Posted by SI On-Looker, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm
PAUSD has decided to suspend the Middle School Spanish Immersion ("SI") Program at Jordan. According to SIPAPA, there are some hard lessons to learn from the events leading up to this decision
* SI families need to use the SIPAPA organization more effectively. It's the organization through which to advocate for SI and to work with the schools and the District.
* One-on-one communication with teachers should take place as it always has and follow established protocols. However, group meetings of SI parents with PAUSD reflect on the larger community and should be coordinated with SIPAPA.
* Feedback from our teachers suggests that SI families often cross the line in their efforts to be involved in the classroom. Parents need to respect the teachers right to establish and teach the curriculum and the District's role in overseeing instruction.
While some of the wording may sound self-serving, coordinating groups serve a useful purpose in tempering the response of individual parents in emotionally charged situations. Mandaring Immersion parents should take note.
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 15, 2008 at 2:28 pm
How can MI parents "take note" with this cryptic message about what happened?
And why does SIPAPA or any other group appoint themselves the arbiter of parent-district or parent-teacher communication? If I was entering a program that required (or pressured) that I clear my communications with a group intermediary between myself and my kids educators, I'd run the other way. Fast. Who is SIPAPA to demand this?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:08 am
What I've found is that vocal parents are often brave parents, who are willing to risk the consequences of backlash or unpopularity, or being labeled a complainer or a trouble maker, to speak up for something that's wrong. Only willingness to be speak up and stick your neck out will get things fixed. Especially if theres some sort of insidious organization out there putting extra pressure on you to keep your mouth shut!
For the district to have cancelled the program, it could NOT have been simply because a group of parents were "complainers". They must have brought some important issues with the program, that the administration and/or board couldn't ignore. Perhaps high cost of implementation at the middle school level, perhaps failure of the programs ability to meet the divergent needs of middle school age kids (when kids needs REALLY start to diverge), perhaps the kids weren't performing at grade level, perhaps the teachers were not trained enough, who knows??? But the likelihood is that some group of BRAVE parents risked the wrath of SIPAPA to bring some fatal flaws to the attention of the administration.
But now, it sounds like there are these informal groups that have designated themselves the official 'protectors' of these programs, sort of like??? A union? A mob? A gang? Whats even more weird than the program getting shut down after a group of parents complained (still don't know what they're complaining about), is the fact that SI Onlooker (above) posts some sort warning/admonition that parents are supposed to be using SIPAPA as their channel of communication with the district. Like nothing gets outside of SIPAPA's tight control?? Now THAT's weird.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:15 am
As a parent who has been horrified at the goings on of the Board of Education v PACE over the past couple of years, I am pleased to see that it appears that the Board have stuck to their guns on SI and not allowed the parents to steamroller the system. I am worried that the MI debaucle will encourage other groups of parents to try to do similar things with whatever their passion is, and I hope that the news of what is happening here with SI and Jordan shows that public education is not the place for selfishness and greed.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 4:36 pm
Here is my perspective as the parent of a sixth grade SI student who was directly affected by last week's decision to suspend the program: Years of poor management by the Jordan administration and the school district effectively killed the program. Kids coming out of 5th grade immersion have acquired some excellent skills and worked pretty hard to get them, but still need continued Spanish language development and formal Spanish grammar instruction of the kind that other middle school foreign language students routinely receive in order to successfully bridge to advanced high school Spanish 3 or 4. The need for such middle school instruction has nothing to do with "pushy" parents, and everything to do with coherent curriculum development -- something every school district should be doing for every child and something that the Jordan administration and PAUSD simply failed, for many years, to do for these advanced language learners. Instead, kids moving through the middle school program were taught on an ad hoc basis, depending on the personality and preferences of the teachers. The result was pretty much chaos in the middle school program for the past half dozen or so years.
The situation came to a head this year. At the very start of the school year, the Jordan staff held a meeting -- really, a lecture -- for incoming sixth grade SI parents to inform us that our kids were going to be problematic troublemakers and to make it clear to us that the teachers didn't much like them and really didn't much want to teach them -- all of this before they knew anything about the individual incoming students. I believe the message of that meeting can be summarized in a single sentence -- "Your kids are lazy, rude and illiterate." This kind of teacher-driven hostility and prejudice toward each new crop of SI kids apparently was allowed to ferment and fester for years by the Jordan principal who resigned mid-year (for other reasons, I'm assuming) and by her predecessors. Our clear impression from that meeting was that staff was hoping to drive a nail in the coffin of the program this year, and then blame the kids for being, well, rotten. Any half-way educated adult who understands even rudimentary statistics would know that all of the kids in the SI program, who are essentially selected by lottery, cannot possibly be rotten, year in and year out. Every random group of kids will have a range of skills, talents, and personalities. Indeed, many of SI kids we have gotten to know over the years are really good kids who have worked pretty darn hard at the difficult challenge of acquiring foreign language fluency in an English-speaking culture. These very same students are taught math and science together by another teacher who engages the students and has few discipline issues. Yet the Jordan administration and the District have never seen fit to put a stop to the open hostility of the Spanish teachers at the middle school level; indeed, the outgoing principal was a participant in that first week meeting.
As this year progressed, we became increasingly uncomfortable with the absence of Spanish instruction and learning that was going on in what was supposed to be an immersion core class. The apparent lack of faculty interest in Spanish language progress was entirely inconsistent with the explicit message we received at that first meeting about our kids needing to work harder -- and yet, I'm sad to say, totally consistent with the implicit message we received that staff hoped to kill the program on the grounds that the students are too lazy or stupid to make progress. For two years, the parent organization SIPAPA has been trying to coax the district into developing a systematic curriculum for the program and into finding an appropriate educator to teach it. I understand, for instance, that there are good Spanish teachers at Gunn who are enthusiastic about the SI program and its kids. They certainly cannot be the only qualified Spanish teachers willing to work in the Palo Alto school district. Yet when SIPAPA brought a new Spanish teacher candidate to Jordan for consideration, the administration flatly rejected the offer. When some of the current middle school parents objected to having the same teachers continue with a program that these teachers do not care about or support, all civil dialogue broke down and the district responded with the heavy hand of cancellation. Now we have a group of disappointed kids who cannot figure out why on earth the PAUSD administration has chosen to undermine the program and their hopes of succeeding in high school Spanish.
Posted by a Paly parent, a member of the Palo Alto High School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 4:45 pm
I am outside this program. Wait a minute - we make such a big deal about Spanish Immersion in this district...and this is the situation?! Why didn't the Jordan SI parents take this to the school board earlier this school year? I am concerned about equity between Jordan/Paly and Terman/JLS/Gunn in terms of foreign languages (not just immersion). Teacher interest, quality,programs, all need to be examined for equity.
Posted by not a problem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm
Why can't these students take Spanish in middle school along with the rest of the students. Maybe they can jump to 7/8 grade Spanish even if this means they already know some of the lessons, at least they will be ready for high school just like the rest of their peers. No harm with joining the main stream.
Posted by E PLURIBUS UNUM, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm
The whole idea behind these immersion programs is flawed,if the parents want to have these programs they should pay through the the private sector for example there are German language schools in Menlo Park and MV that are are fee based for full time or Saturday programs
I feel it is grossly unfair to the rest of the PAUSD parents to waste resources on these programs.
The kids can take one of these other languages in high school as part of the normal schedule
Posted by Another Disillusioned Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm
Ah, the "Parent" who analogizes this issue to the PACE "debacle" [sic] speaks in complete and utter ignorance. The SI situation at the middle school is nothing like the MI situation before the school board last year. I watched the MI debate from afar, with some vague concern. We had been generally happy with the SI program at Escondido, but were hearing rumors about problems in the Jordan SI program even as the MI debate was raging. Then our sixth grader arrived in the Jordan SI program this year to a maelstrom of controversy. Frankly, we didn’t know what hit us.
I now understand that there have been years of open hostility by the Jordan faculty toward the families who have taken advantage of a long-established and cost-neutral program – a program, by the way, that is geared toward facilitating cultural interchange with the Spanish language culture that is California’s history and, I believe, would happily accommodate anyone and everyone if only the district would allow it.
We also learned that some SI parents have quietly, perhaps too quietly, tried for a long time to work constructively within the system to address the teacher prejudice that has been allowed to fester within the Jordan faculty and to facilitate SOME amount of active teaching and learning. When those efforts hit what seemed like another dead end this year, the situation exploded. Parents who had suffered in silence while their kids either learned nothing or were openly berated by hostile teachers refused to be silent any longer. Yes, perhaps those vocal parents could have done things in a more tactful and respectful manner, but the negligence of the school and the district toward students who have completed a successful elementary school program and are only hoping to bridge the gulf to high school Spanish with a basic advanced Spanish middle school elective has left a lot of people very saddened and frustrated. I'm the opposite of vocal; I'm utterly speechless. Would it be ok if the district treated the Hoover, Ohlone, Connections or Direct Instruction families in the same manner? That’s the proper analogy.
But hey, you've hit upon a potential strategy, “Parent.” Maybe SI middle school parents should use the charter school blackmail threat that worked for MI to force the board into ensuring that our kids have the opportunity for an advanced Spanish elective that will allow them to continue successfully to high school Spanish, just like the basic Spanish elective will allow other middle schoolers to continue to Spanish 2 in high school (Jordan won’t allow our kids to enroll in the basic Spanish course – believe me, I asked). Nah, we're far too polite for that.
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:29 pm
I don't know much about this. But it seems logical to ask if there were "years of hostility" against the program by the Jordan faculty, why is that? Apparently the school gave reasons, which at least some parents did not believe. But given the "prejudice" was against SI but NOT against the other special elementary programs, it seems plausible at least that what the teachers said might be true and that there was something about the SI program or population that led to problems at the middle school level.
It is an interesting data point at least for other immersion programs - there are downstream effects to be considered.
Posted by ng, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm
Hoover, Ohlone, Connections or Direct Instruction are all taught in English.
The MI frankenstein monster experiment will be over in 18 months,
There is no justification for these language programs. English is the international language of business and is used in China when a mandarin speaker wants to communicate to a cantonese speaker for example.
Spanish is an easy language to learn and can be easily taught within the normal high school high school program.
Native speakers of other languages need to learn in English if they intend to stay here, if they are temporary then the parents should pay for tuition or coaching
Posted by Outside looking in, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm
I am also outside this program.
It sounds, from Disillusioned's post, like the teachers were out to kill the program, which is outrageous. What reason did the district give for taking this action? Why didn't the SI parents take this to the board long ago? How could you tolerate teacher hostility toward your children?
Also, the district owes it to the kids coming out of the SI elementary school to continue their immersion schooling.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 6:53 pm
The few parents I know who are SI parents are extremely vocal and pushy. Going outside the district and proposing a new candidate as a teacher is totally inappropriate. I have not heard anything about teacher hostility towards SI kids and I have 2 children who went thru Jordan and have lots of SI friends. However, there is hostility towards parents with entitlement issues.
The district does not OWE it to "kids coming out of the SI elementary school to continue their immersion schooling" it owes them a well rounded education, in English. If it CHOOSES to continue a program, it can.
The way the 6th grade curriculum is set up, there is not a period when 6th grade students could take 7/8 Spanish. Their 2 elective periods are filled with the elective wheel (one period) and PE/Music (second period)
I think with our new board and new superintendent, a charter "threat" might be met with a "go ahead".
Posted by Parent, a member of the JLS Middle School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 7:25 pm
I had heard similar types of rumors and was wondering what the right take on this one was. It seems that rumor mongering will continue unless we can come to the bottom of this (Arden, are you reading this?)
With any of the choice middle school programs, unless we are actively involved, it is normal to assume that these programs are going ahead without any problems unless we hear to the contrary. During the MI discussions, the SI program was given as an example of a shining beacon to lead the way and it was assumed that there were no problems. If there had been problems, it would have been timely for the SI parents to publicly speak to the Board at the meetings so that the rest of us could be aware that there was a situation not as rosy as assumed.
There are always two sides to the story and from what I am reading, it sounds that mistakes were made on both sides. If there was knowledge that the program had problems, whether from the perspective of Jordan not continuing the program into middle school to the satisfaction of the parents, or the teachers finding that the students were behind in Math and English and had to work hard to keep up, I would have felt that this information was worth making public. If the parents had spoken up and made their position clear at Board meetings, or if the Jordan faculty had spoken up about the SI students not being grade proficient, it may have made a big difference. I suspect that there was a little of six of one and half a dozen of the other, but the underlying problem existed and was real.
Now it appears that we have an immersion program that is going nowhere. Whether these students are going to be able to keep their language skills until high school is a good question. Another good question is how they are managing to keep up with their peers in core subjects.
I think the school community deserves an explanation from both sides. I don't see an alternative. Otherwise, how can the other choice programs in the District be trusted? And, how can any parent consider any of the choice programs for next year?
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm
Yep. I wonder if the 'lecture' about how much the administration hated SI students (before they even got there), wasn't more like a lecture to parents about 'no more coddling' now that the kids were hitting middle school. The kids were no longer going to be able to skate through their proficiency requirements in English, just because they've been working their butts off to learn Spanish. And maybe the administration did come down hard on them - to prove to them that they weren't in Kansas anymore. Particularly coming from a soft cocoon well protected by SIPAPA from scrutiny and the harsh reality of student performance metrics. Maybe that was a tough reality to swallow for those SI parents. Maybe that mean old staff told them that their kids wouldn't bet getting spanish attention until they were at grade level at PAUSD standards in English, math, social studies and all their othe subjects. And maybe the teachers and admin, who are measured on the students performance in ENGLISH, were focusing exactly where the focus needed to be to bring those kids up to appropriate grade level for the middle school they were in (not any old california school - the pace and level at a PAUSD middle school is a shock for most entering 6th graders, even the highest performers, which we know those kids were not (not because everyone hates them, not because they're dumb, but because they were handed a raw deal and an unfair lot when the "won" the lottery in kindergarten - through no fault of their own.
But what's really rich is now SI parents all up in arms because PAUSD couldn't pull it off. Here's the real learning and parallel for MI. The MAIN argument against MI all along has been that PAUSD doesn't have the resources, the bandwidth or the expertise to pull this off. AND they are bound by a cost neutral requirement on these programs (by the way - who paid for the translation of entire middle school curriculum to Spanish???) So, now, is anyone really surprised that PAUSD staff and admin didn't pull it off??? Really???
Is it really such a surprise that the program was facing resentment, resistance, lack of coherency, lack of expertise and frankly a staff who's main focus was English, not Spanish education?
And where did you think all the money was going to come from to build this spectacular program? Entitlement - the PAUSD tax payers OWED it to you after we GAVE you a spanish immersion elementary education?
