The MI process is now a farce
Original post made
by Simon Firth, College Terrace,
on Jan 6, 2007
The MI process is now a farce.
Late on Friday, after the schools were done for the weekend, parents lucky enough to be in the know learned of a major change in the MI proposala change which raises a whole host of new issues.
That's just two working days before the public has its LAST scheduled opportunity to speak on the subject. And it's before many, many of the other questions raised by the original version of the study have been answered. This is policy making and planning insanity.
Just look at the bemusement of many posters to this forumwhat are we to make of the new possibility that Ohlone house MI and that it run the program under its progressive 'connections' philosophy?
Has anyone addressed the question of what it means to run an immersion program in a 'progressive' setting? Is it realistic? Absurd? Has it been done before? Where's the research to support this decision? What happened to the concern that MI wouldn't work as a single strand?
Has anyone asked the Ohlone parent community how they feel about this idea? Is it right that they get one chance to react just days after this being mooted for the first time?
Add these new questions to the many others that the original feasibility study failed to address and you have not new clarity but more murk. How can all the questions that need to be addressed even be raised to the BOE by Tuesday and how can they be answered by Jan 30th?
To paraphrase Pauline from another thread: WHAT'S THE RUSH?
In particular, why are we trying to rush through a major decision about the direction of our District at the end of the current Strategic Planning cycle and in the middle of a major transition of the district's highest management team?
There is a new planning cycle about to startsurely, that's the time to address the question of language provision, and do it comprehensively. Let's talk about language provision for all across the districtprovision in all its possible permutations of languages taught, ages addressed and styles of delivery.
To quote another thread: the superintendent seems to be saying "that we should implement MI now, then figure out in the next round how it fits in with the District's priorities." Isn't that just incredibly poor management? Once again, WHAT'S THE RUSH?
What's more, there is a new superintendent coming inshe or he needs to be leading the search for these solutions, not clearing up a mess the current superintendent left on her way out. I can only imagine how enticing the chance to inherit an ill-thought out, rushed-through and bitterly opposed immersion program will be to the high-flying candidates the district is hoping to attract.
Given how things stand I can only see two realistic options:
1) We kill the whole idea of MI for now my preferred option and revisit it in the context under which it should have been considered in the first place: as part of a broad strategic review of the district's need and demand for choice programs and its need and demand for languages across all schools and all ages.
2) We put off a decision on approval until the district has answered some of the many unanswered questions about the program, particularly about placing it in the sort of setting it will find at Ohloneand until the public has had a chance to digest and respond to those answers in turn. I would say that means putting off the decision on MI for at least eight weeks. If that means it makes it too late to implement this year and if that means it really makes more sense to leave the whole thing until the new superindentent is in place and the reviews outlined in option 1) have taken place, so much the better.
If you agree, please write to the BOE and tell them. We need to change this farcical decision making process now.
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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 7, 2007 at 9:44 am
Regarding the neighborhood schools matter…
I don't know what your other reasons are for not supporting MI, but I do think you deserve to get a point of view from someone who is advocating world language instruction for all elementary school students in PAUSD, with MI and SI being lanes of such a policy for the students in those programs.
Purely from a numbers standpoint, there are 1000 more students in the district today than there were a few years ago. If MI were introduced, around 240 of them would eventually not be part of their neighborhood school, and that count has to be spread over the entire student population, not just the increment. So, the vast majority of the incremental students will be placed in neighborhood schools, and only a relative few will not be part of a neighborhood school. That's just a statistic, and you can play all sorts of games with numbers, which I prefer not to do. But let's get into some qualitative issues, and I will use my own family to make the points.
I have lived in two different parts of Palo Alto in the last 16 years. In both locations, there were kids who did not attend the neighborhood schools. Some were at Ohlone, some went to private schools outside the PAUSD. When stuff goes on the neighborhood, these kids have participated with the other kids, when they were around. We had plenty of other neighbors with kids whom we got to know better than the families that were not in the neighborhood school, but any loss of "neighborliness" was on the margin. It would have been nice for those families with kids in non-neighborhood schools to be around more, but the general idea of neighborhood schools has not been emasculated because some of our neighbors have chosen a different school arrangement for their kids. That will not change, by the way, with the introduction of MI, it has been this way, and will continue to be that way, MI or not. Some families in your neighborhood will make such a choice for their children to attend a school other than the one that your children attend.
When Spanish Immersion was introduced in the mid-1990's, our daughter was about to start kindergarten, and we had to decide if she would attend the same neighborhood school as her older brother, or if we wanted to apply for her to attend Spanish Immersion. For a variety of reasons, we elected for her to attend the neighborhood school. But there are people for whom the neighborhood school benefits are outweighed by the opportunities they perceive their child getting from an immersion experience. It is a value set that each family has, and I personally think it is great that our District is in a position to provide people such a choice. You and I may place higher value on neighborhood schools than do others, but that does not mean a choice other people prefer should be withheld from them.
With one now in college and one at PALY, our experience has been that we end up being in several "neighborhoods" of sorts during the time our kids are at school age. For example, Little League baseball has been a "virtual" neighborhood experience for us, and we got to know quite well many families who did not attend our kid's school. Children's Theater, church for some, the list can go on and on. My point is that not all of the experience that you describe and that I believe you and I both value is derived entirely or exclusively from the specific neighborhood school experience, even though a great deal of it indeed is.
There are some issues around the choice of Ohlone and of Garland around candidate locations for immersion programs. But since Ohlone is not now a neighborhood school, and Garland is not a PAUSD operation at present, the disruption that some (I honestly cannot tell how many) feel having SI at Escondido caused is significantly reduced as an issue. Your neighborhood school is the school your kid attends. I live just blocks away from Addison and Walter Hays, both about the same distance. There are people in University North with kids at Addison, and there are people who live near Oregon Expressway with kids at Walter Hays. Are they my neighbors? Not really, but I do know many more families from our Hays experience, even though I live very close to Addison, which my kids did not attend.
So, absolutely, neighborhood schools are a critical and large part of the fabric of PAUSD. My personal experience tells me that not all place the importance on it that perhaps you do, that you can still have a neighborhood school experience even if not all your neighbors also participate, your neighborhood school has more to do with where the kids go to school than if it truly is in your neighborhood, and for most of us, the experience of getting to know people in town also is derived in other ways in addition to the school experiencethink of it as a "diversified portfolio."
I hope this stimulates your thinking. You may have other reasons that affect your point of view about language instruction at the elementary school level for this District, but I have attempted to take some of the abstraction out of issues people raise and try to use our own specific experiences to illustrate how that actually have worked for this Palo Alto family.
Just a quick comment about some of the studies you question. My own experience in business is that with any market research or analysis that is conducted, there is "noise" that can call into question the validity of the information as it applies to a particular decision that is being made. In this case, there have been multiple sources of study and analysis, any one of which may have limitations, but taken as a whole, indicate to this reader that MI can be added to the PAUSD in a way that is feasible and consistent with the District's policies and other priorities.