Palo Alto will wait on 13th elementary decision Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:59 am
The Palo Alto school district is close to needing a 13th elementary school but is not at the "trigger point" just yet, school board members were told Tuesday night. Larger classes versus added taxes may rest on the decision whether to re-open a 13th school.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 1:10 pm
Tinsley isn't really the root of the problem here. We have a plethora of kids who live right in the district--a lot of whom are going to private schools because they don't want to count on a spot at a neighborhood school.
Though I heard Duveneck's incoming K class isn't as overloaded as last year's. I think people quit swarming into the area when they realized there was no guarantee they could get a spot at the school.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 1:23 pm
A couple thoughts come to mind..
1) maybe garland is protected while it is under lease obligation but goes 'up for grabs' for a charter threatening group as soon as they break the lease. Maybe now that they have a charter threat waiting (permanently) in the wings, they need to wait until all the overcrowding is real and countable, until garland would open at 100% occupancy before they make the move.
Maybe they have to wait until the charter threat actually goes away.
2) Maybe they see that if they move too soon, MI won't be ready to move it and take over. Which could create a terrible scenario where Garland was actually opened as a neighborhood school (as it should be). Then in another following couple years when MI was ready to take over their full birth right 2 strand 240 kids school, they'd have no place to put them without displacing neighborhood students - the cardinal sin of choice programs.
3) Then again, maybe Gail and Mandy don't have the stomach for such a big decision on their watch - why not let the next wrecking crew put it on their resumes. And Camille probably isn't in a rush because of #2 above. No will in the board to make it happen quickly - the natives are not restless enough.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 1:29 pm
I think you and Walter have nailed it: DEFEND neighborhood schools, and END Tinsley.
The Tinsley decision was based on a liberal notion that Ravenswood folk (translation: Black folk) just could not deal with their own issues, even if the resources were to be provided. A century earlier, it was about sending Indian kids to white schools. Liberal racism is just as real as redneck racism.
The choice programs (SI, DI, CI, MI, etc) are a direct attack on neighborhood schools in Palo Alto.
Palo Alto could put ALL of its choice programs into charters. Better yet, just provide educational vouchers to achieve the same thing, via privates. Same basic answer fo the Tinsley kids: Give them vouchers, so they can choose to attend acadamies in their own neighborhoods.
Posted by Parcel Taxpayer, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 5:33 pm
"I want to explore the consequences of that train leaving." Dana Tom, board vice-president, said. He said studies show that increasing class sizes to 24 students did not affect learning outcomes.
Huh??!! The old parcel tax and its current replacement had class size reduction as a primary rationale. Now just a few years later we are being told that it's really not that important to have "manageable class sizes"?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 6:00 pm
No, again, PAUSD cannot put its choice programs into charters. You can't convert a public school into a charter without the agreement of the faculty and the parents of the kids. It's the law.
Look, I clearly favor choice programs in particular circumstances and I don't favor disrupting the education of several hundred kids, which is what we're talking about when we talk about shutting down and/or moving existing choice programs.
This is part of the reason I'm against MI at this time--it's disruptive and there's no real answer as to where the program goes in three years.
I think the MI deal is, we give Grace Mah her one strand and since she's clearly the engine behind PACE, we make sure her kid gets a spot. Then, if there's a push for a charter later--there's an effective threat--i.e. shutting down the MI choice program--and shortcircuiting her kid's education. I think the board's sort of betting that PACE falls apart into grumbling without Grace.
But, of course, they're also assuming other charter programs won't be proposed.
Also, they've set up MI to be as unpopular as possible. The crossover between would-be MI parents and would-be Ohlone parents is almost nil--or, rather, one parent out of 58 wanted both. I could see a certain segment of parents going for Hoover or one of the top neighborhood schools and supplementing with afterschool and weekend Chinese--particularly as there are a large number of affordable programs in the area.
Also while MI's at Ohlone, it won't be under the control of the parents. Sounds like the lead teacher will be Monica Lynch and Susan Charles seems to have tight relationships with her staff. Despite Aaron's hopes, I don't actually think MI's going to be a mini-Hoover while at Ohlone.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 6:29 pm
Just aggreagte all the choice programs onto one campus, such as Ohlone. Bring in a lot of portables. Kick the current Ohlone kids into the portables. In other words, treat them like the Escondido kids and parents were treated.
You Ohlone parents will be demanding charters. See, wasn't that easy?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 7:38 pm
I am disappointed in what I've read here regarding students from EPA. It seems as though individuals commenting here do not consider the needs of those around them. Clearly the Ravenswood City School District does not provide an education equivalent to that provided by the PAUSD. The test scores make it clear. I strongly disagree with insinuations that providing the same education that Palo Alto students receive to some students from a city so close is inappropriate or detrimental, especially considering the Tinsley students account for a small proportion of PAUSD students. When was the last time you've been in EPA or in a school in EPA? I understand that parents want what is best for their children but at some point we need to consider the bigger picture and realize that Palo Alto residents do not live in isolation. The parents of Tinsley students also want what is best for their children. Palo Alto is a part of the surrounding community. The "let them deal with their own problems" approach is ridiculous. I'm saddened by the self-absorption I'm seeing in a few of the comments here.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 7:47 pm
Just give the EPA parents educational vouchers, and let them choose private academies. There some good ones in EPA, and more would flourish, if the people were free to make their own choices. You seem to imply that EPA parents are incapable of making wise choices. That is what I mean by liberal racism. Very disappointing to see such attitudes in the 21st century.
Posted by Katie Young, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm
Tinsley parents do make good choices...to educate their kids in Palo Alto schools if possible. If you vouchers give them to parents who basically want private school education at District expense. The Tinsley students are a valuable part of the Palo Alto school community and their parents have contributed to this district for years.
In addition, many kids from East Palo Alto enter Palo Alto schools in high school and the students in the Tinsley program apparently do better than students who transfer in at the high school level, which helps address the achievement gap.
I also value the fact that there is slightly more diversity in Palo Alto thanks to students being willing to transfer in from East Palo Alto. This is a real plus for all of our students- being able to function in a multi-cultural world will be far more important in life than fluency in Mandarin or knowledge of some particular subject.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 8:25 pm
Al, there are some wonderful educational options in EPA and parents do have choices when there are openings. Some charter schools operate on lottery systems for enrollment because of the demand for alternative educational settings. I absolutely believe that parents in EPA can (and do) make wise choices for their children. The Tinsley program is another choice that parents can make for their children. My interpretation of your comment is that you want EPA students to have great opportunities, as long as it doesn't involve PAUSD. Perhaps I'm reading more into your words than you intended, in which case I apologize, but your earlier comment, "DEFEND neighborhood schools and END Tinsley," has some very strong insinuations. I disagree that eliminating students from EPA from the district should be the solution to the district approaching a need for another elementary school.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 8:45 pm
East Palo Alto needs a High School, and it is discrimination and condescending that keeps EPA from regaining a High School.
Obviously Tinsley is not our only problem, but it is one of our problems that needs to be reevaluated. If the bus money is better spent in EPA on education,then do that. Just don't continue to disipate district assets on failed social theories. If we must play the fairy Godmother, at least do it where we have a legal obligation, within the county. San Mateo County is a big boy.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 21, 2007 at 9:11 pm
I don't think that Al meant that PAUSD would do the conversion of choice to charter. But if PAUSD eliminated the choice programs, then the parents might be sufficiently motivated to turn their schools into charter schools. A difficulty would be the ethnicity requirement. I think that charter schools must reflect the ethnic percentages of the district. OhlonePar, do you happen to know if the current choice programs do that? My kids have briefly attended Briones, Nixon, and Terman, all of which seem like mini-United Nations to me. Escondido probably has a higher percentage of Latinos than PA. I don't know if that would be okay for a charter school. How about Hoover and Ohlone? Do they mirror the demographics of PA? I think this would be a problem for MI. Although it seems to me that MI is well-suited to be a charter school (innovative, sufficient parent support and $$$), I don't know how it could satisfy the non-segregation requirement if it requires a higher percentage of Chinese kids than PA has.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 9:38 pm
All the choice programs wouldn't come close to fitting at Ohlone. However, your suggestion would make the MI spat look like a piece of cake.
Seriously, why on earth would the district muck with the school with the highest API scores and one that's adored by the education community.
I'd be fine with neighborhood schools--just as soon as they take a more whole-child approach to education.
