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Foreign language in schools needs translation

Original post made on Sep 26, 2007

Foreign language in elementary schools (FLES) is a good idea that needs more definition, Palo Alto's Board of Education told district representatives Tuesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 11:49 PM

Comments (92)

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Posted by what!!!!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 26, 2007 at 9:01 am

"The funds would make Mandarin-immersion cost-neutral by covering start-up costs, which the district could match the grant with money already budgeted for high school Mandarin instruction."

I thought we were told that MI was cost-neutral already?! You mean, this was all a lie?!


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Posted by Cassandra
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 9:17 am

A lie? You mean the numbers in the feasibility study were incomplete and inaccurate? You mean there isn't money left over from the infamous $60K to pay for start up costs as we were told? Wow. I'm shocked. Really. And here I trusted Marilyn Cook and Becky Cohn-Vargas and Mary Frances Callan to give a complete and unbiased report...


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 26, 2007 at 9:30 am

But this time, maybe it's really, really, really, really true. Honestly. (Or maybe not.)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 11:05 am

FLES and the FLAP grant have to be considered together. The grant can be used for k - 12. This means that the money can be spent on stuff like ipods and technology to Mandarin at the secondary school levels as well as MI at Ohlone. Now, we have an equity issue here. I have kids doing Spanish at both middle and high school, and neither of them use ipods or computers or anything high tech to help them learn with the exception of a couple of old videos (videos, not dvds). If one language gets all the mod cons at secondary school, then their program will be viewed as being more important or superior to the ones that are not. It may even make students choose Mandarin over another language just because of the technological toys they get to play with rather than any other reason for choosing the language.

This strikes me as definitely discriminative.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:13 pm

A very small number of people (three or four parents and three PAUSD Board candidate Wannabees) spoke to this issue at last night's meeting. Every one supporting Foreign Language in the elementary schools claimed that speaking a foreign language was "very important" in today's ever-shrinking world.

Well .. let's test that theory. What language is the predominant language on the Internet?

OK .. everyone knows that the answer is English.

So, let's look at another test -- if we look in the want ads in any of the local paper in the employment section, how many jobs specify that a foreign language is required as a qualification for the job?

While there may be a few, the overwhelming number of the jobs only require English.

Let's think ahead twenty years -- now how many of the jobs are likely to require a foreign language as a requirement for employment (yes, you have to guess for this one). My guess is that there will be very few requirements for a foreign language to qualify for employment, even though there will be continued de-industrialization of the US, as well as outsourcing of the technology sector to Asian countries for a long time to come.

People who make claims but never provide any proof of their claims should be dismissed completely.


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Posted by ct
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Marilyn, can you not keep with the spin? If anyone asks: "MI *IS* COST NEUTRAL". The grant isn't needed to *make* it cost-neutral. Sheesh, keep up.

Whoops did I say that out loud?


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Posted by KTS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

KTS

We have been through this discussion before. Of course language isn't and will not be necessary to get good jobs. Neither is being able to paint a picture, run a mile in under 10 minutes, write an essay on what you did during the summer or converting fractions into decimals, among many other things you learn at school. Granted, some of them will be useful. Speaking to a non English speaking house cleaner, or gardener, or speaking to a wait person at an ethnic restaurant, or the person who cuts your hair or even the person who gives you directions when you are lost in a foreign city, in their own language will also be useful.

No, a well rounded education means that you learn things that are not necessarily useful for a future job. It is called education. That is worthwhile having and it is something that we never stop improving.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Sorry, that post above is mine, not KTS. I meant to put KTS at the top (which I did) and did not mean to use someone else's identity.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Keep things simple, Be aware that MANY corporations - beginning with our largest and most successful corporations - have for years been opening overseas operations centers.

In addition to that, technology is enabling exponential returns on investment in human capital as communications modalities themselves increase exponentially, in capacity.

What does all this mean, relative to foreign language instruction?

It means that by the time our elementary school kids gave graduated university that there will be *many more* commercial enterprise regions that exist than there are today.

Most of those regions will (and already are) encouraging their educated citizens to learn English.

That said, most of those people are not going to give up their native language.

Have you ever sat down to negotiate a contract or close a deal with someone from say, the Far East, Europe, or South America, in English? Have you ever done the same and had someone prresent, or used your own foreign language skill-set to communicate fine points of that negotiation in their own language?

I have been a part of both scenarios. From that experience I learned that speaking a foreign language to a foreign national is a VITAL part of gaining and mantaining good relationships and trust, than not knowing that foreign national's language.

If we don't encourage a LOT more foreign language learning and exposure in our children, we are crippling their future, relative to kids in other cultures who are learning English as a second language.

Some languages I would suggest as important for future strategic success? English, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, German, Italian, French, Portugese, Tagalog, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, HIndi, and probably five or six others.

The world is changing; we either get serious about understanding that the pure hegemonic advantage that we were left after WWII is gone, and realize that we have to catch up in certaini ways with K-12 education (including multiple foreign language exposure), or we do our children a disservice.

We must find comprehensive, *balanced* ways to accomplish this goal, for ALL of our children, as soon as possible.

Certainly, there are other skill sets (social and academic) that our kids will have to learn; learning a foreign language alone isi not going to guarantee anyone success. But its a part of one's education that not only helps grease the wheels of effective communication, but provides a window into difference, and diversity. If we fail to help our kids understand and appreciate the latter, we will have unwittingly contributed to their relative ignorance, and lack of opportunity.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Couldn't the $52K in technology be shared across other language programs? At last night's board meeting Marilyn Cook confirmed that the technology investment was for high school use. If that's true, it should be relatively easy to invest in technology that can be utilized by any language, not just Mandarin. Let's see whether this MI program is "good at sharing". It shouldn't be that hard...will they be generous in the interest of ALL PAUSD students, or will they keep their windfall to themselves?

This type of innovative solution – where the grant funds can directly benefit a greater number of students – is the sort of gesture that can lead to restoring goodwill within the community.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Its a grant for Mandarin. Specifically for Mandarin and not for anything else.

Do any other high school language programs in our district have $52,000 worth of technology?

Which ones?

Skelly demonstrated that he has no concept of PAUSD values last night. The concept of equity across PAUSD programs was non comprehensible, nothing more than a petty annoyance to him.

The dollar signs are clouding his vision.


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Posted by what!!!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 26, 2007 at 1:38 pm

Parent, one of the reasons that the board members chose to host MI rather than embracing a charter was to ensure that there was equity across schools. They specifically stated that they didn't want to see a charter school with better buildings/technology/facilities that weren't provided to all schools.

As with their "cost-nuetral" statements, we are seeing the board members justifications bear no resemblence to reality.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Right you are. Exactly. I think "hypocrite" is the word for this, although I don't know how to spell it.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Now, Skelly, not a hypocrite, because he wasn't there making the original statements 3-6 months ago. But his behavior and his words last night really proved that his is not in the least interested in protecting the PAUSD value of equitable programming across the district.

This was a scary realization last night. We are sitting with a superintendent who hails to the all mighty buck, and probably prefers the boutique/lottery/fund-it-if-you-can-as-big-as-you-can district model. It was crystal clear from the meeting last night that a buck is a buck is a buck.

If you care about PIE or neighborhood schools and think those are good things in PAUSD, I think it would be prudent to contact PIE or you PTA and see how you can help circle the wagons.

There is only one measure of whether we're doing a good job at equitable excellent schools. When a home buyer asks a realtor which neighborhood he should buy in, in Palo Alto, the realtor should be saying - it literally doesn't matter. They're all the same, they're all excellent.

