Six candidates to vie for school board Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Aug 10, 2007 at 6:59 pm
With the field closed after the 5 p.m. Friday deadline in the race for a seat on the Palo Alto Board of Education, six candidates have registered for the Nov. 6 election, according to a Santa Clara County elections spokeswoman.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 10, 2007, 5:17 PM
Posted by another pa mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 11, 2007 at 8:01 am
Am wondering what the other candidates claim and look forward to hearing their positions. Palo Alto PTA docs for Barron Park doesn't show Wynn Hausser holding a single PTA leadership or committe head position so am curious why he says that he vounteered extensively at school . . . would like accurate qualifications for each of the candidates, as I haven't seen their claims to qualification . . .
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 12, 2007 at 9:17 pm
This means that three of the five new candidates will have to win a seat to unseat Townsend.
Right away, Caswell and Klausner look good; they have my vote.
So, it's a four-way among Townsend, Ezran, Hausser, and Liu. I'm waiting to hear more from the latter three, to determine a third vote.
Camille Townsend is off my - and many of my neighbor's lists - from the get-go. She has failed the district time and again, and this last year under her so-called BOE leadership has been an unmitigated disaster.
Can anyone imagine Townsned's "happy face" missives for another four years? I can't.
Posted by pa resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 13, 2007 at 1:10 am
Camille has my vote. She is not any more responsible for the problems that the board has had this last year than the out-going Gail and Mandy. If anything, Mandy and Gail, finishing 8 years on the board have had the most influence based on their seniority and strong personalities. Under their mentorship, the school district has had much strife from MF and MI, both of which they were in the beginnings of.
I also like Claude, whom I should have voted for over Dana last time.
I'm reserved about Melissa and Barbara and Pingyu and Wynn. What do they have to say for themselves?
Posted by Paid attention, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 13, 2007 at 6:56 am
If I remember correctly, Claude likened elementary school MI, with access granted to at most 5% of all the kids who COULD take it if they could gain entrance, as being no different in equity issues to Special Ed ( available to all who need it) and after school sports programs ( available to all who qualify and paid for in large part by the team participants). Or perhaps it was Special Ed and AP/Honors programs ( again, available to all who compete and qualify).
This is right up there with Susan Charles comparing the opposition to creating a public, limited access elementary school to a private, competitive university by saying that she doesn't want to shut down Stanford's access to everyone else just because she didn't get in.
Though I know Claude is decent fellow and probably very good at his job, we don't need yet more of this kind of logic making inconsistent policy decisions for this district.
Posted by Setting the record straight, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 15, 2007 at 1:30 pm
I don't understand how anyone can say EACH board member is equally "to blame"...Gail voted against taking the money for the feasibility study, saying that we needed to finish our strategic goals and priorities before moving on to anything new. She then pushed for full and accurate information on the Feasibility study once we were stuck with it. Then she voted to not implement it now, then voted to not bow to a fear of a Charter and still voted against it.
Posted by Setting the record straight, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 15, 2007 at 1:33 pm
However, I completely agree...no more bonds until we get a Board which can make consistent, clear, measureable goals and policies that we can trust will go to completion before anything else jumps the line. Also, a Board which will have the ability to expect full, transparent and honest accounting by District Staff, which I expect the new Super Skelly will be part of implementing also.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 15, 2007 at 7:09 pm
I'm interested in seeing who gets media endorsements. Hopefully, the weekly and Daily have seen and heard enough from Camille Townsend to prevent them from endorsing her.
I fail to understand how anyone who was at the helm on the BOE, during both MI and the Management Team fiascos (the latter still brewing, and the former causing divided PAUSD camps) could be recommended by anyone woth as broad a view of the field as the Weekly or Daily.
Camille Townsend failed to lead her charges. She has been BOE Chair throughout this last unfortunate year. We need to hold failed elected officials accountable.
Posted by time for a change, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2007 at 11:42 am
"Price's votes were consistently on the minority side and opposite of the Board decisions which incrementally led to strife in the first place.
I hope that a history of votes of all Board members will be able to go up somewhere.
Posted by Paid attention"
I am confused; when a board member votes on the minority side and the community is not happy with the decisions of the board; wouldn't that make them a strong, convicted board member who is trying to make the right decision despite the pressures to conform? If we want a board that always agrees then how do we ever get to look at both sides of story.
Gail was one of the board members who refused to change her vote for MI even after Camille stomped her feet and yelled at the board members who had voted "no" on the first vote.
Gail saw the problems with the district leadership for years but because she was the minority vote she could not help to make the changes that were long overdue.
Hopefully, we will find three new board members that are willing to spend the time and dedication that Gail has spent over the past eight years to guide our district.
If we would all take the same amount of time that the board members spend to help our schools (not just our child)to be a better and equitable district and spend less time complaining about what isn't right we could have the strong district that we once could brag about.
Posted by Paid Attention, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm
Answer to Time for a Change: Sorry, wrote it badly.
I meant exactly what you are saying. Gail voted in the minority in almost every case...and the Board majority votes are what caused all the havoc over the last couple years. That is what i meant by the Board decisions incrementally leading us ever more down the road of strife.
Therefore, in retrospect, I believe that the majority of time she was RIGHT.
Posted by Nico, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 4:57 pm
Camille Townsend has my vote! I think she has been consistent and intelligent in how she approaches the issues of PAUSD. I also like her soft and steady wielding of the gavel.
I would not “blame” her leadership for how MI was handled. She (like Gail) had a consistent point of view on MI and stuck with it. Gail was against MI from the beginning and consistently voted against it. Camille was for it from the beginning always voted for it (to do the feasibility study, and then voted twice for implementing the program (actually three times if you count Dana Tom's "straw poll")).
I am surprised to read “time for a change” write “…Camille stomped her feet and yelled at the board members who had voted "no" on the first vote.” My perception is that Camille was always calm and rational, even when the MI debate was at it's most frustrating. Camille tried to keep things moving while allowing everyone to be heard respectfully. I will be voting for her.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 7:42 pm
As an active proponent of MI, I can understand why the previous poster would like Camille. However, I believe Camille threw the strategic plan out the window when she supported MI - she believed MI should supersede the strategic plan, or at least should have nothing to do with it. I just totally disagree with her viewpoint on this. I really appreciated the fact that Gail Price believed she was a steward of the strategic plan and thought it should be respected and followed.