And by the way, where WAS all this long brewing resentment, confusion, questionable results and staff mismanagment of the program when the MI discussion was going on? SIPAPA keeping a tight lid on reality, eh?
So, now, I'm an incoming MI parent, asking myself, can PAUSD pull it off? Will the program be solid? Will the program be there for the long haul? Will the teachers be trained and committed?
Do they have the right metrics for the kids and the staff? Is the staff and administration supportive? Will some MI lobbying group hold a tight reign on me and my kids education while we're there, prevent truth from surfacing in the name of saving face/preserving the program. And the biggie - will my kid maintain a high grade level proficiency in English all the way up to PAUSD standards? Where will we sit in six short years from now when its time for US to enter middle school - Will my kid know any Mandarin, and what good will it do him in middle school/high school, or will it all just be for naught? Wow, alot to ponder.
Posted by SI watcher, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:57 pm
Wow, JLS Parent, I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion that SI kids are behind grade level in core subjects. Believe me, SI parents would have skewered Gary Prehn if their kids weren't up to snuff in K-5 academics. In fact, SI kids do just as well as others in the district.
The SI program at the middle school is not really an immersion program. Social studies is supposed to be in Spanish, and Language Arts is supposed to be 50/50 Spanish/English. It's the teachers who make or break the program, and let's just say that the teachers who who have been assigned to the middle school program weren't the right match for middle school immersion. Doesn't mean they're bad teachers or incompetent, but maybe their Spanish proficiency wasn't up to snuff (native or nativelike), maybe they (and the principal) never took any workshops in immersion "science" and how-to's (it's not just doing things in Spanish), maybe they didn't know how to crack a smile or inspire young adolescents... The 7-8 elective has been too dry and boring.
The good news is that the middle school program, lackluster though it has been, does keep the kids' Spanish skills going and improving. The students go into advanced high school Spanish classes, including several who go into Spanish AP as 9th graders.
problem with SI at the middle school is that it doesn't have the same calibre teachers as the elementary program. Not to say the teachers aren't competent teachers, but they may not have the temperament or ability to reach and inspire middle schoolers as other teachers.
A problem this year has been the mid-year change in plans for the 7-8 elective. Some people didn't sign up because they anticipated it would be lousy (dissatisfaction with teacher and/or curriculum). Then it was announced the course would be new and different, with pizzazz. But in a parent meeting late this spring, none of the staff could describe the new elective because the curriculum would be developed during the summer. That left parents/students wondering whether they should sign up after all, or bail out due to lack of course description. The problem was the change was sprung on families without prior consultation at a very late date, and the answer to questions was "wait and see." I think everyone ended up feeling jerked around.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 16, 2008 at 10:01 pm
I think you are lucky that your kids will not have to go through a poorly planned and poorly managed program, lacking a proper curriculum, and that caused children to be unfairly labeled as difficult. And I'm sure the skills they have acquired with SI will be extremely useful for them going forward. I also imagine you will organize yourselves to provide your kids with other opportunities outside of school to reinforce and continue to develop their Spanish. I admire you for pursuing an education for your kids that allowed them to be bilingual. It is still shocking that in the heart of Silicon Valley this has to be a struggle and an uphill battle.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the JLS Middle School community, on Jun 16, 2008 at 11:07 pm
Double Wow, parent who started with Yep, where to start? You really are carrying quite a chip on your shoulder, rather ironic for an entering MI parent. You are also revealing an incredible amount of ignorance. I really can’t let your attacks on the SI kids go unanswered. First, the teachers did state point blank that they don’t like the SI Kids, without having met them, their comments had nothing to do with changes in expectations moving from 5th to 6th grade, which we knew well. Second, the SI kids have not been coddled, they work hard. They not only do well in the Spanish assessment tests, they also do well in the English tests. And you obviously don’t understand that math, social studies, and history are the same in any language so they are not even an issue.
Yes, the sixth grade parents were surprised that the middle school program was such a mess, since the elementary program runs like clockwork. But I can’t actually say why I did not hear about the animosity the Jordan teachers had for the SI kids. But I can tell you that we have given many hundreds of Dollars to purchase books so the program is cost neutral.
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 8:41 am
To all the SI parents - some of the issue may be as simple as the difference between our elementary and secondary teachers, not just for SI. Our experience has been that we have wonderful elementary teachers, particularly in schools with strong principals. I found many of the teachers at Jordan to be just mediocre, a couple truly terrible but there are also many wonderful, enthusiastic teachers too. Much less consistency then our elementary schools.. Could be the lack of a strong leader at Jordan caused some of this.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 10:18 am
Jeepers. So the SI program has managed to fill its ranks entirely with problematic trouble-makers who were coddled in elementary and somehow skated through with poor skills. Plus their parents are all pushy loudmouths.
Either that, or the anti-choice spin-meister whackjobs are coming out of the woodwork again. (Parent ain't no MI parent despite claims to the contrary.)
Back to reality: It sounds like the curriculum was inadequate and the teachers possibly subpar (and perhaps antagonistic toward the program).
The district (administrators and teachers) should be held accountable for failing to design and implement a minimally competent program. Blaming the kids is just sick. What official reason did the district give for axing the program? How long has the program been in place? To be fair to the teachers, what, exactly, is the complaint about them (classroom control? preparation? lack of familiarity with immersion? enthusiasm?)?
To echo palo alto mom, I have heard twice now from parents that the experience at Jordan is down to the luck of the draw: some awful teachers, some mediocre, and some great ones. Could it be that the SI got some bad teachers?
In any case, there is no reason the district cannot provide SI kids with a well-planned, articulated, seamless program through high school. In fact, as was pointed out, it owes that to these kids.
Posted by don't blame the kids, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 10:44 am
Parent of another neighborhood,
PAUSD owes SI kids the same good education that it owes ALL kids. SI kids aren't entitled to any extra level. Your comment about Jordan teacher being the luck of the draw is accurate. We've had exceptional teachers, and we've had exceptionally bad teachers. We're still wondering how some of them ever got tenured, but now we're stuck with them.
I also agree that blaming these kids is awful. I know quite a few of them, and they're very smart, motivated, nice kids. They do deserve a good middle school experience, but not to any greater extent than the rest of our kids do. Some of the SI parents get this and some act incredibly entitled - not unlike the PAUSD parent population in general.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm
It certainly does call in to question whether PAUSD has the expertise, the resources, the bandwidth to provide these programs in a quality way while remaining cost neutral to the rest of the district. Apparently there's more cost to an immersion program than just paying for the books??? (imagine that)
Seems like they would really need to hire dedicated experts to develop, administer, oversee these programs to ensure a comprehensive, high quality experience. Perhaps the families that want these comprehensive specialized language academies WOULD be better off seeking them out through private programs where the will of the organization, the program goals, the parents expectations, and the resources all stay in alignment.
Maybe SIPAPA (and shortly PACE?) are finding out that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink?
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm
From an earlier post, the problem with SI at Jordan could be because "maybe they (and the principal) never took any workshops in immersion "science" and how-to's (it's not just doing things in Spanish)"
I thought that the immersion program WAS "just doing things in Spanish (or Mandarin)" The PAUSD curriculum taught in another language - hence keeping it cost neutral...
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 3:18 pm
Disillusioned parents, unfortunately, you guys are so negative about the teachers that it makes me feel that I'm only getting one side of the story. If I were teaching and was viewed by the parents the way you suggest--well, yeah, I'd want to quit too. And, frankly, it does lead credence to the idea that some SI parents might be viewed as difficult and demanding. (fairly or unfairly--I'm just thinking how I'd feel in the teacher's seat.)
But I can't believe a program was shut down because of noisy parents--we wouldn't have a school district if that were the case.
So what's really going on? Despite the attempt to blame this on the anti-MI crowd that doesn't wash as we didn't even know about this.
As for SI kids performing to standard--Escondido, overall, does not perform particularly well for the district and there's enough attrition in the SI program that there's a bias issue (poor performers being more likely to drop from immersion programs, per Canadian research.)
Immersion programs, in general, seem to have big drops in middle school--rebellious kids? Kids and parents more worried about achieving in core subjects like math and English?
So what data do we have on SI at Jordan? Attrition? Lower than expected enrollment? What percentage of the kids in SI Jordan actually go into AP Spanish in ninth grade?
I ask, because, reading between the lines, it sounds like people aren't that satisfied with performance in the program and there's some stone-casting going on--bad parents, bad kids, bad teachers.
That doesn't happen if scholastic performance is where it's supposed to be.
The other thing that comes to mind is that Jordan's crowding is such that programs that aren't fully enrolled or underperform are going to be up for the axe.
As for MI, is the district sending a warning that there will be no MI middle-school program or is it making space for the program with even noisier parents?
Posted by Sharon, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 17, 2008 at 4:14 pm
There are plenty of providers in the private sector for immersion instruction, it is not the responsibility of the PAUSD teachers or tax payers to cater to the whims of parents who do not like English instruction--- tough for you -- we speak English in America--- get used to it--
If you want something other than English for teaching then pay for it yourself
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm
Here's an idea. Take 20-30 kids, place the same small group of kids in the same classroom with each other for about 6 or 7 years straight with no chance to mix with 2-3 other classes of same age kids. Wonder how long it would take before they start treating eachother like brothers and sisters... Gee, ya think they get a little rowdy and hard to handle by the time they're in middle school?
(Oh, no, not these little darlings! right?)
Neat social experiment. I hope someone writes a paper about it.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm
Sharon, I agree with you for the most part. I do think immersion instruction has a place in bringing up ESL speakers to grade level. But the sort of immersion programs we have in this district are basically perks that benefit a few while inconveniencing others.
That said, foreign-language immersion programs need some sort of long-term support. With kids and foreign languages, it's use it or lose it. I understand why the SI parents are upset. It doesn't sound like there was a lot of warning about the SI/Jordan program getting suspended.
I also have to wonder why, given that some parents are saying the SI/Jordan program's been in poor shape for years, why we just added another immersion program at the elementary level. If we can't support immersion programs through high school, they're a tremendous waste of time,space and energy for everyone involved.
I keep thinking back to Dana Tom describing PAUSD as a "stressed-out school district" trying to do too many things at once. This is a classic example--meeting after meeting on the glitzy MI and then SI getting abruptly dropped at Jordan with little fanfare--and, yes, interrupting the education path of those kids.
SI should have been scrutinized at *all* grade levels before the district added another program. (And Ohlone should be focused on strengthening the teaching in its 2/3 cluster instead of trying to wing a new program.)
And, of course, the board had no business wasting 20 meetings on MI when real decisions about overcrowding needed to be discussed and made.
Posted by Language booster, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 6:14 pm
It IS the responsibility of the district to meet the educational needs of the families here. A significant number need SI, hence... And actually, we speak many languages in this country, so the SI kids are ahead in that game--get used to it. (Though your "America, speak English or Leave It" message does take me back....)
Citing Escondido scores is irrelevant to SI scores and misleading.
As for middle school, it's a natural time for some families to mainstream their kids, so it's deceptive to call it a "drop" and invent negative reasons for the "drop."
You must be reading between some imaginary lines when you imagine problems with "scholastic performance": I hear only satisfaction from SI parents with regard to the elementary school program and the performance of the kids.
Posted by Near SI, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm
Language booster, are you new to the SI/MI/immersion debate? You say "a significant number need SI". I can't think of a single student who "needs" SI at the middle school level. Do you have any students in mind? Are you close to the program in any way? I doubt it. Your comments and others' are made from an imaginary image of what SI is. It's not based on first-hand knowledge.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 9:46 pm
There is a difference between need and want. No one needs SI. There are many parents that want it. If there has been SI in elementary school, I can see a greater argument for the desire to have SI in middle school, but this is a want not a need.
Our children really need a good all round education. At present, some are getting language in elementary school and some are not. If it was felt by the BOE that language was a need, they would all get it. As it is, it has been decided that language is not a need, just a want and it seems that many people can't tell the difference.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 17, 2008 at 11:10 pm
It's a public school district. And, no, we don't have a bunch of kids who need Spanish immersion. The SI program has long had a problem recruiting enough native Spanish speakers.
The attrition rates and scores at Escondido are, indeed, relevant. Claims are made frequently about the wonders of immersion, but hard data is rare. SI, like any program, has attrition and that affects its scores because any replacements must already be reasonably fluent in Spanish. So any kids who drop because of poor language skills must be replaced by a child with better language skills. Since the program is small, even a couple of exchanges will boost average scores. Thus, the below-average scores in 2/3, attrition at this time, then followed by better scores in 4/5,
And, no, no kid in middle school here *needs* SI--i.e. they're ESL speakers who haven't learned English. There are kids who have families who want to continue the program, which is understandable and makes educational sense--retaining a language learned in childhood takes practice--and kids do take languages in high school.
Your idea about "mainstreaming" shows that you know very little about SI in this district--those kids in the SI program at Jordan are mostly native English speakers. It's not a question of mainstreaming.
So, Jordan suspending the SI program, which presumably would produce the district's top Spanish performers in high school is, well, odd. I just don't see it as the result of difficult parents--I mean, that's kind of a standard around here. I don't know what the real story is, but I'd like to know. The facts as pieced together here don't make total sense.
Posted by not from Palo Alto -, a resident of another community, on Jun 18, 2008 at 12:36 am
Parent - supporter of mixing kids/classes every year -
growing up in another country (with relatively many representatives in the silicon Valley) where kids were not mixed every year (even in schools with more then 1 class per grade level) I can testify to the sense of security, almost home we had, knowing who we are going to be with before school started, every year.
Not to mention friendships created, and maintained, for many many years.
These friendships were possible, because the roots were very deep.
I believe that a social research as to the American way of mixing the classes every year may produce interesting results comparing the sense of security and belonging.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 11:01 am
SI require(d) but was lacking coherent curriculum development (per poster above). The middle schools work on this all the time for their regular programming (to make sure they are coordinating and in alignment with the elementary schools exit standards, and aligned with the high school entry standards.) But it seems this was lacking for the specialty SI language program.
From an educators perspective - what kind of experts and how many would be required to do this curriculum development and implementation? Regular employees, or consultants? How much would the cost be to make that happen properly and to maintain it over time? How much has SIPAPA paid the district to make this happen? Are they funding any curriculum development staff?
My understanding is that the choice programs are supposed to be cost neutral - meaning no higher in cost or resource requirements than the standard PAUSD programming. So unless this is something the Jordan principal could have knocked out in her 'free time', with her existing expertise, then I'm not sure how SI thought that this could possibly have materialized. (For free!?)
The reality of what's actually going on here is very murky, we need more reporting on what actually occured, and what the future plans are, but in the absence of anything other than what's posted here, it really does seem to support the contention that PAUSD got in way over their heads with this and made promises/committments they couldn't keep.
