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Time To Move On From MI Or Face A Backlash??

Original post made by JJ, Old Palo Alto, on Oct 11, 2007

It is clear from the continued postings here threatening to oppose MI seemingly "till kingdom come," including by closely monitoring and seizing upon any perceived misstep or shortcoming in its implementation, that at least for some people, this issue has become their cause célèbre.

With that in mind, I ask a simple question:
Given that such continued intense focus put forth by a relatively few core individuals will consume a significant amount of time - both of the Board and school administration - at the expense of other issues, is that really what the "people" as a whole want (and not just the hardcore MI opponents)?

Intuitively, one would have to say no - because those with middle or high school aged children likely don't (they have their own issues they'd like to see addressed) and - given the intense debate - one might reasonably expect those with elementary school children to be at least split down the middle.

Thus, I would expect that continued intense flogging of MI by the "usual suspects" will ultimately result in a public backlash against them. It seems to me that many people have already turned a deaf ear to them, being tired of this issue and wanting to move on to other (quite frankly, more important) things, myself included.

Comments (57)

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2007 at 11:03 pm

JJ, I don't have a big bone to pick in the MI debate and don't have a strong opinion. End of the day, it is a small program (at least today).

But I think you're wrong to think it is just over and done. The process was so flawed and the result so generally at odds with what a lot of people (a majority) would have chosen - it seems like to be a flashpoint for a while to come.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2007 at 9:58 am

There is the same logic behind MI as behind Spanish immersion. These are major languages; we are fortunate to have bilingual members of the community to give these children continual practice in the use of the language; there is supplemental funding available.

The schools need more classrooms. This should have been revealed long ago; the school board caused unnecessary harm by linking this shortage to MI.

The school district has had many problems. I don't think "the process" is the problem; in MI or elsewhere. The school board is simply not prepared to handle the increase in student population that the City Council is sending it by upzoning residential development.


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2007 at 10:17 am

Carol, if you don't think the handling of the MI issue exposed serious issues with the school board and the former Super, I'm not sure what to say. I would think any reasonable person (including all those involved) would be embarrassed by the way the whole thing went down - and for the most part, I think they were. Sure, facility space is a big issue - but this was a fiasco and undermined confidence in the School Board and contributed to the "retirement" of the Super.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2007 at 10:36 am

JJ

I think you are wrong about what you say. The trouble with MI is that it is a double edged sword. If the original vote had been in favor I think a lot of people would have let it lie. But, because how it was treated By the supporters, how they managed to get the board to change its mind, the problem is no longer the original problem. I am certainly one of those who were against MI and if the original vote had been in favor, I would have let go. However, I don't like what has happened since. It is now no longer the original issues against MI that concerns me. What does concern me is that we have a BoE who can be manipulated. That is what is fundamentally wrong now and if one group can do it, others will try. It is no longer about MI as far as I am concerned. It is about the weaknesses the BoE have shown and their lack of foresight in what is going to happen to it in the future.

MI is a done deal for August 2008. What is still an issue on the MI front is the future of the program, the grant and how it will be spent and the weakness of the BoE in its decision making. This is a completely different kettle of fish to my original concerns.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I would agree with you, except that I had already lost all confidence in the school board, and thought they were lucky to be offered MI. Those last two bond campaigns turned me away from supporting this district. I contribute to two others instead.

With the residential increases already approved, the district will be lucky to have any special programs that don't come with their own funding.

The City Council has made its intentions on upzoning very clear, for a very long time, and the schools have no choice but to adapt.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Hmmm, we're in the middle of election season and about to vote on the school board. The MI decision was made just a few months ago.

But discussing the school board's decisions will create "backlash"?

No, actually what I think you're dealing with is the backlash to PACE's and the school board's reactions.

If people don't want to read about the MI debacle, they don't have to read these threads. So, I'm not worried about overexposure.

Also, out in the real world, I've seen no sign of an anti- anti-MI backlash, more like lots of people who want a chance to finally make their voices heard.

Frankly, I don't think I've ever seen so many signs in so many yards over a school board election.

Backlash to a backlash? Sounds like wishful thinking on your part--conveniently timed to quell debate three weeks before an election.

ANd, of course, how many years and how many board meetings were wasted on MI because PACE wouldn't let it go?

Hell, we're just getting started.




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Posted by inspired!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 12, 2007 at 3:52 pm

It is clear from the continued postings here threatening to oppose the War in Iraq seemingly "till kingdom come," including by closely monitoring and seizing upon any perceived misstep or shortcoming in its implementation, that at least for some people, this issue has become their cause célèbre.

With that in mind, I ask a simple question:

Given that such continued intense focus put forth by a relatively few core individuals will consume a significant amount of time - both of the Military and Government administration - at the expense of other issues, is that really what the "people" as a whole want (and not just the hardcore War in Iraq opponents)?

Intuitively, one would have to say no - because those without interests in Iraq likely don't (they have their own issues they'd like to see addressed) and - given the intense debate - one might reasonably expect those with interests in Iraq to be at least split down the middle.

