New School Year--PIE support? Schools & Kids, posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:03 am
I (and many of you) received my packets from PAUSD and Paly this week. I am filling out the forms, this sunday morning, dutifully writing the checks to Paly, PTSA, etc., and the PIE request appears.
I gave them money last year, and the year before...for as many years as they asked. Now, I am not so sure. I am one of the parents who feels disenfranchised due to the PAUSD escapades last year. Specifically, the MI debate and the irregularities in the decision process.
So, now for the first time I am considering voting with my checkbook.
Posted by PiE supporter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 9:49 am
I have thought long and hard about this, cuz I was thinking the same way...my decision is to pay for the piece of the PIE. Not paying does nothing to influence the School Board, and only decreases the per student allocation per school, which decreases funding for aides and programs. Remember, the money goes to the programs in each school that the PRINCIPAL and Site Council support, which usually means programs that are good for all the kids in the school.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 11:31 am
PiE benefits all our students in so many ways, it seems unfair to penalize all the PAUSD kids for the actions of a few parents and our BOE. Lets give Mr. Skelly a chance to bring good things back to our district and have faith that we will elect a new, thoughtful BOE. And if you don't want $$ to the MI program, designate your PiE donation to the secondary schools only.
Posted by Definitely Not, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm
I am definitely not donating to PiE. We have every year in the past, and I will continue to donate to my children's school. But, since PAUSD has seemingly gone into the business of setting up what is basically a private school at tax payer expense, I am saving my PiE money to pay for my own children's enrichment activities.
The whole purpose of PiE was to equalize funding, and I don't believe that's what has been happening as it relates to MI. Yes, not donating to PiE affects all the schools but this my "choice".
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 4:02 pm
Hard to see how not giving to PiE influences anything with the school board - I don't get what the "statement" is. If you don't like the School Board, the best place to make your statement at the ballot box; if you really don't like it, vote against the parcel tax. From my point of view, if you think the activities that PiE funds are worthwhile, you should give; otherwise not.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 6:33 pm
The statement is - keep equity in our schools. We're not interested in funding private schools with public dollars. I'll donate the same amount, but send it all to my kids school through the PTA direct appeal, and through my own kids enrichment activities.
If drop in PIE cuts in to staffing, then the BOE will have to start beefing up the staffing budget or changing staffing rules, because they can't 'afford' to let staffing fall - because then it hits student achievement, and then the BOE and Super really start taking some heat.
I think the BOE needs the message that they need to listen to the community or feel the heat. Every good parent knows that kids learn the hard lessons by feeling the consequences of their actions.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 7:13 pm
Not giving to PiE as a protest against MI? And MI is somehow equivalent to a private school? Did you know that "choice programs" are actually enshrined as a over-reaching supported goal in the PAUSD policies and procedures? I personally don't agree with that, but I think your logic is a little confusing to me - do you want them to get rid of SI, DI, and Ohlone Way too?
Hey, no need to give to PiE if you don't want to, but do you really think this is an effective way to send your message?
Posted by other parent, a member of the JLS Middle School community, on Aug 19, 2007 at 7:52 pm
I stopped giving money to schools/PIE after they not only renewed the parcel tax but almost doubled its amount. I simply can't afford to pay for it all: regular school expenses (field trips, supplies, etc) + school bonds + parcel tax + PIE. It's too much for my wallet.
The schools were just as good before when there were 27/28 students per classroom in elementary school as they are now. I don't buy into this whole argument about having to give PAUSD ever more money...
Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:42 pm
While that check book is out...
It seems to me that those concerned about equity are often really more self-interested than motivated by principle. To some extent, that's true of all of us, so please don't think I'm advocating some kind of socialist extreme here. Yes, we should look out for our own families and our own community. But, if the principle of equity *really* means something to you, I hope your contributions also go to worthy causes that serve children beyond Palo Alto. There are many fine organizations to choose from.
I just saw some interesting maps in some research, showing how perfectly matched our state's lowest performing schools are with our "non-white" communities. Our state education system is underfunded, requiring districts to go to private foundations like PiE and go to basic-aid approaches, which poorer communities can't afford to do. So again, if you're really interested in equity, I hope your political giving and your votes reflect those principles too.
Even if you disagree with my politics or economic analysis, that's fine. Bottom line - other than writing checks that benefit your kids' schools, what are you really *doing* for the sake of equity?
Posted by mom, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:47 pm
I cut my PiE gift in half and the other half will go to support a candidate I endorse for Bd of Ed. I designated my $$$ to go to secondaries so that MI question isn't an issue. If I find some more spare cash, I'll write another check by year's end. That way I can save half my nose...
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 6:20 am
Barron Park Mom,
Thanks for the comment. Your suggestion sounds like the best one I have heard. I think I will join you.
To Skeptic Al's point, yes I agree. We have plenty while others do not. Its enlightened self interest to ensure that everyone has an adequate education thus ensuring them gainful employment (IMHO). So, I will also take another "half" and donate to a candidate who not only shares my values in general but in education, specifically.
Posted by Don't Vote with Your Pocket Book, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Aug 20, 2007 at 7:01 am
A MI student will get only 5 cents of your $250 PiE donation and that is assuming Susan Charles and her Site Council decide to use some of the Ohlone PiE allotment for MI-only uses. Doubtful that will happen for 2008, since MI will be getting funds to cover its start up costs from other sources.
Frustrating as it may be at times, if what you want to do is send the current board a message, other than emails and speaking out at board meetings there is not much else you can do that won't hurt students who just want to go to school and get a good education.
Vote for board candidates who agree with you at the ballot box or vote with your feet, but please don't vote with your pocket book when you know the money is being spent on much needed things for our students and there is no other way to fund them.
Posted by who to blame?, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:51 am
Dear "Don't Vote with Your Pocket Book",
This is a direct result of the BoE process. The people you need to blame for any shortfall are on the BoE and some are up for re-election. If you don't like the way their decisions are playing out, you know what to do.
Posted by Not quite, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:25 am
Sorry, Exec Board Member,
A number of PTAs DID donate significant funds to PiE, although they are separate and didn't have to. Just look at the records for last year. Ask your PiE rep.
Remember, one POINT of PiE is to balance equity for parent fundraising among all schools.
And besides, you're probably against that principle since you want to have inequitable fundraising for what you perceive as inequitable education for all kids. Very inconsistent. But that's your choice.
I wonder what Melissa would say about this extra funding for PTAs instead of to PiE. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
Posted by PARent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:25 am
If you are going to change your donation behavior based on the MI shenanigans, please make a short note on your check and donation slip. No one is going to guess why, and you know someone will spin it to their own benefit if donations change.
I will probably donate more to PTA this year, too. But overall, I think my school will suffer from this. If you attend a school in a well-to-do area, why not donate to all of the elem PTA's, just leave out MI. That would make a statement.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:57 am
This discussion illuminates the innanity that has been visited on public education by meddling BOE's.
Yes, at this point in time, school districts have to deal with the fact that they are governed by elected boards of education.
That said, just look at the ferment, dissension, and inefficiency that politicizing education has wrought.
All that said, the most important consideration for me this year, as I vote, will be to vote for candidates that seem to understand that education takes place mostly in the classroom, face-to-face with a teacher.
I will vote for candidates who indicate a broad sense of the impact of their decisions on what happens every day, in the classroom.
I will vote for candidates who are open-minded enough to consider that it's not just the BOE and the Superintendent's office that drive out district's success, but that many parents and dedicated teachers and site administrators who give selflessly, because they love public education.
By definition, Camille Townsend fails the above test. Camille Townsend will not have my vote this November.
As far as the others go, I will reserve judgement until I've seen and heard more from the current crop of candidates.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 6:32 pm
The schools ask a lot - PIE ($500 a student per year), PTA ($250 a student), Sports ($150 a season), music ($), supplies ($100 per student), parcel tax ($500 per year). At some level, it seems like a good investment, but much more often my wife and I are surprised at the way some of the money is spent. MI is certainly one well discussed issue, but really only one of many. My personal favorite is to ask why Jordan needs a latte cart every Friday for teachers, but I digress (and I do not drink coffee anyhow)...
Our feeling these days is to invest less in the central fundraising vehicles, and more in the 'direct to the groups we care about' - things like Band and Sports and facilities (like garden and visual improvements on the campuses). This impacts things we see directly. We volunteer our time to a far greater extent, and we see many of the spending inefficiencies and poor budget controls and processes, and that perhaps reinforces our general concerns. The fact that the Principals and District management spent years at each others throats does not reassure me.
I think PIE is going to lose some of the winds in its sails here shortly. I certainly don't want to see it fail, but I think it needs to reinvigorate itself and make itself more visible to the Community. I do not know what it does for my kids in middle school or high school. If I were to choose between $250 for the Jazz Band or $250 to PIE, I think the decision is increasingly easy.....
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 6:56 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] It's amazing to me how a simple gift of kindness can be turned into an "excessive perk" by those who are entrusted with the care, nurturing, and education of their kids, every day. Amazing...
The Jordan PTA (and many other PTA's) brings in the latte guy (at a very nominal cost, paid by the PTA) ONCE every month - when they have their executive meeting.
If teachers attend the meeting, they are welcome to have a latte. The PTA executives that do this say its great for volunteer PTA morale, and helps bond teachers and PTA executives.
And, btw, when was the last time you were invited toa meeting and asked NOT to share in the coffee and other goodies?
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:10 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Do you know the line item was/is $2,000 per year? For once a month service? That seems like a lot.
In any event, my more important points are still the same - I am close enough to the district to know we do not spend money as well as we should, and I sometimes wonder why we ask so much of parents financially when our budget controls still seem a little less than they should be.
Posted by Just Moved Here, a resident of Stanford, on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm
$2000 per year for a LATTE CART that isn't even for the teachers? Did I get this right - it's for the PTA executives at the monthly meeting? Please tell me this isn't how my money is going to be spent! If the PTA executives want a latte - they can pay for it out of their own pocket. They signed up for the position knowing it was a volunteer position - let's get real. If that isn't wasteful spending I don't know what is. Some people need to get a grip and get their priorities straight - I taught for 12 years and no one ever bought me a latte, much less a regular cup of joe - and I am/was fine with that. Hard earned dollars, whether they are PTA funds or PIE or school budgets, need to be spent wisely and a latte cart reeks of irresponsible spending. Think about what the teachers and students need - then allocate the money! If I sound angry, it's because I am - having taught at schools that were far less well funded than any in PAUSD- the thought of a latte cart makes me sick. There are plenty of school districts where teachers pay for school supplies out of their own pocket, on a meager teacher's salary. I know, I did it for many years because there just wasn't enough money in the school budget to pay for everything. A latte cart - that just makes me want to scream GET A GRIP!
Posted by Elem Parent, a member of the Palo Verde School community, on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:58 pm
The latte cart comes to our school, about twice a year I think, and staff and any volunteers (or parents who happen to be there) use it too. This is at the elementary level and I think all elems get it.
