European friends as evidence of minority opposition.)


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Another Parent - wrong. I said it applies to SI as well in my post above. I said..."(YES, THAT'S SI AND MI)".

So, lets see SI's ethnic demogrpahics... Oh wait, PAUSD won't provide those. I wonder why not???

Don't worry, I'm not racist and I don't care what nationality you are. What I care about is ensuring that everyone gets equal access. If PAUSD Board says "no language criteria for entry - pure lottery" - yes SI and MI, then no problem.

This is afterall a public school system - why would we condone programs that exclude some, benefit only a select few? The board can solve this objection easily by defining the program to provide equal access and a purely random lottery - do you have an objection to making this fair? If so, perhaps you SHOULD go and do a charter. And then our beef with be with the charter, not with PAUSD.

Well, here's one answer to my own question - there is also the issue of whether a program is closing the achievement gap. That's a clear national, state and local educational priority, a stated PAUSD district priority, and clearly a legitimate goal. In fact Lindholm Leary states that immersion programs do well in bringing non-english speakers up in their English proficiency more quickly than when they are taught in English only - a very legitimate purpose for immersion programs. So, before we can make any blanket statements about MI or SI - show us how they are serving the achivement gap. (This PAUSD also will not provide - they are NOT providing demographic results). This would be a legitimate and justifiable reason for the program, and for language based preference. But even then, the non-ESL students still should be admitted on a random lottery basis.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Yes, Parent, I see that you, at least, have been consistent in your views and object to both SI and MI equally. My hat is off to you.

The problem with making access a pure lottery is that the entire dual immersion depends on maintaining certain linguistic ratios. I see no issue of fairness here.

I'm not sure why you'd like to make the achievement gap an additional burden on choice programs. Which gap exactly do you think MI should solve for the district?

I don't follow you when you say language-based preference could be justified by helping close the achievement gap. I thought your point was that any language-based preference was illegal. If closing the achievement gap is a worthy goal, isn't bilingualism one, too?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Language based preference for access to an immersion program for purpose of closing the achivement gap is in fact is breaking down language barriers by improving access to education for those who would otherwise be struggling. So in those cases, immersion programs would actually be serving the law.

You're exactly right. There is no achivement gap for the Mandarin speaking population in Palo Alto. I can see that by looking at PAUSD Star Test results online. The Asian population is the top performing demographic group, with few if any students that fall into average, let alone below average ranks. And I assume (perhaps racist of me) that most Mandarin speakers will be Asian. But you ahve a good point - no achivement gap there to be served.

I'm sorry that language immersion programs require some language criteria for entry. This is why they belong in a private school setting that is not a public school that should be making its top priority equality of access.


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Posted by another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Oh, now I get it: special pleading. This is a backdoor way of approving immersion for those "struggling" [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] while holding down those who are not [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Of course, logically this line doesn't hold up. There's no reason why addressing the achievement gap trumps your reading of equal access. SI and MI are equally untenable for your argument.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Another Parent,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Last time I checked those who work in America--no matter where they're from--are part of the American economy. "Economic competition with Asians" is kind of a nonstarter--particularly as some of the people objecting to MI are, in fact, classified as Asian.

Use of public money for preferential treatment of one group over another is the issue.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The reason you want to bring up the performance of an impoverished group is because an underclass is far more harmful to the economy as a whole than more competition among top performers. It's good for all of us if Hispanic kids speak and write English fluently. There are no benefits for all of us if we spend public money on making a few kids fluent in Mandarin.

Even you're tacitly admitting that it's a benefit only for the kids in the program--you see it as giving them an economic edge. Your reasons for the opposition to MI are an argument against MI.

In other words, why should we spend money and crowd schools to benefit a small group of kids with a program that benefits no one outside the program?

I've never heard anyone from PACE justify MI as a good to the larger community. The poverty/underperforming argument does not apply.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Well said OhlonPar.

You are right on in every respect, and intelligently and respectfully written.

You are also quite good at choosing words that inform and don't inflame. "Filter" was a perfect pick of a word. And a good reminder to all of us.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Another parent - you read race where no one has stated that - that's your problem, not mine. I'm referring to no child left behind and other federal and state laws that say all children regardless of race, ethnicity and socio economic status WILL have equal access to education. You might also be interestedin reading PAUSD's own strategic plan that says closing the achievement gap is a main priority. So if programs that close the achievmenet gap include immersion programs, then I would support it.

In fact your own champion Lindholm Leary says that language immersion programs are a very good way to serve closing the achievmeent gap for non-english speakers.

Not sure how you're getting 'threatened by success of asians' out of this conversation. Rather scary that you seem to be able to invent things as you go along to suit your slanted scheme.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Oh, to whoever said that the non-English, non-Mandarin speaking kids can go to MI and just get ELL support, but that their parents would probably wisely choose mainstreaming instead of MI..( because, and i interpret here, it would be extremely difficult on a kid like this to succeed in such a program)

Are you saying that you really have the public education value that setting up a series of public education elementary schools that tacitly discourage entrance to 5 year olds on the basis of language ability is a good thing for a community, state, or nation? To take it to the extreme, you would like it, for example, if 90% of the elementary schools were immersion schools of various languages, and the other 10% reserved for those not born into the right circumstances to be able to go to the immersion programs?