Thus, I would expect that continued intense flogging of the War in Iraq by the "usual suspects" will ultimately result in a public backlash against them. It seems to me that many people have already turned a deaf ear to them, being tired of this issue and wanting to move on to other (quite frankly, more important) things, myself included.

<Now do you understand?>


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Posted by There is a difference
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Those who flog the "war in Iraq" have lost credbility because they are wrong, and have been proven wrong, and pretty much everyone understands the cost of "pulling out now", which is what they want.

The difference with MI is that I don't hear more than a couple people saying "pull out of MI now" ( yes there are a couple)...

I mainly hear people saying ( online and at the schools) "how can we keep MI contained, and how can we prevent the whole split from happening again?"

Honestly, if most "get out of Iraq now" folks were instead saying "How can we prevent another war" I would be much more likely to listen. I hope that the Board is listening to this...


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Posted by There is a difference
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Or even if they were saying, "how can we win as quickly as we can so we can get out honorably without leaving behind a mess?" I would listen more!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2007 at 5:44 pm

They're listening because a lot of people read these threads--not the whole thing, but they drop in. And that influences what happens offline.

Fatique is easy to monitor online--the posting drops off.

I wouldn't assume, by the way, that the core group is that small. I'm completely inactive in offline politics. I don't even have a sign in my yard. I'm not on PAEE's mail list. There are some regular voices, but also a lot of people who come in and out.

Unlike PACE, there's never really been a core opposition. It's diffuse and people are bothered by different things. A fair number couldn't care less about what happens at Ohlone, but they do care about who controls the school district. It's the charter aspect more than anything that's giving this thing legs. That and the future of school bonds.

I can't say I quite place this at the level of anti-war activism, though.<g>


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2007 at 6:00 pm

I think its easy to throw out diversionary tactics like 'blame the victim for flogging the assailants who are attempting to create a coup in our district, and throwing out unsubstantiated assumptions with no basis in reality on the ground - like the elementary population is 'split' on the matter. (In my experience, discussion on the campus after school, people come up to me, etc - the exact opposite is true. People are overwhelmingly pissed off, and disgusted.)

I think you couldn't be more wrong, and I think any of the candidates, Board memebers, or our current Supertinedent who are making this assumption are about to find out how wrong they are.

How about we stop the speculation and guessing where the community stands on this, and just take a real survey? Lets all just put our money where our mouths are - shall we? Lets have a survey of all parents in the district, plus tax payers, and if I'm wrong, I'll shut up about MI. If JJs wrong, we'll just shut down MI. What say you JJ? Willing to play?


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Posted by JJ
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Wow - OhlonePar, Parent and Terry (i.e., THE USUAL SUSPECTS) are the only ones who responded in the negative to my posting.

Me thinks you three might just want to look behind you - that backlash wave is closer than it appears in your rearview mirror!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:18 am

Of course, because the notion of a backlash is a nonissue.

If it were a real issue then someone should be posting to agree with you. Instead you got one person saying she didn't like the board from before.

Terry's not a usual suspect, by the way.

Okay, next transparent tactic?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:32 am

Nope. It was a little tongue-in-cheek. And, of course, it was a big topic without me.

It was actually my way of pointing that out.

Sort of the way the 4,800-plus views on this thread, which is largely about the ramifications of the MI debacle, shows how your wishful thinking is off. That's not burn-out or six people bickering back and forth--that's a lot of people looking for information. Though I suspect they're not that interested in this sort of thing.

So, seriously, do you actually listen to people who don't share your views? Just quietly listen? Because you don't seem to have any idea how deep and widespread the anger is about this. That's been an ongoing problem with the pro-MI crowd--the inability to really get why they've ticked people off. There's this kind of inability to see how their pet project and the way they pursued it interacts and affects the larger whole.

Well, actually, it seems like you guys are so invested in it that there's a willed blindness about it. It's sort of bizarre to watch, actually.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2007 at 12:32 am

Oops, wrong thread for that last comment.


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Posted by Carrie Manley
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2007 at 8:14 am


I recently read a question here asking when the remaining forums are taking place for the school board race. The next forum is this Monday night (10/15)at Juana Briones Elementary School. Here is a complete list of the remaining forums. Please note, all the forums have a moderator, and take written questions from the audience. Each question takes about 7 minutes, because all six candidates get equal time to answer. This means in a two-hour debate, we can take (generally) 12 or so questions. This means we do not have time to take all questions submitted. We have three impartial question sorters at each school forum; two of these sorters are from the school where the forum is taking place, and one is from Palo Alto PTA Council Parent Education (the team organizing these school forums and coffees this election season). We have no agenda with regard to questions selected, other than we are looking for a wide-range of questions. We also look for strong, challenging questions that will reveal the most about how these candidates think--and how they might lead. At the forum, you also get a contact sheet for all six candidates, so if your question is not selected, you can still seek direct answers from the candidates. We strongly encourage you to attend one or more forums and we hope you will submit the questions that you want answers to. Please note, more than 100 volunteers are helping to put on these forums and coffees at more than a dozen schools around Palo Alto. We appreciate their dedication and great help. And we appreciate the dedication, on the part of all six candidates, to participate in this process.
If you have any questions about the forums or coffees, you can email me at carrie_manley@yahoo.com (Wendy Kandasamy & I are co-chairs for Palo Alto PTA Council Parent Ed.) Please note, any PAUSD parent is welcome to attend any of the forums or coffees. We've also had neighboring residents attend these forums--and their participation has been greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Carrie

