Concerns aired over Mandarin immersion Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm
Nearly 100 parents packed the multi-purpose room at Ohlone Elementary School Thursday night to question Palo Alto Unified School District administrators and lawyers and speak out about starting a Mandarin-immersion "choice" program at a neighborhood school or as a separate charter school.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm
I am glad that Susan Charles thinks that this is an "amazing community and a caring community". I am glad that she sees just how much we do care what could happen to her school, perhaps more than she appears to.
Posted by chris, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm
If everybody who is arguing over this issue donated $50 for every hour they argue, the school district would have money for both a choice program and a charter school.
Folks, for a city as wealthy as Palo Alto, the dollar amounts we are talking about are small. The overall quality of the community would go up if people directed their creative energies into more productive uses.
Posted by Ohlone parent from Greer Road, a member of the Ohlone School community, on Jun 2, 2007 at 1:42 am
The vapid and condescending quotes from Susan Charles ends another content-free article in our darling weekly. It is so easy for Ms Callan and Ms Charles to take holier-than-thou positions on this topic, when all that the majority is upset about is the PAUSD over-turning its own vote and allocating resources to a program which is not in our top-10 list of priorities. Dear reporter, there were a lot of good questions asked -- about process, about Charter School expenses, about priorities. How come none of those questions make it to your report?
Posted by another pa mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 11:22 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
no one gave MV residents advice that they ought not to mingle with PACe, what are you talking about? it's PACE that has rejected offhand the many suggestions that they start something in MV, without any explanation except that they live in PA (which makes no sense when you are talking about a countywide charter). they have advertised for names of people from other communities interested in a county charter when such a list gave them clout, yet failed to do anything with those families. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 11:46 am
You seem to be confused. No one's asking PACE members to move to Mountain View. The proposal is to start an MI charter in Mountain View, which because of its funding structure, benefits financially from charters. Charters are open to anyone. The PA PACE kids go there and then return to Palo Alto for middle school and high school, both of which offer some kind of Mandarin instruction.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 12:46 pm
My comments about PiE and MI were because I don't think we need another choice program and I don't think that an program which requires a certain skill is appropriate in a public school.
If we had no art in any of our elementary schools and an Art choice program was proposed (and the other kids still got no art instruction) and 1/2 of the students in the choice program needed to be skilled artists if they were older than Kindergarten, would that be unfair or fair to the rest of the palo alto kids?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 2, 2007 at 11:15 pm
I agree with you. And it's because expression of that anger or really any emotion has been blocked over and over again during public meetings that there's continued to be no real honest exchange and no resolution. The emotions simply build up.
I have to say that facilitator Thursday didn't help.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 8:26 am
I am pretty sure anyone reading such disgusting posts will ignore them as much as everyone eventually ignored the commenter or two who was supposedly on the "pro-MI right now" side who wrote such things as "MI will raise the IQ of Palo Alto" and many others that I won't go into now.
Clearly there are people who simply try to throw fuel on the fire.
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 8:28 am
It occurs to many that many people in this debate think nothing of the controversy now because they say we've heard it all with the SI program. They think this will all die down if MI gets this program. (I don't think that's going to happen.)
The trouble is that this way of doing things is what made MI so controversial this time, that was brought up when SI went through, that the next language would be harder. In a way, the MI effort is being hampered by being the same as the SI effort. If we put through this MI program this way, it will virtually lock out any future immersion attempts in other languages.
We should be considering other kinds of fluency instruction. I just looked it up, and that school in Mountain View that teaches fluency is Yew Cheung. From a posted article already on this forum: "Only 30% of Yew Chung’s daily class time is conducted in Mandarin (about 1.5 hours per day) by a separate native Mandarin-speaking teacher who has been specifically trained in the Yew Chung methods."
Why not see if this method can be brought to Palo Alto schools? For example, if the program could be offered at Hoover, without changing the curriculum too much during the day but by adding on instruction of 1.5 hours at the end of the day for anyone who wants to learn Mandarin fluency, this would be an opportunity that could be offered to all Hoover students without needing a new separate campus. It would probably fit better with Hoover's direct instruction philosophy already. I could see this kind of program being more of a pilot for the possibility of having other similar fluency programs at any of the other PA campuses that want it -- in fact, if such a thing were put through, it should be with the promise that any other PA campus that wants it (in whatever language) could get the same thing. Since it would be kind of an elective that only the kids who want to take have to take, you wouldn't have quite the same problems with extending the school day issues that FLES has. This would also make summer immersion programs a natural extension. The problem I see is that this would make FLES more difficult, but that would be offset by the language fluency opportunity available on ALL campuses. The advantage is that this doesn't require a separate campus and languages can be added and changed as the district needs. It doesn't take away flexibility from our overenrolled district, it's more fair, it doesn't lock out future programs and changes, and it still provides a proven fluency program.
