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School board enthusiastic about new classes at Paly

Original post made on Feb 16, 2012

Three new classes proposed for Palo Alto High School next year are part of a larger effort to better "align" high school classes to entrance requirements to California's public four-year universities, School Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 16, 2012, 9:52 AM

Comments (44)

Posted by vanMom, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

Since most kids will eventually drive a car, I'd like to see a mandatory driver's education course added. It could be part of the Living Skills class, perhaps replacing some of the many movies they watch. Some kids wait until they are 18 to get their licenses so they don't have to take driver's ed, either because it's too much trouble (they don't want to wake up for a 7AM class), or because it's so expensive. Even if the school does not provide behind-the-wheel experience, getting some classroom instruction might be a live-saver.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

Since they are looking at classes I think the school board should revamp the living skills curriculum.

At present this class is mainly drugs, sex ed (stds and contraception), with cpr and community service requirements.

To me living skills involve life skills such as opening and balancing a bank account, filing taxes, checking air in tires, etc. and these things should be covered also.

If these and similar items were covered, our high school grads would be a lot better prepared for life after high school whether they plan to do the college route or not.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

The School District provided this information about "conceptual physics":

Web Link

However, there is nothing concrete in this description. Has this course been designed, or is this just some brain-storming from the "Head Shed"?

With all of the discussion about how the Algebra II classes (and others) are exceeding "standards", wouldn't it be a good idea to see the particulars of this new course, with clear evidence that it does not exceed "standards", it will help those having trouble, and that it is acceptable to the Cal/CUS system?


Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

Yes, but what does "We Can Do Better Palo Alto" say? After all, they're running the school district now.


Posted by To resident, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I like that idea for additional living skills.


Posted by We Can Do Better Member, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

To Wait for It,
I like your sense of humor. Not really we do not run the school district. We are just a concern group of parents who want to do things better but not easier for our students so they can stay alive, and become successful adults when they get out of our school system.


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

@ my neighbor, "wait for it..."

Sometimes it's worth waiting a few seconds for a mean-spirited impulse to pass.


Posted by wait for it...,, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

"We Can Do Better Palo Alto recommends that the Board"?


Posted by Agree with wait for it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Agree with wait for it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Pleeeaaase, not more Living Skills... Living Skills covers topics that parents should be teaching their kids and that the schools require as a semester, which is already a big pain in the neck when kids have more important academic and elective topics they'd like to take.


Posted by Ken Dauber, a resident of Barron Park School
on Feb 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Unfortunately this story misses half of what happened at the school board meeting on Tuesday. The board was enthusiastic about Conceptual Physics, because it's a move in the direction of a basic lane science curriculum at Paly that meets the A-G standards for science. In particular, it will replace the current Integrated Science course in the basic lane that doesn't quality for A-G science credit.
However, the district was also asking for several science courses at Paly to be renamed, including renaming the current Biology 1A to Biology. Currently at Paly, ninth grade students in Biology 1A are supposed to also be enrolled in Algebra 1A, so students enrolled in the basic lane Algebra I class are not supposed to take Biology 1A. Under the proposal, Biology 1A is to be renamed but not otherwise changed in its content, so 9th grade students in Algebra I will take Conceptual Physics, while 9th grade students in Algebra 1A will take Biology.
The Algebra 1A prerequisite for Biology (1A) strongly suggests that Paly doesn't have a biology course that is set at the basic A-G standard. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Gunn has three lanes of biology to Paly's two, and that all 9th graders at Gunn are expected to take biology regardless of their math lane.
The board questioned the Paly staff about (1) whether the Biology class is changing in content, not just in name, and (2) why Paly has two lanes of Biology while Gunn has three. Melissa Baten-Caswell, at least, said that the question of renaming Biology should be deferred until after the study session to be held on March 13, which is focused on the question of whether our high schools are providing an A-G curriculum in the basic lane. The high school instructional supervisors will be present at that meeting. We think Baten-Caswell's suggestion makes sense.
We Can Do Better Palo Alto wrote to the board members before the meeting to raise the issue of whether we have a basic lane biology class at Paly, and to suggest that the renaming be deferred pending answering that question. We also provided data showing that biology is an area of particular weakness in PAUSD in teaching minority and economically disadvantaged students, when compared to other districts in California.
I've noticed comments from a few community members on this thread and others who seem unhappy with our effort to participate in the democratic process of governing our schools. Rather than attempting to shut down participation, I urge you to participate yourself -- come to school board meetings, make public comments, gather data in support of your perspective. Anonymous sniping on an Internet discussion board is a poor substitute for actual engagement in the democratic process.


