Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:01 pm
"The class requires meticulous memorization. Successful students spend hours writing characters and perfecting pronunciation." Just wondering how that fits in with the Ohlone way and learning math, science, reading,etc.?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:57 pm
Yes, well Palo Alto has always prided itself on chasing the latest fads and jumping on whatever bandwagon is blowing through town (and whatever latest 'big idea' is attracting the big $$$). It makes me so proud that we haven't missed this one.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:39 pm
Actually, it seems to me that PAUSD is off-trend, since it's providing no foreign language instruction to 95 percent of the elementary schoolkids in the district.
I actually know a parent who signed up her kid for one of the Atlanta charters--it had nothing to do with the Mandarin and everything with avoiding the poor local school. In fact, she was making fun of the sheer uselessness of Mandarin for most of those kids.
But does MI Supporter sound exactly like Grade, or what?
Posted by Worried, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 3, 2007 at 11:38 pm
The Chinese government has been spending lots of money to get these programs off to a start nationwide. They have spent a lot of money. Do some checking on google, or call some of the school districts and ask them where the money came from to get the programs going.
Do some research on google.
Not all Chinese people in China speak Mandarin.
The Communist Bejing government is trying to unify the language within China.
Not all Chinese people in Asia speak Mandarin.
Accepting money from a communist country to influence our children's education makes me nervous.
This is a loophole that must be closed.
Gary Locke (the former governor of Washington state got in trouble when he was campaigning for re-election in California and other states and accepting donations for his re-election from Chinese nationals).
China is smart and cunning. They know our loopholes. They also want to become the new superpower in the world.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:03 am
Then again, perhaps they have long waiting lists because the option of keeping the kids in the regular public school systems stinks? And how do those school districts perform? Are those high performing school districts or low performing school districts?
Because if you compare the language academy test scores against those dismal school districts, I bet you might find these charter type schools outperforming their district averages.
But do the other (non-language type) charter schools also out perform their district averages?
Language academy proponents are pretty quick to thank language academy for high educational performance - maybe its just that they are not the public school system.
Posted by reader, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:14 am
From the second article:
"If the past is any indication, though, Chinese could be another fad.
American schools historically become more interested in a country's foreign language when the United States feels threatened by that nation, Abbott said.
Russian became more popular in the 1950s after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. Japanese classes grew in the 1980s because of that country's global dominance. Interest in both languages later waned."
Posted by Language Lover, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 10:05 am
Great educational opportunity, even if we are late in implementing such a program for Mandarin. Immersion really is the best way to learn a language, especially one as different from English as Mandarin is. This is the future.
Let's expand SI while we're at it, too, so more kids have a chance.
Posted by Not Buying It, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 10:27 am
Well, that's exactly what I don't get. If language education is so important, and early language education is so important to the ability of kids to properly learn languages - how does PAUSD justify speciality 'luck' schools without giving this important subject to all students first? I don't understand how language education is given the same weight as an alternative 'approach' like Ohlone or Hoover.
In Ohlone and Hoover, the value proposition is: "We're going to end up at the same point, we're just going to get your kids there a different way". With the immersion programs, PAUSD is in effect saying, "We're going to end your kids up WAY WAY WAY ahead of all other kids in the district, by virtue of the fact that they'll have this CRITICAL second language proficiency (and no one else will).
It would be a completely different story if the district were saying, we all end up at the same point (languaged educated), but in this specialty immersion program we take a different route (that isn't for everybody, but which can be worthwhile for the intrepid.)
So, tell me how again (?), are the immersion schools equitable in the context of PAUSD?
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 4, 2007 at 11:06 am
It’s wonderful reading about how other communities have made language immersion fit their needs. Here’s a link to a related piece about education. It’s State Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell’s press release about California STAR test results.
The last few paragraphs of Diana Diamond’s blog on STAR test results is also relevant: Web Link
Or, view the STAR test results at the state and/or district level to learn who our top achievers are. Web Link
What you will find is that Asians outperform their peers in every subject, in every grade. This is true state-wide, and district-wide, too.
In the press release O’Connell writes, “These are not just economic achievement gaps, they are racial achievement gaps. We cannot afford to excuse them; they simply must be addressed. We must take notice and take action."