I agree with the poster above who warns MI to take heed. It does appear to support some of the fears raised during the MI debate that PAUSD is in poor position to pull it off. Has MI yet formed their protective lobbying/fund raising/communication/parent control organization? Sounds like they're going to need it, and every MI parent is going to have to go along with it as well. "Leaks" from that organization are apparently devastating.
another curious question - who is in control of SIPAPA? Who can SI parents turn to if they are dissatisfied with that operation? Who will be in charge of "MIPAPA"?
Posted by Me Too, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 11:04 am
Elementary, since I don't have a dog in this fight, I'll just ask - who "needs" SI? Is that a certain class of people, or just people who decide they "need" it? And if they need it, does that mean they are entitled to receive it from PAUSD? Unlike special ed, I'm not aware of an entitlement to Spanish immersion.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 11:55 am
It is not me who defines what is needed in PAUSD it is the BoE and they have decreed that there is not a need for language in elementary. They have decided that all needs are met and that for a few lucky kids that get a bonus of immersion in either Spanish or Mandarin, it is an extra that they get. If they thought there was a need for language, we would all get it. There are no more deemed more needy than others. We all need a good education for our kids. The powers that be have decided the difference between need and want. We get what we need. We don't all get what some want.
If you can't tell the difference between need and want, look it up in the dictionary.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm
You are partly right, but you are still confused on the need/want distinction. The BoE decreed there is no general need for language in elementary. However, they also decreed that for some families there is a need. Thus SI.
Those who need it are the ones in SI. There are also some who need it who don't win the lottery, and they are outside SI. And no, mere need does not create an entitlement.
Posted by Near SI, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 18, 2008 at 1:02 pm
"However, they [PAUSD] also decreed that for some families there is a need. Thus SI."
No. That's not how SI was approved and accepted by the district. A group of parents got together and convinced the board that SI would not cost the district a penny more than regular English education. After much coaxing and convincing, it was finally approved. No "needs" were involved. It was a pure "want" thing, with the district finally relenting because it wouldn't cost more, not because they were convinced that there was a "need".
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 1:55 pm
Elementary you say that everyone in SI 'needs' SI? Are you sure there aren't a good number of people there who joined because its a cool idea? A status symbol? An alternative for the sake of alternative?
And what's the consequence for those who enter the lottery but don't get in? They get a quality education anyway. Are they harmed, are the unwhole? Do they face some sort of educational burden by virtue of getting stuck in a regular PAUSD classroom? Do they have a gap that will cause them harm?
If your child is a spanish only speaker that NEEDS to learn English, I can buy that your child has a need. Otherwise,what you have is a want.
My daughter been begging me to let her go to the ice cream store. By your reasoning - therefore she has a NEED for ice cream, and I'm obligated to give her that?
As suspected you have a twisted warped sense of the difference between 'need' and 'want'.
When what you fancy becomes your definition of what you must have, and therefore becomes your definition of what you are entitled to receive, that's a monsterous sense of entitlement you're sporting.
By the way, my kid needs new basketball shoes, because he needs to become a basketball star, go to the NBA and become a millionaire. So is PAUSD buying him basketball shoes? They should. Because I say he needs it - it is therefore true, and that's their charter - to fulfill my child's every need. Right? Isn't that the kind of need we're talking about here?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm
"Need" indicates that the program was needed for kids to function successfully in the American school system. Thus, the argument for some immersion programs in heavily Hispanic districts.
Not the case here. And this was not how SI was brought into this district. Same thing with MI for what it's worth. No Spanish immersion, no Mandarin immersion? The kids will be fine. While my child benefits from a lottery program, my child doesn't *need* the program in order to learn required skills. My child does need instruction in math and English to be functional in this society.
You don't need to speak Spanish to graduate from high school here, you do need English.
As I said, public schools--don't confuse parental desires with what we as a society need in our citizens.
You bring up some interesting points--cost-neutrality may have become an issue. The "cost-neutrality" of MI at Ohlone is pretty questionable. Two teachers were out of class a lot this Spring--that meant bringing in substitutes to compensates for the 20 percent time those teachers were committing to developing MI. And, yeah, it wasn't great for the kids in those classes. This year, I assume the grant paid for this swap as part of curriculum development, but each year is going to need curriculum development.
But back to SI at Jordan--I really thought any issues with this would have been worked out years ago. That they haven't really makes me wonder what's been going on. Have the teachers been just kind of winging it?
And what happens now that there's been a strand added to SI at Escondido?
I think we already know MI has its group--PACE. On the other hand, it's a small group and a large chunk of them don't have kids in the first class.
One interesting thing about the incoming MI kids--two of the kids are the children of Ohlone teachers. Yep, somehow Ohlone's managed to seed the program with its own fifth column. Sounds like, too, that Susan Charles talking on and on about the Ohlone Way at the MI info. meetings was a deliberate strategy. MI parents are going to be expected to play ball--and donate generously. (Yeah, I'm serious, I've seen some expectant hand-rubbing--MIers are expected to pay for their privilege, as it were.)
This is one case where too much noise from the MIers is going to backfire. Their one advocate on the board is a lame duck and the super ain't interested. Because of the bond, the charter threat is less of a threat. If Susan Charles finds them too much of a pain, they'll be out scrabbling for space at Garland--and facing the parents who supported Melissa Baten Caswell--the one candidate that the pro-PACE crowd actually tried to get with a smear campaign.
But I think the SI suspension at Jordan tells us just how deep the district's support of the immersion programs really is. It's more of a Realtor selling point than it is a genuine district commitment.
Posted by E PLURIBUS UNUM, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm
Look if we are going to have language immersion programs to cater to the whims of the latest wave of immigrants to this area the we will have, Farsi, Hindi, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Cantonese, Polish,
Japanese, German, French, Italian etc etc a TOWER of BABEL
Why restrict it to Spanish and Mandarin? that is grossly discriminatory to others who have equal claim as listed above
In fact the whole idea of immersion is counter productive for school districts and is best left to fee based agencies eg the German American schools which are paid by parents and the German Government.
The language of the United States is English, public school programs will be taught in English. the NYT and the WSJ are in English.
I and many tax other payers are fed up with attempts to force us to support programs that do not work proposed by parents who do not like English
If they do not like English what are they doing here?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 5:14 pm
E PLURIBUS UNUM,
Not sure about SI, but from the MI press, it appears that the push for this program was on the merits of young kids studying a foreign language, not because the parents don't like English. And the kids attending the German-American school don't go there because they don't like English either. Attacking parents is grossly unfair. Stick to asking why the district and the BOE do what they do, accusing parents is getting so old in these discussions.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 8:31 pm
You are wrong, again. Whether the "kids will be fine" is irrelevant. Some kids need SI, and this has nothing to do with Hispanic districts.
You seem completely confused about SI. It does not produce kids who speak and read only Spanish. Google immersion, please, and get a clue. These kids learn both English and Spanish. They will function in this society just fine, thanks very much.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The immersion programs are the opposite of a tower of babel. The kids in them speak multiple languages. Actually, you would be the cause of any tower-of-babel effect because you speak only English. Don't worry, one of the immersion kids can interpret for you!
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 18, 2008 at 10:43 pm
It's not accidental that you're waffling on the definition of "need" here. I'm quite aware of what dual-immersion is. Fact is, kids in Palo Alto don't need immersion Spanish to function in this country or graduate from high school. Nor do we have in this district a group of Spanish speakers who need an immersion course to learn English.
And SI wasn't voted in because kids "needed" it, but because parents wanted it and it was seen as a way of attracting enrollment to the district. A perk, in other words.
Unlike you, I seem to be familiar with the raison d'etre of public schools in this country--which is to create good citizens. It's okay, history's poorly taught in this country and you're clearly not versed on the subject.
I've been watching the MI debate for some time--I'm at Ohlone and I know some of the people developing the program as well as people on both sides of the debate. PACE forced the program through, there's no place for it to go in three years, so its longterm future is up in the air. Some PACErs admit that they expect to get part of Garland when it reopens, Camille Townsend wants it at Ohlone, which will go over the maximum students if it stays there.
You're clearly new to all of this. I suggest you read some old threads.
Dana Tom and Mandy Lowell opposed MI until the charter threat came up, then they both turned. Tom specifically said that there were to be no expectations of an MI middle-school program when he switched his vote.
From an educational standpoint, it's dumb to start an elementary immersion program and then say it won't be continued. But good education choices haven't mattered much in the MI debacle. It's been political the whole damn way.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:17 am
You're confused about immersion and need to read up. It is not for "Spanish speakers who need an immersion course to learn English." You could not be more wrong. Google a little.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Districts around the country respond to the needs of their populations every day without all this whining. In responding to various educational needs, PAUSD has done the same with SI, Ohlone (ironic!), and MI. It's pretty clear your motive is fear: you're afraid someone else's educational choice will give their kid an advantage. Lighten up! Education is not a race!
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:33 am
Our choice programs, SI, Ohlone, Hoover, Connections etc. are programs that the district and parents wanted. They are wonderful programs, as is our music program, Spectra Art, etc. But they are things that we wanted as a district, not needed. Math, English, History, Science are needed.
Posted by get the facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 11:58 am
"Stick to asking why the district and the BOE do what they do, accusing parents is getting so old in these discussions."
It's not necessary to ask them. They already explained - on the record - why they took a revote and reluctantly approved MI. It was out of fear of the PACE parents who said they'd consider forming a charter school since the original vote didn't go their way. I have asked several of the PACE members about the whole transaction, and their line of reasoning was similar to yours. "It's not our fault that the BOE was scared and thought we'd start a charter." Literally.
FYI, for anyone who thinks MI and SI are unrelated issues, at least one PACE member was a founding member of SIPAPA and guided them on how to pull (puppet) strings with the district.
I blame the BOE for being spineless, but I also blame the PACE parents and their SIPAPA advisors for so shamelessly backing the BOE into a perceived corner.
Posted by E PLURIBUS UNUM, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:11 pm
By the time the current middle school students graduate from high school Machine Translation will dominate most academic and business applications.
Therefore US public schools need to concentrate on math, science, arts and ENGLISH.
Not the whims of parents who for some reason reject the proven melting pot philosophy that has served the USA since its founding and built the the most powerful civilization and democratic nation in the history of the world.
Public schools provide cohesion for this civilization through the common language of ENGLISH.
Regarding the advances in Machine Translation, see below
Google uses a transfer-based system (known as Kataku) to translate between English and Indonesian.
Google has claimed that promising results were obtained using a proprietary statistical machine translation engine . The statistical translation engine used in the Google language tools for Arabic <-> English and Chinese <-> English has an overall score of 0.4281 over the runner-up IBM's BLEU-4 score of 0.3954 (Summer 2006) in tests conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology.    Uwe Muegge has implemented a demo website  that uses a controlled language in combination with the Google tool to produce fully automatic, high-quality machine translations of his English, German, and French web sites.
With the recent focus on terrorism, the military sources in the United States have been investing significant amounts of money in natural language engineering. In-Q-Tel (a venture capital fund, largely funded by the US Intelligence Community, to stimulate new technologies through private sector entrepreneurs) brought up companies like Language Weaver.
Currently the military community is interested in translation and processing of languages like Arabic, Pashto, and Dari.
Information Processing Technology Office in DARPA hosts programs like TIDES and Babylon Translator.
US Air Force has awarded a $1 million contract to develop a language translation technology.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm
An emotional debate on whether we love it, want it, desire it, demand it, deserve it, etcetcetc. is useless. The only thing that really matters is whether PAUSD can deliver it - even after they agree to do so (for whatever reasons).
Do we have the organizational competence? will? resources? expertise? Do we have the funding to sustain? (not just a temporary bond/bake sale to lure the BOE into submission, but the structural long term funding capacity to make it flourish over the long haul)?
consider this - maybe the District staff that should have been driving, developing coordinating and project managing the SI middle school implementation was diverted by the raging MI issue over the past 2 years??? (Feasibility study, round 1, round 2, trips to china, trips to Oregon, trips to SF, 20+ board meeting preparations, and the list goes on.) Maybe they are not magicians afterall? Can't keep all the balls in the air at once? And what ELSE in the district is getting short shrift we spread our limited resources ever thinner?
Was Dana Tom right - A 'stressed out' district? Maybe here we see the consequences of forcing the district into biting off more than we can chew.
Now - are the MI parents lining themselves (and their kids)up for the same spanking machine? And if the mighty SIPAPA couldn't bring enough muscle to keep parents in line, and enough political will to force the district to deliver miracles - will PACE be enough?
Elementary says "whether the kids will be fine is irrelevent". Really? I can think of no question more singularly relevent.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm
I'm actually that rare person who learned a language through the immersion process (college level). I can guarantee that I know about immersion programs than you do. I know, for example, why project-based learning has not been used for previous immersion programs.
I've read studies on immersion-program attrition and know the main causes for that attrition.
I know the outcome of the first MI class of the first public-school MI program in the country. How many of those original kinders were studying Mandarin by 12th grade?
I know why Susan Charles wanted MI to be 50/50 Mandarin/English speakers instead of 30/70.
I know the difference between a need and a want. You confuse entitlement with genuine need.
I chose before the MI debate not to put my child in the SI lottery. If I thought immersion was a huge advantage, I'd have entered the lottery. I do think there are advantages to early second-language instruction, which is why my child's in an afternoon language program.
But I think immersion isn't necessary and, unless managed well through 12th grade delivers less than it promises.
You, on the other hand, do think immersion is a competitive advantage, I'll wager. The projection's pretty clear here.
If you're going to have these programs at elementary level, it makes no sense not to support them in the upper grades. Kids, unlike adults, both learn and lose second languages if they don't use them.
That the district is willing to suspend SI at the middle-school level says to me that in no way does the district consider SI a need. Can you imagine the district dropping its middle-school math program? Get the difference?
And, of course, if I really thought education was a competition, I'd have entered the Hoover lottery.
I do have one huge concern about MI at Ohlone--and that's that it will overcrowd the school severely if it expands to a whole strand--and, yes, that will adversely affect my kids. I don't need my kid at a school with more than 500 kids--one that was built for 350. I don't need a kid getting killed or injured in a traffic accident because they were in an SUV's blind spot--street access to Ohlone is very, very limited and as a commuter school that's a lot of picking up and dropping off going on.
Ohlone parents are worried about MI coming in--and in typical Ohlone way, the plan is to make the MIers part of the community, supporting the Ohlone way. You can call it a conspiracy if you want, but it looks to me more of an attempt to manage a problem. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Back to Jordan/SI--a couple of things come to mind. One the super knows how much Callan was hated by administrators in the district. MI was one of her babies. Sounds like the SI suspension is just fine with Jordan's administrators. Pulling SI now makes it much harder to put in MI at the middle school.
