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Do Palo Altans want a Charter School?

Original post made by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 15, 2007

I think the answer is "no". We have nowhere to house a charter school and the moneys we have need to go into the schools we already have. I don't really understand all the deep issues here, but it seems to me from what I have read that having a charter school here would be divisive, discriminative and purely selfish for those leading the way in this proposal.

It sounds very like "if you don't give me what I want then I will find another way to get it, so like it or lump it".

If I found my children acting like this, I would punish them for bad behavior. This is sending a very strange message to our kids. This is not the way responsible adults should behave and consequently not the type of role modeling we want.

Comments (85)

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Posted by Charter School Supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 9:53 am

The beauty of charter schools is that not all Palo Altans have to want it. It's not a popularity contest.

The Calif Education Code supports charter schools, PAUSD board policy includes charter schools, as approved on June 27, 2000.

You don't have to like it, but you need to respect the process as it exists to create a charter school for all the right reasons:

CALIFORNIA CHARTER SCHOOL LAW AND POLICY
From CSDC
Web Link


CHARTER SCHOOL RESEARCH
Research from CSDC
Web Link


California Charter Schools Association
Our mission is to increase student achievement by strengthening and expanding quality public charter schools throughout California.
Web Link


California Dept of Education Charter Schools Division
Supports, promotes, and authorizes high quality charter schools that improve achievement and choice for California public schools and families.
Web Link


I would punish my children if I found they were disrespecting people who stand up for their convictions.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2007 at 10:04 am

I thought charter schools were designed for underachieving school districts? What about the statement above from the California Dept of Education Charter Schools Division "Our mission is to increase student achievement...."? I'm not sure that MI fits this scenario.


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Posted by Charter Schol Supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 10:28 am

You left out the part about supporting, authorizing, and promoting choice for Calif public schools and families.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2007 at 11:22 am

Not knowing a lot about starting a charter school - but I believe the charter has to accept any student who wants to attend (using a lottery if too many apply) and must reflect the ethnic mix of the district which it resides in - how would an immersion program Chinese or any other - which requires 50% of the students to be native speakers of the language accomplish both of these?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm

to Charter School Supporter -

Before this dissolves into a legalistic war of word parsing...

I think that we need to remember to put together all the words of the websites, which mean that the intent of charter schools was to give a choice to students and families from Districts that are FAILING their students...it was not meant to give a choice to a few people in a district who want something above and beyond what a successful district is giving all it's students. If that were the case, then we could easily also create a charter school for any number of other language or subjects.

So, don't get hung up on bringing out individual words. Most of us understand that districts that have charter schools are districts that have substandard education so that parents felt the need to take charge themselves.

No amount of stressing the word "choice" is going to change what we know to be true.

Find one charter school in a district in California that had test scores anywhere near ours, or even at average level. Even the immersion programs that currently are chartered were established in failing districtst that were losing students, and were able to reflect the ethnic makeup of the surrounding area.

The point of the ethnic rule is to, frankly, prevent rich, white folks from separating out from a district and forming their own, which is what started to happen when the laws first came up.

This will be an interesting twist to this whole case. It will bring up lots of issues that go deep into the unintended consequences of well-intended laws.





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Posted by jq public
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2007 at 4:31 pm

>> Find one charter school in a district in California that had test scores anywhere near ours, or even at average level. <<

Bullis Charter School, Los Alto Hills?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Good point! Touche!

That one was formed in order to take over a closing school, which is one of the legitimate reasons given in the education code for forming a charter school. ( though I happen to disagree with it, which is irrelevant, for the very reason that it wasn't right for the most privileged people to break off from a school district. Since I learned that they get less money, oh well, LAUSD came out ahead)

It was an anomaly, and I wonder how that happened. The only thing I can figure is that everyone caved to keep it from going up to the state level. I can't believe it would have survived State examination.

I should be more careful with my wording!

Find another. I will look, too.





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Posted by CH
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Feb 15, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Choice and charter schools have the same premise, to use some kind of innovative alterantive educational programming. PAUSD already has a choice policy but it's outdated and impossible to implement. The logical next step is to replace it with a charter policy to accomplish the same goal. PAUSD could reduce crowding in neighborhood schools by renting a warehouse for Chinese kids. Win-win.


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Posted by Charter School Supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Almost all of the schools in the San Carlos public school system are charter schools. San Diego public schools also have a large number of innovative charter schools. Those districts embrace the choices that are offered, and they are not all in the poor sections of town.

Show us where the intent of charter schools is for failing districts. If that were so, there'd be built-in criteria for low performance deciles, reduced and free lunches, as well as other socio-economic levels.

Charter schools support achievement for all students, and choice for the whole community.


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Posted by jq public
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 15, 2007 at 11:02 pm

ok

Charter Learning Center - San Carlos Elementary School District

school 2006 growth api 912, district api 875

demographics 76% white, 8% asian, < 2% reduced price lunches


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Posted by Charter School Supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Thanks to the Resident on another thread, this is from the Calif Education Code:

47600. This part shall be known, and may be cited, as the "Charter
Schools Act of 1992."

47601. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this part,
to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community
members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently
from the existing school district structure, as a method to
accomplish all of the following:

(a) Improve pupil learning.

(b) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special
emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are
identified as academically low achieving.

(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching
methods.

(d) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including
the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the
schoolsite.

(e) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types
of educational opportunities that are available within the public
school system.

(f) Hold the schools established under this part accountable for
meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a
method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability
systems.

(g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system
to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2007 at 12:30 am

Charter School Supporter,

Grace, is that you? Very reminescent posting style, complete with double-spacing and underexplained links . . .

Anyway, speaking of links, I thought this article was interesting in that it deals with a charter school in a basic-aid district. Sounds like PA would get zero reimbursement for any kids from Menlo Park, but a charter program would have to be open to them.

Web Link

It also looks like a GATE charter is perfectly fine, though maybe a better fit for PA would be one for those occasional kids who don't meet GATE criteria . . .

I think, however, an MI charter is more likely to get my support if it's one of the non-basic-aid districts.


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Posted by jq public
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:17 am

yikes!

I'm no expert in this, but it certainly looks like the prior poster is correct that charter schools are grossly unfair to basic aid districts. The state is perfectly happy to allow (read require) the charter school to admit students from across district boundaries, but from my reading it looks like the the state doesn't help out till the dillution effect pulls the district all they way down to being a revenue limit district.

If Palo Alto sponsored a MI program, it would get some compensation from adjacent basic aid districts (eg, Menlo Park & Los Lomitas), but they would only have to pay 70% of the revenue limit, which means that even in this case Palo Alto would likely end up subsidizing these out of district students.

My quick web research indicates that Rep Simitian sponsored AB1100 in 2002 to try to correct some of the unfairness, but Gray Davis vetoed it.

If it was located in Mountain View, that would on balance, be a net positive financially for Palo Alto, I believe (without negatively impacting Mountain View given their status as a revenue limit district).