Nope, the choice schools don't have to reflect the demographics. Escondido and Ohlone are somewhat in line with the district--Escondido's a little more Hispanic, Ohlone has somewhat lower percentage of Asians than the district average, though a high-percentage of biracial--25 percent.
Hoover's way off the district's demographics--heavily Asian with a pretty dramatic drop in the percentage of Caucasian students over the last few years--I think five years ago it was 50 percent, now it's under 25 percent.
But again, there's no reason to turn Hoover and Ohlone into choice programs--they've both been around for decades and they're both successful programs in demand. They're also teaching the district's curriculum and give the district some flexibility since it means some kids are willingly not going to their neighborhood school.
The claim Al has made, I think, is that choice programs destroy neighborhood schools. All I can say is that after 30 years, Ohlone's sure a slow killer.
Most of the complaints seem to arise from the hybrid situation at Escondido and, to a lesser extent, the overcrowding. These are somewhat different issues to me than should there be any choice programs at all.
And I just don't see the point of shifting around 1,000 kids.
Posted by Never=picked, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 10:24 pm
Ohlone hasn't destroyed a neighborhood school because it functions essentially as a neighborhood school. You and I have been over this before, but I'll re-post the numbers in case there are new readers. They are approximately 400 kids currently at Ohlone. Take off 40 for VTP, and you're left with 360, 250 of whom would otherwise attend Palo Verde, not including the approximately 50 other kids east of Middlefield who, were they not "picked" in the lottery, would be forced to drive to El Carmelo. Now you're left with 60 kids who are not in that specific neighborhood. A pretty small percentage of total. It would be interersting to know of those 60, how many live within a mile radius of the school, perhaps on the other side of the Oregon. Ohlone may be a neighborhood school in every sense. (These numbers are from the AAAG reports.)
It would be great to see all of the choice programs in one location. Maybe when the Jewish Center is finished and space becomes available at Greendell, they could be moved there.
And, OhlonePar, just so you know, all of the schools in PAUSD are child-centered. Now, some of the teachers may do a better job of that than others, but I'm willing to bet that fact is true everywhere. Even at Ohlone.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2007 at 11:18 pm
"Whole child" refers to an educational philosophy. Didn't you read your essay booklet?
Yes, a lot of people who send their kids to Ohlone live near the school. Doesn't mean we chose it because it was in the neighborhood, more like we're nearby because we wanted the school and, second, there's a slight geographic preference given to people in the area.
I'll bet you find a similar situation with Hoover. In fact, I'm willing to bet that some families move to that area because they want their kids in Hoover.
Correlation is not causation. And because Ohlone and Hoover do attract from their neighborhoods so effectively, there's no reason to move either of them. Certainly not to Greendell, which is a small site which is half used by Palo Alto's largest preschool (and a public ons, since it's part of the adult school) and Young Fives.
Why do you need the choice programs at one location? They don't have much in common.
Glad to see, however, that you acknowledge that Ohlone hasn't killed its neighborhood school neighbors.
Posted by Numbers, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 12:03 am
"Ohlone has somewhat lower percentage of Asians than the district average"
It's Asian pop is 60 percent of the district average.
"a high-percentage of biracial--25 percent."
No, false. No one knows what the biracial makeup is because it is lumped together with the people who give no response. Ohlone has a huge chunk of people in this category, and it's more likely white people not reporting. Go look at the classrooms; pretty white.
Posted by Parent, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Jun 22, 2007 at 6:58 am
OholonePar states "But again, there's no reason to turn Hoover and Ohlone into choice programs". -
Hoover and Ohlone ARE choice programs just like Mandarin Immersion, Spanish Immersion (at Escondido & Jordan), Direct Intruction (at Terman), Connections (at JLS) and Team (at PALY). These choice programs are strands at neighborhood schools while Hoover and Ohlone occupy their entire school site. But all of these programs are lottery based making them choice programs.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 8:54 am
"Currently there are about 600 VTP students from kindergarten through twelfth grade are enrolled in our District. As PAUSD students, they receive full District services and are provided bus transportation to and from school. "
This above quote is from the PAUSD official site. VTP (Tinsley) kids have a minimum of 60 slots per grade per year. Therefore, grades k-8 take up about 540 slots. That is over 20 classrooms (more than a full school worth). Since we are now arguing about whether or not to open a new school, it is impossible to ignore the VTP program. It IS a problem.
I have a variety of issues with Tinsley, including the sapping of energy and talent and identity from EPA. Walter is right, Ravenswood deserves it own high school. A significant voucher system could support enough private academies to make a strong feeder system for that future high school.
Currently, private schools are providing a hidden subsidy to the public schools. If all those private school kids suddenly came back to the publics, it would overwhelm the system. I don't want to hear about vouchers being a subsidy to the privates from the publics - it is just the other way around.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 9:24 am
For the most part Ohlone is one choice/lottery school chosen by parents due to its proximity to where they live (thus more like a "neighborhood" school) and not so much because of its "philosophy." - And from what I've heard from parents who attend Ohlone (and have attended other PA elementary schools), in most ways it's the same as any of our other elementary schools, except for the fact that it combines grades at every level, has minimal homework, and has a farm.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:27 am
"Why do you need the choice programs at one location? They don't have much in common."
Consolidating the choice programs into one site isn't meant to be an improvement suggestion for the choice programs. The choice programs get plenty of favored status as it is.
We need to vacate the choice programs from our neighborhood school sites to ensure we accomodate neighborhood schools (who by definition are neighborhood site dependent, which the choice program are not) - ability of tax paying property owners to attend an equivalently excellent schools in their own neighborhood. This is a top priority, Palo Alto must maintain top quality neighborhood schools. Its a property value issue.
If you are entering a choice program you are intentionally chosing program over location. Otherwise, when we move Ohlone/Hoover, those kids will all stay the he location, meaning they favored a neighborhood school over the particular program in the first place. In other words - why are we bothering with the choice programs?
But I believe people will still chose the choice programs, even in different locations. So the movement of the choice prgrams doesn't hurt them in the least - its completely neutral for them.
The problem that needs to be solved is capacity problems for neighborhood schools, and ~all~ our school sites should be put on the table to solve those programs. Location for choice programs should be a secondary concern.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 10:47 am
It is interesting to note that when Hoover was located in the Barron Park site, its students largely lived in the Barron Park locale. When the school changed campus' into what is now known as Hoover, it was leased out to various other organizations. The vast majority of the students now live in the Fairmeadow, El Carmelo and Palo Verde neighborhoods, with a significant number coming from Barron Park (or Briones) but not the droves that came before. This is interesting because although it took a while for the grandfathering to be weeded out, it is apparent that it is locale rather than program that made the Barron Park/Briones residents choose Hoover.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 11:20 am
I've *been* in the classrooms--25 percent biracial in my kid's last year (20 percent Asian, by the way, which is why I think the "no answer" slot isn't simply white people declining to state.) The younger classes are more mixed than the older ones, which is in keeping with the city's changing demographics and Ohlone's.
There are a lot of biracial couples in Palo Alto and they have kids. Ohlone's not the only place I've seen a lot of kids who don't fit into our simplistic categories.
Why would you know why Ohlone parents choose the school? I mean, I'm sure there are some "in the neighborhood" types--I've never met one. There are a lot who don't want the competitiveness of their neighborhood school. There are some who want their kid to be able to move. There are a few who are enchanted by the farm. There are several who also applied to the Peninsula School and really are alternative education types.
My mistake, I meant to write "charter" not "choice."
And with Ohlone, yes, a move would hurt the school---the Farm is a central part of the school's curriculum. Neither Greendell nor Garland would have the room for it.
And there's no indication that the Ohlone families, for whatever reason they're attending the school, want it to be a different school. I don't, though I think the lottery odds should be better.
My neighborhood school--Duveneck--is excellent. And I've no interest in sending my kids there.
As for all sites on the table--maybe--but when you put all the choice sites up, you are talking about disrupting the education of about a 1,000 kids. Frankly, it's not a realistic discussion. The only one that seems small enough to move relatively easily is SI, but it sounds like Escondido as a neighborhood school is too small to make it something that will happen.
One of the reasons I dislike the whole MI business is that it brings up and foments the resentment of the choice programs as a whole. We're essentially getting one we didn't choose. And does, from the outset, step on the toes of other residents.
However, I think there needs to be a recognition that Ohlone and Hoover have been part of the PAUSD community for decades. They didn't take over neighborhood schools, they took over ones that were closing (and kept them from being turned into housing, most likely) And they both carry full loads of students--in areas which would otherwise not have two "extra" schools and be subject to serious overcrowding. It's worth noting that the worst overcrowding is where there are no choice schools.
