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Immersed in Mandarin

Palo Alto children by the thousands are learning Chinese dialect

The world's most widely spoken language, Mandarin Chinese, increasingly is being spoken by the children of Palo Alto.

Driven by a growing Chinese population that wants its children to know their "heritage" tongue -- as well as by Caucasian and other parents who view Mandarin as a key to the global economy -- more than 2,000 Palo Alto schoolchildren are actively learning the language this fall.

On weekends, as many as 1,500 students fill classrooms at Gunn High School and Jordan and JLS middle schools for all forms of Mandarin instruction.

After school, hundreds of kids play, recite and sing in Mandarin at Fairmeadow Elementary School, the private Stratford School and Cubberley Community Center.

And Monday through Friday, more than 200 children spend their days "immersed" in Mandarin in local public and private schools, one of which just opened in August.

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Both Gunn and Palo Alto high schools also offer Mandarin among their "world language" electives.

"It's reached a critical mass. There's a lot of interest and excitement," said Sara Armstrong, whose 6-year-old son Isaac is in Ohlone Elementary School's Mandarin Immersion program.

Jean Paul Ho, a fluent Mandarin speaker and private equity investor, launched the private bilingual Wellspring Academy in Palo Alto this fall, which educates children in grades K-8. The school hired veteran Walter Hays Elementary School second-grade teacher Cathy Dilts as part of his program.

Beginning with a handful of students, Wellspring aims to produce bilingual, multicultural graduates prepared to participate in the global economy.

"We want to teach not just the languages, but the cultural and global leaderships aspects of education," Ho said.

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The rise of Mandarin instruction in Palo Alto reflects its growth both statewide and nationally. Mandarin is considered a "critical need language" by the U.S. National Security Agency. Some programs around the nation -- including one at Palo Alto High School last summer -- are financed by the Defense Department's National Security Language Initiative.

Across the U.S., the number of students studying the language grew from 16,091 in 2003 to 26,020 in 2007, according to the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools.

Locally, Mandarin instruction is available in all shapes and styles, from small, home-based tutoring groups to the 1,000-plus students who fill Gunn classrooms on Sunday afternoons.

The majority of Palo Alto's Mandarin students are "heritage" children with some prior familiarity with the language, whose parents want them to become literate.

But growing numbers of students have no previous family or cultural ties to Mandarin.

There are Mandarin programs catering to each group -- and some that try to teach both in the same classrooms. The teaching methods and atmosphere of the programs are as varied as the founders themselves.

Launched in 1979 as a French-American school, International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) pioneered all-day Mandarin instruction in Palo Alto in 1996.

From a kindergarten class of five children that year, ISTP has grown to a full K-8 Mandarin program with 175 students, mirroring its well-established sister program in French.

Children -- about 25 percent heritage Mandarin speakers, the others native English-speakers -- sit on carpets in a colorful classroom, reciting and playing games.

ISTP students spend much of their day in the target language but learn math and science in English.

"We want our students to leave ISTP with at least two or three languages," Head of School Philippe Dietz said. French is introduced as a third language to students on the Mandarin side at grade 3, and the French students get Mandarin for their third language.

"Knowing a language is a very big element of the culture," Dietz said. "The mission of our school is globalization, responsible bilingualism, academic rigor."

Looking to add another language to the school in the mid-1990s, ISTP considered Spanish, Italian and Japanese before settling on Mandarin, not an obvious choice at the time.

"A core reason was that Chinese and European culture have many differences but also many things in common. One thing is the rigor of education. Then we felt that if we talk about globalization, it was very important to bring an understanding of a different world.

"It was a real challenge at the time, something so new. It took some time to get the school onto the map."

Retaining students from year to year is critical for any bilingual school. ISTP's first kindergarten class in 1996 dwindled after fourth grade, never making it to fifth, Dietz said, but today the program boasts an 85 to 90 percent retention rate.

Parents love the all-day immersion experience for their children because it makes it possible for them to pick up a new language with ease, they say.

When people comment to her that learning Mandarin must be hard for her son, Isaac, Armstrong often chimes in: "'No, it's not hard.' He doesn't perceive it as hard," she said.

Though private-language schools have been exploring Mandarin for years, the public school system has only just started. The Ohlone Mandarin Immersion program has settled comfortably into its second year this fall following a bitter and well-publicized controversy over whether it should be started at all.

"The first year, we just embraced it," said Ohlone Principal Bill Overton, who was an Ohlone teacher at the time.

"It wasn't our job to decide where it was going to go or anything like that. We took it on and made the best of it."

An Ohlone Mandarin Immersion classroom looks much like any Palo Alto elementary classroom, except that most of the writing on the walls is in Chinese characters.

In Room 26, a second-grade classroom, a full-sized clown hangs on the door, welcoming visitors in both English and Mandarin.

Inside, mornings are taught in Mandarin, while afternoon provides time for reading and book write-ups in English, some students sitting at desks and others in a small reading group with the teacher on the floor.

Mindful that "guest" programs at a school have a poor chance if they are isolated, school leaders took pains to welcome and integrate Mandarin students and their families into the "Ohlone way." That includes work on the school farm, a "child-centered" philosophy of education and mixed-grade classes.

The popular program, which is filled by lottery, aims for one-third native Mandarin speakers and two-thirds non-Mandarin speakers.

Last year there were two K/1 classes. This year there are two K/1 classes and a second-grade class. Now serving 66 children, the Mandarin Immersion program, which is still considered a "pilot" program, is due to be evaluated by the school board in 2010.

Grants provide funding for materials to carry the program through fifth grade.

"There's a very large demand for this program," Overton said. "It's a thriving program.

"You go into some of these classrooms and the teacher is speaking only Mandarin and some of the kids have only been in school one or two months, and they're following directions."

The newest entrant into Palo Alto's Mandarin immersion field is the tiny Wellspring Academy, launched this fall by Los Altos Hills investor Ho, the major backer of the school. He has hired professional teachers and administrators to run day-to-day operations.

A loquacious Mandarin speaker with a longtime interest in education and the perspective of a global investor, Ho's own children attended ISTP's Mandarin program, Yew Chung International School of Mountain View and Harker School of San Jose.

His educational philosophy springs from his experience in global business.

"What I see time and time again when we build these companies is that people can't communicate with each other," Ho said. "It's not just language, but cultural perspective.

"Even the concepts of leadership and what leaders should be doing is different.

"The reason I started Wellspring is I didn't see any schools doing what we're trying to do, teaching not just the language but the cultural and global leadership aspects of education."

Wellspring rents space in the Unitarian Church on Charleston Road.

The six kindergarten- and first-grade students spend half their time in Mandarin and half in English. Three or four additional students come for after-school time.

"We're thinking about what a child needs to be in the 21st century to be truly involved, to be a leader and be productive in global organizations. What kind of skills do we need to give them in language, cultural understanding and collaboration?

"If we have that goal in mind, it's a very different task for the teachers."

As Mandarin continues to surge in popularity, Palo Alto has seen an increasing number of after-school programs that teach Mandarin.†

These programs used to primarily target children from Mandarin-speaking families, but in recent years some have shifted to cater to children whose families don't speak Mandarin at all.

Acme Education Group and Champion Youth Enrichment School are two programs that offer after-school day care with Mandarin classes.

Emerson School, a private school located along West Bayshore Road, began offering an after-school Mandarin immersion program in September to students from first- to eighth-grade.

Chuck Bernstein, president of the Early Learning Institute, which operates Emerson School and three HeadsUp! child centers, set up Emerson's after-school program and a separate preschool Mandarin immersion program at the HeadsUp! Child Development Center at the same campus as Emerson.

"I realized we could do a lot better in helping kids with their language skills," Bernstein said. Two years ago, only 25,000 people in the United States were learning Mandarin, a stark contrast with China, where more than 200 million people were learning English, he said.

Emerson began offering Mandarin classes four years ago but Bernstein realized students would not be fluent without more time with the language.

The after-school program runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and currently has 10 students.

"It's not even clear to me that three hours after school is enough for our kids to be literate," Bernstein said. He is also thinking about organizing exchange programs to China.

All Emerson students are eligible for the after-school program, which also accepts students from other schools.

Bernstein said Chinese provides students with a different mental framework. Students have to write characters that were once drawings and listen carefully to the four tones present in Mandarin, he said.

"There are interesting things in the Chinese language that help us think about the world differently," Bernstein said. "Mandarin only has a single tense, so we're always in the present."

In 2002, Acme principals Daphne and Janet Chao moved their institution to Cubberley Community Center from Mountain View after noting a lack of similar programs here.

"I chose this area because I thought it had more potential at that time, and I made the right decision," Daphne said.

A Taiwan native, Daphne earned her master's degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa before moving to teach Mandarin in Cupertino. She bought Acme from its previous owner in 1998 and decided to retain the name.