Posted by geez..., a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:42 pm
OK, kids, let's all take a deep breath here and clarify a few things: At Gunn, the latte guy came in about 8 times/year. It is a *staff* appreciation item and yes, probably about $2K/year. It is a budgeted line item and anyone who joins the PTA may come to the budget meeting and vote.
Is it a huge, waste-of-money perk(that's a joke)? Depends on your POV. If you taught in another area, then it looks wasteful to you, no issues there. But would you have complained bitterly if your parent community once a month bought you a cup of coffee? Would you turn away and grumble if they made you lunch once in awhile? What if they took a Saturday and made a nice garden or fixed up some shabby things? A waste because books and pencils are more important? Maybe.
Also, the dig at Melissa was completely uncalled for. She supports PiE as did Council presidents before her. If a PTA was encouraged to give to PiE - ask PiE, not Melissa. The president can't tell PTAS what to do. Call Melissa, ask her your question and please post her answer.
It is very important to PTAs that PiE is successful. That was the whole point behind forming PiE - one foundation to supplement **school programs**. That's why you won't ever see PiE funds buying coffee.
Please get the facts straight before posting "what I heard was..."
Posted by looked it up, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 22, 2007 at 12:13 am
PAPiE website: 6.7% goes for expenses - is that "wasted"? I don't know what it costs to run a foundation, so your guess is as good as mine. I do know that there are a lot of people volunteering to make this work.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:23 am
Simply amazing - and somewhat mind-boggling that such stingy elf-righteousness would come up over budgeted comestibles at a regular meeting between PTA volunteers and teachers.
The PTA does a coffee, and invites teachers; communication between teachers and PTA volunteers is enhanced; bonding takes place; teacher morale is boosted; curriculum problems are discussed - from many perspectives that go gfar beyond the cloistered, cozy relationship that exists betwen the BOE and district administratiion. Perhaps 50-75 people participate (that's about $3 per cup of coffee, or other comestable).
The end result of those meetings are gratitude and morale boosting for the teachers; a better understanding between PTA officials and teachers about what is happening for students at a particular school (thus enabling better teacher/student/parent communication), and so on.
Yes, about $180 per month (or $3.00 - or less - per person). That's an egregious expenditure?
Can ANYONE, ANYONE show me a better spent $180 line item per month in this district than that?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Frankly, the hard-working teachers in this district (which is not a poor district) shuold not have to grovel for anything. But guess what? They often do. The teachers in this district DO pay from their pockets for school supplies; they DO volunteer dozens and hundreds of hours of their time to help students; they DO deal with a demographic that is just as challenging as the demographic you were exposed to - although the challenges are different, and sometimes more vexing.
Teachers in this district have endured cost-of-living freezes during tight budget times. Teachers in this district are among the best anywhere - although you'd never know it sometimes, as their opinion seems recently to be worth little to the high-paid administrators ($240K+ perks [housing, etc. etc.) for a Superintendent, $150K+ for some Associate Sups, etc. etc. and BOE members, more-than-a few of whom are very comfortablly compensated in their full-time professions]
All this is not to draw pity for underpaid teachers. On the contrary, most teachers I know would be uncomfortable with my praising the many things they do above and beyond the call of duty - every day - to teach and socialize our kids.
You want to talk about waste? how about those high priced administrators, for a start? Why do we need so many of them in Calofornia? Are you aware of the FACT that the largest component of California's budget goes to education, and 60 PERCENT of that education budget goes to educational administration. Now THAT's waste! Why aren't any of the 1000 districts in California combining their administrative functions? Why do we have multiple layers of administration (state, county, district), with overlapping functions. THAT's waste.
What about the WASTE of intellectual capital (teacher experience) - intellectual capital that is PAID for with our tax dollars - that is caused by not tapping the institutional knowledge of teachers when it comes to making district policy?
Why do we permit - via legislative mandate - that elected BOE's, most of whose members have never spent a day teaching in a public classroom - to make policy that is often uninformed by "best practices" teaching skills? And, in doing so, causing classroom INEFFICIENCIES that WASTE taxpayer dollars? Now, THAT's waste.
The people here - many of whom regularly attend PAID FOR meetings (including travel, meals, etc.) - who are complaining about a once-per-month meeting that costs a measly $180 (or thereabouts) per session - need to reorder priorities.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"Caffeinated" should visit a few states and districts outside of California. I would suggest s/he take a look at the physical educational plant in those states - then compare that to Palo Alto's. Teachers here - relative to the cost of living - are WAY underpaid. Yet there they are - every day - teaching and socializing your kids, spending more time with them in a week than you probably will in any two weeks, or maybe a month. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I ask again: where ANYWHERE within PAUSD, do you see $3.00 better spent? Until you have an answer for that, hold your judgment and walk in PAUSD teacher and PTA volunteer shoes before making statements that don't hold water within the reality of the context of THIS district.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:34 am
I am not too concerned about the latte, but I know that some people justly are.
We have many families here who really struggle to live in Palo Alto. They may or may not have moved here because of the schools (I moved here for other reasons) but once here the costs of sending a child to school is more than they expected. They struggle to contribute to PIE PTA and other classroom costs, they pay and volunteer for AYSO, Little League, whatever and struggle to come up with the contributions for coach gift, etc. They freely admit that a trip to Starbucks is just not in their budget, a family meal out is a trip to Fresh Choice on a rare occasion and a family vacation is staying with relatives in some other part of California. For these people, the latte cart and its expenses is rubbing salt in the wound. Please respect that to many people this is extravagance while to others it is a worthwhile expense.
Maybe, these families should be personally invited (the only way they will hear about it) to have a latte when the cart comes, but I forget, they are probably out working their several jobs and couldn't find the time.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:40 am
PiE is the only method we have for using donated funds to pay for staff. Many school aides, additional library time, etc. comes from PiE. If you'd like to know where the PiE dollars go in your school, ask your PiE rep. Money donated to your school PTA can only buy stuff - also important.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:45 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
You seem mad about many things - and stridently defend teachers from accusations no one is making. I think most of our teachers are great - and tell them so regularly. My point is I do not think I need to fund a latte cart to make people 'feel good' at a monthly PTA meeting. Saying this is the best $3 the district spends suggests you are a long ways from reality, and probably not especially willing to enagage in thoughtful discussion. Every site I have been at in PA has a coffee machine - in fact several of them. Why do we need a latte man in addition for $3 a cup? Why do we need to spend $15-25K per year across all our sites on something that seems so obviously a luxury? I can name you about 50 things that money can be spent on that would be a better investment....
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 10:22 am
PiE is not specifically funding (or not funding) MI, each principal decides how to spend their PiE dollars. If you don't want your PiE money to go to the MI program, designate your donation for secondary schools only.
Posted by Disgusted Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:03 am
This is what we were all afraid about. It is one of the hidden costs of MI. No one wants to contribute to MI so they don't contribute to the elementary schools. The elementary schools need money for things that most parents consider essential, playground supervision, classroom aides, etc. If the secondary schools start taking money that would have gone to elementary schools, then all of a sudden they will feel as if they have had a windfall and start spending on items that would not necessarily have been funded.
Elementary schools get less and they suffer. Secondary schools get a windfall and spend more which leads them to expect more in the future and budget accordingly. This sounds like a very slippery slope.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:04 am
Bill, [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]
How much dollar benefit does a cohesive team mean to an organization, and why do private organizations spend orders-of-magnitude more money than school districts on building morale, and getting people together to bond organizational relationships?
What might be the human capital COST of PTA volunteers and teachers (and others) NOT getting together to help make education flow smoother - to help YOUR kids be happier and better educated?
You failed to address some of the other issues of waste that I raised above, simply dismissing them. Penny wise, pound foolish? I think so.
I've written before about the small coterie of well-intedned parents in this district who think they know more about what makes education work - from every persepctive - than the people whoh actually do the work. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
There is no "magic" about an education in Palo Alto. Our DEMOGRAPHIC drives school excellence here, backed by a superb teacher and site administration corps that is up to the task of meeting the extraordinary demands expected by that demographic.
It's simply amazing that what comes to about $3.00 (or less) per person (volunteers, teachers, site administrators, some parents, student reps, etc. etc) - should be slected out for diligence, as HUNDREDS of times that cost have been wasted on our classrooms through inefficiencies created by mis-guided BOE and administrative decisions, not to mention the ACTIVE poaching on employee morale by the last Sup (supported by the most of the BOE that hired her), and what THAT cost. Not to mention the innane waste caused by some parent-led initiatives (like MI) [I'm neutral on MI) that cost our district more lost dollars, in terms of opportunity cost that could have been spent on other initiatives.
Posted by supportive parent, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:25 am
RWE, i love what you said and how you said it. gee, i wonder if bill would be willing to tally up the $$$ that teachers take out of their own pockets to pay for supplies, tramsporting students to special events, etc. etc. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] i know many parents who would gladly contribute to that coffee...i sure would
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:30 am
I respect your views and have said so before on other topics. I believe a lot of what you say in your last post. However, I think that you underestimate the number of families in this area who are not as affluent as you think.
I myself do have time to spend on the computer at home amusing myself on this forum.
I do know families who are living here, in rented homes, because they have jobs in Palo Alto doing things that we want done. They choose to live here in rented apartments because they feel that this is better for them than say, EPA where they could afford more, and are struggling to work when their kids are at school so that they can be home with their kids after school. They work cleaning houses, doing gardening, looking after preschoolers or driving our elementary kids to after school activities. Believe it or not, there is plenty of this type of work around in Palo Alto and maybe not in other areas. They are proud of what they are doing for their families and would hate to not pay their way when it comes to what their kids are getting out of the schools.
There are many who have come here because of the schools and both parents are working full time jobs. They possibly have borrowed money from extended family to buy a starter home in Palo Alto and are now shocked at the money that they are asked to voluntarily pay out. They are quite possibly asking themselves the question of can they afford to live here and did they make the right decision.
I am not defending any of these people's decisions. Where they live is their choice but they have chosen it. What I am defending is the fact that they exist and they do struggle.
It is fine with me to pay for morale in the schools. I am OK with it. But, please respect those who think it is something that they should not be paying for because they are not as wealthy as you.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:36 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I pretend to nothing regarding knowledge of how to manage an effective education environment. I leave that to the teachers and administrators of the district. I think that people generally should be wise with their money - and not waste it on extraneous things. Between my wife and I we have run the PTA's of one of the largest elementary schools in the district, built 4 school gardens, and run one of the largest youth sports programs in the community. And the classroom volunteer time. And the contributions.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Among the goals of an education is to teach our children to respect others and their opinions and points of view.
Posted by Another parent ---, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 1:38 pm
I am one of those parents that can't afford it all. We bought our house in PA in the early 90s and were lucky to be able to do so. My husband is a civil servant (which means he gets LESS benefits than PAUSD teachers do) and I do stay at home to take care of my kids as RWE suggests parents should do.