You're not talking about not not favoring choice schools, you're talking about penalizing them for being choice schools. In part because the proposal (put them all together) is absurd--1,000 elementary school kids in one location? Where? Cubberly?
Which is really a way of saying close down all the choice programs or at least put them on a lower footing (move 'em around, don't let them keep the school site they've had and developed for 30 years, since they're not a neighborhood school, their site is therefore meaningless.)
And for what reason? Well, because the choice process has been exploited by PACE. And we do need to open that 13th school as a neighborhood school with no commitments to a choice program.
I think the district hasn't treated the neighborhood schools as well as it should have. I don't think treating the choice schools as unwanted stepchildren, however, is the answer--politically or practically.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm
"And with Ohlone, yes, a move would hurt the school---the Farm is a central part of the school's curriculum"
The community garden at Escondido was an important part of that school, too. Many parent volunteer weekends went into creating it, and it became part of the curriculum. When SI was dumped on Escondido (from Fairmeadow) that coummunity gardern was immediately paved over and portables were put on top of it. I'm sure Ohlone will be able to absorb the shock of paving over its farm. Look at it this way: It would be best for the whole children who make up the entire district.
The disaster that is called "choice", within the context of the overall district, was a selfish exploitation of the circumstances at the time it was approved. The clever, agenda-driven parents, back then, understood that they could get what they wanted in the context of declining attendance numbers. Now, the situation is reversed, as the number of PA children has increased.
Why should the current parents, who are getting their kids rejected by the natural neighborhood schools (or who did not move into the neighborhood, because they could not be assurred that their kids could walk/bike to school) not DEMAND that they get back their schools?
The MI debacle is no different, in principle, than the DI, SI, CI choices that were made in the past. Believe me, we had our Grace Mahs back then, too.
My vision for the future:
The entire PAUSD would be composed of neighborhood schools. Students would be taught according to a standard model. This standard model would be flexible enough to allow principals at various schools to apply some degree of non-standard instruction, according to the demands of parents Parents who do no like this would be given an educational voucher to form their own privates (alternatively, charter schools could form, but vouchers are easier and more effective, and less intrusive on the rest of the district).
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm
Wait a minute. Why are schools any different than roads or other public infrastructure. Do we give people who don't like the roads voucher to go build their own? No, we agree as community on what roads are going to be built, where and how and we all live with it. Not every person is perfectly thrilled with every last detail of our public infrastructure.
Charter schools are designed to keep people from having to live with terrible schools. But they should be there to let people customize to the umpteenth degree, particularly when it can be proven that the public system they have access to is more than acceptable, and more than accomodating as it is.
Al, your 'vision' is just as selfish as Mahs. How about you live with the PAUSD public schools or lobby for changes that suite and serve the overall community in a rational way. Preserve our excellent school system. Your privitazation scheme is nonsense. Go to private school if you want a private school education.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 1:41 pm
I sent my kids to public school, and, until we got invaded by SI, I was quite happy with it. However, I also believe that choice is a good thing for those who don't like the standard deal. I am FOR choice, unlike you. I just don't want choice to upset the standard offer. I am not an ideologue. I just want to see practical solutions to common problems. Educational vouchers are a pragmatic solution. Voucers are not a panacea, just a practical chance at an alternative approach.
Parent, you sound like you are part of the leadership of the public teachers' union. Climb off your horse, and get a drink of water.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 1:49 pm
How do you know that my kid's neighborhood elementary school is competitive? Aren't you making assumptions here? I'm just saying Ohlone isn't much different from from my kid's school, based on discussions I've had with well-grounded parents who have the unique perspective of having children who attended both. BTW, I haven't run into overt "competitive" types in my kid's neighborhood elementary school and I've had kids going to it for 10+ years now. No question the competitiveness increases over time, especially as grades count towards college entrance, but all our elementary school kids will experience this in the same manner at the high-school level. As far as I know, all the high-school require homework, for example.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:03 pm
Al, I am not a teacher or a member of any union. I am a property owner in Palo Alto who knows very well that my high property value is due only to high quality neighborhood schools which are in danger of being dismanteled by excessive choice at the hands of a few very spoiled individuals.
Vouchers and charter schools are absolutely NOT practical, because they degrade the school district capabilities to manage itself and to offer reasonable levels of 'choice'. A system of disjointed privatized mini schools is inefficient, overly complex, and ensures that inconsistency and 'luck of the draw' education access will abound. Have's will have great educations, and the have nots will have whatever's left over. When you begin to customize and create these mini little fiefdoms, you decrease transparency, decrease the ability to manage equity in that system. Abuses (like futzing with lotteries, big money donors getting preferential treatment, etc.) would become rampant.
Al, you're confused and dangerous to Palo Alto property values. If you were in some place with failing schools and stagnant property values, we'd be having a different conversation.
An entirely homogoneous school system is ridiculous. An overly customized
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:06 pm
sorry, left a hanging sentence at the end. An entirely homogeneous school system is not desireable, nor is it necessary. PAUSD has found a way to manage a limited amount of customization to serve the needs of a very broad customer base. Its in danger of going too far. The top priority should be to preserve the neighborhood schools, by giving them back the neighborhood school sites first.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 2:47 pm
I am a property owner, too. I share your views that neighborhood schools are good for property values, but I differ with your dyed-in-the-wool solution.
The vast majority of neighborhood parents are 'round hole' types; a few are square peg types. If the square pegs are allowed to find their square holes, simply and without a huge issue, our school district will be stronger, not weaker. Both your and my property values will increase.
Vouchers allow such a simple solution. They are not the threat you make them out to be.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2007 at 6:55 pm
Escondido's garden being paved over doesn't make it right to pave over Ohlone's Farm.
I don't think Ohlone's parents were anticipating overcrowding 30 years later. I'll go so far as to bet it was a nonissue.
I don't mean to speak for your neighborhood school--simply stating one of the reasons some parents I know entered the Ohlone lottery. Walter Hays and Duveneck are both perceived as having competitive environments. I know parents in both draw areas who entered the Ohlone lottery because of this.
And I think parents with the Ohlone-ish view about schooling are a large minority--i.e. we don't want the schools to push down the curriculum as much as possible. This includes a lot of parents with kids at neighborhood schools--you, I think?
However, I think there are a lot of families who want a competitive, ambitious elementary-school education for their kids. They worry if their kids aren't getting enough homework. I think Aaron, if you read his comments, is not untypical. If that's the predominant type of parent you have at a school, then I think you end up with a push-down the curriculum, more competitive environment.
I also think the last five years or so have seen an increase in school stress levels--it's gotten harder to get into the prestige colleges and I think that's trickled down even into the elementaries.
Vouchers are not a simple solution--more to the point, they're not going to happen in California. Charters were the alternative. However, the choice schools are not going to become charters.
Vouchers would have to voted into state law--the teacher's union fought off a proposition quite successfully. I suspect they'd do so again--particularly since charters offer a sort of middle way.
The choice schools, which I think would have indeed been started as charters had they begun now instead of 30 years ago, aren't going to become charters--the charter law makes it difficult to do so and there's no compelling reason to do so here.
Indeed, it sounds like the choice schools actually *do* serve local school populations while offering some flexibility by taking in students from the overcrowded draw areas.
I do think the choice/neighborhood balance could be managed much better. The choice programs shouldn't be sibling-preference fiefdoms. There should be a reasonable chance at getting a slot in the lotteries.
I think it's insane that Escondido doesn't have Spanish FLES as part of a double-occupancy deal. When choice programs create a have and have-not problem, I think there's justifiable resentment. I don't think it's accidental that SI stirs up the most resentment because of this.
I don't think choice schools have to do that. I think it happens because of a certain bureaucratic smugness and insularity. With MI, we're seeing all of this at its absolute worst.
I do think, given the numbers that were posted, that Tinsley needs to be amended. It seems unreasonable and unfair that in-district kids are getting displaced by Tinsley kids. I say this with some regret because there are Tinsley parents I know and like. They're literally going the extra mile for their kids. But I think the district owes its first allegiance to the kids in the district. Tinsley's great for open spots--and I think the lottery schools should let them in the lotteries--but if the district can't meet its in-district needs, we should roll back the VTA numbers at that time. Some years, 60, other years 20.
Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 11:56 am
interesting. just tried to find out the budget of ravenswood school dsitrict ( where the Tinsley kids come from) and couldn't find it on the district web site.
