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School calendar advisory committee on agenda

Original post made on Oct 22, 2012

Composition of an advisory committee to evaluate Palo Alto's new school calendar will be among discussion topics at the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 22, 2012, 3:41 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I am very interested to know how the 6 parents will be chosen. I think anyone on this panel must be unbiased and I am worried that it will be difficult to find anyone open minded enough who will be concerned enough to agree to be on the panel.

In other words, the people who are willing to be on the panel are obviously not going to be impartial. Anyone who has no particular inclination is probably also not likely to be inclined to put the time and effort into being involved.


Posted by parent, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Well, one would think that if a kid receives a Far Below standard on the test score (In PAUSD) that someone somewhere would be in touch with that family, perhaps the kid, with some follow up evaluation?, a question or two? Nope - they give not a hoot. Because they're passing with their great numbers overall popluation-wise, they got what THEY want, so who cares (really) about the ones who are failing math. (whom, by the way, do not fit the 'achievement gap' demographic)


Posted by another parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm

parent -- I agree totally! The math curriculum needs to be adjusted and regular average kids need to be treated as if they are equally important in this district. Not everyone is going to cure cancer or lead the free world, but this world needs happy, well adjusted adults who are good citizens and workers. Ken Dauber has run his campaign for school board on this explicit platform -- meeting every child where they are and providing to them an excellent education with appropriate challenges that are neither too hard (discouraging) or too easy (boring). Ken supports the education of every child -- he wants every child to thrive. These are words that are easy to say but I believe that Ken will actually support action behind those words. He uses data and understands academic research about what works for kids. Ken Dauber is the first candidate for local office I have been this excited about in years and this is why. There is not enough caring in this district about regular kids. Hey PAUSD, my kid is not going to cure cancer. Maybe she's going to be a nurse who helps those with cancer. But nurses need good schools too!


Posted by Why pretend , a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Sometimes I feel like the district chooses the people they like and who would agree with the school officials. The diversity of students is never represented in the committees. They just pretend to be taking parents opinions.


Posted by Barron Park Family, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Seems like the committee will be awfully high school oriented -- there are many more elementary schools and families than high school families. Seems like there should be more than 2 representatives for elementary when there are 6 for high school!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm

According to the article, there will be four high school students, two high school parents, two middle school parents, two elementary parents, one secondary teacher (doesn't say high or middle) and one elementary teacher. That sounds fairly balanced to me. But, only numerically, I have no idea how they can select the panel to be impartial before it begins.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm

It always seemed to me that it is the job of the school district to arrange things so as to provide the best education and overall experience to the students. Accommodating the various preferences of the parents is secondary. So while getting the views of some parents might be politic, it is not clear how important their views should be if they don't relate specifically to the educational experience.

Why this has become such a high profile and divisive issue in Palo Alto is beyond me. The vast majority of districts made this transition (or not) with little or no drama. Frankly this seems well down the list of issues that move the needle for students, but if the staff thinks it worth a try, then let's give it a whirl.

FWIW, Harvard after many years recently re-arranged their schedule to start earlier, finish exams before Christmas, and actually hold graduation in May (shocking for Harvard traditionalists). As far as I can tell, even they've had less drama around it that we have ;-)


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

Buried in this article is a link to a Resolution which hopefully the Board passed, opposing Palo Alto's Measure C:

Resolution in Opposition To Measure C (Legalizing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Palo Alto):
Web Link

The letter found at the following link:
Web Link

encourages the Board of Trustees to oppose Measure C, making marijunana more freely available locally. The letter uses data from the latest "mental health survey" to demonstrate that a significant percentage of the students in the PAUSD claim to use, and have access to, marijuna and other drugs. The letter encourages the Board to become more engaged in understanding to what extent the data revealed in this survey is accurate, and to increase the District's participation in warning students about the dangers of drug use.

It's a little disappointing that the District waited until the very end of the election cycle to make this Resolution. The Board should be front-and-center in recognizing, and fighting, drugs in the schools. While this Resolution is the right thing to do, the Board should let Palo Altans know that they have passed this Resolution so that voters will understand the Board's solidarity with the City Council in opposing greater access to controlled substances in Palo Alto.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 9:52 am

@Parent, it does happen. If a child is Far Below, the teacher is talking with the student and the parents, helping them after class and providing referrals. The district also selects students based on teacher recommendations and working with parents for summer school programs.
So,yes, the school, parents and district do give not a hoot.


