School board agrees to open 13th elementary
Original post made
on Oct 24, 2007
In a meeting to map the future of Palo Alto's elementary schools, school board members unanimously agreed to take back the former Garland Elementary School site for a 13th elementary school from its current lessee.
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posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 12:21 AM
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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 27, 2007 at 1:10 pm
The issue is, to me, is more practical than anything. I'm not of the one size fits all school of education. I had a traditional public-school education--it was a bad fit for me. Basically, it got in the way of the real learning I did. I think flexibility is a positive value in education--so, in a very serious way I am pro-choice. Direct instruction for me would have been a disaster--the highly structured style and the hierarchical quality would have brought out the worst in me as a student. Piles of homework--again, a negative--pointless repetition.
At the same *time* I know kids (and adults) who thrive in that kind of environment. They learn beautifully in an environment that is clear and highly structured.
So, since all kids are not alike, what should be done? Should we insist on uniformity for the sake of uniformity? Because from my POV that's a little bit what the all-neighborhood-schools-all-the-time crew seems to advocate. Oh, yes, a little variation can be let in--a scoop of DI, a touch of constructivism, up to the teacher's discretion, but nothing too out there.
I don't see why, under current conditions, that kind of restriction is necessary. Here's how I see it: the neighborhood schools and their curriculum should be and must be the foundation for the district. Every single school should be solid at a high base level.
If you have that, then you can see if there's room/time/etc. left over for variation. I think there is room for Ohlone and Hoover because they *do* fill (Both have waiting lists) and they are open to any student--there are no requirments of a particular expertise in order to transfer to them. As an extra bonus, they can be used to adjust the burden on the neighborhood schools. Instead of bouncing kids from a neighborhood schools, choice programs make it possible for parents to choose to take their child out of a neighborhood school. That's a plus for the district, overall--and, by the way, an argument to keep Ohlone as Ohlone near the crowded north cluster--people are more likely to choose the closer lottery program.
My basic view of things like SI and MI, where there are limits created by the nature of the curriculum--kids can't transfer in without a level of expertise--and because of the score drops around 2/3 they also spend a period behind their monolingual peers in English it's hard to transfer out--is that they are less fluid and harder for a district to integrate. I mean, resentment of Ohlone seems to be much more about that-big-campus than my kid's getting something your kid's not getting. With the languages, I think there's resentment of those kids getting a curriculum advantage.
So, in a sense, I don't think the choice programs are all alike. I think they place different burdens on the district. Hoover and Ohlone function in many ways like neighborhood schools. I don't think the language programs do. I think they're a little too much of not one thing or the other--they're big enough to cause serious space juggling and overcrowding at the same time, they're not big enough to be "real" choice programs. On a tight year, Ohlone will have 20 non-sibling spaces out of 70. SI has had as few as 2. Ohlone gets more applicants than SI, but the ratio doesn't begin to compensate for the difference in admissions.
Languages differ from educational approaches--it's not about the best learning style for a particular child (or, let's be honest, the parents' comfort level)--it's about learning a subject.
Which is what got me thinking about some of your comments and FLES. I know some SI parents--and I think if Spanish were a regular subject in the schools that they wouldn't have bothered with the SI lottery. A few, yes, just the way there are families like Claude Ezran's that go to the expense of a private school to make sure their kids are deeply fluent in a particular language.
But it's all or nothing with the languages--with the exception of some afterschool programs. (Interestingly, Ohlone's up to six afterschool language programs this year--they just added Hindi--to Spanish, French, Hebrew for native speakers, Mandarin and Japanese). At one hour a week, though, it's very limited exposure. I keep thinking though what if you added summer immersion programs and created a base for really communicating in those languages and then maintained with that once-a-week class?
I think for a lot of parents, that would work and there wouldn't be the pressure on the district to open endless boutique choice programs that limit class space and flexibility.
In other words, instead of saying this program or that program should be shut down because we're competing for space, let's look at ways of making them unnecessary. And while you want to dump out Hoover and Ohlone, I suspect you could live with us if there weren't lottery programs gunning for space at particular neighborhood schools but not actually letting in neighborhood kids.
Oh, one last thing--you're basically arguing that choice is for the rich. If you've got the dough, you can have anything, if you can't toss of $20,000 a year, it doesn't matter what fits your kid, you shouldn't have anything different.
I think some variation isn't a bad thing.