Anybody know their budget? bottom lines are bottom lines..if their budget is more than ours per student, which I have only heard rumors of ( something like $13,000 per kid), then I would agree with the proposal that it is time to sunset Tinsley.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 12:41 pm
"I don't think Ohlone's parents were anticipating overcrowding 30 years later. I'll go so far as to bet it was a nonissue"
I can't get into the head of all the indivduals who drove this turkey, but I certainly remember the times. There was a lot of romance about revolution (part of the anti-Vietnam war protest fallout). Women were demanding careers, and to be unchained from the hearth. There was a popular bumper sticker "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle". My wife was pregant with our second child at this time, and one our neighbors accused her of "buying into the opporession of women, by willingly becoming pregnant". Suffice it to say that the birthrate went way down. Thus the school enrollment went down.
I felt (in fact, I knew) that this would all turn around as the next generation decided that children were a good thing, and not a bad thing. I wrote letters to the the editor of the local newspaper to insist that local school sites not be sold off. Leased out, yes, but NOT sold off. There were others who expressed the same views. It WAS clear to any thinking, mature person, that Palo Alto enrollment would come back.
It was in this context that the "choice" wars started. Neighborhood ("family") schools were passe, even regressive. There were MANY 'choice' people who understood that this was their chance to break up the neighborhood schools. You see, they were revolutionaries, and the revolution MUST win.
OhlonePar, I will give you the room to admit that you were too young to understand what was really going on, but I simply cannot accept your nonsensical statement.
Posted by Elementary, my dear, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 1:12 pm
Yes, those claims are non-sensical. Enrollment may have been declining, but the choice program didn't keep Ohlone open. The truth is that the choice program there took away a neighborhood school that would be serving neighborhood kids today if not for the choice program.
Today, it also has fewer minorities as compared with the district, a troubling fact.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 23, 2007 at 2:45 pm
Hmmm, the segregation aspect of the choice schools is really troubling me. Hoover seems to be siphoning Asian kids out of the neighborhood schools, so it's weird that another choice school, MI, is planned that will actually require a higher ratio of Chinese kids than the district has. How many Latino parents are thinking, "Say, I want my child to go to a Chinese language school"?
Pity a survey wasn't taken of Hoover parents to see if they would like to pay a little extra for an after-school hour of Mandarin class.
Parent, at least charter schools are required not to facilitate segregation. They provide much-needed innovation. In fact, I believe there are grants to charter schools for sharing the secrets of their success. Have the good aspects of Hoover and Ohlone ever been brought to the other PAUSD schools? A garden is easily doable. In fact, Briones had a Hidden Villa-sponsored partnership with an EPA school in which 3rd graders helped each other's schools build school gardens. Enormously rewarding project.
Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2007 at 3:41 pm
It is my understanding that charters must provide "The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted" in other words, they must have a plan but they don't actually have to accomplish it.
A number of the elementary schools have gardens of varying sizes including Duveneck and Addison. Walter Hays has a garden program at Gamble Gardens, Jordan has garden also.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 1:39 pm
So you didn't like the 60s--or here the post-60s. It's interesting that you conveniently omit what really made districts sell off schools--Proposition 13, which played hell with school budgets throughout the state. My youth, such as it is, means I was in school and saw my school's programs eviscerated.
So, in the presence of slashed funding, if I were on the board and saw some post-hippy types and progressive teachers willing to take a chance on a school--well, the declining enrollment and the availability of the schools made it a good time to take a chance. Given that there was talk of closing Gunn in the 80s--I'm not at all convinced that the save-our-schools crew was doing much in terms of saving the schools. Ohlone's a large parcel, so I think it's more, not less likely, that it would have been sold.
Okay, so what are the results of this terrible "choice."? A school that currently works so well that it has more lottery applicants than any other in the district. And you think this is a *bad* thing because maybe some little neighborhood school *might* possibly have squeaked by? Maybe, but having been in school during that time, I wouldn't guarantee it.
So, is it an issue now? A bit, but Ohlone carries a full raft of students and, as I pointed out, the areas with choice schools do NOT have the worst overcrowding.
And what the hell this has to do with women working outside the home, I have no idea. Except that indicates that your dislike of the choice programs has little to do with their effect on the neighborhood schools and more about how you're still mad that the 60s ever happened.
Gawd, do you have any IDEA how tiresome this is to those of us who are younger?
What constitutional violation is that? Would that be the Constitution that mandates the Census?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 2:05 pm
Thank-you. Ohlone does not have the lowest level of minorities in the district--Addison, which is a neighborhood school, has that spot--70 percent Caucasian, v. 61 percent at Ohlone. Ohlone's levels are within a couple of points of nearby Walter Hays and Nixon.
So, I'm afraid the attempt to paint Ohlone as a demographic outlier just doesn't cut it. Its percentage come close to reflecting the district as a whole.
The Ohlone effect on the district, I think, has less to do with gardens--or keeping sheep--than providing a working counterexample to the push that goes on here. I think that there being a whole school with a no-homework policy, made it easier for Nixon's principal to ban homework in kindegarten. Susan Charles, Ohlone's principal, clearly has a decent working relationship with her fellow principals, since they chose her to head their group.
So, Ohlone does act a bit like a charter might, in that it's more open to alternative teaching methods and a pool of parents who are open to innovation.
Posted by Susan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 2:33 pm
OhlonePar and Al,
I agree with both of you, at least to a degree.
Al, you are right about the cultural revolution (and self-styled revoultionaries), and how they wanted to disrupt the neighborhood school system. I remember it well, even though I am younger than you. I think I might be the age of OhlonePar, because I, too, was a student in Palo Alto in the late seventies.
OhlonePar, you are right to mention proposition 13. It did cause a pinch, although I don't remember it being an eviseration. We were a pretty spoiled group, so any cutback might have seemed like an eviseration.
I remeber that there was a serious discussion about what to do with the empty school sites. Some people, like Al, wanted them to be saved and leased out (like Cubberly). Others wanted to sell them off quickly to raise immediate cash. It was a confusing time. However, I wish we would have saved our school sites. It was a very short sighted view of things.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm
I wasn't in Palo Alto. I was in a district which had a lot of divisions in it and a school board that, frankly, was more interested in not having their kids mix with kids of a different color than they were in keeping up the schools. The cuts were, in my district, brutal. Thanks to the ongoing divisiveness, it was and is a district where post-13 bond measures don't get passed. What were decent schools are now notoriously bad. All it takes is a lack of interest. From my perspective, the carelessness with which the MI situation was handled was reckless--just because I've seen what it's like in a district where bonds don't pass.
In the post-13 environment even in well-funded basic-aid districts there are things we no longer have that were once taken for granted--a wider variety of languages, electives, well-maintained school buildings, new schools when we needed them. Oh, and PE every day, music and art as a matter-of-course instead of parent-funded.
We talk about how PA shouldn't have sold off so many buildings--pre-13 there would have been a chance of building new ones. That's not even on the table.
Even so, I think there are actually enough school building left in PA, except for the middle schools, to house our kids--there's Garland, Fremont Hills, Ventura and Cubberly. Frankly, I'd rather see those as neighborhood schools or charters than see the district so set on being landlords. It sounds like the district has created its own conflict-of-interest--it has to be making a ton of money from Cubberly.
Posted by Susan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 5:28 pm
I really like your kind response.
Since you were not in Palo Alto, as I thought you were, I can understand why you do not understand what actually happened in PA. It was a bit of a crazy time. We were in some kind of nervous breakdown. The old dinosaurs, like Al, were ignored, and the sisters' brigade, like me, were in charge. We loved it when PE got cut back. Same for mandatory classes of many types. It was thrilling, and I loved it!
Unfortunately, dreams do not always end up being reality. There were so many excesses back then, and I was all for it. I am older now, and I hope wiser. I think we ignored our older and wiser people back then. When they talk about neighborhood schools in PA we should listen, because it worked for a long time.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 7:42 pm
The same constitutional requirement that mandated Brown vs Board of Education. That portion of the census that asks your race is unconstitutional, and I have always refused to answer it. If it is right to classify by race, then the KKK was right all alone.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2007 at 8:27 pm
There's a difference between classification and discrimination. You can note whether there's a woman or a man in front of you and classify accordingly, but your right to deny one group or the other based on that is limited by law. You can't deny women the vote, but you may note that they are women.