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Thanks to Charter School Supporter: S/he found where most of us got the idea that the point of the Charter school was to help improve achievement, ( it is my belief that many of us assume that bad districts don't do this, and districts with high achievement scores ARE doing all they can to improve achievement, so only bad districts bring about charter schools)

47601. It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this ..

a) Improve pupil learning.

(b) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special
emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are
identified as academically low achieving.

I know it is word parsing, but that is the basis of my belief.

I would support a charter school if, for example, there was a particular low-achieving group that simply was not getting any better through our district and they thought that they could do it better.

THAT I would understand.

I just don't understand a charter school for the only reason that there a non-essential subject that a group wants taught and that was voted down in the particular form by our democratically elected board...and if this group feels it is an essential subject, then it should work to bring it to all students.

The old liberal in me, I guess.

If I believe strongly that something is critical to my kids, or myself, and our "government" isn't providing it, then I provide it myself until I win the "battle of ideas" and have the school/government provide it.

But, the old liberal in me also believes that everyone has the right to pursue whatever they want within our legal system, so good luck! Because something is legal doesn't make it right, though, so I just don't think it will sit well with a lot of Palo Altans.



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Posted by Charter School Supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Your welcome, Resident!

Yes, charter schools have many purposes. As do choice programs. And the fact that charters promote choice:

(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
(d) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the schoolsite.
(e) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.

and

(g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.


Competition is a good thing. Many Palo Altans believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of creating startups to do something creative and innovative.

And the democratic spirit of making it a public school (instead of telling someone to go to a private school) gives the opportunity to the community to vote with their feet, not with their (assumed) money.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2007 at 7:21 pm

What stuck me about the education code cited above was the following wording:

"It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this part,
to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community
members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently
from the existing school district structure, as a method to
accomplish all of the following:" Note that it doesn't some or any of the following, but ALL.

This would indicate to me that section c: "increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving" is a requirement for a charter school. How does MI get around this issue, or does it embrace it?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Good point, about voting with your feet.

But, that usually refers to not supporting something any longer by walking away from it.

If I vote with my feet and leave my public school, I go to a private school, or I move to a district that has what I want. I don't try to force my minority will onto the will of the majority. If I stay, I try to persuade until the majority agrees, and/or I pay for my own desires not provided by the general taxes.

I don't believe the purpose of public tax dollars is to give everyone everything they want. I believe the purpose is to provide the best possible to everyone in the core subjects, that's "all". The fight over what is "core" is another issue. But if a subject moves up to "core", it needs to be for everyone.

So, our opinions of the purpose of a democratically chosen and publically funded school system are different, as is our definition of "voting with your feet".

However, at this point, it doesn't really matter what anybody's opinions or definitions are, the only thing that matters is if the charter school can pass the requirements and get approved.

And, perhaps it matters, or not, what the public perception will be. I think it will be, at the very least, interesting.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 18, 2007 at 8:55 am

Do Palo Altans want a charter school? Apparently some Palo Altans do want a charter school. Those who don't want it don't have to send their kids there.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2007 at 10:03 am

"Those who don't want it don't have to send their kids there."

How foolish of you! You assume that allowing choice for some is acceptable in Palo Alto. Not so. Once your tax money is given to *their* school district, too many (on this list, at least) believe that it has to be spent according *their* vision of eduction, and no other. So they will find every possible reason, from global warming to accusations of elitism, to undermine other's choice. Vide the MI debacle.

And now you think they will allow *their* money to support *your* vision? Naah. They will send you to EPA, to Mountain View, to wherever. Not in our town. Why do you think all the revenue generating stores are in EPA and MV? Same mindset.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Wolf,

If a district is near-capacity and expected to exceed it. If a district has a set amount of income, does it make sense to spend money to develop a magnet program at the expense of services to the entire district?

Is MI worth, say, cutting AP classes at Gunn?

I suggest MV or EPA because those districts aren't affected by the oddities of basic-aid restrictions. At the same time, they're convenient and, EPA, at least, open to charters.

PA residents would have the ability to send their kids to an MI program 5-15 minutes away and then send their kids to Gunn and Paly for HS. The PAUSD isn't forced to divert money it doesn't have, while MV or EPA *benefit* from increased revenues.

It could be a win-win situation. But maybe you don't want that. Maybe it's more fun to spew about Palo Alto.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 18, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Another point to consider is who gets into a charter school? In the first few years probably anyone from anywhere can get in but as the program becomes better established and successful, a lottery will kick in. If the charter starts in PAUSD, PAUSD kids will have priority. If the charter is elsewhere, kids from Palo Alto might be out of luck. The founders should think about who they want to be serving several years down the road.




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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 26, 2007 at 9:37 pm

I do not understand why a group of people who wish to have something for special for themselves wish to risk making things worse for all. New studies have shown that charter schools are not as good as people think.
Web Link

Yes there have been some successes but so far what worked in one area does not work in another. Instead of pursuing this course which is no good for anyone why not try something more constructive such as getting the state legislature to pass school vouchers. By doing this you can then take your kid and your money to the school which you feel will provide your kid with the best education. Is that not what this country is all about competition.


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Posted by Another anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2007 at 11:09 pm

I think that's been the problem all along, the reason for all the contention. The MI people really aren't considering their impact on the district and the other kids in the district.

Just think of where we could be if they had spent five years fundraising for facilities instead. Imagine a new campus for MI that didn't cost the district anything but came from donated funds. I doubt there would have been any argument then, in fact I expect there would be a lot of celebrating.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2007 at 8:06 am

MI as a 3-year pilot at Ohlone for less than $48K (cumulative for the 3 years) has the minimum impact on the district and district students.

All of PACE's efforts have been in consideration of the district as a whole. Or else a charter school started 5 years ago would be up and running successfully by now.

You can still celebrate if the charter school doesn't set up in a school district property.

Web Link


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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2007 at 9:31 am

Mr. Anonymous,

You need to check your sources. It is hard to believe a press release put out by a group that supports charter schools. Also if you are so confident of your position why not at least use your first name like I have done.

This is not about who wins or loses what they would like to have or pointing to one group as the trouble. It is more about what is better for the common good of all. As I have stated before it would be better if we could all get together and have our state legislature pass a law giving us all school vouchers. This way the schools would have to compete for our tax dollars and then we would all have a choice on where to send our kids based on what we would think is best for them. This is much better than starting a charter school that will drain funds from the general coffers so that all will suffer in the end.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2007 at 9:40 am

James,

What have you done towards your voucher goal? I wish you would work on that, or work on fundraising for new facilities for PAUSD, as Another anon suggests.

It's hard to believe an editorial that's not based on hard studies. If you check out the link I submitted, it documents the 12 studies carried out about charter schools, including ones by Rand, Hoover Institute, etc.

Interesting that your definition of common good must apply to everyone else.


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2007 at 10:42 am

As people advocate for a Mandarin Immersion charter school in Palo Alto, I hope they will feel able to use their real names in making their arguments. Otherwise, certainly in this forum, the people they are trying to persuade will have no idea what support really exists for the idea in this town.