Reviewing the STAR test results begs the question, how can we justify having additional specialty programs which cater to the highest-achieving group within the district when we have such a significant achievement gap? If we’re going to spend resources for a specialized program that’s available to only a select few, shouldn’t we look at the district and state goals when we decide what program it’s going to be, and which group will be the benefactors?
As State Sup. O’Connell grapples with how to reduce the ethnic achievement gap, we in Palo Alto are busy implementing a Mandarin Immersion program which -- if we’re to believe the MI proponents’ claims -- will INCREASE that gap. Go figure.
The district should be careful in its support of special programs that offer additional (as in not equal) education to a select few (SI & MI), that those programs don’t harm the students who are on the other end of the achievement gap. The recent decisions they’ve made for increasing SI and placing MI at Ohlone lead me to believe that they don’t care about this issue. Or maybe they hope we don’t notice.
Ah, well. Back to glorifying (or bashing, as the case may be) MI.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 11:37 am
And around we go again. Guess MI Supporter couldn't stand two days of no MI discussions on the forum.
I mean, was there anything new or local in those links? No. But MI Supporter was so eager to post those links that it did it three times.
In other words, no, just because a charter in Atlanta is willing to take money from the Chinese government in exchange for throwing out some Mandarin, doesn't mean the MI/Ohlone mash-up is a good thing.
By the way "MI Supporter"--another poster, "chinese education", says that the real aim for PACE is Chinese-style education, not simply Mandarin immersion and that PACE's real goal is to move in three years and institute this approach.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 4:22 pm
Yes. There ought to be interesting fireworks coming from both Ohlone Regular vs Ohlone MI, AND from WITHIN the MI program (MI Ohlone style vs MI Chinese style) and additionally from within MI program as they battle over Mandarin content and language approaches. It will just be so fun to watch. I can't wait.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 5:22 pm
Imagine if I moved to another non-English speaking country and demanded that my child be taught English in an American style, at the expense of that country's government - a country with a bursting population that can barely fit all the children into their own schools.
Westerners living abroad MUST attend private (expensive) International Schools to receive an American or European education.
They wouldn't dare ask a country/community to change their educational system for us.
Put yourself in our shoes for a moment.
It is also never too late to learn a new language.
My child and I are studying a new language together at home - together.
You can buy inexpensive courses and workbooks online.
The bonding experience of studying it together makes it even more fun.
Posted by Suspicious, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 4, 2007 at 10:13 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The Bejing government is trying to impose Mandarin in provinces where other Chinese dialects are spoken. Millions of people are not happy.
They are telling their own people that Mandarin is superior to their native dialect, and therefore they must give it up.
China should use the millions of dollars they spend launching these Mandarin programs worldwide (yes, worldwide) on educating their own people within China, rather than footing the bill for a hundreds of boondoggle trips for State legislators, Universities, and public school officials to visit China; in an effort to win their hearts and minds to implement Mandarin programs worldwide.
I would love to learn to speak Mandarin just to know what they are saying about me. I speak another Asian language.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2007 at 8:00 am
I keep posting to MI threads because its important to shed some light on all the miriad of issues related to MI that otherwise are being swept under the rug.
Why do people keep posting new threads? Because they keep shutting down the old ones in mid conversation. They shut the last one down within hours of the 'last' post - the conversation was still going.
Oddly enough, this thread was started by pro-MI side... So what does that say - they see an article about an irrelevent, non-comparable school district 3000 miles away and think they're posting 'evidence' to support why PAUSD should chase the fad.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:00 am
What's new about it? It sounds like the same story we've been hearing which is generally "look at these other districts that are jumping on the MI bandwagon".
On the other hand, the admission that MI is a fad, (like Japanese and Russian a few years back), and that Mandarin requires intense rote memorization, IS a new development in the story. (The ADMISSION of the facts is the new development - the facts themselves have been on the debate table since the beginning). At least the kernels of truth are in these articles.
You don't think the district is sweeping things uder the rug? Did the BOE ever bring any of these issues up? Or did they blithly ignore? What about the issue of administrative effort in an MI program that was raised in the Stanford study?
I didn't see anything other than effusive praise for the MI concept in the feasibility study.
(Did the staff ever provide ~any~ analysis on the feasibility of melding the Ohlone approach with the practical implications of teaching Mandarin? We heard Cook and Cohn Vargas and Charles summarily dismiss the issue several times, never a valid analysis of what each one means to the other, and where the challenges would occur. I'd call this 'sweeping under the rug'.)