Ninety percent of the school's 150 students are heritage speakers, but the bilingual teachers give students the same material and employ the same teaching methods for all.

"We put children in a Chinese-speaking environment," Daphne said. "If they get lost, the teachers use a little bit of English to help them. We don't have a specific class for those who don't speak Chinese at home."

The children, from kindergarten to sixth-grade, learn Mandarin for 45 minutes every weekday afternoon and are also tutored in English and math.

Janet recalled an Indian girl in third-grade who has studied at Acme since kindergarten. She can fully understand Mandarin, but still employs more English when responding to her teachers. Even with daily instruction, children from non-heritage families still face significant challenges in becoming fluent in Mandarin.

Parents find the after-school program valuable.

"Our kids did not speak Mandarin at all, but after one month here they can," said Irene Wu, a Chinese-American parent who sent her sons to Acme because she and her husband were not fluent in Mandarin themselves. She liked the continuity that a daily program such as Acme offers.

"They are learning so much here," Wu said. "They are not fully conversant, but they now are familiar with tones and know basic words."

Mandarin education in Palo Alto was first made available more than 45 years ago through weekend Chinese schools.

The Palo Alto Chinese School was founded in 1963 and is the oldest Chinese School in the San Francisco Bay Area.

More recently, Stanford Chinese School was formed in 1994, while Hwa Shin Bilingual Chinese School was created in 1995.

Each of these programs caters to different needs.

Hwa Shin teaches Mandarin as a second language to non-Chinese speaking students, while Palo Alto Chinese School and Stanford Chinese School cater almost entirely to "heritage" children.

Even so, the demand by non-Mandarin-speaking parents is changing the schools.

The Palo Alto Chinese School added three classes teaching Mandarin as a second language three years ago due to burgeoning demand, Principal Georgia Lu said.

Lu said her school usually refers non-heritage students to Hwa Shin, but inquiries increased to an extent that her school diverted resources to cater to those students.

They currently have 43 students learning Mandarin as a second language.

"The demand for Chinese as a second language is growing every year," Lu said. "It's growing because of globalization and the economy. If you want to go to China to do business you have to speak Chinese."

Palo Alto Chinese School holds classes every Friday at JLS Middle School from 7 to 9 p.m. for students aged 5 to 18.

The school is one of few institutions in the area that teaches Mandarin in "traditional script" as opposed to the increasingly popular "simplified script" used throughout China. Chinese characters in traditional script are more complex and often require more strokes to write.

Lu said her school would continue teaching traditional script because it purchases textbooks from Taiwan, which uses traditional script.

Words also gain extra meaning when taught in their original, traditional form, Lu said. She said the school teaches students to transition from traditional to simplified script at higher grades.

Hwa Shin principals and Taiwanese natives Thomas and Phyllis Liu founded their school because their own children dropped out of heritage Chinese schools here.

"They didn't like the traditional teaching methods. Kids were told, 'You didn't do your homework, go stand outside,'" Thomas said. "So we decided to teach Chinese as a second language using American teaching methodologies."

Students play games like Bingo (with Mandarin characters instead of alphabets), and teachers constantly ask questions to stimulate their thinking, Thomas said. Like Palo Alto Chinese School, Hwa Shin teaches both traditional and simplified script.

"A lot of schools just teach, teach and teach, but we make sure we're interacting with kids and their families," Thomas said. "It's not just whiteboard teaching."

Only 5 to 10 percent of their students come from heritage backgrounds, Thomas said. Their student population is highly varied and includes Caucasian, Indian, Korean and Japanese children.

Hwa Shin conducts classes for more than 80 students every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Jordan Middle School. The school also offers after-school classes at Fairmeadow Elementary School from 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and at Laurel Elementary School in Menlo Park from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

"These extra sessions would offer students more opportunities to learn and speak Mandarin," Thomas said.

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Immersed in Mandarin

Palo Alto children by the thousands are learning Chinese dialect

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 16, 2009, 1:15 pm

The world's most widely spoken language, Mandarin Chinese, increasingly is being spoken by the children of Palo Alto.

Driven by a growing Chinese population that wants its children to know their "heritage" tongue -- as well as by Caucasian and other parents who view Mandarin as a key to the global economy -- more than 2,000 Palo Alto schoolchildren are actively learning the language this fall.

On weekends, as many as 1,500 students fill classrooms at Gunn High School and Jordan and JLS middle schools for all forms of Mandarin instruction.

After school, hundreds of kids play, recite and sing in Mandarin at Fairmeadow Elementary School, the private Stratford School and Cubberley Community Center.

And Monday through Friday, more than 200 children spend their days "immersed" in Mandarin in local public and private schools, one of which just opened in August.

Both Gunn and Palo Alto high schools also offer Mandarin among their "world language" electives.

"It's reached a critical mass. There's a lot of interest and excitement," said Sara Armstrong, whose 6-year-old son Isaac is in Ohlone Elementary School's Mandarin Immersion program.

Jean Paul Ho, a fluent Mandarin speaker and private equity investor, launched the private bilingual Wellspring Academy in Palo Alto this fall, which educates children in grades K-8. The school hired veteran Walter Hays Elementary School second-grade teacher Cathy Dilts as part of his program.

Beginning with a handful of students, Wellspring aims to produce bilingual, multicultural graduates prepared to participate in the global economy.

"We want to teach not just the languages, but the cultural and global leaderships aspects of education," Ho said.

The rise of Mandarin instruction in Palo Alto reflects its growth both statewide and nationally. Mandarin is considered a "critical need language" by the U.S. National Security Agency. Some programs around the nation -- including one at Palo Alto High School last summer -- are financed by the Defense Department's National Security Language Initiative.

Across the U.S., the number of students studying the language grew from 16,091 in 2003 to 26,020 in 2007, according to the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools.

Locally, Mandarin instruction is available in all shapes and styles, from small, home-based tutoring groups to the 1,000-plus students who fill Gunn classrooms on Sunday afternoons.

The majority of Palo Alto's Mandarin students are "heritage" children with some prior familiarity with the language, whose parents want them to become literate.

But growing numbers of students have no previous family or cultural ties to Mandarin.

There are Mandarin programs catering to each group -- and some that try to teach both in the same classrooms. The teaching methods and atmosphere of the programs are as varied as the founders themselves.

Launched in 1979 as a French-American school, International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) pioneered all-day Mandarin instruction in Palo Alto in 1996.

From a kindergarten class of five children that year, ISTP has grown to a full K-8 Mandarin program with 175 students, mirroring its well-established sister program in French.

Children -- about 25 percent heritage Mandarin speakers, the others native English-speakers -- sit on carpets in a colorful classroom, reciting and playing games.

ISTP students spend much of their day in the target language but learn math and science in English.

"We want our students to leave ISTP with at least two or three languages," Head of School Philippe Dietz said. French is introduced as a third language to students on the Mandarin side at grade 3, and the French students get Mandarin for their third language.

"Knowing a language is a very big element of the culture," Dietz said. "The mission of our school is globalization, responsible bilingualism, academic rigor."

Looking to add another language to the school in the mid-1990s, ISTP considered Spanish, Italian and Japanese before settling on Mandarin, not an obvious choice at the time.

"A core reason was that Chinese and European culture have many differences but also many things in common. One thing is the rigor of education. Then we felt that if we talk about globalization, it was very important to bring an understanding of a different world.

"It was a real challenge at the time, something so new. It took some time to get the school onto the map."

Retaining students from year to year is critical for any bilingual school. ISTP's first kindergarten class in 1996 dwindled after fourth grade, never making it to fifth, Dietz said, but today the program boasts an 85 to 90 percent retention rate.

Parents love the all-day immersion experience for their children because it makes it possible for them to pick up a new language with ease, they say.

When people comment to her that learning Mandarin must be hard for her son, Isaac, Armstrong often chimes in: "'No, it's not hard.' He doesn't perceive it as hard," she said.

Though private-language schools have been exploring Mandarin for years, the public school system has only just started. The Ohlone Mandarin Immersion program has settled comfortably into its second year this fall following a bitter and well-publicized controversy over whether it should be started at all.

"The first year, we just embraced it," said Ohlone Principal Bill Overton, who was an Ohlone teacher at the time.

"It wasn't our job to decide where it was going to go or anything like that. We took it on and made the best of it."

An Ohlone Mandarin Immersion classroom looks much like any Palo Alto elementary classroom, except that most of the writing on the walls is in Chinese characters.

In Room 26, a second-grade classroom, a full-sized clown hangs on the door, welcoming visitors in both English and Mandarin.

Inside, mornings are taught in Mandarin, while afternoon provides time for reading and book write-ups in English, some students sitting at desks and others in a small reading group with the teacher on the floor.

Mindful that "guest" programs at a school have a poor chance if they are isolated, school leaders took pains to welcome and integrate Mandarin students and their families into the "Ohlone way." That includes work on the school farm, a "child-centered" philosophy of education and mixed-grade classes.