We are not poor but we are not rich. When I received the school packet for this year I almost gagged. I added up all the requested momey at it was about $1500 per child total. Obviously we can't pay that.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I just have a simple suggestion to make. Instead of spending $2000 on a "coffee cart", how about buying a coffee machine and requesting that people donate coffee (beans or groud, whatever)... ?? It would be much less costly and you would still have coffee. How about some simplicity in the school district ? Gosh, that would help, in my opinion.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm
I'm with you another parent. For $1000 you could purchase a fancy espresso maker - one button and you've got a steaming hot cup of java, or a latte for that matter. Then teachers/PTA board members could enjoy coffee every day, year round. That sounds like a smarter use of PTA money to me.
By the way, I was on our Elementary PTA board for 4 years and never had the latte guy visit. A couple times a year he comes for parents/teachers/admin - ususally in conjunction with an event like selling auction tickets. Thats it, and that sounds more reasonable to me.
Posted by Fred, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 3:02 pm
Wow, lots of heat on this thread.
I do tend to think that a $2K/year latte cart service, while a nice tip o' the cap to the teachers, might not be what everyone has in mind when they donate. The cost is somewhat high, and the symbolism is not so good. Like others, I have lived in places where $2000 is a lot of money (esp for the schools). I am certain the PTA's had the best intentions. Perhaps worth revisiting.
RWE - your posts are quite meaty, but too long for me to read I'm afraid. Maybe you can summarize? I would like to get more out of your contributions.
RBTL - for some reason, your "fixed!" posts really irk me. Nothing to do with content - just seems disrespectful of the original poster. Certainly it is your right to post them, but just wanted to give you the feedback.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 4:58 pm
Bill, It's nice that you've volunteered your time to the schools. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Why not let PTA volunteers and teachers enjoy what most other professional groups (and their volunteer helpers) enjoy every now and then?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Let's take a look at some things, in perspective.
you said: " I think that people generally should be wise with their money - and not waste it on extraneous things"
Yes, $200+....That's the **average** amount of guesstimated money that PAUSD teachers spend out of their own pocket every year. Admittedly, this was obtained from an informal poll I took from teachers (23 of them) a few years ago, at three different schools.
Are you aware of the FACT that most teachers are spending $100-200 per year just prior to school starting to perpare their classrooms? The vast majority of teachers are not reimbursed for that, because department budgets don't allow for it.
Are yuo aware of the HUNDREDS of teachers that supply probably $40-50 per year JUST for KLEENEX, because their students need it? Add to that art and writing supplies, science lab supplies, sports equipment, objects brought from home - like fans, projectors, etc. etc, because PAUSD can't afford them.
How about the subsidization of transport costs for some student, gratis, so that they can attend out of school events?
How about the free food made at home or bought at market, just for your kids. TEACHERS buy that stuff.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Keep in mind that these teacher contributions are for YOUR kids (and others). YOUR volunteerism isi done for YOUR kids (not theirs). Match that up on the selflessness score, and see where it comes out.
How much of your own money do you give back to YOUR employer? Not much, I'll wager, unless its in voluntary contributions that you can deduct, unlike most teachers.
Mind you, that $200 is an *average*. I personally know three teachers whose combined out-of-pocket total (unreimbursed) came to almost $600 per teacher. I know one teacher who has easily contributed well over $1000 per year for the last several years. You don't see them saying "see what I did for your kids!". Nope, they just keep on truckin' in the face of BOE's populated by non-teaching professional, careerist administrators, and a FEW (for emphasis, a relative FEW) ingrate parents who think that teachers are essentially chattel, who can be thrown the occasional bone.
I bring this up (teachers don't brag, like a FEW parents in our community, about their voluntary contributions), because when put in perspective, the measley $20K [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] should be compared with $80K+ that the combined teacher corps cpontributes, gratis, to your kid's education. There are other teacher and admionistrative staff contributions that aren't included in this.
Never mind that HUNDREDS of free hours of time that teachers give outside of their normal work day. Add that to the debit column.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm
If the teachers have to supply things like Kleenex and food to the kids in their classrooms, then it is their problem as they haven't asked. I have seen signups in every classroom for supply type items which are always gladly given. I have donated bundles of Kleenex from Costco, films (or disposable cameras), napkins and cups with bottles of juice and crackers, hand sanitizer, soap and other things that don't come to mind. In Palo Alto, if a teacher even hints that something would be nice, they end up getting it.
You may ask why this is. We Palo Altans are a generous lot and somehow if a teacher asks for supplies, we know that they benefit our own kids and so we the parents buy for our own classroom. Now, some teachers new to the district may not realise this and may not ask, but to any teacher who is paying out of their own pocket for items like RWE or I mentioned, just put a sign up on the door, in the homework packet, in a classroom email, newsletter, or wherever and I can almost guarantee you will get the contributions.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 5:42 pm
Parent, thank you...please make this known to your local PTA. However, many, many items can't wait for a contribution. Go ask a few teachers they spend at the outset of the academic year; it's surprising. (Also, keep in mind that not all parents read those packets).
btw, most PAUSD parents are EXTRAORDINARILY generous and involved in their children's education. That a good thing.
What boggles is watching someone make gramd gestures about waste, when what we're discussing is anything but waste. Rather, it's an investment in good morale, a reward for hard-woring volunteers, etc. That translates to a more effective use of our tax dollars. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
What's spent currently is probably little more than would be spent if coffee was ordered from Starbucks, etc - in fact, it's probably cheaper.
Posted by pa mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 6:06 pm
$2000/year is an awful lot of kleenex. Also, if teacher's moral is dependent on a few cups of coffee, I think we are in trouble. However, I don't think this is the case. Teachers in this district know how much they are appreciated. Every time they have a need, parents are there to chip in. The number of parent volunteers is staggering. It's a mutual admiration society at our school. We've purchased out of our own pockets cd players, microwaves, computers, etc. for teachers. They get great gifts at Christmas and at the end of the year. I would think compared to districts that struggle every day with the basics, this is an amazing district to work in.
With that said, I would be curious to know specifically what are teacher's issues with the district, with how things are run. I always hear there are "issues" but what are they exactly?
I would submit that teachers in this district have awesome retirement packages and medical benefits and at 180 day work days per year, even if they are working 9 hours a day (includes outside of the classroom time) they are doing pretty well compared to those who get 3 weeks vacation per year and work 9 hrs/day, often working overtime as well. Alas, not everyone in this area makes 6 figure incomes, even though we are professionals.
I know how hard teachers work, my mom was a teacher. But so do a lot of other people - try working with 10 paid holidays/year, no bonuses, 3 weeks of vacation, and a minimal retirement package. That's about 225 days/year. Maybe you'll have a different perspective of your own.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 6:15 pm
Another big source of donations to teachers are the wish boxes they put out at book fairs. The libraries get donations from parents for these too as well as what the book fair (scholastic?) gives back.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 6:26 pm
pamom, this isn't so much about teachers, as it is the quality of everyday education that your kids get.
Teaching is one of the most stressful occupations; just look at new teacher turnover - it's staggering.
I am not currently a teacher, but I know from experience that teachers average way more than nine hours a day. Some teachers - especially teachers that issue class rpjects that need to be corrected and graded, work more like 14 hours per day.
Teachers often are compelled to take summer courses; they often work during breaks, they are - by profressional standards in every other developed country on earth - underpaid.
Most teachers I know begin working at schools a week or two prior to school opening.
So, add up the 14 hour days (often, including weekend work), the mandatory summer courses, classroom stress, and prep time - that puts teachers into as many, or more hours than most of us with 49 week, 40 hr per week jobs.
Posted by BIll, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 7:03 pm
I have got an idea! Let's survey our district's teachers. Lets ask them what the most important programs are that the PTA funds. If, as you stridently insist, the Lattes are the best use of our money and come in first, I personally will pay for the lattes at every school. If, as I think, there are many other far more valuable programs for us to maintain, then you should feel a compunction to fully fund the latte program.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 8:39 pm
RWE - whether or not you agree with the Latte carts - each PTA raises its own funds and decides how to spend the money. There are things they can't spend money on (I actually think they couldn't use PTA funds to buy a coffee machine for the teachers lounge.) If you are a PTA member - voice your concern at that site.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:30 pm
Why on earth couldn't the PTA buy a coffee machine for the teachers' lounge. If one school can fund a science room at an elementary school which the others don't have, then I feel sure that a coffee machine, a fraction of the cost, must be OK.
Or How about this? Thank your lucky stars that your kid(s) have some of the best teachers in this country teaching them - as the majority of parents know in their hearts that our teachers deserve everything they get, and more.
Posted by another part of town, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 11:56 pm
whoa- not every school in this district has volunteers oozing out of the woodwork. We have had to cancel field trips or hornswoggle someone into driving a class field trip that their child wasn't even in. We don't get everything on the wish list, we do ask for Kleenex and we don't get those big Christmas gifts. An origami reindeer is just as precious. All of Palo Alto is NOT the same! (not whining, just commenting)
And that latte cart - nice to meet with colleagues on a cold morning and share a cup of coffee. I know this isn't the issue - but it is very much appreciated.
PS thanks RWE for your thoughtful posts - your commentary is interesting. I'm not 100% in lock step with your thinking, but I do read it.
Posted by Another parent ---, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 12:41 am
Well, "another part of town"... it is fine if you think that you should be have coffe-chain lattes so sip. I am suprised you think it is something to be properly expected as a gift from parents in the community.
I think it is an unnecessary luxury, I don't buy them for myself. I make my own coffee.
What I read here strenghtens in my opinion that the district (including PIE and PTAs) asks for far too much money from parents and for some frivolous perks at that. As I explained above, I am not exactly wealthy. All this comforts me in my decision to not give to the schools above and beyond what I cannot avoid paying (from PE outfits to some of the field trips) and to only give my volunteer time in the classroom.
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 8:48 am
What a darned shame that a certain minority of parents who are usually well-meaning cannot entertain without rancor the fact that PTA volunteers, teachers, site administrators, and student leaders sit doen for a meeting once a month at some PAUSD campuses and bring in a guy to serve lattes - at a cost of $3.00 per person.
I'm in the private sector, and have worked with volunteers - in varying capacities - for years, in both public and private settings. I have often been to large coordinating and feedback meetings with these volunteers and their managing staff, meetings where $150-$200 dollars worth of coffee and donuts were de rigueur, and welcomed.
This is the first time, ever, over a period of some decades, that I have ever seen volunteers and the staff they served castigated for something like this.
A case can be made in any volunteering group - like the PTA - that funds shuold only be expended on hard assets and services, but in most organizations there lies a sense that professional bonding, especially with key volunteer groups, pays dividends in ways that often lead to better ideas, an an untimate growth of the volunteer force, with all the concomitant benefits thereof.
For the **fortunately small** minority of parents on this thread who, like Bill, "PIE too soggy", "Another parent", and others who don't see things in the way I have justs described, it's their right to protest.