No, I've been in Palo Alto for more than 20 years and I'm a Bay Area native. And so, yes, I do remember and experienced various forms of extremism.
However, that was then and this is now. And now we're looking at what we have. No matter how you think Ohlone evolved, it's been part of the district for 30 years and works successfully. One of the negative effects of the 60's split is the simplification of dialogue into black/white; right/wrong; either/or. We've been dealing with a dumbed-down political discourse for decades, in my opinion.
So, in the now, what would be the point of monkeying with Ohlone or Hoover? From what I can figure out, the main complaints regarding them is that they're somehow not fair. Okay, I think there's some validity in that. One of the reasons I object to MI is that I think that Ohlone should accept a larger portion of its open lottery--when two-thirds of the lottery spots are going to siblings, there's an issue. There's an even bigger issue in that regard with Spanish Immersion. Hoover, I really think is getting into a situation where it's perceived as an "Asian" school.
But I think there's a problem with throwing the baby out with the bathwater--the choice schools offer a chance for innovation and experimentation--in a way that, frankly, I think wouldn't be fair in a neighborhood school--I *chose* the no-homework route, but is it fair to force a somewhat non-mainstream educational view on people who didn't want it?
I've spoken several times in support of neighborhood schools here--I think the board should make much more of a priority in making them available to the kids who live in the neighborhood. The head-in-the-sand approach to a 13th school by the board is sort of mind-boggling. I don't think the smaller schools should be seen as automatic dumping grounds for the choice program du jour. In other words, I think overcrowding and educating every child is more important than the school philosophy of choice.
I understand the rationale behind putting a second choice program at a choice school--I just happen to think the conflation of choice programs in this case is beyond dippy, particularly with neither an expansion nor an exit strategy. When Al mutters about paving over the Farm he's ignoring the sheer size of the student population at that point--more than 620.
I also feel that the district has no business offering no language opportunities to most kids while creating another small choice program. It's beyond stupid.
So, I'm for neighborhood/choice coexistence--I think the district's first goal is to educate all children and not send them all over the district against their will. Second, I think the district should avoid disrupting the education of hundreds of students because of what happened 30 years ago. The choice programs succeed on their own terms--let's make sure they also work with the district and that needs are balanced instead of trying to fix what's not broken.
Re: feminism and the sisterhood. I think we forget just how restrictive the rules were regarding women at the time--you could be fired for being married; quotas were standard at grad schools--as in 5 percent at law schools like Boalt at Berkeley. A married woman couldn't have her own credit rating, get her own credit card or buy her own property as a result.
These weren't small things. It's funny to me that all we seem to hear about are abortion and bra burning, when the inequities were much more pervasive and matter-of-course.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 25, 2007 at 2:30 am
“From what I can figure out, the main complaints regarding [Ohlone and Hoover] is that they're somehow not fair. Okay, I think there's some validity in that.”
I don’t see that having Ohlone or Hoover is somehow unfair; rather, it’s that the district is not fully supporting them to the extent of the community’s interest that’s not fair. Eliminate the wait lists and there’d be fewer complaints. It helps that they're located close to other neighborhood schools.
Expanding the language immersion programs to meet demand is more complicated. Because of the schools they’re located in, growing these programs would be in direct competition with the rest of their schools’ populations. The overcrowding we’re currently experiencing is a very different situation from when SI, Ohlone or Hoover were started. That’s one of the reasons I find the board’s decision to approve MI so irresponsible.
One option they’re now toying with is to increase class size rather than open a 13th school. If they didn’t commit to MI they could have selectively increased class size in the lottery programs first: shorten the wait lists by increasing classroom capacity. This would’ve worked at Hoover and Ohlone -- except that MI now complicates things. Not sure I'd want to pack even more kids onto that campus. SI at Escondido has the same problem: Escondido's population is huge.
OhlonePar wrote, “I think it's insane that Escondido doesn't have Spanish FLES as part of a double-occupancy deal.”
Maybe the district should look into growing SI by duplicating it on another campus and having the three campuses (2 SI and 1 MI) be pilot programs for FLES. Once they develop a solid FLES program, expand it to ALL elementary schools.
But then again, sharing limited school space with more than one program can lead to bad feelings. Just look at the resentment Al feels about Escondido’s garden. I don’t remember it being paved the same year that SI arrived. I thought B4E had something to do with it. I went back and checked my records and sure enough, there were 7 additional classrooms at Escondido in 1997, the year SI arrived. To be fair, two were the result of class size reduction. That year the regular (non-SI) fourth grade classrooms shared the MP room for the first month or so while they waited for their new portables to be finished.
I think we’re in for many years of unforgotten bitter feelings...
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 6:05 am
There's a difference between classification and discrimination. You can note whether there's a woman or a man in front of you and classify accordingly, but your right to deny one group or the other based on that is limited by law. You can't deny women the vote, but you may note that they are women."
The only function of classification by government is discrimination. Tell me what legitimate function of German governance the Star of David badge served.
Posted by John, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:20 am
"When Al mutters about paving over the Farm he's ignoring the sheer size of the student population at that point--more than 620. "
In the latest published official reports, Escondido has 514 (199 of which are SI) students, Ohlone has 420 students. It is also clear that Escondido has about three times as many non-Asian minority students, compared to Ohlone. I think I can understand why Al is a tad upset. Ohlone has a ways to go, perhaps even up to the 600 figure, assuming the farm can be paved over and modulars added.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:29 am
There is one place where discrimination seems to be OK and at least one venue where signs have been put up to confirm that this discrimination be furthered. That is restrooms. Now I know that it makes sense for various reasons, but as the mother of boys I have had it both ways. I have had bad looks from fellow women in restrooms because I have taken my 6 year old son, who looks older, into a restroom with me. I have also heard my two sons arguing inside a mens room and obviously need my intervention. At one venue, there are signs up which state that even in these sort of situations even when my family is the only ones using it.
I presume that this is allowed by law or do I have rights to enter a mensroom to sort my boys out?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:22 am
John wrote, "It is also clear that Escondido has about three times as many non-Asian minority students, compared to Ohlone. I think I can understand why Al is a tad upset."
Huh? I can't. It's exactly Escondido's ethnic and socioeconomic diversity that attracted us to the school. Kids at Escondido get to experience kids who aren’t exactly like them. Some live in big new houses, some live in apartments, some live in the surrounding neighborhoods, some commute across town, some commute from East Palo Alto, and some live in Stanford student housing while their parents work toward an advanced degree. Each family brings different cultures and values to the mix.
Diversity is one of Escondido’s unique benefits to its students – and to its parents, too, if they approach it with an open mind.
Posted by John, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 11:35 am
I wrote the part about minorities, becasue it seems to be such a discussed issue on this thread. The main point was about enrollment size.
However, since you raise the diversity issue, I think it should argued on its own merits and demerits. Our college campuses are full of diversity...this identy group here, that one over there, another one just off campus, etc. There seems to be a (mostly) unspoken agreement to separate. Most of these kids were raised in schools that emphasized diversity (like Esondido). I would question how much is reallly being accomplished. Japan has a very non-diverse society, and it does quite well in the world. I think a neighborhood school should relfect the level of diversity in that neighborhood...those kids will be closer and have deeper memories to share down the road.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:17 pm
Speaking about diversity, I have some comments from my own childhood.
I went to a private school which was small and sheltered me from many things, so much so that I was shocked when I came to meet other groups when I left school.
I went to a predominately protestant school in a catholic country. There was no ethnic mix, no religious mix (at least with the catholics which were the majority in the country) and no mix with the lowest income bracket working class, although there were some very wealthy as well as modestly middle class. My school filtered out many outside influences as being too disruptive, e.g. scouting programs. It was also single sex.
Although I now consider myself very well rounded, that was not the case when I left school. The culture shock was enormous, and it kept on hitting me as I got older and moved in different circles.
This sort of protection is something I would not want for my children. We need to have the broadest spectrum of diversity as possible. We need to be able to judge people as people, not by whatever subgroup they belong. We need to understand each others roots and values, and being educated in their cultures and religions only adds to our education, not detracts. In Palo Alto we need to make sure that all our schools, elementary and secondary, reflect the broadest spectrum possible and we need to get away from any type of eletism that any one type of program attracts. Of course it is possible that we can have subgroup representation at clubs level, church level, in fact any level but outside school, not inside. Inside we need to learn about all cultures, all religions, all points of view (that includes politics) and all types of values. Without that, we cannot consider we are truly educating our kids.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:21 pm
"The main point was about enrollment size."