The popular program, which is filled by lottery, aims for one-third native Mandarin speakers and two-thirds non-Mandarin speakers.

Last year there were two K/1 classes. This year there are two K/1 classes and a second-grade class. Now serving 66 children, the Mandarin Immersion program, which is still considered a "pilot" program, is due to be evaluated by the school board in 2010.

Grants provide funding for materials to carry the program through fifth grade.

"There's a very large demand for this program," Overton said. "It's a thriving program.

"You go into some of these classrooms and the teacher is speaking only Mandarin and some of the kids have only been in school one or two months, and they're following directions."

The newest entrant into Palo Alto's Mandarin immersion field is the tiny Wellspring Academy, launched this fall by Los Altos Hills investor Ho, the major backer of the school. He has hired professional teachers and administrators to run day-to-day operations.

A loquacious Mandarin speaker with a longtime interest in education and the perspective of a global investor, Ho's own children attended ISTP's Mandarin program, Yew Chung International School of Mountain View and Harker School of San Jose.

His educational philosophy springs from his experience in global business.

"What I see time and time again when we build these companies is that people can't communicate with each other," Ho said. "It's not just language, but cultural perspective.

"Even the concepts of leadership and what leaders should be doing is different.

"The reason I started Wellspring is I didn't see any schools doing what we're trying to do, teaching not just the language but the cultural and global leadership aspects of education."

Wellspring rents space in the Unitarian Church on Charleston Road.

The six kindergarten- and first-grade students spend half their time in Mandarin and half in English. Three or four additional students come for after-school time.

"We're thinking about what a child needs to be in the 21st century to be truly involved, to be a leader and be productive in global organizations. What kind of skills do we need to give them in language, cultural understanding and collaboration?

"If we have that goal in mind, it's a very different task for the teachers."

As Mandarin continues to surge in popularity, Palo Alto has seen an increasing number of after-school programs that teach Mandarin.†

These programs used to primarily target children from Mandarin-speaking families, but in recent years some have shifted to cater to children whose families don't speak Mandarin at all.

Acme Education Group and Champion Youth Enrichment School are two programs that offer after-school day care with Mandarin classes.

Emerson School, a private school located along West Bayshore Road, began offering an after-school Mandarin immersion program in September to students from first- to eighth-grade.

Chuck Bernstein, president of the Early Learning Institute, which operates Emerson School and three HeadsUp! child centers, set up Emerson's after-school program and a separate preschool Mandarin immersion program at the HeadsUp! Child Development Center at the same campus as Emerson.

"I realized we could do a lot better in helping kids with their language skills," Bernstein said. Two years ago, only 25,000 people in the United States were learning Mandarin, a stark contrast with China, where more than 200 million people were learning English, he said.

Emerson began offering Mandarin classes four years ago but Bernstein realized students would not be fluent without more time with the language.

The after-school program runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and currently has 10 students.

"It's not even clear to me that three hours after school is enough for our kids to be literate," Bernstein said. He is also thinking about organizing exchange programs to China.

All Emerson students are eligible for the after-school program, which also accepts students from other schools.

Bernstein said Chinese provides students with a different mental framework. Students have to write characters that were once drawings and listen carefully to the four tones present in Mandarin, he said.

"There are interesting things in the Chinese language that help us think about the world differently," Bernstein said. "Mandarin only has a single tense, so we're always in the present."

In 2002, Acme principals Daphne and Janet Chao moved their institution to Cubberley Community Center from Mountain View after noting a lack of similar programs here.

"I chose this area because I thought it had more potential at that time, and I made the right decision," Daphne said.

A Taiwan native, Daphne earned her master's degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa before moving to teach Mandarin in Cupertino. She bought Acme from its previous owner in 1998 and decided to retain the name.

Ninety percent of the school's 150 students are heritage speakers, but the bilingual teachers give students the same material and employ the same teaching methods for all.

"We put children in a Chinese-speaking environment," Daphne said. "If they get lost, the teachers use a little bit of English to help them. We don't have a specific class for those who don't speak Chinese at home."

The children, from kindergarten to sixth-grade, learn Mandarin for 45 minutes every weekday afternoon and are also tutored in English and math.

Janet recalled an Indian girl in third-grade who has studied at Acme since kindergarten. She can fully understand Mandarin, but still employs more English when responding to her teachers. Even with daily instruction, children from non-heritage families still face significant challenges in becoming fluent in Mandarin.

Parents find the after-school program valuable.

"Our kids did not speak Mandarin at all, but after one month here they can," said Irene Wu, a Chinese-American parent who sent her sons to Acme because she and her husband were not fluent in Mandarin themselves. She liked the continuity that a daily program such as Acme offers.

"They are learning so much here," Wu said. "They are not fully conversant, but they now are familiar with tones and know basic words."

Mandarin education in Palo Alto was first made available more than 45 years ago through weekend Chinese schools.

The Palo Alto Chinese School was founded in 1963 and is the oldest Chinese School in the San Francisco Bay Area.

More recently, Stanford Chinese School was formed in 1994, while Hwa Shin Bilingual Chinese School was created in 1995.

Each of these programs caters to different needs.

Hwa Shin teaches Mandarin as a second language to non-Chinese speaking students, while Palo Alto Chinese School and Stanford Chinese School cater almost entirely to "heritage" children.

Even so, the demand by non-Mandarin-speaking parents is changing the schools.

The Palo Alto Chinese School added three classes teaching Mandarin as a second language three years ago due to burgeoning demand, Principal Georgia Lu said.

Lu said her school usually refers non-heritage students to Hwa Shin, but inquiries increased to an extent that her school diverted resources to cater to those students.

They currently have 43 students learning Mandarin as a second language.

"The demand for Chinese as a second language is growing every year," Lu said. "It's growing because of globalization and the economy. If you want to go to China to do business you have to speak Chinese."

Palo Alto Chinese School holds classes every Friday at JLS Middle School from 7 to 9 p.m. for students aged 5 to 18.

The school is one of few institutions in the area that teaches Mandarin in "traditional script" as opposed to the increasingly popular "simplified script" used throughout China. Chinese characters in traditional script are more complex and often require more strokes to write.

Lu said her school would continue teaching traditional script because it purchases textbooks from Taiwan, which uses traditional script.

Words also gain extra meaning when taught in their original, traditional form, Lu said. She said the school teaches students to transition from traditional to simplified script at higher grades.

Hwa Shin principals and Taiwanese natives Thomas and Phyllis Liu founded their school because their own children dropped out of heritage Chinese schools here.

"They didn't like the traditional teaching methods. Kids were told, 'You didn't do your homework, go stand outside,'" Thomas said. "So we decided to teach Chinese as a second language using American teaching methodologies."

Students play games like Bingo (with Mandarin characters instead of alphabets), and teachers constantly ask questions to stimulate their thinking, Thomas said. Like Palo Alto Chinese School, Hwa Shin teaches both traditional and simplified script.

"A lot of schools just teach, teach and teach, but we make sure we're interacting with kids and their families," Thomas said. "It's not just whiteboard teaching."

Only 5 to 10 percent of their students come from heritage backgrounds, Thomas said. Their student population is highly varied and includes Caucasian, Indian, Korean and Japanese children.

Hwa Shin conducts classes for more than 80 students every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Jordan Middle School. The school also offers after-school classes at Fairmeadow Elementary School from 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and at Laurel Elementary School in Menlo Park from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

"These extra sessions would offer students more opportunities to learn and speak Mandarin," Thomas said.

Comments

Parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm
Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Not sure about teaching the kids foreign languages, I wish they would get some English teaching. I have been amazed by some of the poor written English I have seen from kids lately. Partly due to textspeak and partly due to teachers not correcting mistakes made in written work, we seem to be raising a generation who cannot write their own language without the doubtful use of a spell check and grammar check.


not Chinese
Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm
not Chinese, Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm

China has become one of the most important economies in the world. Americans who can speak Mandarin will have a huge advantage in the business world of tomorrow. Children learn languages more easily than adults, so a small investment now can have a big payoff down the road.

I learned French when I was in high school. That language was important 100 years ago and is still occasionally useful for traveling in the former colonies or for reading old plays and novels. I'm encouraging my kids to learn Chinese. Maybe Spanish, too.


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

For such a big article, it was sort of a mess. It says 2,000 Palo Alto students are learning Mandarin. That's not accurate. Many of the kids attending the International School or weekend language programs don't actually live here. And the kids in the weekend programs are actually Mountain View or Los Altos. Just really sloppy and misleading--as was the title "Mandarin Immersion". The *vast* majority of the kids studying Mandarin in this story are not learning via an immersion program. That was part of PACE's (aka I-school parents who didn't want to pay private-school tuition)argument, given that Palo Alto's crawling with Mandarin (and a fair number of Cantonese) programs of the non-immersion sort. The International School and the mish-mash at Ohlone are it for immersion programs.

