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School board to ponder stiffer graduation criteria

Original post made on Mar 12, 2012

Teachers will lend their voices Tuesday to a long-running debate over whether to stiffen Palo Alto's high school graduation requirements to align them with the entrance criteria of California's public, four-year universities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 12, 2012, 11:41 AM

Comments (39)

Posted by There-Should-Be-Only-One, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

The State should set the graduation levels .. not local school districts.

Posted by Downtown Resident, a resident of University South
on Mar 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Seriously I know our school district is "amazing" but all this pressure will be stressing out the students worse than when I went through these schools. Its time to lighten up and not pressure everyone.

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm

The State of California should set the conditions for graduation from high school.
Palo Alto and Gunn are NOT private schools. Children who live in the PAUSD must have the same rights and graduation requirements as every other student in
California. Other states have graduation 'lanes" which include not only college prep but also vocational tracks. I hope and predict there will be a lawsuit over this. And there will be many stressed out students. What is the PAUSD going to do when a good student in the Arts, English, Social studies, music just can't master advanced math?. I wonder how many lawyers and MD's use Algebra II? If students can't pass the UC requirements, then WHAT do THEY do next? Maybe they can go to a smaller school or an out-of-state school, but they would not have graduated from high school just because they live in Palo Alto. They will no doubt sob when their college bound-classmates don the cap and gown - and they can't do it. I predict many will drop out of school rather than suffer such social embarrassment and disappointment. The District is trying to reduce stess? Like this????? The PAUSD is on an 'ego trip' and is being pushed to satisfy 'parental ego'.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm

The problem with generalizing this issue is that Math is actually really important for developing skilled workers.

Algebra II is not rocket Science, but the lowering of expectations that public schools practice, makes anything seem impossible.

Math doesn't cause stress. In Palo Alto, stress comes from all the other activities that students engage in, extreme everything. Algebra II is not extreme.

It would be a major story for Palo Alto schools to confirm that they can't teach Algebra II because students are too busy or can't "handle it." After all the discussion and politics, It boils down to teaching. Poorer schools, porter states, poorer countries have a higher bar, and stress is not an issue.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Priorities - Math absolutely causes stress for many people - not just students. Math is important, but very few people use Algebra or Calculus in real life. However, this is no excuse for the Paly Math Department to refuse to rise to the challenge of teaching Algebra II to "slackers" aka as kids who have a tough time with Math.

Posted by Alex, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 6:55 am

Honestly, you only need to know math if the field that you're going in absolutely requires it, such as Physics or Computer Science. I'm majoring in the Humanities, and I have not used any math since I took the ACT about 4 years ago. All you're doing is making the class more distracting for kids who actually want to be there.

Posted by Math is hard, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:19 am

"Honestly, you only need to know math if the field that you're going in absolutely requires it, such as Physics or Computer Science. I'm majoring in the Humanities, and I have not used any math since I took the ACT about 4 years ago."

Unfortunately, that probably explains most Americans incredibly poor grasp of statistics, probability, and risk assessment.

Posted by Applied-Math-Needed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:38 am

> Unfortunately, that probably explains most Americans incredibly
> poor grasp of statistics, probability, and risk assessment.

Yes .. but Algebra II is not "statistics". What's needed is a course for high school that deals with applied math. Since spreadsheets are not well established as math/computational aids, such a course would look at computer productivity tools, data modeling, and statistics.

People should not be afraid of spreadsheets, and should be able to look at one and not be put into a panic, or fall into intense disinterest.

Posted by Retired Teacher, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Really, some of these comments are incredible! I've taught AP Computer Science as well as entry-level math courses. The notion that it's just a matter of working harder or getting past fear or dislike of math is ludicrous. Kids need foundational skills in math to master higher-level courses. You talk Algebra II? Algebra I is extremely difficult for a student who has a poor background in math. Geometry is even tougher. I worked in a school where every math teacher except one took a turn at working with a really well-designed curriculum, and even then it was tough to get beyond a certain skill level.

This proposal will boomerang on the very students we're supposedly trying to help. Let's stick with the state requirements, for heaven's sake!

If people are serious about raising student skill levels, find better approaches than most math departments offer.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

Retired teacher,

Isn't the California state standard, Algebra by 8th grade?