Posted by An Admirer, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:15 am
Thanks for those links.
It's interesting to see how many MI programs are starting up. I guess this shows that far from being on the cutting edge we in PA are behind the curve.
It's pretty obvious that these programs are well-studied and raise no issues of equity for others, so it's hard to square the excessive negative reaction here.
I suggest ignoring the vitriol.
In any case, your MI program will be here in one year. I was sorry to hear the district made it such a tiny little pilot, but I'm sure your hard work will make it a huge success. I look forward to the day when the program expands to multiple strands and middle school.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2007 at 1:19 pm
Just as an aside, look at what is happening in New York where a new Arabic program has just started. This may be a different language, but many of the arguments are similar and the police are needed to patrol the students arrival and departure.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm
"...raise no issues of equity for others". Its not necessarily true that these programs raise no issues of equity for others. In fact most articles point to some community rancor issues.
In fact the Cupertino School district was sued over CLIP in its early years, over issues of inequity.
The Santa Clara County grand jury found that Cupertino school district was not violating its district funding policies because they had not written down funding policies that prevented inquitable distrubution of funds. The grand jury did NOT defend CLIP as equitable, it just said that Cupertino wasn't violating a district funding policy. By the way, that grand jury CONTRASTED Cupertino district with PAUSD specifically, - stating that unlike Cupertino, PAUSD does have written funding policies.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2007 at 6:03 pm
I post because I think it's important to counter the attempts at spin control--as demonstrated by MI Supporter. (And when MI Supporter actually posts something that's not pro-MI, then we can pretend she's just letting other people decide. Otherwise, it strikes me as more along the lines of Rove's strategy--repeat something long enough and people will start to believe it's true.)
An Admirer, you're mistaken about the vitriol and concerns about equity. It's actually an ongoing issue--not just in Cupertino, but in New York, where an existing public school was bumped by a Chinese immersion program. Even the immersion parents were embarrassed by it.
Parent, interesting point about the equity issue and the PAUSD. There will be a lot of fancy footwork to make MI appear cost-neutral. Unlike SI, there's no pre-existing curriculum.
Parent, that last thread wasn't stopped within hours of the last post, but seconds. I literally posted and the thread locked notice was right below it. Not quite sure why--I mean there wasn't time to even read my post. And the discussion was mildly acrimonious, but not unusually so. It also had a lot of information that I hadn't seen before--such as the SI performance breakdown.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm
No we didn't. But we had a different Superintendent last time we asked. Maybe its time to ask again. Any letter writers out there? His email address is email@example.com. Please point out your concerns with lack of transparency in the political process, particularly as it relates to special interests who might be looking to take off with PAUSD resources.
By the way, the vote to start MI maybe a done deal (*), but the issue of full accountability hasn't even started yet. Please write to Mr. Skelly - who is in charge of the staff who writes these reports, does the performance tracking, and provides the financial reporting - and ask him to make sure MI is held fully accountable for student performance reporting, demographic reporting, transparent lottery, full financial accounting of its sources of funds and use of district overhead. Accountability is what matters now.
*(Actually, the vote to start MI can be revisted at any time the board wants to revisit it. All it takes is someone putting it on the agenda and three board members wanting to revisit the vote. The board has shown that they are open to considering 'new' information as it becomes available. I can think of all kinds of new information that comes available between now and fall 2008 - the actual cost of the impelementation process, the actual use of district staff resources, the actual lottery process, the actual demographics of who shows up, the actual number students of who show up, the actual cost of the curriculum, etc, etc, etc. So accountability is they key now.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm
“Please write to Mr. Skelly - who is in charge of the staff who writes these reports, does the performance tracking, and provides the financial reporting - and ask him to make sure MI is held fully accountable for student performance reporting, demographic reporting, transparent lottery, full financial accounting of its sources of funds and use of district overhead. Accountability is what matters now.”
While you’re at it, expand the scope to include Spanish Immersion. I assume that it’s to be held to a similar level of accountability. Here’s a section from the MI feasibility study submitted by Becki Cohn-Vargas and Marilyn Cook titled, “Unintended Consequences”. (Web Link page 21 or pdf page 25)
“District and site program staff would work together to address any unintended consequences. Two areas that would be monitored closely are 1) Assurance that there is a parity of classroom experience for MCIP students and other students across the district. 2) Attendance at neighborhood schools is not adversely affected by the addition of another choice program in PAUSD.”