I think, also, that an interesting counterpoint wasn't brought up in the main text--though the head of the program at Stanford brought up indirectly--i.e. the kids not wanting to learn a heritage language. This is a longstanding issue in the United States--second languages,historically, are not retained here. Even with Hispanics, by the third generation, the heritage language is not spoken.

I wish Kenrick had pushed a little harder on this. (And, yes, she could have noted that we don't really know how well immersion Ohlone style is working since the test results are literally not in)


parent
Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm
parent, Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Mandarin immersion may come to Redwood City soon: Web Link


Immersion in a box
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm
Immersion in a box, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2009 at 10:01 pm

parent,

RWC might be interested in PAUSD's presentation on

Development of a Mandarin-English Dual Immersion Program in Palo Alto
by Marilyn Cook and Susan Charles

a "How to" Powerpoint to set up an immersion program,

Web Link








OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Not actually RWC, which has bigger problems on its plate--Belmont-Redwood Shores is smaller with a more affluent population. The district has been having issues lately, so it could use a selling point for academically oriented families.

Don't see MI in RWC any time soon--it has a number of specialty programs, but most of them seem to have problems. They need to learn what they have already.


When-iIn-Rome-Speak-Italian/When-In-America-Speak-English
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm
When-iIn-Rome-Speak-Italian/When-In-America-Speak-English, Charleston Meadows
on Nov 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm

> The world's most widely spoken language, Mandarin Chinese,
> increasingly is being spoken by the children of Palo Alto.

While it is true that Mandarin is spoken by more people in the world than any other language--it is also true that Mandarin is spoken in only one country in the world as a dominant language. It is doubtful that more than .5% of the world's population speak mandarin outside of China. And then, for those who do, they are most likely Chinese transplants.

Even inside of China, the Mandarin dialect would not be as popular if it were not for being mandated by the Chinese Communist Government. Cantonese is the second most widely spoken Chinese dialect, and is not likely to be eradicated from the Chinese culture any time soon.

Language By Speakers:
Web Link

However, if you look at the countries of the world that speak English as a primary, or secondary language:

Web Link

In total, about 880,000,000 people worldwide speak English. Outside of China, virtually no one speaks Chinese (ie Mandarin).


Some countries, like India, require English as the "language of government", even though there is the widely spoken native language. Organizations like the UN have expressly requested that documents not be distributed in the Chinese dialects (as well as Russian and Arabic). Reason? These languages are just too difficult to learn and provide nothing of specific value to the UN that English doesn't.

It's amazing how a reporter who is supposed to be competent in English can mangle an English thought so badly. But then again, this is the kind of bias Palo Alto has come to expect with Weekly reporters.


AMERICA
Gunn High School
on Nov 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm
AMERICA, Gunn High School
on Nov 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Economy => Culture
Community Center
on Nov 15, 2009 at 6:28 am
Economy => Culture, Community Center
on Nov 15, 2009 at 6:28 am

OhlonePar,
If you look around you, you are immersed in Chinese products. Mandarin immersion is a side affect. We currently are going through an identity crisis.


Mom
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 6:37 am
Mom, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 6:37 am


It is frustrating, as a Palo Alto parent who would be interested in MI, to get practically NO information about how MI is doing. How much English is being taught (I heard 1 hour per week in 1st grade), which is NOT enough. Also, how are the teachers doing? Who is joining, who is leaving, and why? All we heard last year from the prior principal is "Trust us". That might work for the traditional Ohlone program, which they did have experience, but not with MI, which they have NO experience.


parent
Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2009 at 8:35 am
parent, Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2009 at 8:35 am

I agree with "Economy". 90% of the products at Macys and 99% of the products at Walmart are made in China. Apple makes most of their products in China and China is becoming one of their biggest markets as well. Intel and H-P make a lot of money selling their products to China. If our kids want to work in the world economy, they are seriously limiting themselves if they can only speak one language.


pat
Monroe Park
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:19 am
pat, Monroe Park
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:19 am

When-In-Rome: Thanks for injecting some common sense. English is the language of world business. I fail to see how Mandarin is going to help a kid find a job and be successful.

I wish we spent more time teaching kids to write decent English and to understand world politics, history and geography. Maybe that would prevent them from making the same mistakes their elders keep making.


When-iIn-Rome-Speak-Italian/When-In-America-Speak-English
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:28 am
When-iIn-Rome-Speak-Italian/When-In-America-Speak-English, Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:28 am

> If our kids want to work in the world economy, they are seriously
> limiting themselves if they can only speak one language.

This is so wrong that it needs refutation.

While China has undergone an “economic miracle” by jettisoning the destructive vision of Mao Tse Tung and his fellow communists, the reality is that most Chinese are still living in rural areas and many live on less than $1,000 a year. Even those in the urban areas, while comparatively well off by Chinese standards, are still making only about one-third of the salaries in the US.

The main reason the Chinese economy has been as productive as it has been is that salaries in China have been 10%-20% that in the US (or less). So, given the choice of having to deal with toxic labor unions, or less-than-well-educated Americans, many companies have moved to China (and India) in order to take advantage of a work force that does not see itself as “entitled” to high wages and low productivity. Of course, having the opportunity to drag their countries out of millennia-long poverty is also a motivation which we here in the US can’t really relate to.

The idea that people working in Chinese factories are more productive, or more desirable, because they are bi-lingual work force is a fantasy.

--------
Web Link

Posted on Sun, Nov. 24, 2002
Cheap products' human cost
CHINA'S SUCCESS IN THE PC REVOLUTION LIES IN ITS MOSTLY YOUNG AND LOW-WAGE WORKERS, WHO PUT IN STUNNING AMOUNTS OF OVERTIME
By Karl Schoenberger
----

Moreover, most Chinese only know their own dialect. Mandarin is not spoken universally. So, people from one section of China often can not communicate with another in their native tongues. This is a very different situation than we have in the English speaking world, where people speaking English can generally communicate with people all over the world.

There is some limited opportunity for US citizens to work in China:

Web Link

In fact, speaking Chinese (any flavor) is not a requirement. Given the potential size of the Chinese economy, doubtless a goodly number of Americans can be absorbed into it at any given time. But the Chinese government needs to increase the standard of living for about half its population, so every American working in China is taking a job from a Chinese. So .. it’s not likely that millions of Americans will be able to find fame and fortune in China because they have learned some Mandarin.

For those who possess a skill for languages, it is never a bad idea to pick up another language. However, to suggest that factory workers in the next twenty years are going to not be competitive on the world stage unless they are multi-lingual is utter nonsense.

What is more important is that future generations better understand technology, mathematics (particularly data modeling and statistics) and finance. The future will belong to people who can manage the assets at their disposal better than we have in the past.

The issue here is whether the language and culture of recent immigrants should be promoted in the public school system. Given the inherent differences between the somewhat successful democracy of the US, which is based on a common language (more-or-less) common cultural values—the idea of caving into political pressure from one immigrant group (or another) to not teach their children in English is more likely to be the basis for cultural suicide than providing a sound platform for the success of the US in the coming generations.


parent
Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:37 am
parent, Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:37 am

Sure, you can speak Italian when you visit Rome. What language are you going to speak when you visit Beijing or Shanghai? Chinese-American business does not all take place in America. Most of it takes place in China.


Palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:59 am
Palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2009 at 10:59 am

It is wonderful to learn another language and I wish all our elementary kids had an opportunity to do so - not just a select few. Our MI program manly exists because PACE threatened our school board with a Charter, which in my opinion would have been a far better solution. And English is still the language of business.

It is a bit odd what we teach -

Analyzing old and typically depressing literature, but not how to write a business letter, business plan, or even a clear persuasive essay. But all the kids will know how to write a bibliography and use the MLA format, SO important in the real world! LOL.

Calculus, but not how to balance your budget, read a stock page, read a P&L statement, invest for your future.

Lots of historical dates, the difference (still not really clear what it is) between the ancient Chinese dynasties, but not much about how countries currently interact and how they got there. Lots of emphasis on history, VERY little on current events (unless a teacher takes a interest). History is still relevant, but I think the students spend sophomore year learning current events and that is it unless they choose a HS elective which covers contemporary issues. Out of 13 years of school, they get one year of what's happening now.

Vocabulary that no one will use (aside from standardized tests) but not enough of the vocab which would add richness to everyday writing.

PE which teaches the kids to run laps and get better and basketball, etc. but little that they will continue to do as they get older. What about teaching yoga, pilates, more weight training, golf, etc.


Parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm
Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I just find it sad that when the public pointed out to the school board that it would be better to offer some language exposure to all elementary, rather than an elite program to a handful, they claimed it would be WAY to expensive, because after all, the time for language would have to be tacked on to the end of the school day, and that means more salaries. And about a year later, they choose this crazy BS everyday math - at which time they also double the amount of time per day required spent on math. (LIkely because the Everyday math concepts are such garbage nonsense, that no one understand, they NEED the extra time just to keep the kids on track). So somehow, they found an extra 30-45 minutes per day for WHACKO MATH experimentation, but couldn't find it for language education. Wonder how that happened.

