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IT'S BACK!!!! Board votes to revisit MI as a choice program

Original post made by Simon Firth, College Terrace, on Mar 27, 2007

Just the possibility that it might receive an application to start a charter Mandarin Immersion program has the PAUSD school board, as of this evening, reopening the question of whether it should start a Mandarin Choice program -- this time to start in 2008. If my understanding is right, there will a new report on timelines coming in late April followed by meetings to discuss and vote in May.

The plan to be considered would still be for MI to be housed at Ohlone and it would include the provision of language instruction for the non-MI students at Ohlone--but not at any other elementary school.

Thoughts anyone?


Comments (232)

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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Wow, more twists than a season of Survivor.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 27, 2007 at 10:54 pm

I think it's great. A choice program would be much better for PAUSD and the community. Mandarin Immersion seems like an idea that's time has come and a choice program is much less "rancorous" than a charter.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Unbelievable. Do they (the Board) not see what this is doing to the community? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Wow, I guess Ohlone is doing the expedient thing -- they get their extra buildings eventually, [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] and get language for their students when no one else in the district gets any.

I think this really does a disservice to Ohlone's reputation as a community-oriented place, although maybe I had the wrong idea of what "community" means to them.


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Posted by pamom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:14 am

Well, that was a highly stupid meeting. Why didn't any of the 4 Board members actually come out and say, "We were threatened; we've wasted MORE staff time to write a condemnation of charter schools and then just brushed the info away in favor of ... a choice program!!!"

Why didn't any of them acknowledge that PACE had already cost them a lot of time and energy on a non-priority item and that in PAUSD we'd really prefer not to do business that way. Why are they protecting PACE?

What message did they send? If we don't vote the way you like, [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff], we'll cave, no problem.

Did PACE make a public commitment NOT to file a charter petition? Seems like that should be in writing before they PAUSD staff does yet another feasibility study...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:52 am

I think the backlash will be stupendous. Not outright and openly, but in a long simmering resentment at the people who have shown a complete disregard for process and democracy.

The Board is between a rock and a hard spot. It is forced, or believes it is forced, into trying to choose the least expensive way between two options. They feel forced by a few people who have decided that it is better to take advantage of the permissive nature of Charter law and the incredible fear of havoc Charters can wreak, exemplified by the horribly expensive Charter school in Los Altos, as a threat in order to get to the top of the priority list.

Forcing a program through in this way does not exactly help increase the warm and fuzzy feelings I have.

To think I actually felt bad for the poor MI proponents at the 2 meetings in January, back when it looked like they weren't going to get their program. I actually felt pity that they had spent so much time and, presumably, money,and still lost the vote. Democracy in action and all that, somebody had to win and somebody had to lose.

Looks like the loss is on the other foot, now.

I wonder how many tears are being shed tonight for the majority of Palo Alto that will wake up tomorrow and wonder when their leaders became subject to such tactics? When they lost the right to have a vote taken by their Board and have it stick? I wonder if there is any emphathetic feelings at all, or if it is all just joy?

I feel bad for our town, and bad for our Board. We are not in a good place.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 1:39 am

Well, I can't say this is a shocker. Guess we can all go back to the board meetings again and remind the board the downside of this *yet again.*


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Posted by Lisa Jack
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:26 am

I'm sorry to hear that more district and board time will be spent on this issue given the latest story indicating that the district is not meeting its previously stated goal to address the achievement gap.

PA Weekly story titled "School district makes gains, yet falls short on minority achievement-gap goals": Web Link


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:30 am

Now, let me say first that this seems pretty terrible if you are a fan of good leadership and process. I am not close the Board or Super, but they have not covered themselves with glory here.

But I am wondering if I see at least some cleverness at work in the Ohlone solution. My biggest concern (process aside) about all this is where does MI go when it outgrows Ohlone (and what does that cost)? But Ohlone of course has 2 year classes (k/1, 2/3, 4/5). So an entire MI strand can be created in 3 rooms, which can be fit at Ohlone. My realization this morning - maybe THAT'S IT. Three rooms, and you're done - can't expand (unless space is readily available) beyond the 3 rooms.

Some good things flow from this. It is an MI compromise (in a way) - the MI's get what they want, in that they get a choice program, now, in a way they'll accept. The not-MI'ers get a limited, pretty low-cost program -- 3 rooms in one place just aren't going to be that expensive. And because so limited, it leaves the door open for FLES or whatever else people want in world languages (though as readers of another thread no, I am not a big supporter of this - but the door is open).

And a bonus - my other bugaboo here is that MI would lead to ethnic clustering (a la Hoover). But now the MI's will have to take The Ohlone Way, which may not be what a lot of Chinese American families have in mind for their kids (just looking at Ohlone's % Asian); hence helping drive more diversity in the program.

Now this has a big assumption - that 2-3 years from now, if space is tight, that a future board can stand up to a concerted effort to expand the program with more facilities. The current board gives us no confidence of this. So we'd need to make a big change there.

So what do you think? Is a 3-room strand going to happen? And can that be the limit? If it is, is that a compromise that we can agree to and move on?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:42 am

There is no way 3 rooms will suffice. The original feasibility study insisted 1 1/2 strands was an absolute minimum for effective bilingual education.

Since PAUSD is going to be responsible for it, it is going to be committed to making sure the kids in the program have the best chance possible, and will not stop at 3 rooms.

This will start at Ohlone, and unless there is a contract between the proponents of MI, Ohlone and the District that it will STAY at Ohlone, regardless, and and issues become Ohlone's to work out, MI will push for, and win, the opening of another school in order to house all 240 of the original intent of the school.

The only way to avoid that is if Ohlone will put 6 modulars ( or build a 2 story, 6 classroom building) on campus and MI promises to be happy with that. But,that is not going to happen. I am sure of it.

At this point, all that has to happen is for dissatisfaction to come out as a Charter threat, and we will feel obliged to cave in order to save the District from that horrible fate.

Charters have a huge network behind them to bludgeon Districts with, and there is no equivalent on the other side to stop the abuse of Charter law.


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Posted by pamom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:02 am

Oh dear, Fred, you're thinking like a Board member: "...process aside..."
It's not about MI, it's not about how many portables you can cram onto a site, it's not about the number of cars going there each day, it's the total, utter, complete, insulting lack of process, sticking to your goals and doing what's right for all kids, not a select elite group.

Becki Cohen-Vargas' voice was the sane, rational voice there last night, begging for resources to address the issues we have *already*. She wanted out of this whole discussion so she can just do her job - why didn't they hear her?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:25 am

Good point PA Mom. I am at some level just trying to find a practical way out of the swamp we find ourselves in.

Something that surprised me reading some of the PAUSD mission/policy/procedure docs posted elsewhere, was that a long time back choice was enshrined as a supported goal for PAUSD elementary (resources permitting). So if you want a choice program that doesn't require much resource, and you have a practical plan, it is rational to think you might get it. Not what I would have done, but there it is in the docs - it is "the process."

Since we are resource constrained, one compromise is that you can have your program, but only if it uses the resources we are willing to allocate. Maybe that won't work (not sure why 1.5 strands is the minimum, is that what the private schools do?), but at least we finish.

You raise a fair point though about whether compromise is the correct course here. I am thinking maybe yes since, as of last night, the board has shown itself so unable to exercise discipline in its thinking/actions, we have to settle on something that is not so destructive, curse them all, and move on. But maybe that just leads further into the swamp ;-)


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:36 am

Maybe we need to get Charter law changed to reflect the true intent - helping a disadvantage group of students get a better education, not an elite group who doesn't want to spend their own money educating children in a particular subject.


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Posted by No Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:38 am

The MI folks should not take this bait from the school board.

It may sound good now and looks like a good compromise, but the constant problems they are going to face with the school board in time to come will make this compromise look like a VERY BAD thing to take.

PACE - Please do not take this bait - hold on to your guns, you were dealt a very good card before (board rejecting the MI). It is really time for a Charter School program.


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Posted by too clever by half
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:48 am

Interesting, but don't you see? The board didn't promise to create an MI choice program, they promised to "consider" one that would open in 2008. They can then turn PACE down again next year. Basically, they've given themselves some breathing room. Next year, they simply put a moratorium on all choice programs as they have done in the past.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:11 am

TCBH and NC - you both make good points, and remind me that there are (at least) two very different perspectives here.

I actually am starting to think that you (and some of the above posters, like PA Mom) are right - let the process run its course. School Board - shut down consideration. PACE - do your charter application and see what happens. If a school does open somewhere, we all see how it goes, and how it interacts with whatever else is going on.

Maybe it works well. Maybe it costs money and pain. But either way, we all experience the natural consequences of our actions and hopefully learn something from the experience.

PA Mom - getting the law changed, while rational, seems unfair in a way, since PACE has made its assumptions under the current laws. Not fair to change the rules now; I would hate it if that happened to me. In addition, getting the laws changed seems like a lengthy and difficult process. But worth thinking about, since the policy does not seem particularly right.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:12 am

Fred,
I think that's a good compromise, actually, if we put our emotions aside from the last several months. IF PACE commits legally to staying in 3 classrooms and not asking for any additional funds so as to stay "cost neutral," maintains the standards of the PA curriculum, AND the members personally commit in writing to covering legal costs if the district or PAEE has to sue because they don't, I think that's a reasonable compromise.

The big sticking point I see with that is Ohlone getting mandarin instruction when no one else has any language instruction in elementary. I'm seeing red about it myself, because I think FLES is important, and I think a lot of other parents in neighborhood schools will feel betrayed if this happens and FLES doesn't materialize for everyone else.

So perhaps that would need to be a part of the compromise, that not just Ohlone students get language instruction.

But then we get back to the smarter way to do all of this -- through strategic planning.

Which brings us full circle -- why can't this wait for strategic planning? What's the rush? And if there is a rush, why not start a charter school in MV as posted on another current thread, and if PACE then still wants an MI program in PA, then be a part of strategic planning?

Then everyone gets what they want, no more huge controversy.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:22 am

Fred,
In the real world of government and politics, things get changed on people all the time at the last minute. We try to make things as fair as possible, but things happen. People operate under one belief about the law, then a court ruling changes it overnight and they lose the farm. Happens all the time.

The brilliant thing about our system is not that we are guaranteed fairness or the end result we want all the time -- because unfortunately that is just too far down the road from how the world works -- but that we have a chance to try. Ordinary people have a chance to try. That's a pretty amazing thing when you think of it. Sometimes they succeed. Often they don't, and some far more unfair things happen than just not getting some specialty program added to an already excellent school system.

If we're focusing on fairness, I think it's a more laudable thing to think about what is fair for all of the kids in a public school district.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:35 am

AJ - the rush is that the PACE supporters have children who they would like to start kindergarten in a MI program.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:39 am

AJ and others: why would PACE compromise on anything? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The high achievers will be lavished with perks while the at-risk and EL kids will languish in the status quo, only to be given lip service when there's no way to avoid the topic. Many simply fade away before 12th grade anyway...we can continue to pat ourselves on the back because our high achievers make us look really good to the rest of the world.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:40 am

Firstly, I have a question. From the part I saw on tv last night, Gail Price was not there and I saw no reference made about her absence. Was she there for any part of the meeting and was any reason given for her absence? My personal feeling is that the meeting may have gone differently if she had been there although the ultimate outcome would have been the same.

Secondly, [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] I have bad feelings about what may happen next. I know that things can change and new rules put in place to stop something happening in the future. But, and this is a big but, how can we seriously accept decision making like this from our elected officials? How can we seriously re-elect any one of them in the future? And thirdly and this is the big one, how can we in all honesty interview for a new superintendent to be someone with strength and purpose at a time when there is obviously no strength and purpose in the district they are considering? If I was a serious candidate for the job, someone who is interested in coming to Palo Alto as a recognised leader in school districts, I would not want to come here with the present state of affairs. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

This is really scarey. I don't think anyone worth their mettle would want to come to this district. They would go somewhere else. We are in a right mess!!


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:51 am

Thanks AJ, I think it would be good, though not sure PACE will. I doubt they would agree to the things you suggest; if they went this route, I bet they would rather wait and see what they can get down the road. And so be it - the Board always has the right to say no later.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:52 am

I was there. Gail wasn't there, but it wouldn't have made any difference. What I saw was Mandy and Dana waying "We stick to our original decision, MI is NOT right for the district at this point but we are being forced to choose the lesser of two evils because we have been threatened with a charter school and everything the attorney for PAUSD is telling us says that would be the more burdensome of the two." On the other hand, it was completely offensive that Camille said basically, I don't care about the numbers, I am glad we are revisiting this and I want the program and I want it now." Process, anyone? It's one thing to revisit under duress. It's unseemly to be gleeful, gloating and triumphant about it.

Why not have a Town Hall meeting to take the community's temperature on whether, given the rock and the hard place, they prefer a charter school or a choice program?

Yes, the many problems in the district (and there are many, many, MANY) will make the candidates think twice about joining PAUSD. But that this point, I think the best we can do is move on from the MI thing and solve the many other problems that need to be dealt with --including the dysfunctionality of the administrative staff and other matters too numerous to mention.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:05 am

The other discussion right now has a link to the PAEE site, www.paee.us. This is the group that formed in opposition to the MI choice program.

If you go to the choice vs. charter page, they have a link to a spreadsheet analysis done by an accountant comparing the cost of choice vs. charter, and surprisingly, the charter school is the cheaper of the two, by a lot. (I think PAEE was surprised by this, too.)

Something to consider. After all, whose word is all this fear of the charter based on? Mainly Grace Mah's.

Also, I think maybe people are assuming things about the charter school process. It's tough, and it will take a lot longer than people realize. And PACE is not likely to find the kind of help from charter school advocates that a poor district would get, or even a rich one without an elementary school. You are forgetting the real resentment towards rich people who have everything and want more, asking help from people who have little. (Maybe that already factored into the reason for the public threat.)


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:06 am

I am extremely disappointed at what happened last night, and I strongly disapprove of PACE's tactics. As for placing this at Ohlone, that sounds like a joke - there is no way these educational philosophies will mix. I guess it's just to get a foothold in the door. Once they get going with MI, there will be constant demands to expand regardless of the current situation the district is in.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:18 am

I don't find PACE's tactics that objectionable. Denied by the district, they are exploring a charter school. That is their right; the process is set up that way. They may go through the process; again their right, if they feel the school district isn't serving them. That's the way the charter rules are set up. I doubt low performing districts feel any better about charters being set up in their midst; its a slap in the face no matter who you are, but it is the law.

I do find the Board's judgment very questionable. It seems similar to a business deal gone bad, when negotiations break down and someone threatens to sue. They always can - its their right - and they may or may not win. It sours relations and costs everybody money, but sometimes the right thing to do is just say "Go ahead." Suing people is costly, time consuming, and not a lot of fun - kind of like trying to set up and run a charter school.

Lawyers are paid, generally, to give you advice on what could go wrong. It sounds like that's what the Board heard. But their job is to weigh the risks and consequences and make a judgment. It seems to me like that judgment was pretty poor. Personally, I hope that PACE doesn't "take the bait" as some above have put it - they would do our Board a favor.


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Posted by Headbanger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:33 am

A town hall meeting is an interesting idea.

I kept asking myself as I watched the meeting last night, who really sets priorities for the allocation of limited resources in PAUSD? Apparently not the majority of the Board.

Some characterize the Board's actions last night as "compromise." It seems obvious to me that Dana Tom and Mandy Lowell weren't compromising but simply caving in to well-orchestrated pressure. These charter schools sound pretty frightening. (BOO!!!)

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] MI proponents are fortunate to have Dr. Callan and the Board President as allies but apparently feel they must work quickly to ensure MI is locked in place before Dr. Callan leaves.

Following identified priorities in allocating limited resources? Strategic planning? A superintendent who supports rather than undermines the majority of the Board? Not at this time, thank you.


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Posted by No Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:43 am

People here touting "town hall" meetings etc. and talking democracy need a real dose of democracy. They are short sighted may I say the least.

Here it is:
Democracy means the "rule of the majority". However democracy also means protecting the rights of the minority. And for this sole purpose we have "laws" and the "justice" system. If you trample a minority with "votes" or town hall meetings you are digging a hole in which you WILL fall.
Justice system is designed in a democracy to protect the minority. That is what PACE is pursuing. Those who tout democracy need to go back to school and learn their own system of democracy and justice.



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Posted by Headbanger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:54 am

No Compromise,

Thanks for the civics lesson.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:56 am

No Compromise, I think you have a solid point, but perhaps it can be made with less disparagement of the other posters. We're all just trying to exchange thoughts and learn.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:02 am

I think a Town Hall meeting might be a good idea, but not to get numbers or votes. I think there are a lot of people who are still sitting on the fence, or struggling to understand the issues. I personally have spoken to many people recently, people who have not been too interested in this debate until now because they do not have children in school and really do not understand what is going on. I think it would be a benefit to the community to hear both sides in a balanced discussion with someone from either side given say 20 minutes to say their spiel and then an unbiased moderator leading a question and answer session to these two people with questions from the floor. I have a high regard for Scott Bowers the time he had Town Hall meetings for the calendar proposals and he may be a good person to have as a moderator.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:17 am

No Compromise,

Voting against MI was hardly a "trampling of rights" of the minority. They now have the choice to apply to form a charter school. Oh, and by the way, it is the MI folks who have brought us this choice between MI choice and charter, not the opponents. I am just saying, if we have to choose one, why not have a meeting to get a sense of which the majority supports more (or opposes less)? Why is this trampling on their rights? All it would do, if it turned out everyone would rather risk a charter than move back into choice, is let the Board say "we stand by our original vote and if you want to form a charter school, so be it." Why is this a trap? Why is this not justice, not the democratic process? I say, let them go for it. And hey, still wondering why they don't want to form one in Mountain View, where there is space and interest and there are resources for a charter school.

Diplomacy also has its place. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Upon reflection, I guess maybe I don't understand your point. When you say "no compromise", are you saying you don't want to compromise and have a charter or you don't want to compromise and have choice?


