Posted by Kathy Sharp, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Dec 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm
The Guidance Services Policy scheduled for discussion includes two disturbing proposals. 1) The new Policy sets a guideline of once per year as acceptable for meeting with a counselor for the purpose of academic advising and post secondary planning at our high schools 2) The new Policy strikes through mention of the Teacher Advisory program which is currently a part of Paly's Guidance model. If you value Teacher Advisory at Paly and support the Gunn Guidance Advisory Council in their work to add services for Gunn, please let Dr. Skelly and the Board know that these changes are not acceptable.
The last Board, provided additional resources for TA at Paly and an extra counselor at Gunn. The last Board supported Teacher Advisory and asked that Gunn and Paly share best practices and to include Advisory as part of this discussion. The last Board stopped short of asking Gunn to implement Teacher Advisory but did require that both schools provide comparable service levels.
We should not seek to reach the lowest common denominator of an annual counseling appointment. Instead the campuses should be encouraged to continue their work to improve guidance delivery including the TA system. Our students need to meet with their counselor more than once per year. Our campuses are getting larger. The college admission process is getting more complex and competitive. With A-G alignment, more students will need academic advising to make sure that they are meeting the new graduation requirements. Don't let the Board transition result in a take-away of services for our students.
Posted by Dauber voter, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm
I think it is crucial for the community to see the CURRENT board policy, below:
Teacher-Based Advisory Program
The Board recognizes that a supportive, ongoing relationship with a caring adult can
provide a student with valuable advice and security. The Board desires to establish a
teacher-based advisory program in which teachers, with supervision and support from a
credentialed school counselor, advise students in such areas as character development,
conflict resolution, and self-esteem. The Board expects this program to enhance studentteacher relationships and give students positive, adult role models. The Superintendent or designee and a credentialed school counselor shall design this program and submit it to the Board for adoption.
Ken Dauber, Kathy Sharp, Wynn Hausser, Trish Davis, and the rest of We Can Do Better -- and all of Dauber's 14,000 plus supporters have tried to get the current board policy -- the one above -- to be enforced by the previous board for more than 2 years. The PAUSD School Board has a current policy in favor of Teacher Advisory not just for high school but for secondary schools. As with P-8, no change in policy was ever needed -- the board simply had to implement its own existing policy. The Board last year asked the Superintendent NOT to actually carry out this policy by telling him that he "shall design this program and submit it to the Board for adoption." [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Now, for the icing on the Gunn parent and student cake, the Superintendent, in collaboration with Barbara Mitchell -- an avowed opponent of this policy -- is trying to get the Board to undo its own policy rather than carry it out.
This is an absolute travesty. Email the school board members and tell them not to change their own policy rather than implement it. Tell the board that it is their job to implement their own policies not to change them to suit the teachers' union. This is an absolute disgrace.
Paly parents -- I hope you want Gunn counseling, because clearly that is what the superintendent has in store for you. Last year he stated to the board that he felt that Paly had "overinvested" in counseling, and he sat idly by while Gunn teaachers gave TA a drubbing. This is not a joke -- TA is going to be ended at Paly under this policy.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm
The Paly TA program costs $$. Paly and Gunn get an equal amount of funding per student from PAUSD and PiE. If they implement the TA program - which costs more than the current Gunn model - Gunn will have to something. For example, they could eliminate the Engineering electives, eliminate Titan 101, increase class sizes, etc.
Its not as simple as implementing the Paly model at Gunn. Paly has chosen to have the TA program and has larger classes and different/less elective (definitely nothing Engineering).
Posted by Dauber voter, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm
palo alto mom - that has nothing to do with the current proposal. The current proposal is NOT about TA at Gunn. It's about TA anywhere in the district -- including at Paly. The school board is being asked by the superintendent to END ITS COMMITMENT TO TA FOR THE DISTRICT which includes Paly. This post is addressed to Paly parents like myself: I do not want this school board to roll back and take away the benefits of TA from my student. If you agree, please email the school board and urge them to reject this regressive proposal.
Posted by Dauber voter, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Dec 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] This new policy says that all guidance services will be provided by "guidance staff." This new policy provides 1 meeting per year for all students -- do you understand that for Paly that is a drop of 8 meetings a year? This new policy says that guidance staff will work with students rather than "identify and work with" students having issues. Do you undertand what is going on?
Posted by Kathy Sharp, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2012 at 7:42 am
A closer read of the proposed Guidance Policy also calls for the elimination of Supplemental Counseling Programs for Students identified as At Risk. This eliminates AVID, Focus on Success, and College Pathways at a time when these programs are most in need given the change in the A-G requirements. Without a policy that reflects and supports what is going on on the ground at each campus, there is no way to ensure comparability of service or continuation of these programs with changes in staff or administration. This policy is not in the best interest of our children.
Posted by huh?, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2012 at 9:15 am
Is you're reaction simply because they removed the focus on TA and incorporated the requirements across all schools?
You seem to be raising issues when none exist. If you did actually read the report you would have seen that they are introducing the requirement:
"Counselors shall assist in developing intervention plans to help identify those students who may be at risk so that proactive support may be provided".
It DOES NOT eliminate any programs for children at risk.
Again, fully read the proposal before jumping to conclusions. It deals with everything without dictating how to do it and puts the emphasis on empowering the schools to make the best decisions for their students. This model of site-based decision making is, after all, exactly what Palo Alto emphatically voted for.
Posted by Kathy Sharp, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In an email to the Board today, Dr. Skelly said he will be pulling the Guidance Policy from the Board Agenda currently scheduled for tonight's meeting. In the email he voiced concern that the proposal was causing more confusion than was the original intent - to support Gunn and Paly in improvement of their counseling services. I support Dr. Skelly's decision, as the proposed policy changes are problematic and represent a significant departure from what is currently working well at the school sites and from previous Board direction.
Posted by huh?, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm
I agree it should probably be pulled. The document was poorly presented and required interpretation, which should never be the case.
However, I disagree that it was a significant departure from what is currently well at all schools sites. It was mostly restructuring the previous statements without requiring specific implementations and I applaud that effort.
Posted by mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm
Huh is right. You do some interesting math to make it seem like the election wasn't as close as it was.
The difference between the highest vote getter and lowest was only about 5% of the vote. All of the candidates got around twenty-something percent of the the vote. Since there were three votes for four slots, that means there were nearly as many people who included Ken Dauber in their slate of three as any of the other candidates. The vote showed he has nearly as much support in the community as any of the other candidates, including the incumbents who have a natural advantage, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of the status quo. Again, since there were three votes for four candidates, this means support was pretty evenly divided in the community among the four candidates.
I encouraged everyone to vote the Weekly slate, which inadvertently encouraged people to vote for two of Mr. Dauber's opponents as well. Had I realized this might cost him the election, I think I would have encouraged more people to vote only for him. Nothing against the other candidates, all of whom I think will do a good job, I just think he would make the board more effective than any of them.
But, the election is over. I am grateful for Mr. Dauber's contributions to our community despite a lot of undeserved criticism. And I look forward to the contributions of Emberling, Townsend, and Baten Caswell. I hope everyone will remember that they are three caring people first and foremost, who are doing this first and foremost out of a sense of service to our kids and our community. I don't see anything wrong with people getting assertive about important issues when they disagree, but I hope people will refrain from making it personal the way some in our community do. (Especially taking ad hominem pot shots online.)
Congratulations to the new incumbents, thank you in advance for your service to our community.