Parents sought for school-language committee

District seeks open attitudes for three to four spots

School district representatives are seeking parents to serve on the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) committee.

The committee will draft an implementation study aimed at bringing foreign languages to elementary schools. The group is also tasked with defining the program's purpose and making recommendations this spring.

An open attitude is more important than academic credentials, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

"We're looking for folks that can be appropriate jurors … and are flexible in their thinking," said Skelly, who will work with educational services staff to select three to four parents.

Committee membership will require an Oct. 15 orientation and full-day sessions on Nov. 9 and Nov. 29, and further meetings as necessary, according to a newsletter e-mailed to parents.

"We need to look at what is the cost, how it fits with our current program, and how it impacts our teaching time," said Director of Elementary Education Becki Cohn-Vargas, who will be on the committee. The group will look at other districts' programs and recommend one that best fits Palo Alto Unified School District, she said.

Interested parents can submit a letter detailing their skills, qualities, and background to Associate Superintendent Marilyn Cook by Oct. 8 at 4 p.m. Applications can be dropped off at the Educational Services office or emailed to

Non-parent members will include elementary, middle and high school teachers as well as administrators.


Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Since we have had some very enlightened ideas from various people on town square, I hope that many will consider submitting their applications.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2007 at 8:57 am

Well you should know that at the last board meeting I was standing near the superintendent when he said to another person that he would not consider that person for the FLES task force (after they expressed interest), because he felt they were baised (ie incapable of being a fair 'juror' in his words). This was spoken to a person who was vocal against MI but who has stated publicly that they were willing to work on a task force that would help come up with solutions to solve the issues and concerns that were surfaced during the MI debate, namely and equitable, cost effective language program to reach all students.

I challenge the superintendent to tell us what a person's position on MI means about a person's position on FLES.

(And I wonder if that means he's disqualifying Marilyn Cook and Becky Cohn Vargas from the task force?)

Now who's being biased... Et tu, Brute?

Like this comment
Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Oct 3, 2007 at 9:16 am

Well, that IS discouraging. Is Grace going to be on the FLES committee - on the ground that she has what she wants so therefore she can be unbiased about the crumbs everyone else might get?

Who in this town is going to be "unbiased" if position on MI is a meaningful measure? I for one would not want someone on the FLES team who was that out of touch. Of course, if the AAG committe was any predictor, they won't listen to suggestions anyway.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:00 am

Well, the applications are being sent *to* Marilyn Cook, so I think we can assume she'll try to avoid anyone who makes her uncomfortable. I've never been real impressed with her presentations to the board.

Grace has said she wants to work on FLES, but I think as a county school official, she doesn't really qualify as a parent in the community. But conflicts of interest don't seem to be an issue to everyone.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2007 at 10:49 am

Very interesting about not letting an MI opponent on the FLES committee. My own feeling is that someone who has diligently worked hard in the past on a language issue is the ideal candidate. It would mean that they have some experience of working with people to a common end and the fact that they already have an opinion on how it should be done would be an advantage. If they exclude all the MIers and the antiMIers then the only people left are those who don't care, don't mind, or uninformed. Those are not the sort of people wanted on the committee because they don't have the zeal required.

I think that the best requirement would be to have people of opposing views on the committee as that would ensure that the result is fair and balanced.

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