Posted by No more, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I for one will remember this when we vote for school bond again. I am so sick of this small group of vocal parents threatening and dictating to our school administrators. Let them pay for classes that they want! The sad thing is this will make no difference to these students-I don't think they will be motivated and work hard all of the sudden when these "watered down" classes are available.


Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Paly parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by WOw, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

@Ken - I'm not unhappy with your participation - it's your attitude and some of your methods. You antagonize and accuse - you called for the superintendent to be fired. You dig into levels of detail beyond which a school board, much less outside pressure groups, should appropriately engage (now the naming of high school courses!). And you organize into a pressure group to promote an agenda - that spirit of faction is concerning (a shout-out to all you Federalist Papers No. 10 fans).

Bad followers can be as harmful as bad leaders; bad followers in fact can create bad leaders. Think about whether your group is really strengthening our public schools and community discourse - I'm not sure you are.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

> who seem unhappy with our effort to participate in the
> democratic process of governing our schools

We live in a republic, not a democracy. The underlying premise of a republic is that "decision makers" are elected (democratically). The election conveys the political power of "the people" to the decision makers (perhaps more commonly called "the government").

What is making people unhappy is that the "decision makers" (in this case the School Board) is taking the criticisms of this group as if this group was somehow a part of the legal framework of government. It is not! What people are unhappy with is that the School Board has responded to this group as if somehow this group had some "official status". It does not! Sadly, the School Board has done little to provide the public a rational response to the criticisms of this group--or found a way to deal with this issue (of an achievement gap) in a more formal way. They have spent most of their time acting like the old mantle piece of: Three men--one covering his eyes, the other his mouth and the third his ears. Underneath is written: "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". To the extent that we can elect better overseers of the Schools, it is possible that "we can do better" as a community. But not based on anything this group has said, or done.

There is nothing democratic about this little group. And given their track record so far, it's doubtful that we will see any changes in their "modus operandi" that will suggest otherwise.

While there is a lot to be unhappy with at the PAUSD, particularly where transparency is concerned, given the Albatross of the Ed Code and the mess the labor unions have made of operations/governance of the schools, there is little evidence that this group has any better ideas, or has demonstrated that much of what they have said is, in fact, even credible.

Democracies, if they can be found in history, have generally been short-lived. Too often, the "democracy movement" ends up in the hands of very twisted/bent people, like Robespierre, or Stalin. The US has been successful, in large part, because of those who have been democratically elected, have been given the time and space to make meaningful decisions that have been subject to review, and if necessary, being overturned via subsequent discussion, and eventually, democratic elections. What we see going on here is little more than the process of local administration of the schools being shanghaied by a small group that has no charter, no published roster of members, and no goals--other than the vague "we can do better" claim.

Yes .. people have a lot to be unhappy about, if they care to look at the situation and think about it critically.


Posted by Agree with wait for it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 16, 2012 at 11:20 pm

@ Wondering?

Thanks. Your post is right on.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 17, 2012 at 5:25 am

@Ken Dauber

I truly appreciate what you are doing. I have my kids in Palo Alto.

I grew up in a foreign country like many of foreign people in this district. So it is hard for me to confront what's already here like people say "when in Rome, do as the Romans." Some people even grew up in the country where they don't argue with the authority even like teachers.