You start pumping cash into one program versus another, you start loading up selected programs with massive resource infusions, you create a fatal imbalance, you create 'haves and have nots', and the whole thing goes under. Once you put half the ship under water, the whole thing goes down and there's no saving it.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 2:05 pm

It's a grant for Mandarin, but that doesn't mean that if a bunch of laptops or PCs were purchased and placed in a HS language classroom, they're required to lock the doors to all other language classes during the periods Mandarin I/II isn't being taught. Why can't those resources be made available to other language students during off periods? I believe the classrooms are shared by more than one language.

This sort of shared thinking should become part of their grant implementation plan NOW, as they start defining the nuts and bolts of the program. If they have a choice of purchasing an ipod per pupil - assigned like a textbook where it accompanies the student home for the school year - or purchasing a computer that stays put in the classroom, they should choose the option that benefits the most number of students. Now that they've approved accepting the grant, it's time to start weighing how they can leverage the grant monies to enhance the experience of ALL language students, not just Mandarin students.

The community divisiveness isn't going to magically disappear on its own. The District must take ownership of the problem and work towards smoothing relations again. So far their method has been to repeat over and over again that it's a great little program that isn't going to bother anyone. Not helpful. But if they'd acknowledge that yes, it'll adversely affect others and yes, it has super-charged resources, HOWEVER, they will bend over backwards to design and utilize those resources for the benefit of ALL students whenever possible, they might gain a little support from the nay-sayers and have-nots.


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Posted by board watcher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 3:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 3:51 pm

> Keep things simple, Be aware that MANY
> corporations - beginning with our largest and most
> successful corporations - have for years been opening
> overseas operations centers.

According to the US BLS, from their press release on "THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION: AUGUST 2007", their tracking data suggest that in August, the civilian labor force edged down to 152.9 million. Given this 152.9M people, how many of them are working in overseas operations centers? How many are working overseas with English only language skills?

My guess is that the number of Americans working overseas is rather small.

> Have you ever sat down to negotiate a contract or
> close a deal with someone from say, the Far East,
> Europe, or South America, in English? Have you
> ever done the same and had someone prresent, or
> used your own foreign language skill-set to
> communicate fine points of that negotiation
> in their own language?

Have you ever flown into a major airport anywhere in the world and found that the ground control tower used any language other than English? Have you ever checked into a hospital for life sustaining surgery and found yourself glad that the doctors were not speaking English? Have you found yourself reading newspapers not written in English because they were better written or dealt with the real world more comprehensively?

I commanded a military unit in a foreign country once. I learned the language in order demonstrate that Americans were not indifferent to local customs and fully capable to reaching out to the military men who had been assigned to my company for training. Much to my chagrin, virtually every soldier (foreign) stopped talking when I was present. It was astounding how this limited language capability on my part had such a chilling effect on the locals.

Yes, there will always be room for Americans to utilize foreign language skills. The idea that not teaching Palo Alto students (or all Americans for that matter) six languages in order to avoid "crippling" them is utter nonsense.

People who need language skills can always pick them up.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 26, 2007 at 3:59 pm

"And they have shown they care about benefitting the greatest number of children how?"
Exactly my point – they haven't. It's high time they do.

BTW, let's be clear who is responsible for this grant. (It's not the original 9 community members who, um, 'requested' MI). District administrators (mostly) wrote and applied for the grant and are responsible for executing it. The key players are:

Becki Cohn-Vargas, project director
Marilyn Cook, responsibilities are to 'design, implement, manage, and monitor the progress'
Norm Masuda, Instructional Supervisor of World Languages at Paly, Mandarin curriculum specialist
Evaluation team: William Garrison, Director of Assessment and Evaluation for PAUSD; Prof. Amado Padilla, Principal Investigator and research advisor; Duarte Silva, professional development and external evaluation.
Grace Mah, community liaison

It doesn't help at this point to direct frustrations related to implementation to a group of community members. The above individuals are in control of implementing MI. They are the ones who ought to be thinking about equity. They are the ones who ought to be held accountable.

I say 'ought to' because I've lost confidence in district accountability long ago.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:11 pm

RWE - by the way, I work for one of these multinational corporations that keeps opening operations overseas. Don't be naive.

They move their operations over there so they can hire local (highly educated) workers from that foreign country for a FRACTION of the labor wage. And then they 'work force manage' the US workers.

Sure, if you speak the local language, I suppose you can go over there and get a $200 a week job as a manager in one of these off shore organizations - and you get the fabulous benefit of living not in Palo Alto but some foreign country. But actually, they're conducting the business in English anyway, so you can probably get that $200/wk job speaking English - if you really want it.

We're WAY better off intensely focusing our kids on Math and Science so they can keep the high paying jobs HERE in the future. Knowing some random foreign language will be utterly useless to them in that future.


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Posted by Private school mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Uh..yes. Math and Science, and the ability to communicate well in English, are the core necessities for our kids. Ask anyone who sends their kids to private elementary schools WHY they are sending their kids to private schools,and it is almost always "to make sure they are as fully educated as possible in reading, writing and math". After elementary schools the reasons begin to differ.


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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Keep things simple, It's a developmental fact that second language development is far more easy to obtain in the pre-teen years, because of the receptive nature of certainn areas of the brain to building language and representational models.

It IS more difficult to master a foreign to fluency in later life - from the teen years, on.

byw, my reference tooverseas operations had nothing to do with how many Americans get sent overseas on assignment. On the contrary, what I pointed out was that *foreign* workers are manning those operations centers.

THis is something I'm very close to in my working life, and I can guarantee you that it is FAR more effective to have command of whatever foreign language one finds oneself exposed to in whatever country one is assigned to - in tactical execution, negotiation, and the creation of good will (necessary to cement functional commercial relationships).

Last, english will continue to grow as the lingua franca of commercial enterprise, but we will continue to see very fast growth in some regions of the world that make those regions far more formidable commercially than they are today.

It is FAR more effective to have an embedded fluency of Russian than taking Monterey-style Russian crash courses for basic fluency on work assignment in St. Petersburg. I know of where I speak.

Again, to the degree that we fail to provide most of our kids with the opportunity to master a second language in their early formidable years, to that degree will we disadvantage them relative those kids who have learned a second language, and foreign chilfren who are learning English as a second language.

Just who hdo you think is getting sent back to China or India on assignment for Microsoft, Google, etc. It's largely foreign nationals who speak their native tongue, AND English.

America will continue to face competition for growth from other nations; it's best to be able to understand and communicate with those people, so that we don't disadvantage ourselves.

Tell me it's a good thing that we have as few Arabic-speaking Americans as we do.

Last - and again - foreign language instruction gives a child a view into an *entirely different way of ordering the world*. There are profound cognitive advantages to having that experience. Why not enable our kids to have this experience, so that they can be prepared for the new world of interchangeable commerce, without borders.




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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 26, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Learning a foreign language is similar to learning a technical skill like learning to type, play the piano or learning basic computer programing. Elementary students that are interested in such skills should take after-school classes. It is poor educational practice to give up prime class time for these elective subjects when there is a drastic need for better education in the fundamental, conceptual subjects.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 8:09 pm

> Keep things simple, It's a developmental fact that second
> language development is far more easy to obtain in the
> pre-teen years, because of the receptive nature of
> certainn areas of the brain to building language and
> representational models.

Ok .. while this may be true (up to a point) .. there is also the matter of time. Kids have a little more time to on their hands to devote to learning. On the other hand, its doubtful that a child in the 4th grade is going to understand any intelligent discussion of grammar, parsing or really be interested in learning and mastering five hundren words a week in order to become proficient in a given language. For that matter, it's unlikely that most children will have much interest in putting in the work to master any language--there are far too many other things that they have to do. Language mastery takes a lot of time, time which much be taken from their budget of: math, basic science, english, history, government, physical education, music, art, environmental science, climate science, computer science, basic technology awareness studies, soccar, marching band, art history, basic personal finance, sailing, skaking, learning to drive, extra-curricular activities, church, and who knows how many other things put on their plates by over-achieving parents.

