Critical Mandarin Immersion Presentation 12/12 Schools & Kids, posted by Jamie Maltz, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Dec 8, 2006 at 4:33 pm
The Mandarin Immersion (MI) Feasibility Study will be presented at the December 12th PAUSD Board of Education meeting this Tuesday. This will be a presentation of findings from the district staff's six month study on MI. Please come to 25 Churchill at 7:00pm to make your position known.
All who are interested or concerned about MI should make the Board aware of their views ASAP. The final board vote on this proposal is planned in January, just a few meetings away. Time is running out to make your position known.
To learn more about why MI is NOT a good fit for PAUSD please go to www.paee.us (Palo Altans for Equitable Education).
or email email@example.com
If you are interested in signing a petition opposing MI for ~any~ reason, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will also find a copy of the Oppose MI mail-in flyer that was published in the Weekly three times in November.
A few of the many reasons to oppose MI:
- Does not support the neighborhood school concept. A new choice program will displace significant numbers of students from their neighborhood school, no matter where it is sited (Yes - even Garland!)
- It will only serve a small percentage of our student population. MI will reach only 240 students.
- It is not part of the district's current Strategic Plan and it rated last in terms of priorities for elementary school education, as found in the Bregman Survey from Feb, 2006 (chart 7a)
- $4 Million in budget cuts have not been restored, as promised in Measure A (refr. State of the District Report, dated 2/28/06, page 1)
- It is not an equitable and responsible use of scarce district resources.
-Creates significant financial risk for our district in a difficult time of enrollment growth and tight capacity. MI will create NEW incremental enrollment growth that has not been accounted for by the AAAG analysis. Families currently attending private schools will be drawn to this program. Families from neighboring communities will be drawn to this program. PAUSD is a basic aid district and is not compensated for enrollment growth. Additionally, incremental program costs will be covered by non-stable, non-guaranteed revenue streams.
- MI will not be entirely 'lottery' based admission. After first grade, Mandarin proficiency testing will be required for entrance.
- If we have any foreign language instruction, all children should have access to it. The recent PIE benchmark study shows that our excellent peer schools use more balanced approaches to deliver language education for all elementary students as in integral part of their school day. MI does NOT improve PAUSD's elementary language program. PAUSD has no elementary foreign language strategy at all.
- This community is not agreed on the need or desire to go any further with Alternative/Choice programs in general. No further alternative/choice programs should be considered by the Board until more specific criteria for such programs are established.
FYI, we have heard that PACE (Palo Alto Chinese Education) is rallying supporters for MI to attend and to wear the color red.
You can go to PAUSD Board Of Education Agenda website NOW to see a copy of the feasibility study results.
As always, handwritten cards, letters and emails to the Board are very effective wayw to make sure the Board members are aware of your position on important matters. But the sooner the better! They will have a lot of material to consider.
Thanks for getting involved, and making your voice heard.
Jim Rogers is an investment advisor with a few bestselling books.
A few excerpts:
- The first topic Jim talked about was China. Most people don’t understand the full depth of what’s happening there. It will be the next great country of the world and the Chinese are amongst the world’s best capitalists. The 19th century belonged to the British, the 20th century to America and the 21st century will be China’s.
- The Chinese aspire to have what the West has and the work ethic to get there. They save around 35% of their income whereas Americans save about 1%.
- Jim advises teaching our children and grandchildren Chinese and has hired a Chinese nanny for his daughter with strict instructions to only talk Chinese to her. Already she is bilingual, he boasts.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 9, 2006 at 7:14 am
It is misleading, Grace, to post anything recommending to teach "Chinese" ..this assumes that a Mandarin Immersion program teaches the common language of China. It doesn't. It is the language of about half the people, and even then spoken in at least 2 different dialects. I don't remember the number of lanuages in China, but it is many. The common language of business in China..since there isn't a "native" one... is English. National business meetings are conducted in English, especially since China does business with many different countries, all of whom speak English as the common bond.
So, along the same arguments for why we need Mandarin to compete in this future world of China being the leader in business ( assuming this is an accurate assessment, along the lines of us needing to learn Japanese to be able to compete, or Spanish because of NAFTA), perhaps I should start posting all the research showing how behind we are, compared to most of the western world and Japan, Singapore and China, in math, science and technical education of our elementary school kids. And, I should post all the data that shows we "import", to the maximum number we are allowed every year, professionals in these areas because we can't find enough Americans to do this work. Last I checked, we don't "import" people from China because they speak Mandarin.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 9, 2006 at 7:35 am
Please read the full article Grace posted. It is interesting that the same person also proclaims India, a democracy, NOT to have a good future, in spite of the cover story in Time Magazine, written by Michael Elliot, just this last June 26, showing research to just the opposite conclusion. "India Awakens" www.time.com/time/magazine/article
Grace's author states that India, a free market democracy, is "anti-capitalist", compared to a country of unelected leaders who centrally regulate many aspects of China, including the economy. This defies everything proven through economic and historical data about countries ( or even States in the US) and what fosters economic growth as it relates to regulation. Not sure what this guy's qualifications are, and how he can support his sweeping statements.
Posted by Fact Checker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 11:21 am
What you say about Chinese is wrong. Perhaps you are thinking of India and the languages spoken there.
Mandarin is the common language of China.
You are right that there are some minority languages. It is also correct that Chinese-speaking people in China speak many dialects. But these are not written (except some Cantonese), and when kids go to school they learn a standardized version of Mandarin called putonghua.
Mandarin is the lingua franca among different linguistic groups in China. It is the language of business in China. It is the language of academia in China.
China has recently begun a push to teach children English, but English wonâ€™t be the â€ścommon language of businessâ€ť for decades if ever.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 12:28 pm
I would like to add my thoughts to this.
I think learning Mandarin at an early age is a very good idea. I also think that learning any second language at an early age is not only a very good idea, but is essential for a rounded education. Giving an immersion in a language is definitely a good idea, but not for just some of our students.
At present, language education in PAUSD is a mess. We do need to sort out the situation starting with what is already being done at the middle and high school levels. After than we should look at the elementary levels and I think FLES is the way to do it.
Continental Europeans are probably the cultures that do it best. For most of Western Europe, the inhabitants are not only fluent in more than one language, they are probably fluent in 3 or 4, with a passing knowledge in another 1 or 2. How do they do this? It certainly isn't the way we do it here. The schools start language teaching at a young age, and probably start teaching two langauages to every student. They also spend more than our 180 instructional days in the classroom and spend more hours than us at school every day. They also have the equivalent of our summer school as language immersion programs. Nowhere here have I ever heard of a summer language immersion program even suggested for Palo Alto.
So lets get our act together. Yes, we should teach languages, but why only one per child? Yes, we should have immersion programs, but why can't they be through the summer? Why can't we have language camps at winter and spring breaks? Why can't we look outside the box and find some better ways to spend money on language instruction and benefit everyone in PAUSD and not a few.