Camille didn't waver in her support of MI, I agree, but she failed consistently to recognize/listen to concerns about MI and totally totally blew off the 1000 signature petition against the MI program. She also discussed her intense interest in MI at a particular meeting with a rather emotional statement about how upset she was that she didn't have the opportunity to learn a second language growing up. After this I thought, uh oh, MI is a personal issue for her and I don't think you should bring your own personal biases to the board room, unless you are totally able to separate your personal opinion from what is best for the district as a whole, which I absolutely believe she did not do in this case.
Since over 18 board meetings were devoted to MI, I really have no idea what else Camille believes in or has worked towards. Most of the meetings I attended were devoted to MI, and frankly, I think this alone has been a serious drain on our district.
I did vote for her, but I've learned my lesson: If I don't have enough specific information to go on from candidates, they won't get my vote.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:49 pm
I can see a pro-MIer like Nico supporting Camille. But praising her use of the gavel? C'mon, thanks, in part, to Camille's inability to control a meeting, there were A) WAY too many meetings on MI when there are much bigger issues facing the district that were ignored as a result and B) meetings that went on FOREVER.
Because Camille made up her mind early, she seemed to have no interest in guiding an intelligent discussion of the issue and reaching any kind of consensus. She was singularly unpersuasive.
As a result, we have an unworkable plan that's got no place to go in three years and is taking up space at a school that's not even coming close to meeting the demand for its own program.
And this is aside from the political/financial ramifications.
I mean, yeah, Camille's pro-MI, but as pres. of the BoE, she's been close to incompetent. And, yeah, she was supposed to follow-through on the strategic plan.
Posted by kate, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 11:20 pm
Sorry - late to this discussion: to the 3rd poster about Mr Hausser not holding a PTA position. I've been involved with PTA for 14 years and I need to clarify that PTA doesn't hold the monopoly on school volunteers. It is a good organization to be sure, but many school volunteers are NOT PTA officers: reading volunteers, people who work on site council, grandparents who show up to help drive a field trip or play ball at recess, weekend gardeners - the list goes on.
If you need to vote PTA, then Melissa's your candidate, but if you don't find Mr Hausser on any Barron Park PTA lists, don't jump to the conclusion that he is not a school volunteer.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 12:15 am
Voice of confusion,
There were multiple, endless meetings on MI during Camille's tenure. And, yes, as president, she had some control over how and when things were discussed. MI took up a ton of time because it was Camille's pet project. Yes, there were previous meetings on it, but it was under Camille's muddled tenure that the thing was pushed front and center--and she was its key cheerleader on the board. She didn't even pretend to care about the strategic plan and what voters actually wanted the schoolboard to address.
I was amazed when I saw how completely Townsend dismissed the many, many concerns about MI. Not because she thought they were matters that could be easily solved, but because she was so in love with the idea of Palo Alto offering Mandarin that she clearly didn't give a damn about how the thing was going to be implemented.
I mean, to me, it's a sign of just how short-sigted the PACE crew is that the MI/Ohlone mash-up is so acceptable to you. I'm a big fan of the Ohlone Way, but I don't think *anyone* involved has a bloody clue if it's an effective way to teach Mandarin.
Or where the program goes in three years.
But you guys think this is all right. If it were me, the situation would not be one I'd choose for my kid. And I wouldn't be thrilled about the way a small program became such a political hot potato. Why? Because the odds of it getting tossed aside in a couple of years are that much greater as a result.
And you can blame part of the problem on Camille's behavior at board meetings. She was arrogant--her approach, not just her viewpoint, created animosity. SHe created opposition in a way Barb Mitchell did not.
On a basic level, she's a lousy politician because she's lousy at persuading peoplt to her point-of-view. If she'd been a better pol, PACE may never have had to do its Gang-of-Nine charter school threat.
Posted by Nico, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:45 am
I would really like to discuss Camille, why I think Ohlone/MI is a great combination, and why the charter school was not a threat. I think you are making some assumptions about “our” motivations and the process that could be cleared up if we met face to face and talked… so I extend an invitation. If you want to talk with me, send me an email and we can set something up. I will check this email for the next week or so, firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can find me on campus at Ohlone after August 28 and introduce yourself. I do hope we get a chance to talk.
I have found my efforts to talk about MI on this forum often misconstrued or flamed, so I would rather try a new (actually much more old fashioned) way to communicate. I think face to face might be a better venue for civil discourse. I’ll pay for the coffee.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 11:11 am
Thank you for your courteous reply to OP. I also have a question for you which is not nitpicking, but is something that I think the community has a fair motive for discovering.
As you are one of the MI proponents and obviously want your child to be a winner in the lottery for 2008 school year, it appears that you have already won a place in the 2007 lottery for kindergarten at Ohlone! If, as I think OP said above, it was very hard to get lucky in the regular Ohlone lottery for kindergarten this year unless you were a sibling priority, how do you see that you managed to be so fortunate? It may be that you were already an Ohlone family and in that case there is no question, but otherwise it seems just a little too easy for you.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 11:37 am
Most likely, if we were to match up the names of the year one MI propsective families (those who are the eventual first graders in 2008, that should be 20 first graders in 2008), we'll find that all of them have magically made it in to Ohlone as Kinder's this year. That is, anyone who is a kinder in PAUSD this year, who has identified themselves as an interested MI participant in 2008, will most likely have been placed in Ohlone Kindergarten this year.
Well, its not hard to see why the district would have had to engineer this Kinder placement of future MI students in Ohlone Kindergarten this year - because otherwise, if they would have been placed in some other school as kinders, then in first grade, they would have come it to Ohlone, and would have had to displace some innocent bystander Ohlone kids who were also entering regular first grade. Swapped places if you will. Its much better for the kids being displaced from the Ohlone program to displace starting in Kindergarten - so they don't have to be involuntarily disloged from the school as first graders.
So what we should be able to know right now is how many future MI 2008 first graders are already enrolled at Ohlone as kinders this year. (In other words, how many MI 2008 MI first grade spots are already reserved, and how many are remaining opening.)
OP - Maybe you could go ask Susan Charles for us? Or Nico, I'm sure you're part of this community, perhaps you can provide the info?
Isn't it odd - we haven't seen alot of advertising on this process... Mysterious how this all works out, isn't it?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 2:19 pm
Susan Charles tends to be very closed-mouth on how competitive the lotteries were in a given year. The information tends to show up elsewhere. But I'll let you know if there are interesting names in the directory.
But your theory makes sense given Charles' goal is to make it the Ohlone Way but in Mandarin--that way she can shift over some indoctrinated kids and parents. Then she pulls kids off the waitlist to fill the remaining spots. Nico, with her open enthusiasm for Ohlone, would be a natural.