We need a leader or at least someone who can check our education system like you who can go in details and think as a whole from top level to bottom.

Parents and some other groups like yours tried doing the similar things as yours in the past, but then quit because their kids moved out of this district or simply graduated, then they lost their interests as you probably know.

Please don't quit posting on Palo Alto online at least occasionally. I should have read all of your postings last night before you(?) withdrew most of them. In the future I might need this argument for the education system in my country. I am watching your group's activities and outcome.

If you are still following this article and its comments, please post where I can read your activities in "We Can Do Better Palo Alto".


Posted by Ken Dauber, a resident of Barron Park School
on Feb 17, 2012 at 6:11 am

@Mom
Thanks for your support and interest. You can read about what we're doing and join our Facebook group at Web Link. The data that I mentioned about biology CST scores for 2010 and 2011 is at Web Link and Web Link.
We haven't taken down any of our postings, and will continue to post on Palo Alto Online. I certainly won't be deterred by overheated citations to Stalin and Robespierre, fulminations against labor unions, or misplaced references to irrelevant arguments about the proper size of political units, none of which have anything to do with reasoned discussion about our schools


Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

@ "wondering"

We Can Do Better is not a secret group. We have a website and on the main page is our "charter". Please see Web Link. We have around 200 members, including an adhoc leadership group of around 50 who are are active and engaged on a regular basis. We come from all over Palo Alto, and have children in many different schools and communities. We are racially and economically diverse.

Anyone can join. We have occasional public meetings and events, and we have a Facebook Group, which anyone on FB can join (ironically, no G+ circle given that Ken is an engineer at Google -- sorry): Web Link. When we have public events, or meetings at our house to organize on certain issues, we post them to our facebook group. If you disagree you can come to a meeting, call us up (we have posted our phone numbers repeatedly), send us an email (both of us are easily findable on the Google and Stanford websites) etc.

We have operated in a somewhat ad hoc way, primarily because all of us have jobs and because we formed in response to the suicide crisis. However, the fact that we are a group of parents who meet at our house or at Cubberly after work in order to discuss schools and see whether we can provide data or other information relevant to improving the schools does not make us illegitimate. We are taxpaying citizens of Palo Alto and obviously have the right and the duty to participate in our democracy.

The idea that somehow we are "dig into levels of detail beyond which a school board, much less outside pressure groups, should appropriately engage" is silly. We need more information, not less - and we need schools that have data-driven policy.

Palo Alto is a wonderful community in many ways. But it is not perfect. The epidemic levels of stress and mental health problems among our teens are exacerbated by the extreme academic stress in our schools. The achievement gap demonstrated by the CST scores also evidence a problem. We can do better on both these fronts and we should.


Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2012 at 7:05 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by couch potato, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2012 at 7:35 am

Wondering,

Exercising your rights and freedoms in a democracy takes many forms, depends on who is flexing or working. It's like muscles, and it's up to other muscles groups to balance out the others if there is a debate.

Other than complaining about others stepping up, what are you doing to advance your own ideas? Have you read the many ways you can address the school board? All it takes is 1 person to make a case and the board listens. The idea that the board needs to adhere to an imaginary educational "tradition" in the district for fear of doing the wrong thing, and that's how they work, "under the influence" of this imaginary idea - that would be a banana republic.

I'm not affiliated with the we can do better group but say kudos to them for taking the time to write to the board, exhaustively look into issues, go to the meetings, bother to answer all these threads! For flexing their muscles, which I mostly agree with. Small or big as they may be.

If I disagreed with them or any other group or person, I hope I could do some heavier lifting myself, show up, and exercise the rights that are available to all of us.

Democracy is hard work and demands more from individual citizens.


Posted by Agree with wait for it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

@ Michele Dauber

You say:

"The epidemic levels of stress and mental health problems among our teens are exacerbated by the extreme academic stress in our schools. The achievement gap demonstrated by the CST scores also evidence a problem."