Escondido IS adversely affected by the recent *expansion* (not to be confused with existence) of Spanish Immersion. Neighborhood students are being turned away as a result, teachers were given 5 days notice to change the grade they teach, and mixed-grade classes were created against parents' written preferences in order to make space. This falls squarely under the category of “Unintended Consequences”. I’d like to see how closely the district staff and board members (particularly those who are up for reelection) monitor and respond to this “unintended consequence”. It’s a predictor of how they’ll respond to MI in the future.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2007 at 4:38 pm
I absolultely agree. Extend the requirement for accountability to SI, Hoover and Ohlone, because they are all choice programs, they exist optionally and are subject to the Choice Program criteria, which are, and should be, a high bar for their continued existence. Yes all these programs should be required to justify their existence through accountability.
However, by virtue of the fact that Hoover and Ohlone are stand alone schools we do get quite a bit more information on those programs because they are held to the same state and district wide reporting requirements as the rest of the neighborhood schools. So their results are not buried and muddied within a larger population. I am less concerned about ~more~ accountability for Hoover and Ohlone, although I think we should be seeing more financial reporting accountability for those two programs, and we certainly should be seeing more accountability on the lottery and admission process for those programs.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Sep 8, 2007 at 12:05 am
Speaking of accountability, what happens when school district personnel don’t follow the procedures outlined in their “Policy and Procedures Manual”? I didn’t realize until today that this manual is available online at the PAUSD website. (The manual is at Web Link)
Here’s a snippet from Chapter 4 – STUDENTS AND STUDENT SERVICES, Section B. ENROLLMENT. (Web Link page IV-5, pdf page 5)
“Open enrollment allows students to attend alternative schools or other neighborhood schools outside their attendance area on a space available basis. Students transferring from outside the attendance area shall not displace a student who currently resides in the attendance area of a school (including those students at the school with an administratively approved intradistrict transfer).
“Students who currently reside in the attendance area of a school (including those students at the school with an administratively approved intradistrict transfer) shall not be displaced by students transferring from outside the attendance area.”
It looks like they violated this policy by displacing neighborhood students within Escondido’s attendance area with ‘alternative school’ (SI) students.
If we let this slide, IT WILL SET A PRECEDENT for future programs. (Aside from the fact that it’s grossly unfair to the students who were displaced.)
Posted by Fair is Fair, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2007 at 11:40 am
"Extend the requirement for accountability to SI, Hoover and Ohlone"
Yes, it's only fair. Also, check to make sure each individual neighborhood school is not getting more than its fair share of funds. And do the same with middle schools. Plus we need an accounting of how much money is being spent on individual students in high school. I'll bet those AP classes cost more, and that's not fair.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2007 at 5:37 pm
Well Fair is Fair - maybe you get it! We need accountability - which we don't have.
What if I told you that AP classes cost 5X the average and were squeezing out the ability to provide adequate programs to underperforming and at risk kids?
Or what if I told you that the bottom 10% of performers (remedial classes) were recieving 5X the funding of the top 10% of performers (AP classes)?
Or what if I told you that your elementary school was receiving half of the district per pupil average?
Would you want to understand why? (I'm guessing you would.)
Well, I can't say any of these things, because I've never seen any accounting of the costs of these programs or the spending on a school by school basis. But it certainly would be interesting to find out if resources are being distributed in a fair and logical way across the district.
Particularly if we find severe imbalances occuring. Once we have the info, it can be explained, and approved or it can drive change.
No ones saying our neighborhood schools, high schools, and middle schools ahve to operate exactly equally - but they should have to explain and justify their outcomes and financial results.
But for choice programs in particular, which have a requirement to operate on a 'cost neutral' basis - I would think the superintendent and board would need to know what cost neutral means, and they'd need to see the cost actuals for the program - in order to actually be able to say the program is accomplishing this requirement.
Posted by U.M., a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2007 at 3:25 pm
"First, MI does not yet exist here, so how do you know there will be accountability?"