Got it. Personally, I think Ohlone's current situation is far worse than Escondido's back when SI arrived. There were only 16 classrooms back then with just under 400 students. Acreage-wise, it's one of the district's largest campuses. Portables were cropping up all over Palo Alto with the start of class-size reduction. So adding portables and the delicate issue of where to place them on campus was not a problem unique to Escondido. As a neighborhood school, Escondido was not at capacity until recently, so we can't 'blame' SI for turning away neighborhood students.
Ohlone has been turning away students -- due to lack of capacity, I imagine. And now, with the introduction of Mandarin Immersion at Ohlone, lo and behold there's Space! It's a slap in the face for anyone who's been turned away from Ohlone. And, it's an insult for anyone who's been rejected by Susan Charles due to their, um, lack of commitment, shall I say?, to the Ohlone Way. I wonder if she'll be equally consistent in rejecting those MI hopefuls whose families came from Hoover?
But back to ethnic diversity. I find the idea of trying to control the level of diversity in a neighborhood school a little silly. Variations are bound to occur - so what? But then I'm in a school that matches my ethnic diversity 'needs'. Perhaps if I were in a school with less diversity I'd join the complaining, just like those who have too much diversity for their comfort levels are disgruntled. Different strokes, I guess.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:42 pm
The whole question of trust and transparency comes up over and over across various topics and threads. There is something infuriating about being told there's no room at Ohlone and suddenly having space magically appear. Also, we were told class size has to be capped for our children to have the ideal educational environment so we HAD to have a bond and now, 2 years later, we are told that class size is no big deal. Finally, I'll add from personal observation that this district is rife with "special deals" for individual families, cut by district administrators and/or principals -- so that publicly one rule applies but if you push hard enough or are in with the right people the rule doesn't apply to you. When those in charge allow this to happen, or change their story and pretend that's not what's happening, it really erodes trust.
Posted by John, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:46 pm
"This sort of protection is something I would not want for my children. We need to have the broadest spectrum of diversity as possible"
I almost did not include the minority breadown data, beacuse I guessed that it would open a much wider discussion about diversity. However, I did, and it did, so I am obligated to defend my views.
I could wax philosohpical about the issue (already have, to a small degree), and I could tell you my own stories. However, I will just cut to the chase:
Every Kennedy that has been in politicts in Washington, D.C. has sent their kids to private schools, even though D.C. has some very good magnet schools. Only Carter sent his own kid there. The Clintons sent their daughter to a private school. Both the Kennedys and Clintons were champions of civil rights and diversity. What were they afraid of? I would think that if some are big on diversity, they would live it. The fact that they did not, and do not, suggests that they have their own views that something is more important than diversity...might that be their own selfish interest in their own kids? This applies not only to the liberal elite in D.C. Ever see that bus that takes S.F. kids to Marin Country Day School?
I suggest that if diversity is to become the main issue, then let's open up a separate thread. It will go on forever, but it will be interesting.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:58 pm
I think you're beyond parsing on the "diversity" issue here. Escondido has more Hispanics because of both the SI program and, I expect, some draw from the apartments around El Camino.
620 is the projected number if there's a full strand of MI at Ohlone plus one more special ed class. Susan Charles proposed this to the board. In other words, we're already near Escondido's size AND we're adding an immersion program on top of that. Even though as Yet Another Parent points out, Ohlone has a waiting list and gets more lottery applicants than either Hoover or SI. SI has the longer waitlist though just because so few kids are let in.
MI at Ohlone means two waitlists instead of one.
Oh, and I went to a school with a white minority--it had both economic and ethnic diversity. Why the emphasis on "liberal" elite by the way--are you saying the conservative elite doesn't send their kids to private schools?
Yet Another and Natasha,
I agree. I think ignoring the fact that Ohlone can't meet its enrollment demands and shoving in MI was shameful. Choice needs to be accessible--truly accessible if we're going to have it.
Posted by John, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 2:06 pm
"Escondido has more Hispanics because of both the SI program and, I expect, some draw from the apartments around El Camino"
There are some apartments, but not many. Could you please identify those that are in the Escondido boundries, and that have a heavily Hispanic tenant base?
Why do you say that SI explains the demographic difference between Ohlone and Escondido? When SI came to Escondido, it was largely Anglo kids who were bilingual (a lot from the San Diego and similar border areas); the rest of the SI kids were largely a mixture of Latinos and Anglos ( and a very few others).
BTW, I (and others) have said this before: Escondido was a FULL school. Every classroom was full, way before the 20 kids/class rule. In fact, Escondido was saturated with neighborhood kids (25-30 kids per classroom). It was only when the enrollment structure changed (two strands going to three stands) that Escondido suddenly became 'fighting to stay alive'. It is a simple thing, really: Esconcido had acreage, thus it could become a dumping ground for all the metastable enrollment issues in PAUSD.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 5:46 pm
It is not prop 13 that did us in, despite popular myth. We spend 30% more now in REAL ( ie adjusted) dollars, and are 49th in the nation in educational achievement, than we did when I was going to school and we were first in the nation ( back in the 70s).
Our entire culture has changed with 1/2 the kids not having a stable 2 parent homes, most kids not coming home to a parent to help with homework, a high percentage not speaking English in the home, the makeup of our schools has changed, the expectations of student outcomes and behaviors have changed,( what is now standard behavior to be tolerated was suspended or completed expelled when I was a kid) and the style of teaching has changed.
It is a much bigger picture than the "prop 13", much bigger than money spent. If it were simply about money, DC spends MUCH more per student than we do, ( last I checked, something like $15,000 per kid) and yet does even worse than WE do in test scores, high school graduation rates and entry into post-high school education. And, there are states that spend LESS than we do, but have much higher results.
This Prop 13 thing is a simplistic smoke screen with an agenda of increasing taxes, and no learning from other states that are institutuing tax controls on their property taxes now that their housing prices are spiraling upward as well.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:38 pm
There's a native-speaker requirment for SI, yes? So, I've heard that SI actually has some problem recruiting enough native speakers, nonetheless if you need a program to be 30 percent native Spanish speakers that's going to up your percentage of Hispanics. Because let's face it, it's not like any of the PA schools have large Hispanic populations, including Escondido. I mean, you don't need a heavily Hispanic base, just having anything close to affordable housing is going to increase diversity around here.
I'm going to take a pass on which apts--that was a guess on my part, but a guess is a guess. You know your school boundaries better than I do.
As for Escondido being full, I hear different definitions of full--either way, I think it's clear that the dual occupancy at Escondido has caused a lot of resentment with a sense that SI is favored over the neighborhood component of the school.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:03 pm
Proposition 13 is not the only cause of education woes in this state, but can you really deny it created a tremendous inequity in school districts?
The tax burden in this state falls unequally--identical houses can have owners paying tens of thousands of dollars difference in property taxes. And if we're spending more now, it's because we let the schools go to hell for several years. That stopped and now we're letting less obvious forms of our infrastructures go to hell as we restrict how gov. funds can be spent with broad-sweeping, somewhat simplistic propositions every few years.
Our tax base is unstable because we're so heavily dependent on income taxes. Meanwhile, we've done a fine job of indebting ourselves with bond after bond.
Yes, we have a lot of immigrant kids, but I once read an interesting article on how immigration was basically a reverse tax by business. Immigration means lower wages, but higher social service costs. Part of the reason why the pols can't come to a clearcut decision on the issue.
Like I said, I was in school when Prop. 13 passed and programs were slashed dramatically. Now, we're a state of haves and have-nots in terms of the public schools.
I'm not sure where some of your facts are from. Could you give a cite? Particularly on what's meant on real-dollar spending. Is this per-pupil, or just generally. I ask because the increase in state population could result in an increase in real-dollar spending without an increase in per-pupil spending.
I found this from a 2005 Rand report:
The decline of California's K-12 system has paralleled the shrinking of per pupil financial support for education during the past three decades, according to the RAND report.
The decline began about 30 years ago when the state became the first to implement school finance reform that moved responsibility for school funding from local jurisdictions to the state. The change helped to make spending per pupil more equal across the state. While there is evidence the change narrowed the gap between rich and poor districts, it also contributed to lower spending levels overall.
While California's annual per student spending was about $400 above the national average in 1969-70, it fell to more than $600 below the national average in 1999-2000, according to the report. The state ranked 27th in per pupil spending in 2001-2002.