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:30 am

I really did get the impression that Dana and Mandy were acting in good faith and trying to do what was least bad for the district, based on their best information. Camille, well, that was salt in the wound. I still think we should have a town hall meeting and see if the majority prefer a charter school if we have to choose.


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Posted by Time to Compromise is past
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:53 am

Natasha,
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Lets go back to some history. MI folks asked for a program they were turned down/sideways. They were told that they need to do a study of this. And oh BTW they were told the board cannot fund the study. So they mustered the money and did the required study. They were put through hoops. There have been endless meetings, discussions etc. etc. The board sat through open door meetings and closed door meetings to decide and we know what the decision was. Please do not tell me that people were unaware of this. This was reported in Palo Alto Weekly and San Jose Mercury. Tell me they did not have a lawyer on board telling them that Charter School was down the pipe.
Now you say you need a town hall meeting.
For what?
The decision was made. It is all recorded.
You did not see the trampling. This time the anti-MI folks are at the receivng end. Thats all.
When push comes to shove, the anti-MI are talking about changing the laws. What? Is there no justice in this country. Is there no "Supreme Court". Change the laws and some higher court is going to see through this turn it down.
My take: PAUSD has lost its case. I smart person takes a loss in a dignified way and at an approriate time.
Fred said be less disparaging. I tried. If there is some that shows - I apologize.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Thanks TtCiP, for the post which I think has a valid perspective (and didn't seem disparaging to me).

I'm not sure how PAUSD has "lost" here - the Board controls its own destiny. If they want to approve or turn down a choice program, they can; if they want to approve or turn down a charter (if one is submitted), they can. The situation will play itself out and we can see how things unfold.

In a sense, this is one of the purposes of charter legislation - to enable unhappy parents to get the attention of the local board by threatening to hit them in the pocketbook. Ok, fine - but in this case, my sense is that the Board should just sit tight and see what comes next.


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Posted by give it up
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:18 pm

TTCIP,
You say that "I smart person takes a loss in a dignified way and at an approriate time". Is that what the MI proponents did? No?
The time to take a loss in a dignified way is when you have explored all avenues and are left with no choice. That is not the case at present. A charter school is still a viable (and much cheaper) option than the choice program.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:23 pm

TTCIP --

I still am not sure I see your point.

I saw a lot of it. I've been around this district a long time. I went to school here myself, back in the pre-prop 13 days. I saw the Board vote the MI proposal down. And yes, I agreed that that was the right thing to do because this propgram did not fit the strategic goals. I was all for MI getting considered a year or so down the line when we had more info on opening a 13th school etc. Now I see the Board considering whether, upon reflection, Charter is better or worse than the proposal they rejected.

If by "the time to compromise is past" you mean forget choice and go straight to charter, I'm all for that. Based on Jamie Maltz's spreadsheet, looks to me like it would be the less onerous choice for Palo Alto.

If by that statement you mean go ahead with choice, well, as you said, "The decision was made. It is all recorded." The decision was against the choice program.

I said that very thing to the Board last night -- why are we still talking about choice? Why are we not just letting the MI folks file a charter application and move on with that? If the MI folks prefer a choice program and say they'd rather have that option reconsidered in comparison with the charter option, and the Board is willing to do so, that's where I say why not see what the majority think is less onerous. Myself, I think retracing those footsteps is inefficient, but apparently it's the MI folks who asked for it and are getting it, not the opponents. I can't imagine how anyone could claim to be surprised by the specter of a charter application. I certainly don't. MI was very clear that that was the next step.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I don't even know that we disagree, since I said on various threads that I thought MI should just go ahead and get a charter even before last night, and it seems that is what you are saying too.


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Here's a question: if the BOE votes in May 07 to start a MI choice program at Ohlone in the fall of 2008 before it has even received a charter application, how will it know that it has deflected demands for a charter?

If people from PACE simply say they will end the threat of a charter if MI is approved, how can the Board know to believe them? Can the board legally have them sign something to this effect? Or would the presence of an MI choice program in the district invalidate the charter application because PACE could no longer say they were addressing an unmet 'need'?

Also, given that PACE is already on the road to a charter application, how do we know that PACE doesn't now think a charter is the more preferable option? Is the BOE in contact with PACE to ask such questions?

I guess PACE doesn't have to say anything to anyone -- it can keep the BOE guessing. But it seems like the BOE is revisting MI as a choice program on the assumption that its approval of said choice program would end the charter bid. Is that necessarily right?




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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Yep, Simon, you've got it. Dana asked that very question last night. He stated unequivocally that if he were to change his vote and agree to an MI choice school in 2008, he would NOT do so unless he could be assured that the MI folks were absolutely not going to pursue a charter as well as the choice program. I think the concern was that MI folks are not so interested in waiting for a program to be put into place. They have kids they'd like to see in the lottery, if not in the program.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:47 pm

Simon, that seems like a good point - it looks like to Board is reacting to rumors (or maybe private conversations). But I imagine a charter petition is like a lawsuit - anyone can file one at any time for any reason or no reason at all.

It seems like PACE would be less likely to have their charter approved if they proposed a program similar to one that already exists - but who can say?

That's why I'm surprised the Board took the step they did before any counter-action was taken. I guess they are concerned about the clock ticking and meter running on a petition once submitted (60 days, isn't it?). But plenty of cases get settled on the court house steps, my sense is that this one will be one of those (if it settles at all).


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:48 pm

No Compromise has stated his/her belief that the rights of the minority need to be protected against the "tyranny" of the majority many times, and equated MI with the "minority" in this case. S/he completely believes this to be true, so I am not trying to change his/her mind.

But, since s/he went there again, I also want to repeat:

I think there is confusion over what it means to protect the rights of the minority against the wishes of the majority.

RIGHTS and MINORITY are the operative words. A RIGHT is not merely a desire, a right is outlined by our Bill of Rights. I believe a "right" refers to one of our fundamental human rights as protected in our constitution, not a desire.

Furthermore, which minority are you talking about? MI is a program that has repeatedly been advertised as having broad appeal across all nationalities and races, so it can't be a racial minority you refer to. And, if the program is meant to be 30% Mandarin speaking and 70% English speaking, the major benefit goes to the English speakers, so it can't be a language minority you are referring to, since English is the majority language. So, the "minority" reference must be to a group with nothing in common but the desire to have a Mandarin Immersion language program.

A common desire does not a minority make.

But, it is all moot now. We have an honored tradition of using the law to its full effect in whatever way we can to further our own ends, and this is no exception. We have to live within the law as it is written.

Those of us unhappy with the way Charters schools are going in our State can work to change the laws to close the loopholes. That is the way our system works.

Otherwise, at this point, we just need to move forward and try to do as much damage control as we can..









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Posted by pamom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 12:53 pm

We ask ourselves "who would take the supe job in a community this rancorous, uncivil, argumentative etc?" I for one would LOVE to see a supe candidate who wants to fix this mess, won't get all cozy with the BoE President (Townsend, Lowell, Kroymann - she's your employee, not your best friend!), has a vision and a work plan for our stategic goals and isn't AFRAID of civil, uncivil, polite, rude, concilliatory, no-compromise, intelligent, passionate people. Certainly, some educator in some state with some brains and some guts is out there, waiting...


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2007 at 1:02 pm

So, Natasha -- how can Dana and the BOE get that guarantee? Would someone's (Grace Mah's) word be enough? What if she makes the promise but the rest of PACE disagree with her and presses on with the charter application?

What is the structure of PACE, by the way? Or its membership? How are its officers (if it has any) elected (if at all)?

The PACE website (Web Link) lists no officers or titles or constitution, indeed it only has one person's name on it anywhere that I can see -- Grace Mah's.

Unless we know these things, can anyone be legitimately said to speak (or negotiate) on its behalf? And does the BOE have a body with which it can legitimately (or realistically) negotiate?

Would someone from PACE care to clear these questions up?




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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 1:08 pm

PA Mom, I hope you are right! And there are people who don't mind taking on "projects" like ourselves. But there are some big risks, too.

We pushed out our current Supe a year after re-upping her for a four year contract, so we appear not to know our own mind. And a vocal group thinks the Board are not so smart and maybe should be changed - so you don't know who you'll be working for either.

So if I'm an up-and-comer, how will it look if PA fires me after 3 years? Plus not so fun moving your family around every few years.

I'm sure we'll find someone, and hopefully someone who can whip all of us into shape.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Well, Simon, therein lies the problem. PACE could agree not to press for a charter school, but some of its members could break off and do so anyway. I don't see any way of guaranteeing that PACE or its constituents would not do exactly what it suits them to do. They are looking at a 480 (?) student school. Who honestly believes a 1 1/2 strand choice school would meet that goal? Which is why I say, why not let them think about submitting that application?

Also, the fact that everyone on the Board was talking about June 1 as the date by which the application would be filed means there have been some mega conversations on the subject between PACE and the district. It also suggests to me, given that no school can be started for this fall, that there is a great desire to see this all pushed through before Super leaves her post and a new person comes in.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:02 pm

"Tyranny of the majority" has a nice catchphrase sound about it, but it hardly applies to this situation where a board is being pressured to vote for a program that it turned down.

TTCIP, the vote's not in. Why on *earth* should anyone who disagrees with you accept defeat? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

It's interesting, by the way, that you recognize that the majority of the district *doesn't* want this program. To then say we must take our lumps because we have board members who are dismissive of due process sounds like you prefer tyranny of the old-fashioned minority sort.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Okay, some random thoughts:

What would it take to put an advisory vote on the ballot--to see what sort of support MI actually has in the district?

Anyone know enough media law to know whether the names of the donors of the feasibility study can actually stay hidden?

What sort of obligation is the school board under to upheld established district priorities?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:22 pm

OP:

1. Don't know. Does it matter? We are currently in the process of deciding which burden the district can bear with less difficulty: MI choice or MI charter. Whether it has popular support or not, we will have one or the other.

2. It was my impression based on what one speaker said at a Board meeting that it was actually illegal to keep that information secret once a Public Information Act request had been filed, which I thought he had done. He exhorted the Board at the 1/30 meeting to require their staff to cough up the names. Haven't heard anything since.

3. District priorities -- Board can change any time it wants. But more importantly, a critical responsibility of the Board is to steward resources. It has to make this decision in light of that responsibility, and I think Dana and Mandy are reluctantly doing so, Barb is going with the flow, and Camille is thrilled to be forcing this through. Gail has opposed it but was not at the meeting to put that on the record.

4. Well, the Trust investigation is not over and the results are not out. My best guess is that they are waiting for the results to come out. The super is leaving in June, but her staff are not, so I guess we'll hear more about this down the road.


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Posted by [ Compromises are made to be broken ]
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:26 pm

-- From PA Online about the BOE meeting ---

Comparing a Mandarin immersion charter school to an "orange," Lowell said she felt as if she was being "forced" to have an orange.

Tom added: "It's quite likely that we would be allergic to that orange."

-----

With a council that talks as above do you believe the anti-MI has a song. I will hold my judgement for 6 months, even though I can predict the outcome.


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Posted by Headbanger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:32 pm

I noticed that one of my comments above was censored. I saw nothing factually wrong with the censored comment, so let me attempt to rephrase:

I stand today in awe of the tremendous work of Dr. Callan and her staff who--after meeting with representatives of PACE--wrote yet another neutral and unbiased report to the Board that was instrumental in persuading otherwise intransigent members of the Board majority who voted to reject the MI proposal to reverse their January votes (that were at the time, of course, contrary to Dr. Callan's unequivocal recommendation for the immediate implementation of an MI choice program).


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:33 pm

All the discussion on this thread is pretty much moot, CAMTBB. Camille is full spead ahead on choice, Barb said basically that when forced to choose she will still choose MI choice (which she voted in favor of in the first place), Mandy and Dana said they still stand by their decision when it was MI choice or no choice at all but now they are forced to choose and believe that choice is the lesser of two evils. Gail opposed it and I imagine still will, leaving the vote 4-1, the "supermajority" that Barb said she wanted in whatever action the Board takes. And that will be that. Unless, of course, MI proponents decide that starting a 1 1/2 strand choice program in about 18 months is too little too late and start a charter school as well. Watch reruns of the Board meeting on Channel 28. It was very enlightening if long.


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Posted by Compromise, Look who is talking !!
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:42 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The comments made by the BOE (Mandy Lowell and Dana Tom) as included in the above post and in PA Weekly, are out of line. I can come up with other fruits and vegetables that can be derogatory as well to the other side or other ethnic groups.
The Manderin Immersion folks owe a public apology for the BOE regarding those comments.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:49 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

By the way, the board meeting last night started with a $2.1M donation from PIE to PAUSD. I would gladly uplift my PIE donation by 10% toward a legal defense fund for PAUSD vs MI Charter. Can we start one? If every PIE donor did same, that would be $210,000 per year for the legal fees (the board's biggest worry), basically forever.

Plus, we could all have even MORE money to donate to PIE because we'd never get another parcel tax approved (because the charter would possible get their claws in to that too so that will go down the tubes), so we can send the extra $500 per year directly to PIE.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I saw part of the board meeting and have seen the board in action.

The lynchpin is money. If PAEE makes its case that a charter is cheaper than choice, part of the board will go with that. (Personally, I think PACE might as well go for a charter. It's time they did something more besides trying to push people around. Their energy can be put to better use.)

Does this board want to be known as the one that made it impossible to get the next parcel tax through? The 2005 one passed because a lot of people got behind it and pushed it through--the previous one lost by 200 votes.

If people feel betrayed by what they perceive as a misuse of time and (their) money, they'll be less inclined the next one through. Or, maybe they'll vote for it, but they won't get out the vote.

It's this basic financial issue that has the PACE crowd fussing about the tyranny of the majority--because a super-majority is needed to get the big money. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As I've said before, PACE has never successfully sold its program to the district. They could have done so, I think, if they'd been open at all to seeing the priorities of others.

I've lived in divided school districts before. The results aren't pretty and they're not good for the schools.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Compromise,

What are you trying to say? That "orange" is an ethnic slur? Who owes who an apology?


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2007 at 2:54 pm

I agree with previous post about parcel taxes. Not only did I vote for the previous tax, I also spent time volunteering on the phone and visiting voters to get it passed. I will certainly reconsider my position about school parcel taxes if the school board caves in to special interests like this.


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Posted by qualified lottery
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:06 pm

As has been previously noted (Web Link), Susan Charles chooses who is allowed to attend Ohlone. ie: You "win" the lottery and then, based on whatever criteria Charles chooses, your application will be considered and may be rejected.
Let's see how many PACE children suddenly mange to "win" the Ohlone lottery and then transfer across when the choice program opens up.


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Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Add me to the list of residents concerned enough about the Board frittering away resources by caving in to special interests to reconsider my past support for school bonds.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by JFP
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:36 pm

I just emailed the members of the school board on this issue, and I would urge everyone to do the same. Let them know how you feel.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Well if you listened carefully, I think the board was convinced by the PAEE financial analysis that charter is more expensive operationally that a choice program - but they all went around the horn and said - this is about more than money..

This is about the huge ugly litigation brass knuckle machine that is the Charter Association that PACE promptly brought in. Did you know they had the president of the charter association come in to their meeting to school our board on how ugly they can get [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

That's why the REAL thing the board needs to be convinced about is whether the community has the stomach to fight back - with cold hard cash - the legal wrangling.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The board has plenty of ways to fight fire with fire. The problem is they don't have the backbone, and they don't think the community has the stomach for it.

If you have the stomach for it, write to the board and tell them to fight. As them to have PIE add a check box to next years donation forms that says" Legal Defense Fund: PAUSD v MI Charter.

And ask them to start actively partnering with Los Alto, Menlo Park, and other basic aid districts in California to get the charter laws changed.


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Posted by Optimist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Even if the Board reverses its earlier decision and establishes an MI choice program, who says there won't be multiple Charter applications in PA in the next few years?

Suppose over time 30% of the kids leave for alternate programs?

This could be a huge financial win for the kids who stay in PAUSD.

It could be a huge pedagogical win to have a bunch of competing programs centered around our kids.

This could make PA a national center of education innovation.

Taking MI politics off the table for a second, is there a hidden downside?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Some really poignant concerns have been expressed by EL advocates and those concerned with closing the achievement gap.

It seems to me that they probably have a case for suing PACE [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] under civil rights laws, or -I'm not advocating this, but its usually what happens- the board or PAUSD. Underachieving or underprivileged groups in the district could probably find pro bono legal services.

Whether they would win or not is probably immaterial. It would let Palo Alto school district get back to more important priorities, including closing the achievement gap.


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Posted by witness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 3:59 pm

THIS IS SETTING A VERY BAD PRECEDENT.

What will stop other special interest groups from demanding their own specialty programs now that PACE appears successfull [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

If this goes through like this, be prepared for more such demands.

This school district is unraveling before our very eyes...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm

I agree with all the fury. BUT

I think that Mandy and Dana honestly believe that it is the least risky to our District financially to reconsider MI as a choice rather than have it forced on us in a Charter.

They are getting this advice from everyone that they depend on..the Super, the Asst Super, other districts, the State, and their Attorney, ( although he supports MI, and from his comments seems to makes his living representing Charters in battles, which calls into question how well he is defending us. Whether or not their advice is not applicable to us, or any of us find that it is inaccurate, is almost irrelevant, if they are all united.

And so, it almost doesn't matter what any private individuals think. The bottom line is that the Board is responsible for the fiscal health of our District. They need to act as responsibly as they can now, and as much as can be supported in a court of law if they were ever sued for fiduciary irresponsibility. They are being uniformly told that they need to "choose" a choice program. Otherwise, they don't have a leg to stand on if/when some class action suit comes up accusing the Board of blowing the District's money on frivolously choosing a Charter.

They are not just gambling their own money, they are gambling the District's, ie ours. If it were just their own money, who knows, maybe they would be willing to take the chance and push it to the wall.

