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MI Issue has divided this town
Original post made
by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 31, 2007
Now that the Board has rejected the MI proposal (at least for the time being) we need to build some bridges across this town to fix the divide that has occurred as a result of the debate. Although for the large part both sides have been cordial, there have been some very divisive undertones ranging from racist remarks (including debates about whether they are racist remarks) to charter threats and insulting innuendos, plus an inclusion of children in this debate where they do not deserve to be. This community, particularly the school communities, have always put children first and differences second. Now as adults, we have to find ways to make sure that the wounds are healed and the divide vanishes. The problem is how to do this without this becoming more or a partisan divide. Lets start to co-operate and get over this. We don't want this divide and more importantly, our children don't deserve this divide!!
Posted by another observer
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 31, 2007 at 10:47 pm
"We are all tired of the big lie which is desperately trying to split this community" -- Pauline Navarro
WE are tired, too, Pauline.
From: Pauline Navarro
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 3:02:41 PM
Subject: Time for short letters to Board on MI
I am writing this as a result of a conversation Jamie Maltz, Lisa Steinback , Faith Brigel and I had. I hope this is in the spirit of what they intended I write in all of our names. If not, the fault is mine.
Judging from the letters to the Editor that have been appearing lately, it is safe to assume that the 4 Board members who so eloquently spoke against implementing MI right now on Jan 9th are getting a punishing number of letters in support of MI. These letters are probably using all tactics imaginable from accusing them of the pernicious "lack of vision", having a weak will and worse, to threatening them with Charter Schools, to guilting them by saying PACE paid for the Feasibility Study so they deserve MI.
Sunday Jan 28, Palo Alto Daily News Letters
Mandarin immersion supported
Dear Editor: I am the parent of a child in the Palo Alto Unified School District and I support Mandarin immersion. Neither my husband nor I speak Mandarin, and our daughter, an only child, is in third grade and long past the window of opportunity presented by the superintendent's recommendation for a pilot K-1 Mandarin immersion program at Ohlone Elementary School. On a personal level, we will gain nothing and lose nothing whichever direction the school board chooses to vote. So why does Mandarin immersion matter to me? Because it's the right thing to do for Palo Alto students and families. The school board members' stated reasons against Mandarin immersion are shocking. For example, board member Mandy Lowell says Mandarin immersion is too divisive. Frankly, all change in Palo Alto is divisive, including the attendance area action, historical preservation, high-density housing, traffic calming and redevelopment of Edgewood and Alma plaza shopping centers. If our leaders had acted based on how divisive an action is, we would never have had the landmark decisions of Brown v. the Board of Education or Roe v. Wade. The question is not whether the action is divisive; the question is what action will help our children be best prepared to become productive and responsible citizens of a global economy.
Friday Jan 26, Palo Alto Daily News Letters
Mandarin proposal a good opportunity
Dear Editor: I'm pleased to see that the Mandarin immersion proposal has sparked such interest in reviving the [Foreign Language Elementary School program] and a comprehensive language strategy for the Palo Alto schools. Elementary school is a very effective age for learning a foreign language.
I don't believe, though, that commissioning a comprehensive strategy is a good reason to delay or cancel the proposed Mandarin immersion pilot program. If we believe that the eventual strategy is reasonably likely to find that there's a place for both immersion and FLES (as the presence of Spanish Immersion seems to suggest), letting the tiny one-strand / two classroom, cost-neutral Mandarin immersion pilot program proceed can be an effective step toward the future. It will take advantage of the current knowledge and momentum for Mandarin immersion, it will give input on how well a second immersion program can fit into the Palo Alto choice programs, and it will also provide some creative exploration in how immersion programs can be leveraged to offer FLES in a cost-effective manner. It would be a win-win to be getting this local experience at the same time as a task force is studying other districts' approaches to language learning in elementary schools.
Let's lead, rather than dragging our feet.
Ohlone and JL Stanford Middle School parent,
January 24, 2007, Palo Alto Weekly Letters
Looking to the future
I was completely shocked to recently learn that the progressive Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) made the decision not to support the Mandarin-immersion program.
As an entrepreneur and private business owner in Palo Alto, I can tell you that there is tremendous growth opportunity for Americans in China. Many of our clients, ranging in size from Fortune 1000 companies to local start-up companies, plan to expand their business relationships with China over the next decade, whether as investors, potential customers, suppliers or strategic partners.
China is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. For example, a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News reported that China is now the second largest buyers of cars, providing a fortunate boost to U.S. automakers whose market share is suffering at home.
If this is the economic picture today, what will it look like in 15 years when today's Palo Alto first graders enter the workforce? As president of a talent management consulting firm, I am assured by employers that the jobs will now go to where the talent is available.
There are few barriers to keep jobs in the United States. Imagine the competitive and economic advantage our kids in Palo Alto would have if they had the opportunity to learn fluent Mandarin now in elementary school. I personally have two children who are the lucky recipients of a fine PAUSD education. If such an immersion program had been offered when they were young, I would have done anything to enroll them.
I truly can't understand how a district that has represented such excellence for so many years cannot have the foresight to provide as many students as possible with this opportunity to learn such an important foreign language. It is almost an obligation of the district to prepare our students with the skills they will need to compete globally when they graduate.
I am not of Chinese descent. I am a Palo Alto resident who was born in Chicago. I strongly urge the PAUSD board to reconsider its decision and demonstrate the type of leadership for which this district has been known.
Dr. B. Lynn Ware
El Camino Real
Leaders or followers?
Palo Alto has a chance to make a name on the map with a Mandarin-immersion program, and yet it is swayed by xenophobic, opinionated neighbors to remain unknown for innovation. What a shame to hide one's head in the sand when progress will happen around us.
I will join the laughter when Palo Alto finally realizes it has to implement a Mandarin program into the school curriculum (after Cupertino, Burlingame, the East Bay, etc.). Rather than be a leader blazing a trail, the opponents prefer the "safe" and rutted path of a follower.
With the pending Mandarin-immersion decision leaning toward unfavorable, Palo Alto's average IQ will be lowered. In the name of making all things equal, dumbing down has begun. Anyone with math experience would know about the lowest common denominator to make things equal.
The Bay Area is all about diversity, and yet Palo Alto wants equality -- how can diverse people be equal? By being reduced to the basic human being. That's marvelous but sure misses the point in education.
Education is the door that opens minds. I think the board has forgotten what real education is and always has been about: opening minds.
I do not expect closed minds to open, but do hope their children will have a chance to allow success into their lives with open minds. Once open, they won't ever close again.