Support for K-12 education as a proportion of the per capita income of Californians has fallen as well. California spent about 4.5 percent of the personal income of state residents on public education in the early and middle 1970s — about the same as the rest of the country. But from the late 1970s through the middle 1990s, California's support lagged about 1.2 percentage points behind the national average, according to the report.
In other words, the decline in student achievement parallels the decline in public school support (Prop. 13) and an earlier law that took away a lot of local control--basically, you can blame both political sides for the debacle. But do you really want to insist that there's no meaningful correlation here between achievement and per-student spending?
Posted by data fan, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:41 pm
While Ohlone may have integrated the farm into their curriculum recently, it is has not historically been "a central part of the school's curriculum." Hoover integrated Matadero Creek into their curriculum during the years they were at the Barron Ave site. You take advantage of what your location can offer you. Hoover didn't do creek fieldtrips before it moved to Barron Ave., and it doesn't do them now that it no longer has a creek on its site. Ohlone has only been at the Amarillo Ave. site for about 25 years, and the farm wasn’t started immediately when Ohlone moved there. Ohlone had the philosophy before it had the farm. In fact, Ohlone had the philosophy before it was even a lottery school. It operated with a similar philosophy as a neighborhood school back when it was at its original site on Charleston Ave. Back before a bunch of disgruntled parents started this trend of “choice” schools, neighborhood schools were allotted a fair amount of flexibility, so we had Ohlone with its approach, Ventura with its very unique educational approach, and other neighborhood schools with very different personalities. But this was the late 60s/early 70s, when folks were exploring all sorts of educational philosophies. I’m not sure if there were any threat letters involved back then like this time around, but parents who really didn’t like all this experimentation and wanted 3Rs but weren’t willing to pay for the private schools that offered 3Rs managed to convince the district to create a school just for them. Naturally, by the time they got their school, the tide had started to turn again, and there was more of a back-to-basics focus on all the campuses, which was probably the impetus to turn Ohlone into a “choice” program as well.
When Hoover was moved from its second location (on Barron Ave.) to its current location (at the old Ohlone site), the next step was supposed to be to move Ohlone to the Garland site, as Palo Verde, El Carmelo, and Fairmeadow were over capacity and the then-school board felt the south cluster needed another neighborhood school. However, enrollment the following year came in far below projections, so opening up the 13th school was dropped from consideration. If the board does go for a 13th school in the near future, you can be sure that moving Ohlone will be back on the table. It won’t necessarily happen, but it will be on the table, and rightly so.
Consider this: The “natural” boundary for the Amarillo Ave. site as a neighborhood school is between 101 and Middlefield Rd, and between Oregon Expressway and something between Colorado and Loma Verde. According to Lapkoff & Gobalet statistics given to the AAAG, this past school year there were 414 regular program (not SDC) K-5 students living in the area whose southern boundary is Loma Verde between 101 and Louis and Matadero Creek between Louis and Middlefield. That’s more than enough kids to completely fill Ohlone as a 3.5 strand school. Now, 102 of those kids (25%) are currently enrolled at Ohlone. You can assume that if Ohlone moves, some of the kids will move with the program rather than switch to their new neighborhood school. But even if half of them go, that still leaves quite a few kids in walking distance of the Amarillo Ave. site. It may make a lot more sense, as has been done in the past, to move a lottery program to free up neighborhood space for neighborhood kids.
Posted by figures, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:08 am
Escondido has under 300 non-SI students according to the AAAG report, with just over 200 from the neighborhood. The enrollment at five other schools is over 400. This doesn't qualify Escondido as being FULL when its footprint is one of the largest in the district. I don't know the enrollment numbers at the time SI arrived, but it must have been considerably less than 300.
In another thread someone complained that for a few years there was a class with only one strand of non-SI at Escondido. That doesn't describe FULL either.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:12 am
"Only" 25 years? In other words, for most of the school's history.
As for your natural boundaries--having lived around some of them--it doesn't make sense for the Amarillo site to extend to Loma Verde--at that point, Palo Verde is the closer school. Colorado's the more obvious point.
But back to Garland--because the north cluster has had the most serious overcrowding, a neighborhood school in the north cluster makes the most sense. Garland would serve a neighborhood that currently has no access to an elementary school that doesn't involve crossing very busy streets. It's not that you couldn't move Ohlone there (though, unlike you, I'd say a farm that's been around for decades is a bit more of an investment than occasional stream field trips. Okay, in fact, I'd say it's not really comparable.), but that the site's better as a neighborhood school, particularly since it is relatively small and Ohlone can't meet its demand at its present size.
Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:42 am
Just as a point of information, Escondido had three regular (ie non-SI) Kindergarten classes this year and will have three again next year. From talking with administrators there, it seems likely that all but a very few of the children in those classes next year will be neighborhood kids. If there was a time when the Escondido boundary only brought in a single class, that's long past.
Posted by data fan, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 11:21 am
Actually, the north cluster doesn't have the most serious overcrowding. Palo Verde gets that title. Duveneck is overcrowded, but most of its overflow goes to Addison and Hays. Palo Verde's overflow, on the other hand, mostly gets sent to the west cluster. The south cluster is in most need of a neighborhood school.
Both the Garland site and the current Ohlone site can be four strands, so either could house the Ohlone program and the other could house a neighborhood school that could take kids from both sides of Oregon. However, that wouldn't be thinking outside the box. That would be more band-aid solutions. If the district decides to add a 13th school, it needs to seriously look at where kids actually live, and put the choice schools at the sites with the relatively fewest number of neighborhood kids. Or to put it another way, if there is a full school worth of neighborhood kids, then that school should be a neighborhood school. That should be the task of the new AAAG, assuming there will be one if the district adds a 13th school. I'm not saying the outcome will be to move Ohlone, just that it should be on the table for consideration.
Posted by figures, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 2:10 pm
That's correct, Simon. Escondido IS full, or close to it. That's not the same as saying that Escondido WAS full, which it was not. It was not full when SI arrived, and it became less full for a period of time after that. Do you know of any case where a neighborhood child was refused a spot at Escondido?
As another point of information, Escondido had 3 kindergarten classes last year (2006) and will consolidate them into 2.5 this fall. It's a point of information, nothing more. I agree that overcrowding is a major issue at Escondido and throughout the district. Approving MI at this time was a colossal mistake. They should have taken care of existing programs and neighborhood schools first.
My point in clarifying these Escondido statistics is that the situation the district and Ohlone in particular faces now is more dire than what Escondido faced 10 years ago. If you think Escondido suffered (and look at all the people who are still feeling bruised) then get the facts straight and you can only imagine that Ohlone stands to suffer even more.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 2:59 pm
"That's correct, Simon. Escondido IS full, or close to it. That's not the same as saying that Escondido WAS full, which it was not. It was not full when SI arrived,"
That's a complete crock of S...!
Escondido had always been a relatively small neighborhood school. At the time that SI was dumped on us, every single classroom was FULL. This was before the 20 kids/class deal. If the 20 kids thing had been in place, we would have needed EXTRA classrooms. When SI got dumped on us, because Fairmeadow hated it, we had to add several modulars...now how could that be it we had rooms for extra students?...duh?!. Escondido got rained on because it had land, not classrooms, and it lacked the political ability to resist. It looks like it is starting to wake up...I hope so!
I hate arguments made by ignorant people. Their ignorance seems to give license to rewrite history, facts be damned.
Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills, on Jun 29, 2007 at 8:06 pm
Data Fan, when you say to look at the number of "kids," does that include those kids whose families are sending them to private school in the absence of a neighborhood school? In LASD and PAUSD, these kids are treated as undesirables. LAH's percentage of kids in private school has risen to 40% during the decades that Fremont Hills and LAH's other public sites have been sold or leased to private schools (but the school districts collect the property tax and spend it, just the same). I vote for sharing the misery -- if necessary, rotate closures every ten years or so among all school sites. That way, families will not be discouraged from moving into a school-less neighborhood, thereby degrading neighborhood vitality and perpetuating the shortage of (public school) "kids."
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:04 pm
I believe the definition of a Palo Alto neighborhood school being full is three strands of 20 kids at each grade level. For a school to have more strands, they need a board waiver. If the school has less than three strands, regardless of the number of classrooms, by PAUSD definition there is space in the school.
Posted by Al, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:57 pm
"I believe the definition of a Palo Alto neighborhood school being full is three strands of 20 kids at each grade level."