I would gladly put money into a fund to "indemnify" the District and fight it all. But, realistically, we can't guarantee the legal fees unless some sugar mama or daddy steps up with a check for a million specifically to pay for legal battles.

Even if someone could get the money, try finding an attorney who would fight a Charter!

They are caught. I am not defending all the actions from the past couple years that have brought us to this point, from forming a bad policy on Choice programs to accepting money for the feasibility study to the rush to do it all before getting community input etc etc. It was badly managed.

That was then, this is now. They believe they have to choose. They have been uniformly told by the "experts" that the least risk is to "choose" a choice program. They believe they can make a trustworthy arrangement with PACE to NOT go through with a Charter.

I am as much in a fury at this cudgel being used on us as I am hearing others are, BUT

Whatever got us here, this is where we are, and they have to make a decision the best they can.

But, if anyone finds out about an organization being formed to help defend against the abuse of Charter School laws, or to change the laws to be more in line with the intent, be sure and post it!

What do you think of this post?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 4:25 pm

As for the poster who asked about the upside being all the great new programs alternate programs, and said "take the politics of MI off the table"..

It isn't about MI per se, it is about what it represents..it is about turning into a District of all Alternative programs,( bye-bye integrated neighborhood schools), about kids getting the education they win by lottery, and, in an immersion case, some kids getting a curriculum that others can't touch..

You may think that is a good thing in the name of "choice", and that would certainly be a valid opinion, but this is about a lot of us, I believe a majority, not wanting this District to keep sliding down that slope.

I hope we can find out what PA wants somehow. If the majority want a District of Alternative programs, then I would support the democratic process, because mine would be the minority desire.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Well they had some woman from Los Altos district come in and say how miserable and descructive Bullis has been for Los Altos - because Bullis is so loaded with cash that they are tying up the district in knots on legal fees and battles around facilities.

And PAUSD brought in their legal hack to stand up and say that the charter has legal requirement to accept all these special needs kids, but the district has to take responsibility for educating them if they aren't getting served at the charter.

Well EXCUSE ME??? If the charter has legal responsibility to serve special needs kids, and kid after kid after kid is filing complaint with PAUSD Saying the charter can't meet their needs - then isn't the charter not fulfilling its legal responsibility - it sounds like they thereby deomonstrate themselves unable to succeed in their charter - demonstrably unlikely to succeed is ONE OF THE REASONS a charter can be denied or revoked.

And Mandy also laments all this massive risk that PAUSD will take for ensuring the kids get educated. Same deal - if MI charter parents are busting down PAUSD doors with complaints - then the CHARTER ISN"T WORKING and you can revoke them

So which is it Mandy - are they are they NOT going to be serving their own special needs kids? Are they going to be able to do the job they outline in their charter request - or aren't they? If they are, then its NO SKIN OFF PAUSD's back. IF THEY DONT, THEN SHUT THEM DOWN.

So what if PAUSD spends a year working it all out. They've already spent a year debating the choice program. I say lets get on with it and let Grace, a non-educator, start up her charter school.

And what's to say PAUSD has to go on the legal defensive? How about the legal offensive, by telling the charter they can go elsewhere to find space for their out-of-district students? PAUSD has to give up space for in-district kids only, not out of district. And we'd house the in-district kids ~anyway~. And if were at capacity, the charter law says we can rent them space out of the city. I say we rent them a juicy little spot on White Road in San Jose and say 'see ya in court'.

By the way, 100 PAUSD parents lined up to sign their kids on. Right.



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Posted by Witness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 6:39 pm

Only one comment:

What seems or even is most expedient for the school district in the short run may be a big curse in the long run...


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Why couldn't you find an attorney to fight a charter?

Though why would you have to, really? I don't think PACE has the funding for a big legal battle.


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

Regardless of the cost, a charter school is a better alternative to a choice program because it removes much of the school from the politics associated with PAUSD. I think BOE should just stick by its decision and let the charter process continue. In the long run, it will be better for PAUSD and this charter school and any future ones.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Seriously, why not let PACE try its charter--particularly if that counter-analysis is right?

I mean, the board could turn it down on demographic grounds, but wouldn't the burden of proof be on PACE? How are they going to provide diversity if the program requires 30 percent native speakers and the district is only 26 percent Asian (not Chinese, by the way, that number includes Indians, Japanese, etc.)

As I say, it would be a better use of PACE's energy than hassling the board.

If you subtract the legal fees, is a charter that expensive?


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm

I ask again: if the BOE is thinking (per Dana Tom's statement last night) that it would only vote for a choice program if PACE promised to drop a charter application, how can it guarantee the sincerity of any such promise from PACE?

What is PACE? What is its structure? Or its membership? How are its officers (if it has any) elected (if at all)? Is PACE is a legal entity? Is it one with which the BOE can have any kind of binding agreement?

The PACE website (Web Link) lists no officers or titles or constitution, indeed it only has one person's name on it anywhere that I can see -- Grace Mah's.

Would a single person's (Grace Mah's) word be enough? What if she makes the promise but the rest of PACE (whomever they are) disagree with her and press on with the charter application?

Unless we (or the BOE at the very least) know that PACE can be held to its promises, how can the BOE really ever make the determination that a vote for a choice program has headed off a charter?

Would someone from PACE care to clear these questions up?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 28, 2007 at 8:00 pm

The PA Weekly article quotes Mah as saying there are around 20 members.

You know, this isn't Bullis--funded by LAH multimillionaires. And I question the seriousness of those 100 PAUSD families as well if PACE is only 20 people.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Can't find attorneys so far because it is on the wrong side of the Charter school perception. Charters are perceived as being the underdog, being brought to bear because of an unresponsive district not educating kids appropriately. No education attorney wants to get the rep of siding with the big bad district against the underdog.

Charter proponents are often completely backed by a national Charter organization which supports their bids for Charters. They are backed by pretty much every education attorney. Finding an attorney would be no problem, and for such a sexy fight, finding one who wanted to build a reputation for less money would probably be easy, too.

And, the County would back it.

So, I think that the Charter is a reality if anyone wants to try for one.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:11 pm

Over the last 5 years or so PACE has shown that it has dedicated membership with a long staying power, so it probably can pull off a good charter petition. Charters are not intended only for "poor performers" as someone mentioned. They are intended to provide escape path for any minority that cannot find its place within a larger district; they are also intended to stimulate educational creativity. Between these two, I doubt any challenge can be successful, assuming PACE puts together a good petition. Based on SCOE record, if Palo Alto won't approve it, SCOE will. So much for this.

I find the PAEE cost analysis misleading, but that's probably not news to anyone following this discussion. It keeps counting normal and unavoidable PAUSD costs for enrollment growth as "extra" cost for the choice program, to "prove" its point that choice is expensive. Be it as it may, I think this is largely a moot point now, as I doubt that PACE will give up on the charter. There is too much blood in the water now, and if I were them I would worry how MI choice kids and parents will be treated by PAUSD parent community, even if the Board reverses itself. I also think Simon's (and Dana's) worry about PACE not submitting charter petition if choice is approved is groundless, as PACE has proved for many years to stick to its word. It is the PAUSD board that, in fact, did not stick to its (implied) word. That being said, however, there is no guarantee that someone else will not submit a charter petition for any imaginable charter in the future. The only way to minimize such chance is by PAUSD providing satisfactory service to the overwhelming majority of Palo Altans. Choice programs went a long way to ascertain overall satisfaction, and if the winds will change to provide only a single mainstream program--even if a very strong one--then the risk of charters will stay in the air. Read the Princeton, NJ, charter school story (Web Link ) for a refresher why choice is needed even in very affluent districts.

I do think that a charter in Palo Alto is going to damage our ability to tax ourselves for our schools. Basically the charter community will by default vote against any new parcel taxes, and the already tenuous majority for such taxes will be eroded. I don't see, however, how it can be stopped now. So much for the Pyrrhic victory of PAEE, when they pushed the board to take a "my way or the highway" approach to PACE request. PACE simply took the highway.


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Are the Mandarin Immersion folks in any way connected to the Confucious Institute, the Chinese government's ambitious program with a goal of having approximately 100 million people worldwide learning Chinese as a foreign language by 2010? Web Link


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2007 at 10:25 pm

Resident,
I think your assessment of the situation is off. This is like Ritchie Rich complaining about losing his job for discrimination. Whether he is right or not, he will have to use his own money to fight the legal battle.

Even in a national Charter organization, resources are finite, and they like to help deserving charters that help bolster their mission. PACE is just as likely to find resentment that they are rich and relatively rich people living in this stellar school district, yet are trying to force a program on the city on a certain timetable rather than cooperate to make the program work in due time, which is an option open to them that they have chosen to ignore. I know people who have started charter schools in other states, and they were all in seriously scary, underperforming districts. Those people would more likely be resentful and critical of the kind of thing PACE is doing.

Bullis is a very different situation, because LAH had it as their elementary school - many current parents attended when they were kids - and it closed amid controversy. This involved the whole community, and is not nearly the same as a small, vocal group asking for perks on a special timetable.

I have been told in the past that Bullis approached PAUSD first -- does anyone know the history of that and why Bullis didn't end up in Palo Alto? (Or maybe the board should have listened to both sides of the Bullis story.) I have heard second hand that there are still some disgruntled parents who were upset by how things went with PA. If Palo Alto could rebuff a well-funded charter like Bullis, why is the board acting so scared about PACE, which isn't even a well-defined organization?

Why doesn't PACE consider Mountain View to locate its charter, which has so many more advantages for everyone? Web Link It makes so much more sense in Mountain View, which also has a more diverse Chinese population. Unless that is why they don't want to do that - in PA, PACE keeps their student population isolated from any kids from working class families in Mtn View who would benefit the most from the opportunity.

I think we should just let PACE work for the charter, which appears to be the cheaper "choice" for Palo Alto anyway. In the meantime, we get on with things, including strategic planning. We could already have a plan for languages in place by the time PACE makes any significant progress on a charter, and frankly what we get will probably be better without that kind of distorted, self-interested input.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:13 pm

For balance, here's an article from the LA Times about how hard it is to start a charter school in California: Web Link (The article is complimentary of this organization Aspire, so it is reprinted on their web site.)

A quote from someone at Aspire:
"It's too hard to start a charter school, and nearly impossible to do it by yourself anymore,"

[Below a quote from someone who started a charter school, spent two years just getting the state-mandated paperwork in to the local school board (which approved it), and more years opening the school. It was such a difficult process, he abandoned it just before the school opened.]
"Charter schools were supposed to be different," he says. "But with all the regulations
and obstacles, you have to wonder: 'What's the point?' "

A charter school application will certainly keep PACE members busy. It would be years before it went to the County, if it got to that. One of the reasons PACE seems so inflexible is because they want it all NOW -- they are guaranteed not to get their timetable with a charter. I think it's unlikely that they will stick out the charter process. Their "persistence" in this discussion pales in comparison to what they will need to start a charter. They have also demonstrated enough selfishness and self-interest that I doubt the majority of the already small group will stick with the years of paperwork and costs while the public schools begin offering language programs.

But if they still want to work for a charter, while Palo Alto develops its strategic plan and I believe a comprehensive language program, we should let them. They'll be busy doing that, and at least the rest of us can get back to business in a more civil and productive way. How much is that worth?


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:33 pm

Wolf,
Charters are intended to stimulate creativity to successfully educate kids, i.e. where education is unsuccessful.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 28, 2007 at 11:54 pm

"Charters are intended to stimulate creativity to successfully educate kids, i.e. where education is unsuccessful."

That is your interpretation, but not necessarily the state's. Otherwise, how would you explain "technology charters", "art charters", etc.? Success is in the eye of the beholder. If I think that a district doesn't give enough technology education to the average kid, AND IF I THINK MY CHILD NEEDS MORE, I can start a technology charter. If I think that a district doesn't give enough arts to the average kid, AND IF I THINK MY CHILD NEEDS MORE, I can start an art charter. If I think the district does not give enough language (or the right language) to the average kid, AND IF I THINK MY CHILD NEEDS MORE ...

What really bothers me in much of the anti choice rhetoric is its capacity for self delusion. Choice offers satisfaction for minorities unhappy with the mainstream for essentially no cost to the mainstream. Yet the mainstreamers keep calling the choice people "selfish" while they deny the minority the right to feel differently. And to justify these accusations, they invent variety of "damages" and "costs" that choice is supposed to inflict on the majority. It's like if they feel that other people satisfaction must perforce detract from their own. Oh well. What's else is new.


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Posted by Tom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:38 am

PACE, go for charter! You have my full support.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:39 am

Wolf,

You can feel however you want. Doesn't mean the rest of us should have to pay for it.

But I'm for you guys trying a charter. I mean, I really want to see how you're going to get a school with balanced demographics. You know, that charter requirment about having to represent the ethnic make-up of your community.

By the way, I think the district can afford to lose the charter parents votes--it is, after all, a small group--several of whom won't be US citizens anyway. (Some of the strongest MI supporters I know want their kids to learn Mandarin because they don't plan to stay in the U.S. forever.)

On the other had, people who resent their good nature (voting in Measure A) and pocketbooks being exploited are a larger voting bloc. Now, you may think the majority is self-deluded and has no right to *their* feelings. But they do and it will effect how they vote. Them's the breaks.

SCOE hasn't approved every charter--look again. I'm not sure they'd want to encourage these kind of pressure tactics--well, I suppose if Grace Mah got in, they would. But otherwise--a school that looks to have no means of establishing ethnic diversity? I wouldn't count on an automatic yes.

But, don't let me discourage you--pursue the charter and the PAUSD can get back to strategic planning, dealing with overenrollment, hiring an ethical super and developing a language plan that benefits more than the chosen few.




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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:36 am

AJ calls them "rich people who have everything and want more." OP calls them non-citizens who "don't plan to stay in the U.S. forever" and worries about the ethnic makeup of the school.

You really want a reason to worry? Check the ethnic composition of Gunn bands and orchestras - you'll find over 50% of Asian origin. Check the US Math Olympiad finalists - probably over 75% of Asian origin. Check the Intel Science Talent Search finalists - easily 50% of Asian origin.

I say good for them! Work ethics deserves to be rewarded.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2007 at 6:47 am

Interesting. What kind of vicious thread is going to pop up now that Grace Mah has been appointed to the Santa Clara County Board of Education? What is ironic is that some of the "vile" e-mails the Board got was part of what convinced at least one Board member to take "with a grain of salt" all of the valid e-mails he got!

Keep up the good work, vile and nasty letter writers! You are shooting "your side" in the foot again!! With friends like that...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:02 am

Peter, re: your link to the Confucious Institute is enlightening.

"Confucius Institute (Simplified Chinese: 孔子学院; Traditional Chinese: 孔子學院; pinyin: kǒngzǐ xuéyuàn) is a non-profit public institute which aims at promoting Chinese language and culture and supporting local Chinese teaching internationally through affiliated Confucius Institutes. Its headquarters is in Beijing and is under the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language."

Now it is no surprise that Ms Townsend talked about how South Korea now has a "Mandarin Immersion" town, and teaches Mandarin. The first "foreign" institute was in South Korea in 2004.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:05 am

Here is the link to the local Confucious Institute at SFSU.

Web Link


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:20 am

Has Grace Mah been appointed? There is no announcement on the Santa Clara County Board of Education Site. There is an announcement that they interviewed candidates yesterday:
Web Link

If you have an opinion or information you feel the Santa Clara County Board needs to consider, please write to:
Web Link

I also understand that if you send a letter or email to the Santa Clara County Board, it will reach all the members.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:37 am

YES!! Ms. Mah is provisionally appointed!! Hurray!

One month from now, the final appointment vote will take place.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Go Charters!!


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Posted by KS
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:38 am

I find the PAEE cost analysis misleading, but that's probably not news to anyone following this discussion. It keeps counting normal and unavoidable PAUSD costs for enrollment growth as "extra" cost for the choice program, to "prove" its point that choice is expensive.

It would be useful to see how such a large difference could be turned over in another analysis. However, Wolf, given your previous attempts...


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 7:57 am

It's discouraging to see all the back and forth sniping on this thread. Clearly people have strong views, but taking digs at each other, or other groups, does not move the issue forward. Thanks to those who are trying to keep the thread on-point with questions, thoughts, and analysis.

I do tend to agrees that charters are hard and it is worth seeing how things proceed for those who want to start one.

As for legal bills - I suppose there will be legal bills if we fight the charter and get sued. Not sure how much we should fight, aside from making sure they comply with requirements.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:30 am


Fred,

I didn't see the whole meeting, but I got the impression that the board expects the charter application in June and that once the application is in there is no going back. They also stressed that if the application is competent, they would have to approve it.

So, if the board sits back and sees how things proceed, as you suggest, the board is in effect choosing charter over choice. That's one way to go.

I would like the board to look hard and without emotion at the information and pick the option they think is best for the district. They need to weigh the evidence provided by the district and the concerns of the district lawyer, and come to a conclusion. The PAEE "analysis" is clearly just a partisan document designed to push the board in their direction.

The negative emotion and personal attacks here are not helping this issue and will echo for years to come in our district, no matter what the board decides.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:41 am

Anon - I tend to agree with you. I do think the board has some discretion to turn down the charter app (not sure what the exact criteria are), but it then can go to the county board, who is more likely to approve it (assuming it is competent, just as you say).

What I am less certain about is the Board's obligations regarding what the charter school does. From other posts and news I gather there is concern that PAUSD has responsibility there but not control. Is this true? That would seem like a tough role indeed, unless, if they could show standards aren't maintained, they can revoke the charter. That part of the liability seems fuzzy. Can anyone enlighten on this?

But as others have said, running a charter is hard work, and it may be that it is best for all for PACE to give it a try. The idea that the Board would allow a credible charter threat to drive the agenda of the district seems like bad policy.