Has anyone explored this possibility? I would think it could be implemented by next fall, too. It could be implemented without impacting Hoover the way the proposed dual immersion program would impact Ohlone and without changing the size of the school. It also presents the possibility of allowing the kids in higher grades to begin getting the language instruction, rather than just kindergarteners to start. (I don't know if this is true for sure, it would depend on this teaching method, though I suppose you could just give all kids in the beginning the same opportunities as the kinders if that is the case.) And this is more likely to fit with Hoover's existing educational philosophy. Then also because all campuses would be promised the same opportunity, Ohlone students would still get their language opportunity, too, only they could pick Mandarin or even another language. And we would be giving a fluency opportunity to all PA kids. It occurs to me that this would even allow more than one language fluency program at a given campus. And it might not even be more expensive to do that if the teachers already speak those different languages. I have to admit, this would probably also be easier and cheaper than FLES, but again, it would at least be a fluency/language opportunity for all PA kids.
Also, this doesn't lock out other very different kinds of programs in the future, if everyone at a given campus wants to do something very different but modeled on this approach, they could do it. We also have an existing program, Yew Cheung, to go to for guidance. How does that sound? I think Nico pointed out in some forum that PACE hadn't really considered another type of instruction. Wouldn't this be the time for everyone to consider it in the interest of compromise?
I am sorry for posting this on multiple threads, there just seem to be so many on this topic right now.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 1:36 pm
The drive to MV from South Palo Alto (where Ohlone is) is shorter than the drive to north Palo Alto for many. Timewise, it's much shorter than going to west Palo Alto from my spot near 101.
The Slater campus is right off of Middlefield, so it's a direct shoot for a large chunk of Palo Alto--South Paly, Midtown--without having to brave crosstown hell. For the many, many parents who work south of here, it's a fairly easy drop-off since Middlefield is fairly close to the freeway. Why do you think Google took a short lease on it?
People drive their kids all over for special school programs. Girls Middle School, which draws largely from Palo Alto is in Mountain View. And GMS is hot right now despite it being what you seem to consider the wrong side of San Antonio.
And, of course, you have the option of doing elementary school with language supplementing for a reasonable price in Palo Alto. (Gunn, Cubberly). I mean, Mandarin's got lots more options than do other languages. Anyone want to try to find some place with Latin?
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 2:34 pm
Mt. View is about a five minute WALK from Cubberly. Mt. View can be as close as San Antonio Road. The commute from Cupertino or Santa Clara to the heart of Palo Alto is 20 minutes one way. AT MOST a drive to Mt. View is 10 minutes tops.
Posted by cynical parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm
My belief is that the PACE folks are resistant to MV because they don't want to settle for a K-5 school. They ultimately want a K-12 program, and a transcript from an MV school doesn't have the clout that a PA diploma carries. So get ready, citizens of Palo Alto -- if the next "strong" BOE that is elected decides to toe the line with PACE, we will have an MI choice program *and* an MI charter school. That is if the ever condescending principal over at Ohlone doesn't send them in that direction sooner.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2007 at 2:37 pm
The MV parents I know like the idea because they've got overcrowding in their open schools and a closed school site being used for short-term childcare. So if someone wanted to come in and open a strong charter, they'd like it. In fact, my guess is that the district is hoping someone will do that.
However, PACE is so snooty about MV that they're probably going to miss their best opportunity for a real school site.
Yeah, their entitlement may have no bounds. I'd like to start a petition that would keep charters from being placed at schools that are at or near capacity.
I like Susan Charles, but, yes, I think she may well send PACE fleeing. At which point, they'll loudly demand Garland and threaten some more charter.
Posted by cynical parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm
They will be loudly demanding Garland no matter what, even if the Ohlone principal is able to rein in her ego. The timing will be perfect for them as well. The AAAG will announce that Garland should be opened; BOE will serve notice to the school currently leasing the building; three years later, they will move out; B4E upgrades will be made to the site, just as MI at Ohlone is reaching capacity.
You may like your principal, OhlonePar, but she has sold you and the rest of us right down the river. So much for her legacy in Palo Alto.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 5, 2007 at 5:46 pm
Anyone at the original presenation o feasibilty study could see that was true. Ohlone Par - before this hits the fan, I guarantee Ohlone's beloved Susan Charles is going to be out of Ohlone and on to a nice fat promotion. Perhaps principal at Paly or some other such adminstrative leap. Loyalty must be rewarded you know...
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2007 at 12:49 am
I know that's the theory going around, but Charles is in her early sixities, so I just don't see that. I see lucrative consultant work--and she'll have experience in running two hot trends in education.
I think Charles enabled the sale, yes. And Stratford can say good-bye to Garland, no question.
Though I keep thinking of careful what you wish for, you might get it. There's an awful lot of wishful thinking going on here and it just doesn't add up. The more I hear, the more skeptical I've become about the nuts and bolts of the program--or lack thereof.
And I keep thinking of this little group of people, coming from the private schools, who've been building their own MI program in their minds, running up against whatever ideas Susan Charles and her staff have evolved. I doubt very much that both sides are on the same page and I know Susan Charles has a reputation for backing her staff over parents.
I think there's going to be a lot of clashing. I think it's inevitable and I think Susan Charles, having had to deal with the relatively easygoing Ohlone crowd, is in for what she deserves on this one. I suspect both sides are. Private-school parents have a much greater sense of entitlement than we lowly public school types.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 6, 2007 at 1:13 am
A couple of legislators have tried to tweak the charter laws so that the basic-aid districts don't suffer from charters and that financial damage to the district is a valid reason for turning down a charter. One of them passed both houses, but got vetoed by Arnie.