Here's a suggestion, go back to a SANE normal math program, reduce the math time spent by 20 minutes per day, and add some language curriculum for every child.

Could they have spent the 700K FLAP grant for language materials for all our PAUSD children? SELFISH

And about this article, I find it FASCINATING that thousands of kids are learning Mandarin in afterschool programs, on weekends or in private schools all over the place, yet PAUSD found this gaping need that they had to convert a full elementary school to Mandarin. And all these poor people who have no way to learn Mandarin unless PAUSD tax payers buy them full time Mandarin Immersion.

But thanks for the reminder that its time to show up at school board meetings demanding they show these fabulous test scores. I can't wait.




palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2009 at 1:41 pm
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Not that I'm an MI fan, but I think the FLAP grant could only be used for Mandarin (thru high school though) and only a part of Ohlone is MI, not the whole school.


staying patriotic
Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm
staying patriotic, Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Chinese-American
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 7:02 pm
Chinese-American, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2009 at 7:02 pm

I was born in America and so were my parents. As volatile as Staying Patriotic's posting is, I agree that people who come to America should learn English. It should not be acceptable that strip malls have shops with absolutely no English on their signs. Those who speak other languages such as Spanish should also be fluent in English. We shouldn't have to print Spanish on diapers and other products if we don't print other languages on them also. English should be the official language of America.


More agenda pushing
Green Acres
on Nov 15, 2009 at 11:43 pm
More agenda pushing, Green Acres
on Nov 15, 2009 at 11:43 pm

I find it amazing that people on Town Square are so willing to disapprove of OTHER parents who are choosing to educate their children as they see fit, and through private schools and programs no less, other than those in Ohlone's MI.

What are you going to tell me next -- that there's something wrong with sending my child to classical ballet lessons because you'd rather everyone play soccer?


Reymundo
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:52 am
Reymundo, Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:52 am

When-In-Rome, you seem to imply that promoting Mandarin as the national language in China is part of some Communist totalitarian plot, right up there with re-education camps and personality cults. The reality is a lot less sinister.

China has hundreds, or even thousands, of dialects, which are for the most part mutually unintelligible. Throughout history, China has been riven by factionalism, and the lack of a common language exacerbated regional differences.

Promoting a common language was a way to unify the country and facilitate communication between people from different parts of China. Mandarin was adopted as the language of the government for centuries, and was promoted as the national language for the people starting in the Qing Dynasty. This policy was continued by the Nationalists and then the Communists.

Most people in China learn both their local dialect and Mandarin. You're not going to find many people there making the argument that having everyone able to understand each other is a bad thing for the country.




Confused
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2009 at 8:06 am
Confused, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2009 at 8:06 am

What are we talking about? This is about learning a foreign language- like the Spanish Immersion Program. I don't see posts complaining about store signs in E. Palo Alto. Most new Asian/Chinese immigrants hire English tutors to help their children to succeed in school. And in China, English is part of their public education starting in Pre-school/Kindergarten.

Why are people so afraid of Chinese/China? Maybe because China is the only country not affected by the global economic slump and is hiring our most talented engineers, researchers, scientists, etc....

It is your decision: join the party or be left behind!! Good luck!


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 8:18 am
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 8:18 am

Confused

I don't think people are afraid of China - there is much to admire about China and its hard working citizens. I think:

People don't like school district money being spent on another small, potentially inflexible program.
People don't believe that learning Mandarin is as important as it is being portrayed since English is the language of business.


pat
Midtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:13 am
pat, Midtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

More agenda pushing: I don’t think anyone is disapproving of how you choose to educate your children, be it with Mandarin, ballet or whatever.

What I don’t approve of is using tax dollars to pay for programs like MI that benefit only a small segment of the school population. If MI is so important to a child’s future (which I do not believe), then it should be available to all kids.

The schools are constantly crying for more money, yet are willing to spend it on a non-essential program like MI for just a few kids.


Confused
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:18 am
Confused, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

Palo Alto Mom:

I am not arguing for MI. I am not familiar with the pros and cons
of this program. I think we need to move on- agree to disagree.

However, I am not sure about English being the language of business.
Personally, I speak five different languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese (two different dialects). In the past 35 years, my personal life and career have flourished because of my ability to speak these languages. It resulted in promotions, opportunities, and life-long business friendships/partnerships.

Learning a new language often requires learning another culture. Anything that provides greater understanding is an important thing
especially in today's fairly hostile world.

Thanks for exchanging and sharing!


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:58 am
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:58 am

Dear Confused -

I absolutely agree that knowing another countries' language is a huge advantage - and I am amazed at the languages you speak. I'm sure this ability has helped you immensely in your career.

But I also know so many very successful business people who manage to do very well in other countries by being aware of and respectful of customs without know the language.

Is knowing another language an advantage, absolutely, yes. Is being a smart business person with a good product more of an advantage?


hello
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm
hello, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm



Confused,

You are not that confused, talking about the wonders of languages supporting Mandarin immersion?

Mandarin is no more the language of business than English


Anna
Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm
Anna, Downtown North
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Can anyone explain to me why again don't have Madarin as an option at our Middle schools?


pamom
Midtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm
pamom, Midtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm

What amazes me is the criticism of MI as a special program and wasting tax dollars. (pat) There are many things going on in our schools which not every child can take part in (or wants to take part in) be it sports, music, whatever. My children didn't have that opportunity to take either Spanish or MI, but I wish they had been available. I think it is well worth the benefits of learning a 2nd language at an early age. If it costs more, then let parents help raise donations to cover the extra costs. I do think English is the language of business but knowing a 2nd language is very important in many ways and very beneficial to our students. (I don't hear this criticism directed at the Spanish Immersion program . . . don't get why if you don't like MI then why is Spanish ok?)


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm

PAmom -

ALL PAUSD students get Music, Spectra Art and PE. The optional activities which happen on school grounds are NOT funded by the district (sports, clubs, etc.).

MI (could have been any language) was proposed at a time when many parents wanted foreign language for ALL the elementary kids. With both Immersion Programs, a handful of elementary students get a foreign language at the District's expense, the rest get nothing. SI is an existing program, which has its critics too.

All the other schools in PAUSD have some flexibility in class size. They can add a student or two. ANY immersion program can only add students who are fluent to that grade level in that language. So if the Grade 2-3 Immersion class drops to 16 kids, those spots can't be filled with any student, they can only be filled by a very small subset of potential students who are fluent in Spanish or Mandarin at grade level. With our economic difficulties, we need to maximize both our classroom space and out teachers.




parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2009 at 5:13 pm
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2009 at 5:13 pm


pamom

"(I don't hear this criticism directed at the Spanish Immersion program . . . don't get why if you don't like MI then why is Spanish ok?)"

playing victim?

Spanish immersion gets the same kind of comments






OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 6:55 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Mom,

The MI/Ohlone mash-up doesn't have test results yet. However, four of the first-year native Mandarin speaking students dropped the program because they weren't learning sufficient English. The spots were filled from the waiting list--something that won't be an option after first grade.

Getting qualified teachers has been an issue. There are almost no teachers both qualified to teach Mandarin *and* have experience running a constructivist classroom. The grapevine has it that one of the first two teachers wasn't cutting it, while the other one was inexperienced, but heading in the right direction.

When-in-Rome,

Yep. China is extremely dependent on our willingness to buy their cheaply made stuff. Far from feeling no effects from the recession, China is artificially holding down its currency to stay competitive. Longterm, it has huge issues--a huge elderly population that will need to be supported by a much smaller younger working population.

And, yes, a large chunk of Chinese doesn't speak Mandarin--even when the definition of fluency is low.

pamom,

The difference between the programs you mention and the language-immersion classes is that the other programs don't take up classroom space. Mandarin Immersion has turned Ohlone into a school of more than 500 kids. Spanish Immersion has actually, at times, bumped local kids from their neighborhood school.

Both Mandarin and Spanish are readily and cheaply available in the private sector--the schools that host the immersion programs suffer as a whole because of it.

That's not your kid running around a crowded, inadequately supervised playground. That's not your kid dodging the heavy traffic at drop-off.

It is mine.

Confused,

Hiring our best and brightest? Not from what I've heard--though you do indirectly allude to the fact that China's issue with higher education. There's a serious lack of first-rate universities in China--its best engineers are trained, well, here.

Anna,

We don't have Mandarin in middle school because the middles schools are A) bursting at the seams and B) that was part of the deal cut with PACE when it blackmailed the board into MI. I expect that to change.


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 7:21 am
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 7:21 am

" (I don't hear this criticism directed at the Spanish Immersion program"

pamom,

Well, that gets to the heart of it. The xenophobic post by staying patriotic, removed above, pretty much illustrated the reason why so many criticize MI.