I appreciate your graciousness, but you do realize you are the only MI parent surveyed who wanted Ohlone-style instruction. One out of, what?, 80 families? I'm assuming it was you. Haven't you noticed that you're the one MI supporter who enthuses about the idea? The rest seem to have little idea of what the Ohlone Way even is.
And, unless you can give me a good reason why MI should usurp space at a school that's already meeting the demand for its services, well, I'm not interested in your enthusiasms. I *know* you're enchanted by the idea. I've heard you in person. I realize you're sincere and well-meaning, but I'm not convinced. But don't feel bad, Susan Charles isn't convincing the Ohlone community either.
Basically, we're crossing our fingers and hoping you guys won't wreck the school. Not me, in particular, since the school culture is very strong--in part because the sibling preference means you get families in there for long hauls--but gentler types worry because, whether you like it or not, you guys got MI through aggressive tactics.
Look, being nice in person, doesn't change what happened. Or that we're not going to agree about what should happen in three years.
Voice of your Daddy,
I've discussed the ideas numerous times. I've also pointed out the problems with Camille Townsend. Is everything her fault? Nope. Did she handle the part for which she was responsible badly? Yes.
My understanding is that her husband spoke up in favor of MI without identifying himself as the husband of the BoE president. I find that kind of thing dishonest. I find Camille's treatment of board members who disagreed with her arrogant and divisive. Dismissing a 1,000-plus signature petition with a "who cares?" as Townsend did at one board meeting is arrogant and inappropriate in an elected official whose job is to represent the interests of the ENTIRE community, not just her pet project.
Townsend pushed through a sloppy decision that creates more problems than it solves.
And where is Mandarin going in three years? Are we overcrowding Ohlone? Shutting down the program? Shutting down Ohlone strands?
Counting on taking space at a reopened elementary?
And don't pretend that it's too far off in the future to matter. Three years is nothing.
I've yet to see a pro-MIer even start to think through these issues--I guess you just think Grace will take care of it for you. Though she sure fled the forum when I asked her about it.
Townsend's up for reelection. Her performance is an issue and should be discussed. Her inappropriate manner is part of her poor performance.
Posted by get it right, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 4:04 pm
Thank goodness there's only one "OhlonePar" at Ohlone. With such poisonous single-minded negativism against the MI program. Despite what you say, there are lots of Ohlone parents who are very fine with MI landing there - thank you very much.
There's also many MI-interested parents who are looking forward to and love the Ohlone Way as the teaching philosophy for Mandarin. Innovation by the Ohlone staff and Susan Charles is fueling all the teachers' interest and enthusiasm in building a new branch in the Ohlone program for the whole school, not just the choice program.
The survey you refer to about only 1 parent choosing Ohlone is totally misrepresented by you.
The survey question asked something like, among MI interested parents, where would you go if MI was not available. This was to see if both neighborhood school kids and choice program kids were interested in MI.
Having one family say they would want Ohlone isn't an indictment of the others' choices of neighborhood or SI or DI.
Twist the information anyway you like, but know that your interpretation is way off base.
Posted by Nico, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 4:30 pm
Parent and parent,
I really don't think there is any kind of MI/Ohlone lottery conspiracy. One huge reason is that when they did the Ohlone lottery in early February, MI had been voted down by the board. As far as I, the MI supporters, the school board, and Susan Charles knew there was not going to be an MI program.
I was thrilled and felt lucky to get a spot at Ohlone, I have no older children, no "ins" with Principal Charles and no strings to pull. I believe that the lottery is pure chance and my card was just picked. A good friend and fellow MI-er was not picked.
Since OhlonePar doesn't seem to be taking me up on my offer of free coffee, I would be happy to extend it to you guys as well. Maybe if you broke bread (or scones) with me you would learn that I am really not that mean, or powerful, or conspiratorial. Not that I don't have plenty of faults, but power and conspiracy are certainly not among them. I think maybe it would do both "sides" some good to talk. I am also worried that this is getting WAY off topic, so out of repect for the editor who started this thread, I am not going to post again. But feel free to email me at email@example.com
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm
Thanks for your response. It is interesting what you say that the lottery for this year took place when the vote had been against MI. I am not an Ohlone parent and thanks for the offer, but I won't take you up on it (no particular reason, but no axe to grind). It is also interesting that you say your pro MIer friend did not get in. Good luck at Ohlone and I hope no one bears you any grudges.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 9:12 pm
I think it's interesting that Camille's husband has spoken in favor of MI at board meetings and is a professor at Stanford who has in the past worked with students who have focused on the economics of China. I found a paper where a particular student later developed a new company devoted to teaching American students Mandarin. This seems to me to be another example of how personal this issue is for her. I'm not criticizing this, but perhaps this helps to understand her strong pro-MI stance.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 11:08 pm
It has nothing to do with your being a "mean" person. The tactics used to get MI at Ohlone were aggressive and mean. You supported them. It is what it is--nervously smiling at me over coffee won't change that. I don't believe you're going to favor dropping the program in three years because it overcrowds the school.
This doesn't mean I think you're cruel to small animals, but I do think you were very active in pushing an agenda that's damaged the district and is a poor distribution of resources. And it's because you want a private-school perk for your kid at public-school prices.
I don't think you conspired to get into Ohlone, by the way. I think Susan Charles would find it useful to have you there, given her goals. It makes strategic sense. It could be nothing but coincidence, but, in some sense, we're going back to the lack of transparency in the lottery process, which clearly upsets people.
My own sense is that the initial lottery is pretty straightforward, but I'm less convinced that this is so with pulls from the waiting list.
Get it right,
In other words, one family out of, I think, 80 would choose Ohlone if MI weren't available. Ergo, not a lot of enthusiasm for the Ohlone Way by families who want Mandarin Immersion. Not a bunch of parents grateful that they will no longer have to choose between immersion and constructivist education. In other words, as I was saying . . .
It's an interesting thing, if there's such enthusiasm for MI at Ohlone among the parents, why has there been no sign of it? This is one of about three posts I can remember in the last 8 months from someone supposedly at Ohlone (though you don't actually say you are, do you? Interesting, nothing like a little obfuscation, is there?)in support of the program. I've seen no parents from Ohlone speaking up in favor of the program at the board meetings, or even the special community meeting held *at* Ohlone. That one was a bit painful to watch because Susan Charles tried for outreach and met with nothing. I mean, if there was ever a time an Ohlone parent would show support for his or her principal's agenda, that would have been it.
One on one, I've heard concern and anger. I haven't heard any parent speak in favor of it except Monica Lynch. One parent expressed indifference--that's as close to a pro-MI stance as I've heard.