Posted by Nico, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 1:27 pm
I liked your post, and share your passion for teaching lots of language early. I wanted to clarify why I think immersion is happening now and why it is separate from FLES, and should be.
An immersion program must be a “choice program.” I don’t think that every family in Palo Alto wants 70%-90% of instruction time in Mandarin. The process for starting a new choice program in PAUSD is outlined in a document titled "Guidelines for Developing, Implementing and Expanding/Replicating Large-Scale Alternative Programs." PACE used this process to propose a Mandarin Immersion “Alternative Program” last year. This proposal was accepted for the next step in the process, which led to the feasibility study that was released yesterday.
The process of introducing FLES involves every school in PAUSD. The first step for this would probably be a task force. I don’t think it would be in the realm of the task force to suggest new “choice programs.”
The 2 things, while both have a foreign language instruction component, are actually very different and come about in very different ways.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 2:01 pm
I like and agree with Carol's sentiments as to the importance of foreign languages, yet I find myself disagreeing with most of her observations.
Learning multiple foreign languages in early age seems possible only through immersion, and not through formal teaching. Many European countries try to teach second language in school from early grades (about third grade +/- a grade) and kids coming through these programs have very little knowledge of the foreign language until adolescence. In fact, observing such systems one sees that almost *none* of the kids can really passably speak the second language until they reach the high-school grades. At that time some kids finally learn enough -- and often start reading in that language -- that the language finally "clicks" -- and at that time the language learning also becomes more formal. But similar results can also be achieved simply by teaching foreign language only in high school.
It also is only somewhat true that "most" Europeans speak two or more languages. I have two major observations related to this. One is that English -- and only English -- became almost an universal language around the world. Consequently, a lot of people are in a sense "immersed" in it -- popular songs, most undubbed movies, TV programs, advertising, and computer/web programs. This contributes to the fact that learning English as second language often acquires much of the immersion attributes and probably because of that seems relatively successful. Further, smaller countries tend to have such "effective immersion" stronger -- no movie dubbing, not enough pop songs in local language, a lot of exposure to foreign ads, etc. -- that in them one can indeed see most people fluent in more than a one language. I am thinking particularly of countries like Holland, Belgium (+ its 2 built-in immersion languages), Switzerland (+ its 3 immersion languages), Scandinavia, and most Eastern Europe. Conversely, in large countries like Spain, France, Italy, or Germany, multilingualism is much more attenuated, and it is still strongly skewed towards English. For example, I believe that English is the currently predominant second language in Spain, despite the fact that French is linguistically closer and that France and Spain share a long border and culture. Same for France and English (as opposed to Spanish, German or Italian) or Germany and English (as opposed to French.) To provide more support for this explanation, multilingualism in the UK is not much different than in the US since both are large countries and both already use English as their first language.
In summary, while I agree that multilingualism is desirable, I do not believe we can achieve it in elementary grades without immersion. I think FLES is mostly a feel-good waste of time. In fact, I am almost tempted to say the same even about our middle-schools foreign language programs -- only our high schools seem to do a decent job of teaching foreign languages to those that want them, and the kids seem mature enough to be able to learn it in a non-immersion way.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 2:48 pm
I thank you for your comments and tend to agree with many of the things you mention. Having been brought up in England and Ireland, I have experience in these two countries educational system and do agree with you when you say that these countries are similarly biased with the US when it comes to language instruction and already having English as a first language. However, I don't think that takes away from any of my points. Growing up I had the opportunity of visiting Europe and meeting people from there many times. The fact that early education in a language does not necessarily teach fluency is not the only point. Learning language at an early age gives many benefits. The first is an understanding that other languages do exist and learning them is important. I have seen many high schoolers here have a very negative attitude to languages here due mainly to the fact that they haven't had to learn them before. Secondly, I agree that most of the actual learning is done in high school regardless of what has gone on beforehand. But, when a child has been learning a language for several years, it is much easier to start studying in depth. To begin with, vocal chords are already used to dealing with making sounds that are unfamiliar to the English tongue. Secondly, there is an understanding that all languages use different grammar techniques, have different alphabets, and individual letters or combinations of letters make different sounds than we use them for in English. This means that a student will grasp the fundamentals of that language and be able to start high school with a grounding which will make their high school language education much easier than someone who has no language background at all.
I had to learn English and Irish at what would here be called late elementary, middle and high school levels. I was not a good student in these subjects, but I was with many in my classes who were able to learn languages very easily, it just made sense to them and they found that they could "think" in those languages which I never could. From this I know that not all children learn the same way. I know that if we have FLES, some will do really well and some won't. But at the same time, we already have a situation where some of our children are good at maths and sciences, while others are good at English language and social studies. Some children are good at a subject because they understand it eneptly, and others because they can memorise facts easily. Until we start teaching them though we don't know how they will learn. Does this mean that we should not teach all children the same subjects. No of course not. We must just start teaching languages early, not to promote fluency at an early age, but just to teach the basics for what will be taught later. In the same way we have to teach elementary children arithmetic facts for teaching mathematics at a higher level, and teaching abc, writing and reading as an introduction to Shakespeare, we must start teaching language early to give them a good opportunity later. Some will benefit greatly, some will benefit somewhat, but all will ultimately benefit.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 9, 2006 at 3:01 pm
To Fact Checker:
See below from International NY Times,July 10, 2005 by Howard French
"Uniting China to speak Mandarin,the one official language:Easier said than done"
In recent years migrant labor, which has brought about huge population movements from the hinterlands to China's prosperous eastern cities, has obliged millions of Chinese to learn more Mandarin, but by official estimates even today barely half of the population can speak the official dialect.
China has 55 ethnic minorities, many of them with cultural roots in neighboring countries. The linguistic diversity among these minorities, however, pales in comparison with the variety of tongues spoken among China's Han, the ethnic group that makes up more than 90 percent of the population. The Han speak as many 1,500 dialects, with the bulk of those concentrated in the southern half of the country.
The official view here is that all of the tongues spoken by Han are variants of one language, Chinese. But in a country with a traumatic history of civil war and fragmentation, many specialists say this theory may have more to do with politics than with linguistic reality. Many of the Han dialects are almost entirely mutually incomprehensible, more distinct than languages from disparate regions of Europe."
"There's never before been a language that's been spoken by more people as a second than a first," he says. In Asia alone, the number of English-users has topped 350 million—roughly the combined populations of the United States, Britain and Canada. There are more Chinese children studying English—about 100 million—than there are Britons.
Indeed, English has become the common linguistic denominator. Whether you're a Korean executive on business in Shanghai, a German Eurocrat hammering out laws in Brussels or a Brazilian biochemist at a conference in Sweden, you're probably speaking English. And as the world adopts an international brand of English, it's native speakers who have the most to lose. Cambridge dons who insist on speaking the Queen's English could be met with giggles—or blank stares. British or American business execs who jabber on in their own idiomatic patois, without understanding how English is used by non-natives, might lose out on deals.