I mean, look at all these off-topic, crazy posts about communists, the language of business, China's economy. It reveals a deep, deep fear of China.

And then there is the disinformation campaign about extra costs, problems in the program, crowding in schools, national language of China, deals done about middle school, etc.

You have to ask why people are willing to spend so much time making this stuff up. I think you'll find your answer if you can track down staying patriotic. He or she is no doubt standing on a lonely street corner, ranting at the world and shouting racist slurs at passers-by.


Commander McBragg
another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:14 am
Commander McBragg, another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

When I was in high school, I signed up to take a class in Chinese because I thought it would be fun. The class got cancelled because there wasn't enough interest in it. Since then I've learned that Chinese is an archaic character-based language. To become proficient at reading and writing Chinese, you have to learn thousands of characters. Historically, only a few scholars have had that sort of training, while most people remained illiterate.

English is a modern language with an alphabet. Also, it's a modern alphabet, with vowels. You only have to learn to read and write 26 letters, and how to assemble them into words and sentences. Cultures with an alphabet have a much higher literacy rate than those without. For example, during the dark ages some muslim cultures had books, libraries and lots of people who could read them. This is a direct result of having had an alphabet, as well as the fact that they had invented paper.

It's been my experience that most people who want their children to learn their native language is so that the kids can talk to grandma, who in no way is ever going to learn English.

It's too bad more people who "speak" English as a second language don't get into English immersion. Living here is a perfect opportunity for it. Stop using their native language until they get good at speaking English. When someone has an accent that's so bad that it's hard to figure out what they're saying, I can tell that the only time this person speaks English is when they're talking to someone who doesn't speak their native language, which usually isn't all that often.


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:27 am
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:27 am



Engineer,


look at the history of fear of Spanish,

but this is about choice programs in Palo Alto, check the threads out on that before you panic


Commander McBragg
another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:38 am
Commander McBragg, another community
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

"It's been my experience that most people who want their children to learn their native language is so that the kids can talk to grandma, who in no way is ever going to learn English."

That sentence was supposed to be, "It's been my experience that the reason most people who want their children to learn their native language do so is so that the kids can talk to grandma..."

It will probably get deleted anyway.


no choice
Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:39 am
no choice, Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

"I don't hear this criticism directed at the Spanish Immersion program"

Actually, you do when you hear they are using PiE funds to develop middle school programs only accessible to students that have been through Palo Alto's SI program. Any other fluent Spanish speakers need to find out if there is any space left after the select few have claimed their places.

"Middle School Update
Enrollement is sufficient to run SI in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Two PIE grants were obtained to develop the curriculum over the summer. Teachers need to be hired." Web Link


pamom
Midtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:18 am
pamom, Midtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:18 am

When I said I didn't hear the same criticism directed at the SI as at the MI, that's because the SI had few problems getting through/accepted at the district. MI had major problems. I admit I don't know these details about the current situation of either program draining funds and/or resources away from the main program. When I look at the fancy new facilities at our high schools, I wonder do we really need all that? How many really play football/tennis/swimming? My point is not all students can or want to use the extra facilities or classes in special programs. Don't misunderstand me -- I support these programs because I think this is what helps children/teens -- whether it be sports/music/language programs.

The problem is how to balance this with limited funds. OK I get that. Can't parents supplement?

So the Ohlone MI teacher has to be a "constructivist"! That's certainly limiting the field. Why not make these language immersion programs charters? I believe Obama's educational policies encourage charters.


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:21 am
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:21 am

When you read thru any of the posts related to Immersion Choice programs, the resentment comes thru loud and clear - a select few PUBLIC school students getting taught something NONE of the other elementary kids are getting - a foreign language.


no choice
Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:41 am
no choice, Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

"The problem is how to balance this with limited funds. OK I get that. Can't parents supplement?"

You'd think so, wouldn't you? Unfortunately any funds raised outside of PiE can't be used to hire teachers/aides for these programs. They can only be used for "stuff". You end up with everyone's hands in the same pot trying to extract funds for their special program for their special students as you see above with SI.

These should be self-funded as they already are at other elementary schools via after school programs: Web Link

- Living Spanish beginner
- Living Spanish advanced

Interesting that Addison has dropped mandarin from it's after-school program...


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:51 am
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:51 am

Parents can't raise funds to supplement staff during the school day, but they can fund after school programs such as those at Addison (shown above).


Confused
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm
Confused, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm

OhlonePar

I don't think we need to debate on the issues of jobs and declining
US $$- just read the news!! BTW, there is another Mandarin school just opened in PA Midtown. I guess the demand and supply theory is alive and well....


parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm



pamom,

"Why not make these language immersion programs charters? I believe Obama's educational policies encourage charters."

MI/Ohlone is practically a charter, follows entirely different rules than the rest of the district

though I have no idea what criteria needs to be met for a charter, serving under-served communities for basic education comes to mind before Mandarin for the business community.






parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm
parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm



Confused,


it's a different thing when it's Private school.


Parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm
Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Many parents seem to think that their elementary age kids need to learn Spanish or Mandarin and that the school district should provide them what they feel they need. Many parents seem to think that their kids need to have music or pe or sports and that this should be provided too.

I happen to think that all kids would write and understand English better if they learned a foreign language from a young age - in fact in my European education I learned more than one foreign language from a young age and I consider that it helped round me as an educated person as well as improving all my language skills.

But, short of finding a few similar thinking parents and threatening a charter, I don't think I will find my "needs" met. Therefore, I had better find a private source to meet my requirements at my own expense.

Life is like that for most of us.


high school mother
Gunn High School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm
high school mother, Gunn High School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

You know, when my son was in elementary school he told me he wanted to take French. He has now taken 5 years of French, loves it and loves French culture.
I asked him about Mandarin, and he told me that he didnt like the way it sounds. So, he wasn't interested.
Maybe French isn't in fashion anymore, but it sure is great to know when traveling all over Europe.
India has a billion folks and very few of them speak Chinese. Im not sure I agree that one has to know Mandarin or will be left out of the future..
Kids need to know English better! And any other language they may like! Why not Swedish, Finnish or Dutch???


Capbreton
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm
Capbreton, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Stepping back and looking at a bigger picture looks to be a useful idea about now.

First, where does this early elementary school immersion lead at the end of the day? Not to Paly (for example). At Paly, Chinese 1 is a course specifically designed for native speakers who cannot read or write well. (Check that out for yourselves if you don't believe me, but that is the fact.) Given that reality is the suggestion to add multiple Mandarin tracks at high school level. If people are thinking that all this is just going to somehow magically link up with high school and college, think again. Where are the teachers, resources and $$ to pay for all of this? Or is the plan to go the typical Palo Alto way and not actually think this through?

Then what about the politics of Mandarin teaching? What's this? If you haven't yet been involved in the battle between the Taiwan system purists and mainland China purists -- and Singapore and Hong Kong as well -- get used to it. Unlike French, there is no "approved" and sanctioned curriculum to teach to so it's a free for all that makes no one happy.

You can't just start this public immersion discussion and ignore the giant sink holes at the end of the line, which, as far as I can tell, haven't even been a part of the discussion to this point.


Kate
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2009 at 9:26 am
Kate, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2009 at 9:26 am

Due to 'text messaging', our young people, even newspaper reporters, are forgetting how to write correct English. One of the firm foundations of the English language is Latin. Knowing that the 'subject must agree with the verb' is rather 'basic', but is that even being taught anymore? Is cursive writing? When I was thirteen, my class could diagram compound and complex sentences on the blackboard all around the room. We knew why a 'ship' was called a 'she'. We knew when words with a Latin base were singular or plural. We were familiar with scientific and legal terminology with a Latin base. The United States medical, legal, and business worlds use English, many with Latin 'root' words. And in a 'depression/recession', knowing Mandarin is not going to 'cut it' when it comes to finding a job.


pat
Midtown
on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:58 am
pat, Midtown
on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:58 am

Thanks to Kate, Capbreton & palo alto mom for the reality checks on why MI is a bad idea. It has nothing to do with Mandarin and everything to do with fairness and the cost of the program.

MI was literally pushed through the school board by Grace Mah (now on the Santa Clara County Board of Education). Her organization got $60,000 in donations from unknown sources. And the race card was played, even resulting in an article in the NY Times. Web Link

After voting against MI, the PA school board changed its mind and approved MI after Mah threatened a charter school.

This is how things get done: money, threats, hints of racism. Nothing to do with what’s best for ALL the kids nor what the district can afford.

And we wonder why the school budget gap gets bigger. Web Link


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Pat,

If your only complaint is that MI is unfair because of the cost of the program, then you don't have a leg to stand on. The program is cost neutral. I expect that now you'll find you can wholeheartedly endorse the program. Great!