Someone in later life can teach themselves a language with a copy of Rosetta Store, or a Berlitz tape, without the need of a classroom teacher (based on motivation). Kids probably could learn using self-learning techniques too, but probably not with the comprehension of an adult.

It's a matter of time and motivation.


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Posted by Sidelines
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Keep,

"Language mastery takes a lot of time, time which much be taken from their budget"

Well, that's the point: it takes less time for kids to master. As for time, it's not a zero sum game. Taking time from other subjects in school doesn't mean kids will automatically lose something else.

Perhaps in your world, foreign language is not important to your life or job. Some of us are less insular, and need those skills. The question is not how many things a monolingual English speaker can do in life. It is: how many more things can a multi-lingual person do? Languages open doors, whether cultural, literary, experiential or professional.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Most preschoolers learn a language very easily, some learn two. In fact, I am willing to bet that you learnt your first language before the age of 5 with no problems at all.

It is called learning to speak and there is almost no effort involved if you start young enough. No grammar rules, no vocab lists, no verb conjugations, etc. etc. It just makes sense because a young brain is trying to make sense of information it is given. Start a language young enough, no matter if it is only an hour or so once or twice a week and yes, language skills come. Once a child reaches 7, those skills get harder to master. Leave them til 10, or 12 or 14, then it becomes hard work.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 8:46 pm


> that's the point: it takes less time for kids to master

Kids don't master languages--they may become proficient in with a typical 3-5,000 work "working set" vocabulary, but to expect that their reading and writing comprehension will achieve "mastery" is not demonstrated by the facts. The CA STAR data shows that 2/3rds of the kids in the California school system test at BASIC, BELOW BASIC or FAR BELOW BASIC in English--their primary language (save those how are recently arrived in the US). What makes anyone claim that these same kids are going to "master" a foreign language when they can not master their own native language?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 9:41 pm

"In whatever country one is assigned to" Are you talking about military jobs or something? Becuase really, the fact of the matter is they don't take US employees and assign them in other countries, not for any significant amount of time - they may go there temporarily to train people to take over those formerly US jobs.

The fact is that the jobs are filled by people in the other countries because that's the economic reality of why they put the operations there in the first place: Much lower wages for high skilled workers that frankly can run circles around US college grads in technical skills. (Not in English skills thought - perhaps our one last competitive advantage.)

Even if you might want to apply for a job there - you're going to be competing with people who, without a doubt have mastery of the local language, AND have had WAY more math, science and technology education.

We're disadvantaged all the way around by diverting our attention from what really matters - core subjects. AND we won't compensate any where NEARLY enough to save our economy by teaching Mandarin or Spanish or Russian instead of focusing on what's critical.

Its a cruel argument really - cruel for the unsuspecting kids who are going to be shortchanged in the areas that are really important to their futures - here - in the US - where the vast majority of of them will live and work.

Second language education should be treated as a hobbee or an art, not a core curriculum. Its really just as simple as that.


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Posted by Sidelines
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2007 at 11:52 pm

KTS,

Actually, kids do master languages all the time. Reading and writing come more slowly than speaking and understanding, but they eventually get those too. Particularly in an immersion program, kids master second languages all the time.

Parent,

You have a limited understanding of the value of foreign languages.

Americans are sent to foreign countries all the time to manage, not to "train people to take over formerly US jobs." Language skills can play a decisive role in their success. No one is suggesting that our kids learn Hindi so they can get a programing job in India.

Even for those who work here, having a foreign language ability can help them in their jobs.

For many of us, foreign language deserves to be a core subject.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:10 am

Couple of things.

Yeah, learning languages is easier for kids--it's like learning music. You may not become an expert violinist as a kid, but to become an expert violinist, you'd better have started learning as a kid. By the same token, it's easier to learn to sing on pitch as a kid than it is as an adult. There's a window of opportunity with music and languages--specifically the spoken aspect. Learn a language as an adult and you will speak it with an accent. Learn it is a kid and you might well not. That window closes around the ages of 10 to 12, which, ironically, is when most second language instruction begins in this country.

Basically, early exposure, even if it's not to the point of fluency means less work later on.

Parent,

I don't think it's a case of foreign-college grads running rings around American college grads in terms of technical skills. China educates a very small portion of its population at that level and it has one world-class institution. What you actually have are foreign-born students coming here to get the U.S. grad degree.

As I think you point out earlier, it's about economics. It's much cheaper to hire the same skill level in India than in Austin. (Note to someone else, we don't need to learn Hindi. India has, as I recall, 17 official languages. Everyone there learns English as a sort of universal second language. You get families that communicate in English because they don't all share the same mother tongue.)

Ironically, the more China and India succeed economically, the less cost-effective it becomes to outsource over there. So, I think Parent is right that it's the technical know-how and mastery of English that matter.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 8:44 am

To those who say that language should be thought of as a hobby or as an elective, I would answer that that is the typical American attitude of someone who has never left the country. The rest of the world perceive Americans as arrogant, self righteous and rude. People who have never travelled, who are not used to practicing the premise "When in Rome, do as the Romans" are the ones who stereotype this image to the rest of the world.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] If you want your children to be taken seriously by those in other countries, then educate them in what the rest of the world thinks normal. Yes, even other English speaking countries (there are others other than England, you know).


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 10:21 am

While some debate over the future usefulness way down the line of some kids knowing some Mandarin, I STILL think there are serious equity issues in this district right now. This is public school, it's important that we provide reasonably equivalent education, facilities, materials support, etc..


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 10:25 am

Speaking of inequity, Ohlone's afterschool language is overenrolled this year, so, yep, some people who want some exposure to a foreign language and are willing to pay for it won't be able to get it. Ohlone's offering MI to the select few next year while not even being able to provide one hour a week to all the families there who want FL instruction.


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Posted by Immigrant
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:43 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Please do some research, and stop conflating the problem of poor english performance in some of our students with the desired requirement for foreign language instruction.

In fact, there are language centers in the brain that are far more receptive to the pattern recognition necessary to parse written and verbal representations.

I'm sorry to say that there is a lot of just plain ignorance on this topic - ignorance that could be cured if one would simply do the research, or look around you at the MANY foreign nationals that are working here.

Do any of the naysayers re: foreign language instruction here have even ONE clue about how prominent foreign regions are going to be one or two decades hence, and how MANY of our own children may find themselves migrating to other places for opportunity. I guess not.

What I see here is typical of the xenophobia and "cult of English only" crowd who take a good idea (e.g. everyone should be able to speak English) and stretch it into an absurd requirement that will shortchange our kids.

And this is supposed to be an intelligent, worldly, community?


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Posted by Immigrant
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:45 am

"In fact, there are language centers in the brain that are far more receptive to the pattern recognition necessary to parse written and verbal representations."

I meant to say "In fact, there are language centers in the brain that are far more receptive to the pattern recognition necessary to parse written and verbal representations

__in young persons__."


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:54 am

Editors

In editing my post above you make it sound that this is my opinion of Americans. I was just pointing out the rest of the world view Americans in a bad light and by not educating the children in world languages, it adds and will continue to add to the attitude others have of the average stereotypical American.


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Posted by another immigrant
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Immigrant, why do you think the rest of the world learns English?

You are asking american students to put in the same effort as foreign students whilst getting only a fraction of the advantage in learning that language.

If there was another language that gave the same benefit as learning English then it should be mandatory. Until then, it should just be treated as any other educational "option" such as pyschology or philosophy.