ALL-CANDIDATES SCHOOL FORUMS:
Mon. 10/15: Juana Briones Elementary, 4100 Orme Street, 7p.m.- 9p.m.
All-Candidates Forum

Thurs. 10/18: Palo Alto High School, 8:30a.m-10a.m.
All-Candidates Coffee & Forum

Fri. 10/19: Nixon Elementary, 1711 Stanford Ave. 8:00a.m.-9:30a.m.,
All-Candidates Coffee & Forum

Thurs. 10/25: Barron Park Elementary, 800 Barron Ave., 7p.m. – 9p.m.
All-Candidates Forum

Mon. 10/29: Terman Middle School, 655 Arastradero, 7p.m. – 9p.m.
All-Candidates Forum

ALL-CANDIDATES SCHOOL COFFEES
Mon. 10/15: Young Fives/PreSchool Family: 4120 Middlefield Ave.
All-Candidates Coffee,8:30a.m. – 9:30a.m.

Thurs.10/25: Hoover Elementary, 445 East Charleston Rd. 8a.m. – 9:30a.m.,
All-Candidates Coffee

Fri. 10/26: Jordan Middle School, 750 N. California Ave., 8:30a.m.-9:30a.m.
All-Candidates Coffee

Thurs. 11/1: Walter Hays Elementary, 1525 Middlefield Ave., 8:15a.m. – 9:15a.m.
All-Candidates Coffee

Fri. 11/2: Fairmeadow Elementary, 500 Meadow, 8:15a.m.-9:30a.m.
All-Candidates Coffee


ANOTHER IMPORTANT EVENT:
Wed. Oct. 24: Community-Wide Conversation with New PAUSD Superintendent
Dr. Kevin Skelly, Jordan Auditorium, Jordan Middle School, 750 N. California Ave. Palo Alto, 7p.m. – 9p.m. Entire community welcome.

VOTE 11/6!

For more information on all these events, go to www.paloaltopta.org


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Posted by Appreciative
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2007 at 10:44 am

Dear Carrie:

Thanks for taking the time for writing such a great clarification. I know you and several others are putting in probably 100s of hours to keep these forums on track, and I think it is safe to say we all appreciate it.

Thanks


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Posted by Another Ohlone Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Wow! Another thread about MI! No it still isn't going away. And, there are quite a few of us who oppose MI and will not let it go as we've been hoodwinked as a community in so many ways by the proponents of this program. Really I've been following this issue for a long time and I've never heard a coherent argument on the pro side that made any case for MI other that that they want it. There are lots of things I would love to see in this school district but I work for the ones that seem to be worth it for the community as a whole rather than my own little in group. You just can't change that basic feature of MI. A boutique program for a few kids. That is what won't go away. Yes there will be a backlash!


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Posted by A.S.
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 13, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Let's stop beating a dead horse. MI is here. It will succeed or it will fail. Ho-hum.

Let's get on to other topics. Give the new superintendent and the new board a chance to get their bearings and move us in positive directions. There are plenty of challenges ahead, and opportunities too, I hope.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2007 at 8:02 pm

A.S.,

When did MI get here? And where do you expect it to go in three years?

It's not a dead horse simply because there are too many issues dependent on it.

Do you want another MI situation where a small group threatens a charter to get a program, not because it's seen as for the good of the district, but because it's the lesser of two evils?

If not, what do you propose be done about it?

Hi Another OP,

Glad to see another Ohlone voice.


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Posted by Want to pass a bond
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

We'll see the backlash when it comes time to pass a bond. It's tragic that Camille Townsend, who led the flip-flopping on the MI decision, has been let off by the press.

We need three new board members.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Want to pass a bond:

It's going to be very difficult to pass any bonds for the next ten years. Even the library bond is touch and go; Mitchell may lose because of "extra" non-Mitchell attachments - any one of which could be the critical poison pill. Support for a new midtown library is very broad, but it's not very deep or very solid. However, Mitchell has the best chance to pass, because a new library won't encourage (or discourage) development.

Palo Alto is being changed into a place very different from the one so many of us chose to make a home. It's the Council's choice; not the residents.

The constant demolition and construction has created a hostile atmosphere toward further development, and also for bonds that will encourage more development. That's true of school bonds as well as utility bonds.

Ten years from now, the new housing will be filled with voters who will have chosen Palo Alto the way it will have become. Perhaps they will be willing to pay for the utilities and schools they need. I doubt that any school board or any council could do much to change the attitude we old residents have toward

That's not much comfort for the parents affected by the shortage of classrooms today, but it's also true a bond wouldn't change that for another three-four years even if it passed. I think parents should focus on getting the board to allocate the funds it has to getting more classrooms, and not pin much hope on getting the community to pay for expansion.