Just curious how far you would envision this going.




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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 4:46 pm

And yes, I completely agree that SI and MI are equally inappropriate to the extent that they are failing to use unbiased lottery admission processes (ie: creating language barriers to equal access), and to the extent that they are or are not serving the achievement gap (In other words, serving the achievement gap is a legitimate goal and justifiable reason to run an immersion program in the public school system, and would be the (only) appropriate reason to provide preferential access.

The achievement gap should be studied and the public resources should be applied there. If the achivement gap root cause is a language issue than an immersion program in that language is appropriate. If it lies in other issues, then the appropriate programs would address those other issues. Another Parent, despite your most desparate desire to paint this into a race issue (because you can not defend it in legitimate terms) it is not a race issue. It is an issue of equity and reasonable use of public resources. The program we are discussing has no merit whatsoever in terms of the needs and priorities of this school district.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Ohlone,

I'm not sure why you're critiquing me for concern about economic competition with Asians (whether Americans or not); those worries were yours not mine. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] You raised the example of Spanish speakers being non-threatening because they are not rich. The issue wasn't whether it's better to have lots of illiterate, monolingual Spanish speakers. The real question is why you're so intent on carving out a special case for fighting only immersion programs in which the language spoken is Asian. I think your first explanation (fear of competition with Asians) was the right one.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 7:42 pm

Resident,

Not exactly. I would say, though, that having a public immersion program along classic lines would be a good thing for a community, state and nation. The ideal number for any particular place would depend on the locality. I cannot envision any American community eager for 90% of kids in immersion. It's just not for everyone.

On the other hand, there are places outside this country that do have only immersion.




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Posted by Parent again
a resident of Atherton
on May 16, 2007 at 7:51 pm

Another Parent

What countries do you have in mind that have only immersion. I can only think of say French speaking Canada, or perhaps 3rd world countries which are educating their poor children in English to give them an advantage. Some countries I agree have so many dialects that perhaps the schools are teaching a different dialect just to accommodate the fact that otherwise they would be teaching multiple dialects.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Immersion programs do not have to be dual - there are many single immersion programs which are successful and DO NOT exclude any racial or ethnic group.

MI vs SI - there are many races which speak spanish, currently only one that predominately speaks Mandarin

PAUSD choice programs - is anyone concerned that 2 of our 4 (if approved ) choice programs will exclude a majority of the students based on sibling admission (a school which is predominantly one race will continue to be so if no sibling get preference) and language (how many non-Asian native speaking children do you know)?

Lets concentrate our efforts and $$ on programs which benefit the majority no minority (that is in numbers) of students.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Another Parent,

I said *nothing* about fearing economic competition from Asians. I was talking about competing for public-school funds. "Race-fear"? Give me a break. More like people doing well don't need extra public funding and space at overcrowded schools for a pet perk.

Online eds, why is it that you don't remove accusations of racism, but do remove the counterarguments? Or pointing out the underlying biases.

And why on earth did you remove my comment about European immigrants, when you let the original dubious comment of AP stand? I wrote it because I think it gets to the root of one of the problems here--the assumption that all whites are accepted in a way nonwhites are not. It's just not that simple.

Accusing people of racism because they disagree with you is a sleazy tactic. It's a way of invalidating arguments without actually having to think about it. I don't tend to label people that way myself. If I think a comment has racist underpinnings, I point out why I see it that way.

With Another Parent, I saw that my comments were read into--which is why I used the word "filters". It struck me that Another Parent thinks I think in a way that, in fact, I do not. Assumptions were made.

I think you (the eds) robbed my posts of valid context.


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Posted by Concerned Greer Road + Ohlone parent
a resident of Ohlone School
on May 17, 2007 at 9:11 pm

As an Ohlone parent, I strongly oppose MI taking resources and seats away from the regular Ohlone lottery slots.

I am dismayed that the PAUSD Board has been pressured (blackmailed is a better word) into accepting the same MI choice program that was voted down earlier this year. The Board looked at the same issues, and decided against it. How on earth can this be voted in now? Our of fear? What kind of a precedent is this setting? What if a group pushes through a Cantonese or Italian or Swahili charter-school proposition?

There is a ground-swell of opposition to this arbitrary and rushed decision by the board. Unfortunately, many Ohlone parents who disagree with this decision and many regular PAUSD parents who disagree are not as well organized as this tiny but vocal and well-funded MI group.

This will be an unfortunate legacy of the current superintendent and board of PAUSD. They are leaving behind a lemon which will divide our community for years to come.

Will this board come back to annul this program if it turns out not to be cost neutral? Does anybody out there know if the there has been a detailed objective financial analysis of the MI Choice program which is *not* funded by the special interest group itself?

Sorry for my ramblings. So many questions.

- Concerned Greer Road + Ohlone Parent


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