This is obviously true, if you hold to a full-blown skepticism. But then how do you know you exist? Seriously, it is the ONLY program which is required to be cost-neutral. None of the other programs have this requirement (and no one is demanding it of them). Hm, I wonder why that is? Let's see, what's different about MI?
But you are right that the anti-MI campaign was a terrible distraction from other district business. Let's hope cooler heads prevail in the future.
Posted by U.M., a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2007 at 9:05 pm
Er, hard to tell, but I think you're conceding the point. It's a matter of fact. MI is the only program that the district requires to be cost-neutral.
Yes, I'm sure the district required the hippies to run their farm on a cost-neutral basis too, but your point eludes me unless you're suggesting, with a nod and a wink, that the Ohlone program is a farm/zoo.
You may be right that the mere existence of MI means someone will show up to waste board meetings. Let's hope not.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm
Uhhm. In fact YOU seem to be conceding the point that the district lacks accountability. Since, (as you mention), the choice programs are not being held accountable for cost neutrality, when in fact we have written district policy that says they are required to be cost neutral, and we can't tell whether they are, or they aren't - because there is no reporting on costs for these programs, then we are lacking reporting and accountability to enforce this policy.
If you are complaining that MI is going to be held to a different standard, then I would think you of all people would be asking for improvement in accountability.
Instead I hear a [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] 'they did it first' emanating from MI: lets have NO accountability instead of accountability for everyone. So what you are suggesting is perpetuating gross mismanagement of the district in for your program to exist ‘under the radar’, unhindered by pesky accountability requirements.
What we are suggesting is fixing accountability across the district
Instead you want to pretend you are being singled out. We're actually trying to prevent you from being singled out. What's the matter uhm - do you think MI is not going to be able to stand the scrutiny? Did you think MI would just go about their merry way enjoying the fruits of PAUSD tax payer resources scott free and unchallenged? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 1:20 pm
No, I'm not conceding anything. All choice programs--Hoover, SI and Ohlone are required to be cost neutral. So MI is not the only program required to be cost-neutral. We have three other programs that are required to be cost-neutral.
Are they? Are they held accountable? It's a good question. Hoover and Ohlone have the same curriculum as the neighborhood schools, so being cost-neutral isn't a challenge, though it is why Ohlone's farm has to raise its own funds, which it does.
So why do you claim that MI is the only program that has to be cost-neutral when there are three others?
You seem to be claiming that the other choice programs aren't required to be cost-neutral, when, in fact, they are. Now is the district doing a good job making sure they're cost-neutral? That's not at all clear. But it is the requirement.
I have no problem with the greater transparency Parent wants. We can start with who funded the MI study.
Posted by U.M., a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 2:42 pm
I don't know whether the district does an accounting for the choice programs, for individual elementary schools, for middle schools and high schools, or on a per pupil basis. I don't see the need. It's obvious that some kids have more spent on them than others for various reasons.
The district policy (on cost neutrality) was adopted after the choice programs were in place, and I believe the policy applies to new programs, not old ones, but I may be wrong. In any case, I do agree with you that the policy should be consistent. If we are going to demand cost-neutrality, then we should demand it for all programs. And it should all be perfectly transparent: all the data should be released in a timely way.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
As far as I know, the policy on cost-neutrality applies to new programs, but if you have better info, please share.
As for the funding of study, I'm not sure why you can't let go. The district knows where the money came from: PACE. As for the books at PACE, I would guess the district has no idea. The district cannot reveal something it does not know.
But I'm with you on transparency. The district should put in place a policy mandating full disclosure for every donation it gets--whether it's stadium lights or a gross of erasers.
Posted by bwei, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 1:50 pm
Multilingual/multicultural education in public schools started in 1970's in America. I am glad Palo Alto is finally catching up, thanks much to Grace Mah and her persistence, against all odds.
In a school district with such diversity, a classical language and culture should be taught in the public education system, whether the education is in the form of MI or after school. This certainly will help demonstrate the democratic nature of America.
Posted by tired, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 3:18 pm
yes, calling Mandarin a "classic" language is an interesting interpretation of "classic".
PA has been multicultural and taught multiple languages for years and years. There are kids in their 30s now from PA schools who took Japanese and Mandarin as middle and high schoolers, and we had German, French, Spanish etc.
So, please stop with the condescending "catching up". It is about prriorities, priorities, priorities.