I think if there were a bona fide groundswell of support for MI at Ohlone, we'd see something a little more substantive than your post. Somebody might even speak in its favor in public or provide us with some anecdote or detail that shows there's support at Ohlone.
Just to muddle you a bit further, by the way, I have heard non-Ohlone parents support the program. I think there's probably less support in the Ohlone community for heavy-duty immersion programs than there is at the district at large because of a self-selection bias against heavy workloads for kids.
Palo alto mom,
I didn't realize that Camille Townsend's conflict of interest was possibly that egregious. I mean, Stanford profs can and do invest in their student's business ventures. If Townsend's husband has done this and Townsend has any chance of personally profiting from this, ugh, ugh, ugh. I mean this gets really dicey.
Eds, are you there? Would you please check out this lead?
Posted by Nico, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:14 am
We have a different interpretation of events. You also seem to have a lot of ideas about my motivations, and yet you refuse to meet me. I would say that the “tactics used to get MI” were not aggressive. I think MI will not damage, but enhance the district. If you want to discuss this, I would be happy to explain to you how the process happened and why we ended up taking the crazy roundabout path we did. But, it isn’t the topic of this thread. And I don’t think that anonymous townsquare is even the right forum.
Posted by Kate, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 10:42 am
-Thanks for your post - if nothing else, it gets us of MI for two or three lines! I hope this doesn't violate this Forum's understood rules.
Wynn and his wife divided up school volunteer opportunities - Amy was SSC chair, PTA treasurer and Wynn did the field trip driving, snack baking, traffic and bike safety, theater stuff, carnival booth and classroom reading help.
He did do some PTA Council Rep stuff and served on BPs nominating committee, so his claim is legit, if that was a worry.
Wynn is a charter member of the Positive Coaching Alliance and did yeoman's service in other sports arenas (managing, coaching and reffing many baseball, basketball and soccer teams).
He served the city on Palo Alto's HRC and the PACCC board and on the education committee for his synagogue.
Hope this answers your question about his experience with kids.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:10 am
I'm aware that your interpretation of events is different. I don't agree with it.
I've seen you speak. I paid attention to what you said, your body language and your responses. I wasn't convinced.
It's not that I don't hear you. I don't agree with you. And, no, I don't see any sign that you're going to change your mind about this. Thanks to the ineptness of the BoE and Churchill gang, we're past the point of truly workable solutions.
So, what do you think the point of "free" coffee would be?
Look, there are lots of people who share my views. You'll find it easy enough to find MI opponents at Ohlone for coffee dates. I suspect you'll find it educational.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:47 am
In the board meetings I thought that Nico's point of view on MI were quite similar to student board member's Molly's point of view - which were along the lines of 'look what a great opportunity this is for the kids that get this fabulous enrichment program'. Molly went on at length, at every comment opportunity she had, about how wonderfully enriched her life had personally become because she was fortunate enought to have won the SI lottery.
To me, this completely and utterly misses the point, and proves how very self centered the pro MI/SI pro choice-program supporters really are. In fact, I think finally, Mandy pointed this really poor line of argument out to Molly in the public meeting.
The arguers of this point feel the district is better off as a whole because a small handful of students have had an off the charts fabulous opportunity (and tough cookies to the rest of the kids who get NO language education - and how severely PETTY everyone is for wanting to withhold fabulous riches of opportunity from a select few just because of a teensy little bit of unfairness, and isn't public education just so unfair anyway?...).
So Nico, if you think you have something else to say about why you support MI, I'd like to know what that might be before I agree to meet you for coffee. Because frankly I could barely stand to listen to this flawed line of reasoning in board meetings and don't know if I could take another hour of it one-on-one ... it was sickeningly sweet and shallow, like trying to tune in to KSJO and finding Donny and Marie music or something.
However, I would like to hear what you have to say if you think I'm missing something about your stance on MI.
Posted by one member of a larger community, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:25 pm
First -- my apologies to those of you focused on the school board elections. It's why I came to the thread in the first place, but since we've veered a little bit, I'd like to take advantage of that.
Nico -- I appreciate your willingness to spring for coffee, but I don't think you can take the entire district out for a drink. Even if you could take *some* of us, I'm not sure how effective it would be. You could tell me everything you were thinking, and I would truly listen carefully and openly, trying to understand the history and the decision-making process of the pro-MI team. And I would walk away with what I thought were the salient points, and even with openness, my ideas of the salient points could -- probably would -- be different from the point you were trying to make. And my friends would ask me, and I would tell them what I thought was important. And they'd tell their friends what *they* thought was important based on what I said. And so on and so on. And we're all playing elementary school "telephone" again.
As someone who has not spent the last six years following this, only six months, I'm sure I don't know everything, including what lead to the decision for the pro-MI team to consider a charter, why Ohlone+MI is a great combination -- and if this is actually a point of view held by the majority of MI folks, your perspective on Camille (whom I am sure you know better than I -- and I need to know more about before I make a decision at the polls), and your motivations about another choice program at this time. I'd also like to know your hopes about where the program will go when it runs out of space at Ohlone, the impact you think that will have on that school when those kids & families leave, as well on whatever building it winds up in. Also, I am interested in your ideas of transparency, especially regarding both the lottery for MI and the way MI will be funded. And I'd like to know what sort of financial commitment PACE has made to the Ohlone PTA and to PiE.
And I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know these things. I daresay, there are even more evenhanded questioners out there (and I did intend these questions to be evenhanded; if they don't come across that way, it is only because of clumsy words or phrasing, not because of intent, and I would ask that you please give me the benefit of the doubt). So rather than a huge coffee klatch at Peet's, please use this virtual coffee shop to "buy" me my cuppa, and please let me know your thoughts in a new thread. I know you risk being misconstrued -- you risk that in person too. And there is a chance you will get flamed (I'm bracing *myself* right now, frankly), and I know you're probably still smoldering from the initial work, but that is often the cost of leadership and I ask you to rise above it for the sake of getting the word out to the open-minded who want to understand the past in order to move forward in the best way for the larger community.
Posted by lotteries, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 12:08 pm
Get It Right,
Where is the actual contents of this survey and do we know which MI families chose which schools?
This is very pertinent information since you are automatically disqualified from the Ohlone lottery if you choose to also enter the Hoover lottery. Therefore, any MI parents who chose Hoover in this survey would be automatically excluded from Ohlone-MI.
Posted by Another Perspective, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 23, 2007 at 10:37 pm
Looking for info: In a couple of weeks there should be lots of info available. The candidates are working on their websites. The SmartVoter site will also have info about most candidates. And the neighborhood and League forums will begin in October (the 4th for the LoWV) which should allow us all a good glimpse of the candidates.