Are you suggesting capping Math in Middle School? What is a acceptable High School Math? No more Math?

Algebra II (not Calculus) sounds like a logical minimum aspiration for High School, for the non-Math types everyone worries about.

I more agree with the issue that too many are missing the foundational math to be able to master a High School level math class (unless you are defining High School Math as remedial math). But that's an entirely different issue further confusing and misleading the graduation requirements conversation.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

Retired Teacher,

I guess there was a lawsuit against the state's original requirement for Algebra by 8th grade.

Whoever mentioned a lawsuit maybe has a point, you can actually sue to keep the graduation requirements lower?

Can you sue to make the requirements higher? It would only be fair.

Web Link

ELA victory officially ends 8th-grade Algebra 1 mandate

After winning at the trial court level in 2008, CSBA's Education Legal Alliance has now also prevailed against the State Board of Education's appeal over the issue of requiring all eighth-grade students to be tested in Algebra I skills.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal last week upheld a preliminary injunction granted to the Alliance, joined by the Association of California School Administrators, that prevented the State Board from implementing its June 2008 move to require Algebra I tests of all eighth-graders. The appellate court agreed with the trial judge that the State Board had violated the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act by failing to give adequate notice of its intended action.

"We are pleased by the judges' ruling recognizing the legal consequences for the SBE's violation of the open meeting laws," said CSBA President Frank Pugh, "but it's unfortunate that the SBE chose to spend further time and resources on this appeal, especially given the board's concession that it had violated the open meeting law."

The lawsuit centered on the State Board's failure to adequately inform the public before it abruptly voted to make the Algebra I end-of-course exam "the sole test of record" for federal measurements of eighth-graders' math skills, starting in 2011. The lack of notice denied the public an opportunity to speak to the significant repercussions the policy would have on all aspects of the education system."

Posted by MathScore, a resident of Ventura
on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

Making Algebra II a graduation requirement won't directly help the students that are targeted. The truth is, these students struggle to pass Algebra I, largely due to a weakness in basic skills, particularly fractions and math facts. If you want to help these students, you need to prevent the problem from arising in the first place by helping them master their basics in 3rd grade!

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

What Palo Alto has done is construct a failing school within a school for minority students and poor students. White students are also affected by this – on the 2011 CSTs only 38% of white students are in the basic math lane taking Alg 2 in 11th grade scored proficient or above (out of 146 white students). For students of all races on the basic track in biology (10th grade) only 36% scored proficient or above (out of 50 students). Regardless of race, if you are in the basic lane in PAUSD, you are attending a failing school.

Unlike other failing schools which tend to be high-poverty and high-minority, PAUSD's failing school-within-a-school is camoflaged by the fact that our school district has an extraordinary number of high achievers who tend to offset and hide our negative outcomes.

When school districts have failing schools, one technique that is often applied is the use of an independent audit. For example, the Ford Foundation funded the development of a very interesting audit methodology which was applied to schools around the country. See Web Link. Other similar audits have been conducted by independent as well as state agencies investigating failed schools. One reason that school districts have turned to outside auditors is self-evident – if we knew what was wrong and we knew how to fix it ourselves, we woundn't be failing in the first place.

Another reason is that independent auditors bring a fresh set of eyes to a problem that we have normalized and thus have trouble perceiving as a problem. On this front, let me remind you that the reason we are even discussing our failure on poor and minority A-G performance isn't because our own teachers saw the problem it's because our outside consultants who drafted our 2008 strategic plan brought it to our attention and suggested we address it with strategic goals.

That leads to the third reason to bring in outside auditors, which is that the community has lost a substantial amount of confidence in some of our teachers, notably the Paly math department, as a result of their letter. We need an independent audit of the curriculum and instructional practices, particularly in Algebra and Biology, so that we can get on track to fix our failing school within a school.

In the Ford foundation audit protocol, schools were assessed on an 88 factor rubric with specific empirical measures of performance. Some of the areas assessed included: review and alignment of curriculum, individual student assessment and instruction tailored to individual student needs, caring, nurturing environment, ongoing professional development for staff that was connected to student achievement data, and so forth.