I don't think the case for MI as proposed the last time around was helped at all by not letting anyone see the petition in support of the idea, nor by keeping the names of whomever funded the feasibility study secret.

Notwithstanding the ethics of the BoE making decisions based on work paid for by anonymous donations, had all the signatories and all the funders been Palo Alto residents, that would have been a powerful addition to PACE's case. Keeping that information secret had the opposite effect – making it seem like PACE didn't have that much support in the community.

Beyond the few tens of people who stood up at the board meetings, how do we know who else supported the idea?

More specific to this forum, how are we to know whether all the anonymous postings (for or against) aren't coming from just a very few people, or from people out of town.

Sure, people should be able to comment anonymously if they want. But surely, too, a good idea is one worth putting your name behind.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2007 at 12:40 pm

I don't have kids so I don't know much about charter schools. Seems like we need answers to some high-level questions:

- Is it solely up to the PAUSD board to decide on a charter school?
- How would a charter school impact existing PAUSD priorities and the list of items that was in Measure A?
- How much money from the PAUSD budget would go to provide a building (including maintenance and normal site costs) for a charter school?
- Would kids in existing schools lose any programs in order to fund a charter school?

My main concern is for the good of ALL the kids in our public schools. I wouldn't want them to lose anything for the sake of a new specialty school.


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Posted by Rachel Rubin
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 27, 2007 at 6:17 pm

What makes you think that only Chinese would want to learn Mandarin? There are plenty of whites, latinos, jews, europeans, african-americans who would love to learn Mandarin. Mandarin Immersion is for everyone, not just the Chinese in Palo Alto.

Having a Mandarin charter school would more than satisfy a majority of the legal criteria for starting a charter school.

Teaching Mandarin meets all the legislative criteria to start a charter school. Teaching Mandarin does the following:

(a) improves pupil learning by helping students expand their knowledge and understanding of the world,

(b) increases learning opportunities for all pupils by offering one more opportunity to learn a new language,

(c) encourages different and innovative teaching - because we can all agree that Mandarin is not the same as learning English and therefore different and innovative,

(d) it creates new professional opportunities for teachers because it will open up new positions for teachers,

(e) it provides parents expanded choice programs within the school system because the Mandarin program is new and one more choice for parents - and let me emphasize non-Chinese parents.

(f) teaching Mandarin allows for the school to change from a rule based to performance based criteria,

and

(g) the Mandarin program would foster better competition and therefore better performance in the schools.

I'm all in favor of a Mandarin Charter school. Why must we stay in the status quo? Mandarin Immersion would cost the district much less money than Spanish Immersion? Who of you can say Spanish Immersion was a bad thing? Is the district drowning in debt from Spanish Immersion? The answer is a resounding NO.

I find opposition to Mandarin spurious at best. The opposition to Mandarin Immersion has no conrete rational reasoning as to why the program should not exist. All opposition is couched in "feelings" & "politics" without concrete numbers or examples as to how Mandarin Immersion might hurt the district.

I want my children to expand their minds and get them ready for the future global economy. I don't want my kids to stay stuck in a box - like George Bush - who never takes interest in other cultures or other people, or even takes the time to learn about them. I want my kids to expand their minds.





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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 27, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Mr. Anonymous,

Do you not recall the election of 2000 and Prop 38? Even though it was defeated I have still worked to try and get it back on the ballots. Maybe the climate is ripe again to try. Yes I do assist with fund raising at my kid's school, donate to PIE, and volunteer my time at my kid's school. I do everything I can to try and better the schools for everyone not just me. That is what I mean for the better of all.

If the board would have voted for a Mandarin Immersion program I would have supported it fully but you seem to ignore other issues that this school district must cope with and face before it can move forward.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 27, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Re: MI at Ohlone. Once again, why should a school with a substantial waiting list have to limit the desired expansion of its own program for yet another choice program? Why should a busy administration have to take on another large administrative task? How would that, alone, not cost money--unless you think the Ohlone admin. staff sits around and does nothing all day?

It would be nice just to see some acknowledment on the part of MI supporters that they've been asking for a special perk, not an entitlement.

Rachel, the other choice programs were developed during a period of declining enrollment. Palo Alto needed to attract student, thus the development of magnet programs. Districts that are overenrolled don't need more magnet programs, particularly with a basic-aid district which doesn't get more money for more students.

An MI charter is fine, but not in a basic-aid district that has serious overenrollment issues.

Regarding who would be in an MI school. Because immersion programs need a minimum 1/3 native speakers, the percentage of Chinese kids in the school would have to be over the percentage of Chinese kids in the district. And that would mean no Chinese-American kids on the English-speaking side. I think there's a real demographics problem.

Because of the peculiarities of basic-aid districts, PAUSD will not be fully reimbursed for any out-of-district students.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 1:48 am

Hi James,

Thanks for working on the continuing efforts to get vouchers! I wish you luck. I respect you for standing up for your convictions.

I wish others would respect me for standing up for my convictions, too. The climate is ripe for charter schools, the government supports them, there's legislation and funding for them. Sorry if you don't like them, but there's some of us who do, and will exercise our right to pursue our goals.

I also pay into PiE, PTA, and volunteer in my child's school. I'm not that different from you. Remember, I'm a Palo Alto parent committed to the public school system, too.

Thank you for supporting MI, if the board had approved it. Now, will you support it if a charter school is approved? I am fully aware of the issues the board must face. But move forward? What movement forward do you see? No educational innovation, no foreign language vision.

As the superintendent said, there's never a good time (decreasing enrollment will never happen in Palo Alto, in my opinion), never enough money, never enough resources. So, the board essentially shut down the creation of choice programs. Fine.

Charters are meant to foster innovation, community-driven education for all the children, fulfilling needs that the local school district is unable to. In fact, we've opened our eyes and ears to out-of-the-box thinking. Going beyond the status quo and working to build something that we feel could greatly benefit children's education.

You might want to open your eyes and ears to educate yourself on charter schools, track records, and legislation, before knocking the 12 research studies. I trust the Rand Corp and Hoover Institute studies more than a 2004 New York Times editorial.

The spirit of charter school law is non-adversarial. Don't make it a community-adversarial environment.

Rachel, email to paceforkids @ yahoo.com
Love to talk with you


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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2007 at 8:54 am

Mr. Anonymous,

You have misread what I wrote. I wrote before we can move forward we need to take care of the issues that the school district currently faces. We can keep adding new items to the agenda but we need to take care of other top priorities first and as they are accomplished move to the next. Yes it may be slow but it is progress. I do not believe the board has closed the door on choice programs because the vote was close.

The press release you refer to is nothing but statements taken from studies from the years 2003 to 2005. The NYT article I refer to is from data compiled by the Federal Board of Education to see how school districts are complying with the No Child Left Behind law. Like I wrote before every organization that wants to further its agenda will cherry pick data to suit its needs.

