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Are friends and foes of Mandarin immersion really oceans apart?

Original post made on Jun 12, 2007

School board members learn fast to become friends with their e-mail, but the flood of inbox activity on Mandarin immersion has been a tsunami.

Read the full Guest Opinion by Palo Alto School Board trustee Barbara Mitchell here Web Link

Comments (58)

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Posted by lottery winner
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:48 pm

185 parents signed up for 40 kindergarten spaces available in the Spanish program this fall.

So the response to alleviate this problem is to add a Mandarin program rather than extending SI?! In January, the board said "NOT NOW" - the board then lost control on the decision making process.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2007 at 3:18 pm

I presume then that the Weekly will allow Gail Price, the now sole dissenter, to give her "guest opinion".


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Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Oh Boy!!! I'm sure all of our elementary teachers won't mind if they are now required to teach in two languages!!! That way we can provide immersion for ALL our students.

After all, like Barb says, "language-immersion instruction is inexpensive, effective and scalable. The strategy needs no extra teachers or district funds." I take that to mean that our existing teachers are capable of providing immersion to all of our students?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2007 at 3:35 pm

And then, I suppose there will be German immersion, and Russian immersion, and Hebrew immersion, and Arabic immersion, and.......


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Okay, now I know to vote against Barb Mitchell because like the rest of the pro-MI crowd she didn't acknowledge the overcrowding problem, the equity problem, or what-the-hell-happens-in-three-years problem.

So, lack of foresignt in a big way.

Oh, and why should we allow a small group of people use the threat of charter to force the board to do something that has caused a huge fissure in the district?

It ain't about Mandarin, folks.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2007 at 4:10 pm

It has been rough, but I hope we can get past this last year.

I would be happy with the simple goal of offering every kid the chance to study enough foreign language in elementary school and summer schools that they have very basic conversational skills by 6th grade. Then they could easily choose to become bilingual/literate by 11th or 12th grade if they wish.

I really don't think it is an important goal at all to become bilingual by 6th grade, for most kids.


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Posted by Lorraine Sparaco
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2007 at 6:38 pm

I, too, would urge the Weekly to invite Gail Price to provide a guest opinion on MI. And I hope Ms Price will take you up on that offer.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 12, 2007 at 7:29 pm

I would like to urge Gail Price to give her guest editorial.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 12, 2007 at 11:28 pm

As each of those Paly journalism programs got started, was there a cap to the number of students they accepted? I suspect not. "It started with one class, 19 students and a teacher's commitment to provide opportunities for all interested students." This is a very telling detail.

How about the district showing "a commitment to provide opportunities for all interested students"? And, to be precise, this describes a commitment to provide actual opportunities, not a commitment to provide access to a lottery system - with poor odds, no less.

"The 450 students who enrolled in the [Spanish Immersion] program are now reading and writing in two languages." That is truly wonderful – for those 450 students. There's no mention of the thousand students who would have liked the opportunity, too, but lost the lottery.

But frankly, equal opportunity isn't the main issue, at least not for me. The original 'no' vote had to do with district priorities, overcrowding and fully supporting our existing wait-listed programs before adding new ones. Barb Mitchell missed the mark in her Guest Opinion.

Like others have suggested, I'd also like to hear the other half of the story from Gail Price.


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Posted by Chicken Little
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 2:44 am

Oh, the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!

Look, our board is dealing with the overcrowding. Not the way some (many?) of you like, but they decided to not open Garland and increase the school capacity.

The board approved and funded the world language task force. Not the way some of you like, but they are addressing the issue.

Some other school districts have some vision, like Barb. I never heard Gail describe anything visionary with respect to the district's educational future. Solving the achievement gap (laudable and always a safe bet) is very PC, but is not visionary. At least the methods that Gail has proposed to solve it (uh, what methods have Gail proposed, other than complaining about it early and often).

Web Link

Barb, your vision is great!


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Posted by Emperor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2007 at 8:28 am

I guess, Chicken, that your definition of a visionary must be someone who gives you what you want. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 9:09 am

Barb continues in her dreamlike vision state as she has from the beginning of this debate.

Her first mistake is the sweeping assumption that everyone on both sides of the MI debate favors language education for all as a high priority. How would should know?? The district hasn't updated its strategic priorities in over three years, and in the last rounds of public survey and strategic priority setting process, language education was no where to be seen on the radar.