This matters because the middle schools are so severely overcrowded--particularly Jordan. I suspect the district looked at the issue and realized that they would have a hard time justifying having one immersion program but not the other at the middle-school level. By having neither, it will be harder to push through either one--and that conserves limited middle-school resources.
Immersion programs at the middle-school level benefit relatively few kids while requiring dedicated resources. The big limit of immersion programs is their lack of flexibility--you can't readily move kids in and out of them.
Posted by parent of incoming kinder, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 1:50 pm
I wonder why prospective MI parents would want to be volunteering to sign up as part of the new 'problem' group. It looks like it doesn't work out very well for anyone (particularly the kids).
Can you force a community to be welcoming? Can you force administration to work for your program with loving dedication?
(What other line of work can you think of where the employee's actually need love in their hearts to get their job done properly? Maybe nurses...)
If I had a need for an immersion program, I think I'd be looking for a proven private program that I knew would deliver results in a welcoming environment.
I can tell you now, if the principal or teachers of our school had a known bias against my son's incoming kinder class (because they doesn't value kindergartens? Don't know how to teach it, don't like new kinder parents, or whatever), I'd be RUNNING away from that school as fast as I could.
Posted by mmmmMom, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm
Having heard the rumors (have a kid just out of Jordan, & 1 still there), this has been an interesting thread. Still not clear about the whole story, but interesting to read, for one who opposed the MI program.
And SI should also never have started, not when foreign language was NOT available to all.
Even my dinky little hometown school in Portland, beginning in the early 80s, offered foreign language for ALL.
I just hope I'm still living here when the MI program fails.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Just finding random putative data to support one crazy theory or another is not hard. You have to examine it, look at the source and weigh it in light of other data. If you had done that, you would have discovered that there is no reason not to use project-based learning in an immersion program, that attrition is not a problem for these programs, that random data about one program are irrelevant, etc.
In short, you have not thought through your ideas on immersion.
These and other programs are there to meet the needs of families in our community, even if you don't value or feel called upon to denigrate those needs.
Posted by ng, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:30 pm
Mandarin is a very, very difficult language to learn to speak, read and write if it is not spoken in the home.Even then it is a real challenge
For those not used to it in the home trying to learn it imposes a very significant handicap on the child a critical development time and almost all non chinese kids drop out.
The mi program at Ohlone is a bizarre and destructive experiment in social engineering and will be rejected by that schools immune system in short order with a lot of conflict and negative emotion which is not in the best interests of children-- a true frankenstein monster.
If the chinese govt is willing to pay for trips by local politicians to lobby for mi it should pay for private schools just like the German govt does.
Also these trips must break some ethical norms for US participants
Posted by Near SI, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 19, 2008 at 5:44 pm
Since the conversation keeps getting hung up on the definition of "need", would you please provide your definition? I can't think of any actual - not hypothetical! - needs that would be unfulfilled if SI or MI were not available for these actual - not imaginary! - families. Maybe we're working off a different starting point?
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm
My my, some of you are so angry and confused. My child was in this current year’s 6th grade class, so read my opinion, posted above on June 16th, of why the middle school program fell apart this year. I will address some of the inaccurate comments made in this thread recently.
1. There is no difference in academic performance between the SI and non-SI kids. The SI kids do very well in not only math and science but in English too. Two of this year’s top 3 or 4 6th grade students at Jordan were in the SI program. Escondido as a whole may not be the top performing school in the District, but that has a lot to do with the transitory nature of part of the school’s population which is made up of children of grad students that are only there for 2 or 3 years.
2. There is essentially no attrition in the elementary school program; it is the very same kids from K-5.
3. SI is not about learning a particular language, so much as learning a second language. Learning a second language unequivocally enhances a child’s ability to learn not just a third language but their first language. In addition to reaping the social and economic advantages of bilingualism, immersion learners also benefit cognitively, exhibiting greater nonverbal problem-solving abilities and more flexible thinking. This is why, with the SI infrastructure in place, I thought SI should be expanded to another school rather than having a second language program created.
4. Each SI family has paid hundreds, in some cases thousands, of dollars out of pocket toward the purchase books and other learning materials in order to keep the program cost neutral.
5. Do my children need SI? All children need the best education they can get. Language immersion confers upon its participants such significant benefits that I believe all children need it.
6. To those loud mouths chanting "America is an English only country" I would put my kids up against you and your kids in an English or Spanish spelling or writing contest any day of the week.
Posted by Parent, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jun 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm
I was under the impression that we did not know and that there was no record kept of who is the best child in any given grade each year. It seems that now we know who the top 3 or 4 6th grade students at Jordan are.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 19, 2008 at 11:54 pm
So, it is OK to bash the kids in SI for being spoiled, lazy, under achievers, but when I point out that they are doing just as well as non-SI kids I am accused of boasting. If you knew me, you would know that I don't brag, but I will defend anyone wrongly accused, especially if accused by close minded people with an inability to put forth a cogent, factual argument.
Posted by need vs want, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 12:38 am
"Do my children need SI? All children need the best education they can get. Language immersion confers upon its participants such significant benefits that I believe all children need it."
A significant number of students continue on to Ivy and other top-notch universities after passing through PAUSD. I'd say they received a damn good education. Was it the Best? I'll leave that for others to debate. Have we failed these students somehow by not giving them access to an immersion program? Less debatable. Did these students "need" immersion? Not in my book.
But let's go along with your argument: all students need language immersion. Then isn't it appalling that the district would limit access to only a tiny fraction of its students, turning away even the majority of families who request that their child be in SI? What a horrible system for addressing an educational need.
Either PAUSD has serious issues with equity by using an extremely limited-opportunity lottery system to meet the educational needs of only some students, or it isn’t really a need except in the eyes of some parents, in which case they ought to go outside the public school system to meet that “need”. Actually there is room for a third option: to take their chances at the lottery and be grateful if they’re selected and their wants are met while most others don’t have such an opportunity. You can hardly fault parents for taking that chance, but my patience wears thin when they start claiming their children “need” immersion.
Posted by Pluribus, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 7:54 am
"But let's go along with your argument: all students need language immersion. Then isn't it appalling that the district would limit access to only a tiny fraction of its students."
No. Your assumption is that education is an area in which there can be only one model. Choice programs assume different children have different needs. Most people in the district do not need (or want) immersion, and it would be folly to impose it on them. That's why the district offers these programs as a choice. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 8:08 am
Disillusioned parent - I'd question your source of information. Whos telling you you have the top 3-4 students at Jordan in your program? As measured by what?
And by the way, who's telling you that the SI kids are exceeding PAUSD grade level comparisons? Where's the data? Because I went to the SIP meetings where each principal presented their data to the board, and limited separate data for SI didn't show much of anything but 'average' achievement on all subjects. And when asked, the relevent administration claimed many of the data points on SI performance particulars are not kept separately, (or stonewalled on how to get access to them).
So where exactly is the performance data you are referrencing? Or is it anecdotal? And where can we see the Aprenda resutls? Published anywhere?
Are you sure its not SIPAPA controlled communications, which we can gather from the beginning of this thread are strategic communications designed to protect the SI program (and keep SI parents in line)? Do we believe SIPAPAs party line?
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 8:36 am
If the immersion kids are performing even at average level, that sounds pretty good. That means that they are able to keep up with the rest, and are bilingual. It proves that being bilingual does not hurt you. Even if "get the facts" claims that the district was "threatened" into submission with the charter school. What is wrong with a charter school? Isn't that the way many new and better models have been found to improve things. Is PAUSD so perfect?
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:05 am
To the generic Parent, I did not say the top 3 or 4 students are in SI, I said 2 of the top 3 or 4 were in SI. I should have been more explicit though by saying that the teachers at Jordan selected students in each of 4 categories, such as best all around student, and that 2 of the 4 students at the top of each 6th grade category were in the SI program. Also, I did not say they are "exceeding PAUSD grade level comparisons", I said they are doing just as well as non-SI kids.
Posted by Euro Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:08 am
As an elementary student, I learned two languages foreign to my native tongue. As a daily practice, I had a minimum of 40 minutes a day 5 days a week in my native language (sometimes 60 minutes) and 40 minutes 4 times a week in the foreign language. During this time I learned to read, write, spell and do grammar rules in these languages (one used a different alphabet) and studied literature and poetry in these 3 languages. When I moved to middle school age, I took on latin as well for two years and spent 40 mins 3 or 4 days a week in that language as well as the others.
For the immersion programs, I do not see how the same amount of grammar, reading, writing, spelling, literature can be taught in two languages in the same time as other students are learning these in one subject. Perhaps someone can explain it to me. The classroom time is the same for all students, so how can the same time be spent on both languages?
Reading in Spanish, is not the same as reading in English. Grammar in Spanish is not the same as in English. Spelling is not a code, but spelling rules in English are not the same as in Spanish, and so on and so forth. Each language needs to have these rudimentary skills taught or how else can one be truly callied bilingual?
Posted by Another Euro Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 11:44 am
"so how can the same time be spent on both languages?" It's not.
What I think you mean to ask is: Can these kids end up proficient in both languages using the same number of minutes?
But you already answered that: it happens every day around the world as well as in immersion programs here in the U.S.
The real magic is not really the written language. It's that these kids internalize the new language in an automatic way, the way native speakers learn. They don't spend time studying grammar from books (at first). They, like native speakers, learn how to produce the language. Afterward they learn the formal rules that they have already internalized.
For most languages, the written word is easily learned.
As to how this is possible, it's not fully explained, but linguists call it an additive effect. The theory is that reading in Spanish does indeed improve reading in English; writing Chinese helps you to write English.
Posted by Euro parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 1:06 pm
Thank you for explaining my question better than I could. Maybe I didn't have enough hours per week learning English.
So my point is, if it takes say one hour per day to teach an elementary student to read and write English, learning grammar, spelling and studying literature, how can one hour per day be used to teach two native languages to grade level. To my mind, writing spanish and writing english are similar skills, but reading and spelling as well as grammar is very different. When Mandarin comes into the mix without any similarities, how can you do that in the same time frame? For example, does say "Sarah Plain & Tall" get read in both languages, or do they read a Spanish literature title instead or are they reading two books, one in each language? In any case, the amount of time spent on literature must be divided between the two languages. Also, do they have five spelling words for homework in English and five spelling words in Spanish, or do they have twenty words for homework to cover the same number of spellings. And when it comes to learning cursive, do they spend one page doing cursive in English and one page doing mandarin characters.
You see, I can't get the time factor worked out. I know that the theory is that they become fluent in both, but learning how to perform the language takes a certain amount of time. In fact, if you are learning two similar languages, it takes a little longer because spelling rules in one language are not the same as spelling rules in another language. e.g. the plural form of many English words involves adding an "s", but there are so many exceptions that the common ones have to be explained and taught separately. Now add the spelling rules for making plurals in Spanish, and you make the problem even bigger.
My brain that was taught 4 languages in 4 separate classes with different text books, different poetry/literature books, found it hard to remember which spelling rule for which language (and only one was already fluent) so how you can remember that when not dividing up the classes into different periods confuses me.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 20, 2008 at 1:07 pm
parent of three, All of the 6th grade teachers vote. Certainly the SI teachers get a vote, but the SI kids are in many other classes, math, science, music, shop, home economics, ... not taught by the SI teachers. Which is why I stated 4 days ago that it is not solely the kids fault that the program disintegrated. I don't believe the SI kids as a whole have more discipline problems than the non-Si kids.
Posted by another Euro Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 1:20 pm
"Now add the spelling rules for making plurals in Spanish, and you make the problem even bigger." Well, part of the answer is that they do not learn _the rules for making plurals_. They simply learn to make plurals by talking with the teachers starting in K.
Eventually, they also learn the rules, but by then it is about codifying the knowledge they have already internalized.
" how you can remember that when not dividing up the classes into different periods confuses me." Not sure what you mean here. Can you explain? They do have separate periods in Spanish and periods in English.
Posted by Jane, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 2:18 pm
Language Immersion programs have no place in PAUSD
If there is a demand for such programs by a few parents then private fee based schools schools will cover the demand.
I see a number of posters have cited the German American schools as a template.
These schools are partly funded by the German Government
The chinese and other governments are free to follow the German example and this is certainly preferable to their trying to influence school board members and others with paid trips to china which I believe are in fact unethical
Posted by Euro Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm
I finally get it.
They don't learn two languages simultaneously. They have their language lessons in English and half in Spanish. Got it. Great. Now I understand.
So, when the class performs poorly in English it is because they have only had half their education of language time in English. Right. They only have half the time available for English grammar. They only have half the time for reading English. They only spend half their language time writing English. They only spend half their literature time spent reading English. Right. Now I see it. Their English suffers because they don't spend as much time learning grammar.
And, they learn their grammar for speaking. Right. So when I say do not use contractions, they can't because they do not know what a contraction is because they only learn what is spoken. Not from reading suitable material, but only from spoken language. Great. So, they learn slang, and bad language too and they are never given good examples of correctly spoken and written language.
Posted by Another Euro Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 20, 2008 at 3:31 pm
I think I understand your anger. You are concerned that kids in immersion programs will emerge short-changed, with poor proficiency in both languages. Why do you assume that immersion learners perform poorly? Generally, they do quite well, outperforming their peers in English and other subjects.
Your thinking seems to be: education is zero-sum, so if kids spend less time on English, then they CANNOT learn as much (so their English "suffers" by comparison). This a priori assumption turns out to be false, not for hypothetical reasons but in the real world.
I didn't say they don't learn grammar. They just learn it the same way you learned the grammar of your native tongue: in situ, listening and being corrected by proficient speakers. Later, they also learn the fine points of written expression, which is what I think you mean by grammar. The point I was making is that they learn language much differently from the way you and I did. They do not start with vocabulary items and syntactical rules. They start by being immersed in the real language.
Actually, I would guess they have a heightened sense for distinguishing levels of language (formal vs informal, slang, contractions, bad language, etc.), though I'm not sure I understand this aspect of your concern.
Also, they do read in both languages, though I don't know if what they read is what you'd consider suitable.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 12:22 am
Wow, it's been busy here.
Nothing random about my data points, so entirely relevant. You, on the other hand, still don't seem to understand the difference between a need and a want.
It's okay, you're not the first poster who's come here and turned out to know less about immersion than he or she thought.
Palo Alto Mom,
Project-based learning hasn't been used for immersion programs because the process relies on kids working independently in groups--i.e. teaching one another. They tend to do this in their primary language--so it's harder to get them speaking the second language than with a more top-down method.