To achieve fluency, non-native speakers are learning English at an ever-younger age. Last year primary schools in major Chinese cities began offering English in the third grade, rather than middle school. A growing number of parents are enrolling their preschoolers in the new crop of local English courses. For some mothers-to-be, even that's not early enough; Zhou Min, who hosts several English programs at the Beijing Broadcasting Station, says some pregnant women speak English to their fetuses."
I think that there are more than just a few "facts" to consider..I stand by my implied assertion, which is that to use the reason that Mandarin is the business language of the future is a BELIEF to be discussed, not a fact to be disseminated.
However, that is not why I am opposing MI. It wouldn't matter if it were art or French or Mandarin or math "immersion"..it is a lottery alternative program with all that means, ( see www.paee.us ). If we have foreign language in elementary schools, it should be in a way that all qualified kids can access and not overturn the choice of parents to send their kids to a local school.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 9, 2006 at 3:44 pm
I do see your point of having another language for the cultural aspect, rather than only for language fluency. And that may indeed be a good reason to have FLES in Palo Alto. After all, that should be the advantage of having a school district that believes in "basics plus" -- FLES may as well be the "plus", and we probably can afford it.
I don't see, however, much relation between FLES and the MI or SI. MI or SI are not what I think all parents would necessarily like for their kids. I know I wouldn't. I see choosing MI or SI like choosing Ohlone or Hoover for your kid, or a neighborhood school -- a tradeoff. And like with any choice, some people will not always get what they want, although PAUSD should strive to match its offerings with the demand. But I am glad Palo Alto provides such tradeoffs rather than forcing all kids into a single, supposedly "best for all" program.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 10, 2006 at 4:02 pm
Ok, I understand your point now. What everyone proponents mean when they say that Mandarin is the language of China is that it is the language of EDUCATED China, and this is the China of business, and the China with which other countries will do business. If we assume that China will become a much bigger economic force,( and the degree of this is still debatable, comparatively speaking, for a lot of reasons), then it would follow that Mandarin is one of the important languages the rest of the world, including us, should learn.
Thanks for the clarification about what you meant in your fact checking.
However, please don't misunderstand, anyone. This has been a sidetrack because I was frustrated by continuously hearing the MI program presented as if our kids will suffer in their future economics if we don't immediately implement it in this form...I think the concept is still debatable, and relative to other aspects to our childrens' education ( in terms of employability when they are grown).
But, this isn't about WHAT language to teach. In my mind it ALMOST doesn't matter, in that any foreign language accomplishes much the same goals.
Neither is it about about whether or not Immersion is the best way to teach a foreign language..it is. Immersion in anything is better than a little bit.
This is about whether or not we put in a superb program with a goal of full proficiency for a few, before we even have ANYTHING for everyone. This would be like a full music academy program for 240 kids in k-5, with no music for anyone else. Or, if you think foreign language is more important than music, it would be like a k-5 math academy, with no math for the rest of the kids.
Posted by KS, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2006 at 9:34 am
Wolf, you obviously know very little about how european foreign languages are taught in schools and how well they are spoken by the children on the continent. Please don't post your "observations" - back them up with facts. Immersion is not required to learn a foreign language as exemplified by the european education systems.
Immersion has other benefits but, if all you want to do is learn a foreign language, then this should be something aimed at everyone and not a select few.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2006 at 5:21 pm
Look for a very anecdotal feeling based position from Camille/Wolf in Tuesday's board meeting. Generally that position will state something like
~I just think language is important, I have a sister who teaches in xxx and says Mandarin is important over there, 1/5th of the world population speaks mandarin so its an important language in the world, my heart swells with pride at the idea of our first class of graduates of PAUSD in 12 years with mandarin fluency, I think we can overcome the obstacle - we always do, I think we shouldn't be scared away from trying new things, we shouldn't be scared away by being excellent, naysayers will always say it can't be done, this is all the same debate we had for SI, and look how wonderfully happy everyone is with that, etc etc etc.
Very little substance, very little discussion of what's good for the district as a whole, little substance on cost or risk analysis, very little discussion of the community priority, very little substanative pro/con discussion on the very real non-financial risks.
I say this now, because maybe she'll (they'll) surprise us if they figure we watching out for this kind of fluffy argument. We'll find out soon enough!
I think its unfortunate that the board vote for new president will come on the same night, before the MI discussion. I wonder if Camille will guide this MI discussion fairly if she is voted president.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 11, 2006 at 6:18 pm
"you obviously know very little about how european foreign languages are taught in schools and how well they are spoken by the children on the continent. Please don't post your "observations" - back them up with facts. Immersion is not required to learn a foreign language as exemplified by the european education systems."
While I happen to have been raised through two such European systems, and I have traveled extensively around Eastern and Western Europe since, I humbly accept that I still know very little about them. I would like to know, however, how much more does KS know about them, since what he wrote seems to be no more than "observations" without any backing.
Then KS goes on to pronounce:
"Immersion has other benefits but, if all you want to do is learn a foreign language, then this should be something aimed at everyone and not a select few."
And this is predicated on what kind of "backed up facts", other than your own wishes? And if true, shouldn't it also apply to music? Theatre? Robotics? Computer programming? Public speaking? It's not *your* decision -- it is community decision what constitutes the "basics", and community representatives -- the board -- will make the decision.
Posted by sideline observer, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 2:37 am
"And this is predicated on what kind of "backed up facts", other than your own wishes? And if true, shouldn't it also apply to music? Theatre? Robotics? Computer programming? Public speaking?"
Yes, yes, yes indeed. the subjects you list ARE in fact all the sort of electives that every child can in theory sign up for -- if not this semester, then another. They CAN choose to take them. That is the critical difference between those and MI, which people can choose to take and then NEVER be admitted to, because if they miss the narrow window of K-1 in the lottery they will be excluded thereafter.
"It's not *your* decision -- it is community decision what constitutes the "basics", and community representatives "
Again, yes. I couldn't have said it better myself. It's not YOUR decision either, Wolf, and the public HAS in fact already indicated that language study is the lowest priority in a district where the elementary children only get formal PE once a week (read any article about childhood obesity to see the direct link there), the Dale Seymour math curriculum was discredited at the time of its adoption, etc. etc. etc. Why would the Board conduct a study and survey to determine and rank the district's educational priorities if it then throws out the results because a vocal group wants to install a special-interest program for a few children?
In fact, our representatives are in theory supposed to follow the priorities set by the public. That's democracy.
Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 7:23 am
For those who want to learn Mandarin, but not in an immersion setting, both high schools are in their first years of Chinese 1. Next year (2007-08) there will be Chinese 2, and the following year (2008-09) Chinese 3 - as well as Chinese 1a offered at the middle school level. I don't know which middle school(s) will pilot the new language offering.