I think, though, that it might be possible to get something passed that doesn't allow charters to placed at at or near-capacity schools without consent of the school administration and parents--basically, the same agreement needed to turn a public school into a charter.
Unlike the other attempted changes, this one gets at overcrowding, which the state keeps passing stuff to reduce.
If a law like that were passed, the threat of a charter would be less effective since a district couldn't house them at any of the neighborhood schools while we're this overenrolled. This would effectively thwart choice eprograms when we don't have room for them.
And charters would still be able to open in districts that are failing or want to attract students. It would, however, help protect districts like ours that are essentially doing their job.
I'd also push for a local amendment of the district's choice policy--new choice programs cannot be placed at schools near or at capacity without consent of the parents and administration. Thus, if a program is desired at a full school--say IB at Gunn or Paly--but it wouldn't be forced on schools with no room.
I mean, maybe it could be that any choice program must be accepted by popular vote at the school where it's to be placed, but I think that's a iittle harder to sell.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 7, 2007 at 10:02 pm
OhlonePar, isn't the overcrowding caused by leasing public school sites to private schools? That's the law that I want to see. To me, the game in Basic Aid districts is to disappoint parents so that they are motivated to send their kids to private school, with the district keeping the tax money just the same. If your child loses out on a lottery, you are more likely to say, "Sour Grapes" to your neighborhood school and go private. In the LAH neighborhood of PAUSD, which had its school closed 30 years ago, 40% of kids go to private school, rather than get on the Nixon bus at 7:10am. Maybe I'm too cynical, but leasing public sites to private schools puts them in our midst and makes them more attractive. And the Basic Aid district gets to spend the tax money on fewer kids.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:21 pm
I know of only one of our public elementaries being leased to a private school--Garland. Ventura was sold to the city. The rest (and there were a lot!) were torn down. Oh, except for Greendell, which is Preschool Family, Young Fives and the JCC, though I think the JCC is leaving. PSF is part of the adult school and Young Fives is PAUSD.
Reopening Garland would help a lot, though the board is resisting, and it would take three years. Prior to that, PAUSD did reopen Terman Middle School. I really don't think it's a plot to get kids to go private. The school populations have swelled above predictions for five years--though I just heard that Duveneck isn't overenrolled in the incoming K class. My guess is people tried to buy in areas where their kids could actually get into the local school.
And, frankly, we're a lot more diverse economically than LAH. Some families could easily go private. Some are barely making their mortgages and a surprising number are paying rent. I suppose you could argue that not expanding Ohlone's own program means a certain segment will go to the Peninsula School as a result (and I know people who did just that when they didn't get in the lottery), but it makes the MI Choice thing really dubious since PACE has a bunch of International School Parents.
Though maybe your idea is that a bunch of too-small lotteries will bring in people for the schools who then go to the private schools and pay relatively high property taxes
In other words, there isn't a lot of leasing to private schools here--Garland and a bunch at Cubberly. Challenger built a school and I know other private schools, like GMS, have tried to find space in Palo Alto and not been able to.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 8, 2007 at 7:07 am
The school that everyone knows as "Pinewood" is actually PAUSD's public school in LAH. It was called Fremont Hills. It closed about 30 years ago. In fact, when Bob Golton renewed the lease, it was referred to as "Fremont Hills," which no one had heard of, so no one griped. Well, actually, I never even saw a notice about it. The notices of the renewal were put in the PA Weekly (never read it), the PA Library (never been there -- it's faster to go to LA library), and the district offices (been there to buy bus passes).
In other words, no effort was taken to make sure that the neighborhood knew about it. I still say that the AAAG should have put priority on re-opening schools that had been closed the longest and altered the very fabric of the neighborhood. Golton told me that he never bothered to survey the private school parents to find out if they would come to a re-opened public school (which they've been paying taxes for.) But our LAH postcard survey showed that 75% of parents with kids in private school wanted to send them to our neighborhood public school (Fremont Hills).
The reason that I suspect a PAUSD goal to keep private kids private is that when LAH proposed merging the old Bullis neighborhood into PAUSD, gaining millions in taxes, and gaining the Bullis site, in return for using Bullis as a neighborhood school, Supt. Callan's immediate objection was that kids were return from priv. school. She said, "Don't forget, we're a Basic Aid district. We won't get any additional funding for teaching those kids." She completely didn't care that their parents had been paying taxes for decades without getting what they were paying PAUSD for. Similarly, in the recent agreement between LASD and PAUSD in which PAUSD agrees to pay for PAUSD kids who want to transfer and attend the re-opened public Bullis (if that ever happens - haha), she insisted that the deal not apply to kids who want to return to public from private schools. Somehow, their tax money doesn't count. They are truly second-class citizens in PAUSD.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2007 at 11:21 am
Okay, I get what you're saying. I didn't know that Fremont Hills was an old PAUSD school, I thought that debate was part of the Los Altos district. My impression was more of the board, which I don't think is thinking that way.
Mary Frances Callan, on the other hand . . . ugh, ugh and ugh. She was brought in, wasn't she, to play tough with the teacher's union, right?
But Los Altos is now opening a public school up there, right? Sort of as a tit-for-tat for your daring to actual pull off a successful charter in the corner of a middle school?