Frankly, I'm rather shocked by what can be labeled as nothing more than a "penny wise, pound foolish" personal fiscal philosophy, and a general ignorance about the real value that meetings like the ones described above - with supporting comestables (the "table" is a bonding experience, look into gastronomic history) - exhibited by this seemingly smalll minority.
I showed this thread to a four neighbors last evening. One of those neighbors is a well-heeled entrepreneur; two others are social workers, and the third is a local small businessman who makes a modest living. All four were taken back at what one called "the small mindedness" that would drive concern over coffee served at a meeting. One of my neighbors brought forward something that I have raised in this thread; that she knows two teachers who make considerable financial donations to their respective classrooms, gratis, without compensation.
I point this out because I have not heard or seen one word of appreciation for the freebies that teachers, site administrators and hard-working volunteers give back to PAUSD.
That said, I'm thankful for our great teaching and volunteer staff in the PTA, and certainly hope they continue to enjoy their meetings.
Perhaps those here that disagree that the people who teach and socialize their kids shouldn't share an occasional meeting (on their own time, btw) and as part of that meeting enjoy a small treat, might after some reflection on the big picture, change their mind,, or donate toward those meetings, which do provide real benefit.
For those that would hold their funds back FROM THEIR OWN CHILDREN'S EDUCATION, because they think an occasional latte shared by volunteers whoh help their children, and their children's teachers, is excessive, I can only say I'm sorry for them, as generosity comes from those who feel satisfied and secure enough to give.
For those whoh feel their own financial situation enables them to pass judgment in a negative way on those who share simple pleasures, I would ask only that you reflect hard on what impact statements like I've seen above might have on the morale of a volunteer and teaching corps that gives - with few exceptions - selflesslesly of itself, so that your children may grow and thrive in this world.
I would also ask you to consider that teachers themselves are largely underpaid, most here having to live elsewhere, and commute loing distances to teach your children. Tthose teachers are contributing far more than the $3.00 some of them get in value for the latte they receive, while working on thier *own time*,, looking for ways to better improve the experience of your children in the classroom,
Posted by concerned parent for equity, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Aug 23, 2007 at 9:47 am
In my experience, parents do step up to the plate and donate Kleenex, etc. But what are the expectations around here?..."we don't get everything on the wish list...we don't get those big Christmas gifts." I question the expectation of receiving big Christmas gifts. A small courtesy gift seems much more appropriate in the public school setting where one's (and others') children are getting graded by teachers.
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 10:03 am
I am glad to see you have quietly stopped insisting that 'comestibles/coffee' is the best money the PTA spends. If in fact you are correct that the average PAUSD teacher spends $200 per year on supplies for students, then I think it is morally wrong for us to spend $25K per year on lattes. We should take that money and reimburse the teachers. But, I think you are way off on that statement, too.
You seem to accuse many of us of not supporting teachers. You write a lot, but what do YOU do? Again, I'll repeat. My wife ran her PTA for a year. We together have designed, funded and built 4 gardens/landscaping projects (Hays, Jordan, Paly, and a 4th upcoming). We funded most of these privately through contributions from many sources, and did not righteously demand that PiE fund anything. I personally have spent 4 full weekends in the last 3 years hauling soil, digging holes, trimming trees, and planting plants at PAUSD sites. PiE didn't give me coffee (which I don't like anyhow), tea, beer, or a mojito. I went to the grocery store and bought some sodas and cookies for the group of teachers, parents, and kids that came to help. What have you done?
I personally do not have time for 'meetings' and don't feel the need to chat over lattes. Any time any teacher or administrator has asked us for something, they have gotten help right away - supplies, books, contributions, drivers, chaperones.
But our tolerance does have a limit. It is when people like you demand that we must fund lattes or 'comestibles', and make statements that those who don't agree are small minded and cheap.
Posted by not a latte drinker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 10:25 am
RWE, although I don’t always agree with everything you post, I do appreciate your presence on the forum as a teacher-advocate.
...I have not heard or seen one word of appreciation for the freebies that teachers, site administrators and hard-working volunteers give back to PAUSD.
Wow! Did you really mean to say this? I hope it was a slip in the heat of an emotional argument, otherwise I’d have to think that you’re trying hard not to notice how much many/most of us appreciate our teachers and their personal contributions to their classrooms.
As far as your latte argument, how about considering it as teacher/volunteer compensation? This is one of the costs we bear in order to have those monthly meetings carried out. How much is their time worth to the rest of us who don’t attend? If lattes is how they decided they’d remain happy and committed, then I support that vote. I don't view it as excessive in view of 1) the size of the overall budget; 2) the number of hours these people put in on my/our behalf.
We have a choice: if we don’t like the way our individual school PTAs are allocating their budgets, we can show up and vote it down. If we don’t have the luxury, time or inclination to go to those meetings, we can either pass our views on to others (e.g. PTA President or other board member) and ask that they represent our views at the meeting, or we can keep quiet and be glad that others are willing and able to spend their time bettering our school communities on our behalves.
I’ve been in the PTA for well over a decade now. At first I was one of the eager ones who ‘knew best’ and found many faults with how people were conducting their ‘jobs’. Then I became more involved at a leadership level and developed a new attitude: If you don’t like how things are run in a volunteer organization, either chip in and change it or be quiet. If you don’t contribute, you’ve revoked your privileges to complain. (Incidentally, I have the same policy about dinner. :) )
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:22 am
"not a latte drinker", you are correct in pointing out my error. You have my heartfelt apology.
Some on this thread have supported teachers.
btw, I think your policy at the leadership leve,l about handling dissension and complaint, is admirable, and very well wrought. In fact, it's a policy that more organizations should emulate - it's very wise.
That said, I commend you for all you do for PAUSD, and am, frankly, humbled by the incredible outpouring of suuport that I see exhibted for PAUSD education by our fantastic parents and parent volunteers.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:56 am
I am pretty amazed at how petty this discussion has become. It reminds me of the complaints around the water cooler at a big company and how the conversation changes dependent on who is present at the time.
The fact is, we are arguing over coffee. Seems a little of the point but here is my thinking on the subject. The fact that the PTA can fund a latte guy but not a coffee machine is quite mind boggling as both can be seen to advantage our children's education directly as mind boggling. I know that at my school, if a coffee machine, or a microwave, or couch were needed for the teachers lounge and the PTA felt that its funds couldn't cover the cost, a separate flyer would go out or be posted and the money would come in and the whatever would be bought. In fact, I know that many parents would rather make occasional donations like this that they can see the immediate results of rather than a beginning of the year large check which appears to vanish. These families are often the real charitable givers as they donate anonymously without expecting it to be tax deductable and have no other motive than to help out.
The point is, this district is not one size fits all. We all like to give in different ways and what we think is worthwhile varies. Some people are not able to volunteer on a regular basis during the week in the classroom or on various committees, but are able to donate the occasional Saturday to doing gardening or whatever. Some people do not like to give to a large faceless fund like PIE but would prefer to meet tangible needs when they become apparent. Some parents think that spending money on a latte guy for meetings is OK whereas others think that is extreme. It could be argued that having a special collection to cover this cost as a separate donation would make sense. But the long and the short of it is that we are all different and see the same things in a different light. The fact that we all value our teachers and the education of our children is a given.
I have just emptied my child's backpack in readiness for the new school year. I found a really nice letter from the teacher with a thank you to parents for all the things that had been done by parents in the past year. The list was tremendous and varied from the obvious to items that had never even crossed my mind. Once again, the fact is that the teachers value the parents and know that they are appreciated by us as much as we value them.
Rather than arguing over the details, let's just agree that we do things in different ways and make sure that the real winners are the kids and their education.
Posted by Kate, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 23, 2007 at 1:23 pm
I'd like to add a few points here w/out getting flamed, so these are FYIs only (except at the end where I get a little testy):
National PTA has some odd rules that PTAs are expected to live with. We don't always succeed, but we try to do the best we can for kids and teachers and parents. That said I believe PTA doesn't want monies being spent for furniture because of the maintenance issue. If it becomes expected that PTAs buy furniture, then somewhere along the line, when a cushion is soiled or a table leg breaks, then that year's PTA has to fix it. If you give it as a gift to the school, then you need to specify that so that the maintenance responsibility goes to the district. It's been the unfortunate experience of PTAs that Districts simply don't want to make that commitment.
Secondly - if you buy the machine, then SOMEBODY has to take responsibility for cleaning, fixing and operating the thing. Those of us coffee drinkers who have ever cleaned a moldy pot know of the loveliness of which I speak.
Next: schools and PTAs in PAUSD all have different relationships. Some PTAs ask for a nominal "supplies" fund and request that larger donations go to PiE. Some schools have supply lists posted on each classroom door. Some teachers ask for things they simply cannot afford out of pocket (and yes, RWE is so right with the comments about how much teachers spend each year) and they use them well and wisely for their students.
PTAs also subsidize field trips for students who cannot afford to attend. This number varies by school. Many, many, many parents who wish to remain anonymous are the quiet heroes of PAUSD. They buy classroom supplies, snacks for kids who come to school unfed, they pay for two overnights or museum visits, they drive all the trips and yes, buy coffee for their teachers. They don't want or expect to be acknowledged or praised or whatever, but neither do they want to be chastised for their generosity by folks who cannot afford the "free" public education in this town. Please give them a break - they don't need your guilt trip shoved down their throats.
If you have issues with coffee or PTAs, then for heaven's sake, give to PiE. If you only have 10 bucks, then give that. They will appreciate it!
Posted by Another Perspective, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 23, 2007 at 9:51 pm
PiE funds given to elementary schools are divided on a per-student basis for ALL TWELVE elementary schools. As a former Ohlone PTA President, I strongly believe that Susan Charles will not spend any significant chunk of PiE funds on Mandarin Immersion (if indeed she spends any at all). The majority of PiE funds at Ohlone have been spent in the past on, and are likely to be committed in the future to, a wonderful reading specialist, Marion O'Dell, who helps struggling children with reading training, on classroom aides which are particularly critical in an open education forum school, and on broadening the Spectra Art offerings. If you choose not to give to elementary PiE programs to protest MI, you will not only jeopardize the roles of these outstanding staff members at Ohlone for next year, you will jeopardize dozens of equally critical programs at our other elementary schools. And you're extremely unlikely to affect the MI program at all. So that seems a bad way to send a message.
PTA budgets are posted publicly at all schools for at least 30 days (and/or sent out in the back to school packets) and then VOTED on in public meetings. The PTA is a democracy. If you do not agree with your PTA's spending priorities, then communicate as such. For what it's worth, after years of observation, I believe that each and every PTA Executive Board is committed to doing the best for their school and the children at their school that they possibly can, and that often includes supporting and appreciating the school staff in various ways. Being a PTA board member is a big time commitment and can be a huge pain in the rear. The folks who are volunteering for these roles are almost always trying to do good in the community, and that includes carefully proposing how they spend the funds they raise. Ultimately, however, the broader PTA membership at any school gets final say on spending decisions.