I am fluent in another language as well as having "learnt" 2 others in school. And, you know, I don't use any of them. I wish I could have opted for philosophy instead.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:07 pm

> I'm sorry to say that there is a lot of just plain ignorance
> on this topic - ignorance that could be cured if one would
> simply do the research,

I have taught myself to read in a number of languages. Could you post links or information to this research in non-English publications .. I'd like to see how much of this research is being in non-English publications, and possibly practice my language skills a little.

> look around you at the MANY foreign nationals that are working here.

And looking at the many foreign nationals working here is related to this conversation how?

> foreign language instruction here have even ONE clue
> about how prominent foreign regions are going to
> be one or two decades hence

Ok .. I'll bite ..

Let's start with South America? Please give us your best estimate as to what South America is going to look like twenty years hence?

Same for:

Central Africa?
Southern Africa?
Central America/Mexico?
The countries comprising the Former Soviet Union?
Indonesia?
South Asia:
Pakistan?
Bangladesh?
Rural China
North Africa?

I'd be interested in your vision of life on earth just twenty years from now. By the way, if English will unconditionally NOT be spoken in these countries/regions--please indicate so in your answer.




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Posted by common sense.
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:25 pm

In virtually all of Europe, kids start learning English at a young age. This is from necessity, not a desire. A person who doesn't speak English when he is grown, or at least have the basis to learn it if he wants, has severely limited job opportunities.

Please realize, anyone who compares us to Europe reveals a significant lack of understanding at what DRIVES Europe to learn another language. Our incentives are simply very different. It isn't arrogance, or chauvinism, or any other pejorative you may wish to put on it. It is simple reality that now, and in the future, the need for another language is, as a percent of jobs, very low.

However, why are these other countries so determined to raise their kids with English? Because they are raising them with great MATH and LOGICAL skills. They know we are doing a horrible job at that, and can come here to take the jobs that there are no Americans to take. They know that American companies grow big, and multinational, and will hire bilingual people over monolingual in their countries. Ask the many people who are even writing on this forum why they aren't in their HOME country speaking another foreign language, not English.

So, don't confuse the two.

It doesn't mean that we shouldn't at the very least EXPOSE our kids as young as possible to another language for all the other incredible benefits and opportunities for learning it provides. The majority of reasons to do so are a benefit to all the kids, not just the very small percentage of kids who will need to go on to be bilingual. The benefits are in brain development, thinking skills, ability to learn the language better if desired, ability to process in English better, all necessary skills for success.

But, to continue to insist it is for an economic reason just lowers your credibility. This is not arrogance, but reality. Think in percentage of excellent jobs that need excellent English AND math AND/OR science, and then wonder why our country imports people with those skills and STILL can't find enough employees because of our visa limit who can do the job.

a foreign language is not a critical core subject, it would be great, but is not a higher or equal priority in elementary school. It would be a great, wonderful, thing to provide kids who can handle it, kids who are at the very least "basic" in core skills, but frankly, the rest need to focus on getting at least "basic" in English and math.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm

> xenophobia

Xenophobia means a fear of new things. The use of such a word is inappropriate for this discussion. The objections to this proposal at the PAUSD is one of time and money vs the real of perceived benefit of providing this instruction in the public school system—paid for by public money. There simply is no compelling evidence that there is a valid public benefit for teaching foreign language in the elementary grades to the level of each child's being "proficient" at some point (whatever that means).

Cost benefit analysis as a basic tenet of public policy in the US and can only be equated to xenophobia by people ignorant of the meaning of the word.

No one has suggested that parents who want to buy private language instruction for their children should be prohibited by policy or law. You are free to buy as much private language instruction as you feel appropriate—and folks like myself will do nothing more by smile and encourage you to do so. Those opposed to the public subsidizing special interest groups, like immigrants who are not interested in having their children school in English as their primary language is bad public policy.

> and "cult of English only" crowd

Having a national language is intelligent national policy. This means that all public business will be conducted in English, not all of the 2,500 languages and dialects that can be found worldwide. Expecting the various levels of government to react properly to all of these languages and dialects is simply crazy.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Ironic - that the government of China, for example, is underway with a signficant push to standardize on Mandarin language as the national language in that country, for very practicial economic purposes. Is that also xenophibic - fear of new things?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Immigrant - since you feel this is so critical, you probably feel pretty uncomfortable about putting your child's very future in the hands of a lottery system.

I can't imagine what I'd say if PAUSD told me that math was going to be taught to only 20 kids next year - please sign up for the lottery to see if you'll get in.


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Posted by Immigrant
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 3:24 pm

"Keep things simple"

'However, why are these other countries so determined to raise their kids with English? Because they are raising them with great MATH and LOGICAL skills. They know we are doing a horrible job at that, and can come here to take the jobs that there are no Americans to take. They know that American companies grow big, and multinational, and will hire bilingual people over monolingual in their countries."

Thanks for proving my point. Commerce is spreading. Do you think that only Europeans and Asians are going to look elsewhere foro work? That's very short-sighted. Go look at the size of the research cnters in ofreign countries that are owned ny American corporations. That trend is going to continue.

kts wants to point out the paucity of development in rural China. So what? What does that prove about the fact that there are important, world-class development centers in the places I mentioned earlier. Using extreme examples to make a point is pretty transparent in this forum. You'll have to do better than that.

Last, I would like KTS to find even one nation that is more diverse than our nation - just one. That alone should be incentive enough to help drive foreign language instruction.

Yes, we should require that all students have the facility to speak English, but try imposing your rules in the Hebrew boroughs in Brooklyn, or Chinatown. Give me a break!

also,
kts "I'd be interested in your vision of life on earth just twenty years from now. By the way, if English will unconditionally NOT be spoken in these countries/regions--please indicate so in your answer.

So what? Does that mean that NOT knowing the local language will be an advantage? I think you need to rethink what it takes to do nusiness in another country, foro the long-term - and what it takes to establish good will sufficient to create the trust necessary to build business. I've been there; it looks like you haven't







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Posted by Immigrant
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 3:26 pm

parent, I'm advocating for universal second language instruction, for all children. Please don't put me in the MI camp,or the lottery camp


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Posted by Lingua Franca
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 4:03 pm

"Ironic - that the government of China, for example, is underway with a signficant push to standardize on Mandarin language as the national language"

No. It has been the national written language for 100 years and the language of instruction for many.


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Posted by you missed the point
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Immigrant: I think you are proving my point. Looking at other countries where American companies are hiring people is not proof of economic need here for foreign languages. If there were people here who could do the job for less money, they would. They are not going to struggle to learn another language in order to go to another country and make less money. That is the "bottom line". They will learn foreign languages for many reasons, but that isn't one. There will be rare people who simply love the idea of living here or there, or want to rise to a level in an American company that does business with another country..that is great. For that reason, we should promote foreign language instruction as a secondary priority, below the core critical skills necessary to ALL Americans, but not instead of any core subject. We should allow as many kids as possible the opportunity to pursue a foreign language as they age. If they are exposed when young, the learning, for those who desire it, comes easily.


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Posted by Careful reader.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm

To Lingua Franca: There is no disagreement between your comment and the Chinese govt pushing to making Mandarin the national language. Your statement is still completely compatible with the first, especially since just over half of China actually speaks Mandarin.


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Posted by Immigrant
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 5:27 pm

missed the point,

the fact is that our kids are going to be a LOT more mobile than you can imagine. I'm simply amazed at how many people have weighed in on this topic - about whether cometency in a foreign language helps one to do business abroad - and NEVER done that.

i see nothing but hypotheticals about world development and blah, blah, blah, but what I
--see-- and --experience-- when traveling abroad to do business is that Americans who know a foreign language are --far-- more successful than those who are not.