As for the history, you have it wrong. MI was well received by the board after years of requests by residents. The board then buckled to blackmail from a vicious, vocal minority who threatened to stop donating to PIE if MI went through. After that, the MI supporters decided to go ahead with a charter. The board then wisely changed its mind, and the charter backers graciously dropped their plans.

And yes, there was racism involved as you could have read in a number of newspapers, including the NYT. Or as you can read above in this thread. I'm not sure why you hold that against the victims of the racism.

This program is fair and follows district guidelines on choice programs. It really is worth asking why all this extraneous stuff (Latin, high school courses, archaic languages, etc.), gets attached to MI. The answer is pretty clear (check the NYT).


Confused
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:17 pm
Confused, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:17 pm

We seem to be going around circles about Mandarin, language, business, jobs, etc. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion- thanks to this forum, we are able to discuss and share openly.
Hopefully by open and sincere discussion, we will achieve a better understanding.

Check out this link for an interesting article:

Web Link

P.S. I wish I can write this message in several different languages....


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Engineer,

What it gets at the heart of is that you're unfamiliar with the history of the district. SI has been criticized. MI has been criticized.

And, no, the board did not welcome MI. Four out of five of them came out against it. Only Camille Townsend was a consistent supporter of it and she was barely re-elected as a result. It's worth noting that she kept out any mention of her support of MI out of her campaign literature.

parent,

Re: charters--in order for an existing public school to turn into a charter, a majority of the parents and the staff have to approve it.

Honest truth is that if that happened, MI would be kicked out. It's a weight on the school and it belongs elsewhere.

Barb Mitchell switched because she liked Susan Charles song-and-dance about MI Ohlone.

It was only when PACE threatened a charter that the board caved on what continues to be a program that is not in the best interests of the district.

I realize that PACE's behavior during this debacle was pretty bad, so you need to rewrite history. But, sorry, I witnessed the whole thing and have no compunction about correcting your errors.

Confused,

I do read the news, but I also read more than the news. There are long-term issues in China and India that will affect long-term economic growth in those countries. I suggest you go beyond the front page and do a little more research yourself.

pamom,

The Ohlone Way is constructivist/project-based etc. That's the rationale for its existence. The deal with MI is that it would be part of the Ohlone Way. Only problem is that there is no precedent for teaching immersion Mandarin in this way. So you automatically have teachers with no experience teaching Mandarin this way. It really is an experiment.

Ohlone and Charles, from what I gather, kind of went with it because Callan was a proponent of it and was pretty much determined to dump a bunch of kids on the larger school sites. She was a bully.

The idiocy of this, of course, is that Ohlone, being in the middle of a block on a narrow neighborhood street is poorly situated for a large commuter school--a large chunk of its acreage is unusable as its a required fire road.

But it continues to be politically convenient for the district and the board to ignore these realities.

Kind of the same way they ignore the surfeit of studies that says huge schools are bad news for kids.


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Ohlonepar,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The board was lined up in favor of MI until they were threatened. It is to the credit of both the board and Charles that they got it right in the end.

As for behavior, it was the MI bashers who conducted themselves so poorly. Imagine getting the city written up in multiple papers for racism! Shocking.

The increase in students at Ohlone had nothing to do with MI--you are conflating two separate things. There is crowding all around, and your special pleading rings hollow.

And say what you will, the reality is here: China is a major power, politically and economically.


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 10:25 am
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 10:25 am

Engineer -

If I remember correctly, the Board was lined up AGAINST MI until threatened with a charter. The Board then felt that a Charter would cause more harm then the MI choice program. Lesser of two evils. (and no, MI is not evil).

Much of the MI bashing came because of the methods used by PACE, threatening a Charter, using donated money without revealing their source, etc. The racism charges in the papers sell papers.

You are right that the increase in students at Ohlone would have happened with our without MI - it is a huge campus. And China is a major power, but that still doesn't mean adding a new, inflexible choice program was a good decision for a basic-aid district. Especially with the upcoming educational cuts.

One big area of concern is the lack of flexibility for filling vacancies, not the case in a regular classroom or even with the Hoover or Ohlone choice programs. This is from the Board Packet and would apply to any immersion program:

"Vacancies would be filled in the following manner: Students who speak only English are able to enter the program in Kindergarten and first grade. Bilingual students with grade level language skills in both languages can enter at the appropriate grade level. MCIP staff would administer a test to determine Mandarin and English language levels." We don't have an issue yet, because the program is limited to k-2. How many kids do you think speak and write Mandarin and English at a 5th grade level?


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm

palo alto mom,

It's clear that you only followed the latter phase of that process. The board was leaning toward MI until threatened with reduced PIE donations. They buckled to that pressure and voted against MI and then changed their minds when they saw plans for a charter.

The MI bashing was around looong before there was any talk of a charter. In any case, I don't see how you justify the MI bashing based on working toward a charter, a method that is firmly rooted in law. As for the newspapers, I'll go out on a limb and guess that the NYT did not see a spike in readership that day. Further, it was not just the papers, but our board members who complained about the racist emails they were getting over this issue. And of course, that is not to mention the racism that was on view in these forums.

I don't think you followed the debate very closely.


for real?
Greater Miranda
on Nov 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm
for real?, Greater Miranda
on Nov 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

"Bilingual students with grade level language skills in both languages can enter at the appropriate grade level. "

This strikes me as an admission requirement with a very high correlation to race. Isn't that illegal for public school everywhere in the US nowadays?

How does the district get around this?




OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Engineer,

There was no "threat" of reduced PiE donations--no one went to the board the way Grace Mah did about filing a charter petition.

And the Board never brought up the possibility of reduced donations as a reason to oppose MI.

Barb Mitchell (who switched) was concerned about the program being exclusionary.

Dana Tom was concerned about the district trying to do too much ("stressed-out school district") and bumping the families who were already on Ohlone's waitlist.

Gail Price thought the whole thing was poorly thought out and not necessary.

All of the board was well aware that elementary-school foreign language instruction was not a priority with the district.

I was there and, again, I will call you on your attempts to recast history in a way that whitewashes PACE's aggressive maneuvering.

The racism you cite was something Grace Mah claimed without proof--I actually called her on it here and she squirmed away and quit posting. Her behavior as a public official was way off--I think she eventually figured that out.

Dana Tom said he'd gotten some unpleasant e-mails--it's quite possible.

HOWEVER--none of this plays into the reasons people publicly opposed and still oppose MI at Ohlone. Playing the race card--as you are doing--was and remains a convenient dodge by the PACE crowd to avoid acknowledging their strongarming of the board. It's a means of avoiding the discussion of objections to MI on their many, many merits.

I'd say it's shocking that you are still using this ugly and dishonest tactic.

You owe all of us an apology for it and your attempt to distort facts.

Ohlone, by the way, is not a "huge" campus. A large chunk of it is taken up by a fire road, which can't be used for other purposes. It's in the middle of a block with one access point--bad choice for a mega school. But if you look at the schematics--the school's usable space and playing areas are *already* densely occupied--on par with schools like Addison and Walter Hays.

The huge campus is actually Nixon--10 acres--but Stanford has a say there. (Lucky Nixon).

Ohlone was scheduled to expand to four strands before MI grabbed its spot there. If you want to talk about threats by the way--Charles knuckled under because Callan was threatening to push Ohlone to the Garland site, which doesn't have room for the Farm.

So, any other distortions you'd like me to correct? I'm quite patient that way.




Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2009 at 8:59 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Ohlonepar,

"There was no "threat" of reduced PiE donations" You clearly came to this issue late in the day if you truly believe that. There certainly were many threats. They were made publicly and in person to the board and repeated on this forum. You can call this aggressive maneuvering or blackmail or hardball--doesn't matter to me. The result was a switch of some votes. In citing the public reasons the board initially rejected MI, you seem politically naive. Did it occur to you that there were other reasons? Apparently not.

As for the racism, Dana Tom was not the only board member who said he'd gotten racist emails. So sorry, but it was the board that pointed out the racism, and it was evident on this forum as well. Above, someone made a filthy remark that used the C-word. That person's viewpoint is actually rather widespread here, though most people are too sophisticated to be so honest. So, yes, racism obviously played a big role. You deny that racism was involved and charge that the race card was played--that in itself is racist. So really, you owe us all an apology.

"huge" you're not reading carefully, not my post.

As the board made initial moves toward adopting MI, they made plans to put MI at Ohlone and expand it. When the strong-arm tactics resulted in a voting down MI, Ohlone vanilla got the expansion. So Ohlone was actually the one who grabbed the expansion, before the board changed its mind and gave it to Ohlone Mandarin.


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Engineer,

Unlike you, I don't have to believe or disbelieve--I was there, taking notes at the meeting where four out of the five board members came out against MI. I know what they said. It's a matter of public record.

You're making a claim for which you have no proof. It is one that suits your agenda--a revisionist history that seeks to justify PACE's ugly tactics. Basically, it's a classic case of a bully crying victim.