My own personal attitude toward things like coffees for teachers and staff at our schools has been that staff members hold something extremely crucial in their hands: Our children. If you think back to someone who made an impact on you while growing up, the chances are good that that person was a teacher (I know, not for everyone, but for many of us). I have therefore always wanted to support the teachers and staff who in turn do so much for our kids. If you've ever seen a child's eyes light up when he or she "gets it"; if you've seen a child's confidence grow as they tackle and master hard concepts; if you've seen your child learn and grow under the influence of his or her teachers, well, I think you'll agree that buying that staff a cup of coffee once a month is not an unreasonable gesture of thanks--especially because it IS highly valued at our schools. I have heard that from many, MANY staff members over the years.
Your mileage on coffees may vary, but please don't "protest MI" by not giving to PiE (if you can otherwise afford to do so, of course). The message will not be clear, but the consequences to crucial elementary programs could be dire.
PS One person said that they thought we should go back to 27-28 kids in elementary classes. As a community, we actually ought to have that conversation. Budget cuts at our schools have focused significantly on the secondary schools. Cuts made at the elementary level back in 2003 or so removed about the same amount that PiE (ASF) came along and put back (about $1.2 million per year), but the secondaries were hugely impacted (about $3.4 million per year, according to a chart prepared by Bob Golton back in the day, and PiE has not supplied $600k back of that yet) and these secondary cuts have largely not been restored.
At Gunn, kids see counselors on a routine basis for one half an hour period each year. Is this the right kind of support for our teenagers? Some classes were so full last year that kids had to alternate sitting on the floor. Is this what we want for our high schools, when we have 20 or 21 kids per class in our elementary schools along with 10 hours of aide time per week?
I don't know what this community would ultimately choose, but I would certainly recommend that we carefully weigh whether it's more valuable to have Joanne sit on an aide's lap while she reads to the first grade class as the teacher prepares fingerpaints, or whether it's better to have Johnny have an actual seat so he can see the board in Algebra 2 at our high schools. Both are valuable--but have we made the right choices for our children's future in the way we're currently directing funds at our schools?
Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 10:59 pm
Another Perspective, thanks for that illuminating post. We have to pull together and keep this district whole. To do that we need entirely new leadership on the BOE, with Camille Townsend being the first to go.
I want to add here that none of us would be discussing MI if it hadn't been handled so poorly by the majority of the current BOE, led by Camille Townsend.
Please send a message this autumn and vote Camille Townsend off the BOE.
We need effective leadership on the BOE, because PAUSD is at a crossroads. We must pull together to accomplish PAUSD's next group of funding goals, etc.
The MI debacle (I'm neutral on MI), led to a BOE fiasco by Camille Townsend has already cost the support of many key PAUSD supporters, We simply cannot afford to indulge Ms. Townsend's flip-flopping and insensitivities at the staff/operational level for another term.
To keep Ms. Townsend on the BOE would send an awful message to other BOE members about what the limits to ineffective policy creation, and leadership, are.
Posted by no more bonds, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:24 pm
"If you choose not to give to elementary PiE programs to protest MI, you will not only jeopardize the roles of these outstanding staff members at Ohlone for next year, you will jeopardize dozens of equally critical programs at our other elementary schools. And you're extremely unlikely to affect the MI program at all. So that seems a bad way to send a message."
Yes, that is all the hidden cost of MI. You're finally starting to understand what everyone is talking about.
Wait until the next bond measure comes around to see how much it really does cost.
Posted by zsazsa, a member of the Addison School community, on Aug 24, 2007 at 12:38 am
Ok ........by contribution to this here"comment". First of all lets respect everyones opinion. (Please) now I recommend that we all especially those who posted here...I hope your "opinions: go to those who should be hearing them....Seek out answers, ask questions, volunteer options, attend meetings...be a voice. Things are very democratic guys....lets change things as a community. Now one point I would like to make not all schools in PAUSD get same financial assistance. Geographically speaking the "rich" in Downtown Palo Alto, I presume give more to their neighborhood schools. Else where in Palo Alto "Middle class" may not be so inclined to financially give as much. So if Pie uses funds to make up/equalize the difference so be it...that is great with me. There should be enough to go around. As with any financial decision use your judgement, find out what the funds are used for, if it is used for something you do not agree with speak up(LOUDLY). Like the "coffee guy" if you think it is not worth it then speak up, give other suggestions on how to save that money like buying a coffee machine. Take a vote to include it or not. I do not care where you live in Palo Alto...it is f expensive to live here so give what you can.
Posted by Pitbull, a member of the Addison School community, on Aug 24, 2007 at 12:50 am
Hey RWE can you answer Bill's question above....you have not answered. Just curious as to how you have personally "given". Why are you so bothered by this coffee thing? No one is saying, "Do not give teachers coffee", they only question how it is being paid for.
Posted by blame the victim, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2007 at 10:05 am
Dear PA Parent,
You're now equating MI with the District? What arrogance!
Option one: Don't implement MI and resume full funding
Option two: Implement MI for a select few and lose funding
Option three: Provide equity in education for all children and resume full funding
It's going to be hard to get to "Option three" if you chose "Option two". Equity in public education must come before privileged education for a select few. Those pushing for priveleged education for a select few are at fault for the loss of funding for the everyone else.
Posted by some democracy!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2007 at 10:30 am
Things are very democratic guys
Things SHOULD be democratic, but they're not. MI was not. Yes, there was a vote. (TWO, actually, but the first was steamrolled by, what, democracy?) The way MI came about was through the threat and perceived fear of a charter. The latest majority board vote did not represent a majority community opinion.
So...when the process becomes undemocratic, people get frustrated. When their voices are not heard they resort to other methods of becoming heard. Some "vote" with their money. Some "speak" with their removal of support. It's all a natural part of how things work. For those who claim that the MI process was democratic, I counter that this response is democratic, too. It IS the cost of MI.
Will it hurt our children? Maybe so, in the short term. But if we believe that an MI program at this time will hurt our children yet we weren't listened to, then "speaking" through our dollars is the price we pay to get the BOE, Superintendent, etc. to take our views seriously. It's a short-term attention-getter for a long-term fix.
I agree with your ideas in principle, zsazsa. “I hope your "opinions” go to those who should be hearing them....Seek out answers, ask questions, volunteer options, attend meetings...be a voice.” In the case of MI, these methods haven’t worked. How else do we get the Board to listen to our views??
p.s. to PA Parent, interesting that you'd call the people in the community who disagree with implementing MI at this time a "gang". We are random people from all corners of the district, not banded together in any formal way. Contrast that with the organized behavior of the pro-MI folks and their aggressive tactics, and I'm very offended to be labeled part of a "gang".
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2007 at 1:09 pm
Does the Superintendent still take 10% of the PiE contribution and keep it for their own discretionary uses? That was the original plan, but I have not heard anything about it. If that is true, what has the 10% been used for over the last three years - close to $600K over that period - does anyone know?
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2007 at 1:10 pm
PA Mom : "went to the trouble of hiring a PR consultant" - this is absolutely unequivocably false. But thanks for the compliment! The No on MI effort was actually put together informally by a wholly grass roots volunteer effort which gathered a lot of volunteer interest and participation along the way due to the overwhelming objection to MI in the community. None of us were (or are) PR professionals, so I'm glad you thought we did a professional job of it. Especially funny because the no on MI effort had no funding, and no fund raising, to buy such a thing, whereas the yes on MI effort clearly had deep pockets - deep enough to waive five or six figure check (of undisclosed source) in a board meeting, to entice the BOE to support MI.
But if the question is who engaged in PR tactics - maybe you could comment on PACE hosting a professional speaker (Easton) provided for free to the public, which they attempted to get co-endorsement for from PAUSD, from Palo Alto PTA, from Palo Alto League of Women Voters - a thin attempt to make it look like these organizations through association with PACE, supported the MI proposal. Now, if that's not a blatent coordinated PR attempt, I don't know what is.
Posted by Another Perspective, a member of the Gunn High School community, on Aug 24, 2007 at 4:21 pm
Certainly 3 years ago, when I served on the board of one of the organizations that became PiE, the superintendent did not get anything directly from PiE. The dollars given to the district all went to the principals at the schools, divided on a per-student basis.
I can't speak for 100% certain of the time since then but I have attended many PiE presentations and any such funding to the superintendent has never been mentioned, nor is it in PiE's most recent press release about gifts to the district, which is here: Web Link
So, I do not believe that 10% or any other figure is given to the superintendent (though if it had been your question is a good one!).
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2007 at 4:31 pm
The original PiE proposal as discussed at the Board did include a 10% redirect to MaryFrancis for her 'discretionary activities'. Whether it still exists, or whether it was halted, or never implemented is I guess my question. Perhaps it was eliminated at some point as something that would be too 'visible' and potentially hard to explain.
I would appreciate knowing the answer one way or the other.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 12:58 pm
I agree. I haven't sent any money in the past couple of years. I have a million dollar mortgage with high taxes that's supposed to go towards schools. I spend a lot of time in the classrooms of my two children's schools, as well as in volunteer support of the entire school community. That's my contribution, and I feel offended that they even ask for the amounts that they do.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 4:04 pm
Dear Mom from Barron Park -
Please don't be offended by the request from PiE they are trying to make our schools better. And don't feel bad if you don't give or only give a small amount. Everyone has different resources - both in time and money. Give where you feel comfortable and helping in class and at school is the best giving of all!
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm
I remember seeing a bumper sticker in the days well before 9/11 which read something like "Wouldn't it be nice if we had all the money for our schools and we had to have bake sales to pay for all our nuclear weapons". I don't really want to go into the politics of the sentiment, but the fact that schools should be financed to the full amount they need and other areas of political spending (perks for the senators and congressmen, money spent on the big political bean feasts, etc.) should be financed by volunteers and extra donations, seems to be the right thing to do.
I am really fed up with all the secondary fundraising at schools, the gift wrap, the auctions, the magazine drives, etc. let alone the primary fundraising of PIE and PTA. I have more notecards than I know what to do with and now I see we are expected to start buying calendars this year too.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2007 at 7:50 pm
Well Parent, you should talk to your B of E members and your neighbors - they set the budget and vote up or down on the necessary parcel taxes. Blaming the fundraisers is pretty much just shooting the messager.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 2:54 pm
Why withhold PIE money going to MI? At least the KIDS of the proponents of that program will get the education in mathematics, logic, ethics, and communication that their parents obviously never got. Why begrudge the children that? Just because their parents don't have any sense of responsibility for the rest of the kids in the district, doesn't mean everyone else has to act in kind.
Posted by get it right., a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 3:31 pm
Parent, the point is that the district doesn't have any sense of responsibility for the rests of the kids in the district. When they are only favoring special interest groups it's time to stop funding them.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 4:13 pm
GIR, you realize (I hope) how twisted that logic is. The Board voted for MI because they thought a charter would be worse FOR ALL KIDS than just doing a choice program. So by their lights, they used the same standard you are proposing. You may disagree with their analysis of the charter, but the idea that they "don't have any sense of responsibility for the kids" and "favor special interest groups" is pretty loopy.