One member: That was one of the most even-handed posts I've seen. Nice writing, great constructive tone.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 8:44 am
Thanks, Kate from Gunn High School Community, for your information on Wynn Hausser. I am curious why they divided up the roles so his wife took all the leadership positions, and why her school involvement is relevant to Wynn's candidacy. Are they going to run as a team, like Bill and Hillary, with Wynn running officially but voters getting both of them? If so, can we find out more about his wife's track record?
Wynn and Melissa are the only candidates who have knowledgeable psople speaking up about them. It will be good to see their websites. I am wondering what either of them count as accomplishments while holding their various positions, and what they see as important issues and goals in the district. As anyone who has been a volunteer knows, it is one thing to put in time, another thing entirely to set a goal and achieve it.
If anyone knows the qualifications and positions, aspirations, etc. of the other candidates, please let us know. I am curious what Camille sees are goals and priorities. And no one seems to have heard a peep from Barbara Klaussner or Ping Yiu. In a field of six candidates, only 2 seem to have any information going out about them.
Posted by board watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 8:39 pm
Thank you for the information, "Another". I, along wih many other community members, am curious about his position on MI and vision for where it will go in 3 years. It seemed strange that none of his website mentiond what seems to be a very hot issue for the voters. But his leadership experience is undoubtedly significant. It will be good to compare the various candidates when their full information is up.
Editors: Will there be any sort of public forum with debate or some other means to question teh candidates side by side on their vision for the District?
Posted by Kate, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 26, 2007 at 1:39 pm
"Thanks, Kate from Gunn High School Community, for your information on Wynn Hausser."
"I am curious why they divided up the roles so his wife took all the leadership positions, and why her school involvement is relevant to Wynn's candidacy."
*Actually, I was responding to a post questioning Wynn's PTA involvement and I thought it was interesting that both parents were involved in their schools.*
"Are they going to run as a team, like Bill and Hillary, with Wynn running officially but voters getting both of them? If so, can we find out more about his wife's track record?"
*The Bill/Hill thing? Don't know; Amy's not on any ballots I've seen! Call Wynn or Amy, ask them directly before we spin off into conjecture land.*
"Wynn and Melissa are the only candidates who have knowledgeable psople speaking up about them. It will be good to see their websites. I am wondering what either of them count as accomplishments while holding their various positions, and what they see as important issues and goals in the district. As anyone who has been a volunteer knows, it is one thing to put in time, another thing entirely to set a goal and achieve it."
*Good point - I suggest you go to coffees for candidates (if you can make it), ask your questions, check their websites and ballot statements, read their mailings and vote for who comes out as a reasonable board member. Most importantly, contact the candidates, they are the best people to talk to about themselves!*
"If anyone knows the qualifications and positions, aspirations, etc. of the other candidates, please let us know. I am curious what Camille sees are goals and priorities. And no one seems to have heard a peep from Barbara Klaussner or Ping Yiu. In a field of six candidates, only 2 seem to have any information going out about them."
*Another good point - it would also be interesting to find out what their commitments would be to a strategic planning process, follow through on board recommended goals and team work (while maintaining their own integrity, of course). There are many considerations to mull over every time we go to a ballot box. Good luck to us all!*
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 8:35 pm
Claud Ezran has started getting his yard signs out. Haven't actually heard more about him recently. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say on the school lunch issue as that seems to be causing some concern.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 12, 2007 at 12:11 pm
That was certainly one of them. I thought there was a second one, but I could be confusing that with someone else's, so I'm not even going to go there.
Thank you for the link.
I can't find anything on Pingyu Liu except that he and his wife gave money to PiE.
I've seen yard signs for Ezran and Melissa Baten-Caswell.
Unless Pingyu actually runs some sort of campaign, he's off my list. I'm looking forward to voting against Townsend. So that leaves me with three votes among four--I've got a sense of Hausser, Baten-Caswell and Ezran. I'd like to hear more from Klausner. Does she have a Web site yet?
I'm interested in candidates who have a backbone, are willing to make long-term decisions and are realistic. I'm less interested in idealism than I might otherwise be because there are some real and unpleasant issues facing the incoming board.
I'd love to hear any examples of how any of the candidates make decisions. And, of course, do they play well with others? Are they people pleasers? How important is it to him or her that the decision be grounded on principle? And what are those principles?
Also, any agendas on the part of spouses of which we should be aware?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 12, 2007 at 3:30 pm
"I'd like to hear more from Klausner. Does she have a Web site yet?"
Yep, she's at Web Link www.barbaraklausner.com. I don't know why it takes so long for the webmaster to fix the links in the "Candidates Web Sites" Web Link topic. Type the urls manually and most (all?) of them are live.
Incidentally, Wynn Hausner did share his decision-making process in that other thread. Brave man! 10 bonus points to him for taking a stand in the prickly Town Square.
Posted by I remember, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm
"He said he supported the board's June 5 vote approving a Mandarin-immersion pilot program." The he is Claude Ezran in the June 20, 2007 Palo Alto Online News article by Susan Hong "Four So Far in Palo Alto School Board Race.
Referring to the "it is only some people who get in" argument against using public funds for exclusive elementary education programs
"In Palo Alto, parent Claude Ezran said that argument is never used against special education programs, sports or teaching sign language. "And what about AP classes? They are for the lucky few, too, and not everybody can get in," he said."
If you are for more of this last year, where we grow elementary school exclusive programs with limited access to fantastic curricula in an area that no other kids gets, and if you want to continue dismantling the "neighborhood school, equal access" concept of public education, vote for Claude.
He sees no difference between these programs and the competitive after middle and hig school sports programs, the special education programs for every kid who needs it (gosh, don't we all wish we had kids who needed special education?), or the AP classes that are available to anyone who qualifies for them and can handle them.
Posted by Just Thinking out Loud, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 9:05 am
I am with you..I care more about the candidate having and open, clear-headed thinking style and a consistent application of her/his philosophy to various questions than whether or not they would have voted for/against MI last June or whatever it was.
For example, someone could say they would have voted for the MI program last June out of a sincere and honest belief that it was better than the alternative threat, and still have consistently voted against the initial donation and subsequent "feasibility study" etc. There would be a very consistent philosophy inherent in this pattern that I would understand. I am not going to even begin to ask how someone would have voted on this or that issue at various points.
I want to know their philosophy of use of public education funds, and how clearly they can separate out variables in the different issues facing our District.