This is also why Stanford recommended and Susan Charles wanted a 50/50 split of English-Mandarin speakers--then you'd have half the kids initiating discussion in Mandarin. It would give the program a better chance of succeeding.
The first MI public-school program was in the Potomac district. Of the original 20, 3 were still studying Chinese by 12th grade. Many of the kids, when they hit high school, were considered to be unqualified for advanced Chinese classes. The Washington Post ran a story on it in late 2007, it's pretty easy to Google.
I don't have specifics on why kids drop out of MI, but according to more than one study I read, the main reason for dropping out of second-language immersion programs (i.e. not programs geared towards ESL speakers in an English-speaking countries) are academic difficulties.
So when Disillusioned SI parent says that some top students at Jordan are in SI, that does not preclude attrition because of academic reasons.
Basically, when you look at the demographics of immersion programs, you see stable enrollment, then a drop in the next couple of years--in other words, right when learning issues come to the fore. Kids with reading problems, not the top students, are the ones likely to drop immersion programs.
Soooo, the poor students drop, the good students remain and--presto--the average score rises. Note that because these programs are small, it doesn't take that many kids to change the average scores. If the two kids reading way below grade level drop, then you're going to see scores jump.
Basically, immersion programs in a place like Palo Alto are perks that benefit kids who are already succeeding. They're enrichment programs that very few kids get and all of us pay for. (Whereas Hoover and Ohlone offer the standard curriculum using different approaches.)
The best research I've found on immersion programs is from Canada, they've been using immersion programs for 40 years--and it's been a real struggle for them. A lot of the U.S. studies are misleading because they study ESL kids learning core subjects in their first language while acquiring English. And, yeah, those kids do better than their ESL peers thrown into an English-only environment.
One other thing about attrition--there's a big drop-off around middle school--thus the six kids still in MI in Cupertino's first class. Not suprising--kids get rebellious or develop other interests at that stage.
HOWEVER, when you look at studies--I'm thinking of one from Brigham Young U., which does a lot of research in language retention (yeah, all those missionaries)--what you find is that kids both learn and lose languages easily. In other words, if you're going to have elementary immersion programs, you need to keep supporting the use of that language in middle school and high school.
From what I can see, the district has neither the resources nor interest in doing that for two languages for a small number of kids I'm kind of amazed how they're backing off of the program they've had in place.
My cynical take on this, frankly, is that immersion is a "need" as long as it seems like a special perk. It quits being a need when math scores start looking important. We're pushing immersion for the chosen few while struggling to maintain the limited language options in middle school and high school.
If second languages were as necessary as we're pretending we are, we wouldn't have this happening--haven't noticed advanced math courses getting cut.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 12:32 am
Actually, it's not clear whether English skills don't suffer. Couple of reasons.
First, composition skills aren't readily measured by standardized tests. Ergo, writing skills don't tend to be measured in the studies--it's vocab. and reading comprehension. Writing is the hardest language skill so that's where you'd expect to see a lag if there is one. Unfortunately, it's not been well studied--as I mention above, American studies tend to focus on English acquisition by ESL speakers.
Second, there's a known score lag in second and third grades. What's not clear is if the turn upward in fourth and fifth grade is because of the immersion miracle or because students with learning difficulties have disproportionately dropped the program. Immersion kids catch up rather than surpass their peers, by the way. I've wondered if these same kids might have had higher scores if they had been non-immersion kids. In other words, we're looking at average scores from kids who might have scored above average in a traditional program.
Thing is, we don't know. A lot of the research is really poor.
Posted by questioner, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 4:19 am
I've been against MI because it shows how easy it is to corrupt our educational governance, and how easy it is to snow a board of education with lots of irrelevant words and studies, and the county's actions, and the absurdity of putting it in Ohlone, the obvious costs to the district etc. etc.
But my son is learning another language through a combination of intensive immersion summers and steady but sparse work during the school year.
I'm wondering about this transfer or crossover benefit. He is now behind in reading/writing English. I can believe that studying music helps math ability; that studying ballet helps basketball. So one language helping another sounds plausible.
What part of the 2nd language will help him? Speaking? Reading? Writing? Usage considerations (i.e. subtleties of cultural context)? Does studying other subjects in this 2nd language help him learn those better or just confuse things?
I'd prefer that he doesn't give up this language study, and would be greatly comforted to know that it doesn't cost anything w/r to English development, or that it might actually help it.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 7:02 am
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
--project-based learning is used in some immersion programs
--immersion programs don't have a general problem with attrition (they tend to keep more kids than surrounding schools)
--kids who do leave are not, generally, leaving for academic reasons (the whole point of these programs is that they are NOT difficult
--there are no enrollment "drops" as you describe
--U.S. studies do not focus on ESL kids.
--CLIP has no attrition issues.
--math scores are higher, if different at all, than for non-immersion kids
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
One other thing about attrition--there's a big drop-off around middle school--thus the six kids still in MI in Cupertino's first class. Not suprising--kids get rebellious or develop other interests at that stage.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Is there a single project-based MI program? No one seems to know of one. That project-based learning may have been used somewhere (where) doesn't change the fact that there are concerns about using project-based learning for immersion programs for the reasons I've mentioned. At best, you've got a claim of an example somewhere that proves the rule.
Your claims about enrollment and attrition are irrelevant--there is attrition (in any program) and I, of course, cited a study that shows why the attrition occurs. Unlike other programs, it's difficult to backfill immersion programs since any transfers require a language fluency.
So, in the elementary grades it's a question of who leaves the program and why--as I say it doesn't take much to create an artificial score bump--and the lack of the flexibility in the programs regarding transfer. As for later, well, it's pretty clear to me that the huge drop between elementary and middle school isn't counted as "attrition" as they can be considered, technically, separate programs. But there is a huge drop at this point--even in gung-ho Cupertino. Canada, which does immersion on a much larger scale than do we, sees drops of 40 to 50 percent in the upper grades.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
And, of course, US studies focus on ESL programs--Lindholm-Leary's work's a fine example of this. And, guess what, it *should*. We have a huge Spanish-speaking population that needs to learn English and the core curriculum. Perks for your kid are pretty much a non-issue in the larger realm of public education. Different situation in Canada, which is why they have the stronger research in this area.
Interesting problem in Mountain View's SI program by the way--not enough English speakers so the Spanish kids in SI aren't getting up to grade level in English.
Posted by not from Palo Alto, a resident of another community, on Jun 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm
from my experience as a parent of 2 kids - 1 dyslexic, 1 extremley gifted English-wise (while I think in another language) -
it is up to the child and the language.
Some kids who may have a difficulty reading English may be very successful reading another language where the concept is different - very phonetic languages (sematic, for example) or symbol languages (Chinese, for example).
I decided to aviod teaching my (English) dyslexic child my mother tongue (spoken @home, frequent visits with family overseas), until the English was "grasped" (and will never be easy) -
now my (English) dyslexic kid is learning to read my language, very easily.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 1:23 pm
My personal take on early second-language instruction is that it offers one key advantage--kids are better at picking up and replicating the *spoken* language. They're better at imitating the sounds and picking up a language by listening. That goes along, if you think about it, with musical development. It's easier to learn to sing on pitch as an adult than it is as an adult.
But literacy in a second language is a different issue. There are some studies that indicate that it's best for kids to have literacy in their primary language before trying to read and write in a second language. In other words, the transfer might work better from first language to second language instead of vice versa. And this is what happens in ESL English immersion programs.
In Canada, there's been some success with immersion programs that start in the later grades of elementary school.
I have to say my own second languages studies, which were mostly later did help my English. It gave me another perspective on the structure of English--and how much *easier* it was than one of the languages I was studying. The unexpected result was that I quit writing run-on sentences. But that was at a pretty advanced level.
I did notice that those who had learned a second language earlier had a much easier time picking up yet another language, so I think that's an advantage.
Unless your child isn't getting practice in English, I'd doubt that his or her second-language activies are affecting his English. I don't know your child's age, but all sorts of developmental things come into play with literacy. This seems to be more true of boys than girls. One of the interesting facts about literacy is that the countries with the highest rates of literacy (Scandanavian countries) also start reading at a later age (7).
I mean, I could see it, possibly, being a factor if your kid's a bit overwhelmed and needs to balance his language processing with, say, more physical stuff. But that seems to be something that's specific to each kid.
My guess and this is just a guess is that you'll see the cross-language benefits more as time goes on.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 2:14 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I'm now coming across articles that debunk the supposed advantage gained by dual immersion kids--Natalie Ridley's study in 2005 and a survey by Rosalie Pedalino Porter of the research.
In other words, dual immersion makes you bilingual, but it doesn't confer special advantages in English. Or the SI kids doing well at Jordan are doing well because they're good students not because they were immersed in Spanish. It is possible that they did well in SI because they were good students, so they could handle the extra work of a second language. In other words, the particular students, not the program.
Honestly, I don't know *why* you'd need an immersion program confer more benefits--I'd think bilingualism would be sufficient.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 21, 2008 at 2:45 pm
The following is a link to an Atlantic article by Rosalie Pedalino Porter. Porter opposes bilingual education--more than I do--but the article gives a history of bilingual education in the the United States. It's very apparent that bilingual education and research is pretty much equalivalent with study of Spanish programs and Hispanic immigrants--this is the focus of the debate and research and has been since the 1960s.
Here's another summary on the debate, more even-handed, from the Atlantic. But, again, the emphasis is on Hispanic immigrants. As I said earlier, this is where the bulk of research and debate and money has been in the United States. And it's why I find the research of the Canadians so pertinant--there's much more study of what happens with native-English speakers in a second-language immersion program.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 1:00 am
Given that the article discussed the history of bilingual educcation in this country, there's no reason that its information would be wrong simply because it was published in 1998. Porter's work is cited by more recent research--it's where I came across it. Cummins work, which is the basis for many of the claims about immersion is older than that.
And, of course, the claim that immersion students don't actually perform better than their non-immersion peers is backed up by the 2005 study I cited.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 9:18 am
Thanks for those websites, which clarify your positions a lot.
You linked to old articles in the popular press about bilingual education. The first thing to note is that they are not research, just potted history mixed with opinion. The second thing to note is that they concern bilingual education, and thus are irrelevant to the present discussion.
The programs being discussed in this thread are bilingual dual immersion programs, which have nothing to do with the bilingual education discussed in those articles.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm
Of course, I linked to an article, by a woman with a doctorate who does indeed do research. I also cited what is a research article.
Immersion is a form of bilingual education--and discussed by both Ridley and Porter.
I've been discussing this for a long time--it would be one thing if these two links were the only two I've ever posted, but they're not. My link on the abysmal record of Potomac's first MI class dates back to late 2007. My links to New Brunswick cancelling its entire elementary French immersion program is even more recent.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Point is, my articles *do* support my contention that bilingual education and research in this country has centered on programs for ESL speakers--something made clear in Porter's article. A general-interest article by an expert in the field is completely appropriate to support that assertion--particularly when backed up by a later research paper that includes a literature survey.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 1:12 pm
"The programs being discussed in this thread are bilingual dual immersion programs, which have nothing to do with the bilingual education discussed in those articles"
I understand that dual immersion programs are indeed part of bilingual education, designed for immigrant students, and where half of the kids are supposed to be native speakers of the minority language.
Do you happen to know why VTP kids don't make up half of SI?
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"I understand that dual immersion programs are indeed part of bilingual education, designed for immigrant students, and where half of the kids are supposed to be native speakers of the minority language."
Part right, part wrong. Immersion is a type of bilingual education. It is not, however, "designed for immigrant students." As for the mix, that depends. The usual recommendation is that neither population (native speakers, target language speakers) be less than one-third of the whole.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 6:28 pm
If bilingual dual-immersion was not designed for immigrant students, then where does the 1/3 rule recommendation come from, and the terms native speakers and target language speakers? Unless related to immigrants, why on earth would a program contemplate 1/3 native speakers of a minority language? The choice of Spanish and Mandarin in Palo Alto must have something to do with immigrants.
And why do you seem so offended that SI could in any way be associated with bilingual education or immigrants? Dual-immersion is bilingual education, and bilingual education is associated with immigrants.
Maybe SI and MI in Palo Alto can find a new name, to disassociate themselves from the immigrant connotation.
Though you may not think there is an immigrant connotation, I still wonder why Hispanic VTP kids don't make up more of SI to learn in both Spanish and English and still get a quality education.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Dual immersion is one form of bilingual education.
I cited studies--didn't say I linked to them, but I gave you the information to Google them.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
And, of course, immersion and other forms of bilingual education are focused on immigrant kids. This is kind of painfully self-evident--where on earth do you think those native speakers of Spanish and Mandarin are coming from? From families who came over on the Mayflower?
Nope, they're immigrants and the kids of immigrants. One of my favorite odd facts is that by the third generation the mother tongue is no longer spoken--yep, even among Hispanics. If you're third-generation American, your first language is English.
So any program that requires one-third to one-half native speakers of a non-English language depends on the existence of a recent relatively unassimilated immigrant population.
And, of course, immersion programs for kids in the U.S.--as Porter's article points out, developed in the 1970s--i.e. when a large wave of emigration from Latin America and Asia began thanks to a change in immigration laws.
Immigration and concerns about educating immigrant kids has *everything* to do with dual-immersion programs. As Porter points out in what I thought was a clear, easy-to-read fashion.
No immigrants, then no dual-immersion program possible--at least in the U.S. Different situation in Canada which has a large, well-established French-speaking population--which, again, is why the Canadian research is so interesting. And why the Canadians are interested in the success of native English speakers. It's a non-issue in the United States because we do all learn English here.
No immigrants, no native speakers of non-English to seed the program.
And, of course, the vast majority of dual-immersion programs in this country are Spanish--reflecting the largest recent immigrant group. That we're hearing about Mandarin--well, this would be an area with a large immigrant group from China. (And, yes, this would be in keeping with an early PACE survey that showed 80 percent of the families interested in MI were, yeah, of Chinese descent.)
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 8:11 pm
Ummm, okay, I am a guilty party here in getting away from the original topic, but I'd like to know does anyone know why SI at Jordan was suspended? Or at least some more information about what actually happened?
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 9:09 pm
These programs are conceived in terms of the native languages spoken by the children, not by country of origin. So immigrations status is not germane.
The recommendation for 1/3 native speakers has nothing to do with immigration or visas--it is based on studies by linguists who say it is important to have a critical mass of speakers from both languages in the classroom.
Also, the programs are not designed for or focused on one linguistic group or the other; they cater to both. This information, by the way, is freely available.
You gave up your claims about the focus of studies on bilingual dual immersion programs because, I suppose, you realized you didn't understand what they were. For the record, then: studies on bilingual dual immersion are not mainly focused on ESL kids.