Please convince me that Americans will not be in --far-- more intense relationships with people of other nations, in the future, and that knowledge of the language that a person is operating in is --not--better than having same.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Lingua Franca
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 5:56 pm

Dear Careful,

Yes, the first statement was vague, so I was trying to respond to whatever that person meant in saying that China is attempting to standardize on Mandarin as the national language.

In fact, Mandarin has been the China's national language for decades.




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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Lingua Franca - less than 50% of the population in China speaks Mandarin. Take a look at the news - they are in fact pushing a vast increase in the use of Mandarin. Not only there - but here too!


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Posted by eyes wide open
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 7:49 pm

"A 2001 national language law (in China), decrees that Mandarin be used in all mass media, government offices and schools, and bars the "overuse" of dialects in movies and broadcasting."

"Uniting China to Speak Mandarin, the One Official Language: Easier Said Than Done"

Web Link

Lets just call if for what it is, shall we?


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Posted by lingua Franca
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Actually more than 50% speak Mandarin, and it has been the official language for decades.

It is more widely read than spoken, though sometime in the past decade it became the language of instruction in school, so that the percentage of speakers is increasing.

Still not sure what you mean by a new push for a vast increase.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 27, 2007 at 10:31 pm

The NYT articles says 53 percent can communicate in Mandarin. That would include people who only use Mandarin as a second language. IN the same article, it mentions a 2001 law, in other words, recent, that mandates all official communication and mass media. That sounds like a very strong push by the Chinese government to limit the use of other Chinese languages.

So we are talking about a country where less than half use the official language in daily use. I thought it was interesting how different the "dialects" are--one was as similar to Mandarin as French is to English.

China is a dictatorship with a huge undereducated peasant class. That's not going to change overnight. Certainly, the emergence of a plutocracy won't change that.


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Posted by Cautious Family
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2007 at 10:56 pm

Mandarin is the language that the Communist Government in Beijing is forcing upon the other Chinese people in other provinces. They are forbidding them to teach and use their native dialects.

Hanban is the Ministry of Education in Beijing, and they are linked to the Confucius Institute.

It has been the communist government that has been subsidizing these trips across the WORLD to wine and dine State Legislators, Universities, and unsuspecting cash strapped school board officials.

Once they get to China, they are enamored with everything Asian (if they have never lived there), and go back to their countries, states, and school districts feeling enlightened to start a Mandarin programs.

The communist government is delighted because people fall for it so easily.
This is such a typical communist tactic that I could just scream.

Every time a program gets launched, they immediately fill their newspapers around the world to make it seem like it was a huge and welcome success, while it is nothing more than communist propaganda.

Hanban has already managed to influence The College Board, and it all began with a trip sponsored by Hanban.

This is a global launch of Mandarin by China, and some papers in Canada and overseas have referred to it as China's newest soft power weapon, in their attempt to become the next world super power.

It is sad, since not all Chinese speak Mandarin. There are a lot of problems going on internally inside China. China is a huge country, and they are not united in one language.

My husband is on a conference call at this very moment (almost 11pm) in our kitchen. He is speaking to Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and waiting for his manager in France to join in. He is a senior director of Global IT. All of his top managers are foreign nationals and speak English perfectly. English bonds them all together in conversation, and allows them to exchange their diverse ideas.

I can not imagine his managers in India, France, Singapore, and Hong Kong being able to communicate with one another in Mandarin. His two Chinese managers do not even speak Mandarin.

Additionally, we have lived in Asia for more than five years.

As a side issue, if you happen to ask someone who is Chinese in Singapore, Thailand, or Hong Kong if they speak Mandarin, they feel very uncomfortable. They would feel like you are perhaps questioning their level of intelligence. The reason? . . . They don't speak Mandarin. They speak another dialect of Chinese.

I understand it is hard for people here to discern what is hard propaganda and what is not. We must use a clear mind when making our choices about starting programs which may not be unnecessary.
I feel that we should focus our efforts and resources on foundational programs in math, science, English, writing, world history, debate, and leadership skills.

These are my personal feelings, others people are entitled to their personal feelings.

If the parents, voters, and students want a Mandarin program, it should be approved by vote, and funded with money from our country, and not from a communist country.

There is a possibility that some of these other grants may have received funding from China through Hanban.
I have someone looking into this tangled mess right now.

I believe that if China has a hand in any of these grant programs, we should simply walk away from accepting them, simply on the moral principal of it.

I am currently having this investigated. The US government is notoriously slow on these kinds of things.
I know, because I used to work for the U.S. State Dept.

I am having someone work on this to unravel it.

I initially thought this was a local issue, but it has turned out to be a very tangled global issue.

Simply put, it's a mess!

If you would like my opinion on languages (I speak several) I would say go with Spanish. Not only is it fun, the kids will be able to use it and identify with it more. They can always learn a tonal Asian language later in life (my husband and I both did when we were over age 30).


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Please keep in mind, as most elem ed teachers will tell you - there is no time in the school day/week for language instruction. It is already over-full. Adding any new curriculum will squeeze out other things. FLES, other than a token exposure (perhaps all that makes sense?), must push out other things - art? music? library? math? Time spent closing the achievement gap?

My personal view is that FL instruction (regardless of which language) falls below all of these; and hence is not a priority we should give resources and precious instruction time to. Nice to have? Sure. But many other topics seem more valuable.


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Posted by Lingua Franca
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Yikes, so much chaff, Grasshopper.

Right, so most Chinese speak Mandarin. Glad that's clear.

There is a 2001 law mandating Mandarin in schools and government offices, but dialects are still used on TV and radio. This is part of a trend going back a century, in which Mandarin became the written language and official language of the country. Nothing new, really. Certainly not a "Communist plot."

Thus, kids have always learned to read Mandarin. The difference now is that the school day is happening in Mandarin (immersion!). This is welcomed by parents, who want a bright future for their children. In Hong Kong, for instance, which enjoys more autonomy than other areas, many parents opt to put their kids into Mandarin classrooms (not Cantonese), because they see it as important to their kids' economic future.

No one is forbidden to teach or use their dialect. Dialects will thrive for a long time in China beside Mandarin.



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Posted by Thanks to Cautious Family
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:55 am

THANKS!! You said it so well.

We are such a good hearted, naive and gullible people, we can't even begin to imagine the kind of central control and propoganda that happens in other countrie, and don't even know we are being deceived, manipulated and used. Not by the people of the country, but by the dictators who control every aspect of media/propoganda.


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Posted by c'mon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:56 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by c'mon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2007 at 7:58 am

In Hong Kong, part of the Chinese dictatorship, of course parents "opt" to put their children in Mandarin! It is the only language where kids have even a chance at any economic success while living in that dictatorship! Somehow I bet that every parent who puts his kid in Mandarin also puts the kid in English in even bigger hopes for their kids.

Newspeak at work


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2007 at 9:53 am

Terry

You do raise an interesting point. I have actually put some thought into this one.

Yes, the elem day is full and the present elem teachers are not language teachers. Also, we would have problems with the unions, I expect, if we increased the day by even 20 mins. However, I imagine that a good FLES program would be taught be travelling teachers, the same way pe and music are taught. These teachers would come to the school and teach perhaps a choice of two or three languages. Since language is different from other grade level standards, it would be possible for different grade levels to be taught at the same time in the same classrooms. It would be done roughly the same as the music program whereby the students choose their language and then say two or maybe three grade levels of that language could be taught in one room to that mixed grade group of students. This could be done say two or three times a week and the same group of travelling teachers would rotate around the various schools. While language was being taught, the regular classroom teachers would be "free" as they are now when pe and music is taught. In this way we could extend the school day 20 mins say 4 times a week. This would not increase the time the regular teachers were teaching in their classrooms, give them more time for preparation, etc. and the unions would also be happy.