That wasn't the definition when Escondido was a simple neighborhood school. You may not believe me, but EVERY classroom was full, prior to the SI invasion. So how did it happen that Escondido was declared to be less than filled? Easy, just salivate about the available land, realize that the Escondido community was not politically strong, then REDEFINE the meaning of "full". Translation: Take it over! The locals can go to hell.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 1:07 am
Addison, Hays and Duveneck are all over what is deemed "full", with waivers galore. Last year, an extra SI strand was opened just to alleviate crowding in the north cluster. A bubble class was opened at Addison. The main difference betweeen the north cluster and Palo Verde is that there were some attempts to alleviate the overcrowding, whereas there have not been at Palo Verde, but the actual demographic problem is worse in the north. At least until they open all the south Paly developments.
I think you hit the nail on the head--Escondido neighborhood kids aren't getting bumped by SI. Would-be Ohlone families already can't get into the program, so MI is, in essence, bumping would-be Ohlone families.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 30, 2007 at 2:18 am
“That wasn't the definition when Escondido was a simple neighborhood school. You may not believe me, but EVERY classroom was full, prior to the SI invasion.”
Al, define full in 1997 terms. What was the district’s definition? Once we agree on the definition of “full”, then we can determine if Escondido was full or not.
I was also at Escondido back then. Let me share with you a few facts. In 1994 there were two K/1 classes at Escondido with 29 students, so we know that “full” is at least that much. In 1995 there was a fourth grade class with 31 students - hardly desirable, but it was allowed. Generally, the classrooms were more evenly distributed at around 25-27 in the years immediately preceding SI’s arrival.
Let’s suppose from these numbers that 25-27 was considered acceptable back then, and that the cap was some number greater than 27. Please correct me if you know the district's actual cutoff.
The year before SI arrived there were two K-5 strands plus two additional classrooms = 16 classrooms total. Grade 5 classrooms had 29+26 students: rather full but these students are not returning. Most other classrooms were in the 23-27 range. Four classrooms had 20 or few students.
Given this new bit of information, would you still say that “EVERY classroom was full”?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 30, 2007 at 2:34 am
"I think you hit the nail on the head--Escondido neighborhood kids aren't getting bumped by SI."
They weren't getting bumped, but I think we're fast approaching the limit. This board and superintendent is incredibly, mind-bogglingly short-sighted. Ohlone has been maxed out, SI has been maxed out, and Escondido neighborhood is soon to be maxed out, too. What's their solution? Create another problem before fixing the ones they've got. Yeeeesh is right!
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 30, 2007 at 6:35 pm
Wasn't there a thread started a while back about whether the new superintendent could push for new agendas such as putting MI on hold while overcrowding is addressed? I'd like to see a discussion like that, although I'm sure it'll frustrate some people to no end to have to revisit it - again. Personally, I'd rather see the district do what is right and makes sense than to operate on the basis that once a decision is made it must be stuck to, no matter how poor that decision might have been. Does anyone share this view, or am I being naive in thinking it's worth pursuing?
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 6:56 pm
I was having coffee today, and a friend told me about this discussion about Escondido. I just read it, and all I can say is that Escondido was a perfectly good and full school when I sent my kids there, because I lived in College Terrace in the middle 1990s. SI arrived just as my youngest child was at Esconcido. I am no expert, but I can honestly say that Escondido was much better before SI arrived. All the rooms were full before SI arrived, so I don't understand why there is all this discussion about being full. It was full.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 30, 2007 at 7:27 pm
Hi Sharon, Did you see my comments 5 posts back about the definition of “full”? From a parent’s perspective, Escondido was full. From the district’s perspective, it was not. There’s a recurring theme in these school threads from frustrated parents that Escondido was ruined by SI.
John wrote, “It was only when the enrollment structure changed (two strands going to three stands) that Escondido suddenly became 'fighting to stay alive'. It is a simple thing, really: Esconcido had acreage, thus it could become a dumping ground for all the metastable enrollment issues in PAUSD.”
Escondido had two characteristics that threatened its neighborhood school status. One is the acreage John mentions, and the other is/was a relative shortage of neighborhood students. Over the past 10 years the student population growth was greater in the district overall than at Escondido. When viewing the situation as a district parent rather than an Escondido parent, you can see why the district wanted to utilize Escondido’s classroom and acreage capacities.
There are fewer neighborhood students attending Escondido than any other school. Briones and Barron Park are within 25 students, but keep in mind that Barron Park didn’t exist when SI moved to Escondido -- students were overflowed from Briones to Escondido back then.
What was the district to do? Allow one school to serve 200 neighborhood kids while others struggled with 300-400? Much as I loved Escondido’s smallness back then, keeping it lopsidedly small while others bulge is rather self-centered. Like it or not, we’re part of a bigger community. Isn’t that the complaint of Escondido neighborhood parents? That SI didn’t integrate with the bigger community?
If the district had to grow Escondido simultaneously with the other schools and there were not enough neighborhood children to support a similar growth rate, those kids had to come from somewhere. SI? Overflow? Redraw neighborhood boundaries? I don’t have the answer, except to say that using an immersion program for the solution creates more problems than it solves. Sure, MI & SI can argue that this helps with overflow by transferring students who want to transfer, but forever after these programs have to be moved as a group. Unless they’re on a site of their own (taking away slots from kids living across the street) there will always be a battle between occupants for limited seats.
I can understand the frustrations of John, Al, tired of bickering and others who live in the College Terrace neighborhood. Escondido underwent major changes that no other school in the district has been expected to endure. It went from being the smallest school to the largest. I cannot overstate the significance of that last sentence. Co-occupancy is a challenge. From reading these various school threads you can gather that SI families were not warmly welcomed by all, nor were they the perfect new co-occupants with their tight-knit (and possibly enviable?) community.
I don’t realistically think the district will eliminate SI – it’s a model program that gives them great pride. That the curriculum is not available to all PAUSD students, that it’s not a true choice program because of the lack of capacity, that it overcrowds Escondido, that it complicates district crowd mitigation efforts, that it has created such contentious feelings in the community – none of this will cause SI to disappear. It’s here to stay.
And now we’re off on a new adventure to repeat the whole process again...under worse conditions. Go figure.
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 7:59 pm
yet another parent, I wonder why Esconcido was not considered too small when my older two children went there, when overall Palo Alto attendance was higher than today, and today you are saying that Escondido was too small when my youngest went there, and SI arrived and overall attendance was less. I simply do not understand. Escondido was a beloved neighborhood school. I have been quickly scanning some of the posts about Escondido, hoping to try to understand the issues. I saw one about Escondido not being able to stand up for itself against political power in PAUSD. That sounds true to me. We were never very organized or powerful. We really liked our school. I feel sorry for the parents in College Terrace now. Maybe they do not know what they are missing.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 7:59 pm
What I have been told from those who supposedly know, is that before SI moved to Escondido from Fairmeadow it was a school struggling for characted. From a friend who is a local resident, her daughter was in Escondid before SI and for three years, her best friend plus others moved away at the end of the school year. The turnround in the school was something over 50% and because so many of the parents were Stanford post grads who were going to be moving on, there was an unwillingness for them to get integrated into the school. Also, the school was not growing in line with the rest of the district which made it a problem as it is one of the larger sites.
It was then decided to move SI to Escondido to make more space at Fairmeadow and to stabilise Escondido's population. This seemed to co-incide with the start of the current overall growth in the district and also with B 4 E.
With hindsight, who knows if these were the right decisions. But apparently, they seemed to be the right decision at the time.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 8:29 pm
I was wondering when it was you say that you had your two eldest in Escondido when overall attendance was higher than today?
If there were only two strands and more than 50% did not stay more than one year because they were kids from Escondido post grad village rather than the residential neighborhood (Escondido village kids are called neighborhood kids even though they are short term) then I can understand that the community feelings were not the same as at other neighborhood schools. If there was little continuity among students and parents alike, it makes it difficult for the community and staff. If children were continually having their best friends move on and if many students were not even staying for even one full academic year, the efforts of the school board to try and give a more permanent feel of community to the school seem on the surface to have been a good idea.
If the community at that time did not agree with what was going on, maybe there was some misunderstanding of why it was happening.
Posted by Sharon, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2007 at 8:31 pm
Parent, we were not struggling for character. We always had a number of Stanford children who would leave when their parents were finsished with their graduate studies, but we made friends with them. I still correspond with a couple of those parents. My oldest child spent a summer in Europe with one of them.
I think, though, that Escondido was not aware of how vulnerable it was. We were just floating along, and enjoying the school. I think Escondido got caught by surprise.