Certainly, bilingual dual immersion programs are not "focused on immigrant kids," as I pointed out above. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
As for the "sticky issues of class, immigration and assimilation," you're certainly right that it played a big role in the local debate, as did race. Thank you for bringing that up.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm
".....studies by linguists who say it is important to have a critical mass of speakers from both languages in the classroom"
I can almost visualize you saying this with a locked jaw. Hello, this is public school, and it's California, you'd think a Spanish dual immersion program would include Hispanic kids, and there is certainly critical mass.
Since I have not heard any reference to them in connection to SI, it must be because there is no connection. So who are the 1/3 native speakers? Do you import them from Spain?
Why are those papers discussing SI programs and Hispanic immigrants?
There's even this paper:
THE BILINGUAL RESEARCH JOURNAL
Summer/Fall 1995, Vol. 19, No. 3&4, pp. 513-523
THE ROLE OF ESL
IN A DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRAM
Inter-American Magnet School
This article paints a portrait of Inter-American Magnet School in Chicago and the role of the ESL program within the school. Inter-American Magnet School was founded 21 years ago by two parents who wanted their own children to be educated in a Spanish bilingual, bicultural program that welcomed children of all backgrounds. The school now serves 630 children in a kindergarten through eighth grade program. The school's Latino, African-American, and European-American students learn together in Spanish and English in a setting that fosters literacy and fluency in two languages, high academic achievement, and multicultural pride and tolerance. English is one of the two second languages that students &e learning in the school, and is taught both in the classrooms and in a pull-out program.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 8:54 am
Native US Born citizenry tend to speak English.
Non native US born kids speak the language of their parents, if their parents speak another language. These parents are immigrants to this country be it from Spain, Mexico, China or Russia. If these parents were born in this country, they would speak English and their kids would not be fluent in the language of their ancestry. Even those from English speaking countries tend to have kids that speak American English rather than British, or Australian English.
Elementary, I don't understand you at all. The definition of an immigrant is someone who was born outside the US. It has nothing to do with visas or race. Immigrants coming to this country, regardless of race, produce offspring and tend to teach their kids to speak their own language and the kids learn English from tv, the playground, friends, etc.
The number of US born kids born to US born parents speaking a language other than English is small and must be due to either grandparents living in the home or having nannies that do not or are paid not to speak English to the kids to make the kids learn the other language.
Posted by More interesting fish to fry, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 11:57 am
Elementary - actually the discussion here is about what happened with PAUSD'd SI middle school program - why it was cancelled? What happened? And what are the implications for SI and MI future? It appears to be that PAUSD isn't qualified or doesn't have the resources or the bandwidth to pull such a thing off. Not a suprise to many who argued that the district doesn't have the expertise, bandwidth or the resources, to put boutique language programs in place.
Why wasn't SIPAPA able to force the district into results, once they forced them into approving the program? They are after all a well formed organization with over 11 years of experience in managing their program and pulling strings in the district. Will a fledgling MI organization (PACE?, MIPAPA?) be able to force the district into a different result for their own program? How?
The questions of PAUSD management of these programs is far more relevent than a debate about the 'value' of the programs. I don't think there's a person alive that would deny the 'value' to a person who values it. Its an entirely circular and unanswerable question. In fact, I would go so far as to say, for those people who value it, its of value, and its certainly a proposition that is of zero value to those who don't value it.
(So one might ask themselves if they make much ado about nothing for the kids they put through such a program - if the majority of their peers/future community holds this of no value - sort of like a basket weaving or a buggy whip advanced degree. Who cares, except the few who care?)
And of course, it only imparts its value through a program that is expertly administered - is this PAUSD's program? Apparently not.
For those people who value an immersion education, there are alot of quality options locally. The real question is whether PAUSD is in a position to deliver quality. The district might be coerced to approve a pilot, but is anyone really able to FORCE them in to administering a good program? The district can be forced to go through the motions, but does that really serve the kids?
Prospective parents of incoming kinders (MI and SI) must be looking at this with disbelief. How come no one was alerted to the fact that SI at Jordan was developing into a miserable failure at the middle school level? Was this some sort of coverup by the district? by SIPAPA? by PACE?
No one has exactly explained what went on here, who knew, and when they knew.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 1:17 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I think there is a point to a values discussion--in that it's a question of valuable to whom. And this gets back to the mission of public schools--public education should be of value to the community. It's valuable to all of us if our kids are literate and mathematically capable, if they understand the premises of science, etc. The whole foreign-language debate is, in a sense, about how valuable are those foreign languages to Americans. I mean, in Europe, with dozens of languages living cheek-by-jowl, there's an obvious advantage, same with bilingual Canada--but here, there's both an ongoing push by folks like E PLURIBUS to have everyone speaking English (and I think there is a need for linguistic unity in a country as diverse as others) and just the simple fact that English will get you across the country without a problem--there isn't a compelling need for a second language to function in this country. End result is that we have a history of second-language loss. It's kind of amazing just how monolingual we are.
Anyway, was SI at Jordan a "miserable failure"--and in what way? Lower-than-expected enrollment? Poor results on general tests? Poor results in Spanish? Inadequate instruction in Spanish? Too limited resources?
One of the things I've come across in my Googling is that because of the way immersion programs developed in this country--i.e. to bring immigrant kids into the English mainstream--the focus has been heavily on two to six-year elementary programs that create English speakers in an Anglophone society.
I think as a result that by middle school there's less research and less perceived necessity for immersion programs. The ESL kids have been mainstreamed, so we have a rather small group of kids who have studied a second language and want to keep it going--a foreign-language enclave in an English-speaking school. Basically, *nothing* about the American education system is set up to strongly support that. I suspect most middle-school immersion continuation programs are kind of winged by the teachers and administration. The compelling ESL need is gone.
Making English-speaking kids in an English-speaking society fluent via immersion in a second language is a different kettle of fish than making ESL kids fluent in English. The foreign-language instruction should continue through high school. Ideally, the kids are isolated from kids not on the immersion track.
Even then, the long-term drop-out rates, particularly from middle school on are high--this is, again, why I refer to the Canadian research so much--because they research this issue in a way we Americans don't.
Let's see, public high schools that isolate immersion kids from everybody else? How likely is that in the United States? How good an idea is that even in a pluralistic society?
For that matter, how good is that for kids who will, in fact, have to function in English in college and the workplace? There's no shown benefit to the public good in isolating high-school kids in a way that works best for foreign-language instruction.
While immersion works, I suspect that the most effective method, longterm, is to start FLES in grade school around third grade (to take advantage of the benefits of primary literacy) and then support it well through high school. Immersion should be left to areas where there's a need to assimilate ESL kids into the English-speaking programs and in the private sector where individual needs and wants can take a greater priority.
So, yeah, the Chinese-American school--why not? Or, really, what's wrong with Chinese school? It seems to work.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 3:50 pm
wow Ohlone Par,
your Canadian research and even your ancient articles are starting to make sense! I'm curious, what you think is more offensive for the use of public money
a Spanish immersion program that excludes Hispanic kids like VTP kids that could actually "need" this program? Based on what Elementary says, who's never even seen a connection between immigrants and Spanish immersion.
or MI which has immigrant families getting public money to pay for what others gladly pay for privately?
Posted by Another parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 6:21 pm
"The SI program does not cost the District one cent extra"
So, how did the Jordan teacher dedicated to only SI kids get paid? How much does an SI student cost versus a regular kid? And how would that add up through High School?
Special treatment is extra cost.
And the parents pay "thousands of dollars"? Is that appropriate?
And we're supposed to be "impressed" by something? That your kids won the lottery? All our kids would learn anything if you started them early? Just because it's a foreign language does not make it impressive.
I think a few years of special treatment is plenty, like Connections, or Direct Instruction, or a track here and there, but this demand for the "perfect" Spanish or Mandarin immersion experience is not too impressive.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 23, 2008 at 7:11 pm
So you don't think 25 to 30 6th grade kids deserve to have a teacher? What should they do, just sit around for 2 periods? They would have a teacher regardless of what language they were taught in. Don't be silly.
What extra amounts the parents pay is up to them, me included. Some pay more, some pay less, just like our property taxes. But, there is no additional cost to the District for SI.
Yes, my kids were lucky enough to win the lottery. As I said earlier, language immersion should expanded, and since Spanish is established, it could be expanded with little or no additional cost.
I am sorry you are so jaded, or bitter, as to not be able to appreciate other people's accomplishments. You are probably not impressed by kids learning calculus in AP courses either. You probably think anything other than the 3Rs should be eliminated from school.
I realize the SI lottery is not entirely fair, but I think many of the people complaining about its unfairness would not take the offer if given it.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 8:27 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Let's return to Ohlonepar's claim that all the research focuses on ESL and so doesn't prove anything. Above, Ohlonepar referred to Lindholm-Leary's research, and I'd point you there, too. Lindholm-Leary has done a number of studies on various Spanish immersion programs and various Chinese immersion programs, and they are not focused on ESL kids. QED.
Attrition at CLIP has been about 4%; the CLIP program will tell you there is no attrition problem. QED.
"Because it matters who PAYS for it." No, since it's cost neutral, it doesn't matter.
"SI immersion is a BILINGUAL EDUCATION program like ESL originally designed for immigrant kids to learn in both languages as they acclimate to the host culture." Again, false. Not designed for immigrant kids. It is designed for speakers of the local language and a target language, not for anyone with a particular immigration status. Anyone familiar with immersion programs knows that they were not developed to bring immigrant kids into the English mainstream.
"How much does an SI student cost versus a regular kid? " Exactly the same, down to the last penny.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm
Thank you. I've been writing about this for so long that I don't spell out everything anymore. Glad to see it click.
Immersion programs aren't cost-effective if a district has overcrowding problems. So, while they may be cost-neutral if there are vacant seats, they cease to be cost-neutral when a district is overcrowded and needs to be able to shift around students. Again, it's an issue of flexibility--you can't just move any student into the later grades of an immersion program. Empty seats cost money.
This year, Escondido bumped neighborhood kids from the school, so it's an issue.
Since Jordan is crowded and budgets are tight, was it cost-effective to continue to have a program that could only serve a small number of students? I think your expectation of having the district continuing what it began is reasonable, by the way--but I wonder why the district made the choice it did.
In other words, was it a case of advanced math lanes v. advanced Spanish lanes? Around here, I'd assume math would get the thumbs-up. It's seen as a much bigger priority.
In other words, I know you're unhappy, but why did Jordan suspend the SI program? What did they tell you?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 23, 2008 at 9:58 pm
What is your definition of immigrant? I gave you mine and it has nothing to do with status or visas.
You seem to look on immigrants as being something less than the rest of us. I want to know who speaks a foreign language other than an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. An immigrant is someone who has come to this country. They may be highly educated and they may or may not speak English as a first language. The majority of immigrants into this country are legally here. You talk about immigrants status as being important. Where do you get that idea from?
Posted by Frankly, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:59 am
Elementary, look in the mirror for lazy (and pompous). You made the points, back 'em up - still not a single link, though plenty of hot-air. Do your own research, or just be a silly poser, I don't really care. I've read enough of L-L already, thanks.
PS: Still can't figure out the definition of "need," huh? Too lazy for even a dictionary - wow.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 8:57 am
"I've read enough of L-L already, thanks."
If it is true that you have read L-L, then you have all the info you need (and want). If you understood the words that passed before your eyes, then you know that the criticism I directed at OP is supported and fully debunks her position. So I gave you the criticism and the info, but I cannot do the thinking for you. I wish you luck with your endeavor.
If you don't understand "need," please ask the board.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 9:32 am
Disillusioned parent - I don't understand, I thought the complaint was that the administration and the teachers are not specifically trained in the immersion methods, that there was no comprehensive curriculum development, no cohesive program managment. That all costs money! If you're happy with just any old middle school teacher, even just a regular language class teacher, and the books and materials that are available to all the kids - then sure, no extra cost.
This whole thread got started because you SI parents WEREN'T happy with just that. In fact, doing it RIGHT is NOT cost neutral. The way they're doing it now, may well be. And the life long lesson we all have to learn sooner or later - you get what you pay for.
Posted by Disillusioned SI, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 10:28 am
I don't know where you heard that neighborhood kids were "bumped" from Escondido, but I can tell you that, with a 2nd grader there, I or my wife would have heard about it. So I don't believe that is the case. In fact 2 classrooms were added to the campus last summer.
For the record, Escondido was slated for closure due to under enrollment when the SI program was placed there. SI saved Escondido and relieved over crowding at other schools.
As for why the Jordan SI program is suspended, I believe the Jordan Administration is largely to blame. The 6th grade teacher was disinterested in teaching and the prior principal was openly hostile to the program. The administration took no action to remedy the poor teaching and the students lost respect for the teacher. The parents heard stories of poor teaching from their kids and demanded reform, just as you would. When confronted by the parents with the accusations of the kids, the teacher got defensive and a meeting devolved into chaos. When the meeting started getting out of control the administrators present should have put an end to it, but they let it go on. Obviously, with the teacher losing all respect she, could not continue at Jordan and she quit. With little time left in the school year, we were told a replacement teacher could not be found (I believe a teacher could have been found if the administration was interested). Had the administration taken action earlier, a new teacher could have been found early enough to keep the program going. Now we are in limbo.
That is my story and I am sticking to it.
You silly people can argue all you want about need vs want. Obviously there are truly only a few needs: food, water, and shelter; and those can be broken down into specific variable wants. After that, all are wants: we want a good education for our kids so we need a good teacher; but our need is based on a want of our choosing. Our kids only need a specific good education because we want them to succeed in attaining our vision of a good life. So give it a rest.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 10:43 am
Class of 2002 (entering)
Kinder: 64 2002
1st: 60 2003
2nd: 49 2004
3rd: 47 2005
4th: 47 (2006 11th day enrollment)
This class lost 17 kids over this time span, attrition of 26%
Class of 2001 (entering)
Kinder: 25 2001
1st: 40 2002
2nd: 40 2003
3rd: 37 2004
4th: 35 2005
5th: 31 2006 11th day enrollment
Now, this class strand is interesting, At first glance, it looks like they started with 25, ended with 31 - So no attrition, right? I'm sure that's how CLIP and Graceless Elementary counts it. Woops, they ACTUALLy loaded the class up to 40 in first grade, then proceeded to lose 9. That's a loss of 22% of this class strand from its peak point.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
One of their favorite 'go to' myths - they like to shout real loud about NO ATTRITION problem at CLIP, yet they fail to talk about how many kids they load up in EVERY STRAND in the middle years to keep the program puffed up. So they barely squeek out as many as they enter in kinder - they drop like flys out of the early elementary grades, then load them up with proficient Mandarin speakers to finish the strand - and WOW LIKE MAGIC they're graduating Mandarin speakers from their program - as many as they started in Kindergarten - well almost.