This statement is at the crux of the problem I have with your group. I am not convinced that you are not using the achievement gap as a tool to water down academics for all eventually, to address what YOU see as the "extreme" academic stress.

I don't like these two issues being mingled. It is too easy to use addressing the achievement gap as a stealth weapon to water down academics for all in order to achieve what are YOUR goals, and few other people's goals, for less stress.


Posted by Ethan Cohen, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm

@Agree with wait for it. Why don't you take the course load of the average paly junior and then talk about academics not being related to stress. Also I think that after the events of the last couple years any adult in this community that is not interested in reducing stress really needs to take a look at their priorities


Posted by Priorties, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm

@Ethan, this is off-topic for the thread, but it doesn't make sense to relate the suicides (which you seem to allude to) to academic stress. There's no evidence I am aware of that academic stress caused or even contributed to those events, and if you look at suicide clusters among young people all over the world, there does not seem to be a relationship to academic stress at all. It is an issue first and foremost of mental health.

That said, kids are stressed. I have a high school senior and I have seen it. But the source of the stress as far as I can see is families and peers; things under the school's control is way down the list.


Posted by couch potato, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

Agree with wait...

It's makes perfect sense that the achievement gap and stress could be, or are related. And using either, to solve the other or both is fine. Nothing sinister about that.

Characterizing the curriculum changes as "watering down" academics is misleading, inaccurate, and dishonest. No changes are mentioned for the highest or mid-high lanes, and the whole point of changes for the lower lanes is to raise expectations and achievement for this group of kids. You can't mix this up.

What actually bothers you more

- the attention to the achievement gap (which the district self-reports as something nobody is proud of),

- attention to stress (a rampant topic which even the City and PAMF are involved in trying to help solve);

or that on both of these issues, the group we can do better has bothered to actively participate in, via open forum and very public discussion.

You will be very frustrated if you see board or district action to address the achievement gap or student stress as a ploy to favor we can do better.


Posted by paparent, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I was talking to a Los Altos parent who had heard about the suicides in Palo Alto and so I asked her if students felt extremely stressed in the higher lanes in Los Altos. Apparently, this is not the case, so maybe there should be some examining and comparing our situation to theirs. Their middle schools seem to prepare students much better, and why that is I don't know. But she did think there was a problem with some of their AP's being very difficult and if a student dropped to the regular lane, too dumbed down, which seems to happen here too in Palo Alto. Still, the academic stress level is less there.

I think the Daubers are helping us all to look at what is going on in our schools. Some people see this as a demand to dumb down to reduce stress. If that is the case, I don't support that, but I think the Daubers are trying to point out the problems that are under the school's control, and some problems could be fixed and/or improved on without dumbing down.


Posted by Obvious?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm

@paparent, it might just be me, but it seems blindingly obvious that if there is a difference between PA schools and other schools, it is because of differences between PA families and other families. The reason Gunn and Paly are at the top of the national rankings is because enough high-achieving, striving, competitive families choose to live here and create that more hyper atmosphere.

I attended Whitman high in Bethesda a generation ago (at the time dubbed the "Superschool" by the Washington Post) and it was the same there. It wasn't the school - it was my family, my classmates, and other families that created a competitive atmosphere and the perceived pressure to succeed.

The schools reflect a community's values and neuroses, they don't create them.


Posted by paly grad, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

It's not the school that's the problem.

The stress comes from the parents.

If you want to solve the problem, fix the parents.


Posted by couch potato, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Obvious? and Paly grad

The values of the parents are in the schools, all the way into the curriculum and teaching

Recently, the Paly Math department mistakenly thought the values of the community were ok with singling out achievement gap students as slackers, to instead focus on the school's "reputation" and competitive math.