This of course may make it more expensive as specialised teachers would have to be paid. It would also raise the question of what should be done with students who do not/should not participate due to already speaking a 2nd language, ell students and those with learning disabilities.

Ideas like these, I believe, are the sort of questions the FLES task force should work out. But, I have already emailed the board on my suggestion and I am sure others have great ideas too that should be passed on to them.


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2007 at 10:37 am

> There is a possibility that some of these other
> grants may have received funding from China
> through Hanban.

> I have someone looking into this tangled mess right now.

> I believe that if China has a hand in any of these grant
> programs, we should simply walk away from accepting
> them, simply on the moral principal of it.

The possibility of China's being involved with these grants is very likely. Don't forget that China holds $1T (one trillion) US dollars in its reserves which it has obtained from its one-sided trading arrangements with the US, thanks to the US Government. Additionally, China has heavily invested in US Treasury notes that have been used to provide funding for the ever-burgeoning welfare state. It would not be difficult to believe that US policy makers have been "convinced" by Chinese officials to introduce Mandarin and Chinese culture into the US school system.

Googling the "Confucius Institute" reveals that universities around America (and the world) are allowing this group, which is clearly linked to Hanban, to operate on their campuses. The WEB-sites do not provide any insight into the funding of these Confucius Institute operations, such as who is paying for the personnel, or what their mission might be.

The FBI has for many years warned Americans that Chinese espionage is going on at the same rate as at the height of the cold war. In fact, a Chinese (naturalized) Palo Alto electronics engineer was recently charged with trade theft. It was his intention to sell stolen chip designs to the Chinese military. It is a well-known fact that Chinese graduate students have been involved in espionage from their positions as graduate students and graduate assistants. Certainly having a local school involved with the Confucius Institute should raise red flags to prudent school boards (which the PAUSD is clear not).


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2007 at 11:32 am

Interesting discussion - I'm learning alot here. What do you make of this website Web Link ? It's called "The Overseas Chinese Web Guide" and is a resource for finding good schools in the US. PAUSD gets plenty of recognition.
Is this website government sponsored, and who is likely to use it?


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Out of curiosity, what's the objection, exactly? I mean, suppose the Chinese Communist Party itself offered to pay for the entire MI project from top to bottom. Apart from making Joe McCarthy turn in his grave, where is the downside?


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Posted by clear on this one
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2007 at 2:18 pm

I don't care WHO offers to pay for it totally. If someone wants to pay for it totally, that is their business and called "private school"..and they can give away the spots in the school in any way they wish.

I don't want money to override our priorities and planning. Regardless of who it is from. I don't like being manipulated.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Well first of all - transparency. If its true, and its not being disclosed its a HUGE problem. The public has a right to know that PAUSD would be running a program bought and paid for by the Communist Chinese Party (as you put it).

Secondly, money comes with strings. What would be the motivation of the donor in such a case, and what would be their expectation in return - since we would be missing any disclosure on the fact, how would we know what else was going on in the deal, undisclosed?

Third, since don't need it, don't have room for it, don't have staff for it, serves only a few, creates more problems than its solves - it would call in to question the motives of the board members and others who are pushing it so vigorously and voting for it against community outcry.

Fourth - didn't your mother ever tell you not to take candy from strangers? aka... Beware of strangers bearing gifts. and... If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is... Where do you think those old truisms come from?

Perhaps (in that scenario)if the chinese government wanted to offer totally funded Mandarin Language education, they could open up their own school and offer it for free? Why should PAUSD get involved, and why wouldn't they do it this way? If I were a board member, that's what I would suggest they do with their generous offer - take a hike.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 28, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Public schools are a public trust. There needs to be absolute transparency on funding. ANd, yeah, I have MAJOR problems with U.S. public schools receiving any funding from a foreign government with as dismal a human rights and environmental record. Hell, I wouldn't be wild about foreign funding of U.S. public schools if it were being done by Canada.

Money equals influence. I see no reason why China deserves that kind of access to American public schools.


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2007 at 5:41 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Transparency is a district policy and has nothing to do with this issue. (I agree with you though, and the district should reveal the source of ALL donations for the reasons you mention.)

No, money has no strings and brings no influence. The conditions of grants are set out up front; they can't come demand something from the district down the road.

Take the money and run!




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Posted by Another Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:30 am

The money has strings which have already been tugged a bit. It comes with (at least) political penetration and threats of charter schools.

The grants in theory should be a clean transfer, but since we misrepresented from the beginning (a sufficiently standard practice by such a large set of grant applicants that the engagement in same does not disqualify a candidate from positions of public trust??!), we cannot honor our side and hence the grant comes with influence.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2007 at 10:44 am

Citizen,

Clearly, money has already had an influence--it resulted in MI queue-jumping the strategic plan. No mysterious $60 K, no feasibility study. No trips to China to sell the program.

The conditions of the grant were created by Marilyn Cook--a 240-student MI program and a K-12 program. This was NOT the program approved by the board. It was, however, what was sold to the government.

Take the money and run? No strings? No, I'd ask a lawyer about the potential for fraud here since the board did not approve a K-12 program and explicitly said that it had no intention of doing so.

Lots of strings.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2007 at 11:51 am

OhlonePar,

You said: "I'd ask a lawyer about the potential for fraud here since the board did not approve a K-12 program and explicitly said that it had no intention of doing so."

Correct me if I'm wrong. Wasn't the grant applied for long before the position you're referring to was declared by the board? There may have been wishful thinking but "fraud" seems overheated and unhelpful.




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Posted by veil off
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

No, fraud is more or less accurate. "End-run" may be the most accurate. The Board specifically charged the Staff to develop the grant application for a k-5 pilot program, ( ie 3 years) not a full k-12 program.

The grant was applied for with the full expectation that if it all came through then the folks asking for the grant would get what they want through the money dangling in front of the Board.

it is called at least an "end-run", if not more.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2007 at 2:33 pm

At the meeting where the board approval was given to the staff to go forward with the grant application, it was specifically stated that this was a K-5 program and that middle school was NOT on the table for discussion. And the MI Proposal itself specifically states it is a proposed K-5 program and that middle school is NOT considered.

I think there is no ambiguity at all about what the the district staff and their 'helpers' perpetrated in the application process. They grossly overstepped the boundaries of their charter on this matter. Was it fraud? Negligence? or Arrogance? I don't know, because I'm not a lawyer. It certainly wasn't an accident.

But what's worse - the current superintendent and the board are so blinded by dollar signs that they are not even holding the staff accountable, and they are ignoring their own previous adamant directive that middle school is not on the table. In other words, board says - Oh if you're giving us MONEY then go ahead and have your way with the district - whatever you say (slurp - as they suck up the money). No WONDER the superintendent keeps saying the MI matter is closed. It benefits his reputation to preside over the intake of a big infusion of money so of course he doesn't want to hear about any of the stick slimy details.


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Posted by Take the money and run
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2007 at 5:11 pm

A few facts:

--The grant application was made before a board vote on MI, so there can be no fraud as mentioned above.

--The grant application had been rejected when the board thought better of its decision and voted in favor of MI, so the "money" could not have affected the vote (unless time was working backwards and causation had reversed itself).

A lot of talk about "influence" and "strings," but where is the substance?

In the absence of any credible objection, the complaints about the grant sure look like spite.



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Posted by PA mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 29, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Is it possible that the new Superintendent does not want to revisit MI because we have already spent enough time and energy on it and he'd like to focus on other, more important items which affect more than a few students?