Barb imagines a world where everyone is speaking three languages - which will be just fabulous for our kids as they pump gas, and ring up groceries for the business leaders of tomorrow who hit the math, science and technology curriculum today with the fervor and devotion as she envisions placing on language education.

Barb's answers her own question - how much leverage can we expect from an MI program toward advancement of a world language program - ZERO. Its perfect that her illustration comes not from the 12 year running SI program which has provided zero leverage for world language expansion in the district. Rather she points to a thriving journalism program (an extension of a basic curriculum subject (English) to show how a small program starts small and thrives. Her beloved SI program provides value to no one except those who lucked in to the lottery. The MI program will do no better.

Barb punts on most of the "big idea" issues that are at the core of the opposition to this MI proposal. IF dual languge education is so fabulous, so critical, so necessary, then PAUSD is doing a criminal job of providing that necessity to a rarified few, while ignoring the rest. Its either a necessity, or its not. And if its not, we don't need. If it is then we all need it. Which is it Barb?

But this is not suprising from Barb who cut her teeth in PAUSD as a PTA leader from the uppercrust side of the tracks, steeped in the educational tradition of 'What's good for me, is good for me, and Oh! Is there someone else in this town I should be thinking about??? Well, let them eat cake.' Yes, someday, someway in Barb's utopian world, it will all work out for everyone via osmosis, but in the meantime a few well placed kids get theirs.

Barb gives a new meaning to the word "visionary". I believe the appropriate word in this case might actually be hallucinatory. I believe PAUSD is the worse off for having unrealistic, ungrounded leadership like Barb, who believe that running a public school system with responsibility for educating ALL of its 11,000 students with high quality results is served well by providing a boutique speciality program to 20.

In this commentary Barb proves for once and for all she is completely out of touch.



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Posted by Parent too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 9:33 am

This is why we have charter schools - so the 'visionaries' (or those who are seeing things), can go off and have their own "far out" schools and leave the rest of the community out of it.

The real problem is that in the throes of her visions Barb forgot the job she was elected to do -to be a trustee for resources of PAUSD for the good of the entire community, NOT to be a seer for private education.

I would really like to see MI start up as a charter school, and they can hire Barb and Camille as their (?) Marketing department?


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Posted by xSIpar
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Barb sure paints a rosy picture about language immersion. Sounds like the typical PR to keep immersion programs afloat, though. As mentioned in previous posts, our experience is that (1) other subjects (particuarly English composition) suffer at the expense of language immersion (this is really having an effect by the time kids get to high school!) and (2) immersion does not guarantee fluency. Interestingly, we heard the same concern (1) recently from a native Spanish language family who is in a Spanish immersion program. I'm sure one can skew the statistics by comparing 4th-grade scores and Palo Alto students with state-wide averages in Spanish, English or any other subject. Just wish board members would have a realistic perspective on these what an immersion program can and can't do.


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Posted by Threads
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 13, 2007 at 3:23 pm

It sounds like MI friends and foes really are oceans apart.

Candidates for School Board owe it to voters to formulate a clear position on this issue, since there is such a deep division.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Its disappointing but not surprising that Barb took this tone with the constituents she represents. With this 'wont it just be wonderful someday watching 12 kids graduate this program, I can't wait' attitude, she demonstrates that she's completely ignored or absolutely refused to comprehend the real issues of the MI program.

Ironic that she scolds both sides for refusing to move an inch over the entire course of the debate (as if she herself has been nothing but an unbiased observer), when she herself has had her feet firmly planted in her fabulous future fantasy world since the beginning, where everyone in pausd is graduating speaking three languages without a dime of investment, without a single tiny bit of sacrafice for key critical priorities, all thanks to the wonders of MI. She hasn't moved herself one bit on the actual real life issues of missing truthful cost atriculation, equity for all elementary students, location, realistic performance metrics, lack of strategic fit.

Her rhetoric today on this issue is alarmingly similar to the things she was saying to support MI when we started this whole mess ages ago.

I think there's a song lyric.. "nods politely, stares right on through"


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2007 at 9:13 am

I think it is really sad when it is portrayed that the opponents are seen to be the bad guys in this. Last night on CNN there was a short segment about a school in San Francisco that has an MI program. The commentary was that this was really innovative and cool. To see and hear this one would have thought it was crazy to object to this, but of course, it was terribly one sided and no other perspective was given.