The changes you're seeing to address the achievement gap and stress are as much a reflection of the community as the district, and Palo Alto is making it very clear that it's not just about "competitive atmosphere and the perceived pressure to succeed."

A high value on education anyway does not need to conflict with a healthy atmosphere, and Palo Alto is making progress.





Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm

The Paly math department did no such thing. This is what one example of what I was alluding to in the previous post."We Can Do Better Palo Alto" hounding the teachers; alienating the majority of parents and abuse of district process.


Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Couch potato's description of the Paly math letter is, sadly, entirely accurate. Read the letter here:

Web Link

The quote containing the word "slackers" is in the second to last paragraph on the second page. The references to Paly's reputation, and the resistance of the math department itself to raising standards for minority and poor students because it would "drastically lower," "dilute" or otherwise wreck the reputation of the Paly math program are throughout the letter.

I think the right way to understand this letter is that the teachers are not having success in connecting with and teaching poor and minority kids. This is really beyond dispute -- it is proved by the CST data that we have repeatedly posted and provided showing that Palo Alto is well behind other districts in the state in educating poor and black and brown kids in math and science. These teachers don't like the fact that they are not succeeding with these kids -- it is stressful to be unsuccessful at something you want to do well at -- just ask the kids in these classes. So they are casting about looking for someone to blame for why it is not going that well at work, making it about the families, the kids, the culture of poverty -- anything but themselves.

This lack of accountability is one of the things that we need to fix -- I believe that Phil Winston would like to fix this, because in the WASC report he stated that he wants all teachers to adopt the view that when students don't learn it is the teachers' responsibility and students should not be blamed. Hopefully that memo is working its way through the bureaucracy to the math department.

We have posted the Paly math letter in English and Spanish, and made the CST rankings public, so that people can look them over for themselves. We think that the most reasonable conclusion from the CST ranking data and the math letter is that we can do better. As couch potato points out, this is not a radical conclusion -- the Superintendent has apologized for the letter and stated that the CST scores are too low and that he thinks we should do better for minority kids. The school board has repeatedly said that it has a high priority ("focused goal") to address the achievement gap and to reduce unnecessary stress.



Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Instead of engaging with the teachers, they simply present themselves judge and jury for all perceived crimes.

The district already had the achievement gap as a priority *before* "We Can Do Better Palo Alto" decided to publicly place highly respected teachers in the stocks.

And they wonder why people don't particularly appreciate their "help".


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

We have some terrific teachers in Palo Alto, but they are sometimes a victim of our Districts success. There are some amazing math and science students here - partly thru hard work, partly genetics, partly parenting and partly teaching. They kids who struggle do not get enough help in any math lane except the truly remedial lanes. When you have a classroom full of kids and 20 out of the 25 get it the first time you explain it - the other 5 kids don't want to speak up and ask for help. Unless you spend a little time with each of the kids one on one (ask Arne Lin, one of the best teachers at Paly how he does it) you don't know when a kid is struggling.

Too many struggling students - minorities or not - get written off as "slackers" because they are just not good at math.


Posted by Timing question?, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm

PAUSD board was addressed by Palo alto high school math teachers on Apr, 2011.
Am I wrong thinking that all was quiet until the letter was made public towards the end of 2011?
Am I wrong thinking that no "action items" were considered, addressing issues of D/F students, new classes until the publication of this letter?
We can do better in Palo Alto - Thank you for making this letter accessible!!


Posted by wait for it..., a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

Yes, you'd be wrong. This was set as a priority for the board a long time ago and way before "We Can Do Better Palo Alto" decided to fan the flames.


Posted by couch potato, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm



wait for it,


I forget, what exactly do you want to wait for?

Regardless of who or what fans the flames, the district is moving forward on a bunch of stuff to improve things for student outcomes. Is there anything better? What needs to wait?


Posted by future paly parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Wait for it . . . the Paly Math dept letter fanned flames, independent all else. Even if there were no board priorities from a long time ago, no focused goals, no We Can Do Better Palo Alto, the letter is very disturbing on its own.