On this last point, I note that in 2009, PAUSD high school teachers responded to the Cal Healthy Kids survey and the results were very interesting. Of the 100 High school teachers, well over half said that they thought teachers needed professional development to close the achievement gap. 40% said that professional development was needed to work wth diverse populations. 44% needed professional development on "culturally relevant pedagogy." 40% needed professional development to work with ELL students. Over half needed professional devellment to work with special education students. And nearly 2/3 said that they need professional development to meet the social/emotional needs of students. In sum, our high school teachers are sending you a clear signal that they need help to diagnose and fix our failing school within a school. See: Web Link, for example tables S.5 and S.7.

How can we get that help for them? Stanford School of Education is right across the street and there are many experts on these very topics who have made very generous offers to assist the district in solving some of these problems. Second, we can go back to the team that wrote this strategic plan at McKinsey and they can lead the audit. Third, we can go to the experts who developed the protocol for Ford, or a similar one for Gates, and retain them.

The data show that we have a failing school within a school in Palo Alto for poor, minority, and struggling students. We Can Do Better Palo Alto believes that we need an independent assessment of the underlying cause of that failure and an independent recommendation for fixing it.

Posted by Maria, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

You may not need math if you work in the humanities, but math is a good tool to teach logical thinking. When I graduated high school I barely passed Math though I had A's in everything else, yet over the years I held many jobs where logical thinking was required and I was grateful for both the years of Algebra and Geometry through which I had struggled.

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

Michele Dauber is a registered user.

Read the Paly Math Letter here: Web Link

Posted by Grandma, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Palo Alto Mom says: "Math is important, but very few people use Algebra or Calculus in real life."

Wait a moment folks, my son graduated from Gunn and went on to become a climate scientist with a PhD in atmospheric physics. Believe me he needed both Algebra and Calculus and was very grateful to have had those courses in High School in Palo Alto because his friends had to slog through them in College.

If you don't offer those courses in Palo Alto where are the brilliant scientific minds of the future going to come from?

Posted by Concerned Mom, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I'm confused? Aren't we trying to reduce SUICIDE in Palo Alto? On one hand we've changed the calendar to reduce stress on our high school students and on the other hand we're proposing to raise requirements for graduate. It doesn't add up!

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Algebra II in High School cannot possibly cause "stress"

I still have not heard which Math you expect to take during 4 years of High School, if not at least Algebra II?

Arithmetic, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I? These are mastered by Middle School in the most respectable of places, how can Palo Alto fear this? What do schools similar to Palo Alto do, also cap at Algebra I? Maybe no Math in HS?

Anyway, wasn't the change to "higher" standards already a done deal? With flexible options for students who really want to opt out?

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

@ M. Dauber: Not wishing to pick another fight...

Recongnizing your concerns for methods, over-scoping Algebra II, etc., is your group in favor of implementing the proposed A-G graduation requirements, stay the same or an alternative?

Posted by Huh!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

@Michelle: I fully support the math department's position articulated in their letter. They genuinely care about the students and want as many as possible to graduate high-school without the stigma of some sort of waiver. The state standards for Algebra II need to be interpreted as absolute minimum standards. We do not want teaching at absolute minimum standards. Don't worry Radu you have plenty of supporters in the community.

Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

My input is that this district must accommodate all Math skills levels/interests. It's in everyone's best interest that a certain level of knowledge and understanding be attained, of course, and there should be teachers suited to helping students accomplish that.
It's also important for all to be current or near-current inone's information, observations to understand what is happening in our high schools - what happened 30 years ago is like being away on the moon. Everyone has a different slice of experience owing to which years one was at a school, who the leadership was at the time (and THAT has certainly changed several times quite a bit in recent years).
Here, we have a range of Math skills and interests, but the emphasis is on the top...who are publicly lauded.
Math is highly regarded by a goodly percentage of PARENTS here and they are outspoken about that - or work behind the scenes to advantage their children - for competitive purposes. It has bothered me that Math seems to be more respected than other subject areas by some parents here (as opposed to other highly educated areas I am familiar with). I advise being aware of this before moving here. I don't happen to share this level of interest and value other subject areas also.
Sad that education and learning here are "competitive."
There's always SOME competition in one's experiences, but the level of gaming of the system has gotten out of hand and it discourages a lot of students.
However, there is an articial skewing of "top" Math scores, fancy Math contests, emphasis on AP Calc BC - and beyond, owing to these Tiger Moms and their requirements of their children. Hey, some families are less aware or totally unaware of these things and one cannot quickly get on the train!
Certain PALY students have been taught since age 3 (!) in an accelerated fashion specifically in Math. Read the newspaper.
More generally, the fact is a certain percentage of students here (and their parents, and I believe, certain teachers) consider you a loser if you don't complete Calculus AP BC (not AB---I mean BC)by end of your junior year, and these are kids who have been prepared by parents who have often paid for elaborate tutoring for years regardless of student personal interest/talent.
This raises the bar for ALL the serious, college-bound peers, since they are compared in their applications against their school peers. It is stressful. What bothers me most is it is contrived competition and usually not based on real interest or respect for Math. I mean, one could get along with AP Calc BC in senior year, but if one wishes to apply to top universities out of PAUSD, I would suggest doing it junior year or you may be overlooked, owing to what your peer group is doing. So there are issues with Math at all "levels."
BC Calc becomes a near - "necessary" thing to get through - in order to remain competitive for apps - and I have personally known students (who did NOT intend to go into Math or related subject areas) do AP Calc BC as their parents absolutely demanded it. Yes, several students now pre-med in college did AP Calc BC at their parents' insistence (I think someone posted that to be a doctor you don't need super advanced Math). I know very little about THAT as I am not knowledgeable about Medicine, but I DO know the college application process is minutely managed to the nth degree by these parents and they will stop at nothing to gain competitive advantage. Sad, and it affects a lot of high-achieving, hard-working students who do their own work and are placed at a disadvantage when seen by Stanford etc.
I hasten to add, these students were continually supported in their studies all along the process and it is hard for genuine late-bloomer students or those who become inclined to math a bit later (than 7th grade) to adjust and be competitive at PALY in toplevel Math. I can only IMAGINE what it would be like to be a minority who takes an actual interest in Math and then sees what s/he is up against in PAUSD! Good luck, dude.
My suggestion is to support ALL students and understand they do not all have wealthy Tiger Moms who have run their academic lives - and - some are interested in Math to a greater or lesser degree.
Hooray for the genuine self-starter: please, Ivies & Stanford, recognize these students and do not reward wealthy Tiger Cubs. We are sick of that happening. (parents then helicopter in college...demanding certain extra-curriculars in prep for grad school admissions!)

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Naive me, I just noticed this has nothing to do with Algebra II, it's a political fight, and I guess I would not be on Toma's side.

I found the Toma letter stupid because standards are not all they are cut out to be. It's like religion.

This arbitrary world of standards cannot hijack Algebra II, and wield it according to a preferred set of customers.

People, get over yourselves. Algebra II in High School is like the lowest lowest level any secondary education should be able to offer and that has nothing to do with whose "side" you're on.

Posted by more innuendo, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

"which is that the community has lost a substantial amount of confidence in some of our teachers"

No, this is just incorrect. The community has not lost a substantial amount of confidence in some of our teachers.

Posted by Huh!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

@former Paly parent: I must be missing something. Do the "tiger moms" take the tests for their "cubs"? These students you complain about have put in the time and effort to learn the material. In doing so they have given up on other fun things that they could have done instead. (Those other fun things could in fact have made them happier in life). It's all a choice. I don't see what is unfair about that.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm


It's not that much of a sacrifice to get ahead in Math. Especially if you start early, and keep up the pace. And it can actually be fun too. So the idea of kids "sacrificing" for Math and staying indoors, and not having any friends is silly. Many of the kids in the advanced Math lanes are also accomplished athletes or in other extra curricular activities besides academics.

If you don't have a built-in system though, like engineer parents, or a stay at home parent to monitor your extra work, you need money for math camps and stuff. Many families use tutors, Score, online stuff like John Hopkins - kids don;t sign up on their own for this, because it has to start early, and it's a very carefully orchestrated process.

Some don't use anything at all, and their kids may be gifted at Math, but just because Palo Alto does not have a normal distribution of kids, doe snot mean that those who are struggling are by definition "slackers."