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Posted by Want to pass a bond
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2007 at 4:11 pm

Carol,

That's a pretty dark assessment. Here's why I think you should reconsider.

Many older residents in our community want to live out the rest of their lives here. Unless we bring more development in - including senior-friendly "second homes" that can be purchsed through leveraging agreements on currently owned property, we are going to see a lot of older residents forced to leave Palo Alto.

It's too bad that you see growth as an "either/or" choice. It's not. If done right, growth can be an opportunity, instead of a burden.

Here's something that I can pretty much guarantee. If we see a traditional resident "no" vote against creating facilities that were equal to what you enjoyed from prior generation's investments, there will be very little mercy shown by the bulk of recent and new residents as shortages of space and services begin to force their vote for more development.

We'd better start talkig to each other, and fingure out ways to grow that benefit all - because we ARE going to grow.

Currently, I'm somewhat concerned that a few favored City Council candidates are coming out of the chute as quite conservative on growth. I'm especially concerned with one candidate's positions, and what his agenda might really be (Schmid).


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2007 at 4:55 pm

I was trying to persuade you that the fight over MI has become part of the anger at the general collapse of the old community, and you should let it go. Realistic parents should concentrate on getting more classrooms out of the existing budget.

Of course there will be continued growth in Palo Alto. Not because there's any need for it, but because the real estate market is fading. People who hold land are going to be in a hurry to cash in, as values are no longer rising. Any new Council member will fall in line, just as Peter Drekmeier did. It's not admirable, but it is reality.

I seriously doubt that you are going to persuade current residents that they have any obligation to come to the aid of developers. Only as recently as 800 High, residential development was touted as a way to raise money for the community. Of course, that was nonsense.

I think there are many, many more worthy objects for charity than Palo Alto.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Want to pass a bond: the things I valued about Palo Alto can't be replaced with money. They are gone forever.

The parks are being covered with facilities, the gardens have become "landscaping" and instead of a sense of community, there's silly gabble about "equal facilities."


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Posted by Want to pass a bond
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Carol said:, "Of course there will be continued growth in Palo Alto. Not because there's any need for it, but because the real estate market is fading. People who hold land are going to be in a hurry to cash in, as values are no longer rising. Any new Council member will fall in line, just as Peter Drekmeier did. It's not admirable, but it is reality."

The real estate market is NOT fading in Palo Alto. There may be a temporary lull, but there will continue to be upswings - steady rises - in real estate here, and throughout the Peninsula. Certain demographics will become challenged.

There is still a sense of community here, somewhat different than what you became accustomed to. Change is a reality; it's best to adapt to change, and move on from there.

Of course, one can always fight to keep change from happening, but that's a losing battle.

As for Council members "falling in line": there is little chance for radical change in any 9 person, consensus-required, political body. The only thing that would change that is either a charter change to demand an elected mayor, driven by a well-coordinated group that has a cohesive, convincing, alternate vision.

There is a possibility for some innovation here, but that won't happen in a serious way intil we see vision at the policy-making level that points beyond our borders, to regional cooperation.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2007 at 6:43 pm

How does all of this fit in with the MI opposition? Most of it wasn't racist, but some of it was. And, as they still say in the South, where I was born - "lie down with pigs, you'll get up dirty." (And who should know better than a white Southerner how very, very dirty you can get?)

I thought the MI proposal was the first sign of intellectual life I'd seen in our school system. I understand, and sympathize, with parents who can't get their children into the neighborhood schools, but I thought MI was being made a scapegoat.

The opposition got very, very ugly. You should recognize that.

Aside from that, it's not going to be easy to get 2/3rds votes to subsidize the consultants, the studies, etc. etc.


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Posted by Another Ohlone Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 2:44 pm

A.S. No, the horse isn't dead. It's coming to Ohlone where it will make people very uncomfortable. An election is coming up and it will make some candidates, one in particular, very uncomfortable. The ill will nurtured by its proponents will be reaped by this whole community in the years to come. Neigh.


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Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:04 pm

In casual conversations around our school and playing fields, I have not met anyone that actually supports MI. (I did meet someone in a bar who will apply to Ohlone next year to try and get into the MI lottery, and so I assume does support it.)

The rest are indifferent at best, and many actively dislike it and the way the BOE handled the matter. If it "goes away" as an issue it will leave a legacy of dislike and bitterness.

The accusation of racism seemed (and still seems) a cheap shot by the pro-MI faction to cloak their behavior in sanctimony, and avoid an honest assessment of the value of the program to the district as a whole.