I do not believe the charter schools laws were passed with the intent that a group that believes it deserves a perk should get it at the expense of the entire district. Yes if our school district was failing to educate our kids I would be right there with you in trying to get a charter school. But that is not happening. It may happen down the road but who knows.

I hope that you will continue to support this school district with your efforts and that you continue to speak up about what this school district needs to keep it a top performing district. With out people willing to push us to new heights we will fail as a whole.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 10:44 am

Anonymous - if you [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] were interested in Charter Schools for the sake of charter school advantages, for the sake of creating a creative new school concept, a good school for the students, a quality educational alternative to the public schools, cost effective, efficient, and a good community citizen that helped and served the community and was welcomed by and welcoming of the community of which it will be part of, then you would not be looking at Palo Alto. You'd be looking at surrounding NON Basic Aid districts which would create a welcoming environment for that school, perhaps even help it by sending resources, funding, admin, facilities your way. Some of those nearby cities would create less expensive operations for the charter, would be helpful to the charter during start up, would draw from a supportive community for its charter students, would have an easier competitive environment (easier to show superior results than a compare to PAUSD). There are several nearby communities where their students and families would benefit from an inventive high quality charter school, as a good alternative to the public system. And the beauty would be - even parents in Palo Alto could benefit in that charter located elsewhere, without harm to that district, because if placed in a non basic aid district NO ONE would be financially harmed. Non-District students would be welcomed and the financials would work in favor of that district. This would be a true win win.

On the other hand, PAUSD as a basic aid district will be damaged by it - financially and as a community. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] So, all that a charter school will create in Palo Alto are resentment, animosity and struggle. The system will fight the charter like a virus. (Palo Alto tax payers are not easily going to allow their tax dollars to start funding a massive influx of out-of district students. They may HAVE to in the end- but they'll fight it.) [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online.]







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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 11:28 am

a website with some clarity on this issue.

Web Link

Still confusing, but it looks to me like the bottom line is that there are 4 options in this move toward a charter school.

In order of least to most harm to a basic aid district I see them being as follows

1) don't do it

2) apply and seek approval for it through the county and place it in a non-basic aid district for the accurately, though angrily, stated reasons by Observer above.

3) apply to the District, get approved, which overrules the desires of our elected board and, I would bet, the vast majority of the District.

4) apply to the district, get rejected, then win on appeal from the county.

Each of the above comes with increasing costs. I suspect that each level comes with ever increasing resentment and anger from our District also.

Assuming it to be a given that there will be a charter school attempt, I suspect the least divisive would be a direct county charter school application.

There would still be some resentment at the twisting of the original charter school concept of giving low achieving students a better chance into essentially the concept of a voucher driven school for extras. But I think that the resentment would eventually die down as people realized that, at least, it would be a minimal drain on us above what we would normally put into our students anyway ( who choose to attend), AND the location of a program in a less advantaged area WOULD achieve the original objective of the Charter school concept by providing not only the students from PAUSD who wish to attend an excellent education, but the students from other areas with less opportunity the same chance.


A win-win may still be possible through the county. And, in fact, as people digest it, it may even be something that would unite people who thus far have been highly polarized.


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Posted by Jay
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2007 at 1:19 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Daunna
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2007 at 2:42 pm

To: OhlonePar & others
Re: Establishment of choice programs (declining vs. increasing enrollment)

One school of thought about choice programs is that they should be established in districts with declining enrollment to attract students. That's not exactly what happened in PAUSD. What happened here was the recasting of particular neighborhood schools (Hoover & Ohlone) by distinguishing themselves from run-of-the-mill neighborhood schools when there was a "lottery" for school closures many years ago. Doing something creative saved the neighborhood schools for those who embraced the changes. Other districts may want to attract students during declining enrollment, but that was never a PAUSD goal--rather, it was a survival tactic of two schools.

There's another school of thought that applies to immersion programs: establish them during periods of enrollment growth because new teachers are being hired each year, and it's just as easy & economical to hire a bilingual teacher as a monolingual teacher. Can you imagine, during declining enrollment, laying off teachers with seniority just to turn around and hire bilinguals for an immersion program? Crazy!

Of course, declining/increasing enrollment is now a moot point since the choice policy is effectively dead in PAUSD. Unless the board chooses to reinvigorate the policy, future pioneers will have learned from the MI experience that charters are the only path to innovation in this district.


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Posted by Observer again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Reposted to repair the parts that were deleted by the weekly...

Annonymous - if you and the charter leadership were interested in Charter Schools for the sake of charter school advantages; creating a creative new school concept, a good school for the students, a quality educational alternative to the public schools, cost effective, efficient, and a good community citizen that helped and served the community and was welcomed by and welcoming of the community of which it will be part of, then you would not be looking at Palo Alto. You'd be looking at surrounding NON Basic Aid districts which would create a welcoming environment for that school, perhaps even help by sending resources, funding, admin, facilities your way.

Some nearby cities would create less expensive operations for the charter, would be helpful to the charter during start up, would draw from a supportive community for its charter students, would have an easier competitive environment (easier to show superior results than a compare to PAUSD). There are several nearby communities where their students and families would benefit from an inventive high quality charter school, as a good alternative to the public system. And the beauty would be - even parents in Palo Alto could benefit if interested in that charter located elsewhere, if placed in a non basic aid district NO ONE would be financially harmed. This would be a true win win.

On the other hand, PAUSD as a basic aid district will be damaged by it - financially and as a community. The charter leadership is fully aware of this. So, all that a charter school will create in Palo Alto are resentment, animosity and struggle. The system will fight the charter like a virus. (Palo Alto tax payers are not easily going to allow their tax dollars to start funding a massive influx of out-of district students. They may HAVE to in the end- but they'll fight it.)

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Daunna:

Fear not, choice policy isn't dead. We still have our choice programs.

What is dead is the presumption that any choice program that can meet the minimal requirements is automatically approved.

What is dead is the presumption that the more choice programs we have, the better.

I suspect that before proceeding with a feasibility study next time, regardless of how it is funded, the petitioning choice program will ask for a binding vote by the Board approving the choice program contingent on its meeting the minimal choice program requirements.

As for school of thought re: starting programs, choice, alternative, or charter... it all hinges on what the needs and financing structures of a district are. Basic Aid versus Per Student renumeration make different "schools of thought" and different needs.

Maybe the solution is to change back to the other funding model which doesn't penalize having more students, and doesn't penalize having a charter school as much. Our incentive is messed up.


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Posted by Daunna
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Observer,

You impute motives to the charter school leadership that are merely erroneous guesswork. There have been no temper tantrums among the charter supporters. Disappointment, yes, but if you spent any time working with this group, you would know they don't waste their time on negative energy. The charter pursuit was always a fallback option. The board voted choice down, and MI proponents immediately turned their attention from a tiny choice program under district control to a whole charter school—and that encourages supporters to dream big. Dreaming big is much more satisfying than engaging in temper tantrums.