The truth of the matter is that no one is against Mandarin. No one is against the idea that immersion programs are a great idea. No one thinks that the SI graduates are not entering life with an easy bonus. What is also the truth, is that until or unless this can be available to all who want it, til there is room enough to house such a program without sending kids miles across town, til there is money available and designated for this program specifically, and so on and so forth, that it just does not make sense to introduce a luxury boutique program. The same could be said for any such program regardless of what it is.

When I went to school, computers and typing were not taught to the general school population. The few that got it were those who it was thought would need a skill to get them a reasonable office job because they were not likely to go further academically. How wrong was that thought. Now computer skills are a necessity for all careers and even for everyday life. The fact that it was taught to a minority was wrong. All students in my school should have been taught these skills. This was clear to me even at that stage when it was denied to me. Likewise, any skill (if language can be called a skill) must be available to all and denied to none. We need to get a FLES program first, and then we can work on ways to improve a language program, not the other way round.


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Posted by Just making it clear
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 14, 2007 at 3:42 pm

So it seems that fundamentally, Parent is against choice programs.

OK, got that.


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Posted by Another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2007 at 4:26 pm

I actually read what Parent wrote, and didn't get that Parent was fundamentally against choice programs.

Ohlone and Hoover are choice programs that teach the same curriculum as the rest of the kids in Palo Alto get, just with a different educational philosophy. I didn't get at all that Parent was against those.

I did get that Parent was against offering a new and special educational opportunity to just a few students when it is not available at all to everyone else, especially if doing so involves setting up a program that requires its own separate school facility, especially when we could be designing programs to provide the same opportunity for everyone (even fluency) without requiring separate school facilities.


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Posted by Wynn
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Here's my Letter to the Editor, printed in yesterday's Weekly:

============================
I agree with the school board members who said it is now time to move on from the Mandarin immersion discussion.

Yes, it is time -- time to focus on electing school board members who will show real leadership, make policies that are good for a broad array of students and who will do their job supervising the superintendent, not bury their heads in the sand.

We have one such member now in Gail Price, but two other seats are open this fall and two more in 2009. We need strong candidates who can get the district back on course and people willing to put the same kind of energy into getting them elected as they have in fighting the good fight on this issue. Our kids deserve nothing less.

============================

Of course, with Gail leaving the board, it will be even worse.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Just Making it Clear - Just to make it ~perfectly~ clear... I'm against the Mandarin Immersion Choice program in this district, under these circumstances at this time.

To be further clear, I am against immersion method of foreign language instruction in the public elementary schools for any reason other than to serve students who need the method to adequately access necessary academic basics (ie: closing the achievment gap for ESL students). Because the immersion method will NEVER reach all students, it is not an appropriate strategy for delivering language instruction in a public school system, because it will never deliver to all students equitabley. Language immersion schools belong in the private education sector.

Yes, I am against SI as well for all of the above reasons, including the issues listed earlier: missing truthful cost atriculation, equity for all elementary students, location, realistic performance metrics, lack of strategic fit.

Hope that clears it all up for you.


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Posted by Just making it clear
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 14, 2007 at 9:55 pm

OK, so there are folks who:

1. are against all choice programs, including the existing ones
2. are against any more choice programs at this time (but never willing to say *when* is the right time)
3. are against immersion choice programs, including the existing one
4. are against a Mandarin immersion choice program

Have I covered all of your bases?

Along the same lines, there's folks who:

A. support choice programs as alternatives to the regular (excellent) schools
B. support language classes of any kind for all kids
C. support immersion programs for all kids who want to take them
D. support immersion programs as choice programs
E. support Mandarin immersion in any shape or form

Pick you numbers and letters and stick to them. We've heard all the arguments.

Me? I choose A, B, C, D, and E.



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Posted by Living in the real world
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:14 am

It's too bad by "support" you don't mean "$support$". As in, not forcing PAUSD to fork over the money for your own priorities at the expense of the priorities of most of the families in the district.