That said, I admire GREATLY anyone, regardless of who they are, willing to put him/herself through this grinding mill, putting hundreds of hours and many dollars into an election, in order to possibly get elected for a volunteer job( I say this because they end up taking home, what..$300/month or something if they don't flat-out refuse it) for a job which takes 20 hours/week and results in someone ALWAYS complaining and dissing you.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 5:10 pm
I am with you too - open and clear headed thinking, and a good command of logic. Which is why Ezran's comments are pretty troubing...
First - AP classes and sports programs are High School classes. All students in high school are offered an array of electives, and so in essence, there IS equity in high school via a wide array of offerings. The more variety, the better the equity - because it ensure that there would be somewhere for students to land where they find personal value. Sports teams and languages in elementary and middle schools are after school, paid by enrollees, and are offered to all comers.
As opposed to MI - which is an elective enrichment that will provide a large benefit over and above 'regular' elementary offering (ie: bilingual education), offered to only a few - with NOTHING equivalent offered to the rest.
And special education - c'mon. That's a legal mandate in more ways than one (students with disabilities, no child left behind, etc)
So Ezran's logic really breaks down. This is a BIG problem - We absolutely can not afford to have even one more board members with a slippery thought process, lack of logic, lack of understanding of equity in education.
(Equity in education doesn't mean everybody gets exactly the same thing - it means that what everyone gets is FAIR and reasonable relative to the standards across the district, and everyone has access to those programs.)
Posted by Different Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:01 pm
Parent - I am with you, but just to point out that language in middle school is not after school but is an elective in 7th and 8th grades. Two years in middle school equals one year in high school. 6th grade wheel does an introduction to language which is mandatory. You are right in that middle school sports are after school and run by the city rec. dept.
Elementary schools have no sports and no languages. Some schools offer privately funded language classes which meet on the campus. The elementary schools offer no organised sports, although groups like ayso and little league, do rent the school fields for their sports practices and games.
Posted by Get it right, a resident of Stanford, on Sep 14, 2007 at 7:47 am
There are two candidates with daughters at an all girl private school...they haven't forced the district to start a private all-girls school on public funds. The benefits of all-girls' schools on girls academic and emotional growth are overwhelming, and more power to their girls that they can do this.
Although, must admit, I would be totally for having a completely separate public all boys and all girls school from 6th grade onward, as long as ALL boys and ALL girls who wanted to go to it, could.
Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 8:37 am
"Equity in education doesn't mean everybody gets exactly the same thing - it means that what everyone gets is FAIR"
Right. That is where the argument against MI breaks down. MI and all the choice programs offer something different; that doesn't make them unfair. Fairness is simply a non-issue, as Ezran correctly points out.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:23 am
What About Melissa, thank you for bringing up the point about her daughter being in an all-girls' school, something the district does not offer and something that she allowed her daughter to do at her daughter's request. How much more impressive this makes the fact that she has put hundreds of hours into her leadership positions in the district. She has demonstrated incredible commitment to PAUSD, and is a solid candidate with clear, meaningful goals articulated on her website.
Posted by what about Melissa, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:32 am
But what is Melissa's real claim to fame? She's been PTA everything, but is that enough? Did she spearhead anything about back to basics? Did she lead or work on curriculum improvement?
Barbara Klausner was a teacher, value added to the board composition. Claude made strong contribution to Meas A and Healthy Lunch committee. Wynn has HRC and city government experience, big on communications, another value add to the board composition. Pingyu is a scientist - that's distinguishing. Camille is an experienced (and I feel well-experienced in a good way) incumbent.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:52 am
Everyone's entitled to an opinion, and that's what the election is about. You could also speculate that Barbara Klausner has been in the 25 Churchill group for a while and that makes her suspect. You could argue that Claude Ezran is unclear about the purpose of a strategic plan. Actually, you could speculate the same about Wyunn Hausser, as well as about the value of being on the HRC (for example, will he be more interested in keeping it civil than in standing his ground?). You might say Pingyu Liu's articulated goals don't seem to match those of the district as a whole. And you could also argue that Camille herself was divisive and uncivil. Or, you might NOT argue any of that. There are two perspectives (at least) on every candidate. And it does look, judging from your posts, like your real beef with Melissa is that she did not "bring the community together" in support of MI. Which, if one is fair, was an impossible task given the goings on with 25 Churchill and the BoE.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 10:16 am
I just didn't see evidence of that in what was posted. But everyone can decide that on their own. What "What About Melissa" was complaining about was actually Melissa's sending her daughter to an all-girls' private school.
I agree we don't need ideologues. Which is why I myself will not be casting my vote for Camille Townsend or Pingyu Liu. I can't get enough of a read on Wynn Hausser's positions from his postings to understand what he thinks he would in fact do with a similar situation, and I'm not convinced of his capacity to lead in this context. And I find Claude Ezran's positions puzzling. I look forward to clarification as we get closer to the election.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 10:42 am
PA Parent - No the choice program are not all offering something different. Ohlone and Hoover offer a different approach but but the academic content at the end of the day is equivalent to standard PAUSD programming, the elementary curriculum covered is the same as in all the schools. As opposed to SI and MI which offer a bilingual, biliterate education - far advancement over standard PAUSD offering. Even MI supporters argue that bilingual education is a huge advantage over a 'regular' education. So, you and Claude are wrong, when it comes to 'equity being a non-issue'. Its only a non-issue if you and your consituents are benefiting from the windfall.
Hows that lunch program working out by the way? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staf.] And being a scientist makes a person distinguished (automatically!) - and that alone makes them qualified for a board of education position? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 11:08 am
Hmmmm, yes, I suppose it was only a matter of time.
One of my issues with the MI crowd is that the only thing they care about is MI for their kids. I saw in another thread that an MIer was trying to figure out why anyone opposed to MI would support a given candidate. That if I supported Claude Ezran, say, it must be because he'll overturn MI.
No. The district has much bigger concerns and I care more about the leadership on those--overcrowding is a much more important issue. MI and how it was mishandled plays into that, but it's still a secondary issue.
So what if Pingyu Liu's a scientist? What does that say about his knowledge of district priorities and how to function in a group?
I think leaking Baten-Caswell's e-mails in a private forum says far more about anxious she makes the MIers than anything. The girl's school for one child? To me, that says she understands that public schools aren't in the job of giving every child the latest educational perk. Whereas much of PACE's energy clearly came from the fact that several PACErs want to not pay I-school tuitions.
Yeah, Baten-Caswell has a lot of PTA experience. Those sound like decent qualifications for running for school board. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
By the way, I'm not in the school politics loop and I've never met Baten-Caswell. I'm picking up my favorable opinion of Baten-Caswell via the nature of the attacks on her and her measured response in the leaked e-mails.