But no reason to take the word of an anonymous poster on the internet. There is an election in a few weeks, and the results are going to indicate the feelings of the community - particularly whether Ms. TOwnsend is re-elected.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:58 pm

I get a kick out of this whole "it's over" mentality. The ONLY thing that's over is the discussion about whether to have it or not. Now that the vote(s) are in, MI is just beginning.
I question the motives of *some* (not all) of the people who ask those who were vocally opposed to MI to be quiet and move on. There's a well-deserved lack of trust. Once trust is broken, the natural -- and justifiable -- human response is to watch them like a hawk.
To imply that this reaction will create a backlash...well, it all depends. If the hawkish watchers exercise the same dogmatic "everything you say is wrong because it's coming out of your mouth" attitude that the more staunch MI supporters displayed, then yes, I'd have to agree with you.
But to imply that now that the votes are over the MI program should be given carte blanche to do whatever they want however they want – after all, they've got the big bucks so the rest of us should butt out – will do even more harm. The same way that the PA Weekly, in their endorsement of the candidates, said it was strangely lacking that Camille Townsend did not confront the MI issues leading up to where we are today, it would be strangely amiss if we all just buried this as though it never happened.
One of the things I'll be looking for is how *pro-actively* the MI leaders create a program that has benefits for the greater community. I wrote about this in another thread. They have cost the community a great deal of friction and probably a bond. I'd like to see them come to terms with that and ask (themselves or the rest of us) what they can do to give back to the community. It's a give and take thing – it's time for them to creatively look at how they can give in a way that benefits all.
Once they prove that they're willing to put their energy to use in a way that demonstrates consideration of all – and especially of those they're negatively impacting -- they will regain trust.


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Posted by cynical
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:20 pm

There are many reasons to vote in a new school board. Too bad that you're hanging so much of it on MI. What about the secrecy, the substitution of consultants for common sense, the support of a Superintendent beyond reason? What about the failure to budget for a growing student body.

Here's hoping that the new school board doesn't have the same corporate board style as the old one. The new Superintendent will also bear watching.

It is not promising that this new Superintendent lack a commitment to openness - and also lacks respect for parent volunteers.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Cynical-
Right. And there will continue to be people like that on the pro-MI side. Not much we can do about it.

The people I'm watching are the MI leaders with authority – the ones listed on the FLAP grant who are responsible for creating the MI program. They are Marilyn Cook, Becki Cohn-Vargas, Norman Masuda, William Garrison, Duarte Silva, Amado Padilla and Grace Mah.

The buck stops with them. No sense holding the vocal staunch supporters responsible for the program details, although a little introspection on their part and a gentler attitude towards the have-nots would go a long way in mending the community rift.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Carol,

MI's an issue, in part, because it epitomizes so much of what was wrong with the Churchill bureaucracy and the current board. Everything you mention played its part in the MI debacle. It was only a minority of the MI opposition that was opposed to MI under any circumstances.

I think if the board had voted through MI back in January *and* voted to reopen Garland with the provision of putting MI there, a lot of people would be less than thrilled with the decision, but you wouldn't have nearly the rift that you have now.

Yet another,

I think it's not coincidental that the pro-MIers on this forum and Camille Townsend have both been emphasizing how we must move on.

I don't think Townsend understands that the best way to move on is to move on without her.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm

OhlonePar: I hope parents find the energy to stay with the new board. I do agree with the Weekly's editorial.

The MI proposal sounded exciting to me; but I was completely taken aback to discover that the board had taken it so far without admitting that they had done nothing to prepare for the number of classrooms that would be necessary.

The lotteries for placement in neighborhood schools, the re-drawing of school boundary lines - these all seemed evidence of absent or useless oversight. Where had the BOE been for the last ten years?

My children being long grown, I had not been following the school board, but as the bad news kept rolling out, I couldn't see why there hadn't been a parent revolt long before, especially over the failure to plan for increased enrollment. That is so fundamental.


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Posted by AnotherView
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:09 pm

OhlonePar:

"It was only a minority of the MI opposition that was opposed to MI under any circumstances."

If that's really true, then how come you and your core group still seem intent (or rather, quite frankly, obsessed) with eliminating the program by seemingly any means necessary?

Yes, you can use the approval of MI as an example to say we need to fix the process (or to get rid of Townsend because she oversaw that process), but to also continue to seek to eliminate MI after that approval seems not only mean-spirited (to say the least), but also quite frankly just plain stupid (given the federal grant it subsequently received). THAT'S where the backlash will come if you continue to push it, IMO.

I guess what I'm really saying is that you don't necessarily need to "move on," but just don't be vindictive about it.

I'd also suggest that you should re-read Carol Mullen's posts again - I think they represent the "moderate majority" out there concerned about bigger and more important things than MI.


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Posted by Former Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:41 pm

A gentler attitude towards the have-nots. There are a lot of have nots in this district not just now but in the past. Although there are many examples, here are two:

From the past: At Hays, students have a Perceptual Motor Program in addition to PE. Hays students received other enrichment programs through the huge amount of funds their PTA used to raise compared to other schools. PiE dollars pay for this program now. PiE's fundraising has really helped to equalize the disparity between what each of the school communities could raise in the past.

More recently: At Nixon a few years ago, a parent donated up-to-date, state-of-art computer equipment completely refurbishing their computer lab. In the meantime, the high schools were limping along with old, old computer equipment in the labs the students use. The district has provided funds in the last year or two to start upgrades. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to direct private donations of equipment from parents to where the highest need in the district is.

Okay, one more, Paly pool.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:48 pm

AnotherView,

I don't have a "core" group. Seriously, I'm not on PAEE's mail list and I'm anonymous even at Ohlone.