If you truly "$suppported$" your choices, you would find a lot less opposition, even gratitude.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 2:19 am

You forgot one.
Folks who support language classes, FLES or fluency classes, if they are made available to all students AND can be provided in a more flexible way than the current MI program. Oh, and another. Folks who are against starting permanent, inflexible programs that have a lot of unaccounted for costs and that make the former option less possible.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2007 at 8:36 am

Just making it clear, there are also people who realizing that the District has a finite amount of $$

Think we have other priorities (aka science, math, writing skills) that are more important than Foreign Language in any form

Do not like exclusionary programs in public schools

Would like any new supplemental programs to be available to all students in the same way as Art, PE and Music

Would rather support full-time librarians and additional resource staff at all sites rather than another program to benefit a few.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 9:14 am

"Pick your numbers and letters and stick to them". Excuse me? I'm sorry if the objections to your pet project are so many, varied and complex that you can't keep them straight. Each individual that objects to MI can do so for 1,10 or 20 reasons, all valid.

And as well, people are free to engage in the debate and change their minds on some of the issues if they are so convinced.

'Pick a position and stick to it' characterizes the problem very well. The community didn't see Grace, Nico, Shan or any of the others actually ~hear~ the issues, ~address~ the issues, ~accept~ the issues, ~fix~ the issues, and come back with workable acceptable solutions. All we saw was that pro-mi crowd do is 'pick a position and stick to it'.


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Posted by ElectionResults
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2007 at 9:20 am

I do so hope that the current Board President Camille Townsend runs for re-election. There's been a lot of talk on the forums but, if she runs, it will be a "referendum" to show how real is the support for/against MI.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 9:32 am

Also, the definition of when is the right time is not vague. Now is not the right time because we don't have space, we have overcrowded schools and the money could be better spent elsewhere. It is not on a strategic plan and there is no FLES for anyone.

The right time could be defined as when all the above are met. It could be just one of the issues are met. However, the right time is not when a small group of parents (10 names) blackmail the BoE.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 9:44 am

The problem is a lack of people ( so far) who are running for the Board, so if Camille runs unopposed, she gets in...I suspect she is waiting to announce just for this reason.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2007 at 9:47 am

I read somewhere this week that there are at least three serious candidates considering running and they do not have to declare for a couple of weeks.


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Posted by ElectionResults
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 15, 2007 at 10:09 am

Yes, there are currently at least 3 new candidates: Web Link

Palo Alto school board elections are months away, but PTA Board President Melissa Baten Caswell, former 2005 board candidate Claude Ezran, and GATE Math Specialist Barbara Klausner have told the Weekly they want to run.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2007 at 11:37 am

I think a pro-MIer said Caswell had been opposed to MI? So a vote for her is a vote against Townsend?


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Posted by Redirect your energy to eliminate hypocrisy
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2007 at 3:48 pm

If you people are so outraged against MI because it serves a small minority of students, why don't you spend your energy dismantling ALL the choice programs in PAUSD? Equality for all students, and all that other drivel you spout, yet you're smug because your children are already part of the special minority (Ohlonepar). Quit bashing other parents who want to get on the choice program bandwagon - you both want special treatment for your kids.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Redirect,

I'm all for increased access to choice programs. MI, however, limits expansion of Ohlone's program, for which there's already a long waitlist and will offer a very small number of families a slot.

My issue with MI is the overcrowding issue. When kids aren't getting into their own neighborhood schools, it's not a good time to introduce another choice program.

Is there any particular reason you're venting here when you're unfamiliar with what's actually the issue?


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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm

"why don't you spend your energy dismantling ALL the choice programs in PAUSD?"

Redirect,

I have been advocating exactly that approach all along. ALL choice programs should be put into charter schools, or funded by educational voucers. Give us back our NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS!!!!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Does anybody remember an article a few weeks ago in the Weekly or Daily that spoke about MI Charter/Choice, and who it quoted as saying he was for MI Choice program and didn't understand why there was opposition? I can't find the article, so I don't want to say who I THINK it was who said it.., but if it was who I THINK it was, one of the candidates coming up may be a pro-more immersion programs candidate.... This is not to rumor monger, I really want to know.



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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Web Link

Found the article. Yes, it was Claude Ezran in the article I remembered. Compared the equity question of an immmersion program for a few with nothing for anyone else to special ed and after school sports teams, ( after a year of hearing why those are not the same!)

Not voting for him.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 10:24 am

Resident - very good catch. Thanks for pointing this out. I will not vote for him either.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 10:38 am

Ezran's other comments seem to be about the lunch programs and wanting to promote the lunches with tickets for free movies outside, or something.