So did Pingyu Liu finally say something somewhere?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 11:58 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] What's with citing all his kid's academic achievements?
I know there's a cultural difference here--but that sort of stuff makes me cringe. It has that stage-mother thing.
Physics and phys. ed. Is there any awareness or interest in the kids who need help reading or won't ever care about physics? How about the physics of overcrowding? Or anything that's not personally interesting to him?
And the combination of Hoover/MI? I have no sense that he'd understand or support the Ohlone parent POV. So not good for my family.
I mean, it's nice--seriously--that we have a real choice for the board, but Liu doesn't share my concerns and goals for the district. I think Klausner, who's a lawyer and GATE math specialist, is a better-rounded candidate who will also pay attention to the needs of the many gifted math/science types that run through our schools. (i.e. spot 'em, challenge 'em, connect them to the right opportunities, and keep 'em engaged academically).
Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 12:23 pm
"Ohlone and Hoover offer a different approach but but the academic content at the end of the day is equivalent to standard PAUSD programming, the elementary curriculum covered is the same as in all the schools."
Hello! That's exactly what the immersion programs do: offer a different approach with exactly the same curriculum. Your objection is that same old red herring about fairness. My family certainly won't benefit (directly) from MI, and it's still a non-issue. Fairness is only an "issue" if you have it in for those who want MI. One of my issues with the anti-MI gang is that the only thing they care about is stopping other children from learning Mandarin.
Posted by Julie, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm
I read Dr. Pingyu Liu's website. I must say that I am impressed by his rigorus approach, with an emphasis on physics. If a student can understand basic physics principles, he/she will be better equipped to understand the world going forward. For example, he/she would be in a better position to judge the current energy crisis.
I like his notion of promoting world class competitions.
I also like his emphasis on physical education.
I don't like his empahsis on MI.
I think I will vote for him, because I support much, but not all, of what he believes in.
It should be pretty interesting to see how MI and Ohlone get along. It seems like oil and water to me, but it could become an emulsion. Time will tell.
Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 1:12 pm
I am concerned with Ezran's comment that equity in education can be defined as fairness in education.
Life is not fair, it is not fair when some are good at sport, or art, or math and others are average at nearly everything. It is not fair that some live close enough to school to walk and others have to depend on a bus. No, I don't like equity and fairness coupled.
It is not fair that someone may win the lottery and get something that others want and cannot get because they were not lucky enough to get their name taken out of the hat (or their elder sibling's). I think that fairness and luck should not be coupled.
I think a better definition of equity in education needs to be defined. I agree that not all education should be the same, but it must not depend on luck. Any candidate who promotes luck as a goal should definitely be treated with caution.
Posted by 2 cents., a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm
I am least interested in specifics (pro or against physics,pe, MI,SI, FLES, more math, more English, more writing more arts etc).
The Board's job is to set policy consistent with the electorate's beliefs and values, so that the financial support continues..it is not to push specific details or programs, or micromanage.
Who best understands how we are financed and the impact of various programs and materials on our financing structure? Who best understands and agrees with the majority opinion ( whatever that is) on what is critical for a strategic plan and the priorities of the plan? Who can fuly explore all the problems without prematurely jumping to a conclusion solution? Who can understand the long-term unintended consequences of their votes on the children 10 or 15 years from now, and vote in a way that inflict the least long term damage?
Who wants to make our district a district of many different educational opportunities for elementary kids, so that each kid gets the education he wins by lottery? Who wants to keep working on improving academics for ALL the kids in the district, and help neighborhood kids go to their neighborhood schools?
Who has the extensive experience of working within education, either as a professional, or as a volunteer "para-professional" so that they can understand how the district works, how our education system works, and the effects of their votes on the students and the staff?
If you want a "one for all, all for one" elementary school District, one which will keep working toward inclusion and integration, one which aims for transparency, honesty, ethical management, thoughtful promotion of all aspects of the child, not just academics..think about who to vote for.
The bottom line is that your vote DOES matter, urgently, hugely, on what direction we will take in the next 4 years. Will we become a fragmented district, or will we try to retain a unified mentality?
I am so glad that we have clear choices and the voting public will be able to decide.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 3:44 pm
First of all, editors--it's really, really inappropriate to censor political discussions. Please review the reasons for the First Amendment. Political speech is protected. I realize you're not the government, BUT the reasons for not limiting political speech apply.
Second, if you're going to censor, you need to be consistent and remove the later references to my comments.
To those who responded--of *course* you jumped to the convenient assumption that my comment was about ethnicity. I admit I did leave it unclarified just to see you guys swing into action.
But, basically, Liu Web site pretty much fits what people seem to think is the pro-MI crowd. The actual players are more varied than that, but Liu definitely fits it--solipsistic, narrow ranged, no indication of interest in the big district picture. (Those kids who aren't going to ace physics, but still have the right to attend school here. Or the 95 percent who won't be learning Mandarin in public schools. The only general interest interest is phys. ed.)
My comments about cultural differences apply directly to the academic boasting. It's considered very bad form to some people. I realize that isn't true of everyone--thus, my comment and my reference to stage mothers--simply because that sort of thing is not exclusive to one culture. It's manifested in many ways.
I think, by the way, background does matter here in that it affects what people think is the role of the public schools. In many countries, higher education is limited to a small percentage of the population--20 years ago it was 10 percent in England. If your view of public education is that the resources should be focused heavily on the best and the brightest, while most kids should leave school at 16, you're looking at a very different paradigm than in the United States, which, since WWII has seen a larger and larger percentage of kids go onto higher education.
How you view the role of public education affects how you think the resources should be distributed. So, yeah, that cultural difference *does* concern me and I'd like to know where Pingyu Liu stands on that continuum.
This is why I compared Liu to Klausner--because her GATE background indicates an interest in high-achieving students--but her interest in education doesn't seem limited to that.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 5:59 pm
I'm being frank. I spent too many years in the vicinity of Berkeley to not be fairly attuned to what brings forth certain tactics.
But you didn't answer my question--okay, maybe you did, but it's been zapped. Why did you refer to Asian culture in the singular? Because you thought I thought that? (A history of my posts will show that this is not the case.) Do you think that?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 8:39 pm
Reductionism strikes again. As I thought.
I did not, in fact, refer to Liu's ethnicity. I did refer to cultural differences. There's a difference--one's learned, one's innate.
Basically, I am critiquing choices. You are conflating that with racial prejudice--i.e. bias against certain inborn genetic traits.