Posted by parent of senior, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

I sure hope they include a parent of the class of 2013 who may have younger children. This fall continues to be extremely stressful. I regret not fighting this calendar when I had the chance. And no, telling my student to do it all over the summer is a COP OUT on the part of the district and school board and a slap in the face from anti-stress groups such as WCDB and Challenge Success.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:45 am

Should have shifted to school start after Labor Day; 1st semester finals the first week of February; school out a week or so later in June. Win-win for everyone.


Posted by parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Curious,

This became "a high profile and divisive issue" because the students are still dependents of their families. Changes to the calendar have consequences for families. The students are not in college and living on their own. The students in our community are in a rigorous academic program and very active in extra-curricular activities ... which creates finely tuned schedules for each individual and their families that support them. So, to expect no drama around changes to the calendar is naive.

It's important that the board engage the broader community to avoid causing further division in the already challenging times for education.


Posted by Member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Curious,

Agreed that this has become a high profile and divisive issue only in Palo Alto. No other community in the area that has switched their calendar to benefit students has had all of this weeping and gnashing of teeth we've seen in Palo Alto. A perfect example of the "my kid, my kid, my kid, my family and to hell with everyone else" mentality that is so pervasive in this community.


Posted by mom, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm

This whole schedule thing is driven by AP tests. They are taken in May, so the teachers need to have taught their class by then for their students taking the tests.

The prior schedule worked fine (end of semester in January) in all honesty. Unfortunately, as much as I'd love for schools to start after Labor Day (they did here once upon a time), it would be very difficult given the timing of AP tests.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 23, 2012 at 4:05 pm

"So, to expect no drama around changes to the calendar is naive."

I spoke with a school board member once, during the long debate on this. S/he had called around to other nearby districts to see how they had dealt with the "calendar debate" in their community. They didn't know what s/he was talking about - they reported that the calendar change drew limited comment from the community, and everyone seemed reasonably pleased with the changes afterwards.

You get the sense that people in Palo Alto would argue about just about anything, given the opportunity.




Posted by reality check, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

Really? I guess s/he didn't call
Oxford Academy: 27th August
finals after break
Mission San Jose High School: 5th September
finals after break
University High School: 24th July
finals after break
The Preuss School UCSD: 20th August
finals after break

Asking your neighbor is hardly a reason to call for before break finals. If this is the approach the board is taking, so much for Palo Alto schools leading.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2012 at 7:33 am

Perhaps it is time for us to become leaders rather than followers.

Perhaps it is time to look at the reality of changing to a trimester system. With a northern hemisphere calendar, it makes sense as there are natural breaks in December and Spring which automatically cause breaks in the school year. The natural way to do things is to follow these breaks and make 3 trimesters rather than the unnatural 2 semesters.


Posted by Quit Speed Reading, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

"Reality check", the poster, "Curious" stated that other schools had no parents complaining when they changed the calendar, according to the words after the hyphen.

Dana Tom researched the data also and said schools comparable to PAUSD were happy with having final exams after Winter Break.

I look forward to a stress-free Winter Break, however, I wish they would give us some extra days off during the academic year and just add a week in the end. Secondary schools no longer have the day off in October; we value those extra days off.

To those complaining about the schedule being all about high schools, just wait until your children attend high school and their grades decide their future college (plus, they need an extracurricular for college applications because colleges don't want just good students, they have to engage in outside activities) and you will understand the stress these students face. College curriculum is being taught in high school in regular lanes. Many students have tutors due to the academic rigor. Students without parental help or tutors are at an extreme disadvantage in this community (which is why Tinsley is a joke). It's no wonder everyone always says "college is easy" after attending PAUSD. Prior to high school, the kids can play pattycakes - they should accept any academic schedule because high school IS the most stressful level for the children.


Posted by reality check, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

The above show schools with superior results to Palo Alto, all of which continue with after school finals. If you're going to ask anyone it should be those that provide better results.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

@reality check - like QSR said, the board member I referred to called the other districts to see how they dealt with the debate, not to see what calendar they used. Many fine high schools have their exams before break, many after, as you point out.


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