But keep your PiE money. Nose, face, spite - you get the picture.
Posted by control=power, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 5:45 pm
Terry, was it that the BOE "thought a charter would be worse FOR ALL KIDS", or for themselves & the administration? There's a perceived (or real?) lack of control when a charter is introduced into the district.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 6:24 pm
There's a long report on charter issues that was presented to the board, C=P, that outlines the logic. You can also email any of the BoE members, and I'm sure they'll resend their lengthy emails on their logic.
Personally I think the people who serve on the board (speaking of the Board, not the Administration) tend to have the kids' and community's interests at heart - they may be ninkinpoops, some of them, but their hearts are generally in the right place.
But in either case, going back to GIR's question, they didn't set out to serve the MI'ers at the expense of other kids; for the most part, they HATE the MI'ers, who outplayed them and made them look bad. But they screwed up their own process (not very good use of control/power there, eh?) and found themselves in a corner they couldn't get out of.
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 6:28 pm
Sorry to be so slow, GIR. But who is the Board supposed to be "independent" from? MI'ers?? And how do PiE donations not "benefit everyone"? And while those of us in "needy" schools appreciate your largesse, it's ok - go ahead and keep your donation. We'll be ok.
Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 7:17 pm
Charters would indeed be bad for the Board and the Administration. However, I am not too worried about what would be bad for the Board.
What I am more worried about is that a charter would be bad for all the students in PAUSD, particularly those at the elementary level as that would, I think, be the proposed charter. Here are a few of the reasons.
1. A charter needs a location which is similar to the existing schools and must be provided by the District. We don't happen to have a spare one.
2. Staff need to be provided. Now I know teachers would also be needed if they were divided up among the existing schools. But, teachers are only part of the staff needed. There would also need to be a principal, a librarian, office staff, janitorial staff, etc. These would not be requied if the students were divided up around the District.
3. Equipment would be needed. Some of this equipment would be needed if a portable were put in at an existing site, but a new library of books and other equipment would not.
These sound like 3 very sound detriments to all the students in the District and I am sure the list goes on.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 7:38 pm
The board's not a single entity. Camille Townsend ALWAYS supported MI and didn't care what most people in the district wanted. Barb Mitchell was leaning toward it and went for it when the the Ohlone/MI mash-up gave her an excuse.
Only Mandy and Dana were swayed by the charter threat. Gail Price pointed out that a charter was never filed.
I know at least some of the north cluster easily raise their PiE portion--if there was no PiE, I suspect Get it right is right that a couple of the PA schools would be very well heeled. An Addison parent told me that at the beginning of last year, thanks to some big donors, the school had already met its PiE limit, any more parental donations would go to other schools. So, no PiE, more money stays at Addison. I'll bet there's a similar situation with Duveneck and Walter Hays.
As for nose/spite/face--of *course* people who feel that the democratic process was subverted are angry. Of *course* people will vote with their pocketbooks.
Just out of curiosity, how else do you propose people make their will felt? People showed up at board meetings, they wrote board members, they signed petitions.
And the board ignored more than a 1,000 signatures because two members were afraid of nine people and charter schools.
I don't know what will happen with Ohlone's PiE donations--the percentage of parents who donate is among the highest in the district, though it's not the highest donor.
I think there's a feeling that MI got shoved down our throats because we voted in Measure A and that meant there was cash. Most of the board promptly ignored the desires of the voters and wasted endless time on a little program that is, frankly, incredibly unimportant--it offers so little in exchange for what it's already taken.
So, if Townsend's re-elected, no PiE donation from me. If we get we get three members with a backbone and a willingness to take on real issues, then I'll trust them to handle the money responsibly.
Otherwise, I'll donate directly to programs I support.
Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 7:40 pm
And why are we all of a sudden talking about charters? At who's hands would PAUSD be suffering these terrible consequences?
By the way, a charter school pays for all its own staffing. They get the forumlaic amounts from the sponsoring district, and do with it what they will. Teachers, admins, art teachers, string quartets, trips to the zoo, whatever they want to spend their dollars on. So theoretically the charter get's a 'fair share' (dubious), but they have to duplicate district overhead on their budget. Their problem. But A Parent is right - sounds like a <stupid> waste of resources that isn't in the best interest of the kids. But again, who's pitching the charter threat anyway?
Posted by Terry, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:00 pm
Gee, GIR, I don't think I'm "spinning" - like I tell my kids, I don't make the news, I just report it. You may not be aware of the facts. I'm not defending the Board against any claim except the one you made, which is that they somehow favor "special interests" and don't care about "all kids." Sounds like you are giving up on that claim and are on to another ;-)
If your logic now is that letting MI get through = incompetance (?) and that kids with school boards that fail that litmus test should be denied the things that PiE gives (??), well, it seems like a stretch to me.
But as I've said, I'm not advocating you give - please keep your money, we'll be ok without it.
Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:23 pm
Dear OhlonePar -
Addison, WalterHays and Duveneck raise a lot of PiE and PTA $$. Many of those parents still would like their money to stay just at their child's school. They are also why PiE exists.
If those three school kept the $$ they raised, their funding would be hugely disproportionate to the other schools. PiE came about because of the inequity in the ability of the schools to raise dollars. It is still around because eventually all these elementary kids end up in the same place - Gunn and Paly - and we would like them to be equally educated. (Although many of the biggest donors I know of have since sent their kids to Menlo, Castileja, etc. once they were out of elementary school.)
Posted by get it right, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:35 pm
Terry, you tell it how you see it and you present it to others as you wish them to see it. Then, again, you may believe that you're way is the only way of interpreting the current situation. If so, you've sure got it wrong.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:47 pm
OP - A really important point and one I think MI proponetns and opponents alike should be able to answer... If not with our checkbooks, how exactly do folks think we (the community) should make our school district represent our needs?
Just curious, because money seemed to work pretty well for PACE. Lets not be naive, it all comes down to $$$.
Posted by Leslie, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:49 pm
I honestly thought this thread had died down, when I left for my camping weekend. Guess not. After reading much of what is written by my fellow citizens, I thnk we can say that we have heard all this before.
A couple of things seem to be true:
People are still very upset about MI and the (lack of) process around that decision;
There will likely be voting with checkbooks in addition to the 'real' kind; and
There is suspicion around spending of donated funds.
The one issue that I have heard come up on threads before is the utterly insane (to me) idea that we in south Palo Alto are some how economically disadvantaged. Now, my house last appraised at $1.5M. The house down the street just sold for $1.4M. It is bizzarre at best to talk about the "rich downtown Palo Alto" when these are example south PA house values. True Steve Jobs is not my next door neighbor, but it is also true that I can afford to live in the house I own. Yes, there are people in PA, who are just barely scraping by, I am pretty certain this is not the rule. Yet, whenever discussions like this come up, someone trots out the poor S.PA folks.
If the schools and PTAs are concerned for the economically disadavantaged of Palo Alto, there are things they can do. People who are stretching to live in a better neighborhood often have to work long hours. Many of the school management activities, lead by volunteers, such as PTA are not readily accessible to those who work long hours. The volunteer leaders that I have interacted with did not encourage activities 'after hours' when folks like this could participate. Its hard to become a participant, much less leader of a group that meets during work hours.
Perhaps, things like lattes would not be so irritating if the PTAs were a bit more open and inclusive? (In the interest of full disclosure, I have a full time job and children the PAUSD).
Finally, I will be sending a letter of explanation with my reduced PIE check. If my school needs extras, I will gladly help- after work.
Posted by pa parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:02 pm
Last year, every elementary school received between $90K - $145K from PiE to pay for staffing. According to the school board fundraising policy, PTA funding can not go to pay for staffing during the school day.
So, if you disgruntled anti-MI parents don't contribute to PiE, you will affect your school (and every school's) staffing. Contributing to PTA instead of PiE does not go to staffing, so you're still hurting the staffing levels by withholding PiE donations.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:14 pm
Palo alto mom,
I'm not arguing against the idea of PiE, just pointing out the facts behind Get it Right's comment. While it's true that the richer north cluster benefits less directly from the existence of PiE, I think ALL of us benefit from a uniformly strong school district.
Personally, I'm fine with lattes. I'm not fine with donating money that may go to programs I oppose. There are some wonderful Ohlone and district-wide programs. I will support them with my time and money.
And when we get a school board that understands its responsibilities, I will support PiE.
And, yes, money talks. If PACE's goals are truly wanted, I'm sure its supporters can make up for the shortfall.
Posted by pa parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:30 pm
And PiE money does not pay for administration salaries, so withholding PiE does not hurt the administrators.
PiE money will only go to the MI program proportional to the number of kids in the program, as Ohlone gets its allocation for all of its students. Susan Charles can spend her PiE money any way she likes, more or less for the whole school.
MI extras are being funded by the FLAP grant, not from the general fund, not from PiE.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:48 pm
PA Parent - you said it - its PAUSD POLICY that is determined by and voted on by the PAUSD Board. If PIE shriveled up tomorrow and went away (or dropped precipitously) you can bet that we'd see a board vote real quick to change that policy.
Fact is - they can't live without supplemental staffing any more than our kids can. The BOE's and the Superintendents reputations rest on the performance of our schools.
(And does Susan Charles want MI to succeed? So what's the likelihood that she sends her discretional $)
Posted by anon parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 12:59 am
Why is the FLAP grant funding MI extras, when MI went through and was approved before the grant was approved? In other words, it was going to happen anyway.
Isn't the grant supposed to be to study and implement language for the whole district? I would think the FLAP grant should be used to study and implement FLES, something that IS for all the children of this district, and WON'T happen without money such as the FLAP grant.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 1:19 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Sorry, pa Parent, this is about accountability. I don't reward kids, overdemanding parent groups or feckless boards for bad behavior. And, yeah, it may hurt for a bit, but we'll be better off in the long run.
Posted by to anon parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 1:31 am
Anon parent, The FLAP grant is specifically for a K-12 Mandarin Chinese Program. Grant applications and subsequent uses of the money are highly specific: if a request is made for a particular program, the money cannot be used for anything but exactly what was requested. Here is the abstract and then some.
Abstract: Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive K-12 Mandarin Chinese Program with a Dual-Immersion Elementary Component
Schools: Elementary School TBD, Middle Schools TBD, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto Senior High School
The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), Palo Alto, CA proposes to develop and implement a model K-12 Mandarin Chinese program beginning with elementary dual-immersion and culminating in Advanced Placement Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture. The program will begin in August 2006 with two classes of Mandarin Chinese Level I in each of the District's two comprehensive public high schools and in August 2007 with two kindergarten classes of dual-immersion Mandarin Chinese/English to be located at one of the District's 12 elementary schools.
By August 2012, the K-12 Mandarin Chinese program will serve 240 elementary dual-immersion students, and 500 secondary-level students. Students in the dual-immersion program will become bi-lingual, bi-literate, and bi-cultural, and will develop high levels of proficiency in both English and Mandarin Chinese.