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Posted by ABC
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:43 am

"I would like the board to look hard and without emotion at the information and pick the option they think is best for the district. " (Anonymous)

This is what I saw the board doing. They had a decision in January on MI choice (Y/N) and they chose no. But now the decision is different, and it's twofold: Do they believe a competent charter application is likely to be submitted in upcoming months (Y/N), and the answer seems to be yes, which leads to the next decision: Which do they believe is better for the district: a choice program or a charter school? They seemed to be leaning to the former because of the impact on resources near and long term and issue of district responsibility/lack of control.

Is this a topic they want to be spending time on? Clearly not, but I believe they are acting responsibly as trustees.


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Posted by ABC
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:52 am

"It's discouraging to see all the back and forth sniping on this thread. Clearly people have strong views, but taking digs at each other, or other groups, does not move the issue forward. Thanks to those who are trying to keep the thread on-point with questions, thoughts, and analysis." (Fred)

I agree wholeheartedly, Fred!

This discussion loses its credibility because of the sniping and even hysteria. It casts shame on Palo Alto. We used to be highly regarded for our ability to express disagreement in measured language, without insulting those with whom we disagreed. I disagree with a lot of people about a lot of things, and they disagree with me. If we didn't have disagreement we'd be a boring and lackluster community. I hope we can get back to the old practice of showing far more respect of each other, even when we think their ideas are bad.


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Posted by any other options
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:54 am

What they could always do, is phase out SI next year and phase in MI at the same location. No net increase in choice programs, resources or impact on local schools.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:01 am

Wolf - the PAEE analysis put ZERO in the analysis for enrollment growth that will be created by the choice program.


So who's misleading now?

The report that was published by the staff in the 3/27 meeting actually threw out the concept that the CHARTER would create enrollment growth.

This of course is ridiculous because you don't need to be a resident to attend a charter. However, under a choice program you DO need to be a resident. So PAUSD can be sure they will get incremental enrollment growth for people specifically interested in free Mandarin language school - that would not have otherwise come to Palo Alto.

The cost of enrollment growth in the CHOICE scenario is called out as a risk, as are many other risk items listed, but not quantified, mainly because they are speculative.

By the way, this risk was admitted as REAL and actual, by the staff in the original feasibiliyt study package. They said they were getting "MANY CALLS" from families that wanted to know where to move, in order to get in to the originally concieved MI choice program.

For every person that comes to PAUSD for MI Choice, that would not have otherwise come, the district will incur incremental cost, and will reduce its per pupil funding available for all students.

In fact the charter fends off enrollment growth for PAUSD because people can keep their lower mortgage payments by living outside of PA, and still get in to the program.

Wolf - instead of arguing where you're wrong - why don't you take the approach of the rest of the board - in the 3/27 meeting they said, its not the financials, its the ??? Rancor? Disruption? Fear?

(The fact is, its fear of lawsuits. Lawsuits don't last forever, and lawsuits cost money on both sides. So I say, let them have the charter and take all their headaches with it. If they want to invent lawsuits - that's just money, time and energy they'll spend spinning, that they won't have for educating their kids.)

They said Bullis has cost Los Altos $300,000 in lawsuits. (not $300,000 per year.) Seems like a small price to pay to get the headaches of an MI choice program, and all the 'rancor' out of PAUSD.

And by the way - when Mandy asked the attorney if the charter could use the PAUSD name - the attorney said 'oh they will'. Nice legal answer! The question is, is it legal. I've NEVER seen a charter using a name like "San Diego Unified School District German School". That's ridiculous. The charter is a separate district (per the charter laws), and if they tried to use "PAUSD" then PAUSD should sue them. That attorney was a yes-man for Callan. It was pathetic.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:08 am

There is another big reason to let PACE proceed with the charter:

If Palo Alto approves a choice program, we are stuck with it forever.

If PACE gets a charter going -- a much more consuming endeavor for them than people on this board realize -- they have to run it themselves and renew it every 5 years or so. In exchange for the educational flexibility, they have a high level of accountability to the state. They have to demonstrate that they are in fact doing as good or better than the public schools they are competing with.

Charter schools have been studied extensively -- and in spite of teachers saying they are very satisfied in charters, there is nevertheless an unusually high rate of turnover, probably because of the workload. It will be a constant challenge to maintain continuity of instruction.

The district also does not have to provide a charter with a real school facility -- which is why so many are located in churches and office buildings. It's why Bullis, despite its money, is located in those old portables that were slated to be torn down at Egan. (There is a lot more going on in that controversy that just does not apply here, including the struggle over reopening the Bullis elementary site in LAH.)

The networks which help the rare charter get real school facilities in this state are generally for-profit, so in exchange they expect money back when the charter operates. This is unrealistic in Palo Alto, where maintaining the level of instruction in public schools requires such significant private funding. All the charter will get from the district is the money we get for each student from the state. They aren't going to be able to attract a for-profit network in the hope that they will have a large enrollment of students who can be educated for less than the per student state allotment.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:23 am

Question: If Grace Mah is appointed to the County board and PAUSD rejects her group's application for a charter in Palo Alto, would she be obliged to recuse herself from any decision on approval for that charter application at the county level? I'm not asking should she recuse herself, I'm wondering if anyone knows what the county board's conflict of interest rules actually require.


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Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:28 am

Anonymous, you said it might be a good thing if Grace has been appointed to the county board. "Hopefully she will learn how to consider the needs of others, including those less fortunate."

There's obviously more to Grace than MI, or she wouldn't have gotten the position. She must have persuaded the board that she can think broadly. A lot of what the county board looks at is not successful kids and schools, but ways to make the less successful more successful.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:51 am

I did a little research on charter schools on the CDE website and a couple of others. The Board will pretty much have to approve the application if the applicants follow the bouncing ball and write in a plan that has a reasonable chance of achieving diversity blah blah blah. So I don't even think the Board would reject the application if it met the minimal requirements of the 16 criteria. However, it can approve for any amount of time UP TO 5 years, and at renewal (for an unlimited number of 5 year periods) the district can revoke the charter if it is not in fact following what it said in its application. So I don't see a downside to having them go forward with a charter -- if they can be held to achieving diversity that way, great. That was a big concern for a lot of people. I also read in one of my web sites (pro-charter, I might add) that they recommended AGAINST putting ESL children in immersion unless those children were at least proficient in English or the immersion language. So I am interested in how realistic it is to put kids who do not speak English in such a program. On the other hand, that would be the charter's problem to solve, and maybe there are a whole lot of ESL kids who are proficient in English so this is a non-issue. Again, this would be for the Charter school to work out.

As far as the Board's consideration, I see Camille just gloating over getting the thing reconsidered because the only issue for her is that she wants the program and she wants it implemented now. As for the others, I see Barb continuing to support MI as she did in the beginning, in some form, and Dana and Mandy opposing it but feeling that they have to choose one and trying to slog through the completely unreliable data they have received from staff and legal counsel to make a decision that will least damage the district. And Gail opposes being forced to re-vote on choice as a result of extortion.

I can imagine how frustrating it is for those Board members to have to re-research everything to make sure it jibes with actual data and is not completely slanted. I can't imagine how much time it's taking each of them. But I do think most of them are trying to do right by the community and to make the least damaging choice. From looking up some of the issues that they raised to PAUSD counsel, I can see what the problem is. Plus Becky Cohn-Vargas sitting there and stating that she will be happy to be uninvolved with the program and thus choice will cost minimal staff time (after stating in a previous meting that she would spend X number of hours on it, monitoring and mentoring or whatever it was that she was supposed to do), Cook and Chon-Vargas stating that they are not aware of ANY language charter schools when a simple Google search reveals several in California, including a Spanish Immersion Charter in the area (Watsonville? I don't remember exactly any more). When you are getting input like that, and a financial analysis that is clearly slanted against a charter, you practically have to throw it all out and start on your own.

The trust issue comes very much into play here, I think. But that's a discussion for another thread. I erally, really, really hope they get a Super who can do a good job of restoring credibility in the office. But that, too, is a subject for another thread.


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:07 am

OP,

Are your views representative of the PAEE group at large? If so it's very worrying.

I thought that among Bay Area communities' strongest assets were open- mindedness and diversity.

FYI. It's the children of American born and raised parents (regardless of ethnicity) who do not speak Chinese at home, who would benefit most from MI.

Chinese speaking families want to send their children to "English speaking" schools. Their children's Chinese language needs are already well served by the MANY after school and weekend programs in Palo Alto.




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Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:07 am

For obvious reasons, it seems as if the board is leaning toward a 4-1 vote in favor of the choice option, but only if board members can satisfy themselves that PACE will not go forward with the charter.

Also, if the district voted to start a choice program, it would drive a spike into the heart of the charter. Given their pick, parents are going to sign their kids up for the PAUSD choice school over the charter school. I think PACE knows this and would take the charter off the table if choice were approved.


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Posted by Natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:14 am

Hi Nick --

I agree that we can't make generalizations about the fiancial status or ethnic composition of this theoretical program. But I am curious about your statement that Chinese speaking families want to send their children to English speaking schools because "their children's Chinese language needs are already well served by the MANY after school and weekend programs in Palo Alto." In the various Board meetings and threads, many Chinese-speaking families asserted precisely that they WANTED MI because those many programs didn't cut it for their needs, and the MI proposal was (it changes on these threads and I don't remember any more) 50-50 native speakers or a minimum of 33% native speakers. I don't see how that computes with your statement.


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Posted by Parent of a prek
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:29 am

No, OPs opinions are not that of PAEE group at large.

In fact, there is no single person who speaks for the PAEE group or the broader group of citenzens, voters and tax payers that oppose MI. There are many varied legitimate reasons for opposition. Just because its not one person's main issue doesn't mean its not an issue for someone. PAEE is a name that four people decided to start using to represent themselves, but then gained support from a large, but loosely tied collection of people that are opposed for any reason. Basically PAEE is a distribution list. No one speaks for anyone else on that distribution list.

This is why you don't see (for example) a single statement on the no on MI petition or on other opposition statements. You see a list of reasons that people can choose from, or they have space to add their own. You see volumes of arguments listed on the PAEE website. People can oppose for their own reasons, nothing determined or sanctioned by PAEE.

I personally, do not condone the idea that this is a racial issue. Although I AM opposed to programs that damage ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in our school system. I favor preservation of the diversity in all out schools, which is one of the main reasons why I favor neighborhood schools over choice programs.

Any program (MI or other) that creates barriers to entry based on language proficiency are unjust. Every child should have equal opporunity to join (whether they exercise that option or other options, is a personal choice).

If the regular PAUSD schools were to disallow admission to certain classroom programs because the children couldn't speak English the school district would find itself in court in a heartbeat. English proficiency is illegal as a barrier to entry to public school.

Children don't have to speak english to come - in fact they are given special EL services to make sure their language barriers are resolved.

Is this what MI is proposing? They take anyone and break down their language barriers - teach everyone at any age Mandarin and English? They'll take them as Kinder, but what about in 3rd grade or 4th grade?? They give them a language test and will exclude kids if they don't come with Mandarin proficiency.

I don't understand why people can't see how that's discriminatory, and a double standard.

I would favor MI if they took everyone at all grades, regardless of language. Yes, its a tough job - but no tougher than what the rest of PAUSD is asked to do.

Its this disingenuous double standard that really rankles ones sense of justice.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:33 am

Wow, yeah, OP.

No need to introduce xenophobia to this discussion. Let's keep it civil!


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Posted by JD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:33 am

Will PACE go forward with the charter? I think so. For them, the issue has been MI all along. They could have thumbed their nose at the district any time during the last 5 years and gone straight for a charter. Instead, they went along with the put-offs (wait for alternative policy to be revised--delay of many months) and with the moratorium on choice programs during budget crisis (2 years), and they overcame the obstacle of district resources by paying for district time to do the feasibility study (another 8 or 9 months), so it seems to me that PACE should not be reviled for their willingness to acknowledge and work within district wishes and constraints of the district. Instead they should be applauded for tryinig to do things the Palo Alto Way.


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Posted by Nick
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:45 am

Natasha,

Again, it's hard to generalize. I believe the situation would differ among Chinese speaking families. Some families would feel that they need the Chinese language to be reinforced in school. Others, for example those who have grandparents living with them, may feel that their children are already getting enough Chinese exposure at home.

The key point is: we are in an open society. We really should not be targeting any specific income or ethnic group, and I see a worrying thread in the discussions.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:01 am

parent of a prek

somehow I fail to see how you support diversity by opposing Choice Programs


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Posted by ming
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:27 am

Hi Nick,

I am a Chinese-speaking first generation immigrant with a school age girl. I personally agree with your comment: "Chinese speaking families want to send their children to "English speaking" schools. Their children's Chinese language needs are already well served by the MANY after school and weekend programs in Palo Alto".

Our family values diversity and that's the very reason we were willing to pay at least 20% more in price for a same condition house in Palo Alto rather than in Cupertino, where there is a well-establish MI program. We send our daughter to Chinese after-school. Together with daily usage of Chinese at home, we feel that is enough Chinese education for her, at least at this moment.

Ming


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Posted by Ming
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:33 am

Nick, I highly agree with you that "we really should not be targeting any specific income or ethnic group". I would be seriously concerned about how my daughter would be treated by the neighborhood if she goes to the MI program.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:34 am

Annonymous, if PAEEs spreadsheet is a partisan document, please point us to another financial analysis showing costs, net of costs savings and reimbursements, provided by any non-partisan party.

Your objection doesn't even make sense. I thought PACE wants a charter, and that spreadsheet just showed how its more favorable for the district to give them a charter? Isn't that what they want?? I think maybe your true colors are showing - you really want the district to give you a choice program, only using the charter as a stick or a bluff, and are not happy that the financials favor a charter.

Or maybe PACE looks at it from the other side of the fence (which they should) - the cost to PACE and the MI proponents of Choice versus Charter... Which of course, charter becomes a horrendous nightmare from the PACE point of view.

But if its partisan, please tell us where we can find a financial analysis from a non-partisan party?

I would even accept a financial analysis from the staff.

Where can we find it?

It seems like the PAEE spreadsheet is an earnest attempt at taking the data points provided in the staff report on 3/27, converts hours to dollars, uses reasonable defensible rates, and lines it up in columns and rows (you know - a spreadsheet?) for the purpose of comparing the net cost of Choice and the net cost of a Charter, side by side (apples to apples) and concludes in a Sum Total, instead of just using words words words.

Maybe no one clued the staff in on the idea that a spreadsheet can be used to add a column of numbers, and a table of numbers is generally part of a financial analysis.

But if you feel something in that spreadsheet is partisan or not reflective of what was said in the staff report, please tell us specifically what that is. It would be a worthwhile discussion, and perhaps would create some useful learning, thinking, on this issue. I'm sure PAEE would be willing to correct errors.

Clearly, there are a million possible scenarios, particularly when you have to do guesswork about how many students over how many years, and how many in-district and out of district students. So the spreadsheet is just two scenarios. Do you have others you think should be looked at?

Maybe PACE can help improve this analysis by telling us how many kids they have interested in the charter now, for a 2008 start, by grade, in district and out of district. And how many more they expect to attract, by grade, in and out of district? Because most of the costs in that analysis are driven off the enrollment.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:38 am

I support basing one's perspective on facts. To that end, I have been doing some research online, and come up with some interesting items that address some of the issues that were raised at the Board meeting:

Using PAUSD name:
When you Google a charter school, or when it is listed online, it comes up as "schools in ______ district" so it will state that it is in PAUSD district. People will know it is in PAUSD. They will also know it is a charter. I have no reason to think, based on what I've seen so far, that if PACE went forward with a charter it would be less than very successful in meeting its mission. Those people are way too committed to fight this hard and then let it fail. And there are plenty of successful immersion charter schools that show it can be done, and well.

Requirement to Provide Facilities:
Yes, if the charter is approved and has 80 or more in-district residents attending, the school will have to provide facilities. Charters get first choice before rental, and get it at a reduced rate (I understand from my limited research), so this can be a burden to the city. (But that is not what I understood to be the case at the board meeting -- I thought I heard there that the cistrict can charge market rate. Anyone have a clear answer on this?) Very recent article on San Diego charter school struggle for facilities under Prop 39 law (pro-charter, trying to be balanced here):
Web Link

Language from case of Ridgecrest Charter School v. Suerra Sands Unified School District, Cal Court of Appeals July 2005:

"School district provided facilities are to be reasonably equivalent to those of other public schools in the district and are to be contiguous (ie "on one school site or adjacent to a school site" or, "if its in-district students cannot be accomodated on one site, contiguous can mean facilities at more than one site." Note that under Education Code 47614(b)(4) facilities requests based upon projections of fewer than 80 units Average daily attendance may be denied." (note that this case is only binding on courts in the Central Valley, but other courts would likely use it as a basis for their own opinions, I would think)

Guidelines for Charter school applications – re: special ed. --
www.guhsd.net/charter/CharterGuidelines2.pdf

Proof of residency:
Many charter schools require their students to demonstrate proof of residency in substantially the way PAUSD and other districts do. this makes sense because apparently the district can question ("flag") alleged residents on the list provided by the charter school. So why would they not want to be sure of that? I thought I heard at the Board meeting that the district has no way of verifying proof of residency, but I am not sure that is quite accurate, given what I read. Or maybe districts have this review power in other states and not California?

Anyone want to read and discuss, amplify, etc? Seems to me this is a perfect time for people to give substantive input, and I am honestly trying to figure out which would be better for the city *in my opinion*, based on facts instead of rumor and conjecture.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:42 am

JD, on the other hand, they've had many issues and obstacles with the district over this prolong time as you've described, yet they haven't gone for the charter. So maybe they really want the Choice program, and they're pretty close now - the board has pretty much caved.

Don't expect Grace or anyone in PACE to jump up and say OH YES, WE'LL DROP THE CHARTER PETITION - not now or not ever. Because that's their entire leverage point, and now that the board has shown them how well it works, you can be sure they'll keep that threat alive. We can be three years into a the choice program and they'll still be threatening charter. And lets see how many demands are made along the way.. And whether the board just rolls over for ever and ever and ever.