Although you see no good reason to establish a charter school in PAUSD, charter supporters certainly see a very good reason to do just that: to serve Palo Alto kids. The people pursuing MI are doing it not only for their own children but also for future children of Palo Alto. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Just as neighborhood schools within a district give priority to residents of the neighborhood, charter schools can and do give preference to district residents. In the early years of a charter, students will come from multiple districts, but within a couple of years, a successful program will need a lottery. For future children of Palo Alto to have the opportunity for MI, the charter school must be in PAUSD.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Daunna, what prevents the school district from replacing attrition with bilingual teachers right now? And working its way up gradually to a system that has a goal and a concrete plan for providing language education for all students?

Nothing.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Here's an idea, how about if you get on board with the many people who are saying that a community of smart, creative, motivated thinkers and doers can come up with a second right answer? And who are ready to come to the table and actually prepare that plan?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 5:20 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The truth is, you can more easily and more effectively start the somewhere else, that would be far more constructive and conducive to the charter model, and open the doors here later. And in the meantime not a single person would be harmed by opening it elsewhere.

This charter school would actually be served BETTER by starting it another district.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by SWYM and MWYS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 5:47 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by James
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2007 at 6:43 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What happened to democracy and majority rule? What happened to accepting a negative result, dealing with it, and then trying later on? It seems that our society has turned into a "I want it now at any cost" attitude.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2007 at 7:27 pm

If we get a charter school here, what is going to happen is that there will be no money for the things that all the schools want and need for all the children. Therefore, there will be more begging bowls being put out, either by Bonds or by PIE or by fund raising. Yes, Palo Alto is supposed to be an affluent community, but it is beginning to sound like a very poor relative when it comes to our schools. I was watching a basketball game in the Jordan gym yesterday during a thunderstorm and the roof was dripping into the bleachers. Our teachers know that there are money problems whenever they ask for anything. Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. When are we going to get schools where they should be if the money we have is forced into paying for a charter school only a fraction want.


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Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Feb 28, 2007 at 7:56 pm

Another Parent: The PACE leadership has sat through meetings where the BOE has struggled with many budget issues, current and impending, such as obsolete buildings, technology, retirment reserves, and many others. I've seen them/her. The PACE leadership has sat through meetings where the BOE has struggled with impending enrollment growth and school overflow. The PACE leadership has sat through meetings where parents have pleaded for neighborhood schools for their children.
The PACE leadership is clearly bored during these discussions. They only have one agenda of interest. That's MI. Any other matters which affect the children of this district seem to be of little importance. Each day brings us more proof that this is true, despite the spin they try to bring to the discussions.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2007 at 9:00 am

I would still like to know WHO gave the $60,000 for the feasibility study for MI. I understand that one person gave $33K, one person gave $20K, one person gave $5K, one person gave $1K, and five people gave $200 each. Who were they? Do they live in the District? Do they live in this country? Are they textbook vendors?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] And there is evidently another group of parents waiting in the wings to see how this will unfold - those wanting French immersion. Where is this going to stop? How about Hebrew?
Farsi? Cantonese? Tagalog? Vietnamese? Korean?

How about Latin immersion as a basis for understanding the grammar and vocabulary of the English language? From what I've seen of students' writing and speech, this district needs English immersion. Like, I mean, you know?



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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2007 at 11:33 am

I oppose locating a charter school in this basic aid district - it could perhaps go in another district, as there can be some arguments at times in favor of charter schools. It's a mixed record for charter schools, though.

I think former Oakland mayor Jerry Brown instituted a military boot camp -type charter high school in that city in an attempt to solve extreme educational, behavior, social problems. We hear of some charters going in to areas with severe economic and educational challenges, just trying to offer a way out of these situations for some students. It's a last-ditch effort.

Our particular district, which is already broadly high-achieving, but already very busy with operations, will likely be very strained if distracted by the demands of a charter: it's particular financial, staff, paperwork, time requirements. I'm sorry this time may be chosen to add a new monkey wrench to the facilities challenges and choices PAUSD faces.

If the question is certain parents' desire for Mandarin, there are lots of opportunities for Mandarin instruction all around the region. Plus PAUSD has responded quite reasonably to their interest by offering Mandarin at the high school level and will offer summer school, too. (By the way, there are three other languages our students would like to take at the high school, but none of them are offered, to the disappointment of our family.)

I recommend the district deny this if it materializes here as a proposal.


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Posted by Not a Smoker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Daunna, you say the charter is justified to be located in Palo Alto in order to serve Palo Alto students.

According the the attachment by Grace Mah and Nico Janik which was published in the Board Packet on 1/30, it shows they found a total of 20 kinders for the 07/08 school year and 20 for the 08/09 school year, and an additional total of 26 intrested students across the following three school years. (66 in all across 5 years). Its not clear how many of this 66 are actually current PAUSD in-district students or just families that were thinking they'd locate in Palo Alto someday...

So they were able to find (after a year of extremely high visibility on this program) only about 20 students or less per year willing to sign up for a PAUSD run Mandarin Immersion program.

Now that the program will no longer be a PAUSD run program, but rather a Charter school run by non-PAUSD management (run by who?), I'm sure many of those families would no longer be willing to leap outside the district. (Its a different ball game leaving excellent PAUSD education, leaving Hoover? Duveneck? Fairmeadow? to go to an unproven start up run by ???)

I doubt you'll say you plan to bump up these student numbers by starting the charter with upper grade level students that already speak Mandarin, as surely this will create some issues with diversity - with barriers to entry into this program that may not be legal - so I must assume you are indeed going to be looking at lower class grades for start up.

So it really seems inaccurate and disingenuous to say the program is justifiabley located in Palo Alto in order to serve Palo Alto students. Only (very) few of its students will be actual Palo Alto residents, and in fact that small number of Palo Altans could easily go to the school no matter what city or district it would be located in.

The reality is that most of the students probably will come from outside the district. Do you dispute that?

So are you sincere in saying that the service of less than 20 Palo Alto students per year trumps the needs and resources of the rest of the 11,000 school children in Palo Alto? And does that serve the community? How?

Its a rather unbelievable position.

The second argument you made was that this would serve Palo Alto students in the future. But in actuality, it would make more sense for the charter itself, and for the district, to start by serving current demand first, wait for the demand for this program by Palo Altans to materialize before opening such a school in Palo Alto. As I understand the charter process, it would be probably 100 fold easier in 5 years from now, to clone a viable working charter than it would be to start one up now. Without viable demand today in this district, the in-district vs out-of-district student mix would create some very serious barriers and costs for the start up charter school. So again, that argument doesn't hold water from a business and financial perspective, from a demand perspective, or from the perspective of the needs of the future kids (who's needs and demands in fact aren't really knowable at this time).

I think (and I might venture to guess that you are surely aware) that the arguments for locating in Palo Alto you've provide above are a very thin and unconvincing smokescreen reason being laid out as "politically correct" window dressing for a very politically incorrect strong arm counter-tactic which the MI proponents are deploying to bully the district into reconsidering MI choice program.