Posted by PA Parent, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 8:06 am
""In particular, it has to be said that equity in education is not at odds with MI. In fact, MI increases equity."
Oh, this will be good. Uhm, how?"
(I'm back. Glad to see you missed me, but glad to see another pa parent has been seeing to your needs.) Answer: it increases choice.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] You may disagree with MI, but nothing MI did hurt anyone. It's beyond the pale to set out to hurt children's education as a way to win your own pet political point, and then blame others.
Stand up and be counted! Have conviction! Admit that you want to win a political fight and are willing to harm children in the process! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by should be good, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 9:00 am
I see that the editors are willing to delete posts that point that the MI gang have always known that their program is inherently selfish. And they pushed for it anyway. At least they now acknowlege it.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 9:03 am
The FLAP grant was actually denied initially (just like the MI program was intially denied) and mysteriously the granting organization got word that PAUSD had approved the program in February, and lo and behold they approved the grant within a few weeks of the reversal of the MI decision. Word of the FLAP grant approval came on the heels of that decision. Weird how that works, isn't it?
I would disagree with the 'it was going to happen anyway' argument. This begs the issue of PAUSD applying for an MI specific grant when they ~should~ have been thinking about the grant funds as a resource that could have benefitted all elementary kids by applying for that funding for a FLES program. The issue goes all the way back to June of 2006 when the BOE and Staff agreed to allow the FLAP grant application to be submitted specifically for a 5% lottery program. It was NOT "going to happen anyway" it was specifically engineered to happen in the way it did. (And its a pretty self centered point of view (again) to claim it was destiny.)
By the way, the approved MI program is not starting out with two strands (2K classes), it is starting with one strand (two classes each containing a half a kindergarten and half a first grade (that equals one first grade strand and one Kinder strand). Did anyone notify the granting agency that PAUSD is not implementing the program as outlined? Did PAUSD accept these grant funds? Anyone know?
Posted by anon parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 9:51 am
My comment that MI was "going to happen anyway" whether it got the grant or not was meant to point out the obvious: that the MI program as currently implemented was being steamrolled through regardless of the FLAP grant. Since the grant's intention is to foster language development where it otherwise would not happen, I think approving it for a program that went through and would have gone through anyway is a misuse of funds.
Since so many of the specifics in the proposal have not been met, why can't it be spent for studying/implementing language fluency programs for ALL Palo Alto's kids?
Posted by Optimist, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 10:36 am
PAUSD conflict right now is over goals.
Bunch of parents believe the correct focus is identical treatment for all kids. Another bunch of parents believe that instruction coupled to a skill (Spanish, Mandarin, math and science, etc) is the right focus. Third group believes that specialization (Special Ed, GATE, athletics) is the right focus. Fourth group believes that personal development (Ohlone) is the right focus.
Fruitful way forward is to declare what we want to be as a district, and try to show some tolerance for other points of view.
Posted by Surreal, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 11:13 am
PA Parent says:
"It's beyond the pale to set out to hurt children's education as a way to win your own pet political point, and then blame others. Stand up and be counted! Have conviction! Admit that you want to win a political fight and are willing to harm children in the process!"
This is exactly what MI proponents did with the charter threat. I mean a perfect description. Is PA Parent defending the MI proponents here? Or accusing the MI Opponents (by describing their very own behaviors?). This particular choice of words is really almost funny in its pefect description of what went down with the whole MI process.
Its such a twisted tactic that I must admit its left me reeling. I'm baffled. I guess all I can say is I agree. The MI proponents need to stand up and be accountable for this behavior so aptly described by PA Mom.
Posted by Defining differing goals, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 11:47 am
I almost agree with Optimist, but not quite.
I think there is a difference in vision for the District.
For programs that are for ALL qualified kids in ALL the grade level, and have enough space for ALL the qualified kids. Nobody is left out of the opportunity. And, no neighborhood kids get knocked out of their school.
For becoming a District of specialty programs that knock out neighborhood kids, and are limited by lottery to a few lucky ones, but have the benefit of giving the lottery winners a GREAT opportunity. This vision sees each school having a different specialty.
Everything else is details. And, really, it is almost a moot point, until the laws change at the State level, any specialty program WILL be approved in the face of a Charter threat. So, we have lost control of this decision.
Posted by should be good, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 1:10 pm
No, Surreal, you have it wrong. PA Parent has clarified this. In fact MI increases equity in education by increasing choice. We should be thanking them for their generosity in instigating this program via whatever means. Through MI, all children in the PAUSD are now better off.
Posted by To anon parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 3:42 pm
"Since so many of the specifics in the proposal have not been met, why can't it be spent for studying/implementing language fluency programs for ALL Palo Alto's kids?"
That's not how the grant process works. First you describe what you want the monies for: the specific program, who will it benefit, how will it be administered, how will the success of the program be measured. The grant donor uses this information to decide whether to fund your particular project. Therefore, it expects that you will use the funds for exactly what you proposed. Once you receive the money, you can't decide to do something else with it. Most grants have an evaluation process to demonstrate that the monies are being well-managed and making the intended difference.
Posted by hard to believe, but true, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:22 pm
most grants may have this accountability process...but not in education. Trust me, there will be no federal oversight of the monies. It is well known at the administrative level here that once a District gets money, at least in our district, it does what it wants with it. there is very little oversight, if any, and what little happens doesn't happen for many years.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 6:48 am
Here'shappy news: the District has $2.6 million more than it projected because of increased property tax revenues. Isn't that close to what PiE gave? Maybe we could repeal the burdensome parcel tax? It';s so hard to let go of extra money once you vote for it, but seriously, that parcel tax is a huge burden on top of taxes. Especially for those of us who had to put our kids in private school because there was no other way to escape our nightmare PAUSD elementary school, thanksot the no-transfer rule.
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 8:45 am
PACE's goals are truly wanted. What we have got so far is MI. The whole goal of PACE was for Chinese Education.
Chinese Education is a completely different philosophical approach to education and varies significantly from how it is taught in the US. MI is only a very small part of this. It is also the reason that a "choice" program was appropriate. It mirrors the way that Ohlone's philosphy differs from mainstream US education.
The initial request has been distilled down to MI but I'm still hopeful it can be expanded to incorporate the original focus of this initiative. This is also the reason that I'm happy with it being started in Ohlone. After 3 years we will have to move elsewhere and can then achieve the original objectives. The grant will definitely help.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:25 am
If they want Chinese Education why are they in an American public school system?
I mean, the whole idea of private international schools is to provide foreign education systems to the tiny minority that wants them because that sort of thing doesn't belong in public schools.
It's funny, chinese education acts as if PAUSD *is* private. The only way they can pull what they want off is a charter--even then . . . I'd say it's dicey.
I think it's pretty clear that MI is all PACE is going to get--let's see how well you hold on to it. Particularly, if Camille Townsend loses her seat.
And, oh boy, the Ohlone curriculum in Mandarin---hmmm, I can see PACErs, excepting Nico, are going to love that. It's pretty funny.
The added revenues should make it more feasible to open up Garland. Oh, the joys of endlessly rising property values. (Though why they're still rising is beyond me. Prices are plummeting elsewhere and it still seems to be multiple bids here.)
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:34 am
I never said I wanted "Chinese" education. It is the Chinese Education philosophy that I desire as you desire your children to be educated under Ohlone's educational philosophy. Your children are still being taught the same curriculum as eveyone else in Palo Alto, just differently.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:54 am
You'll find that trying to push one nation's educational philosophy into the American public school system will generate some serious ire.
Particularly as it seems overtly geared to one ethnic group and China is still a communist dictatorship.
I really, really don't understand why you don't just send your kids to private schools if you want something that specific. Ohlone and Hoover are both within the American educational tradition. Chinese educational philosophy? Is there a single education school in the U.S. that teaches that?
And why is it that you think you're going to be able to run a school? You need to get your charter forms back out. You only have MI because Susan Charles was willing to try you out. Don't even begin to fool yourself that you and the other MI parents are going to have a say in how she runs her school. (No, Ohlone parents don't either.)
I know this next one will be a bit hard for you, but I'd also question the value of Chinese Education. Yeah, the kids become good test-takers, but the Chinese university system *isn't* turning out great engineers. The long-term results seem to fall short. Success is a funny thing--someone told me recently that one of the reasons that Russians and other eastern Europeans are such terrific software engineers is that Soviet hardware was so crappy that they became ingenuous innovators on the software side.
If you plan to stay in the United States then your kids will be better off thinking like Americans. You don't want them marginalized and doing well in school and on tests isn't a guarantee of success later on. This is something that's very different here than it is in Asia. And I've seen a number of Asian-American young adults go through a major shcck period when they realize the American system is less system than chaos. Success is much less guaranteed than people often realize here. The good thing is that one gets numerous second chances.
We'd all love to know the answer to that one. Heck, I'd just like to know if Hong Kong or Taiwan has a project-based learning school somewhere.
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:24 am
There is serious backlash to MI and I'm sorry that Ohlone is bearing the brunt. Does that help?
The only reason I'll be trying for the MI lottery is that in 2-3 years the parents of children within MI will have a greater say on the future direction of MI.
There are more educational philosophies than are available within Palo Alto's current choice programs. Consider the Bay Area and you will also see a lot of successful people eductated under the chinese educational philosophy.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:26 am
I think someone asked the question months ago on this thread, when the Board and District personnel were talking about going on their free trip to China to see Chinese education, whether they were going to study a school with the Ohlone model of education. hahahahahahahaha. As if.
Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:58 am
Chinese Education - can you tell us more about exactly what "chinese education" means? How is it different than what is taught at Hoover?
Is this more direct instruction? Because if it is, why aren't you working with the DI programs? As far as I know, Hoover is not nearly as over-subscribed as the other choice programs - it seems that Palo Alto parents prefer the Ohlone approach.
I am sorry if there was a different educational agenda to PACE (other than MI). I am one of those parents that seriously dislikes MI, MI at Ohlone, and the way that PACE has brought the program to the district. In fact, it will very strongly influence my voting for school board this fall, and I will not support any plans for immersion (or candidates for BOE) until languages are freely offered to at least all middle school students, and probably not until it is available to all elementary students.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm
I appreciate your politeness about their being two viewpoints and your general civility.
However, I have done some Googling about on Chinese education--I've also known some people who went through the system in Hong Kong--and it does sound like Direct Instruction, only more so. If this isn't the case, I would, at least, like a link or two that goes into detail.
I think you'll find that the parents within the programs have less say than you think. We have a well-entrenched school bureaucracy and teachers with job security. I was serious about the charter application--there's no desire to create two DI models in Palo Alto--the general mood in more liberal areas is to move away from that. A system where each kid is publicly ranked is a high-stress system. The district's been moving away from that--I've heard from parents at Walter Hays, Nixon and Addison, that there's been an easing up in the lower grades.
Or let me put it this way--I think many of us knew that when PACE asked for MI there was almost no interest in MI crossed with Ohlone--but that's what you got.