I predict we'll soon be talking about the Garland Mandarin Immersion School as matter of fact.

Undoubtedly now we have a choice program - and we'll see very favorable treatment for that choice program - until we elect a new board with a backbone, or until we get legislative changes in the charter laws that would protect well performing, basic aid districts from raiders.


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Posted by Lets Compromise with 'No Compromise'
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:57 am

A Mandarin Charter School is going to benefit non-chinese folks more than the chinese folks.

Charter School is far better option than the Choice Program - Even if it costs more !!

I am so glad the SC County sees it that way. I strongly believe that Grace Mah's appointment was successful because of the in-correct logic used in opposing MI.

I am willing to line up for this Charter School. Please make me a proud parent of children who can be comfortable in English, Hindi and Mandarin.

-A Hindi Speaker


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Posted by end choice
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:13 pm

With all this discussion, it sounds like it is time to abandon all choice programs and go back to neighborhood schools. The French Immersion folks watching from the sidelines are just as able to apply for an FI charter school as PACE is for an MI charter school.

If PAUSD is now required to offer a choice program to any special interest group that threatens opening a charter school then we've lost the neighborhood schools! The least risk to neighborhood schools is to abandon choice and let charter schools take on this "choice" responsibility.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I'd like to see Russian language classes offered. If the school board doesn't agree with me, should I push for a charter school that teaches Russian? Should I take money from the current schools in order to achieve my goal? How far can you take this before everyone suffers, especially the kids who are trying to receive a basic education in math, science, history, etc. The current core classes are crowded, the quality of teaching uneven and the resources generally stretched thin. Learning Mandarin is an elective choice for the kids. Why and how can the lack of this elective course be the basis for a charter school? Maybe be need a new set of attorneys to review the matter before any further decisions are made.
If MI is forced into the schools, I can foresee many other languages asking for the same treatment. If most of the members of our school board don't have the strength and foresight to refuse MI, why shouldn't we offer immersion classes for many other languages? I would caution the MI proponents that they may not like the rippling effect this will have in the district and its negative effect on the quality of the core classes that their kids must also attend daily.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Natasha - IN DISTRICT students vs OUT OF DISTRICT students is the key thing on the facilities question.

The district is only required to provide space for in-district students. The the rules about being reasonably equivalent, and continguous etc. are for the IN DISTRICTS resident students.

The district is not required to provide facilities for out of district students. Period.

Basically, any charter that wants to come to PAUSD, can be blown out of the water financially on market rents for out of district kids.

If they go for a charter - I say let them. They better be prepared to kick their fund raising machine into overdrive.

If it does, it can charge market rate rents.

The fixed rate charges for facilities you see discussed apply when the the facilities they provide for the in-district students when the district uses their unrestricted general funds from the state on those facilities.


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Posted by Parent of a prek
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Mr. Hindi speaker: Unless your child already speaks Mandarin, he will not be able to get in after kindergarten.

If you have a 2nd grader and a Kindergarter, is it fair that you can offer a richly beneficial program to your five year old, and the other child is out of luck? If indeed the value of the third language is that great, is it reasonable to be required to withhold that from your older child? He gets nothing. Just out of curiosity, wuld you give it to just the one? Or would you hold them both out?

To Annonymous: The non-diversity of PAUSD's current choice program makeup is a well documented public fact. You can look it up, or view the details on the other thread. The fact is in theory, choice programs are purposed to serve diverse needs that can not be served by the main program. In REALITY, the choice programs become defacto segregated schools. Ours are moving there now.

So no matter the reason or intent, when you start segregating schools, or willfully placing your kids in segregated schools, you are an enemy of diversity. That is one reason why I am opposed to choice schools.

Mandy said she opposes the charter on issues of creating 'rancor' due to disparity in enrichment, and funding. I think choice programs create rancor as much as charters, because they embed disparities (of funding, of educational quality, of results) in our system. There should be a standard system, with nrichment/enhancement opportunities offered equitably across the board. Choice programs don't belong in public schools. They are not equitable, and determining a kids fate in his education based on a lottery is sickening.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Kate -- I think the idea is that the MI parents are not concerned about the negative effect on the quality of core classes because (at least I think this is the argument) their kids will receive the identical curriculum only in Mandarin, so no loss of curriculum there. As to the effects on other schools' ability to provide core curricula, well I guess since they think it's ok to jump the line on district-established priorities (which include improving core curriculum items) I don't know that there's much concern about that.

Parent -- Thanks for the explanation. How does the district's ability to charge market rate for out-of-district kids dovetail with PAUSD's ability to get reimbursed only 70% of those kids' district funds? Or are those two separate things?

Also, I am not convinced by the PAUSD attorney's suggestion that PAUSD would basically be liable for absolutely everything the Charter school did that it got sued for. Seems to me that they could get indemification from the Charter for such things as not supporting Special Ed or non-Mandarin ESL students, etc.

Also, how does a lottery fit with the need to maintain a minimum percentage of native speakers? Would you have 2 separate lotteries for entrance in the early grades, one for native speakers and one for other? I'm curious about those logistics.

It would be so great to see a thoughful analysis of these issues so we could get a real sense of what we are comparing to the choice model in terms of cost, liability, etc. It seems to me that the Board is hungry for some trustworthy, unbiased guidance -- like, "here is what the law is -- there are cases going this way, and cases going that way, but more have said X than Y or there is a complete split and the issue is currently on appeal" or whatever. But the from-the-hip comments like "Oh, they WILL use PAUSD's name" and the statement that it's going to cost jillions in legal fees -- I mean, isn't there a chance that the choice program would ALSO be challenged on equal protection grounds? -- just don't advance the whole analysis, IMHO.


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Posted by JD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Will PACE drop its MI charter pursuit if PAUSD says it will do MI choice? If I were in their shoes, I would want to see some kind of tangible commitment from the district such as hiring a suitable teacher. Actions speak louder than words.

Not to worry about Grace Mah on the county board. She would have to abstain from a vote on a PAUSD charter.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Grace does not need to vote on the charter. Grace applied to the board to establish connections. As you all know, she can be very persuasive.

Anyone who has concerns about the appointment; it is a provisional appointment, if you haven't written with your concerns, send them to the Santa Clara County Board of Education members now.


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Posted by compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Why should PACE drop the pursuit of Charter? Can you list some reasons?

If you say not to worry about Grace Mah on the County Board, you may want to worry about her appointment. Do you believe they made this appointment because they can see the logic of MI?

Folks bringing in logic like French Immersion etc. fail to see the economic trends.

Math and Science is a given. You have to do well. If you feel that kids are not doing well in a school system like Palo Alto where the per pupil funding is twice that of other places, then the problem is really elsewhere. But that should be no reason to stop a good thing coming our way.
Some folks in a failing argument are bound to bring in the logic that "oh well ... what about math and science".



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Posted by SI parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:18 pm

"Mr. Hindi speaker: Unless your child already speaks Mandarin, he will not be able to get in after kindergarten."

Spanish Immersion took in non-Spanish speakers at 2nd-3rd grade a long time ago when the program was increased to 1.5 strands--retroactively and in the middle of a school year. The district demanded that empty seats be filled, but they refused to provide any Spanish Language Development support (like ELD, only in Spanish). There were a lot of tears. I thought it was a shameful way for the district to treat kids.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:23 pm

SI Parent,
Your example above tells me a Charter is better. The School District is un-reliable.
The MI-Charter folks should bring this up in pushing the cause of Charter vs. Choice.
Thanks for helping MI-Charter's case.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:29 pm

About that "filling in" period for SI, when the district did not provide for Spanish Language Development... Interesting information.

I wouldn't call it "shameful" though. If one gets into choice programs, one has also to realize that there is some commitment associated with that. The district presumably was in a budget crunch--isn't it almost always?--and the task fell on the SI community and the local school to fill in. May have not been perfect, but few things are. Just an observation.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm

SI parent -- sounds pretty crummy, all right. But in this case, the minimum was going to be 1.5 strands, with a language proficiency requirement after 1st grade. That's what the MI people said anyway.

Question: can they preserve the minimum/maximum native speaker percentage if kids drop out and they require new kids to be proficient? And how can the district ensure that this effect does not occur, if you know?

Thanks


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Parent of Prek

It seems what you are advocating is the "great equalizing" for the district as a whole, not free choice and diversity - which is what this community should be about.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Compromise - take another look at the MI proposal - they will not serve the kids any better - they will refuse to serve kids who don't speak Mandarin at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade level.

That helps the Charter case? How's that? I guess if you call discriminatory practices 'helping' then I can see how you could say that.


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Posted by Par
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:48 pm

About that "filling in" period for SI. That was a one-off situation - that's not practice today.

Today they test for Spanish Language proficiency as well. Also discriminatory, and should also be stopped.

How do we get that corrected? ACLU?


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Posted by Par
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Natasha - that's exactly the effect that will occur, and they can not guard against it - nor will you see any reporting from Cupertino, or our own SI, on the demographic impacts of dropping kids out, and refilling the program with native language speakers.

Great question, one that we've been asking all along.

Will the Board have the maracas to institute some reporting requirements for its SI and MI programs that give us visibility to this effect?

So far, they don't..


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Posted by compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Is the MI "choice" proposal the same as MI "Charter" proposal for enrollement. Where can I look at the MI "Charter" charter for enrolling kids.
I presume you have not seen it as yet. So your argument can easily be put in the catyegory of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)


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Posted by compromise
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Compromise, If the MI group can get an iron-clad commitment from the district to provide a choice program, why would they *not* agree to drop the charter thing? Would they need a choice MI AND an MI charter school? I cannot imagine PACE asserting that. Conversely, if the district cannot get an iron-clad agreement from PACE not to do a charter application, why would it give in on choice? Then it risks exactly what you are (I think)suggesting, i.e. that MI would take its choice program and then keep right on with getting a charter school.

All of this is of course speculation. Though perhaps PACE has told the Superintendent and her staff of its contingency plans, when she met with them (and as far as I know, not opponents of MI) while preparing her choice v. charter report. Trust. If only people didn't have myriad reasons to suspect her motives, this would have been a whole lot cleaner.


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Posted by Parent of a prek
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Anonymous - the great 'equalizing' is exactly what I'm advocating. All students should be provided equal opportunity. Does that mean teach them all the same math, at the same rate. No - it means make sure that each kid is making 1 year's progress, and that NO kid is falling into the achievement gap.

AND its an advocation for diversity. Your definition of diversity is make everyone as different and as special as they want to be, coral them into separate containers (ie: by site), and let them wallow in their own differentness.

My definition of diversity is to keep all the diversity mixed together on all sites, and spend your diversity efforts on teaching, learning, playing, working together. Take the opportunity to have completely diverse campuses that are a microcosm of the globe, and teach kids about each others differences.

Anonymous - go look at a neighborhood school campus at lunch time for a lesson in the true meaning diversity. You won't get that same lesson on the campus of Hoover.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:01 pm

Compromise -- At the Board meeting, the Superintendent gave her report on charter v. choice. In preparing it, she met with members of PACE. When she discussed the pros and cons, she gave no indication whatsoever that the premise for enrollment (50-50, minimum 30-70) would be different in charter as opposed to choice. She spoke about financial effects, etc., and gave the 400+ number for total enrollment goal for a charter. A choice program would not be that big at 1.5 strands per grade. So it's not entirely speculation to say that the progrms would look basically the same in terms of proposed curriculum and learning style and demographic and linguistic ability breakdowns. These assumptions are based on what the general community has been told. By the Superintendent. Do you have different information? If so, please share so that the community can get a real sense of what the choice between choice and charter entails.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:22 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

A charter is better for Palo Alto in the long run. It won't be as set in stone as a choice program. PACe will be responsible for making it work, not PAUSD, and if it does work so well that it gives PAUSD a run for its money, then we will have an unexpected asset.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Wolf,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Native Mandarin speakers mostly come from China. Not everyone who emigrates here becomes a citizen. Ergo, they don't vote. In general, the more committed the family is to staying in the U.S. permanently, the more open they are to assimilation.

The end result of which is that they have native English speakers for kids. And their kids have native English speakers for kids. *No matter how you need to classify them.*

It is *hard* to keep kids from absorbing the local language--you have to actively isolate them. The kids of immigrants I know talk about how they would refuse to speak their parents' language. You think *their* kids are going to be native speakers of anything but English?

The only native speakers of Mandarin under the age of five are going to have parents who speak Mandarin (sorry, Nico, I don't buy your argument.), At least one of their parents weren't born in the U.S. Some have become citizens, some have not.

It's simple statistics, really. How big is the MI voting bloc? Not large.

But you need to interpret that as more than a statement of fact. And then you, for some reason, need to reinforce the cliche that Asian kids are good at math and science. That tells me way more about your need for racial identity than mine.

Fact is, I'll bet I'm a lot more comfortable with our kids marrying than you are. Assimilation happens. I'm proud of the fact that my ancestors hopped racial and ethnic divides to make love instead of war.

Nick,

I have no affiliation with PAEE. I speak for no one but myself. I use OhlonePar because I think my agenda should be clear, but I don't speak for the Ohlone community either.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Natasha,
I do not have the information I asked, hence I asked. Since you are asking me the same, I assume you are not sure about it either.
The mix of native/non-native is essentially striking a balance so immersion can work in the first place. It is unfair to hold immersion programs to an enrollment mix that is not going to make it a success.
Hence, this item should be negotitated in the charter's charter. I also feel PAUSD based on the stand it has taken in no longer going to be able to negotiate this. Remember a charter if rejected by the district heads straight to the County. So, I appears to to me that the county will be a more appropriate negotiator on this issue.

[ As regards ACLU brought up by another poster: If you are hiring a spanish languare teacher and reject a candidate based on lack of spanish skills ACLU will be of no help, same logic applies ]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:34 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by SSS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 2:40 pm

This conflict stems from a failure by the board.

They failed to make a clear decision last year when they asked for a feasibility study as a stalling tactic. Then they turned choice down, knowing that a charter would be proposed. Now Mandy and Dana are shocked--shocked--that they are facing a dilemma!

Nonsense. Everyone knew this was coming. We are in this situation because the board waffled. They should have just given the district choice MI last year. It would have wasted less time, money, energy and emotion.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 3:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 3:20 pm

SSS,

The board waffled because they got hit with the overenrollment issue--though why that wasn't obvious . . . suddenly MI, which had looked like a cute perk became an inconvenience.

They also underestimated how unpopular the program was. The west PA neighborhood schools rebelled. At which point, we got the Ohlone mash-up, which nobody really wants.

And now we have a situation where no one's all that happy.

I think you can also put a lot of the blame on Mary Callahan.

I think the board should have delayed the discussion until a new super came in.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:29 pm

>> Persuasion's when people *want* to do what you want them to.

I'll correct that... persuasion is when you make people do EVEN when they do not want to do what you want them to do.



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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Compromise - a guess based on logic that once PACE/Grace receive the MI Choice program that they will not pursue the Charter.

Although they will continue to puff their chests and act like they will, because that's their leverage point from here on out.

The logic of why PACE/Grace will not pursue both:
a. The effort/leadership/fundraising/PR efforts of each for the MI proponents will be tremendous. Attempting to do both would water down their effectiveness at both, and put them both at risk of not succeeding.

b. They would compete with eachother for customers. They are having a hard time scraping together 20-40 PAUSD kids for first year MI. One would compete with the other for customers, and both would suffer. They both are dependent on maintaining enrollments.

c. Grace Mah is now officially SCCBOE - a major diversion for the leadership of PACE. Grace being the main driving force behind the MI effort will in all likelihood either have to choose, or will herself become a bottleneck. Also in the meantime, she just might get a taste of reality from her 2 year term on the SCCBOE on the realities of running schools, and we might begin to see changes in her personal agenda.

d. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Back to facilities for a charter here -- it seems complex in terms of requirements if there are students from Palo Alto as well as from out of area. If MI proponents get a charter going, then can't we put them in portables like Los Altos has done with Bullis Charter School? Don't THEY have any out-of-district students? Seriously, why would they be entitled to "Garland Mandarin Immersion School?" Just this one matter looks to be busying district staff on behalf of a small special interest group - with the age levels/enrollment scenario obviously unstable for many years.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 5:10 pm

SUBJECT - PAEE AND WHAT IT IS.

Many posts ago someone asked if a poster spoke for "all of PAEE"

Thanks PreK for your explanation of who/what PAEE is, which is very close to fully true.

If by "the four" who formed PAEE you are including me, I have to clarify that I can take no credit for the formation or naming of PAEE. I do not own the website, and I do not sign my name as being part of PAEE. I don't like being labeled at all, because I don't speak for any group, and no group speaks for me. I don't control what anyone says, and nobody controls what I say. I rarely agree with all, or even most, of any one group's agenda, reasons or methods.

I came to this interest back when it was just a petition to request a delay in taking the money for the MI Feasibility Study until a Task Force could develop a good plan for the whole district ( the first petition). Hundreds of us thought if we did that, we could prevent a lot of problems.

As I learned more over the summer, in August I decided to join Jamie, Lisa and Faith in their efforts so that I could help educate, communicate and organize around the issue.

The result was that there are over 100 people on my e-mail list who share an interest in this issue, but I doubt we agree on much more than the need to stop any more immersion programs coming until...then pick a reason..a lot of us disagree on the part after that.

And, I think it is fair to say that there is a shared frustration with the process that brought us here and wanting to bring our District process in line with a more acceptable form.

PAEE has no dues, no structure,(except that people have to go through Lisa to put info on the PAEE site), no officers, no finances beyond what any individual decides to spend.

No one of us speaks for the other any more than any one PACE supporter speaks for another ( I assume), except possibly in a shared desire to bring MI to PAUSD as soon as possible.

Because I have been fortunate enough to be cc'd so many letters, go to meetings, etc I have seen many reasons given for and against MI.