For those who want to world languages in elementary school, it will take at least that long to get a program going. If you look at the packet for tonight's meeting, the interim budget reports the approval of a world language task force, as funding becomes available (page 2):
I'm sure the district would accept donations towards that work, from those true supporters of bringing FLES to PAUSD. And it's cheaper than the MI feasibility study, a bargain at $40K/yr for two years.
Talk is cheap, especially non-constructive arguing.
Make checks out to PAUSD and drop off at 25 Churchill with a note for the world language task force to Marilyn Cook. You'll get a tax-deductible letter - do it before the end of the year and file for a 2006 tax deduction.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 8:54 am
My donation for foreign language will come as soon at the BOE shows a clear strategic plan, which includes solutions for unfunded priorities, unfunded retirement reserves, attendance issues, technology in our schools, school bus fleets which need updating, security and vandalism issues, and on and on . I will also be looking for a BOE which is responsive to the community wishes as expressed in the recent priorities survey, which, by the way, placed foreign language far down on the list. I will be wary of a BOE which can get easily sidetracked by proposals which are off target as relates to a strategic plan and which and will not be giving donations to that kind of operation.
I will also be reconsidering my voluntary Measure A property tax contributions until there is some serious, clear, long-term strategy developed around the issues I mentioned above.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 9:00 am
Not a surprising statement at all - get what you want with money. And she'll be first in line with her checkbook to make sure it goes her way.
If the district budget has funding in it for a world language task force - what would they need donations for? Or do you mean they're taking bribes? Did they take donatios from real estate developers for the AAAG committee?
Im sure people who care passionately about world languages in our schools will be beating down the door to donate their time and expertise to this task force. Isn't that enough? Why should they bring their checkbooks too? How does that serve the community?
We all pay taxes (hefty ones), donate to PIE, donate to PTA, etc., and expect our schools to prioritize and use that money wisely for the health of the district, and the good of the community. If world language is a high priority (which frankly I don't think it is - but if it is) then the district should put that on the agenda, and take care of it. If they decide a community task force the best way to go about it, so be it.
But I don't get where that means we all need to start pulling out our checkbooks to push our special interests.
News flash - the person with the biggest bank account isn't more right, or more entitled to get their way.
The board SHOULD have taken this route over a year ago, when people were begging them to do so. They also should have done Grace a big favor and refused her $65,000 - in exchange for which she received a fluffy, unsupported, full of holes, feasibility study that is nothing more than a puffed up unsubstantiated version of the original proposal. (But I'm sure everyone enjoyed all the trips at Grace's expense.)
Now, if they are acknowledging (finally) that a world language STRATEGY is the logical first step, we should expect to see them say NO to a half baked MI program, and first plan a comprehensive K-12 strategy for world language. There is no room for both. If they think they're throwing in a bone for the community by saying they'll do a measly little task force later to help ease the slap in the fact of approving MI entirely against community wishes, its not going to work.
The strategy work should happen before they run off installing permanents special interest programs that do not link to that (as yet non-existent) strategy. If MI is part of the strategy, well, we'll have to wait and see how the strategy comes back.
I certainly would NOT expect the task force to be run on the basis of who brings the biggest "donation".
Posted by k, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 9:28 am
I'm a bit concerned about Grace's suggestion to donate to the district specifically for the world language task force - what, along with a demand that one's point of view be supported?? - is this an appropriate method of operation in this district? Our opinions need to be backed with money right then?
Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 9:40 am
Nope, I'm not donating money to cull favor. I'm not demanding money to get attention from the district.
I'm pointing out to the FLES proponents that there is a board approved world language task force plan, as funds become available.
I'm suggesting that Bob Russ, Jamie Maltz, Lisa Steinback, Faith Brigel, Marc Sobil, Ilong Sockol, Lorraine Sparaco, Annet Dragavon, Andreas and Natalie Toennis, Dan Farley, Carolyn Cooper, Jenny Kiralti, Mike Holland, Rosa E. Huang, Manley Huang, Mehdi Eskandari, Zahra Ebrahem, Pauline Navarro, and Jill Bibo donate a fraction of their $3000+ advertising budget to something constructive.
Not all of you are for FLES, but you have enough money to bash MI.
Posted by parent/lifetime resident of PA, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 11:09 am
I've been reading these threads with interest and usually don't comment in these sorts of forums, but I'm compelled to respond to the last comment: "Not all of you are for FLES, but you have enough money to bash MI."
You know, as an interested person in MI whose mind isn't yet made up, I don't think this comment is very helpful to the discussion.
What I do think is the tax-paying community who supports our schools and votes for parcel taxes, etc., should be voting this program in or out.
And, I do think there is a inherent conflict of interest with PACE paying for the feasibility study.
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 11:59 am
The ad that was published in the weekly was a service to the community (who otherwise is hearing NO balanced information on this issue, certainly NOT from reporters, who stop at Grace as THE final word in all things MI.)
As I read it, the ad was not 'bashing' anything but notifying residents to make their opinions known to the Board, and giving them very some reasonable, sane, points to consider on the 'con' side of the argument. The feasibilty study has utterly failed to provide a balance view of the pros and cons (other than location - as if location is the ONLY downside to this scheme.)
I certainly do not view the ad as an attempt to buy influence in the district. Its not as if those folks made a "donation" of $3000 in exchange for the district staff to pad the feasibility study in their favor.
And I think its OK to be against MI and not particularly in favor of languages in elementary school either. There are tradeoffs to be discussed - that haven't been. The district is operating off expired strategic priorities. There must be a district strategic priority discussion before ANY language programs move forward. The agenda for the 5 year plan 10 year plan, etc., isn't soley set by this debate. There are other, more important issues to consider.
So what if I don't get on the language bandwagon. I think our district should be taking care of the basics, and it should be addressing the top priority subject areas, it should operating off sound strategic prioirities, and it should leave language academy to private schools. I can still say MI is bad for this community and be right. I don't need to be for FLES to say that.
Grace said herself best: Talk is cheap.. And the rest of that saying goes: So put your money where your mouth is. I don't think people should have to put their money where their mouths, and their brains, should be. Anything the district does should be able to stand on its own merits, for the good of the entire community. It should stand up to a debate of logic and the test of strategic and community priorities.
The district is apparently in the bad habit of following the money to the exclusion of their good sense. Heaven forbid the next Lotto winner shows up in Palo Alto looking for a basket weaving academy. The board should be ashamed of themselves for taking us down this path.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 12:28 pm
Interesting that you of all people have a problem with opponents to MI spending a fraction of what PACE spend to further their proposal. I can't forget the sight of you waving that check over your head at the BOE meeting, telling the board that here's the money, you need to act now, and on and on. You said jump and most of them asked how high. Hopefully the board can read between the lines of the feasibility study, inquire about those issues which are not included or were conveniently glossed over, and do the right thing by taking a pass on MI.