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Posted by sheesh
a resident of another community
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:30 pm

> the complaints about the grant sure look like spite

Or like conspiracy theories spun by people living in a cold war.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm

I didn't say it was fraud, I said I'd ask a lawyer about it since the program described in the grant does not exist and was explicitly turned down.

So, the grant money cannot be used in the manner the grant application described. I'd want to know as a district official whether it was legal to accept the grant money if there was no possibility of using the grant money as intended.

Misuse of grant moneys has ended up in court more than once. I'd want to know if it were going to happen here.

You can fuss about my motives all you want, but I suspect none of you are legal experts on the issue. If there is someone, I'd like a real answer to the question. I believe Pingyu Liu said he helped file the grant--I didn't get the sense that he was an expert on what the ramifications were if a grant were received but could not be used as intended.

So, anyone else?


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Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2007 at 11:27 pm

> Out of curiosity, what's the objection, exactly? I mean,
> suppose the Chinese Communist Party itself offered to
> pay for the entire MI project from top to bottom.

We need to remember that this is a hypothetical question. The PAUSD did accept $66,000 from parties which the district refuses to identify. The district did not vet these sources; they simply took the money.

> Apart from making Joe McCarthy turn in his grave ..

Since the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czarist regime in Russia in 1917, over 100M people have been killed by the various sects of Marxists/Communists/Maoists. Over 65M people were killed in China alone. McCarthy seems to get a lot of bad press for wanting to root out the Communists who wanted to see similar events in this country. Sadly, few are aware of how murderous the Communists have been during the 20th Century.

> what's the downside?



The following is an example of the influence that the Communist Chinese Government is trying to impose on Chinese students here in the US:
----
Web Link

Bribes, Spies, and Politics
How U.S. Student Groups Are Controlled by Chinese Consulates
By Matt Gnaizda
Epoch Times New York Staff
Jul 11, 2007

The long arm of Beijing is reaching into U.S. universities and grasping control of student organizations, according to recent reports. A web of bribes, spies, and political pressure is leading dozens of Chinese student groups across the United States to carry out the directives of their local Chinese Consulates to suppress and slander groups not to the liking of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The list of universities affected is long and diverse: Columbia University, New York University, the University of Rochester, U.C. San Diego, U.C. Santa Cruz, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. These schools and many more all have a Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) or its equivalent with a political or financial connection to their local Chinese Consulate.

For example, the University of Tennessee's CSSA financial statement from 2005 showed that 80 percent of its budget, or $1,400, came from funds disbursed by "PRC Embassy" (the Chinese Embassy). There are at least 109 CSSAs across the United States, and now questions are being raised whether any others have similar connections to their local consulates.
----


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cautious Family
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 30, 2007 at 1:15 am

Keep Things Simple,

Thank you for those links and looking into this!
I am shocked!

It is sad to see how easily we are influenced when free trips and money are given to these unsuspecting schools, and even our own government officials.

The problem is that it is money from a communist source, and we are not certain as to why they are spending this huge amount of money to launch Mandarin globally. They are footing the bill for trips to China for hundreds (probably more), and it is all over the world!

Why? I find it hard to believe that it is solely to promote cultural exchange between China and other countries.

China is huge and why aren't they spending the money on their own people?
The majority of their population live like peasants, and many do not speak Mandarin, and are unable to attend any schools.

I would not want my children to be taught in a communist way or any way linked with the Chinese Ministry of Education or The Confucius Institute. Is this part of their overall tactic, to influence the worlds next generation of potential leaders (via our children)?

This is a very good ploy by China to gain a strong foothold into our society and other societies around the world - through loopholes in educational systems.

Hanban has already influenced The College Board. This was a huge win for China. People reading this can use Google to find it.

The President of The College Board is Gaston Caperton (former Governor of West Virginia) and his wife Dr. Idit Caperton, have made many trips to China, and collaborated with Hanban.

He was undoubtedly wined and dined by the Chinese government and came back "Asian Struck", like all the others. His wife did a teaching stint in China.

He has helped bring hundreds of Chinese teachers to America via Hanban.

Hanban has even offered to pay their salaries in some places.

What is up with the Ministry of Education in Beijing?

Please take a look at these links:

Web Link

And a dated article from Wired Magazine
Web Link

I say we should just say "No" to any program that receives funding or any teachers linked to Hanban - especially in a public school system.

The parents and voters never wanted this Mandarin program. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Living and working in Asia for many years has given us insight as to how things operate over there.

I could start a new thread that would blow your mind.
Hint: Little packets of oil that come with those packaged Chinese noodles were found to be recycled motor oil from 2 stroke motorcycle engines using primarily leaded gas. When questioned, the company said that they liked the nice brown color it gave to soup.

I could write a book on the dirty little secrets I know from living in Asia.

I hope our school board abandons this program on the simple principle of it being morally wrong in many ways.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lions and tigers and reds, oh my!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 10:03 am

"McCarthy seems to get a lot of bad press for wanting to root out the Communists who wanted to see similar events in this country. Sadly, few are aware of how murderous the Communists have been during the 20th Century."

You need to extend your circle of acquaintance from those "few." Everyone I know is aware of what "the Communists" did. And McCarthy's problem wasn't that he had a bad press agent; it was that he went around trying to throw regular Americans (the ones he disagreed with) into jail. Everyone I know knows that, too.

And I'm sorry, the story about the Chinese government financially supporting Chinese students abroad is plain silly. Hm, do ya think the U.S. government supports U.S. students studying abroad in the Fulbright program? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]




 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Lions,

Did you actually read Cautious Family's links? They're interesting. And, yes, I think it's more than a little likely that the $60K did come from the Chinese government. It's a likely source.

Hmmm, here's an interesting question for school board candidates--would you be willing to put MI on hold until we know where the money for the feasibility study came from?

Cautious,

I don't think it was a golden carrot spurring on PACE--more a desire to avoid $20K annual private school tuition. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Also, part of PACE's Web site made a reference to the growing Asian population. Ironically, the Chinese-American population isn't growing that fast--even around here. I thought the percentage in SC County would be higher, but it's around 8 percent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 1:55 pm

> it was that he went around trying to throw regular
> Americans (the ones he disagreed with) into jail.
> Everyone I know knows that, too.

McCarthy was concerned about people in high government positions who might be disloyal, not "regular Americans". While he had no names, he did have redacted personnel files from the State Department which caused him to voice his concerns. His behavior was clearly out-of-control, particularly when he started taking on Truman's decisions during the Korean War. It's difficult to believe that there were no espionage agents "moled up" at the State Department in those days.

> Everyone I know is aware of what "the Communists" did.

I suspect that little or nothing about the Communist period is taught in the US public schools. For instance, we hear continually about the NAZI extermination camps. There are pictures of them on the WEB and extensive material available to document their existence and their depredations.

But what about Soviet death camps? Any idea how many there were, where they were located or how many were exterminated in each camp? The Gulag Archipelago, written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. does document the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system magnificently. Wonder how many public school systems (or colleges) have this book on their required reading list? Stalin and his follow-ons killed over 35M.

I doubt that one person in 100 in Palo Alto could correctly name one Soviet concentration camp, or the total number of people killed under Lenin/Stalin and the wannabees. And then there is China. Wonder how many kids in the public school system (or American adults for that matter) could answer any questions about Mao's governance, or even a specific period such as the "Cultural Revolution"?

> These posts of yours are amusing examples of conspiracy thinking.

In 1902, the Japanese Navy attacked the Russian city of Port Arthur, destroying the fleet which was anchored in the harbor. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether a conspiracy was involved in planning this attack?