The emporer has no clothes on. You should understand that most of the community sees this for what it really is (an Aggressive move to extract something of value for oneself, from an unwilling second party, by threatening harmful consequences if demands not met) and the community is attributing this overt agressive action to the aggressors appropriately.

So far, thank goodness the Palo Alto Board of Education has shown unwillingness to negotiate with ...


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Posted by Wants to learn Mandarin
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2007 at 1:06 pm

An appeal to MI supporters:

I want my children to learn Mandarin. I would like to have Mandarin instruction in this district. I have to believe there are some people in this community who can remember that is the goal, and stop trying to "win" exactly what you want no matter the cost.

If you push for a charter school and show that you continue to have zero regard for the needs of other students in this district, I want nothing to do with it! I will feel obligated to put energy into fighting you, when I want what you want (except that I remember there are other students in this town.)

Aren't there any among you who can come up with better ideas, ideas of what you can bring to the district, not all the many things you want the district to do for you? Do you even realize that this is why the opposition?


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2007 at 2:14 pm

I sincerely hope the BoE spends as little time on this charter issue as possible. It's really time to move on and focus on other more important issues in this district. Personally, I think the charter school effort will backfire and any support the MI proponents have will soon fade as this effort begins to really drain the district's energies, time and finances. We should be focusing our limited energy on the already great district we have, and how we can improve it for the maximum number of kids.

BTW, PIE reached its goal of 2 million raised! Kudos to everyone who participated in this effort!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 1, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Daunna,

Our growing district doesn't have money to expand in the way you suggest. Your model is more applicable to a non basic-aid district.

As for Hoover and Ohlone's beginnings, six of one, half a dozen of the other. The schools exist because there was cheap space for them and, of course, the BOE thought they were possible magnets. There was room for that sort of experimentation.

Even Grace Mah says the start-up costs of an MI charter will be $400,000. That's a lot of money for a handful of students. People who were neutral on MI will resent that kind of siphoning off of funds.

There are alternatives--a charter in a neighboring non basic-aid district; a hybrid of summertime immersion and school-year FLES. The latter would be something that could benefit the entire district instead of hurting it.

So, why did PACE not take a breath and jump right into pushing for a charter? There's always been a narrow-focus problem with PACE, but pushing this charter in Palo Alto is a lose-lose proposition.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2007 at 3:08 pm

As a follow on to 'Wants to learn Mandarin', I would hope that a well respected, well known long time friend and helper of the district, such as Daunna, would be very interested in asking the same questions before jumping to such drastic damaging measures.

I would ask Daunna, as someone with inside track to PACE's political operation; What happens when you ask that PACE leadership to explore options with PAUSD for a second right answer? For example are there opportunities to work within framework of a world language task force to get Beginning Mandarin into the elementaries for example? Is that not "enough" for them? Are they rigid and unbending in their expectations?

When someone shows you who they are - believe them.

Daunna, if the MI leadership rejects other options, or rejects even he possibility of other options anything short of a full K-5 Mandarin Immersion program, or they want to stubbornly pursue options that are known to be damaging to PAUSD, or options that MUST come to fruition NOW, instead of 2 or 3 years down the road - please ask yourself if you might be being used.

Of all people in this effort, I would think we could count on you to take a realistic inventory of what's happening and what would be in the best interest of the district.


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Posted by Charter Alumni Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2007 at 10:57 pm

State laws concerning charter school formation prohibit actions which increase racial segregation. With the requirement for native speakers, can MI meet this requirement?

Also, charter school law does not guarantee any charter school the site of their choice. Since Ohlone has had a waiting list for about twenty years, expanding its current program at that site might make more sense than having two programs share that small site.

Of course Basic Aid may disappear in the Serrano vs. Priest-style lawsuits. It might be a good thing for PAUSD to rejoin the real world. There are about 50 Basic Aid districts and 1700 per-pupil ones.


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Posted by Dirk
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2007 at 10:48 am

":Even Grace Mah says the start-up costs of an MI charter will be $400,000. That's a lot of money for a handful of students. People who were neutral on MI will resent that kind of siphoning off of funds."

PAUSD doesn't have to pony up $400K. It comes from multiple sources such as state education funding, grants, fundraising.


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Posted by pa resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2007 at 10:59 am

So, in other words, taxpayers pay for it (except for the fundraising mentioned).


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Posted by Lydia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 11:33 am

Dirk, whew! What a releif! So the $400k will come from grants, fundraising, etc. That leaves PAUSD on the hook for only seveal hundred thousand up to a few million, give or take, in order to provide facilities because it's already or soon will maxed out by enrollment growth. But PACE really doesn't want to do harm to the district, accorning to Grace Mah's quote in the Daily yesterday...


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 11:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Yes, Grace Mah's quote in the Daily was pretty clear:

"(Mah) said the "moratorium put on choice programs" left parents with no other option. "We don't want to do anything that hurts the district," she said. "We want to take advantage of the legislation that allows choice programs to be incorporated as charter schools. If that wasn't an opportunity we could pursue, we wouldn't be doing it."
Mah said the charter petition would be filed in the near future."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Lydia
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 12:36 pm

It's interesting that this charter school effort by PACE is not about overcoming a sub-standard school district which doesn't educate kids well. It's about forcing one of the better school districts in the state to fork over a perk which the BOE determined, reluctantly, was not in the best interest of all the students of this district at this time. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 3:14 pm

A charter petitioner still indentifies a particular specific location/district even if they go directly to the county. So they'd still be attempting to target PAUSD even if they went to the county.

They'll want to take the petition to the district first...

Of course that would make sense - their whole point is negotiating leverage - they want something very specific from PAUSD that PAUSD board has the power to give them. With the charter petition leverage, they still hope for the possibility of forcing it through a hostile negotiation - still a chance the board would say OK, YOU WIN.

They don't REALLY want to do the charter route themselves, they'd MUCH prefer that PAUSD run this enterprise directly (and take on all the R&D and operating risk). So they still hope for the negotiated solution of PAUSD giving them the choice program version.

Now, if they go the county directly - they'll ultimately get space from PAUSD anyway (if they draw PAUSD people in), but they'll also get the monsterous, expensive, timeconsuming headache of running a charter school.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 4:00 pm

I remember clearly Kate's post, and mine.

There was nothing offensive in either, simply expression of opinion.

In fact, mine was in defense of the character of any Charter School proponents, by asserting that I didn't believe they would petition directly to PAUSD for a Charter School, knowing that this would simply prove the allegations that have been leveled so far about blackmail, lack of belief in democracy and not caring about the effect on the community.

I don't see why either Kate's or my posts were deleted. Was it the word "blackmail"? This is a legitimate opinion of some, given the place our District may be put into if the petitioners come straight to the District.

I think you are going too far in your censorship. I think that the petitioners have a right to know how they will be perceived. At the very least, they need to hear what many are thinking, but can't say under their own names for many reasons.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2007 at 4:35 pm

Resident,

"Blackmail" is a crime, so while I agree with you that PACE is trying pressure tactics here, I suspect that the PA Weekly mods removed anything that could be construed as a criminal allegation.