I really don't get the whole charter attitude. On one hand, we're overfilling schools with this choice program, on the other hand, why not let charters use school buildings that have been sitting there for 30 years? Why is it better to crowd the existing elementaries when charters look to be a pretty darn cost-efficient way to run an extra school that you can't otherwise afford to keep open?
And I'm not convinced that MI won't want to go charter in the long run, anyway. No one seems to want to deal with the physical reality of the Ohlone site, which is that six cubicles would have a real negative impact (I think three is undesirable, but doable, and gonna happen one way or another. Six is too much and 620 creates a serious traffic problem--as in the possibility of a serious accident already scares me when I see all those kids, bikes and minivans.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2007 at 11:57 am
Just for some clarification
The AAAG did discuss Fremont Hills as a possibility but it was deemed to be not the most sensible school for PAUSD to re-open as a first choice for two reasons. The position of the site makes it unsuitable to use as a neighborhood elementary school or even a middle school. It is situated in an area where it would need to be a commuter school, which means that it could potentially become a choice magnet school. Secondly, it is being used at present as a high school and it would make very little sense to use it as an elementary school.
This does not mean that it will not be taken back sometime in the future, it is just that it was thought not to be the sensible first choice.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm
Hmmm. Fremont Hills site is already a commuter school, with no PAUSD kids around it, but owned by PAUSD?
Ummm..doesn't this make it a perfect place to turn into a combined SI/MI program? No neighborhood school problem, already on a very busy street. We now have 2 Immersion programs, why not combine them and take back local schools since the programs are "commuter" in any case ( I know, a few are local kids who got in, I am speaking "generally")
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2007 at 5:10 pm
Hold it, so all this time there's been a damn school site in an area with a relatively low population and it hasn't even been discussed? Instead it's okay to mob Ohlone?
Yeah, it's a good site for a choice school--you're not disenfranchising local kids and you could put both language strands there--heck, throw in a French strand for good measure. A whole school would mean that a high percentage would get in; Ohlone could expand its program and kids would have a better chance of getting into our neighborhood schools. And the LAH kids would have a chance of being near an elementary schoo.
But the existence of this school has basically not been mentioned.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 8, 2007 at 10:34 pm
The "deal" is that PAUSD gets a cool million every year for leasing my neighborhood's school to Pinewood! (This is in the part of LAH that pays taxes to PAUSD, so the kids go to PAUSD schools. School districts often differ from city boundaries. The Monroe Ave. neighborhood of PA goes to LASD schools.) Plus, they can take the tax money for the 40% of kids who go to private school and use it for programs like FLES for everyone (except the 40% who are paying taxes and paying for private school). And no, I'm not pro-voucher.
School sites are not exactly "owned" by districts. They are "controlled" by the school district in which they are located. So if LAH secedes from PAUSD with its loony BoE and we create an LAH district with our own loony BoE, the Fremont Hills site would be controlled by the LAHSD BoE, who would presumably actually care about maintaining a neighborhood public school.
I don't really see that the charter threat was real. Charters are required by law to reflect the ethnic percentages in the district, so it couldn't have been 50% Mandarin-speaking. I don't know why the BoE acted like their backs were against the wall. And I don't understand how it's legal to have a school like MI or SI that has clear racial preferences. Loony. Does anyone not believe that 99% of Mandarin speakers in PA are Chinese (okay, or Taiwanese)?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 12:46 am
So a lot of this is about the district being a fat-cat landlord--sort of the Columbia of public school districts.
I've always wondered why the obvious ethnic balancing issue wasn't brought up--well, no, I know why the district wasn't touching it thanks to the way the race card's been played.
But the more you tell me about it Nancy, the more I wonder if a lot of the fear of MI charter is about what LAH might do since you guys already started one charter. And, frankly, are a lot more able financially to pull it off.
The whole thing's always seemed to be about control--thus, both the eagerness to hand it off to Ohlone and Susan Charles' insistence that the program gets to be done in "the Ohlone Way."
Of course, the only problem (besides overcrowding) is that this is all being madly winged in hopes that it will somehow all work.
But it's probably about time that the district remembered that it's a school district and not real-estate management firm.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm
Once more with feeling: The majority of MI opponents are not racists, they are proponents of an orderly, thoughtful distribution of resources according to the community-set priorities. The Merc is getting on my nerves with all its insinuations of racism. Guess what? Some people thought that the feasibility study was disingenuously optimistic in its numbers and "no cost" assessment -- look at Marilyn Cook's submission to the Board from last week and notice the disparity in figures and items to be funded now that it was voted in. But hey, dare we point that out or expose how misleading all of this process has been?
Seriously, there are problems so deep in this district that they are lawsuit-worthy, and the Board knows it. Most parents who encounter them just walk -- make personal sacrifices in order to get their children appropriate education in safe learning environments. Many who can ill-afford to do so send their kids to private school -- sometimes by borrowing, sometimes by scholarships, sometimes by both. Enough with this crock about how Palo Altans are so narrow-minded and racist that they can't see the *Value* of "Mandarin immersion" -- well if it's that great how come only 20 kids get it? If it's that great, how come a vast majority of the kids will already speak it when they enter the program? If it's that great, what was the harm in implementing it in conjunction with the strategic planning etc. in 2 years instead of one? I guess not thinking it's a lingistic emergency makes me both provincial and a racist? I mean, really . . . Enough now.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 2:15 pm
I have watched the "choice" issue for years in Palo Alto. Every new "choice" is a nail in the coffin of our neighborhood schools. Since you are a "choice" parent, you have contributed to this process. However, I do have some sympathy for you. Putting MI at Ohlone is a classic example of square peg in round hole. It is going to be a real zoo - and I'm not talking about the "farm".