In 1942, the Japanese Navy attacked the US Naval installation at Pearl Harbor, HI. Would this be another example of how conspiracy was used to inflict massive damage on one's enemy?

On 1 November 1950, elements of the Chinese Army surprised American soldiers of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division by engaging them near Unsan, Korea. No declaration of war preceded the deployment of these Chinese troops.

And then there was the conspiracy of a small group of Islamic radicals who destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and a section of the Pentagon. The earlier attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 produced many documents from those involved, some which contained sketches of a plane flying into the World Trade Center. There were those who shrugged off these documents, not wanting to be considered as "conspiracy theorists".

You can ignore "conspiracy" if you want too, but there will always be some who will scan the horizon for signs of danger to them and their people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by thank you
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2007 at 4:15 pm

KSS- nice job. hadn't thought of it quite that way..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by thank you
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2007 at 4:15 pm

oops..kTs..not kSs..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 4:20 pm

For anyone who wants to be on the FLES task force committee, the group is getting organised and looking for a couple of interested parents, or whatever. Information can be otained from MCook@pausd.org
and basically a letter stating why you want to be involved submitted almost immediately will get your application considered.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lions and tigers and reds, oh my!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 4:47 pm

"McCarthy was concerned about people in high government positions who might be disloyal"

No, sorry, you need to read up. He was out to get anyone he could find who didn't agree with him (the term "disloyal" is pure propaganda).

Whether or not there were no espionage agents in the State Department, Defense Department or Department store is irrelevant. He persecuted Americans at his own political whim.

"I doubt that one person in 100 in Palo Alto could correctly name one Soviet concentration camp" Perhaps, but you claimed that no one is aware of the broad outlines of the murder committed by "communists," which is more than a little silly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 5:35 pm

> He persecuted Americans at his own political whim.

Please list the names of people who were charged, tried and convicted by McCarthy? For those convicted, were they innocent or guilty of the charges?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2007 at 7:35 pm

And the editors reel out of control again. Because, oh, this time I pointed to two main reasons for supporting MI though nothing specific about anyone.

Pathetic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lions and tigers and reds, oh my!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 8:08 pm

KTS,

You seem vague on the meaning of "persecute." Please check the dictionary. Also, please do some research on recent history.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2007 at 8:28 pm

I admit I'm not too excited about this whole thread (don't like MI, probably like FLES even less), but the McCarthyism vein got a rise out of me.

McCarthyism was a phenomenon that went well beyond McCarthy (the wide and sometimes illegal activities of Hoover and the FBI, the Exec Branch secret loyalty reviews, the House Un-American Activities Committee, etc. were also a big part). Addressing KTS's specific question - quite obviously McCarthy personally, as a US Senator, did not have the power to charge, try, or convict anyone. But the impact of the movement that bears his name was widespread. Quoting the Wikipedia article on McCarthyism:

"It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs.[42] In many cases, simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired.[43] Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous.[44] Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. According to some scholars, this resulted in more persecutions than did alleged connection with Communism.[45]"

[42] Schrecker, Ellen (1998). Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America. Little, Brown, pg. xiii. ISBN 0-316-77470-7.

KTS, I leave it to you to check the references if you like or quarrel with the Wiki article. But I think it is dangerous revisionism to minimize the negative impact of McCarthyism on our nation and on individuals. Certainly we should also examine the bad acts in other countries' pasts (and presents), including the Soviet purges and Chinese Cultural Revolution. But first and foremost, we should understand our own history in order to avoid repeating the worst parts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 8:58 pm

> You seem vague on the meaning of "persecute."
> Please check the dictionary.

Right after you check the meaning of "regular people"/


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Keep Things Simple
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2007 at 9:38 pm

> quite obviously McCarthy personally, as a
> US Senator, did not have the power to
> charge, try, or convict anyone.

That's correct. It was a trick question.

> Certainly we should also examine the
> bad acts in other countries' pasts (and presents)

Yes, we should .. but sadly we don't. US/World history is becoming a subject that is either not taught in public schools, or taught badly.

The following snippet reports on a history/civics test which has been given to college seniors for some years now. The failure rate for US Colleges/Universities has been about 75% for the immediate past:
--
Web Link

Top-flight colleges fail civics, study says
Cal and Stanford seniors test poorly

Tanya Schevitz, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seniors at UC Berkeley, the nation's premier public university, got an F in their basic knowledge of American history, government and politics in a new national survey, and students at Stanford University didn't do much better, getting a D.

Out of 50 schools surveyed, Cal ranked 49th and Stanford 31st in how well they are increasing student knowledge about American history and civics between the freshman and senior years. And they're not alone among major universities in being fitted for a civics dunce cap.
----

Where do you think that any in-depth study of the issues of the 20th century--to include the "bad acts" of the Communists (among others) is going on?

> "It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism

While I don't normally quibble too much which Wikipedia, the use of terms like "victim" is clearly steeped in agenda and revisionist. The 10M dead and missing from Stalin's handling of the Ukraine were victims. Members of the Communist party who were identified by McCarthy were not "victims".

While the scope of the Communist horror was not clearly known by McCarthy, there was more than enough information available to know that the numbers would be very high.

Rummel, R. J. (1996). Lethal politics: Soviet genocide and mass murder since 1917:
Web Link

So, the question becomes--how does a democracy protect itself from murderous thugs--like Stalin/Mao or the next generations wannabee? We were coming out of WWII, and it was clear that after all of that sacrifice it wasn't enough. We were going to have to now turn around and do it all over again with another totalitarian regime(s).

McCarthyism did not change America, keeping in mind that the House Unamerican Activities Committee had nothing to do with Sen. McCarthy. The HUAC was convened before McCarthy was elected.

Ten movie screenwriters and directors, the Hollywood Ten, were cited for failing to testify to HUAC about their Communist associations. Later the careers of many in Hollywood are ruined by blacklisting. Sen. McCarthy did not call any Hollywood people before his committee.

Clearly alcohol had a lot to do with his early death and increasingly erratic behavior; his concern about Communist involvement at the highest levels of government were not unwarranted initially. They proved to be over time.

I remember running into Sen. McCarthy in a restaurant just before he died. Someone pointed him out to me and said: "That man over there is Sen. Joe McCarthy." McCarthy disappeared down the hall; nothing was said about his "persecuting" people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 30, 2007 at 10:10 pm

KTS, McCarthy's concerns may or may not have been sensible; his tactics were reprehensible. "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" - that's the quote that sums it up for me.

I agree, Stalin and Mao (not to mention Robespierre) were very very bad guys; on that scale, McCarthy and his cohorts are simply pimples. But their fear-mongering tactics, in the hands of government figures, are one of the seeds from which large-scale tyranny can spring. It can happen here - so I don't think it wise to minimize what was done or how reprehensible is really was.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PLEASE TEACH
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2007 at 7:21 am

Incredible links and posts, KTS..I see the makings of a historical essayist. If you aren't already, think about it.

Or, at the very least, I BEG you to teach history at our high schools. Teach ALL THE REQUIRED COURSES so that the kids have at least a chance at learning how to think, not just be spoon fed propoganda.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lions, and Tiger and Reds, Oh My!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2007 at 8:35 am

"Members of the Communist party who were identified by McCarthy were not "victims"."

Of course, they were victims. And so were the non-members he "identified." And so were all the people whose careers he ruined. And so were all the people forced to sign the loyalty oaths he pushed. Etc. You try to justify McCarthy's despicable acts by pointing to Stalin, but it won't wash.

McCarthy and his fellow travelers persecuted regular people at their political whim. It is a shameful period of our history that goes against our fundamental principles. McCarthy et al launched an attack on free speech and independent thought.

It was simply un-American.



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