Posted by Lorraine Sparaco, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 1:00 pm
Grace, now you're starting to get the idea. I'm not for FLES and I'm not for MI. I'm for the BOE developing a strategic plan for this district. When the basics (and I'm not only talking about curriculum here) are covered, then perhaps we can take a look at where the enrichments can be placed for the benefit of all the students. It may be MI or FLES, or it may be something like more PE, Young Fives, or some other program which is not brought in from out of left field, under the radar, so to speak.
Interesting that you're developing a list of names of some who are opposed and may have participated in the ad. At least you have transparency there, unlike the PACE donor list. Did we ever get that question answered?
Posted by pat, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 1:16 pm
I'm opposed to MI not because I don't think Mandarin could be a good option for language studies but because:
(1) It's a lottery, and *IF* MI is important to our kids' future -- which I do not believe -- then EVERY kid should have the opportunity to take it.
(2) Our kids need to learn world history, geography, political science. They don't need to speak Mandarin to do that. Many kids today can't point to Iraq or Iran on a map. They never heard of Viet Nam. Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.
(3) To get a job in industry or government, employers first look for essential skills, be it engineering or political science or whatever. I've worked for many large corporations, and those employees selected to work in Europe or Asia were not chosen based on their ability to speak Japanese or Chinese or German or . . . They were selected because they had essential skills and knew the business. The language of business and government is English.
(4) MI is not on the PAUSD priority list. There are more important things to focus on.
FINALLY, and this is critically important: The source of the money to PACE to promote MI has not been made public. Some donors are anonymous. Responsible government requires transparency. We should all have visibility into the process and know who is driving it. If we don't demand to know who is driving MI, then ANYONE with a lot of money can propose programs for our schools, and that's not the way the public schools system should work.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 2:34 pm
To "sideline observer",
I appreciate your agreement with what I wrote, but I am sorry you seem to have missed the message. Theatre, music, public speech, computer programming and similar are indeed available to anyone and everyone that wants them. EXACTLY AS IS FOREIGN LANGUAGE. In the middle or high school.
However, it is the foreign language in the ELEMENTARY school that we are talking about here. And it is not part of "basics", at least until the board decides so.
To KS: I appreciate the obvious glee with which you accepted my ironic humbleness. I am still waiting to hear what is the basis for your own unsupported claims about the presumed successes of learning foreign language through elementary education in European countries. Except your own wishful thinking, that is.
Posted by KS, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:03 pm
Probably the fact that I grew up in Europe and German, French and English are all spoken fluently in our house. A second language is a requirement for most good European universities. Since we live in this area, we would also expect our daughter to be fluent in Spanish with or without SI.
But these are just words. It would be better if you checked it out yourself before posting. Hint: search for Abitur or allgemeine Hochschulreife or simply take a look at European language policy: Web Link
Ironic was it? Oh well, never hope for too much and you won't be disappointed. I should just take my own advice and DNFTT.
Posted by k, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:52 pm
personal cutting remarks on either side are not to my taste, but let's all recognize there are many unanswered questions about MI and these deserve a thoughtful discussion. I assume the BOE will not rush through this process, or that will seem very strange to me.
Posted by anon, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:58 pm
Interesting, k, how you quickly forgot your cutting remarks about Grace:
I'm a bit concerned about Grace's suggestion to donate to the district specifically for the world language task force - what, along with a demand that one's point of view be supported?? - is this an appropriate method of operation in this district? Our opinions need to be backed with money right then?
Posted by k, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 6 hours ago
Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2006 at 10:20 pm
I'm neutral on MI. That said, I wonder how many Chinese seniors would love to teach Mandarin in their spare time. our Asian population is Palo Alto's largest non-Caucasian population; a lot of those people are Chinese.
Someone should begin a volunteer MI group for people who want their kids to learn Mandarin, whether the MI program happens or not. Let's use human resources that are right on our doorstep.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 7:43 am
Thank you Gail Price for having the courage and depth of thought to ask some real, relevant questions about the Feasibility Study at the BOE meeting last night and to make some cogent comments. By contrast, the first, most pressing question that M Lowell could muster was about which phonic/alphabet MI will use. I guess she didn't notice the Feasibility Study's complete lack of data to back up it's claims or she's just not interested enough to pursue it. After Lowell, it was all downhill from there. Finally when Townsend started with her effusive praise for the study, I knew it was time to head for home.Let's not confuse them with facts; they've already made up their minds.
Posted by palo altan, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 8:34 am
Of course they've made up their minds. They're not going to say no if someone's paid the money to have the study done. It's like the tobacco industry sponsering research into lung cancer. There will only be one outcome from the study. If it isn't what the sponsors want then there will be lawsuits - they're not just going to wave goodbye to all that money.
This is the whole point of making sure: "Resident funding will not be used to speed up the qualification and study process or to qualify otherwise unqualified projects."
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 13, 2006 at 8:51 pm
I asked you: "I am still waiting to hear what is the basis for your own unsupported claims about the presumed successes of learning foreign language through elementary education in European countries. Except your own wishful thinking, that is."
Please carefully note my question: "presumed successes of learning foreign language through elementary education in European countries"
Your answer was: "Probably the fact that I grew up in Europe and German, French and English are all spoken fluently in our house. A second language is a requirement for most good European universities."
Which leaves us exactly where we started, with your "informed opinion" based on your own sample of 1. But you kindly provided a link to the EU document describing what EU would *like* to have. It was helpful, and digging a bit deeper I came across a recent survey of EU language proficiencies:
The survey has a lot of interesting data, and if you look on page 8 of the summary, you will read:
"When asked where they have improved their language skills, 59% of respondents refer to secondary school and 24% to primary school."
In other words, while many lay people, both here and in Europe, believe that it is good to start learning language early, and while most Europeans countries do start teaching language in primary schools (see e.g., Figures B1/B2 pp. 24-26 in Web Link ), a large majority effectively admits that they did not actually LEARN it in elementary school. Which happens to be exactly my point.
(Incidentally the full report is a bit confusing on this point on p. 21, when it paraphrases the results of the question "How did you IMPROVE your…?" to confusingly say that "59% indicate that they have LEARNED languages at secondary school")
Can we bring this to rest now? The discussion started regarding how effective is FLES for teaching language. Both Carol and I agreed that it will not be effective for fluency, which is easier achieved in MS/HS, but Carol correctly pointed out that it may be helpful for non-fluency reasons. And the European data you pointed to explicitly supports this position.
Posted by KS, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 12:55 am
Oh dear, Wolf, number analysis really isn't your strong suit. I guess you really did believe that 50% of PA parents with school age children had signed a petition in favor of MI and weren't just trolling.
Let's just put this down to another of your senior moments.