Thus your talk of unsourced, untraceable slurs. How convenient.

You know, one of the most racist things I saw online was from the pro-MI side of the debate. Does that make every MI supporter a racist? Or all the arguments in favor of MI racist?

Because that's what you're trying to argue--that you, in fact, are a racist because there are pro-MI racists.

But all your talk is really just an attempt at evasiveness.

Because you're not addressing the ongoing concerns about MI (and SI)--that they are a poor use of classroom space because they are inflexible as to later enrollment, that MI at Ohlone bumped the 70-plus families that were on Ohlone's own waitlist, that MI benefited a few students while the vast majority of elementary-school students in the district get no foreign language instruction.

You don't answer those points because you can't.

I remember Grace Mah claimed she was going to help get foreign language instruction for all kids in the district. Of course, she's done nothing. She's not even one of the MI parents who helps with the PTA's afterschool language program at Ohlone.

But, back to more facts. You are, of course, wrong about the timeline of events at Ohlone.

Ohlone was approved for a half-strand expansion. At that time, no school was indicated as a possible site for MI. The most likely sites were Barron Park and Escondido--as both actually had room. Barron Park parents led a revolt.

Don't believe me--go look at the online forums from the time period.

It was only after this that the MI/Ohlone mash-up was proposed.

That you're distorting the record is actually sadly and pathetically obvious. Why? Because the original program proposed had nothing to do with Ohlone-style education--that was the compromise.

Honestly, I don't know why you bother to lie about something when there's such an easily accessible record of events.



Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 8:08 am
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 8:08 am

Ohlonepar,

Exactly as I said: You joined the discussion late and so are unaware of the history. It's nice that you came to a meeting late in the process, but you missed most of the events. You are also patently unaware of the timeline of events at Ohlone.

As for the talk of "unsourced, untraceable slurs," you really need to take that up with the board members who publicly reported them. In any case, it's hard to know what your point is. A slur is, indeed, a slur, whether "sourced" or "traced." Silly! Racism played a big role in the MI bashing movement. (It is also a typically racist move to call the victims of racism racist.) Why not simply accept the facts? These were observed by many people. Even now, on this very thread, we get the C word and your slightly more subtle racism....

Your tactic seems to be to undermine the possibility that racism exists. It's important to call out racism when we see it, so don't think I won't point it out when I see it.


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 10:08 am
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 10:08 am

engineer,

Uh-hunh. You bring up references to the "C" word and then fret about how it's in the thread. By the way, if the "C" word is the usual "C" word it's sexist, not racist. Personally, I never saw it used here--but slurs are edited out on a regular basis.

Since the Ohlone expansion was approved well ahead of MI being approved, your claims are demonstrably false.

As I pointed out, the single most racist thing I saw online during the MI clash was from a pro-MIer and in support of MI. That does not mean all MIers are racists or all arguments supporting MI are racist.

The converse is also true. So, basic logical flaw in your approach here--jabbering on about unsourced allegations of racist slurs has nothing to do with the validity of the arguments against Mandarin Immersion.

Believing that all kids in the district should have access to foreign language is not racist.

Believing that schools should not be overcrowded is not racist.

Believing that immersion classes are a poor use of limited classroom space because they can't compensate for attrition past first grade is not racist.

Believing that a school with a long wait list should not cut back its own expansion in favor of another group is not racist.

Believing that PACE used overly aggressive tactics to get its way is not racist.

Okay--now it's your turn--demonstrate how any of those positions is racist. Use logic.

Facts instead of unsourced allegations would also be nice. I, for instance, used facts and specifics to outline the different views of the board members at different points to support my comments.

You should try it--facts are fun.


Confused
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:35 am
Confused, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:35 am

Another interesting article:

Web Link

Why not give your child a competitive advantage? others are!!


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Ohlonepar,

Use your imagination. The context here is Chinese Americans, so which C word do you think the poster used? Get a clue.

"Since the Ohlone expansion was approved well ahead of MI being approved, your claims are demonstrably false." Er, again you clearly didn't follow the debate from early on. It was approved right after MI was initially rejected. The plan for placing MI at Ohlone had been in the works for some time.

As for racism, your charges are silly. It's clear it played a big role for the anti-MI camp, as can be seen in many objective facts. Are you suggesting it played a large role for the MI camp? Care to back that up?

The rest of your argument is a strawman.

"Believing that PACE used overly aggressive tactics to get its way is not racist." Well actually, it is, because those making this claim attributed certain personal characteristics to an entire race of people.

As for the other me-first arguments, ho hum. They seem overly aggressive (and selfish) to me.


palo alto mom
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm
palo alto mom, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

OhlonePar - trying to convince Engineer of anything is a loosing battle. Use your often very wise words elsewhere. Those who have read these posts over time know what happened.

Engineer - last time I checked, China was a country, not a dirty word, so I'm confused. Maybe I missed something in a post.

Racism -threatening to start a charter when you don't get your way and using very-non transparent funds to finance your "campaign" is not an attribute of any race of people. I think PACE overly aggressive because they wanted their way, again not an attribute of any particular race.

Some of the concerns which were over ridden by the Charter threat were the district not needing a new choice program, it not being part of our Strategic Plan, reducing flexibility in the classroom, etc.

Yes, there was some racism in past post, but I don't think the majority of the people opposing MI did so because they don't like China or Chinese people.



OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Engineer,

No, MI had not been planned to be at Ohlone--except, apparently, in PACE meetings. I'm glad that you now acknowledge that, yes, the board did initially reject MI. Now, you just have to acknowledge why they did so. Fortunately, it's a matter of public record.

In fact, even an expansion to four strands at Ohlone required a board waiver--so, no, your claim is false on many, many levels.

"As for racism your charges are silly." Yes, that's my point. I simply flipped your argument to point out its basic fallacy. Got a clue yet about just how idiotic your charges look to the rest of us now?

As for PACE--maybe you didn't notice, but the members were of more than one ethnicity. Interesting, though, that *you* see PACE as representing a particular ethnic group--the separatist elements of MI are problematic. This is why Barb Mitchell liked the Ohlone/MI mash-up--she thought Susan Charles and Ohlone would make sure the program's students engaged with the rest of the school. Doesn't really work that way, but that was the idea.

"Strawman"? Do you even know how to use the term correctly? It does not appear so. The objections to MI that I've listed were made publicly and repeatedly by many people. School-board members mentioned them.

You claim that the objections to MI were racist. I'm listing some of the main reasons people objected to MI--if those objections are not racist, your claim that those who object to MI did so on racist grounds is demonstrably false.

You do know, by the way, that several people with a Chinese ethnic background objected to MI at Ohlone? Some were Ohlone parents who felt it was a bad fit for the school. Some were people who felt that PACE had handled the issue in an antagonistic way. Others liked the idea of public schools being a place where their kids could get along with a diverse group of kids, while Chinese school on weekends was a great place to mingle with other Chinese families.

You really need to quit stereotyping people.




Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Ohlonepar,

Wow, reading comprehension issues. No, I said nothing about pace meetings. I just pointed out the real timeline and that the board did initially lean toward MI before being threatened by the anti-MI camp. Fortunately, the board had a chance to reconsider that decision.

""As for racism your charges are silly." Yes, that's my point." Oh good, you were arguing in bad faith. So you don't really believe that the MI camp was racist. Glad that's clear. Now you need to take the next step, and see how your denials look to, well to reasonable people in this country, including board members, national and regional newspapers, and many locals. I'm just pointing out to you that many people saw the racism. The hot denials from you and others are very revealing.

"Interesting, though, that *you* see PACE as representing a particular ethnic group." Er, again a reading comprehension on your part. The fact that others attacked PACE in racist terms and the fact that I pointed this out do not mean that *I* think pace represents a particular race. I have no idea of its ethnic make-up, though I would guess that it includes some who are of Chinese decent and some who are not.

"the separatist elements of MI are problematic" What on earth do you mean by this? I hope it is not another racial slur dressed in vague language.

""Strawman"?" Oh my goodness, do I have to spell out the meaning of each word? You created an argument ("Racism was the only publicly-stated reason given for opposing MI"), falsely attributed it to me, and then attacked it. You're still stamping your little foot on that strawman. Check wikipedia--I'm sure they define it for you.

It is true that a number of publicly stated reasons against MI did not invoke race. I just don't give weight to all that selfish "me-first" stuff. In any case, that has nothing to do with the issue of how much racism motivated the MI bashing.

You seem very surprised that "that several people with a Chinese ethnic background objected to MI at Ohlone." Do you think that they are somehow controlled, told to march in lockstep with their ethnic brothers? Wow, I don't even know where that's coming from, but it's worthwhile asking yourself how you came to believe these things. You should get out more--you would find that the "Chinese ethnic" community is quite diverse in many ways.


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Engineer
Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm
Engineer, Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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