What I don't understand is the resistance to educate kids who struggle with Math. It may take longer, it may be harder, it may take different techniques, but over 13 years one can aspire only to remedial Math?

It's of course much easier to educate the kids who are ahead of the game. YOu need special teachers to work with actual challenges.

Posted by Huh!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

@Priorities: We should work harder at educating kids who struggle with math -- that has no resistance from me. Algebra II is too late. It has to start at K-5. That said, in any population there will be individuals who lack the motivation required to succeed no matter what resources you employ -- these "slackers" are unteachable. It's possible they will mature as adults and learn math later in life.

Posted by former Paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm

@Huh! The level of parent handholding here is quite extreme and usually it is not an issue of responsibly disciplining one's kids to study hard and do their homework. That would be fine and is expected.
I personally experienced (in the past) when Tiger Moms were just emerging in Palo Alto, and their sometimes secretive tactics were not so typical, but that was still a time when students generally managed their own affairs and did their own work. That's the way it's supposed to be - I think, anyway - for a level playing field, pleasant academic atmosphere, competition kept in perspective, encouragement of creativity and initiative and so on.
I am aware of cases when kids have been driven (clearly by parent pushing/expectations)to plagiarize (then Dad gets them off) and I make it clear I am talking about NMF kids, and you may recall and presumably can look up since it was all publicly documented, the compelling case of the PALY student body president (err...supposed to be a role model and a nice, high achieving guy) - who gave the main graduation speech in 2008 - was revealed to be a plagiarist by - gasp! - a student from Mountain View. The power of the internet. This "high achieving" student took a spot at Stanford from a (presumably) non-plagiarizing PALY kid (since we all know PAUSD kids, legacy or not, put in a LOT of apps to Stanford each year and they cannot possibly take all the "suitable" matches from one school or even the two).
I disagree with an educational climate and parental practices that in effect endorse this type of behavior. We ought to try to reduce it, and instead instill an ethic of responsibility for one's own work, one's own choices, and high ethics and manners, and that education is a time of learning and enjoying the learning, not getting super-prepped for a big test (APs, etc.) You can't legislate behavior, but you can make sure all kids feel welcome and are supported to the extent possible.
I have found some super-advanced PALY kids (who can speak, that's not the issue) who were unable to converse on certain topics they had earned "top scores" in. This just makes me think that there is pressure for the ends justify the means (the grade, the score, the winning of the Math prize, etc.)
There are a lot of kids who have paid tutoring in advance of the (advanced) curriculum and this is a material advantage over a range of other kids: from those who are interested, to those who are not, those with math "talent and abilities," those who are slower to comprehend self-interest and competitive advantages; and it particularly is an advantage over kids without money.
Some of the tutoring is secretive and I know it is done for competitive purposes. This truly is a sad way to operate when one is dealing with youth and education. I have nothing against attending some programs JH CTY or whatever, but I have witnessed continuous paid programming and support (for years - getting into thousands of dollars) and this can 1)save time for a student pre-prepped in all (advanced) math courses as opposed to students who do their own work 2)provide a level of support that is NOT typical/expected/representative of most thoughtful,supportive parents. It's to the point of gaming the system so that some teachers think their students "already" know certain stuff and move ahead - when the curriculum is already ok - so this almost necessitates other students going into this artificially-accelerated scheme.
I guess handholding tutors and effectively taking courses in advance before one takes the course for a grade are NOT practices that were previously near-universal, but with cutthroat university admissions currently (fortunately, I gather the population of HS seniors will be fewer in upcoming years)- there has been unpleasant competition rather than students learning and exploring occasionally serendipitously on their own (and risking a lower grade, for example). Parents that I have known have carefully planned out their kids' HS education to get that little edge for college apps.
Having this perspective and witnessing practices I do not believe in, it makes me concerned and supportive for less cunning students and parents out there.

Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

The fundamentals of math are useful even for humanities majors, who will have to negotiate their salaries, secure a house they will not lose to foreclosure and even do their taxes.

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

@Crescent Park Dad

We Can Do Better supports aligning the graduation requirements to a-g. We also recommend retaining an independent outside auditor to assess our curriculum in order to ascertain whether we are actually offering a regular basic lane in every subject. In many subjects our lowest level is above the a-g requirement. Biology at Paly has advanced Algebra as a prerequisite and most minority and many white students cannot complete it successfully, while Gunn has 3 lanes of biol (rather than Paly's 2 lanes), has no prerequisite of advanced math, and has a 99.9% pass rate for its freshmen.