Posted by paparent, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm

@ Obvious who posted:

@paparent, it might just be me, but it seems blindingly obvious that if there is a difference between PA schools and other schools, it is because of differences between PA families and other families. The reason Gunn and Paly are at the top of the national rankings is because enough high-achieving, striving, competitive families choose to live here and create that more hyper atmosphere.

The parents I have talked to are similar to Palo Alto parents -- and work in high tech/or are lawyers/doctors and want their kids to go to good universities. I don't think it's just the families because there are high schools known for having very high striving parents -- such as Monte Vista in Cupertino as well as many high schools that have high striving parents in Los Altos to Saratoga.

What I hear is that students are better prepared in middle school so that helps. And, teachers grade more reasonably in the AP's compared to here.

I do think some families put on way too much stress to succeed and less than an "A" is unacceptable -- that's just wrong. But there are problems (such as curving grades in AP's among very top students and limiting how many students get the top grades) that could be addressed.


Posted by Obvious?, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

@paparent, I doubt there is much real evidence for "better prepared in middle school" or "limiting top grades" in AP tests. I'd be curious if you know of any specific instances.

Saratoga, since you mention it, had an incredible cheating scandal in 2004 (here's the link Web Link), with resulting death threats against the principal (who happened to be Kevin Skelly). Not sure if the stress there is much different from PA.

One lesson I've learned in group dynamics is that it doesn't take a huge shift in the population to shift the dynamic of the group. A few more very eager strivers can meaningfully change the group's behavior. It is well known, for instance, that families move to the Gunn district specifically for the high school, living in apartments or small rented houses, and moving out literally right after graduation (I can think of a couple just among my kid's friends). Are there many of those in Los Altos? I don't know, but my guess is not.


Posted by Timing question?, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Wait for it - yes, PAUSD board addressed "disproportionality" before. On November 2009 PAUSD district was identified by the Federal as having "..significant disproportionality.."
I'm wondering if the Math teachers letter (Apr, 2011) reflects the atmosphere in Palo Alto High, then. I doubt this letter would have been be written (and signed) today, given the flames it (that letter) have created.
Timing of addressing issues?
Has Palo Alto High taken any responsibility for to the adults actions there regarding D/F students prior to the publication of the math teachers letter? The important paradigm shift?

We can do better in Palo alto - THANK YOU, again, for making this letter accessible.
I wonder what else we do not know.


Posted by paparent, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

@Obvious -- you can't have it both ways. You say that "Not sure if the stress there is much different from PA." which was in reference to Saratoga. Then you say "It is well known, for instance, that families move to the Gunn district specifically for the high school, living in apartments or small rented houses, and moving out literally right after graduation (I can think of a couple just among my kid's friends). Are there many of those in Los Altos? I don't know, but my guess is not." Which is similar to your previous post that it is more stressful in Palo Alto which is what I think your main stance is.

As for evidence, I only have anecdotal comparing notes with other parents about the AP's grading policies and the middle schools (parents here have told me it's best to send your kids to private then back to public at high school level, but Los Altos parents don't feel that is necessary). But it has surprised me to have parents asking me about the suicide watches and what is happening here.

That is why I think it does make sense to look at other high schools with high achieving students to find out how students are doing there and are they feeling as stressed as our students?




Posted by paly parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm

College advisors/tutors who work with kids from multiple local school districts, Los Alto, Cupertino, Saratoga, Palo Alto, etc. have said that PAUSD's grading in AP classes is significantly harder and the homework consists of more busywork than the other Districts.


Posted by local parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

Does anybody know why our high schools (Gunn and Paly) claim to be not ranking the students, but still have counselors put in the rank in decile into their letter to colleges? This doesn't reduce the stress for students. Because when you look at the school profile, almost only straight-A students are in the top 10% while so many super competitive students are chasing for very limited number of A's in a class.


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