Posted by another prespective, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 5:25 am
So, just because I haven't heard anyone else bring this up . . . One of the big arguments in favor of MI has been that George Bush has indicated an urgent need for Mandarin-speaking businesspeople in the 21st century. Putting aside the fact that George Bush also argued urgently for invasion of Iraq, when I read that particular argument I long for the Palo Alto of my childhood, when we weren't educated to be groomed for lucrative careers. I think fluency in another language is a great thing (I speak 3 1/2 languages myself, and attended a foreign language school through high-school in addition to speaking a different language at home) and would love it for my children. However, I am turned off by that particular argument -- which I have seen repeatedly in these threads and in the feasibility study.
Bythe way, I have *many* friends who are completely fluent in other languages, thanks to middle-school and high-school lcasses follwed by college study and Junior-year abroad *immersion*. Their accents aren't as perfect as those of the people who spoke at home as children, but they can communicate splendidly in their languages of choice.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 8:54 am
It's interesting that M. Cook, assiciate superintendent, stated "There is always fear in the community when a new program comes in of overshadowing people already in the school". I find that to be illustrative of the thinking and tactic of the administration and certain members of the board. It's an easy way to dismiss any opposition. It's patronizing. And it allows them to continue their agenda without the need to give any credence or weight to opposing views.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 2:50 pm
Your interpretation of Marilyn Cook's observation is one possibility. Another one is that what she describes is correct, and based on her long experience this is probably what we are observing right now. Reading all the MI posts here, won't you agree that hers is a distinct possibility? I do.
What I found interesting in the public input last Tue. was that while the MI supporters clearly want something specific that they believe in, but at the same time acknowledge the concerns of others with regard to equity and the "neighborhood school" concept, the opposition was largely along the lines of "I don't want *you* to have what you want." And then they would come with any and all reasons why it *may* affect them in some way:
- "maybe not enough special ed kids"
- "maybe not enough Tinsley kids"
- "maybe due to attrition MI will have not a fully populated class" (as if we occasionally don't have it in every school)
- "maybe it will harm neighborhood schools or displace local kids"
- "maybe the administration lies to us and there will be other costs"
- "maybe the administration is incompetent and there will be other costs"
- "maybe if we knew who is that anonymous behind the MI money we would go along, but since we don't ..."
- "maybe "
You get the point. It seems not to matter much if some or all such points are already addressed by the administration. We simply start implying that the administration is either incompetent, or has some dark ulterior motives.
Change is indeed threatening, and it seems distinctly un Palo Altan to let your neighbor have or do something without objecting, whether it affects you in any meaningful way or not. Consider some of the posts on the "Remodeling gone overboard" on this site.
What actually surprised me on Tuesday was Marilyn's and Becky's turn around. They clearly started a year ago disliking the MI idea, but then they turned around and changed their minds after studying it in depth. I personally did not believe they are capable of being convinced, and now that they did, I am impressed.
Posted by Lorraine Sparaco, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 8:02 pm
Wolf, the feasibility study did not identify one risk or challenge to implementing MI. Therefore it is left to the opposition to voice what they feel are risks and challenges. The board certainly failed to pick up that ball in any meaningful way.
Perhaps what the opponents want is simple: for the BOE to focus on the promises of Measure A and those priorities which were revealed in the Bregman study. MI was not on the radar in either case.
I suggest that you can re-read the previous posts on the various MI related threads. Opponents have stated again and again what they want. I think the problem is that they don't feel that the BOE has heard or cares.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 14, 2006 at 8:23 pm
The feasibility study identified one problematic issue -- location. It accepted the non-displacement of neighborhood kids as a requirement, which should have addressed all the valid concerns of the proponents of neighborhood schools.
Why should there be more unresolved issues? We have experience with SI and its workings, so the concept and issues are not unknown to us. There was a potential issue of curricular materials & teachers that turned out to be a non issue during the study. What else should have the staff done? Invent some issues to make the opponents of MI happy?
Posted by KS, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 7:43 am
This is on the level of "Go ahead and depose Saddam in Iraq and I won't ask if it doesn't cost us any American life, if it will harm any Iraqi, and if it will cost us any money." Or, better yet, "I am for intervention in Darfur" and won't ask any questions. And even then Wolf is impressed by what they have done. How generous of Wolf!
Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 15, 2006 at 3:45 pm
I don't understand Wolf's comment "Why should there be more unresolved issues?"
There are unresolved issues because there are more issues and they are unresolved. The real issues are unresolved. And despite Marilyn Cook's (or Wolfs, or Grace's) attempts, the issues do not simply boil down to location.
(The statement of the location problem in the study was like firing a flare into the midnight sky so that all the sheepish townspeople would get startled and follow the flare - a diversionary (fake) show of 'danger' that takes peoples attention away from focusing on the more important issues.)
As a very minor example (Wolf, just because I'm listing one, doesn't mean there is only one, I hope that you can wrap around this idea that there is a whole list of issues, even if I only use one here.)
When the program was proposed, PACE stated that teacher availability was going to be the greatest challenge. Marilyn reiterated this in the August 29th session. Becki Cohn Vargas reiterated this during the middle of the study. Speaking to private chinese school headmasters in the local area, and they say that finding qualified teachers is a significant problem (and private programs are not required to hire credentialed teachers). And then we see real time evidence that the problem exists right here in the bay area, right now. The only two local bay area public MI programs are experiencing this problem now; Cupertino has this issue (they admit and Cook admits they use a team teaching approach to resolve), and San Francisco's program had trouble finding just two kinder teachers for their new program (per Chronicle article). And the programs are growing, new ones are sprouting up all over..
And the feasibility study didn't even deem it necessary to discuss the remotest possibility that we would face this risk, or what the ramifications would be, or what the contingency plans would be, etc.
When Marilyn Cook was asked about this in the 12/12 meeting, she said, they decided that wasn't an issue. Period. The "evidence" she offered up was that they found out we have three whole teachers already on staff in PAUSD who are qualfied with BCLADs and they happened across a random teacher in Oregon who was interested in coming to Palo Alto if we open a program.
In the next six years our program would need 12 teachers, not to mention all the new high school teachers PAUSD will need. And SF will need 12, and if Burlingame opens an MI program that's another 12 and if Mt. View opens one (yes the Mt. View Superintendent just traveled to China,) that's another 12. So all of a sudden, just this little pocket of the community needs potentially 48 credentialed Mandarin/English bilingual elementary teachers plus 9+ secondary teachers in the next six years.
And what about the rest of the entire united states that is being wined and dined by the Chinese Government as we speak??? What's the supply forecast? from where? What will the demand be for these teachers? How much will they demand in salary?
The whole lack of thoughtful well balanced discussion by Marilyn Cook and Becky Cohn Vargas on this issue ALONE is completely insincere. In fact the ommission of the discussion entirely leads only to the conclusion that the feasibility study was either biased or adled.
There are no invented issues. There is utter lack of balanced, factual, supported pro/con discussion in the feasibility study to have closed any of the issues.
Wolf, if YOU have an answer (data?), for the teacher issue, maybe you can share that with us. Why didn't Marilyn or Becki Cohn Vargas share that with the rest of the community? Arrogance? Disdain? or shoddy work?
Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 8:19 am
Since this is one example of your unresolved problems, I'll answer just this one for now.
With regards to the teacher recruitment, here's the direct information from the PACE proposal, feasibility study, and PACE presentation of August 27, 2002. Please reconsider your judgement, "teacher availability was going to be the greatest challenge", and don't misrepresent what PACE actually said.
From the PACE proposal:
WILL THE ADDITIONAL TEACHERS AND/OR STAFF BE NEEDED? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE NEEDED QUALIFICATIONS FOR THESE TEACHERS AND/OR STAFF?
Teachers for the Mandarin immersion program will be hired similarly to those for the Spanish immersion program. California teaching credentials will be required, along with foreign language proficiency. A BCLAD certification, along with a specialization in Mandarin will be sought. Fluent native speakers who are working towards the BCLAD certification may be provisionally hired as long as they are diligently working towards completing the BCLAD certification.
From the feasibility study:
Finding #3: Teachers and Staff
It is feasible to recruit, hire, and train fully qualified Mandarin-fluent, bilingual immersion teachers. It is also feasible to find a principal with the experience, knowledge, and skill to implement a quality PAUSD recognizes that MCIP teachers need to be highly qualified, fully credentialed, and literate in both Mandarin and English. To this end, the Human Resources Department would seek staff with BCLAD who have undergone extensive training in education and language instruction and who have met strict language criteria in both languages. Staff would be recruited in the following manner:
•Existing native Mandarin speakers on the PAUSD staff with BCLAD or Mandarin language fluency would first be contacted about available positions. There are currently three elementary teachers in PAUSD who hold a BCLAD in the Mandarin language.
•Coordination with universities that offer BCLAD teacher preparation programs at California State University, Los Angeles and through the Asian BCLAD Consortium. Also, we have several contacts with teacher preparation programs, including Long Beach State University and San Francisco State University. Dr. Lao, Director of the Confucius Institute, has offered to assist with recruitment.
From the PACE August 27, 2002 presentation:
. Asian BCLAD Consortium - Six Los Angeles California State Universities
. The Association of Chinese Teachers (TACT) - In San Francisco since 1969
. Association of Northern California Chinese Schools (ANCCS) - In Cupertino since 1978, with 88 member schools, 1400 teachers, and 20,000 students.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 12:10 pm
Grace, the tone of the opening statement in your last post is a fine example of the condescending attitude that I feel coming from many who are presenting and defending the feasibility study. It seems to be telling Parent, "Sigh, fine, if you insist, I'll respond to one of YOUR little issues, even though it's a real pain and not worth spending any energy on."
Some of us in the community have some honest concerns and they keep resurfacing because they NEVER have been addressed. You seem to feel that restating the feasibility study findings puts the matter to rest. In this case, Parent did some homework and after contacting some of the private language schools in this area, found that it is a significant problem finding qualified teachers for Mandarin, even though they weren't even required to necessarily have California Teaching Credentials. The feasibility's credibility comes into question because it doesn't even mention this as a POTENTIAL CHALLENGE to implementing MI.
I'm sorry if some of us are not simply accepting the findings of the study as fact. Perhaps when some corroborating data is brought forth, then we'll be less of a nuisance to you.
Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 16, 2006 at 12:36 pm
The recruiting of Mandarin teachers is not easy, but the fact that there are many organizations which help train, search, and recruit teachers is often ignored by the MI opposition. A few calls to local Chinese schools is not enough research to support the claims by the MI opposition.
I apologize if I appear to be condescending. There's a lot of research that has been done by PACE and the district which was not put into the feasibility study. I have more information than the TownSquare audience probably wants to see. But if you want it, ask me. paceforkids @ yahoo.com.
Here's a number of resources and links which I would appreciate the opposition to really research before making sweeping claims about teacher availability. In fact, the director of the BCLAD Consortium in souther California complained that she had teachers to send to schools, but no place to send them.
ACIE (American Council on Immersion Education)
organizational network for individuals interested in immersion education (teachers, administrators, teacher educators, researchers, parents). Conceived by immersion teachers in Minnesota and funded in part by the Language Resource Center in the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota, ACIE aims to facilitate communication among immersion teachers and others interested in immersion education.
put 3 w's in front .carla.umn.edu/immersion/ACIE.html
ACIE Newsletter, 2/2001
How do I become an Immersion Teacher?
put 3 w's in front .carla.umn.edu/immersion/acie/vol4/Feb2001_BecomingTeach.html
ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language)
Year of Language website
put 3 w's in front .yearoflanguages.org/i4a/pages/Index.cfm?pageid=3591
American Coucil on the Teaching of Foreign Language
National organization dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction
put 3 w's in front .actfl.org/
Asian BCLAD Consortium
6 Los Angeles Area California State Universities (CSUs) formed an Asian BCLAD Consortium
put 3 w's in front .ced.csulb.edu/teacher-ed/academic/bclad/asian/consortium/
Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
he largest society of its kind in the world—is a scholarly, non-political, non-profit professional association open to all persons interested in Asia
Posted by Pauline, a resident of Stanford, on Dec 17, 2006 at 10:31 am
Grace, I have said before how much I respect the amount of work and dedication you have put into this, and I am repeating this now. I can only imagine how much more you have put in than I, and I am exhausted.
That said, I think that you are missing the point of what we are saying about this entire issue from how it started to the current time..The latest example is the feasibility study. It doesn't matter how much information we can find to support the need for Mandarin or the fact that Immersion is the best way or that there are lots of organizations which can help etc. The bottom line is that the Feasibility Study has no credibility to US, HERE, NOW because it simply glossed over anything that was uncomfortable or unprovable.
I am sorry. This is a big problem, and I am truly sad that our Board led you down this path, knowing from the beginning that they were skipping over several big, important steps to give your hopes a chance in our community. All we tried to do from the beginning was to slow this down so that we could PLAN and do this right. That is all our initial petition asked. But, our Board ignored the sense in this, and pushed this through.
Then Dr. Cook used your money to create a "feasibility" study which is just a rehashing of the initial proposal, with no more supporting analysis submitted, and only some additional reporting from discussions ( with lots of travel, evidently,) with people in other programs on how "they make their programs work". I suppose your money paid for their travel.
A study has no credibility when it only looks at functioning programs, and doesn't report on problems other districts have had. It ends up with circular thinking, as this one did. What few problems are confessed, are attributed only to ill feelings from the rest of the community, and how a prinicpal can work to bring the community together.
It doesn't address anything about why the other districts implemented these programs, and how they are different from us. It ignores the truly professional work of our PiE Benchmarking Study which compared us to other similar districts, and found that none of the the similar GOOD districts have an Immersion without at least having foreign language for all first. It does not ackowledge the actual problems of other local districts, how they fixed them, or not, and how one of them even folded the program up. It doesn't even have any professional assessment of the numbers of people in PA who are COMMITTED to putting their children in MI, and how they can assure that the balance is what is desired for optimal education.