Three years down the road, you'll have the same situation--overcrowding, a majority that doesn't actually want the program and resents it. My guess is that Garland might be reopening, but it's not going to be an MI school--MI's more likely to be one of three strands. It will be more traditional than whatever the Ohlone experiment is, but it's not going to be DI because there's not a huge district demand for it.
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm
When I first read your question I was undecided if it was innocent or bait. Hence I was careful in my response. Your reply leads me to believe it was the latter. Apologies if that is not the case. If you are really curious there is a wealth of information on this at your fingertips. I am asking for nothing at this point.
I am very sceptical about the future of MI at Ohlone. My assumption is that it will move from Ohlone after 3 years. That is the discussion I am referring to and where I believe having a child in the program will be beneficial. I would be surprised if the parents of the children within the program were ignored.
If MI remains at Ohlone after 3 years and continues under its current brief, I will be sending my children to a private school at that time.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm
Wow. This is a really interesting turn of the conversation. This is *exactly* what MI opponents were saying at the meetings, i.e., MIers want MI their way and not the Ohlone way, they are taking it at Ohlone thinking they can have it their way there and then move to Garland and expand to MI their way . .. Guess what? At that point we will have another charter threat. Charter now, charter then, really, what conceivable difference would it have had except that denying it would have demonstrated to the community at large that PAUSD actually had principles and were not going to bribed or bullied.
If, as chinese education states, MI will need to be direct instruction in order to satisfy, then we can expect a charter threat from the vicrotious and righteous MI crowd in 3 years, unless they actually get a conscience and try to put it somewhere it won't do more harm than good to the community as a whole. All this time and effort will have been expended on people who, as it turns out, do indeed have the resources to pay for private school and just don't feel like it cause they are too entitled.
I appreciate chinese education's (belated) honesty about the whole game plan. Of course, it's easy to come clean after getting your way. MI opponents were treated like Cassandras, and like Cassandras, they can draw bitter and hollow satisfaction in being able to say now, and again later, "I told you so." Unless, of course, somebody in the District has the sense to cancel the plan for MI Ohlone style and get back to basics.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:19 pm
"My guess is that Garland might be reopening, but it's not going to
be an MI school--MI's more likely to be one of three strands."
OhlonePar, I'm convinced that MI will be at Garland for the simple reason that the people behind MI are organized, and the rest of the district is not. 1000 random signatures are not enough to sway the administration; 9 organized signatures (or 20 to 30 outspoken PACE members) are. From a pessimistic view, there will be such an outcry at Ohlone from both sides that the sooner MI leaves, the happier everyone will be. Besides, where else is the district going to house a full K-5 MI program? It'll never fit at Ohlone or any other school. That leaves either Garland or kissing the program goodbye. Dropping a promising program (and I've never disputed that MI has potential) is not something that the district is likely to entertain. That leaves Garland.
Unless people in the Garland neighborhood (or any other group with their eyes on Garland) organize themselves and speak up SOON, this is Garland's inevitable future.
p.s. chinese education, please do post some supporting links. I'd be interested in reading it - no bait.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:19 pm
The question about what you meant by Chinese Education was genuine. Since you said you didn't want to get into specifics, I asked you for a link--that way I could get a sense of what you meant without your feeling I was trying to put you in a corner. I'm particularly interested in what you meant by "group".
Coming from the opposite corner, yes, I am also dubious about MI at Ohlone. I think the educational approach and subject are a mismatch as are the school's approach and MI parental expectations.
Your notion that MI will move in three years is quite possible. That MI parents, however, will have a big say in how the program is run is unlikely. None of the choice programs have that kind of parental input. You don't like it, fine, we'll move to the next name on the list.
Also, if MI doesn't succeed at Ohlone, I think there's a real question as to whether the board will keep a controversial program going.
Posted by A Little History, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:19 pm
"Ohlone and Hoover are both within the American educational tradition."
Actually, when Ohlone started in PAUSD twenty odd years ago, it was not the mainstream way of American education. In fact, it was considerded radical. Hoover's direct instruction was "closer" to mainstream.
On another item: In the NY Times, a week or two ago, there was an article about the offerings in public schools within New York City. The newest one being created is French immersion. That school will be joining the other 65 public immersion programs, of which Spanish and Chinese have the largest number of schools already in the system.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 3:37 pm
Oh, yes, I agree, I think Garland's what's being eyed here. However, no neighborhood strands at a new school in the north cluster? I think MI will get its strand, but it's not going to get two.
At which point, the board has a strategic advantage--charter threat, they close the existing program. This sets the families within the MI program against those who aren't.
Not all pro-MIers seem to be in favor of DI--the largest chunk put down SI as a second choice--in other words, any language program, provenance doesn't matter. I think most MIers would be happy with traditional MI--it doesn't have to be Chinese-style.
It takes time to set up a charter--particularly if it's fought. So charter threat equals disruption of Mandarin education for a bunch of kids.
Notice, also, that chinese education isn't claiming that MI at Ohlone will take on a chinese educational cast. I think somewhere they figured out that Susan Charles is, indeed, very good at keeping the upper hand and the school within a school thing isn't going to happen.
MI has a wider range of support (the flat earth types) than Chinese education, per se. The board can point out that it already offers direct instruction at Hoover, why should it repeat itself?
It's just basically a stronger position for the board because the MIers will have something to lose.
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 4:05 pm
My reluctance is centered around the Direct Instruction issue. The result is always "Aha, that's Hoover! Gotcha!".
Teacher/Pupil interaction is only part of an educational philosophy.
The approach to teaching maths itself is different to how it is taught in the US.
There is the belief that all children can and are expected to succeed in all subjects. Children that fall behind need to be given the time and tools to succeed. This can be more 1-on-1 time with the teacher or working on it at the weekends.
It is also how the children themselves interact and are percieved in the class that differs from the Hoover DI model.
I'm not doing it justice but it is so much more than just DI.
Another charter "threat", I have never liked that term, would be improbable.
This educational philosophy is not supposed to be for everyone. Choice programs are designed for a small number of people who want something different to the standard education system. No better, no worse, just different.
MI will have a broader appeal than a different educational approach. It is offering everyone's child a language. All parents would want their child to have that opportunity. A different educational approach is only for parents who believe their children will thrive in that environment.
Palo Altan's that bought a house in Palo Alto within the last 5 years are likely to be able to afford private education. That should not be a surprise. I want my child to be in public education. It is not to save money but to remove them from any "ivory tower" or "segregation" that comes with private education. I love public education. Is that asking too much?
Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 4:23 pm
I think that a different approach to teaching that didn't have exclusive language criteria for entry would have many more proponents than MI, not less.
Part of the appeal of Hoover and Ohlone is that they have distinctive styles that set them apart - they don't really blend with the neighborhood schools. An educational approach with more subtle differences could be a harder sell as a "choice" program, but perhaps something that could influence teaching approaches across the district?
Posted by chinese education, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 4:47 pm
My posting today was just to try to remove the opinion in this thread that everyone working for MI approved of it and felt they had "won". I don't like the town square. Too little respect for my taste.
For me, MI is a small step. It may be the only step, which I deeply believe will be unfortunate.
I understand the frustrations on both sides and why it has been reduced to this.
I hope that in three years time things will be handled better. It would be nice if it can be discussed without this rancour.
Finally, out of respect to the OP, donations to PiE are a personal decision. An informed decision but a personal one.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 4:59 pm
I wasn't referring to immersion programs, but something following "chinese education", which doesn't mean language instruction, per se. Even DI isn't really what's in China.
Sounds like chinese education wants language and approach combined.
I'm not anti-DI (or even immersion), per se. It's really a question of resources and distribution. I appreciate not wanting your children in an ivory tower, but part of being in a public school system is having to compromise. There are definitely things I'd like my kid's school to have that aren't there.
Given what you're saying, it seems that it's a shame Hoover doesn't have space (physically). DI's pretty primitive and what you're talking about seems like a more sophisticated expansion of the approach. It would fit in and, I'm guessing, improve the school.
Some of what you're asking for--more one-on-one time, teachers on the weekends--isn't a question of approach, but the realities of public schools. I don't think there's a huge difference in any of the PAUSD schools that way. Kids do get one-on-one time; they don't get the teacher on weekends. There's a teacher's union.
I'd like to know how math is taught, since it was certainly a weakness in my public-school education. I suspect it's still not that well taught.
Seriously, what you describe to me sounds like a private-school education. Quite possibly not overseas, but, yes, in California.
Posted by Midtown Mom, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 5:42 pm
It's a shame that language immersion is tied to the educational philosophy. The former has an inherent exclusivity that I find incompatible with public education (spanish immersion, too). But the latter could be an interesting approach to education.
Certainly the PAUSD math education seems no better than adequate for most students.
Posted by curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 5:51 pm
Wow, are you sure, Chinese Education, that you aren't a plant of the "opponent" crowd? You are saying exactly what the most pessimistic of the group said was the real goal..MI at Ohlone, then bug out and do what you REALLY want at Garland.
If you aren't..well, do you think you are "the majority", or do you think it is more like what the poster said about the majority being people who said MI or SI, ie not people committed to a Chinese education philosophy along with the language?
Would you be happy with the Chinese philosophy without the Mandarin component?
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 6:57 pm
I would like to commend and compliment you, chinese parent, for respectfully and thoughtfully explaining your viewpoint. I think you might be the first MIer who has taken this tone and I wish there had been more of it, and sooner; we might have found a compromise that suited more people. I've never understood why Ohlone instead of Hoover was picked for MI. But then, the entire administration over the course of the past several years has operated in mysterious ways on all fronts.
Thank you, chinese education, for your contributions to this dialogue.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:36 pm
I don't know that it's *most* wanted SI as a second choice as much as more wanted SI than Hoover and more wanted Hoover than the one person who would want Ohlone. I don't think any program had a majority.
Just from having argued with a number of pro-MIers here and having heard them speak in board meetings, there doesn't appear to be a single reason for MI. There are the parents who think it would be sort of an exotic advantage if their kids spoke it and there are parents who don't want their kids to lose their cultural heritage.
I suppose I'm the big "pessimist" by your description--and, yet, it's never felt quite that way to me. More that I know Ohlone's approach and I've always had Chinese-American friends--so I knew something of what's wanted and familiar in schooling.
There was also a thread by Nico in which she expressed her support and enthusiasm for MI at Ohlone when it was proposed--and I don't recall a single other MI proponent posting support for it.
What I found interesting about Chinese Education's comments is that s/he sees the Chinese approach to education as supportive and, I think, protective--with no child left behind. Whereas, from my POV, it seems rigid and competitive in a counter-productive way.
I suspect with all the trips to China that the PAUSD staffers never really gave a thought to Chinese education beyond the wow of Mandarin immersion factor.
Again, Chinese Education thanks for your honesty. I much prefer honest disagreement to the round-and-rounds that go on here.
I think Hoover was the original idea, but the campus just isn't that big--of course, it was the natural fit, though I think the school's got a real issue with loss of diversity.