After three years or so, expect to see MI dealt off to a neighborhood school. One more nail....
The clear answer, to my way of thinking, is to create charter schools for all the of the "choice" programs. This is unlikely to happen, because it would mean giving up BoE power and control.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 2:39 pm
I think time and place matter. My objection to MI has always been based on not adding programs that only serve a few when the district's overenrolled. And while I obviously think choice programs have a place--I think there are ways of implementing them that don't step on everyone's toes.
Ohlone and Hoover were implemented when there were schools--not just classrooms to spare. The Ohlone program's more than 30 years old and Hoover getting close. I think if they were done now, they probably *would* be charters. If you look at Ohlone's history, those parents and teachers sound like today's charter parents.
But Ohlone and Hoover aren't going to become charters--you can't convert public schools to charters without 50 percent of the faculty and parents voting for it. There's no compelling reason to do so and financial reasons not to.
That said, I think there's been a certain arrogance with how the choice schools are being handled. They aren't accessible to enough families and that has stirred up major resentment. I think it would be much better for the district if they'd add a half strand to the Ohlone program. Instead we're getting another program that is unlikely to meet its demand, while making it impossible for Ohlone to expand.
What Nancy's said interests me because there is yet another school building that could take choice or charter programs if it weren't being used as one of PAUSD's profit centers--though it sounds like a charter could be a money-making proposition if handled right. Garland could then be the small neighborhood school that's needed around here--so that Green Gables kids could walk to school.
To me, a lot of it's about efficiency and equity. MI at Ohlone just isn't logical on any level, which is why Susan Charles, who's actually an intelligent woman, sounds so vague and loopy when she talks about it. MI is not a natural extension of Ohlone as a school program or in terms of community. Because MI has to expand in three years, there's an innate tension between the two sets of parents.
Ohlone's run well under Charles, as you probably know that wasn't always the case. The school can falter badly under mismanagment. I hope that doesn't happen. The biggest project with project-based learning is that it needs a ton of managment to not be chaotic.
Re: neighborhood v. choice programs. I went for the choice school lottery because I dislike the brutal competitive element in this district. I want kids to have childhoods. I'm one of those parents who'd probably prefer Juana Briones to Duveneck for that reason.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 9, 2007 at 3:25 pm
It is very unlikely that LAH parents would create another charter school in LASD or PAUSD because the districts have the power to undermine our goal -- a neighborhood school -- by placing the charter school in portables, almost anywhere, rather than using our public school sites.
Notice that above, Parent says that the AAAG decided that Fremont Hills is "unsuitable" as a neighborhood school. Huh? Sure not many kids can walk there, but we can drive there on our relatively empty, traffic light-free streets way faster than you'd think. When LASD closed old Bullis, they cited unwalkability as a problem. I guess that way back when LASD and PAUSD agreed to accept our taxes in return for educating our kids, they should have told us that LAH schools would always have the least clout because LAH is hilly.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 5:41 pm
AAAG felt that Fremont Hills is unsuitable as a site for a neighborhood elementary school. It is presently used as a high school and that would make it unsuitable for an elementary school as many of its features would not be necessary (though possibly desirable) for an elementary school. The elementary schools in our district which are overcrowded are the north and south clusters. An elementary school at Fremont Hills would not ease crowding in those schools.
It was never discussed as to whether it would be suitable for a neighborhood school for LAH students.
Posted by With Ya, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 6:06 pm
Do you think LAH residents would think it is a fair deal to have PAUSD return "Fremont Hills" to a public school and as a way to boost enrollment share the site with immersion classrooms?
I think it might be a challenge for the principal because it is likely that there would be three separate "schools" within the school if you catch my drift, but a dynamic principal could probably pull it off!
Even though Garland is literally in my backyard, I would be more than willing to drive to the hills, if it could make a win/win for everyone by expanding SI and returning a neighborhood school to LAH.
I didn't hear anyone speak out with on this idea when the BOE discussed it earlier this year. Most likely because the AAAG had been coached that opening that site wasn't as practical as reopening Garland. Not as monetarily lucretive for the district as well! I think the assumption is that if you can afford to live in the hills, you can afford private school. Well, I'm with you, that I don't feel it's fair that I pay an hefty property tax and I'm told that if I don't like what I'm being offered, then I should go private, which we can't afford.
The attitude that public schools need to offer the same opportunity to everyone or no one at all just doesn't fly with me. This policy doesn't make sense and anyone who thinks that this is reality in present day Palo Alto has their head in the sand. Not all children are the same and not all families want the same for their children. If I donate money to PIE and it gets used to pay for remedial services for children who need it (at the pricipal's discretion not mine), that's fine with me! My child doesn't get a direct benefit out of that, but so what, I feel blessed that she doesn't need that, If people here stop donating to PIE (because of MI) and my child's school has to decide between Spectra Art for everyone or remedial programs for a few, well I'll be sad about the stupidity behind it, but I will rally to cut art before the remedial programs any day! Ask the people at FairMeadow (which has one of the lowest contribution rates to PIE) what they'll do if they don't get the subsidy from PIE to fund their science specialist? I don't believe that my family income is any lower than most families at Fairmeadow, yet I do feel that my generous donations to PIE in the past have been used by Fairmeadow to pay for something that my child doesn't get at her school; is that "fair"?