So while it's convenient to lump all the opponents together--thus making all of us responsible en masse for what others say--it's not actually accurate.

My concern is more focused on MI than many because I am an Ohlone parent, so what happens on-site is a bigger deal for me than if I were a parent at, say, Nixon.

The MI proposal voted through is a practical mess. Its initial stages will overcrowd the school with no benefit to the school at large. Even so, Ohlone can't actually support a full MI strand, unless it becomes a mega-elementary (nothing like a commuter school of 600 with 15 parking spots on a residential street.) or cuts into the Ohlone-English strands.

So, the fact that the board passed this without having a plan for where MI goes in three years is a big issue for me--because its my kids' education that's affected by this lack of planning.

The lack of planning may have an even worse affect on the MI kids. We're talking about a program which has no previously tested curriculum. The demands of learning a language like Mandarin and Ohlone's approach don't obviously jibe. It was reckless to approve that kind of educational plan without further study.

I won't get into the many other issues.

At the same time, I've spoken up several times in favor of language instruction and the beneficial effects of immersion. When the board came out against MI 4 to 1, I was one of the MI opponents who discussed various ways in which there could be language instruction without the school crowding problem.

To me, it seems worth exploring summertime language immersion courses supported by non-immersion language instruction during the year. This approach is often used in Europe. It would offer some of the benefits of immersion without the space problems.

I've also suggested, more recently, that when the JCC vacates half of Greendell that might be a home for the MI program.

Now, if you or anyone cares to assuage my concerns, go to it, but I have yet to see anyone even come close to actually grappling with them. It's like hanging out with a bunch of ostriches in a sandpit.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:07 am

Hi Carol,

The lack of foresight and planning has been sort of mind-boggling. I kept watching the board and thinking they must have their act together more than it seemed, but, no, they really seemed to be navigating by the seat of their pants.

I mean, we Ohlone parents didn't hear about plans to put MI at Ohlone until two days before the board hearing on it. It was handled in just a terrible way--pretty much guaranteed to create an us v. them feeling.

And, frankly, that's never stopped.

I do think Callan and the board's inability to manage her had a lot to do with this. I was at one of the MI public discussions held later (when the BOE after voting no, decided to flip in face of a charter threat--though why couldn't they have seen that one coming?) and it was a heated discussion. At the end, Mary Frances Callan lectured us on our behavior. She did *not* approve. And, man, did my inner high-school rebel come back--it was a real flashback.

And I thought, wow, she totally, totally doesn't get it. She totally didn't get that we were voters and she was working for us, not the other way around.

I think to some extent that Townsend bought into that--she forgot that she wasn't working for the superintendent of schools. In the day-in/day-out of meetings with the district bureaucracy, she lost sight of her primary responsibilities.

It's funny, I mean I know none of the board members are dumb, but there was a fecklessness that was really something to watch.

You know, I actually wasn't paying attention to the board prior to all of this, but yes, now I'll keep an eye on them. Though, frankly, I wish we could get a board that I trusted enough to ignore again.


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Posted by Seen the damage
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 8:15 am

"[MI's] initial stages will overcrowd the school with no benefit to the school at large."

No overcrowding. As to no benefit, that depends on your attitude. For you personally, there will be none. For those who approach life more openly, there will be many chances for mutual benefit.

You pretend to be concerned about where MI will go in time, but you show no evidence of any real concern. It's another excuse to oppose MI. You know best why.

"When the board came out against MI 4 to 1, I was one of the MI opponents who discussed various ways in which there could be language instruction without the school crowding problem."

Yes, when you thought MI was dead, you came up with unrelated ideas to give your own kids some language, ideas that didn't begin to address the educational needs of MI supporters.

"I mean, we Ohlone parents didn't hear about plans to put MI at Ohlone until two days before the board hearing on it." So what? Do you expect to vote on it? (And look at the way some Ohlone parents--a minority--handled it: threats to shun MI kids, etc. Imagine what the parents would have gotten up to given more time.)



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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2007 at 8:20 am

OhlonePar: Don't think of it as trust vs. mistrust. It's the parents who make the district. The Board members need to hear from you to balance the extensive input they will get from the school administration. It's not that these people start with the wrong ideas; it's the effect of working as if they were a corporation, in spite of the fact that their goal is not a product, and the customers are really shareholders.

It is hard to find the time, but the Board cannot get the trust of the community; only the parents can do that. The parents have to be kept informed; a secretive Board ought to be recalled.

It would be wonderful if we could just elect good people and relax. That hasn't seem to work at any level. Not at the school board, not at the City Council, the State, the Congress...

I think it was Ben Franklin who described our government as "a republic....if we can keep it."

Apparently it takes a regular infusion of democracy from keeping a republic from handening into an autocracy.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 8:43 am

I for one would love to move on from MI.

However, MI keeps getting in the way.

I think one of our biggest problems is the future growth, over enrollment and stymied school campus sites that means we can't increase beyond the 3 strands per grade model without a board waiver. I would love to see Garland back as a new school where we could put the kids that are presently being overflowed from the North cluster. I would like to see Ohlone increased in size so that by taking more students overall they would be helping out the overcrowding in the south. Unfortunately, MI makes these things very difficult. Without MI things could be done better in the elementary schools.

