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MI Lottery Applications - interest is Low, not High
Original post made
by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 20, 2008
I beg to differ with Kristina Petersen's assessment of the meaning and importance of number of applicants for the Mandarin Immersion program. The article in the Daily today said there were 142 applicants for MI (100 English speaking and 42 Mandarin speaking - for 40 Kinder/First Grade spots). If you consider that PAUSD has a total of 1650 Kinder and First graders this year, then the number of applicants for MI represents only about 8% of the kinder/first grade population. And then the article says that Mah didn't make the original cut, but has subsequently won a spot because of people opting out. In other words, of the 142 applicants some were apparently pretty luke warm about their interest in the program in the first place. PAUSD is already digging in to the waiting list to fill that program. I wonder how far???
So all in all, it sounds like PAUSD is barreling ahead with a program that appeals to a very tiny percentage of the population - something less than 8%. Would that be more like 5% 4%, 3%, 2%? It would be interesting to know how many have declined their spots and how far down the waiting list they've gone so far… Even at 8%, these numbers prove that PAUSD is catering to the specialized desires of a few with this program. I wonder if PAUSD is so well off that they can design specialized curriculum around each 8% slice of the population, one at a time? Because for the California education community at large suffering mightily with budget cuts, that must be what it looks like.
As for whether this level of interest proves 'on a meta level' interest in choice programs... Perhaps the relatively small slice of population that applied for the language programs are actually interested in language education, where there are no other options available to them today through PAUSD. I wonder what the interest level would have been if PAUSD were offering FLES for all students.
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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 22, 2008 at 1:24 pm
Yes, it limits the pool to a very small group--in other words, it's a boutique problem designed to serve a small, but loud special interest group. As we've been saying all along. That's the job of a private program, not a public school.
It's clear you don't understand student-led learning--the kids work in groups among themselves, the teacher isn't a dictator. So, yes, true student-led learning *allows* kids to figure things out among themselves. If you have a teacher ordering kids to do it all in Mandarin then you're failing to do student-led learning.
Well, it was always pretty apparent to me that the MI crowd had no idea what Ohlone's philosophy was or how it plays out. Part of it is that the kids take responsibility for their learning--they're essentially taught how to do that.
My CLIP numbers are from PACE. Your denial won't help you--particularly as you don't actually counter the numbers. Heck, at least the PACErs used to try the CLIP used to have attrition issues, but doesn't anymore. Unfortunately, the number crunching showed that while the issue's not as extreme as it was in the first class, the problem continues--in the middle grades, right on schedule and then continuing each year. Pretty similar to what you see in the Potomac distric.
A couple of studies? Hello? An entire province just voted to shut down its entire early-immersion program--in a country where being bilingual is a requirement for getting a civil-service job.
Oh, gee, you don't even address the issue. How . . . convenient.
You don't get my point about early immersion--yeah, it can work, but late immersion works better, the Yew Cheung approach where there's heavy language instruction, but not immersion, works well. Kids do better and are less inclined to drop the language when their primary literacy skills are established.
So, kids learn languages just fine if they start later *and* they're less likely to drop the second language.
If a kid starts early immersion and then drops it--they'll lose the language. A later start, when they've developed certain cognitive processes helps long-term retention (though not the accent.) Thus, third-fifth grade is probably optimum--the ability to grasp the accent is better and learning the second language doesn't interfere with primary literacy--there's no temporary drop (or, rather, an attrition issue with low performers).
Personally, I think there is some advantage to some immersion--which brings me back to summer-time immersion--because immersion does teach quickly--but, long-term, you're better off with the Yew Cheung approach. I continue to like the idea of regular school-year instruction with immersion summer school. Affordable, available to more than 20 kids, doesn't bump kids from their local schools and, I suspect, a way to get some great results.
Because, as that one paragraph I quoted points out, attrition is understudied in the U.S., the studies of immersion's success have to be reconsidered in that light. There's a lot of poor research in this area--unfortunately.
Unfortunately, PA Parent, *all* of my cavils hold water--it would be one thing if the New Brunswick drop had happened 20 years ago and the Canadians had new and improved strategies. But it happend last week--and Canada's been pushing immersion for 40 years. Similar issue with Potomac--the news on how only three kids were left from the original MI class and that many of the MI kids were unprepared for high-school level Mandarin is news from last November.
Thank you. I've found a lot of the most interesting stuff by accident. The pro-immersion types like to put together Web sites, but there isn't an organized opposition to it--I found out about New Brunswick through a pro-immersion site. Which is telling--here you have a program that clearly does NOT work and the pro-immersion crowd still can't let it go. And in New Brunswick, they're keeping the fifth-grade and up immersion programs--but there's clearly a real emotional aspect here--parents want to brag about Johnny babbling French at six.
Basically, the most severe attrition occurs when the kids hit adolescence and begin to assert themselves. Parents who put their kids in immersion are usually (some exceptions) forcing their kids to take on a huge commitment. Kids don't always like that--and, again, immersion isolates them from their peers and being like their peers. They also don't like that. PA Parent's being optomistic if s/he assumes that the kids will want to keep up their language. In some cases, sure, but in a lot of cases--no.
The biggest factor in learning and retaining a language according to a BYU study? Wanting to retain and learn the language. With early immersion, kids don't make that choice. It's about the parents, not about them. (With my own kid, there was a desire to learn a particular language because a friend was learning it. It wasn't my first choice. Since my kid had to do the learning, my kid got to choose.