I think that each "side" has basically divergent philosophical foundations concerning various public education points and process, and that there has been a lot of acrimony because it is almost impossible for each to find a common ground with the other.

I don't know about any of you, but I feel really beat up, and will be glad when we get past this.

I am starting to feel optimistic that we can start to get past the emotion, especially because the tone of this thread has many posts that are quite interesting and productive.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 5:29 pm

And just to further clarify:

I'm not on PAEE's mailing list.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by very thinky
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 29, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Well...what about combining MI and SI and making an international choice school at Garland. That way at least we aren't creating segregated communities... The segregation aspect of MI bothers me the most. I fail to see how we are going to have a racially diverse school if kids who leave the program have to be replaced with native Mandarin speakers due to the language proficiency requirement. Are we aiming for separate but equal education here?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 8:42 pm

Very thinky,

The reason the charter school guideline on diversity exists is because there was concern that it would be used to make all-white academies. Here we have a situation where we seem to be getting Asian academies. The response so far, seems to be, who cares? It's by choice.

I don't think it's that simple. I'm a veteran of integrated schools and while there are things I didn't like about living in a cultural petrie dish, I think it's given me a certain ease of connection that I wouldn't have had if I thought people who didn't look like me were "the other".

This is a very, very diverse area. I don't think we do our kids favors by isolating our kids and pretending that diversity's not there. Everybody ends up dealing with people of different backgrounds (wayyyy different, sometimes I feel like I'm at the U.N.), learning how to do that early is a big advantage.

Unfortunately, I think the integration battles of the 70s have meant diversity has gotten short shrift as a value.


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Posted by JD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:21 pm

OhlonePar asks: "What would it take to put an advisory vote on the ballot--to see what sort of support MI actually has in the district?"

Voter support one way or another is irrelevant. Choice programs/charter schools aren't about what the majority wants. They're about what a minority wants. That's why they're called by terms like "alternative" and "choice." District policy/state law provide for alernative programming, but no one is forced to accept choice/charter for their child.


Prek parent says: "Choice programs don't belong in public schools. They are not equitable, and determining a kids fate in his education based on a lottery is sickening.

Are you aware that choice programs exist in public schools across America? They're quite popular. I don 't much like lotteries myself, and I'd rather see popular programs expanded or duplicated so more kids could benefit. If you want to talk about real inequity, then focus on rich schools/poor schools!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm

JD,

My point about an advisory vote was to get a sense of the reaction that's actually out there.

It's relevant because parcel taxes are relevant and we seem to be in the process of making sure the next one doesn't pass.


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Posted by Tired of the yammering
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:16 pm



If the next parcel tax doesn't pass, it will be because of the ugliness encouraged on Town Square Forum where people treat each other shabbily and shrilly proclaim their conflicting (mis)understandings. Palo Alto has lost its class.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2007 at 10:17 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2007 at 11:46 pm

An important thing that favors having PACE pursue the charter school option rather than the choice program is time. One of the biggest points of opposition has been the need to pursue language in strategic planning, which will happen later this year.

A charter school will take longer to pursue. By the time all the work is done, Palo Alto should be done with strategic planning and have its own language plan in place. At the very least, PACE pursuing the charter will provide incentive to everyone to keep working through strategic planning and deciding on a language plan.

This could reduce or eliminate the interested population in a charter school. Or, it could do just the opposite if the charter proves to be a really good organization, in which case the "competition" resulting because of the charter will probably result in a better charter and/or better plans in the district.

If the application winds its way through the system while Palo Alto works through strategic planning, the knowledge on the charter school end may then give the best incentive for the charter people to really build something unique and special, a better asset for local education than the choice program. Under the circumstances, the enrollment would probably not have to be as limited as the choice program. And we would have an idea by then of how the charter would fit in the strategic/languages plan of the district -- It's very possible that by then, an MI charter would fit well.

Since Grace Mah is now officially a public figure, it will probably be easier to ask for reasonable compromise to allow the district to do things in the most reasonable and economically sound way for the district, while still allowing PACE to pursue its goal of immersion instruction. If PAEE's analysis by an accountant (the only spreadsheet analysis anyone has done, and frankly I think they expected to see the opposite result ) is correct, then a charter is also the cheaper choice for the district.

This could end up a surprising win-win for everyone. I say this with no baggage, and with a positive voice of hope: PAUSD Board, let's put the past rancor aside and let PACE pursue the charter. Once we are through with strategic planning, much of the opposition may change because we have decided where language instruction, including immersion, fit in district priorities. If people are still opposed then and it seems like a bad idea for Palo Alto, at least the correct path will be clearer.


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Posted by jaded
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:06 am

How interesting it is to have a County Board Member who is simultaneously taking active role in the demise of one of the school district's she is responsible for representing as a board member.

That must create some very deep conscience searching. Maybe even some real conflict of interest problems.

I wonder if instead of recusing herself from a county charter petition decision (should one come down the road) she should actually recuse herself from the MI Choice/Charter efforts all together, because it seems those efforts entirely conflict with her role and responsibility as a County Board member who should be protecting and improving [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] education for all.

Its just an interesting twist of fate that she now is in a position at the board table and should be considering what's in the best interest of the district and all 11,000 PAUSD kids. Not just the 5%, and not just the special interest issue, which she was representing under MI.

I think her entire involvement now in PACE's efforts for the choice OR the charter are quite possibly a conflict of interest with her role as SCCBOE.


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Posted by A concerned Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 9:55 am

Since I no longer have children in the schools, I am writing as an observer, not as a school parent. I have been through the series of school closures and no longer trust the board's decisions. Wouldn't it have been better to maintain the schools (possibly rent out as is done at Garland) instead of demolishing them to build more million dollar homes? That is history. Today's controversy, over MI, has proven to me that bullying, threatening, coercion work--that the end justifies the means. What a lesson for our children!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:16 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:23 am

Yammering,

I wouldn't worry about it. I'd say the Forum is still more a reflection than a driving force of opinion around here.

A.J.
I really hope you're right. I think, given the scope of PACE's ambitions, that they're not going to be that happy being under Ohlone's thumb. We're just going to face another battle three years down the road.

Observer,

I'm with you. it's hard to see how there's not a conflict-of-interest.




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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:27 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
On January 30 the school board voted down the MI/Ohlone recommendation. So in early February MI supporters discussed options and ended up starting to brainstorm a charter school. I can tell you honestly from my perspective I started out skeptical and disappointed to be talking about a charter school. But the more time we spend on it, the more exciting it is. If we are starting with a "blank slate" there is a lot more room to be creative. One thing I am personally excited about (this is ME not PACE) is the possibility of a year round school schedule. We probably couldn't do that within PAUSD, but it would be great in terms of supporting language learning! WE could also have a larger program with more kids (than two half-strands at Ohlone). I do agree with much of what was said at the board meeting though and I would actually still rather be "part of the family" instead of the evil charter step-child. So, I do have mixed feelings about it. Again, this is me talking not PACE. Along those lines, it really scares me that some people on this thread hint that retribution will be taken out on our kids if MI goes through. Is this the same Palo Alto I live in? If MI ends up as a choice program at Ohlone in 2008 I would hope that we would be welcomed in. All that I know about Ohlone makes me think that we would be.

I have said from the beginning that Ohlone + Mandarin is/was my dream school. So there is at least one person who was "happy with the. mash." I also think that you would be surprised if you heard some of the charter brainstorming. There is a pretty good chance the charter could look more like Ohlone than Hoover.

I would also like to sincerely ask you what you think MI supporters should do? It makes me incredibly sad that there are people who are upset about something that I am so passionate about. If you can think of any way that I can help to start a Mandarin Immersion program that would not tick anybody off, I think we would all love to do it. I don't want to be cynical, but I am starting to think that the only thing that would make some people happy is if MI supporters crawled under a rock (hopefully one in Mountain View).
I also really think many of the arguments are being amplified on this forum; the townsquare brings out the worst in some people. The anonymity doesn't help.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:28 am

What if Grace Mah was appointed base on the premise that she should be taking a larger role in MI in other school districts as well and PAUSD being a fore-runner.

Will there be a conflict of interest or would that be a job she was appointed to do.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:49 am

Nico, I do have a very earnest suggestion. You could start your charter in another school district. It would solve many of your concerns and ours. Can you comment on why the charter group is not taking that course? Have you been in discussion with any other districts? What is the status there? Which ones?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Compromise - that wasn't the job she was appointed to do - she's wasn't given an MI consultant position. She's a board member - a trustee of the education of X number of students in Santa Clara County (I don't know - many is that, 900,000 students)? Her issues now go way way way beyond the narrow little world that is MI.

Unless you mean that the board members that appointed her have a backroom agenda, in which case I'd say we have a bigger, scarier problem with state of our government - and I hope that Grace would be above that. I'm sure she would be.


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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:53 am

Choice programs and Charter school provisions exist in many American school districts for a reason. They provide options for parents who for whatever reason feel that the public school system is not adequately addressing their needs. This is what distinguishes America from many other countries where public school systems often enforce conformism and 'egalitarianism'.

If for whatever reason certain ethnic group(s) are heavily represented in certain Choice program(s), well that's the parents' choice: some choose to participate, others don't. That's what freedom of choice is all about. You can encourage but you cannot mandate that the outcome has to reflect the ethnic make-up of the community. And because the outcome is not what you want, you cannot then turn around and say that freedom of choice is not a good thing.

We have these programs and procedures in place in the school district and we have officials and elected representatives to carry them out. On the MI issue, procedures have been followed, and all sides have had their voices heard. Instead of continuing with the attacks, I believe it's time that we let the officials and representatives get on with their work. Isn't this what democracy and civil society are all about?


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2007 at 10:59 am

There is no backroom agenda. You are doing nothing more than instilling FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).
Look at MI across US. PAUSD tried to stall it - and now it will happen even if they do not like it. We have laws designed for these specific situations, move on and take it with dignity.



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Posted by Obso
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:00 am

Words, debate and expression of opinions are also part of a civilized society. (

Which by the way are not liberties all societies on this globe enjoy.)

What is said here by a handful of people has no bearing on whether the officials and representatives carry out their jobs - they may proceed, and are.

In the meantime, I think we can have a philisophical debate about discrimination, segregation, equity in education, global awareness, roles and responsibilities of our elected/appointed representatives, etc.

We're all grown up enough to separate the intellectual debate from the trolls. Please don't try to shame the debate closed. This issue is not going away.


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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:09 am

Obso,

There is a difference between civilized discussions and debates, and rancor and personal attacks (which we have seen too much of lately). The latter does not belong in civil society - and it's a shame.


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Posted by Compromise
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:09 am

Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:11 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:16 am

Compromise,

That's not the job she was appointed to. She's supposed to represent the northern SC districts, not the MI agenda, per se. So, yes, conflict-of-interest.

Nico,

Yes, I know you are an exception. I've pointed that out before, I apologize for omitting you last time. I still say the ven diagram overlap is small.

Your argument re: your kids being white native Mandarin speakers. You don't, as I recall, speak Mandarin. Your kids have an early second language, but if they're not talking to you in Mandarin, I suspect that their native language is English, not Mandarin.

I realize that you only put it forth on speculation--thus argument, not assertion.

Re: retribution on kids. I think most people here with kids have kept the conversation away from the kids and off the schoolground. This isn't Mobile, 1960.

I do see big problems getting the next parcel tax through.

If the charter's not a strong-arm tactic . . . oh, look, that one speaks for itself. Tom and Lowell's orange comments make it pretty clear how the board perceived the matter.

What should MI supporters do? Well, there are lots of options. One is the Paul Losch option where you talk to people "across the divide" as it were and figure out what language options are feasible for the distric, given the political climate, its space and financial constraints. An obvious option would be to build from a Summer immersion/year-round language support to a fulltime MI program down the road--at which point people don't feel that their kids are getting denied a perk that only a small group are getting. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:18 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:35 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by go for it
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Nico,
You mentioned that you, if not all of PACE, were excited by the idea of a Charter school. The main issue here seems to be the perception that MI proponents are using strong-arm tactics to force the board to introduce an MI choice program.
By introducing a Charter school regardless of whether PAUSD added a MI choice program, you could alleviate a lot of the ill feeling here. This would show that you were more interested in the education of your children than simple "winning" at the BoE.


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Posted by Pacer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:15 pm

"it" mentions "the perception that MI proponents are using strong-arm tactics to force the board to introduce an MI choice program"

"Perception" is the right word. There have been no strong-arm tactics. If the board, after voting against MI choice, turns around and asks PACE what their intentions are, and PACE says "charter," that's hardly strong-arming. That's just an honest response. It was board members who wanted to bring back the topic of choice as alternative to charter. PACE, of course, is highly iinterested in the topic, but until the board says "choice," PACE's only option is "charter."

Your percept that PACE's goal is "winning at the BOE" is off-target. The goal has never been "winning" -- the goal has always been Mandarin Immersion.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Compromise,

Unknowingly? Nah, I think it's a fine idea, though I'm for doing it in a non-basic aid district.

Nico,

Yes, there was a fear-of-retribution post. But I'm with Natasha. People are pretty careful around here about kids.


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Posted by Me
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Nico, you did not imagine the retribution comment. Ming was the one who expressed fear of it.


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Posted by go for it
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Pacer,
I totally agree with you. PACE has simply done what needed to be done to provide their children with MI. Since they couldn't get it in the district, they were going to go to the time, effort, money and risk to provide their own MI program. There should be absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Likewise, the board is trying to do what is best for the district. Again, there should be absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Yet, everyone is up in arms at both of these groups for "perceived" maneuverings and/or agendas!

This was why I suggested that PACE should go ahead with the charter regardless. This would be the only way to let everyone know that they really are just trying to do what is best for their kids.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 1:21 pm

"but I am starting to think that the only thing that would make some people happy is if MI supporters crawled under a rock (hopefully one in Mountain View)."

Nico,
I know you generally try to keep the discourse on high ground, but this was a truly disparaging comment. Starting a charter in Mountain View has a lot of advantages right now -- is that why PACE isn't considering them, because they think going to school in Mountain View is equivalent to crawling under a rock? Please don't think that way. It really would be a positive course, for so many reasons. Mountain View is a dynamic place right now; the whole process could become a really positive experience for PACE members and bring all the benefits you want without all the rancor. I'm not saying it to get rid of MI, I'm saying it so that you see MI into reality in a more positive way. A lot of the people who oppose the PACE plan aren't opposed to MI.

People have asked on other threads about a charter in Mountain View, it seems like a great solution. Please get beyond the emotional response and consider the positives, it's really a great option for many reasons. (There is a thread on a charter in Mtn View, and it is being discussed in the thread on Grace being appointed to the board.)


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm

I am sorry, I meant the "under a rock" comment to be a joke. I should know better then to attempt humor in an anonymous forum. And I did not mean to disparage Mountain View or the Mountain View Whisman school district. The reason I mentioned it was that on this thread and others I feel like lately people keep telling me to go there. I will read up on the Mountain View thread, I took some time off from townsquare so maybe I missed it. I was wondering why people kept telling me to go there, maybe it will make more sense. I thought maybe I was being run out of Palo Alto(this is a joke).


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Posted by Tired of the yammering
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Nico's comment about crawlinig under a rock being the only way to make some people happy doesn't seem disparaging to me. It's an understandable reaction to the hostilities expressed in these forums.


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Posted by nico
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:31 pm

It's ok, some people understood it as a joke the first time. Mtn. View (hearsay) sounds like it has a lot of advantages and would not be impacted as negatively as Palo Alto, so I think at least some people (me included) are suggesting it as a compromise of being able to achieve an MI program on a faster timeline and with fewer negative impacts on the rest of the district's students than pushing through choice or charter in Palo Alto. I repeat, *on the short timeline.* I was perfectly amenable to figuring an MI program in on the next strategic cycle, but personally opposed MI on the urgent timeline (I understand there were many reasons, this was mine) because I thought it would unnecessarily constrict the district's options in an already problematic enrollment environment, and because I thought it should be part of the overall strategic plan to implement language in the schools. However, because so much of the groundwork was laid, I thought it could probably be implemented fairly quickly in that plan. If there is a great need to do this immediately, seems like a big solution that Mtn View has space (if it does, as rumor has it).


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Compromise - it was not I who suggested a backroom agenda. You were the first one to throw out the 'what if she was installed as a county board member to further an MI rollout agenda'. I was pointing out that that was not the job she was hired for, at least not publicly. So the only way that could possibly be true would be if there was some sort of secret handshake that the public had not been privvy to.

I doubted it, I did not suggest it. In fact, I believe if you read through to the end, I doubted Grace would be involved in such a thing.

I believe you in fact started that particular idea.

I find your argumentation style interesting - discount another's post for the very tactics you yourself are using. FUD spreading


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Sorry -- last post from "Nico" was actually from me -- having technical difficulties, responding to Nico.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:45 pm

Tired,

If you want a more civil tone to the discourse, could you check out some of Fred's posts? He does a real nice job of moderating. Complaining about the tone here and nothing else adds to, well, the negative tone.

Nico,

The MV charter discussion started some time ago--right after the MI proposal was voted down. It was originally brought up as a charter in EPA by Draw the Line. The focus switched to Mountain View because there are advantages to being in the same county.

The idea actually predates PACE going to the BoE with the charter idea. We "bad guys" may disagree with you about the where and when of MI, but there's some sympathy about your desire to provide a language program for your child.

Yes, Mountain View would be a compromise--it wasn't your first idea--but it's a good one in many ways. You could design a program you want on your schedule and Palo Alto could get its overflow problems under control. You could help the PA district if you wanted develop an overall language program that would even include MI at a certain point. (Or augment Mandarin offerings at the middle school and high school level.)


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2007 at 2:58 pm

Okay eds,

You're getting a little overexcited again. You removed a chunk of my text that wasn't an attack but did point out that anger and resentment was a response to the current PACE strategy. I *am* honestly puzzled by the puzzlement of some of the PACErs.