Our middle school campuses are feeling the crunch with growth. Making Garland a k - 6th campus, with 6th grade sharing some of the JLS facilities would be a solution. Unfortunately, the MI people seem to think that MI would automatically be their's. Without MI we could use Garland very innovatively.

Our high school language classes are back in the stone age. The text boods are falling apart and the most technology they use is old videos. We really need to start spending money on the whole secondary language programs, starting with middle and also the high school programs. We need to get modern language teaching methods into all the classrooms. However, now that MI has all this money coming, it will be so much more glamorous than the other programs that other languages will soon be considered second best to Mandarin by the students who don't get the toys to play with. Without MI we could improve the language programs simultaneously.

There seems to be an achievement gap which keeps getting forgotten. At present there are also a lot of ELL students who need to learn English better so that they can do well in other subjects. There are many students with various learning disabilities. All of these matters need time and debate, they need specialist research, time and BoE discussions. Unfortunately, there has been and still is so much time being spent on the installation of a MI program, that staff can't get a heads up in these areas because they are too busy looking into the start up problems of MI.

So you see, there are problems with MI getting in the way of all our problems. Whichever way you look at it, we can't get over MI because it is in the foreground of almost every problem that PAUSD has at present.


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Posted by Carol Mullen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:03 am

From a community point of view, I see two languages which have special possibilities for the children in Palo Alto: Spanish and Mandarin. There are bilingual communities here, to give them practice. If this were Los Angeles, it could be Farsi.

There are sources of financial support. That's going to be important.

There are cultural, political, educational and scientific institutions to which these children will have access only if they are fluent in these languages. The high schools produce an acquaintance with languages, but not fluency. It's not necessarily too late, because my children were natural linguists (and had the benefits of earlier training) but there is so much else for a teenage to do. Immersion seems only possible at the elementary level.

I didn't see any evidence that the Board was moving to do any of the things you want, or any of the things Grace Mah wanted, nor toward reasonable public disclosure of the chaos in the system.

I wish that someone would break open the hermetically sealed City Council system. (I guess Grace Mah will be too busy but perhaps someone younger and healthier than I will borrow her blasting tools.)

It's not the Palo Alto Way, but the Palo Alto Way seems to be secrecy, protect incompetence, don't move, just spend money on studies and consultants.


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Posted by Move on!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:03 am

Parent,

That's a novel and unfounded analysis (eliminating MI solves everything!). Yet MI is here, so it's just idle daydreaming. The board and all the board candidates are over MI. You need to get past it, too.

We need some pragmatic solutions that take into account all the kids in the district and don't seek to solve problems at the expense of a few. These pragmatic solutions will, obviously, have nothing to do with killing MI. Let's hope the new board can block out the noise and get down to business.



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Posted by GiveMeABreak
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:39 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:40 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:41 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:45 am

Move On! -- you're right that no one is suggesting we now decide against MI. I'd not be surprised though, to see support for a one or two year moratorium on the program. We're not far into the year of planning and what has been done so far can still be used if, for example, a decision was made to start in 2009-10 rather than 2008-09. If we lose a Federal grant, what's the big deal, since MI is cost-neutral.

There are many other planning issues, after all, that it would make sense to settle first, before deciding, for example, that MI really needs to be at Ohlone. (It's not like the idea of a constructivist immersion program was ever in the original proposal—as plenty of people have pointed out here that's a 'mash-up' born of political expediency more than anything.)

With a moratorium on MI we could address facilities planning, boundaries, opening of new schools and the design of the entire World Languages program first, which is what many of us objecting to implementing MI NOW wanted all along. The reason we argued that way was that there really IS a better order in which to do these things. Making a decision to open a new choice program really does close down other options which, given the huge challenges that the district faces, would be much better to have open while those issues are being decided.

That argument still has value even if the fundamental decision to have the program has been made. We can grant that an MI program will exist soon, and we can still benefit from having the bigger issues (like addressing expanding enrollment) decided first and allowing them to impact MI (such as in the choice of where MI is to reside) rather than vice versa.

Some people have argued that asking for more pressing issues to be settled first is to say that there would never be a time to start a new program. I don't buy that. I simply think a new, boutique program (however exciting, innovative etc. etc.) should very properly be expected to wait its turn if doing the opposite hurts the district (which many people, including a majority of the current BOE, have said is the case).

If the fear of saying no to MI is the renewed threat of a charter application, a moratorium rather than a cancellation should surely protect against that, as it gives the district a perfectly valid reason for rejecting the charter, since the proposed charter would be reproducing a district program planned for a year or so hence.

Many people in this forum seem to agree that MI will continue to be a cause of friction in the community thanks to the way that it came to us. Couldn't a moratorium, which would allow us to resolve many of the issues that MI jumped ahead of, ease that friction tremendously? -- an outcome that I would argue we need if we're ever to get a bond passed again and something that would make the moratorium worth far more to the district than the loss of a FLAP grant.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:52 am

PA Dad - the moratorium makes sense in light of our current issues which should be resolved - but doesn't let the young children of the MI supporters start "immersing" next year...