And, now, are they claiming they TAUGHT these kinds Mandarin besides?
The REAL point here is that this is OFF POINT and so is the WHOLE argument between OP and Elementary about immersion research.
The REAL point is that PAUSD is flounderig with their own immersion programs - even the beloved SI, and that does have implications for the future of MI and SI.
Prospective MI and SI parents are (and should be) alarmed to understand that they won't get serviced by PAUSD in middle school or high school at the high level of customization they've become accustomed to. The district will talk the talk, but isn't in the position to walk the walk - no matter how much the pressure groups back them in to the corner.
Furthermore, these parents/kids elementary years will be tightly managed by some kind of political group that exerts its control over the program, the parents, and the district (and those parents better be loving that group, or else), and in fact all is not shiny and happy in PAUSD immersion land.
And SI parents - have the big MI debacle to thank for the diversion of resources from what should have been an SI middle school development/implementation. Resources ARE scarce in the district and this is the EXACTLY the result. They get theirs, means you DON't get YOURS. Only so much of district staff/Ed Services to go around. And if its not SI getting the short end of the stick, its going to be the next program (or the next) to bow down to the MI machine.
Which is EXACTLY the problem of equity. Scarce resources need to be put to the common good for all the kids, not lavished on a few.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:25 am
Issue (real issues that tear communities apart) in the early implementation phases of immersion programs shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. If the feasibility study would have done its job and reported on pros AND cons, AND unintended consequences, they would have reported on the not so rosy experiences of districts like Fremont that abandonded their attempts at immersion programs due to things like political mess, teacher training and retention issues, staff and district support (lack thereof), inability to keep the wheels on the track through administration changes, parent dissatisfaction, parent pressure from 'difficult' parents, and things like this.
Instead, our staff painted a picture of ROSY at every turn - which in turn ill prepares our own community to learn from these mistakes.
Someone (Skelly) needs to go back to the drawing board, do a REAL feasibiilty study, do some REAL cost and resource analysis, do some REAL study of unintended consequences, and come up with a real plan for our district language programs. If he's committed to let this train roll, he better well prepare for the ugly derailment(s) ahead.
Posted by Yet Another Parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:46 am
How about a few facts for those who are debating the immigrant-VTP argument. Last year there were at least 16 students living in EPA in the SI program in grades K-5. Only two classrooms didn't have a student from EPA. There were fewer EPA kids in the upper grades than the lower - this might be due to attrition or something else, I don't know. Finding Spanish-speaking students to fill emptying seats has always been more challenging than finding English-speaking students. (Duh.) The higher the grade, the harder it is to fill seats. I'm not aware if there's a grade cutoff where they don't accept new students. I assume fifth grade is too late to join.
Regarding attrition - the arguments going on are largely splitting hairs about other districts' immersion programs. What's important and relevant to us here in PAUSD is how attrition - of any size - affects the rest of the students in the district. If a K-1 non-English seat opens up, it must be filled with a Spanish (or soon Mandarin) speaking student. Beyond first grade, any replacement student – filling a Spanish or English seat - must pass a proficiency test to get in. The higher the grade, the more challenging it is to replace the student. The upper elementary SI classrooms have fewer students than the regular classrooms.
What this tells us is that SI attrition is costing PAUSD: the cost of a 23-student class is not the same as an 18-student class. (Actual numbers.) This is just one example of how SI/MI are not cost-neutral programs.
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:49 am
I didn't suggest SI be expanded district-wide.
No one said Hispanic VTP students should be banned from immersion.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"The REAL point is that PAUSD is flounderig with their own immersion programs...." One teacher quit and that amounts to floundering programs? Sounds like you need a dictionary so you can look up "flounder."
In recent years, CLIP has experienced an attrition rate of 4%, lower than surrounding schools and lower than Palo Alto schools. The CLIP administration confirmed to PAUSD that attrition is not an issue.
Posted by Casey, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 11:50 am
This need/want dichotomy is rather silly. You may not need Mandarin instruction. You may not need Spanish instruction. You may not even need English instruction. Because at the end of the day, you just take a look around and see what jobs are available that will allow you to live in Palo Alto and English and other liberal arts subjects aren't going to cut it. It's all math and science. That why you need, if you want your kids to have a chance to live in the neighborhood once they graduate from college.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 12:43 pm
elementary - right, that's what I said too. The CLIP administration SAYS ALL THE TIME that attrition is not an issue. Meaning not an ISSUE for THEM.
That can just as easily mean, it doesn't bother them, -or- they can adequately manage it.
That doesn't mean they don't have attrition, nor does it mean they've disclosed the attrition DATA and that PAUSD has analyzed it independently and determined in a non-emotional fashion that PAUSD understands the impact and implications to PAUSD.
One plausible interpretation of "this is not an issue" is that Cupertino district has many more mandarin speakers in their district population than the PAUSD district - so attrition isn't an issue because they can backfill their empty seats easily.
The issue on this thread isn't attrition, isn't the immersion research, isn't how many links you can produce. (BTW, you provided no data to back up your retort on CLIP attrition.)
The actual issue is PAUSD's ability to DELIVER on promises - and how hopping mad the immersion parents are when they don't. And what are the consequences for the families joining these programs with false hopes?
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 2:23 pm
Elementary - are you about to suggest that you, as an MI parent or supporter wouldn't be furiously mad if the administration at the school was unprepared, or under trained, or if the district was unresponsive to the unique concerns of your program. Would you be asking questions and requiring answers if the kids were coming home complaining about their school day or their teachers? Would you demand more if this were the case?
Would you be satisfied with the answer that there is no money in the budget for any of the training or program management or oversight you were complaining about? would you be satisfied with the answer that the parents/kids really were the ones making things difficult for everyone?
Would you quit the program, or double down your own personal investment to drag PAUSD kicking and screaming to the watering hole? would you quit first? or would you wait til they quit you?
or would you trot out some L-L studies and scream insults at everyone while insisting its all good.
That's the future on your horizon - just wondering what you'd do if you were in these SI parents shoes.
Or maybe you'll sharpen up that pencil of yours and write up a charter school application - because certainly these programs are just that easy to pull off and these PAUSD parents are just that easy to satisfy.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I think the immersion/immigrant sidetrack has added a bit to the discussion because it explains, in part, why the Jordan SI program was so weak. It was, indeed, a case of a lone teacher trying to winging it. The American educational establishment doesn't really care if native English speakers become fluent in Spanish. It's not where the research money and educational grants go. It has no political support.
In that sense, what happened at Jordan reflects the larger whole.
My understanding is that this is the first year the bump issue has occurred--because of the additional SI strand taking up more space (and that, of course, occurred because of the overcrowding in the north cluster.)
I understand the situation in which SI evolved--similar stories with Ohlone and Hoover. Magnet programs were created to bring in students when there were few kids in the district. Now we have the opposite problem--and it's not been handled well.
Thanks for going into more detail regarding Jordan. Actually, I would have handled it differently--you set yourself up as adversaries in this case and that gets up the back of the teachers and administrators. I mean, you're now tagged as a difficult group in a district notorious for difficult parents. What teacher is going to want to walk into that situation? It's not that you're wrong--I don't know, but there are lots of burnt-out teachers--but did you guys really go after that teacher like that publicly? You hectored someone into quitting? Think about what you're saying here.
Think about the headache that this created for the principal of an overcrowded middle school who's just come on board.
So, yes, the Jordan administration might have pushed to hire someone at the last minute--but what incentive did you give them to do so? Honestly, as the Jordan principal, I'd take advantage of this opening to break up this particular claque of parents. Who needs the headache?
Basically, you won the battle and lost the war. I'd figure out who was your most diplomatic parent to help you regroup. But you guys crossed a big line there.
Re: MI, I think this cuts both ways--yes, it opens up a space, but it's also a big warning. MI parents already have a bad reputation they need to overcome. This is pretty much a sign that the district won't take this. Unlike the elementary situation, the charter threat doesn't hold the same way--you need kids who speak Mandarin at the middle school level--that's going to be 20 kids a year, 60 total--and that's with no attrition, and that's not happening.
I think what we're seeing is that you can force the district to give you a program, you can't force them to give you a good one.
What happened with Fremont's immersion program, by the way? Do you have a link?
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 3:21 pm
"The actual issue is PAUSD's ability to DELIVER on promises" That's not an issue. One teacher leaving a program/school doesn't imply PAUSD cannot deliver on promises. Who said anything about false hopes?
Jill Tucker's generally positive piece has information that both partisans and opponents of MI will find relevant to their concerns. Two years into the program, achievement, retention and recruitment appear to be high. White and Asian students come from across the district to join local predominantly low-income Latino and African-American students. An interesting development is that although the program was meant to be a dual-immersion program, the district and school have struggled to enroll Mandarin-speaking students. Their parents choose English-only programs.
What I liked about the article was that there was new, relatively local data that could freshen the discussion a bit.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 3:30 pm
I don't have a link. But during the MI debate someone researched this, and met with fomer board member of Fremont district to find out what happened there. I believe the info was passed on to our Board members as well at the time.
I don't get the impression that the school districts involved in these program are really publicizing alot about their implementation details. Its really not that easy even to get hard data about our own SI program.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm
I think by "you" you mean the parents as a whole set themselves up as adversaries. I wasn't at "the meeting", only a few parents were, but I have heard accounts of it from some who were there which corroborate my account. Suffice it to say, although there were many parents who expressed concern for months over what their children were telling them, there were really only a few parents who were out of control with their accusations. I know most parents in the SI Program are actually quite reserved; in fact, throughout all of elementary at Escondido with my 6th grader, I am not aware of any parents who made demands on the teachers to change what they were doing, some demanded certain teachers, but they had no input on curriculum or teaching. I think that those who believe the SI parents are pushy are thinking of the pioneers who got the program established. Until the issue of poor teaching came up, I had no out of the ordinary contact with Jordan teachers or the administration.
I am not sure if we are better or worse off. My son learned his social studies, but he learned very little Spanish in 6th grade. If we had kept quiet, the program would still be in place but I believe little Spanish would have been taught in 7th grade either with that teacher. I wish the insiders would have given the parents a heads up earlier about the teacher's indifference toward teaching. With earlier knowledge of the problem and if the Administration was more active, maybe then changes could have been made to save the Jordan SI program.
"Recap of SI District Meeting, Middle School and Vision of SI"
"SIPAPA set a goal two years ago to improve the language experience for SI students in secondary schools (Junior High and High School). After many parent volunteer hours and numerous meetings, SIPAPA is happy to report that PAUSD is addressing the transition between SI and FL. The District has put together a strong curriculum team to create the new 7th and 8th grade curriculum: Chuck Merritt (Asst. Principal of Paly); Kevin Duffy (Spanish Teacher at Paly - for the 2007 Paly Voice article on his receiving the Outstanding Language Teacher Award for Santa Clara County, see Web Link. paly.net/view_story. php?id=5342); Catherine Enos of Jordan (for more info on her teaching see Web Link. pausd.org/~cenos/index. html); and Magdalena Fittoria (former 4-5th grade teacher at Escondido and now at PAUSD). Catherine Enos, the Jordan SI teacher for 6th-8th grade, also will collaborate with the 6th -8th grade SI teachers from River Glen (Web Link. org/school/river_glen) whom we met on a recent visit."
This was posted on posted on April 29, 2008. What went wrong in one month and how can SI parents claim they didn't know about this when it's posted on their own web site?
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm
The SI parents know about this. Our collective jaws dropped to the floor when we were presented with this plan when it was pointed out that the same disinterested 6th grade teacher would now teach all three grades. The plan itself seems good, but it needed a very motivated teacher. By the way, we had been meeting with the teacher and administrators well before this plan was announced and we were not privy to it; it was a total surprise.
Posted by E PLURIBUS UNUM, a member of the Hoover School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm
It is clear from the acrimony of this debate is that Language Immersion program are more trouble than they are worth.
The costs outweigh the benefits.
Therefore if parents want these programs they should pay for instruction as like the German and French American school.
It is outrageous to favor Spanish and Chinese over all the other languages in public school therefore these Immersion program must be canceled, they create no value and the are discriminatory.
BTW immigrants have a duty to learn English, BEFORE they come here.
This point is made by the Governor of California, himself and immigrant. He is right, the days of la raza are over for good, if we had wanted that nonsense we would have elected bustamante for Govenor not Arnold.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 5:49 pm
Okay, I misunderstood, I thought from your description you were at the meeting. I actually know some SI parents and they're perfectly well behaved. But it would only take a few ranting apples to spoil the whole bunch. Unfortunately. My point wasn't whether the complaints were just, but that the approach used was going to backfire. School bureaucracies protect their own.
You described a situation that epitomizes a teacher's worst fears about pushy parents. Again, I'm not saying whether the cause was just--just why the reaction of Jordan's administration isn't surprising.
I am also puzzled by Grow Up's link--why have an angry meeting after changes were scheduled to take place?
Sandra Tucker, SIPAPA's president actually comes off as pretty demanding in her letter--her goal is clearly to have a special track for SI kids the whole way through 12th grade--i.e. other subjects offered in Spanish to keep up the immersion experience. Also mentioned is that SI kids don't like the change in approach.
In other words, is it the teacher? Or is it the fact that these SI kids don't like traditional language instruction and its tedious emphasis on accuracy and grammar?
Sounds akin to the conflict over MI in Potomac, where the MI kids hit high school and were found wanting by the Mandarin teacher. It seems a little like knowing how to play the piano by ear but not being able to read music.
May also explain why most of the CLIP kids don't continue through middle school. The demands go up and the fun goes down.
Fact is, you can speak a language well and hate studying grammar. (Ironically, the study of grammar is the most valuable thing I took from studying foreign languages--the one bit of real cross-pollination.)
Given the craps game that getting into a halfway decent elementary involves in SF, I'm not surprised that there's a "demand" for the program. The astounding "success" is anecdotal at this time--no testing yet, so we don't know what the kid's English proficiency will be like when they hit the state testing starting next year. I mean, they will probably test above Starr King's average, since Starr King's average is abysmal. But, sorry, this reads like the honeymoon stage before results are really assessed. Puff piece, in other words. Potomac's first MI years looked good, too.
There's a political issue involved with Mandarin--SF's Chinese population seems to lean toward Cantonese and the Hong Kong dialect--so Mandarin's not the heritage language, but the one imposed by China's communist government.
Posted by Disillusioned SI Parent, a member of the Jordan Middle School community, on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:27 pm
I can tell you my 6th grade son did not receive any formal language instruction, no grammar, nothing but reading and writing with little to no corrections. So he had nothing to hate, in fact he and others were bored in class reading their textbooks instead of having the teacher lead the class in lessons.