Nothing in Mr. Liu's genetic make-up requires him to support MI and physics. These are choices. So is what he chose to put on his Web site.
You never did answer my question--why did you refer to Asian culture in the singular? It indicated to me an interesting bias on your part.
In fact, some would argue that that kind of assumption is inherently racist--everybody from that part of the world must be the same.
Given the huge divisions, religious, tribal and cultural, within Nigeria, I thought it was interesting that there, too, you lumped people together.
Now, do I have certain cultural preferences? Damn straight. I am, for example, against female genital mutilation, even though it is part of the culture in parts of Africa. I am opposed to enforced wearing of the burqua, even though that is culturally accepted in Afghanistan.
China? There is much that is admirable, but it's also a dictatorship with a nasty human rights and environmental record. Its historical treatment of women leaves much to be desired. Foot-binding was accepted and admired for hundreds of years--doesn't mean it doesn't suck.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:45 pm
PA Parent: Of course that is absolutely NOT what MI and SI offer - they offer standard PAUSD Curriculum AND the vast added benefit of bilingualism by the end of fifth grade. What other Palo Alto elementary school is offering language, let alone promising kids they'll be bilingual.
Is bilingual education or is it not an improvement over single language education? You can't have it both ways - either it is or it isn't - so just answer that question - is it or isn't it.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 10:00 pm
I would be more prone to vote for a parent who's child has struggled in school, and who has successfully navigated the school system despite difficulties - because its the ugly underbelly of the system that needs to be fixed. We need more people who care more about what's wrong - not what's right. Its the achievement gap, its capturing and serving the needs of the underserved, its facilities problems, its underfunded pension. Its about major problems that need to be solved, and priorities to serve the WHOLE community, not delivering more and more speciality programs to high performing students and photo ops patting AP students on the back.
Someone recently said, give me a Filet Mignon, and I'll make you a great steak. PAUSD BOE and staff really spend alot of time patting themselves on the back for making great steak.
I'm not impressed by parents of AP students. (I'm impressed by the students - but not their parents.)
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 12:06 am
I think academically talented kids need opportunities, but creating the best possible environment for gifted kids isn't the main role of public schools. The goal of the American public school system was not to create a ruling class, but a self-governing people. Self-governance requires an educated population.
These are old ideas, but I think they have merit. It's one of the reasons that though I (and the lottery gods) chose Ohlone for my kid, I think neighborhood schools should be well-supported and that Hoover's approach is the right one for some kids.
Educational agendas that stray too far from educating ALL our kids and emphasize only top-level achievement strike me as too narrow.
I mean, we have that third high-school task force claiming our high schools don't work for 20 to 30 percent of the kids. That's a lot of kids for whom our supposedly great school district isn't working.
On a more personal level, hearing people focus on their kids' accomplishments really does give me the willies. It can be very, very hard on the kids. In some cases, they get the idea that their accomplishments matter more than they do. I know a number of adults who were pushed academic stars as kids who fizzled out as adults. Now, they're on medication for depression, in part, because they can never, ever live up to some impossible standards.
With gifted kids, I think it's kind of a double bind--you want them to embrace their abilities and enjoy the acclaim that can come with doing something really well. At the same time, they've got to have some room to breathe and goof up.
Posted by Brian, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 5:50 am
"What other Palo Alto elementary school is offering language"
You're conflating two distinct things.
Immersion programs do not "offer language." They represent a different approach to the standard curriculum. It's an unusual approach that not all parents would want for their kids and so not appropriate to force onto all parents here. But immersion is not two scoops of FLES.
Your problem is that you see the kids who come out of immersion and you feel envy at their skills. If those skills really mattered to you, you would apply your kid for an immersion program. You don't envy the Ohlone kids, so that doesn't bother you.
Parents who put their kids in Ohlone believe that that choice is an improvement over non-Ohlone. Same for immersion families.
Posted by Mom, a member of the Nixon School community, on Sep 15, 2007 at 8:02 am
It doesn't matter how many times anyone speaks in Newspeak, saying that Immersion is just a different educational approach, like Hoover or Ohlone, nobody can dispute the fact that there is an additional subject outcome, thus a different academic offering from the rest of the district.
and that is problem number one with it, and completely contrary to the entire concept of public education's basis of offering equal opportunities in education.
If we can't do it in the State or the Nation, I want to at least do it in our District. Work slowly but surely toward improving the educational offerings to ALL kids. I rather my kid be part of the whole, than separated out and given superb in the same district as others who get none.
Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 8:17 am
It's not an issue of rhetoric: there is no issue of fairness or equality. Choice programs--including immersion--exist all around the country, and there are no objections to them. I'm sure you are sincere in your beliefs, but you are out of step with the rest of the country.
I'd rather my kids be a part of a whole district that is willing to cater to the educational needs of its diverse population, rather than one that shoves a one-size-must-fit-all education down everyone's throat.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 11:27 am
Oh, of course, there are objections to choice programs. As there have been here. As a choice parent, one of the many things that has irritated me about the MI crowd is their unwillingness to acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons to oppose MI.
I understand why the editors yanked my last post--it was way off topic. However, it pulled in three definations of racism to point out why PA Parent is off-base on this one. If you're going to use a loaded word understand what it means.
I don't send my child to Ohlone because I expect that my child will learn subjects other kids in the district won't learn. I do it because I think the approach to teaching is compatible with my child's temperment. Unlike immersion programs, Ohlone techniques can be and are exported to other schools in the district. I've heard from parents at other schools that there's been an effort to pull back on the academic pressure in the younger grades. This is good.
But immersion is not an educational philosophy like direct instruction. It doesn't exist unless a second language is being taught. Remember, it's supposed to be the Ohlone Way in Mandarin. That kind of says it all, right there. I mean, the Ohlone Way in Direct Instruction is an oxymoron. The Ohlone Way in Mandarin may be undoable, but it's not an oxymoron.
Meanwhile, I'll be plunking down $320 for one hour of afterschool language instruction this year--so I'll be paying more for a lot less than the MI crowd has arranged to get for free.
So, envy? Maybe. But it's also a clear case of inequity.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 3:23 pm
PA Parent, I don't know if I agree with you or not, but when people casually throw in that their opponent is a racist , even if they don't use those ugly words (as you put it "the details are beside the point") - well, it is just McCarthy-ism with a liberal face. Makes me a little ashamed to be a liberal.
Posted by Watching, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 3:31 pm
This one of the many reasons "liberal" has become a dirty word, and is why I don't call myself a liberal any longer. Depending on my mood, I might claim the category CLASSIC liberal..but that is as far as I go.