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Posted by very disappointing
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Oct 18, 2007 at 10:58 am

It's so sad to see this continual bickering and bashing. Really turns me off of TownSquare, and especially these threads.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:02 am

The board and all the board candidates certainly aren't over MI -

They may be in active denial, but they have a lot of MI issues yet to decide.. location, funding/spending (cost neutrality), staff resource levels, reporting to the community, reporting to the federal government, pilot performance analysis, lottery issues, bond impact, etc.

The only thing that's OVER is the approval vote. The entirety of the implementation, roll out and operation of MI is YET in the future. The simple plain fact is, its not over. It's just beginning. And the board is going to be dealing with it.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:04 am

Very

If you don't like the bickering in these threads, you can read the other threads. Some of what is being said here is actually good and also polite. Most of the MI threads state that in the heading and it is very easy to avoid them.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:40 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Move on!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:45 am

"How about considering the needs of all the children in the district?" That's what I'm arguing for. (That includes MI kids.)

There is no need (or support on the board) for a moratorium. The board has moved on. A moratorium would not resolve any problems but would lead to a charter. Losing the grant is a big deal, actually, since it means a net inflow into district coffers. Losing it means the district would be poorer.

I agree with some of the priorities you mention, and we should go ahead with them. They have nothing to do with MI, and proceeding with MI doesn't close any doors. I guess I need to remind you that there was a moratorium on new choice programs and that it was lifted. MI patiently waited its turn for many years, and now it has arrived. We need some pragmatic solutions that take into account all the kids in the district and don't seek to solve problems at the expense of a few.

It's time to move forward and solve overcrowding issues, etc. Looking back is a waste of time.

"Eliminating MI simplifies the real issues," That's true. But the same can be said about many other things: FLES, Ohlone, Hoover, SI, gosh it would really simplify things if we decided not to teach the kids at all. But simplification is not a goal in itself.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:59 am

Carol,

I did attend board meetings and spoke up--but it's like nothing got through. Frankly, I find my OhlonePar alter ego here has more impact than the nonvirtual me does.

As for MI, it's funny, but it's actually not that big a language here--yes, it's the most widely spoken second language in Palo Alto, but it's still less than 2 percent. It's not even widely spoken in Santa Clara County. Nothing like the 20,30 and 40 percent figures you get for Spanish in this state.

Which doesn't mean it shouldn't be taught. But in what context and when? What priority should it have?

And, of course, that stuff just got tossed all over the place. And it's still up in the air because of the sloppy decision-making by the board.

But I think most people know this--even, I suspect, a fair number of the staunch MI supporters.

So, where do we go from here and who can handle it? Klausner's mix of experience and her careful comments are striking me favorably as I read more about her.


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Posted by I like the 3 endorsed by Weekly for the job
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:10 pm

My concern is that the MI thing is like a red-herring..taking away from the big picture of how it really represents pretty much everything that we are rebelling against, ...poor prioritizing, poor vision of goals, poor management, poor listening, and arrogant, dismissive attitudes.

THAT is really the bottom line, and is NOT limited to the incumbent Board Member, but is best represented by her as being the primary person on the Board who spearheaded the efforts in a few efforts which have blown up.

I hope that we get 3 new knowledgeable, analytical, logical, transparent, listening, respectful Board members with a "single district" but differentiated instruction vision, who know their job is policy making and Superintendant supervision, and who insist on full, professional reports on which to base their decisions,


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Move On!

Wny not a moratorium? I disagree that MI waited its turn. That's precisely what didn't happen--charter threat to get program despite bottom priority on the strategic plan. Sounds more like shoving in line to me.

So, why not? Is there any reason besides the age of the kids of some of the MI supporters?

Here's the advantage I see to a moratorium--the incoming board is less likely to ignore the need for another elementary. New elementary means less overcrowding.

As Parent, I think, suggested, expand Ohlone another half strand, since the demand's already there. With Garland in the north and Ohlone picking up slack in both the north and south you have a less-frustrated district.

So, MI? at that point, a couple of options become available that currently are not. One is to put a strand at Garland, though there are issues with that. Another is to take over the JCC part of Greendell when the JCC leaves. At that point, you have vacant in space in a location that's already in use by part of the district. I'm guessing that it's reasonably up to code as a result. And it can't be used for a full-size neighborhood school without booting Young Fives and PSF. It's a good spot for a small, specialty program.

At that point, MIers would be much more likely to get an immersion program whose curriculum has been tested.

The arguments against it? Well, what are they? Age of MI supporter kids? Impatience? Charter threat? (Not a great idea because at that point the board can nix the MI program and PACE is back at square one. And the board has the option of putting you guys anywhere in the county. The incoming board is less likely to be taken by surprise on the charter stuff than the current one.)

Anyway, back to the thread topic--move on from the hottest topic of the year during election season? From the crowd that can't let go of MI--I mean, you guys keep complaining about how long you had to wait. In other words, you didn't move on.






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