Any business, before putting lots of work into a new project, would at least assess the need for it first, and the possibility for it to "pay off", in other words, the support. This has skipped that part of the project, along with many other parts, and jumped straight into the conclusion "it is good, how can we get it done?"
So, it is hard for many of us to trust either this process or this Study when it has so clearly always been about HOW CAN WE MAKE MI WORK, not "WHAT ARE ALL THE PROS AND CONS OF DOING MI HERE, NOW, and HOW CAN WE ADDRESS THEM?".
As I have said before..we put more thought into the Calendar than this. We put a lot more thought into AAAG than this ( and it still only addressed Facilities solutions, not programmatic). We should have put at least as much thought into MI before taking money to move it forward. Taking the money implies a commitment..
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 17, 2006 at 10:43 am
Before somebody misunderstands my "It doesn't matter how much we can find to support the need ..." statement to mean that I don't care about any of these opinions and how they are supported, no, that is not how I mean it. I meant that these types of data are only ONE part of a much bigger story, and need to be evaluated within a larger context, which is all the other needs/desires in our district, and the process by which we need to ascertain and prioritize them to fit US, with OUR resources, for the good of ALL of our kids.
Posted by Pauline, a member of the Juana Briones School community, on Dec 17, 2006 at 11:20 am
Wolf ; how do you know?
(re your following statement). I have never once heard any concerns by either of these people. Even at the beginning of this in May, I heard only good stuff. Long before any "in depth" study.
What actually surprised me on Tuesday was Marilyn's and Becky's turn around. They clearly started a year ago disliking the MI idea, but then they turned around and changed their minds after studying it in depth"
I have never once heard any concerns by either of these people. Even at the beginning of this in May, I heard only good stuff. Long before any "in depth" study. Is it a newspaper quote or in meeting minutes or something?
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 1:11 pm
Regarding Marilyn and Becky "turnaround."
I am unsure how much is in the various minutes, and I will not waste my time now on going through 5+ years of minutes, but I do recall them (Marilyn mostly, since Becky was more in the background until the study) raise any and every issue, much like MI opponents do now.
For example, they questioned (to put it mildly) the validity of the information brought by PACE from Cupertino. They questioned (and guesstimated as much bigger) the startup costs projections that PACE presented. They raised the issue of a separate program director (which they now accept that is not needed). I think there were other indications that they were highly doubtful of PACE, but I can't recall them off the cuff. To their credit, and somewhat to my surprise, they did turn around once they actually inspected the details.
And while on this MI issue, please stop waiving the PIE "study" as an exemplar of professionalism. I don't really want to beat up on them, but putting out press releases and presentations targeted to highlight the parts PIE is interested in highlighting, while not publishing the actual study, nor the actual collected data, is anything but "professional." As I have said I don't want to beat up on them, so let's leave it at that.
Posted by Tulley, a member of the El Carmelo School community, on Dec 17, 2006 at 2:30 pm
Wolf, I'm afraid the Feasibility Study suffers greatly in comparison to the PiE Benchmark study, and if you were at both presentations, you know it also. By the way, where is MI Feasibility Study "actual study" and "actual collected data"? Will we be able to "inspect the details" which resulted in Marilyn's dramatic turnaround?
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 17, 2006 at 3:06 pm
I quite agree that we should be able to see the actual collected data from the MI study. I also agree that the district "study" could be somewhat more "professional", although to its defense it was only a limited internal effort narrowly intended to clarify the few unknowns for the district, rather than to unroll the scope of language immersion before us -- that was already done by the language task force and USEFUL last century.
In other words, this is a somewhat improper comparison. The PIE study tried to paint a large and new picture. The MI effort was a simple effort to clarify a handful of specific issues on a well understood subject. I personally wouldn't even call the MI findings a "study," except that the district set itself up for this when it requested up-front a significant money from PACE to "research" the issue. So now it has to justify it... :-)
So I agree -- both are not really professional, except that the MI never really pretended to be.
Sort of off point, but for those interested in the PiE Benchmarking Study done by volunteers in our district ( referenced earlier) I have given you the web site. Or, just go to papie.org and click "Detailed Benchmark Study" . I find it to be professionally done, and full of information. Not sure how to interpret some of it, I haven't had time to study it. And, I also fundamentally dislike the "because Johnny does it" kind of thinking this fosters, prefering to do things because it is good for us, not because someone else does it. But, I suspect it will sometimes be very useful information.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 12:24 am
I really hate dragging PIE into this, since it has little to do with MI. The PIE benchmarking might indeed be professionally done study that can be trusted. However, we don't know that.
The link you provided is not to the STUDY, but to a PRESENTATION ABOUT the study. Further, just to confuse things even more, I have on my computer a PREVIOUS version of the supposedly same presentation posted few weeks back at the same link and dated November 1, 2006, while the current link points to a different version dated November 30, 2006. I have no idea what are the differences between these versions. While there is nothing wrong with updating a version of a presentation, there would be a lot of wrong if the STUDY itself was such a silently moving target. In such case it would at best mean that the study is still incomplete, and that one should not put too much trust yet in any PR presentation based on it.
So please, without disparaging PIE work, let's call spade a spade. PIE did not publish their study yet, but it already has been making multiple PR pitches to Palo Alto public based on this unpublished study for some time. This is not very professional.
Posted by curiouser and curiouser, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 10:18 am
Wolf, how disingenuous to claim that the MI study never claimed to be professional, while the ePiE study did. As I understand it, the PiE study was the work of a lot of dedicated individual volunteers who compared data from other, comparable districts and contrasted with our current PAUSD. The idea was to see where we matched up and where we had superior performance and where we fell behind, in part to determine what we could do to improve efficiency in our use of District resources.
By contrast, as I understood it the MI study was supposed to be the work of educational experts in the District, to examine other districts that have these programs, to provide meaningful and thoughtful analysis of the proposed MI program's pitfalls and determine either how to deal with those issues or explain analytically why they were not issues. Sorry, but this study *simply does not do that.* I was held to higher standards of analysis and logic in my college papers than were demonstrated in the Feasibility study. Shame on those professionals for having repeatedly made assertions unsupported by data. They did a disservice to the MI proponents (who should demand that those writers come up with a final draft that is a lot better documented) and ratcheted up the already strong opposition to the program.
MI will neither benefit nor detract from my own children's education. Still, as a professional, I am offended when other, *very well compensated* professionals try to pawn off off a half-baked product.
Whatever people may think of MI, the entire public deserves a more thoughful product from Marilyn Cook and Becky Cohn-Vargas et al.
Posted by Wolf, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 18, 2006 at 2:14 pm
You seem to be very un-curious while calling yourself "curiouser and curiouser." Had you bothered to read my post just 15 lines above your out-of-context quote, your curiosity might have been satisfied that I indeed used the "not really professional" comment in the context of doing PR without prior publishing the study or the supporting data.