Nico's always been a well-mannered poster, I was genuinely interested in her response if she chose to give it. My intention (believe it or not) was to develop some honest dialogue.

I'm sure you guys feel like you're juggling with fire here, but just a leetle relaxation won't hurt.


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Posted by RM
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Grace Mah and her partners at PACE should be ashamed of themselves for hijacking and holding hostage the entire PA School District. Palo Alto has always been about process and now that is blown out of the water with the charter school threat. Grace et al have had their try at MI for 5 years and I felt bad for them losing in January; they put up a good fight, but the process lead to a decision they did not like. And the January decision wasn't a total loss for them as the District was going to pursue a District wide language program that would serve all instead of the 4% that MI would.

The charter school threat is particularly galling since Palo Alto's schools are some of the best in the country. PACE cannot argue that their children are getting a poor education, the key intent of the legislature when they passed the Charter Schools Act. Their only reason for pressing on is that they want MI and they will not stop until they get it, just like a spoiled child. The BOE was acting as a good parent saying let's compromise. PACE did not like that and went out and found some lighter fluid and a match and they don't care if they burn the whole district down.


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Posted by go for it
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 3:31 pm

RM,
This is the reason this discussion isn't moving forward. PACE didn't hijack & hold hostage PAUSD. They simply attempted to do what they believe is best for their kids. Since PAUSD couldn't provide it, they wanted to do it themselves. You can't fault them for that.
The fact that PAUSD would prefer some other solution is fine and they can both talk. However, this shouldn't prevent them doing what they believe to be best for their children. They aren't forcing PAUSD to do anything.
If PAUSD can come up with a alternative proposal that everyone can live with, what is the problem with that? That is what is all that is happening here.


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Posted by Pacer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

I agree with Go for It:

"PACE didn't hijack & hold hostage PAUSD. They simply attempted to do what they believe is best for their kids. Since PAUSD couldn't provide it, they wanted to do it themselves."

The school board closed the door on choice, so PACE opened the door to a charter. Now the board has cracked the door back open, hoping to divert PACE's attention from the charter. I wouldn't say PAUSD is hijacking and holding PACE hostage, but for sure PACE hasn't be jacking the district around.


I disagree with RM:
"And the January decision wasn't a total loss for [PACE] as the District was going to pursue a District wide language program that would serve all instead of the 4% that MI would."

You don't get it. A little dab of FLES won't do. FLES is nice for exposure, but it doesn't produce Mandarin speakers (or Spanish speakers, or whatever). So the January decision was indeed a total loss for MI choice.

Suppose it had been the other way around: what if PACE had been asking for FLES for their kids, and instead all kids got MI? What a howl would be set up! And rightfully so. It's quite simple: People who want immersion want immersion. People who do not want immersion do not want immersion. Immersion requires parent commitment, parent ed, family involvement—hence, it must be a choice program and not foisted on people who are unwilling to go that path. Who would be happy ordering coffee at a restaurant and being served tea—and told they should be happy because they got a hot beverage?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Golly, RM, that's a lot of loaded language packed into a short post: hijacking, hostage, threat, spoiled child, lighter fluid, don't care if they burn. You won't convince anyone this way.

I'm with go for it: Isn't pace doing just what you say: following the process through? Isn't this just democracy in action?


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2007 at 4:58 pm

OhlonePar,
I am also unclear about what the editors are clipping. One of the things of mine they clipped was actually an apology. Is there a "code" posted somewhere?
Since it was clipped I am not sure what you wanted to dialogue about, but I think it may have been along the lines of " build from a summer immersion/year-round language support to a fulltime MI program down the road"
I like Susan Charles' vision of starting MI now and generating PAUSD curriculum in Mandarin that can then be rolled out in a year or two to FLES. There is no reason Spanish Immersion couldn't do the same thing. That would make one of the costs associated with FLES (curriculum development in 2 languages at least) go away. Also the PAUSD curriculum in Spanish/Mandarin would cross over to any campus that was interested in it.
I also see FLES and immersion as totally different kettles of fish requiring totally different people to be involved, parties to sign-off etc. They also have totally different time frames. In my opinion, immersion is fast and cheap, FLES is expensive and slow. I think PAUSD should do both. I think immersion gets the momentum going for FLES. So while I agree that in an ideal world PAUSD would have a strategic road map and fill it in neatly as it goes along, this rarely actually happens.
PACE, also in good faith followed the existing process for proposing a new choice program (which doesn't include FLES or having a district strategy in place). We have had our hands full for 5 years working on an immersion program, and we are getting faulted for not developing an overall language strategy for PAUSD? Another point that I think is important is that this has in fact been a 5-year long process. MI is characterized as coming out of nowhere and forcing a "rushed" schedule. Does 5 years of constant and consistent effort qualify as fast?
If you are interested in a dialogue I would be happy to meet with you or talk over the phone. You are puzzled by the "puzzlement" of PACE and I have to admit I am puzzled by the "puzzlement" of PAEE and other MI opponents. I think it could be great to have a conversation off of townsquare. Please email me at paonline_nico @ yahoo . com if you want to talk about any of these things.


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Posted by Member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Well I have to agree - that the only way to protect PAUSD at this point is to follow 'process' and to get the charter laws changed so that the unintended consequences (of burning down a district with lighter fluid) aren't legalized by crappy laws that let the best perfomring districts be decimated by selfish special interests.

Because today, that's legal. And we can cry about it all we want, we need to organize around getting the laws changed. Anyone have any ideas on how to get that started?


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Nico,
I know you've done a lot of work, and five years seems like a lot of time, but it's really not when it comes to things like changing laws, starting schools, etc., especially where there are problems facing a school district that conflict with starting a new school. Timing is everything.

No one in PAUSD really anticipated the enrollment issues right now. The parents at several of the schools were the ones who had to insist on the added kindergarten strands, and a lot happened over the summer and at relatively the last minute. It's not your fault, but it just happened, and it is one of the things we are dealing with that has created timing issues for anyone wanting to start a new school.

The "rushed" schedule is relative to strategic planning and dealing with the pressing issues of over-enrollment, space, and funding.

Many people disagree with you that MI is cheap, in fact much of the disagreement centers around resources. Many people disagree that starting MI first would have no impact on FLES. FLES started after SI didn't survive; no study has been done on why, and although one cannot draw conclusions from that fact alone, one has to consider the possibility that implementing SI first had a negative impact on FLES. Many people believe on principles of fairness that FLES available to all is more in keeping with the priorities of a public school system than an immersion language program.

You have your perspective; many people have disagreed with you. At this point, both sides have repeated their case to the other on many occasions and have not found common ground. It's great that you want to meet with people, but the cases have been stated many times on this forum, you just don't believe it or agree. I don't think that's going to change.

So we have to move forward given that. Do we move forward in a contentious way, or do we try to find a more cooperative solution that THAT TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THE CONCERNS OF EACH SIDE? I hope for the latter.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Thanks all for keeping the tone so relatively high. It is more informative and interesting to read this thread than a lot of others on these subjects.

MI in MV - has a ring to it. Are there downsides to MI in MV, aside from having to drive a little ways? If it expands the resource pie (space and dollars) that may benefit many. Does anyone know?


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Hi Fred,
"drive a little ways" depends on where you live and where you're going in Mtn View. A lot of Palo Altans and Los Altos Hill-ians live closer to parts of Mountain View than to Ohlone. Mountain View is also a pretty accessible city from a commuter standpoint -- a charter would be a commuter school, in Palo Alto or Mtn View.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Heres a link to the thread about MI in Mountain View Web Link

Fred, that discussion started out pretty well, but fell into worse during the events of the last few days. Would love to see you re-elevate the level of discussion!

I think from the standpoint of people who want to start and run a charter, MV has so many more advantages than were even mentioned, both for those who want the school, and for Mountain View. This is the town that just got itself a new performing arts center, a new community school of music, redesigned its downtown to bring in more foot traffic and business (when are we going to do that for California Avenue?? new thread please!), and has a spanish immersion program that will expand to take anyone who wants to go.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 7:39 pm

AJ - you are making me want to relocate. But we are walking distance to Gunn, and besides, we have our Barron Park donkeys.

How does charter attendance impact feeding into middle school and HS?





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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2007 at 8:02 pm

It strikes me that not many folks on this Forum who oppose an MI Choice program are saying that they'd prefer it to see a Charter. Most of those posters seem to say let the charter go ahead.

It is interesting that the Board, at least it appears, may see things differently. Why is that? There seem to be concerns about control and costs that figure more into at least some Board members' thinking than it does into the posters here.

Can anyone crystallize why that might be? It does seem "principled," at some level, to oppose a choice program whether there is a charter in the works or not. Are there practical issues that we need to give more weight to? Or are the Board members just being expedient? (Not baiting, just asking!)


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 30, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Hi Fred,
Charter attendance wouldn't impact feeding into middle school and HS -- people who live in the Palo Alto school district could go to Palo Alto schools for middle school and HS.

Because there is more space in Mtn View, it kind of brings up the question of whether an immersion charter would have to be limited to K-6. If a Mandarin Immersion program were set up to go longer than grades K-6, probably students would transfer back later. I don't think it matters too much for the school districts, except that with the way Mtn View is funded, it would be an advantage to retain the students as long as possible. But most would probably come back for high school at least.


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Posted by Ed Chi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:14 pm

I took four years of German in high school and I hardly remember any of it. Just in case you think I'm stupid or just didn't work hard enough, I had straight-As, in both high school and college, and post-graduate, and oh, Ph.D. I even won the German Award when I graduated valedictorian. FLES-like programs do not work. I have personally experienced it. I'm one living proof of it. I would love to say that I remember all those hours I put into learning German, but it just didn't stick. My teacher was awesome also! Okay, but I'm just one data point.... On the other hand, I'm also living proof that immersion works. Why? English is my second language. I came here to the states when my parents were exchange professors at age 10. My mother has a Ph.D. in ESL (English as a Second Language) education, and from reading her dissertation, level 4 or 5 proficiency in a language is (more or less) possible only with immersion. As someone who is expressing his opinion for the first time on this issue through this post, I'm surprised at how divisive this issue had become. Obviously, people are just posting data or information that support their position, and no real compromise is being reached. Perhaps I'm doing the same, but I think it is a no brainer that immersion is what works, and what is needed is a way to figure out a way to do it that is fair to everyone. I do not understand why a choice program is not fair---It has a lottery program, and the proponents have tried to make it as low-cost as possible (even willing to pay most if not all of the extra cost from what I have read). If charter is the only way to do it, I would say to PACE to go ahead and do it. However, I sure hope we can find a compromise and make it happen in a low-cost way that is palatable to everyone.


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Posted by Smith
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Ed,

You forgot your German because you stopped using it. Otherwise it would have stuck with you. Your English immersion worked because you live in an English speaking country and kept speaking English after school. Believe me a child who gets a few years of immersion in a foreign language at school will also forget it later if nothing is done for him/her to keep using and practicing the language s/he acquired.

I learned English as a foreign language at school in Europe starting in 6th grade. I came here in my 20s and and did really well with the English I had learned at school. Then I got immersion here as an adult and I am fully functional in English (yes, with a trace of an accent, which is no problem whatsoever). Thank you.


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Posted by Smith
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2007 at 11:51 pm


Since when does a school district in the US owe Mandarin immersion to Chinese families because they think it is best for THEIR children, or French immersion to French families because they think it is best for their children, or Russian immersion to Russian families because they think it is best for their children..?? You get the idea.

What is going here???


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 31, 2007 at 1:05 am

Ed,

Your "proof" simply shows that you don't seem to retain languages. I, on the other hand, got fairly mediocre grades in languages, but after 25 years, I still retain what I learned.

Early exposure is better than later exposure (though I didn't even have that). Wanting to actually know the language and be able to use it helps even more.

Your being valedictorian indicates to me that you have good study habits and probably compensated for any lack of ability. Long-term retention isn't about grades, though. It's natural ability, practice and desire.

Immersion (which I've done.) works well in fairly short bursts--i.e. 10 weeks. That's one of its advantages. It's why I'd like to summer immersion as part of the FLES program. Languages have been taught in non-immersion formats for years in Europe and many Europeans are multilingual.


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Posted by Researcher
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 31, 2007 at 3:01 am

Foreign Language Immersion Programs:
Features and Trends Over Thirty-Five Years


Note: The following synopsis of this new CAL Digest was also reprinted in the February 2007 ACIE newsletter in celebration of 35 years of immersion programs. ACIE celebrates its ten years as an organization dedicated to supporting immersion teachers and the publication is focusing this year on the rich growth of immersion programs. We are grateful to CAL for their ongoing collaboration with ACIE and with CARLA.

To see the full CAL Digest go to: Web Link.

To find out more about the American Council on Immersion Education go to: Web Link

Foreign language immersion programs, first introduced in the United States in 1971 as a way to incorporate intensive second language education into public elementary schools, have gradually spread across the country and are now viewed by educators and parents as a highly effective way of teaching foreign languages to children (Curtain & Dahlberg, 2004). Foreign language immersion is an approach to teaching another language that involves immersing students in the target language throughout the school day. Teachers speak only the target language to teach academic subjects, using a wide range of instructional strategies. The ultimate goal of this type of program is for students to become proficient in the target language in addition to English, and to develop increased cultural awareness while reaching a high level of academic achievement (Fortune & Tedick, 2003).

Foreign language immersion programs, also referred to as one-way immersion programs, are designed for English-speaking students. They vary in intensity and structure according to the model implemented. The following are two main types of immersion programs (Center for Applied Linguistics, 2006a):

Total Immersion – Programs in which all subjects in the lower grades (K-2) are taught in the target language; instruction in English usually increases to 20%-50% in the upper elementary grades (3-6), depending on the program. Initial literacy instruction is provided in the target language. Programs may continue in middle school and high school with classes taught in the target language.

Partial Immersion – Programs in which approximately 50% of instruction is provided in the target language. Initial literacy instruction may be provided in either the target language or English or in both languages simultaneously. Programs may continue in middle school and high school with classes taught in the target language.
A variation of the immersion model is called two-way immersion or two-way bilingual immersion.Two-way programs use both English and another language for instruction. One third to two thirds of the students in each class are native speakers of English; the remainder are native speakers of the other language, most often Spanish.

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) has been monitoring foreign language immersion programs over the years, compiling data and tracking their growth through the publication of the Directory of Foreign Language Immersion Programs in U.S. Schools. In celebration of thirty-five years of foreign language immersion education in the United States, CAL has updated the directory, which is available online at Web Link, and prepared a digest to provide educators and parents with an update on pre-K-12 foreign language immersion education, show the growth and changes in immersion education over the last thirty-five years, and make recommendations for future program implementation.


The State of Immersion Education:

A Few Highlights from the Digest's Report of the Data
Data for the Directory of Foreign Language Immersion Programs in U.S. Schools include self-reported information from 310 foreign language immersion programs housed in 263 schools. Several schools have more than one immersion language program. The directory provides an exhaustive list of public immersion programs in the country and a sampling of programs in private/independent schools.

The 263 schools represented in the database are spread across 33 states and 83 school districts. 39 of the schools identified themselves as private or independent and 224 were identified as public schools.

Of the 224 public schools, approximately 27% are magnet or some type of choice schools and 6% are charter schools. The majority of the public schools (67%) are regular (not magnet, choice, or charter) schools.

The data show that there are 53 immersion programs at the preschool level, 181 at the elementary school level, 89 at the middle school level, and 37 at the high school level. (Note: there is overlap among these programs in that some programs include multiple levels such as preschool and elementary school in a single program.)

Consistent with past years, there are fewer middle school and high school programs than elementary programs (Fortune & Jorstad, 1996).

The states boasting the highest numbers of schools offering language immersion programs are Louisiana (30), Hawaii (26), Oregon (25), Minnesota (24), and Virginia (24).

The most commonly taught languages in immersion programs are Spanish (at 43% of immersion programs) and French (29%), followed by Hawaiian (8%), Japanese (7%), Mandarin (4%), and German (3%).


Trends in Immersion, 1971-2006

A comparison of 2006 results with past years' self-reported data collected by CAL shows a fairly steady increase in foreign language immersion education in U.S. schools over the last thirty-five years. In addition, survey data show that the total number of elementary school language programs, including the less intensive FLES (foreign language in the elementary school) and FLEX (foreign language experience) models, has also increased (Rhodes & Branaman, 1999).

This growth, particularly in immersion programs, can be attributed to at least five factors:

strong parental pressure for quality language programs with goals of high levels of proficiency;

increased interest in a multicultural approach to education among parents, teachers, and administrators;

an increase in schooling options (magnet, choice, and charter schools) that enable immersion to be offered as an educational alternative (as can be seen when comparing immersion schooling options of 2006 with past years);

a strong body of published research on the effectiveness of immersion programs in developing students' language proficiency and academic achievement (see, e.g., Fortune & Tedick, in press; Robinson, 1998);

and

growing recognition of the need for Americans to be proficient in foreign languages for personal, educational, economic, and national security reasons.


Despite the overall growth of foreign language immersion programs over the past thirty-five years, the 2006 data reveal a slight decrease in the number of schools over the last seven years, although the number of languages offered has increased. A variety of reasons can be offered for the decrease in the number of schools. The reasons for this phenomenon include the following:

First, some of the programs that were originally listed in the directory as total or partial immersion have changed their program model to two-way immersion due to an increase in the number of students who speak languages other than English.

Second, some schools reported that implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has increased their focus on mathematics and reading to such an extent that they felt a need to discontinue their immersion programs in order to meet federal standards. Some schools reported that they could not find "highly qualified teachers," as defined by NCLB, for the immersion classes. These views, however, were not shared by all schools.

Third, Hurricane Katrina, wreaking havoc in innumerable ways, also played a role in the destruction of several immersion programs in Louisiana (although the state still ranks first in number of schools with immersion programs).

Finally, some schools reported a shift in program model from immersion to less intensive programs such as FLES, hoping that there would be fewer demands on the staff.