I'm curious, does anyone know which three charter proposals were accepted and which three were rejected? Bullis was one, I think.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I wonder if the county's going to look kindly on these sort of pressure tactics? Particularly as the increased segregation issue makes for a pretty clear-cut "no".

In a sense, what's in it for the county to overrule Palo Alto's wishes? Better schools for the kids? Er, no, possibly worse ones because of the slice a charter would take.

I think there a legal issues all over. Let's see, push a charter school on the Ohlone site? Lawsuit from local residents over the overcowding of the site. Bump Young Fives of Preschool Family from Greendell? More lawsuits.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] PACE had a certain amount of good will, but the charter proposal--particularly without considering alternatives has destroyed a large chunk of it. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Resident, FYI - I thought your post was clever and not outside the realm of what some of people are thinking. In fact, I sent myself a copy of the post to my email, just to have it around because I suspected the online editors would soon do away with it. It's just an opinion for goodness sakes.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 8:03 pm

This Charter nonsense is becoming more of a divisive issue than MI ever was. This city is becoming divided and I hate to say it but I fear that it is going to get worse. We are being held to ransom by a vocal few who are fighting tooth and nail to get their own way. If my children behaved like this I would punish them. If a group of parents want their own MI school, then they should rent some office space on Fabian (like the Jewish high school) and leave PAUSD alone.


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Posted by Here, now
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm

No, it seems clear Palo Altans do not want a charter school.

But it's also clear that some among us want Mandarin immersion. It's now obvious that it was a mistake for the board to bow to selfish pressure tactics and kill MI as a choice program.

The charter route is no one's first choice, but that is where we are all headed because the anti-MI crowd, not caring about the effect on our community, shut the door to the only other option. (The suggestions for a "second right answer" are vacuous. Those with even a passing knowledge of immersion know that sprinkling a few hours of foreign language among the elementary kids has nothing to do with immersion.)

I hope the board does reconsider its vote and institute MI as a choice program.

The vitriol poured on the MI people is incomprehensible. They have merely made a proposal for a program--not a perk, but a sound approach to education they want for their children. Something else must explain it.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2007 at 9:14 pm

The cencorship on this board is outrageous. They are going as far as to change the meaning of the posts (from con to pro). They're censoring opinion against MI that names no names, uses no profanity, makes no unlawful allegations or anything - simply statements of opinion.

Please take a copy and paste of your post before you hit the send button. I will be sending copies of my posts to the editor. Its unbelievable. I wonder who they have manning the delete button. I can take a guess. Shameful

And yes, I said it - the MI charter proponents are perpetuating a gross injustice in holding PAUSD ransom in order to get their selfish way. And unbelievably, previous poster is calling the MI opponents selfish. rich.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2007 at 9:49 pm

Here, now says "It seems clear that Palo Altans don't want a charter school." Ya think?
Here, now continues "But it's clear some among us want Mandarin Immersion." So I guess that means that there's some little voice inside your head that says it's ok for a few to force it on the rest regardless of the price they will pay. And at the same time claim that you mean no harm to the district, but gosh, you are left with no choice.
Here, now then continues to explain how the board's decision was not based on careful consideration of the current enrollment and budget issues. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2007 at 8:28 am

Re: Here

That poster so clearly "proved" the points that anti-Charter school people are making, that I actually wondered if it were truly an anti-Charter school poster trying to make the pro-Charter school people look bad.

Really, how "perfect" is the following comment for proving the opinions of some that..um...well, you know. Might get censored if I say it.

"It's now obvious that it was a mistake for the board to bow to selfish pressure tactics and kill MI as a choice program." by Here

Obvious, how? By wielding the club of Charter School?

People have to get it through their heads that just because we CAN approve a "choice" program doesn't mean we HAVE to approve it, as some obviously believed.

Maybe the District should just give back the money it took to at least lower the feeling of betrayal, since it took the money then didn't deliver.




I can't believe any of the major players in the pro-Charter school camp would truly


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Posted by a parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2007 at 8:40 am

"So I guess that means that there's some little voice inside your head that says it's ok for a few to force it on the rest regardless of the price they will pay."

Um, that was the rallying cry of the anti-MI people.

"Here, now then continues to explain how the board's decision was not based on careful consideration of the current enrollment and budget issues."

The board was panicked by the threats on funding; the rest was posturing and politics. The opposition held PAUSD ransom in order to get their selfish way.


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Posted by Lorraine
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 9:41 am

Parent, so you think funding is not an issue in PAUSD? Have you been to any of the BOE meetings in the last year where some of the non-MI issues were discussed?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2007 at 9:46 am

We elect our School Board to make decisions on what they believe is the best for ALL the PAUSD students. It is their job to listen to all sides, debate the subjects and make their decision. I don't think they have been held hostage, they made their decision on MI based on what they felt was most important to the district now. Certainly they may be swayed by pleas from either side on any subject - but they have made tough decisions in the past.

It certainly feels like PACE is saying that since they didn't get their way the first time, they will try another way, even though it will hurt the majority of the students in the district.

Pretend this is your child, they lobby for a new toy and you say no because it will cost too much right now, you couldn't get things your other children need and you really need to concentrate on redoing your house. You tell your child that its not that you don't like the toy - its just not in the best interest of the whole family this year. Your child gets mad and threatens to break all the windows in your house - which will cost you more than the toy would have. Should you give in?


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Posted by a parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Lorraine,

The point made was not about funding but rather about why the board voted as it did. Strong-arm tactics pure and simple.

Mom,

Pretend this is your child. He comes to you asking for a book, explains how it will help to do his homework, tells you how to order it and has the money to buy it himself. His sibling cries and says, no, don't buy it it's not fair. You tell the sibling he can use the book, too, but sib says he does not want to use the book, and he also does not want anyone in the family to read a book he does not want to read.

Sib tells you he will cry and break all the windows in your house unless you deny the first child the book, so you cave in and say no book.

Your child then approaches you and says he knows you have a yearly budget for toys for each child. He asks you to spend his portion on the book. Sib cries again and says no fair. Should you give in again to sib?


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Dear Parent-

The School Board thought that the PAUSD resources were better spent at this time on programs which can benefit more students. You can say that both sides tried equally to "persuade" the Board - with money for the MI study, comments about not reelecting them, threats to cut back on donations to PiE and comments on opening a charter school. None of these benefit the students of PAUSD.

I'd like to think that our BOE of bright, capable people, have minds of their own and can make decisions they believe are right for the majority of the PAUSD students.

Back to the analogy - Your child wants a special book. He says he has the money to buy it himself (but he won't tell where he got the money.) He really only has some of the money, because there is tax, handling and shipping fees. His siblings whine that it isn't fair - but they also remind you that this is not a book you can share - only he can read it. If you don't buy him that particular book, all of your 12 children have a new book each! And if your child is able to wait a bit longer, your finances may change and perhaps he can have that book which is just for him. He still does not want to wait, because then he'll be too old for the book.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Online Eds,

Grace Mah has made herself a public figure in this debate. I did not defame her. So why on earth did you remove my comments about her? Her actions and words are public and those are what I commented upon. Indeed, she has used this forum among many to push her agenda--it's seems less than balanced to abruptly decide that comments about her should be removed.