Posted by more facts, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 6:17 pm
Hey, With Ya! If you think Fairmeadow is low, check the contribution rates at Barron Park school, last year and this. Sure, one could argue that the families there don't have as much money as families in Palo Alto, but that doesn't explain how Barron Park was able to give in the past a substantial amount more than this year. I wonder why that is.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 9, 2007 at 6:53 pm
AAAG was not coached to the fact that Fremont Hills was not as practical a solution as Garland. Garland was the first information given and the AAAG requested the same information for Greendell and FH. Greendell would be more costly to re-open as it had not had B4E upgrades and Garland was in the situation of having been upgraded but still not quite B4E. FH is in the tricky position of having spent a lot of money on the upgrades it has done and the legal end of this is unclear. FH was discussed, but it was the AAAG which dismissed it as not being the first choice. The main reason being that it was not situated where the overcrowding exists. Moving the choice programs was discussed many times, but no firm ideas were ever asked to be made.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 9, 2007 at 7:07 pm
The famous "pin maps" used in adjusting boundaries do not include kids in private school. They just don't exist. This exacerbates the problem because the longer a neighborhood goes without a school, the more likely families are to go private. And fewer families will even move in.
To say that PAUSD can't take back a site because they allowed the lessee to make expensive upgrades is outrageous. PAUSD could have said "No" to Pinewood's fancy, totally useless stone gate.
Sharing Fremont Hills with a lottery school sounds awesome, but there's no way the BoE will give up $1million/year. Besides, Callan already said that there can't be a school for the LAH neighborhood because kids will come back from private school.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm
"Callan already said that there can't be a school for the LAH neighborhood..."
Callan is on her way out. What I've learned from watching Grace is that one of the surest ways of getting a 'yes' is to not accept 'no' for an answer. Although I don't agree with some of her methods (or the outcome), I admire her tenacity. The battle is lost before it's begun if we assume it could never happen.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 7:43 am
To With Ya:
Again, it IS about equal opportunities. Your examples are, to use an extremely overworn phrase,apples to oranges.
If one school has art instruction, and the rest don't, it isn't an equal opportunity.
However, if one school's principal/site council believes that it doesn't need an art teacher because its elementary school teachers can offer equal art opportunities to another school that chooses to spend its money on an art teacher, both sets of kids are still getting art instruction, though the delivery system is different. If it isn't true, then it is up to the local parents/principal to rectify it.
When is one school offering "something extra" from another school still consistent with equal opportunity? If one school has remedial reading services because it determines there is a need in THAT school because there are kids performing below the 'basic" level, and the other school has no remedial services because no kids perform below the "basic" level, then that is not "something extra", it is remediating.
As for people who have "their heads in the sand" because we don't know that some kids in the same school get something "extra" that others don't (in the same school), your point is still false.
It would be true if we had schools that offered remedial reading to one strand in the school, depending on which teacher in each grade drew the short straw, and not to the rest of the strands. But, your example has poor reasoning. If your school has remedial reading services for all kids who perform at "basic level" or below, and your kid is "above basic", then all kids in your school who meet the criteria recieve the "extra" education, not just the kids who need it AND ALSO win it.
Because your kid doesn't need it is not the same as your kid needing/wanting something that s/he gets or doesn't get based on luck. Some kids "get" it because they need it, others don't because they don't need it. The only decision a school needs to make is up to what level are they going to provide extra reading services.
It is important to keep the details teased out for consistency in progamming.
I absolutely believe that equal opportunities are critical to our society in the best way we can. We can't change what happens in San Jose or New York City directly, but we CAN determine the flavor of our own district.
I would have ignored this post if it weren't for the insulting tone of "heads in the sand". I have learned that the more derisive someone is of other's thoughts, the more likely it is they are wrong about their own.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 9:59 am
The most interesting part of this post-vote discussion is that the MI proponents seem to want to force opponents to "admit" they were "wrong" instead of just understanding that there were different priorities. People have opposed MI on a variety of grounds, and just because the Board got forced into voting it in (and yes, *forced*, because Gail voted against it and Mandy and Dana made clear they were only voting for it under duress)does not mean that it was a wonderful idea that had to be implemented in one year or the universe would implode or MI would no longer be useful or whatever other rationale the proponents had for insisting it be put in place immediately instead of in 2-3 years. The city will have the program. That is a done deal. It is offensive now to be expected to thank the proponents and/or "concede" that this is the best thing the district could ever have had.
Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 11:30 am
Yes, there were many valid reasons to oppose MI. And priorities are different for many people in the district.
There's no request for opponents to concede. Just a request to come clean and state that you (or others who feel that way), don't support choice. There's some who would like to close the current choice programs.
Those are valid opinions. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
You don't have to justify your position of wanting all Palo Alto schools to offer equitable foreign language to all kids. You don't support immersion choice programs.
Posted by with ya, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 1:36 pm
I think I understand and agree with most of what you stated but I don't think it directly relates to my original point.