We believe that having a curriculum and instructional standard in which the basic lane is taught at but not above the a-g requirement will raise minority achievement, increase opportunity for all, and reduce stress for students who struggle (regardless of race) without diminishing the district's reputation or reducing offerings for advanced students.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm


What do you mean Algebra II is "too late" if most Palo Alto students, even struggling ones, have gotten to Algebra I in 8th grade? It's not a jump from third grade math to Alg2. After 8th grade Algebra you still have 4 more years of school to graduate. Slackers or not, you need a rock bottom basic goal for those next four years don't you?

If you have gotten kids as far as Algebra in Middle School, why give up now?

I still have not heard the alternative Math people want for the 4 years of High School, a rock bottom basic class- remedial math, no math, retro-Math? 4 years!

Who is the slacker?

I happen to think that full year of Geometry in 9th grade for struggling students and the lowest lane could be modified. Geometry is not necessary for Algebra II, and instead Geom could be covered as part of a continuing or intermediate Algebra class in 9th grade, with an effort in 9th to prepare kids for Algebra II. This would build and reinforce the material covered in Middle School. Geometry is otherwise more of an issue for the advanced lanes going on to Calculus. The UC Geometry requirement can be satisfied with a Geo in a combo class.

Posted by Priorities, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Our school board once again failed to distinguish itself. First, Kevin admitted (proudly proclaimed is more like it) that they had scheduled this session for a time that parents could not attend. Second, they basically took on the role of potted plants, if potted plants could give effusive praise. The specter of them praising the teachers without offering a word in support of parents in regards to the Math Letter was highly discouraging. But forward we go...

If you have something you want to discuss, you can email me at, you can call me at 650-521-6005, or you can send me a message on facebook. I respond to everyone who contacts me even if (especially if) you disagree on the merits.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm

1. It's not my opinion that Kevin and the board purposely scheduled this meeting at a time parents can't attend. That's what he said today at the meeting. I think that is astounding and shocking. The board had a responsibility to hold a public meeting on a topic of great interest at a time parents can attend, or at least not to hold it at a time when they can't by design.

2. The rest is my opinion and it's intended to be somewhat humorous and it is criticism but It is in no way abusive. What Rush Limbaugh did when he called Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" is an abusive diatribe. "My public officials lack courage and act like potted plants" is not abusive.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

@Michele - no offense, but it isn't humorous, it is mean and abusive. I think your intentions are good and I while I think it would be great to offer A - G to every Palo Alto student that is achievealbe, the way you have gone about achieving this is so negative, from the criticism of the teachers to the district personnel. You could actually achieve change by working "with" instead of "against". I don't know about you, but if someone called me a potted plant, I would feel abused. BTW, the "whatever" at the end of your comment is dismissive and frankly indicates that while you can dish it out, you are not willing to take feedback. I think your Facebook group, We Can Do Better, Palo Alto has a lot to offer, but doing it in such an aggressive manner really turns people off. Including me.

Posted by Oliver, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

It is cruel to insist that ALL students qualify for college, when even in Perfect Palo Alto there are some students who just can't, yet deserve to graduate and WOULD graduate if they lived in a normal community. Why crush them and ruin their self-esteem for life?

Posted by A Shame, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm

From M. Dauber: "...the community has lost a substantial amount of confidence in some of our teachers, notably the Paly math department."

I am not aware of any evidence of this, aside from a small, vocal group, including the poster. This group continues to try to undermine the board, the staff, and the teachers [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] As others have pointed out, if if you assume they are well-intentioned, they are doing more harm than good.

Posted by misha, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

misha is a registered user.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

That some students do well and others less well in math is not necessarily a sign of a "failing" school. Students are not robots and schools are not factories. Let's not make the students who do not do well in math feel like failures by calling them failures. Isn't that ironic for WCDE to be using words that degrade the students and add to their stress.

I'm glad that Dr Skelly spoke up for the hard-working and dedicated teachers many whom are doing their best for the kids.

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