I understand limiting what could be deemed personal attacks on another poster, but characterizing PACE as selfish in pushing a charter school is not a personal attack on a poster.

Isn't the focus here on encouraging discussion instead of chilling it?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 4:57 pm

a parent,

But you're NOT children. And the PAUSD is not trying to parent you. Its job is to offer a solid education to the children in its district. An MI program is not a cheap little book, but an investment of considerable time and resources to benefit a small group of children.

People did not threaten violence in order to get the board to say "no"--which is the implication of your windows analogy. They gave their reasons, some of which the board agreed with and some of which they didn't. The board said no. The reasons it voted no apply to a charter school as well, along with the added demographics issue.

Those who want an MI charter are not restricted to PAUSD, so why not go, as Mandy Lowell, to a neighboring district that's set up for charters? That's an option that your kid with the book doesn't have. (Though frankly if the kid has the money than s/he can just buy the book . . . oh, geez, you know it's just not a good analogy.)


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Posted by A Tired Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Im struggling with the decision to put our name on the list for the charter. I can see some definite upsides, but a few risks. I'm still trying to figure everything out.

I hope I can ask a question here (annonymously - sorry, this is all a little too heated to give my name just yet.)

I have a little guy at Duveneck this year and another 3 year old starting Kindergarten in 2008. I haven't been paying too much attention to district news, but I do hear the schools on this side of Oregon are pretty much full. Will I get sibling preference for my next son to get in to Duveneck?

(I guess I really just got dumb luck the first time, I never paid any attention and didn't realize the schools were this full.)

If I take my kids to the charter and it doesn't somehow work out for us in the first couple years, will I be able to get back in to Duveneck or will I have lost my spots?

If we lose our spot at Duveneck, what school would we end up in? Would I be sent to Walter Hays or Addison instead because they are the next nearest schools?

What if all the Palo Alto schools are full, do they have to take us back at all?

Sorry, a bunch of dumb questions from a mom who hasn't really started to pay attention yet. I guess I better get up to speed. We just moved here and its all more complicated than I thought it would be.






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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 8:53 pm

Tired Mom,

Yes, you get sibling preference. So if you have one at Duveneck, then you have a shoe-in for no. 2.

Yes, if you leave, you'll have lost your spots, but that doesn't mean a spot won't open up for you. It's all about what's happening that year at that time. Some grades will have openings, some won't. Your kids are guaranteed space somewhere in the PAUSD.

Walter Hays and Addison have the same overenrollment issues as Duveneck. Last year, the schools that had space were Juana Briones, Barron Park and, though I only heard this from one source, El Carmelo.
So, yes, there's a chance you'll end up commutting.

Yes, again, your kids will have a spot in the PAUSD. It's the legal responsibility of the district to provide your kids with an education.


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Posted by Another PA mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2007 at 9:48 pm


Well, let's start with the first Boutique Charter School, the proposed Chinese Charter School. Why would it stop there? Let's then be ready to be petitioned for a Hebrew charter school, a French charter school, a Korean charter school, a music charter school, a computer charter school, an art charter school, etc.

All of these would "strengthen" charter schools ... and increase student achievement...

... and bankrupt our basic education by bankrupting our school district. Details, details...


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Posted by Tired Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2007 at 11:22 pm

OhlonePar - thanks for your kind response.

Gosh the thought of leaving our school brings a lump to my throat. Its amazing how fast you start to create that bond.

Maybe it would be easier if the new charter were a little more established. I dont even really know much about it yet, so its maybe a bit premature. Just talking about giving up this spot is really hitting me as pretty drastic at this early stage. Maybe I could wait and give the charter a 3-4 year chance to get off the ground, and then if it really works I could move my kids over for a few years, like 3rd through 5th or something. Maybe a few years of Mandarin would be better than none and we'd still be able to get the good start at Duv. Then again, maybe that just creates a mess for the kids. I don't know. sheesh!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2007 at 12:39 am

Tired Mom,

There is no charter school, just plans to plan one. There are some private Mandarin Immersion programs--one in Palo Alto, another in Mountain View. I think the International School has summer immersion programs as well, though I think they're kind of short.

Some of the schools offer some afterschool language--you might see about starting one at Duveneck in Mandarin. It wouldn't offer the benefits of immersion, but it would at least give your child practice at an age when he or she is particularly receptive to learning languages--particularly in terms of accent.

I think of it as a bit like music. You can learn to play an instrument as an adult. It's extremely difficult though to learn to sing on pitch if you didn't learn to do so as a child. I have a friend who learned a language as a child and forgot it, then learned it *twice* as an adult. So, on one hand, early language exposure didn't make her fluent, but it did give her the ability to easily relearn the language when she needed to. (She was able to work overseas.)


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 4, 2007 at 12:25 pm

Dear OhlonePar,

I never meant to imply that anyone threatened violence - just an analogy run amok.. My "parent" analogy was just that parents sometimes make choices their kids do not agree with because it is better for the whole family. The same is true of any organization.

We have a BOE that we have elected and they will make decisions that are not popular with everyone - sometimes not even the majority. They will make decisions that are best for 11,000 students, not just 40. We should not assume that they were "strong-armed" into these decisions just because people try to "strong-arm" them. People who disagree are feel to speak their minds and also free to run in the next election.

The PACE group wants their children to learn Mandarin - a wonderful goal. They want it now because of the ages of their children. They just don't want to have to pay for it over and above their property taxes - again understandable, but our ELECTED board voted that now was not the right time for it to happen. The District has a finite amount of money and man-power and the BOE has spent many on this one topic.

There are after school programs (not the same), there are private schools, but not everyone can afford them. People can't always afford what they want, it does not mean that they can penalize everyone else for not getting their way.

There are many parents in PA who wish the district could provide more to their child. Talk to all the Palo Alto parents with kids at Charles Armstrong who don't want to pay for a private school, but are doing it because their child needs something the district was unable or unwilling to provide. The parents who pay for private speech lessons, the parents who hire tutors because their children are not "learning disabled" enough to qualify for help. The kids who wanted to learn German in middle school, but couldn't because it was no longer offered. The AP student in a large class because there wasn't money for an additional section. The other 4000+ elementary students who don't get to learn a language...


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Palo alto mom,

I apologize for not reading a little more carefully. I had no problems with your analogy, it was "a parent"'s counter-analogy that struck me as running amuck. You and I are pretty much in agreement, I think.

PACE just strikes me as very narrowly focused. They can't think outside of a K-5 immersion program and they can't think of such a school not being in Palo Alto. I think their current strategy is ill-advised--they don't have the clout to force the issue, unless there's a lot more money--the way there was with Bullis.


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