My position is that those in Palo Alto who think that PIE has solved the elementary school equality problem (across all of Palo Alto) have their heads in the sand. I do not believe that all of Palo Alto's elementary schools are "equal" in the programming that is delivered to our children. I don't have direct experience with the higher schools, but I am sure that there are people who also feel this is true of the middle and high school services (but in a different way.) Because it is up to each individual school to determine where the PIE funds will be used at it's site, there is a bit of disparity in the services provided if not in totality, at least in quality.
For example (not using real figures here), my school sites gets 30,000 from PIE and our principal/site council decides to use it for remedial services and another school gets 30k and decides to use it for a science specialist to teach science to all students at that school in a specially designed facility is that "equal"? I would say no, because even though my child's teacher might teach science, it is probably unlikely that it would be at the level that could be achieved by a "science specialist" in a specifically designed science lab. To me this is akin to saying that because my child's teacher can speak some Spanish and teaches the children an hour in Spanish each week that this is equivalent to the education that children are getting in SI. I know the comparison is a little extreme, but it does have the same flavor to me!
I don't see a lot of parents from my school asking to have the science program at Fairmeadow discontinued because it gives an unfair science advantage to some children in the district and not others. I also know that some of the schools have pretty substantial "volunteer academic programs" because the level of education and the affluence of the parents allows for them to come in and "teach" for free. There are other schools in our district that do not have these "free" services. So should we make these volunteer programs unavailable to all children simply because it puts some of the district children at an advantage over others?
My answer would be no. I understand that not all of our schools offer an equal education, but they do offer an excellent basic education to most, if not all, of our children and that frankly is good enough for my family. No sour grapes from me if Fairmeadow's science lab makes putting another classroom there impossible and forces another one to be placed at our school, as long as they don't gripe when I want to do SI in that extra classroom.
Posted by with ya, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 2:14 pm
One other point from your post that I would like to address is the notion that it is "equal" ,as you put it, for one school to spend it's PIE money on remedial services and another one not to do so, if they determine it's not necessary for their student population. I don't think the schools with a higher percentage of children who need these services think this is "equal". I believe this type of situation is something that should be addressed at a higher level (not at the school site)and that proportional money should be given to each school depending on the "neediness" of the school population and not based on the headcount, but because it's more "equitable" to give the same amount to all schools on a per/pupil basis, this distribution was chosen by PIE.
My mind doesn't work this way; I personally believe it is more fair to give money to those students that need extra help to keep up and then distribute the remainder equally. I believe that this is part of the reason why there continues to be an "achievement gap" in our esteemed school district. There will always be ways for the educated/affluent part of our community to meet the educational needs of their children and when giving to PIE it should not be with a "what's in it for my child?" attitude.
I must say that I am increadibly impressed that many of the schools have continually high participation rates, even though it was originally thought that parents might not donate as much to PIE as they did to their PTAs, because the money would not go to their children's education in direct proportion to what was donated by each school community.
This is the spirit that we need to emulate; my donation might not go directly to my child's education, but it is helping some child in our community improve themselves in some way that makes us all stronger as a whole. My child's benefit might be science and another's language. It would be ideal if we could offer the best of all curriculum to all children in our district, but that might not be possible with limited funds and resources.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm
With Ya; I agree. PiE doesn't make anything "the same". Not sure I would want it to. It makes each school able to choose the flavor it wishes.
Most of us completely support an individual school to offer the same curriculum as other schools in any way its principal and site council wish. That is local control, "choice" if you will, of the school.
I don't think anybody is saying everything is equal at all the schools. That is a red herring, and impossible. Each school has the right ( in my opinion) to develop its own personality. But not a different curriculum.
Equal curriculum with different delivery systems at each school, ie a "school flavor" are still equal opportunities for all subjects. If the parents/principal value science more than another school and so want extra emphasis on it with their PiE funds, but the other school values PE more, and so "buys" extra PE time, so be it. Parents can change that flavor if they wish. But, in the meantime, all schools are adhering to the "science" or "PE" minimum, and at each school all the kids in the school have the same opportunities. If parents at one school are high volunteers, and not at another, that is the personality of the school. They are adding to the curriculum.
It makes each school different. I am glad for my school and not others from what I understand. A couple seem very rigid to me, and another too soft ( sort of like Goldilock's 3 beds..but they all work to let someone sleep).
Nobody is trying to stamp out the individual school's ability to choose its flavor.
So, to take it a step further. I am just going to grab a number here, with no attachment of the number to actuality. Let's say the min required is 1 hour per day of instruction, in any language of the school's choice.
Ok, now everybody in the district is working on a minimum standard curriculum.
Let's say a school's principal and site council decide that what is really important for their PiE money is to increase the aide ratio so that each child has more one on one in FL. And, let's say that the PTA decides that what would be really good to spend PTA money on is a a bunch of computer programs in the FL so that each kid gets individual practice time on the computer.
Any school can decide to prioritize in this way. Whether it does or doesn't is up to the individual school's "personality". And that personality will and does change with the changing of the population at the school.
This, to me, is still completely within "different delivery system" versus different curricula.
That same school could even decide next year that there is enough interest in their own school to start a strand of immersion. Fine, as long as everyone who wants it at that school gets in, and the rest of the rest of the school still has the "minimum". That is their decision.