Recent developments, however, provide reason to believe that growth lies in the future of the immersion model. The National Security Language Initiative calls for action in increasing the availability and quality of long-term foreign language programs to aid in global awareness, national security, and economic competitiveness (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Immersion programs are a proven model to help students acquire the language fluency needed to help us reach these goals.

If national momentum toward the goal of developing a language-competent society continues, one-way and two-way immersion programs will doubtlessly strengthen and flourish, and the number of children and young adults with proficiency in second languages will increase. For now, it is clear that foreign language immersion is a highly successful approach to language instruction for children. It enriches their English language development and provides them with an enhanced sense of global awareness, linguistic confidence, and learning strategies that will be useful in many aspects of life.

REFERENCES

Anderson, M., Lindholm-Leary, K., Wilhelm, P., Ziegler, M., & Boudreaux, N. (2005). Meeting the challenges of No Child Left Behind in U.S. immersion education. ACIE Newsletter 8(3), Bridge insert, 1-8.

Center for Applied Linguistics. (2006a). Directory of foreign language immersion programs in U.S. schools.

Center for Applied Linguistics. (2006b). Directory of two-way bilingual immersion programs.

Curtain, H., & Dahlberg, C. A. (2004). Languages and children: Making the match (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Fortune, T., & Jorstad, H. L. (1996). U.S. immersion programs: A national survey. Foreign Language Annals, 29(2), 163-190.

Fortune, T. W., & Tedick, D. J. (2003). What parents want to know about foreign language immersion programs. ERIC Digest.

Fortune, D. J., & Tedick, D. J. (Eds.). (in press). Pathways to multilingualism: Evolving perspectives on immersion education. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Howard, E., Lindholm-Leary, K., Sugarman, J., Christian, D., & Rogers, D. (2005). Guiding principles for dual language education. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

Rhodes, N. C., & Branaman, L. E. (1999). Foreign language instruction in the United States: A national survey of elementary and secondary schools. Washington, DC, and McHenry, IL: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems.

Robinson, D. W. (1998). The cognitive, academic, and attitudinal benefits of early language learning. In M. Met (Ed.),Critical issues in early second language learning: Building for our children's future (pp. 37-43). Reading, MA: Scott Foresman–Addison Wesley.

The article above is an abridged version of the CAL Digest: Lenker, A. & Rhodes, N. (2007). Foreign Language Immersion Programs: Features and Trends Over 35 Years. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. This synopsis is printed with permission.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Egan Middle School (Los Altos)
on Mar 31, 2007 at 7:34 am

Researcher, the above article seems to point in several spots to language immersion programs being particurlaryl prevanlent (useful?) in areas where second languages are prevalent. Is this true? Are you aware of any statistics on where immersion programs are located - what community makeups are where those programs are located

(For example, to spanish immersion programs tend to be primarily where there a a high % of spanish speakers in the community?)


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 31, 2007 at 9:12 am

I would invite Researcher, curious, Fred, and everyone else interested in bringing world languages to our schools (or not) to contact Fred Losch, who is energetically pursuing the World Languages Task Force, to see how to best fit language into the Palo Alto curriculum.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2007 at 1:15 pm

Newt Gingrich speaks out against bilingual ballots and education...

Web Link


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 31, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Well, I wouldn't want to ally myself with Newt Gingrich on this one. I think bilingual education is great (am trilingual myself) but just want it to fit in with the other district needs, like so many MI choice opponents. Mr. Gingrich has never been a model of compassion, integrity, vision or insight in my book. I don't think many, if any, opponents oppose MI in Palo Alto on Mr. Gingrich's grounds.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2007 at 8:06 am

Here's a chronicle story about the new MI program in the Potrero section of SF. In case you aren't familiar with the Potrero, O.J. grew up in the projects in the Potrero.

Web Link


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 1, 2007 at 12:46 pm

Hi Anon --

Sounds great. Also sounds like they don't have a lottery to get in, so are able to balance demographics. The feasibility study said that the program would be fair and balance demographics because everyone could apply to the lottery, which begs the question of who would do so. Are students like Durrell going to be hand-recruited for the program? If so, what happens to the lottery?

As people say often on this and other thread,s the probelms is not MI per se. It's a great idea, a great program. It's the timing and the need to achieve demographic balance. Still wondering what this article does to further the conversation about those two issues HERE, in Palo Alto, as a choice program.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Potrero Hill gentrified years ago. The boy in the story came from the Western Addition, which is still a relatively poor area.

An MI choice program at Ohlone has to be small. I'd be amazed if anyone would have the opportunity to recruit kids from EPA to enter it.

We're not San Francisco, we're a small, affluent district. One of our choice programs seems to have become self-segregated. Will the MI program have the same issue or not? Do we care if it does?

I wonder if a larger program, such as a charter, might also be a more diverse one.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 1, 2007 at 10:59 pm

While I think a charter in Mountain View solves more problems and offers more opportunities for a better program, has anyone considered afternoon immersion school at Hoover? In other words, kids apply for the Hoover program, go with everyone else in the morning, and the instruction dovetails into afternoon Mandarin school for those who want it, so that overall they have an intense "partial immersion" school, as outlined above by Researcher? No one who doesn't want it would have to take it, but those who do could stay for afternoon school until 4 or 5 pm (earlier on Wednesdays). Or maybe, on some days, the immersion kids could come at noon and stay until 5pm, and would get the English instruction they missed in the morning in the afternoon in Mandarin. Anyway, a lot harder logistically and would require a lot of planning, but requiring fewer resources than proposed at Ohlone, wouldn't cause segregation problems over any that exist already, wouldn't require a "new" facility, and is a lot more compatible with the educational philosophy of the school. But, it should only be considered if the majority of the Hoover community want it! (That's assuming anyone in PACE is willing to compromise with partial immersion, too, which is unlikely.)

I think the opportunity to create a vibrant MI school is better in MV,


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Posted by Fair
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 1, 2007 at 11:07 pm

MI proponents are mostly in Palo Alto. They do pay their share of property taxes. Why are you EVEN suggesting MV. It is offensive.

With all due politeness - Desist.

It is a no brainer. It is a no go. Absolutely desist.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 2, 2007 at 12:53 am

Fair,

Before posting did you learn about the effects of charter schools on basic-aid districts like PAUSD v. general revenue districts like Mountain View?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 8:03 am

Fair, thanks for chiming in. I'm not sure why you find the suggestion offensive (or a no-brainer) on its face. We generally try not to shut down others on the forum, so long as they are being respectful and factual.

The point OP (and others) has made is that MI in MV might have a very different financial equation. If MI in MV expanded the pie for all, and addressed other concerns, it may be worthy of consideration for all parties. Reading the forum posts related to it, I got the sense that there might be an issue with MV kids have precedence over others if the school were there. I'm not sure if that makes it impractical, if in fact it were mostly PA families doing the work. Not sure if there is a workaround for that, or other serious issues.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 8:55 am

We pay property taxes too, as do my parents (who could have opted out). We don't even go to school in Palo Alto, and my parents certainly don't. Not getting the benefit of your tax dollars (absent a voucher program, I suppose) is a price you pay for wanting specialized education for your children on your own timeframe. In our case, we didn't have time to wait for issues to be resolved, because our children needed what they needed then, not whenever the issues worked their way through the bureaucracy. I completely understand MI parents wanting their kids to begin NOW, not 2 years from now, but sometimes you have to take an alternative path to get what you really feel is best for your kids.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2007 at 10:28 am

"Fair"
Whether a charter school is in Palo Alto or Mountain View is irrelevant -- Palo Alto will have to give the per student money from the state to the charter regardless of what city it is in. Your property taxes would go equally to the kids whether they are on this side of San Antonio Road or the other.

You are only reinforcing the idea that MI proponents are causing the controversy by asking for something in a way that is selfish and inflexible and taking no account of any solutions that might take into account the concerns of other parents and give everyone what they want.

I don't understand why you wouldn't consider something that also has the potential to provide a far better future MI facility and program, and be a supported and beneficial asset to both PA and MV communities.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2007 at 10:32 am

PACE made an appeal for interested families from cities outside of Palo Alto, who would like to be a part of an MI charter. So clearly PACE considered the Chinese community outisde of Palo Alto.

There is a vibrant Chinese community in Mountain View already. There would be interest in an MI program.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2007 at 10:35 am

"Why are you EVEN suggesting MV. It is offensive."

I'm sorry, I have to say this. Why is going to school in Mountain View "offensive"? I find THAT statement offensive. Is all this controversy because a few parents can't stomach the idea that they won't be able to say (for a few years at least) that their kids go to school in Palo Alto?


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Posted by Cool breaze
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 10:50 am

A.J.

Here are some of the errors made in your posts. I have simply refrained from answering. Here are some corrections:

- A.J. said in Mah's thread -
how's that
Don't forget Palo Alto is a public/private partnership -- a lot of funds spent per student come from PiE, not the state.
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2007 at 7:17 pm

- end -

FYI: Palo Alto School budget is 150 Million. 2 million was provided by PiE this year. That is a drop in the bucket not "a lot of funds spent per student come from PiE".

Again this is another error on your part:

- A.J. Said --
Palo Alto will have to give the per student money from the state to the charter
--
Palo Alto is a basic aid school. The amount it receives from the state is minimal. Majority of the funds to PAUSD comes from "property taxes" not the state.

A.J., you are making blunders in your arguments. You are not aware of the financial dynamics of PAUSD.

The school want to collect money from the property owner and gives bogus logic that the MI parent must start a school in MV.

Darn!!! I hope the MI charter folks go to court to settle this. They are on solid footing. MI,,,,, it is time to go for the kill. Enough of this crazy logic. You are bound to win with logic like this. If this is a jury trial - based on OhlonePar's comments the jury will simply tilt towards MI.




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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 10:53 am

Cool breaze --

Are you talking about the difference in funding between a choice program and a charter program? If so, the charter in PA would get exactly what a charter in MV would get - from Palo Alto.

If you are talking about a lawsuit to force choice instead of charter in Palo Alto, I'm curious about the grounds for that lawsuit, in your opinion.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2007 at 11:53 am

"Cool Breeze,"
Let's both get an education on how schools in California are financed, sounds like we both need it. Here's an excellent source:
Web Link

In California, the state controls how the money is divvied up for schools, so when I say "money from the state", that includes property tax money that goes to schools. Your property taxes in Palo Alto do not go to Palo Alto. They go elsewhere, and Palo Alto gets some of it back for schools.

You can download a PDF that shows where the sources of the money come from for schools and where it goes:
Web Link

Note that: "Local property taxes are a little less than 21% of all funds. The
Legislature and governor determine what part of these revenues
goes to schools."

I looked on the PiE web site and did not find more specific information about how much PiE contributes per student. Can anyone please provide more reliable facts about how PiE contributes to our education in Palo Alto? My apologies, "breeze" for making a very general statement, but your point doesn't clarify or refute it. It's my understanding that PiE funds only go to very specific types of educational expenses that improve education, such as reducing class size -- they wouldn't, for example, pay for facilities upkeep, which would be part of the overall budget numbers you quoted.

None of this changes the fact that a charter in Palo Alto would get exactly the same amount of money per pupil from Palo Alto that a charter in Mountain View would get.

I have to ask my question again-- why is it so offensive to you to consider moving the charter a few miles in order to get better conditions for a school to teach Mandarin Immersion? Isn't that the goal? Why not consider the best options to reach the goal? Why put unnecessary constraints?


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Posted by Cool Breeze
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 2, 2007 at 12:43 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 2, 2007 at 12:49 pm

A charter school would recieve about $5600 per PAUSD student from the district no mattter where the charter is.

The charter will receive the same amount per student no matter what district they come from.

In addition, if the PAUSD charter has more than 80 students from PAUSD, then the district is obliged to provide school facilities for those students--though not for the students from other districts, for whom they can charge market rate.

A couple of reasons why it makes sense for PACE to pursue the MV charter option:

1. Space. Mountain View has unused school space and would probably be willing to rent it at a reasonable rate to a school that would attract students. PACE proposed a 460-student charter. Seriously, where is that going to go in PA?

2. Rent. Rents are lower in Mountain View. Market rate in Palo Alto would be *steep*.

3. A PAUSD charter could end up in Mountain View anyway. The district doesn't have to provide facilities in the district if none are available. (Though as I recall, it should be in the county. So between here and Gilroy) By dealing directly with Mountain View, the PACE charter is more likely to have control over its space because it would be dealing with a district that would benefit from having them.

Basically, the bottom line is such that the school is more likely to succeed under MV's jurisdiction.


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Posted by practical
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2007 at 2:17 pm

cool breaze - what exactly is it that you think the charter folks need to go to court to settle? There hasn't even been an application yet. And the board pretty much rolled over - so what is it you think you are still getting cheated out of?

You are proving the point of many posts on these threads that MI folks are not out to creae a great school, but to 'go for the kill' which is pathetic, destructive and anti-social.

By the way, I doubt Ohlone Par would be the lawyer defending PAUSD, so you probably shouldn't put too many eggs in your basket - claiming you'll win a huge lawsuit because you think a couple random posts here are wrong? Well, good luck with that - one can only hope the lawyers for MI are as excitable and illogical.

If you think there is incorrect information in AJs posts, why don't you tell us what's wrong, and what would have been correct? The useful purpose of these boards is not to create flames but to spread information.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 2, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Thanks, practical.

"Cool Breeze" -- the links I provided are to impartial, practical information about how the schools are funded. If you don't want to learn about how schools are actually funded in this state, that's your right, but please stop the inflammatory posts which are just wrong accusations.

I pay the same nose-bleed-inducing taxes. Your sense of entitlement is natural. But the way schools are financed here is the way it is.

Please get your facts straight and come back with them, rather than calling names. I am not your enemy here. I'd like to get an MI program. I'd just like to do it in a reasonable way that is non-destructive to the rest of the kids in Palo Alto. I think it's possible. What's wrong with exploring the options to do that?


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Posted by Deanna McCusker
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm

While I think all children should learn a second language in the early school years, one must ask who benefits from a Mandarin Immersion program? How many students will grow up to use Mandarin in their work or life? I think no one can argue that it will be a minority of students. At a time when school funding is tight, other programs are being cut, and school days are shorter and fewer to make up for lower teacher salaries, I don't see how anyone can justify a program that will not benefit a majority of students. We MUST prioritize for programs that bring the highest value for the most students.


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Posted by Long memory
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2007 at 4:29 pm

"I'm sorry, I have to say this. Why is going to school in Mountain View "offensive"?

Not "going," a convenient rephrasing. "Telling some one to go." Think hard. Take the long view. Recall history.

"While I think all children should learn a second language in the early school years, one must ask who benefits from a Mandarin Immersion program?"

The children in the program.

"How many students will grow up to use Mandarin in their work or life?"

None of your business.

" I think no one can argue that it will be a minority of students."

One can argue anything.

" At a time when school funding is tight, other programs are being cut, and school days are shorter and fewer to make up for lower teacher salaries, I don't see how anyone can justify a program that will not benefit a majority of students."

Easy, just make it cost neutral.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Long Memory - what the heck are you talking about? Long memory what? If you have a cogent thought, please articulate. Otherwise, your comments aren't very instructive.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Recalling history? That is one of the main points. Not wanting to go back to "equal but separate" schools.

Been there, done that..


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2007 at 8:21 pm

"Recalling history? That is one of the main points. Not wanting to go back to "equal but separate" schools."

You want to use civil rights law, intended to redress historical injustice to minorities, to bully our Asian community? Right, go for it, Bud.

California has a long history of ejecting Asians from cities and towns. Perhaps Cool Breaze is aware of this and sensitive to comments asking them to leave town. Just a thought.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2007 at 8:13 am

Ejecting Asians? Who said anything about that? I thought this was all about 30% native Mandarin speakers and 70% English Speakers, drawn from all races.

Are you saying only Asians would be interested in this program? If so, you are swimming against the tide of almost every person in this debate. Neither side claims this is about "Asians". Both claim this is about "dual language immersion" in the small picture, and "academy choice" in the big picture. The debate was the same in the German Immersion Charter/Choice that happened in South California. Any Immersion program, or Art Academy, etc establishes a "separate but equal" public school.

I think YOU are trying to stir trouble.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Of course, you don't claim it's about Asians; you wouldn't.

The debate, I have to remind you, amigo, veered into telling the MI people to get out of Palo Alto and to go to Mountain View. Cool was offended. Perhaps he or she is better aware of history and more sensitive to it than you. Just a thought.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2007 at 2:18 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I thought the MI program wasn't supposed to be exclusively Asian. If it's not, how is suggesting it be located in Mountain View equivalent to ejecting Asians from Palo Alto?

Just in case you've forgotten, charters are voluntary. No one can be forced to send their child to a charter. Your child's welcome to the same educational opportunities open to other children in the district.

No less. No more.


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Posted by Ed Chi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Just realized people actually responded to my comments two years ago.

"OhlonePar" responded to my comments about how apparently I just "don't seem to retain languages":
"Your "proof" simply shows that you don't seem to retain languages. I, on the other hand, got fairly mediocre grades in languages, but after 25 years, I still retain what I learned."

Then, please explain how I managed to learn Japanese and Cantonese in my twenties and thirties. I can explain it and It's called immersion. I worked with Japanese clients, and watched Cantonese movies and TV.

At the university, I studied Educational Psychology around language acquisition (ESL and schema acquisition). Immersion (over the long term) works much better than short term language course work.

I speak 3 languages fluently (all of them because of immersion), so it's not that I "don't seem to retain languages". The only language that I did not retain is German, one that I did not learn thru immersion. I practiced German when I went to academic conferences, and I very much wanted to retain it. Lack of immersion is what caused me to lose it. It's not because I lacked desire or natural ability. What I wanted was continued immersion.

"Smith" seems to refute his own point. I agree with his comment: "You forgot your German because you stopped using it. Otherwise it would have stuck with you." Yep. That's why we need to have long term immersion. That's how to teach language well.

--Ed


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