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Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:09 am

If he isn't a viable candidate for proponents of responsibility, who else can we find to run who does fit the bill? Because having Camille Townsend on the BoE after her performances about the trust issue and MI is not a pretty prospect.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:37 am

Thanks for the article posted by parent. I will be voting for Claude Ezran. I do not believe in "one size fits all" in education and very much value Palo Alto offering parents choices. I think immersion programs are the most effective way to teach languages and hope Palo Alto can expand current programs to accommodate all who want them. Although I value neighborhood schools, I never hesitated to drive my children to the best school for them if the neighborhood school did not provide the best education available for my children.

I just want everyone to know that there are many of us in Palo Alto, in full support of the final decision of the Palo Alto School Bd approving the MI program and I totally agree with statements referenced above by Claude Ezran and Barb Mitchell. I look forward to the next school board election to see who the majority of voters will support. Those who are most the vocal are not necessarily the majority.


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Posted by Let's play...
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 18, 2007 at 12:06 pm

And if your children didn't get into the luck program would you still send them to the neighborhood school since it, by your definition, "did not provide the best education available for my children."?

You can claim support of "many" without providing any quantitive proof, only the elections later this year will really tell.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 12:56 pm

yes, I have heard several people say that all they have wanted is the chance to find out how the majority of PA feels about the direction our district is taking. I hope it becomes clear in the next election. I hope there are some clear choices so that the results of the vote can be accurately "read" by the Board. As it gets closer, we are going to have to ask candidates to take stands on various issues.

Most of all, I hope that that PA voters pay close attention to the issues and make informed votes.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 1:12 pm

I think this will be the first election in some time where choice between candidates will really be about important matters rather than what we have had in the past where there seemed to be very little real difference between candidates. This time, the candidates will have to have real answers to important questions and they will have to be accountable to an informed community who will ask them the tough questions, probably on both side as Marie pointed out.

We will then have a much better idea which group on the language and charter debate are the majority or minority.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2007 at 2:37 pm

I would add though that for some reason the position taken during the campaign can become reversed upon election. For ewxample, Dana and Barb ran on the trust issue and improving communication and I am not sure I saw them -- certainly not barb -- taking the whole management team fiasco seriously. Seems like the BoE, with the exception of Gail, turned into a vehicle for unquestionably supporting the Superintendent, which doesn't feel appropriate. we need checks and balances, and healthy, respectful skepticism has its place. Too much has gone unrepaired in the last 4 years in this district.


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Clearly we need more candidates.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 19, 2007 at 11:11 am

When's the filing deadline for the election? I won't vote for Ezran either--[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2007 at 11:21 am

Here's some very odd news. I wonder why the International Civil Aviation Organization requires pilots speak English? And I wonder why China would care? Why bother with the investment to teach 8000 pilots English?

Are they all so behind the times that they don't see that Mandarin is the big idea for the future? Since China is going to be such an enormous economic super power any day now, why isn't the airline industry switching to the internal standard of Mandarin?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2007 at 11:22 am

Here's some very odd news (with link)

Web Link


I wonder why the International Civil Aviation Organization requires pilots speak English? And I wonder why China would care? Why bother with the investment to teach 8000 pilots English?

Are they all so behind the times that they don't see that Mandarin is the big idea for the future? Since China is going to be such an enormous economic super power any day now, why isn't the airline industry switching to the internal standard of Mandarin?


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Posted by Anchors Away
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 19, 2007 at 11:56 am

Sorry, Barb,

Clearly some parents *are* oceans apart on this issue. I don't know if parent is still sniping to change the vote, or just whining sour grapes.

Either way, it's a real shame and pitiful.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I think its a fair comment. Barb said we don't get the big ideas. I am challenging Barb's contention that this program makes us better off. The evidence in the real world all around us doesn't support her position.

Perhaps the emprorer resorts to sour grapes when he's told he has no clothes on.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm

I think this program makes us better off in bragging rights (like having Jimmy Choo's or 7 jeans). But is Mandarin or even FLES is a true priority for PAUSD parents?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 8:30 am

Palo alto mom - you're right, its about appearances. It is a program about luxury, fad, a status symbol. I grew up in Palo Alto, I've lived here for over 40 years. I never understood why people would call us 'shallow alto' - people in this town (my family and friends) lived modestly, worked hard for what we had (I always had a summer job, not much $ for summer school or extra activities, I bought my own bike), we had a small house, modest cars, etc.