Volunteers, again, do vary immensely from school to school, as well as from year to year in the same school. Part of the personality and choice of the individual school.
But, the end of this essay is in agreement with your bottom line. PiE does not make all schools the same, it simply makes all schools have the same discretionary income for staffing. No doubt there are schools that can "afford" through private donations all new computers for every child, and others that can "afford" only what the district/state pay for. Not sure I want to get into limiting or regulating what each school's parents are allowed to give to the school, nor how each Principal manages it, though.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 10, 2007 at 8:08 pm
For the umpteenth time, I think the timetable was unfair and undemocratic. I couldn't care less if an MI program started in the proper sequence, taking its turn, within a strategic plan that is scheduled to be set out THIS COMING YEAR. Heck, why not expand the other choice programs along the way? Rather than attack me and put words in my mouth, please explain why, if Mandarin is truly the wave of the future, would it have mattered to wait an extra year or two to implement it. According to the spin, it's not as if Mandarin is going to fade away as a fad, is it? Not like, say, Russian did.
So, rather than continue to say "If you don't support MI, you are against all choice, just admit it", why not explain to everyone in the community what the rush was. Oh, and how it serves the community to have a new program shoved in where it will cause all kinds of program placement problems three years hence, since it was not implemented as part of a greater plan.
Posted by With ya!, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 11, 2007 at 4:50 pm
I'm delighted to see you state that if a school wants to start an immersion strand that's fine with you, as long as everyone that wants it at that school gets a chance to get it.
I think that's a great compromise for MI being placed at Ohlone! Let the current Ohlone families elect this option first and then hold a lottery for the remaining slots.
Susan Charles thinks MI is a good "flavor" for Ohlone, so now all she has to do to meet your criteria, is pick existing Ohlone families out of the lottery or at least ask how many of the existing Ohlone families would like to swap their children into an MI model and set aside or convert that many classrooms for MI.
I think this is a wonderful solution!!!!
Thanks Resident for being supportive of MI coming to Ohlone and encouraging others not to withhold money from PIE just because Ohlone has chosen MI as part of it's "flavor".
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2007 at 6:31 am
Nice twist! You missed it. I said ONCE THERE IS A MINIMAL FL requirement in PAUSD, after all the schools have FL, if one school wants to use their individual funds to expand into an immersion, as long as all in the school get it, then tht is fine.
Ohlone has accepted a program long before anybody else has anything. It is not in a "plan" that unrolls equitably. There is not even a concurrent plan for FL to start at the same time in the whole district. And there is ZERO, ZERO chance that the Immersion program will stay at Ohlone...it will leave in 3 years to another site.
So, no, completely different.
I think this is what is called a "thought filter".
Posted by With Ya!, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2007 at 9:24 am
Based on your posts it seems to me that you are not really that much concerned with "the sameness in quality" from site to site or probably even classroom to classroom, as I've read your posts to say that Art delivered by a classroom teacher is the same as art delivered through a special art program and science delivered by regular classroom teachers is "the same" as Science delivered by a Science Specialist as long as a "minimum" is met.
Personally, I don't think this is true, but supposing it is, then would you be satisfied with having each classroom teacher teach the language as long as a minimal standard is met (we, the residents of the district get to set the standard as low or high as we can afford)?
We could require professional development in language as we do for other aspects of the curriculum. Perhaps they could start teaching music for that matter too and start saving the district money on that front also.
Maybe we should set a minimum standard for secoond language fluency for every new elementary teacher we hire, just like English, Math , and Science. I don't think that too much to expect (although they will probably be difficult to find because we don't value bi-lingualism in the US, as we believe that everyone else in the world should speak English.) Otherwise, I don't see FLES coming to our district anytime soon.
I personally beleive that the conclusion will be that the district doesn't have the money to impliment FLES and that when push comes to shove, people will show their true colors that FLES is not a priority in our district. In fact, most of the people who came out against MI, don't have children who will benefit from FLES.
I believe that the argument for FLES before MI is what you call a "red herring". But I guess we'll see after the FLES task force does their stuff.
As for your statement "Same curriculum, different delivery" that's exactly the point of immersion, teaching the exact same curriculum as every other classroom, just in more than one language. Just happens to be that the teacher in that classroom speaks two languages and wants to share his/her particular knowledge with the children in that classroom.
If you feel that this is "unfair", then you must agree that there is nothing "fair" about our school system, because no two teachers are alike. There will always be "better" teachers, those teachers with more knowledge, or a better delivery system. All a district can do is set out the minimum curriculum standard and hope that it's qualified teachers can deliver it at a minimal level.
If a particular teacher can offer more, that's great, not something to be discouraged because it's not "the same" as what every other student is getting. Under your way of thinking, we should disallow any teacher that is fluent in a second language to teach anything to his/her students in that language, because that would be unfair to the rest of the children in the district.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2007 at 9:39 am
Just to add a comment to the last post -
The spectra art program, I believe, is designed for new teachers to the district (for less than 2 years) to teach the kids art, but also to teach the classroom teacher how to teach the art projects. I have heard from new teachers that they really value this two year lesson as art is not something they are necessarily good at teaching and they find that having two years help gives them the ability to teach the subject much better on their own once they become veterans as opposed to rookies.