I haven't forgotten anything. So SIPAPA set a goal, that does not mean I was working on it. I am not a SIPAPA insider and was not aware of the contents of SIPAPA's master plan prior to its April debut. I do remember writing a couple of days ago about being surprised though.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm
I'm getting different versions here--there's what Sandra Tucker complained about in her newsletter--emphasis on accuracy and grammar--and now there's your saying your son wasn't getting that.
Since SIPAPA and Jordan had been, er, discussing the issue for two years, it strikes me as possible that the teacher gave up trying to teach "grammar and accuracy". Even if you didn't care, other parents clearly did care and had complained about the Spanish instruction being too traditional for their kids.
I just don't see how the situation could have been an optimum situation for any teacher.
I guess the real question is, is there any way that SI parents could have been happy with the SI/Jordan program and have it be cost-neutral--i.e. advanced Spanish classes taught by traditional language teachers.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm
Just looking back at the thread--the fact that SIPAPA brought in its own Spanish teacher candidate after haranguing the other one into quitting her job . . . you know, I don't think the SI program's coming back any time soon to Jordan. It's all wayyy out of bounds.
Man, no wonder Susan Charles is working so hard on indoctrinating the incoming MI parents. The last thing you'd want as a principal is a group of parents trying to push you into hiring a teacher after forcing out another.
Does SIPAPA even realize how out of line this was? What were you guys thinking?
Posted by One more parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2008 at 7:16 pm
"And why does SIPAPA or any other group appoint themselves the arbiter of parent-district or parent-teacher communication? If I was entering a program that required (or pressured) that I clear my communications with a group intermediary between myself and my kids educators, I'd run the other way. Fast. Who is SIPAPA to demand this?"
"But now, it sounds like there are these informal groups that have designated themselves the official 'protectors' of these programs, sort of like??? A union? A mob? A gang? Whats even more weird than the program getting shut down after a group of parents complained (still don't know what they're complaining about), is the fact that SI Onlooker (above) posts some sort warning/admonition that parents are supposed to be using SIPAPA as their channel of communication with the district. Like nothing gets outside of SIPAPA's tight control?? Now THAT's weird."
Posted by grow up, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:48 am
Actually, Disillusioned, you're last response clears up a lot.
The fault here doesn't lie with the school it lies with SIPAPA. The school appears to have acted in good faith by working with SIPAPA over a number of years. SIPAPA let down the school by purporting to be a parent organization but it doesn't take in any input from the SI parents. SIPAPA now looks like an organization that is committed to its own objectives rather than representing the parents in the program.
The school was on a hiding to nothing here. You should be screaming at SIPAPA about this. They screwed up.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:02 am
Why blame SIPAPA? The idea of having to rely on a self selected parent organization to make something work is crazy. The district allowed that to happen.
Imagine having to go through PTA to communicate with the district regarding your child's education? Parents that have given time, energy and money to this program, to HELP the district make it work can't be blamed.
Crossing the line was an accident just waiting to happen.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:33 am
Parent - imagine indeed! MI parents -are you paying attention? Is there a heavy handed spin control organization with the best interests of "MI at any cost" at work in your neck of the woods??
Parent I couldn't agree with you more - the model that the district is allowing and enabling here with these immersion programs, basically run at the will and whimsy of these independent, political, power structures, but NOT controlled, NOT funded, NOT overseen through a strong centralized district function is disfunctional at best. They're leaving the success or failure ofthese programs pretty muchin the hands of these pressure organizations to raise the incremental funds, to pressure the administration/staff at the individual schools do roll out programs that meet THEIR definition of how the programs should be run, to control parent tempers, to monitor the programs, to control flow of information, etc etc etc. Disfunctional, and not in the long term best interest of the kids or the school district.
Having said that - Parent- you KNEW what you were getting yourself in to. This is exactly the message that the board sent SI in the beginning and MI just last year. This thing has to run basically invisibly to PAUSD (100% cost neutral, 100% student performance neutral) to the rest of the district. That puts ALL the pressure on the parents/parent run organizations to make sure that thing is a go. That's by DESIGN, and every SI and MI parents knows that going in. And really the minute its becomes a burden - gone.
So, this is a really good lesson for anyone going in - eyes wide open people! Know your protector organization (SIPAPA? MIPAPA?) love your organization, and heed your organization. They're what's keeping you alive. And don't come running to us when the whole thing goes to pot. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm
Jerry, here's what I thought when I read that article...
Imagine your 7 year old reading a booked called 'I go to school' a the end of first grade. Impressive isn't it? Maybe that's why they have trouble attracting Mandarin speaking kids in to the class - the academic pace is WAY too slow for Mandarin speakers.
In the meantime these kids are getting 1 hour of english language arts per day. And how in the heck is that supposed to get a native Mandarin speaking child up to speed in English language capabilities? Its just a hoaky proposition, and those Mandarin speaking families know it. Even for the English speakers, that's a highway robbery in terms of their English language arts exposure (relative to what we get here in PAUSD.)
I sincerely hope this reporter and this school will do us all a big favor and publicize the standardized test scores (STAR, etc), of these classes next year as second graders so we can see the impacts of giving kids 1 hour of english language arts in grades K,1,2.
But at least they are operating at preschool level conversation in Mandarin! Quite a consolation.
And could they have been at a similar level in Mandarin with an afterschool program?
My last thought as I read this - if my only other option were SF public school, I'd probably consider this a life saving opportunity. Is that why we "need" it here in PAUSD?
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Boy, you came to this debate late.
You missed all the research showing that the native Mandarin speakers end up doing better than the monolingual English speakers in English. It may seem "hoaky" to you, but in general the studies have shown that the immersion kids do significantly better in math and English than their monolingual peers.
So maybe it's highway robbery in terms of what the monolingual English kids get....
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm
Interesting point about the reading level--I didn't even process it, but, of course, my own kid was reading chapter books early in first grade--and any kid reading at that simple a level at the *end* of first grade around here is seeing a reading specialist and going to the specialty summer school for reading. It's literally a year behind where we expect kids to be in English.
Since the kids in American schools end up competing for spots at American universities, the long-term English performance is going to matter more to ambitious parents.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Other stuff (my computer ate up my last post, sigh)
I think you're dead right about how the district views all the specialty programs. The MIers are very much private-school parents--literally--and they don't get the mission of public schools (thus, Elementary's inability to grasp public v. individual "need"). SIPAPA thought it had a fiefdom to the point it could fire and hire at will. Get to that point, though, and you've pissed off the administration and the teacher's union. That would be the same teacher's union that successfully fought vouchers.
In some ways, it's not surprising, the district asks for a lot from all of us and that makes parents feel that they're owed something in return. They don't get that if they're unpopular minority, the district could say no.
In other words, Ohlone's attitude of sweetness and light is political savvy.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I don't think the MI crowd gets just how much they're expected to play ball. The MIers are far more dependent on Susan Charles' good will than I think they realize. And she pretty much *always* backs up her teachers.
Thank you for going into more detail. I see why you're frustrated--your kid basically got the short end of the stick because of a feud between SIPAPA and the school. I don't think it was inevitable--SIPAPA was arrogant and confrontational, that's not inevitable by any means.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 3:40 pm
Elementary -no inventions necessary, it was all outlined in the article - sub-elementary reading levels, attracting zero mandarin speakers, one hour of English Language arts per day. Conveniently we have our own little classroom guinea pigs right here! We have Starr King who will be filling us in on all those little Mandarin fledglings' 2nd grade star test results next year, and we have our own 40 kids starting right here in PAUSD next year. So let the real data flow begin! I for one am looking forward to it! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Do you know if they have a 'SIPAPA' type organization formed yet for MI Ohlone? What's it called (is it just PACE?), did they communicate how that organization was formed, or what the governance for that organization is? Are they holding open public meetings? Do they have an active website?
Posted by Elementary, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:15 pm
First, the article doesn't say their reading level is low.
Second, the research shows that Chinese immersion kids temporarily lag a little in their reading skills in grades 2/3 and then surpass other kids as they hit fifth.
Third, whatever you might discover about one classroom in one school somewhere during one year, it is statistically insignificant. Looking at the bulk of research, we must conclude that Chinese immersion kids excel.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:39 pm
Like SI kids are surpassing their peers?? even SI parents aren't claiming they surpass. (well except that they surpass in their spanish language skills).
BTW, because you seem to be so enchanted with the 'research' it might interest you to know that the ONLY thing that matters to a parent of a kid in school is what happens in THAT kid's one single classroom. I don't think I'd be so flip about poo pooing the results in our own two little classrooms in favor of 'the research says' if I were you. Parents sort of have tunnel vision that way - funny how that works.
There's a little thing called PAUSD between our kids and the perfect immersion results - don't be so quick to default to 'the research undeniably proves...'
Were the parents of the kids at SI Jordan all that impressed with the research?
I don't think the MI parents are going to be sitting around reading the research either starting in about 2 months. In August it'll be all about: Results - Here. Now.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:05 pm
Oh, it's supposedly the parent you'd think it would be. You know, got in off the wait list.
I don't know if there's a SIPAPA equivalent yet. I do know the incoming MI parents are being barraged with orientations on the Ohlone Way and there's been a drive to recruit Ohlone parents to match up with an incoming MI family and get them on board.
One of the quirky facts about Ohlone is that it has more PAUSD teachers' kids than any other school. Between that and Susan Charles' iron hand/velvet glove act, it makes for a certain parental discretion. The bringing in MI was very much on Charles' terms--as she said she'd resign if it wasn't done her way.
So I think there's a very strong focus on not allowing MI to be a school within a school. I think MI concerns are expected to fall under the site council. And as I've noted, two of the kids in MI have Ohlone teachers as parents.
I think Charles' bigger issue is actually how unwanted the program is at Ohlone. That, in itself, will be the most isolating factor. I mean, you've essentially got a welcoming committee of people who don't want the program, but see the welcoming committee as a means of keeping the MIers in line.
Well, there's also the set who sees the MIers as a money source.
Posted by Lefty, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2008 at 10:41 am
We certainly know the "righties' are a bunch of free thinking individuals that don't move in lock step. But this is a debate for another thread, or not at all. I think this thread is done, put a fork in it.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2008 at 10:58 am
Unfortunately, we really never got the full story about what happened with SI at Jordan. I'm not even clear it was actually cancelled. Says who?
Its pretty discomforting to know very well that there's a beehive of activity out there (certainly SIPAPA isn't sitting around letting SI secondary wither up and die because of a pesky little thing like lack of administration support), and the district is probably up to their eyeballs in planning the next steps, damage control, or whatever. (Or maybe not - maybe they're too busy with MI to worry about it now, or maybe this was all just a false rumor and nothing ever happened.)
But in the meantime, this is ~our~ school district, and our tax payer dollars at work, I think we have a right to know what's going on here.
I wonder if Arden will do a little research and get to the bottom of it for us.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2008 at 11:17 am
Nah, it's not right or left, social pressure to conform comes in all shapes and sizes and is as old as the first campfire.
Also Ohlone, like me, wants to protect the school. But she'd rather I don't speak out of class. It's not surprising that someone would feel this way.
My own take is that we're better off with transparency where the schools are concerned. There are built-in tensions to the situation--I don't see the point in denying that.
Disillusioned Parent's comments, I think, really illuminated the value of transparency. S/he was really kept out of the loop--and basically her kid's education was decided backstage by the school administration and by a group of parents supposedly representing his or her needs, but not actually seeking out his or her input.
I've personally found this thread to be a really informative one--The Jordan mess is an interesting one. I'd like to know more--did the middle-school SI program deteriorate dramatically as the complaints started mounting up. Has the transition to middle school and more traditional instruction always been an issue? Occasionally, we get parents whose kids have already graduated from the SI program, I'd love to get an older perspective.
Obviously, something went very, very wrong, but I don't understand if the middle-school program never worked; worked, but not in a way liked by SIPAPA; worked, but then stopped working.
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2008 at 11:22 am
Our posts crossed, but I think Disillusioned used the term "suspended"--i.e. they bring in a teacher it will be back. So, it reads like a power struggle to me--who gets to call the shots on SI and Jordan--the administration or SIPAPA?
Arden's on vacation right now according to an editor's comments on the Mandarin grant thread. Interesting thread, that, at least we know some of the Forum is read some of the time by the people we want to read it.
Posted by Also Ohlone, a member of the Ohlone School community, on Jun 27, 2008 at 9:21 am
This has nothing to do with "Ohlone-acceptable" or "speaking out of class."
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
You're right, I don't see an us vs. them, and certainly no "usurping." Ohlone has expanded, and some of our kids will be learning Mandarin.
I don't see any sense in spinning doomsday scenarios about the future. We'll have to wait and see if MI works (it's still a pilot program).
If it does succeed, then we need to look at the crowding situation around the district. We cannot insist on remaining a small school if others are being ramped up. If 500 is our fair share, then 500 it is and the program has been expanded. (I don't know the numbers you are working with. How many kids to the other schools have? How much space do they have compared with Ohlone? Etc.)
On the other hand, we cannot be asked to take on a disproportionately unfair burden in terms of numbers. In that case the district would need to look for a new location for our MI brothers and sisters, and we would be left with facilities to expand the traditional strands at Ohlone.
I see opportunities and would like to avoid dividing the community.
Food for thought: We have a pretty well-functioning community at Ohlone. Have you ever experienced a school divided? My eldest attended one before we moved here, and I can assure you that it was a deeply negative experience. It was, in fact, pretty awful for all the kids. Every interface between parents was freighted and potentially fiery. Volunteerism plummeted. You can probably imagine.
And don't kid yourself, it could happen to us-it would start with the kind of little nudges you are giving. How do you feel about a community divided?
Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2008 at 5:03 pm
Yes, I've attended divided schools. But why are you fooling yourself about there not already being a division here?
Our fair share? What guarantee is there that we'll only take on our fair share? My 500 number--it's actually higher than that comes from Susan Charles comments to the school board.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
As for my not sharing Ohlone's values--perhaps not. But then many parents at Ohlone don't share its values. That includes people sitting on all of its key committees.
And you, let's face it, are not putting on a good showing of Ohlone's core values. You are not trying to reach a consensus with me. We are not having a negotiation. You basically don't want me to express my views.
You want to persuade me that I'm wrong--go ahead, I'll listen.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm
I am not an Ohlone parent, and I know why (for sure) now. I'm not interested in Ohlone regular, MI, SI, Hoover, or any other program that asks me to pledge my allegiance to a specific group think philosophy, norm,or whatever you want to call it - and then manages what I say, how I say it, and whom I speak 'through' (SI -> SIPAPA -> PAUSD) using the 'organizational' filter to temper and mold the whole thing to the group agenda.