With this program, I finally see what they mean. A few luxury prone parents thinking its not good enough to get one of the best all around educations in the state, so they need to one-up and get a specialty luxury program installed that all these richy rich folks are going to pay for, no problem. Ultra customized, ultra specialized, ultra useless. I finally "get" why they call this shallow alto. A few bad apples DO spoil the whole bunch.


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Posted by still angry
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:58 pm

It bothers me that one special interest group was able to totally hijack the priorites of our public elementary schools. Instead of caring about the needs of the greater population, MI has focused on getting mine now. This is bad citizenship and it will lead to more of the same ME FIRST thinking. The palo alto weekly fell right in step. Everyone was blinded by the idea of a cool new program instead of looking after what is right for most children... such as ensuring the development of the math curriculum or figuring out how to use techology better or the other 10 items that were above languages in the strategic plan.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2007 at 10:37 am

I agree with still angry and the others. PAUSD is not meant to be a shopping emporium. Many of us have worked hard over the years and put our money on the line in order for all Palo Alto children to have the opportunity to get a gread education in spite of Prop 13 and the general indifference to education in greater California. To see a group come in and advocate only for their personal agenda is very disheartening.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 11:13 am

Its embarrassing - the kind of luxury enrichment a few spoiled people expect from the government - as if the world owes them a living. Breakfast in bed on gold leaf platters.

This MI program is something I'd expect to see in the tabloids coming out of an ultra spoiled community like Beverly Hills.

(Or on the other hand usefully starting up in a struggling area with a high rate of non-english speakers and low academic achievement, where an immersion program would legitimately serve as an effective way to close the achivement gap.)

It was amazing to watch the leading MI supporters stand up one after another in board meetings talking about how wonderful their little English speaking pre-schoolers were doing at learning Mandarin from their Mandarin speaking NANNIEs. Please! MI in PAUSD for a bunch of spoiled brats (the parents, not the kids). Would be like Paris Hilton applying for food stamps.

Embarrassing to watch - embarrassing to be part of.

By the way, the department of defense is going to fund a program in PAUSD elementary schools? What's next, ROTC training? Do the parents of this program really want their kids' names on a list notating them as 'strategically useful' If PAUSD actually wants this, I'd ask the board to turn down the money, and do it ourselves - we don't need to be making any deals with the devil for this.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 11:22 am

The answer to the question raised at the top of the thread is Yes. Yes. Yes.

It is called the Pacific Ocean.

We are oceans apart because some believe in equity in education and others don't.

Some believe in elitism and others don't.

Some believe in selfish favoritism and others don't.

Some believe in neighborhood schools and others don't.

Some believe in strategic planning and others don't.

Some believe the BoE should make a decision and keep to it, others don't.

This is a subject that is not going away and will only get worse over the next three years until the pilot is moved to wherever and then some. And as soon as that is sorted out, the middle schools will become involved. And if you think that is the end of it, wait until the next group come along and ask for their boutique program.

It's not over until the fat lady sings and she is still as skinny as a rake


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Posted by oh brother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:47 pm

I'm still stuck on the whole idea that Mandy Lowell and Dana Tom reversed their decisions because, they claimed, they are against charters. What exactly do they think this choice program is, with nowhere to go in three years, but practice for MIers to run their own charter school in three years?

I fully believe PACE would have submitted a charter application, I do not believe they could have gotten a charter off the ground. That will be a different story in three years, maybe even in three months with the prep from this summer, compliments of PAUSD.

An experienced principal recently told me that charters are really hard, and that there are really only two truly successful charters she knows of (Bullis is one of them; apparently not even the ones run by Stanford in EPA make this list).

I personally think if PACE could get a successful language charter going, more power to them. But going about it this way through an unwieldy choice program is really dumb. Plus the rationales of the board members make no sense -- in three years, PACE will be infinitely more prepared to actually do a charter because of this choice program. If threatening a charter is truly a threat, why help this group get the experience to make good on the threat the next time they want more, which is definitely in the offing?

As much as PACE members bandied about charges of racism whenever it suited their purposes, some of the ugliest things said were by PACErs themselves when people started suggesting a charter in Mountain View. Given the bigotry expressed by PACE at that suggestion, it seems all the board would have had to do was threaten to rent space in MV when the charter got big enough that the district had to supply space.


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