News

Gunn students slam school leaders on zero period

Board decides to fold zero period into future discussion on new bell schedule

A large group of impassioned Gunn High School students turned out to Tuesday's board meeting to deliver a fierce condemnation of the superintendent's recent decision to ban academic classes during zero period and demand an equal seat at their school's decision-making table.

One after another, almost 20 students – interspersed with several Gunn teachers – stepped to the podium to address the very school leaders they said they feel disenfranchised by.

Some students currently enrolled in zero period explained how the optional early morning class has helped to reduce their stress by giving them more flexibility in their schedules and increased the amount of sleep they get. Several other students presented results from surveys they've conducted over the last few weeks that indicate strong student support for keeping zero period.

Students and teachers demanded that the decision be reversed, which Superintendent Max McGee later said he will not do. But all students expressed a deep concern, regardless of the zero-period question, that their voices have not been genuinely heard on issues that directly affect their lives.

"It is not just the act of talking to us and hearing us, it is the act of actually taking into consideration what we have said," student Michelle Zhang told the board and McGee.

Junior Ben Lee echoed Zhang's sentiments.

"Zero period is not the true issue at stake today. It is student choice. It is student voice. It is the role of the student body in determining their own education," he said.

Sitting at the dais next to McGee, Gunn's student board representative Rose Weinmann said students were disappointed and dismayed that they were not given the opportunity to fully discuss zero period at a board meeting, as had been promised.

Zero period had been placed on the April 21 agenda after board member Ken Dauber raised the issue more than a month ago, but after McGee issued his decision over spring break, it was removed. McGee told the Weekly in an interview last week that it was not "up for debate or discussion" and he expected there to be time and space to discuss related issues when a Gunn committee comes to the board with recommendations for a new bell schedule in May.

Weinmann and other students said that this is having the adverse effect that the decision was supposed to.

"Although well-intentioned, this is a bit of misguided paternalism that has led to a decision being made that limits students' options," Weinmann said. "Limiting our options does not solve the stress problem. It only adds to our stress."

The decision to eliminate academic classes during zero period was based on recommendations from numerous health professionals that the school day start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. About 300 students currently enrolled in zero period, which is optional, are in both academic classes and physical education that start at 7:20 a.m.

Many students offered alternatives that they see as more effective ways to reduce academic stress at Gunn, including working to prevent test and project stacking, which consistently turn up in student surveys as a top stressor, and was even one of the board's annual high-level focused goals several years ago.

A Gunn junior said Tuesday that he had six tests on the day before spring break began while another recounted the stress she feels when she has to prioritize which subjects to study for because she has too many tests on one day.

Zhang asked for more education on stress management, noting that "it is more important to focus on how to manage stress because it can't be eliminated as a whole."

One parent also urged the board to better enforce the districtwide homework policy, which mandates the amount of homework students at each grade are supposed to have each night, though it doesn't apply to Advanced Placement (AP) and honors classes.

Students implored the board and the superintendent to do better by them in the future, particularly in the current process of developing a new bell schedule for the school. The Creative Scheduling Committee, on which several students are serving, is in the midst of coming up with a set of recommendations that ultimately must come to the board for a final stamp of approval.

McGee, who repeatedly apologized to the students Tuesday, stressed that a new block schedule will solve many of the problems that students feel zero period currently fixes, such as allowing student-athletes to have a prep period at the end of the day so they miss less class if they have to leave early and allowing for more flexible schedules in general.

"We can do better. We will do better," McGee said. "Let's figure out how to work together to get a better schedule for next year that gives students meaningful choice, that includes students in the decision-making, that opens up a lot more possibilities than we currently have even without zero period as an academic choice in the schedule."

Though the board could not respond to the students, who spoke during open forum, board member Camille Townsend said she was concerned about the lack of a transparent, open board discussion on zero period. The board discussed the issue at the end of Tuesday night during board operations, with Townsend requesting that zero period come back to the board agenda as a stand-alone informational item.

"It's time to come back and make good on our promise that we're going to have a conversation about this," Townsend said.

The board and McGee ultimately decided that an informational report on zero period will be folded into the meeting at which Gunn's Creative Scheduling Committee makes its recommendations, which is slated to be May 12.

Many students pointed to a recent report from a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) visiting committee, which identified both areas of strength and weakness at Gunn after a multi-day visit that included meetings with students, faculty and staff and observation of classes. The committee's No. 2 area for improvement reads: "Ensure inclusion of a strong student voice on schoolwide decisions, including such items as zero period, AP course offerings, block scheduling and other initiatives."

"This isn't doomsday," one student said. "This isn't the end of an active discussion, but you need to include us in it and you need to listen."

Comments

66 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

This decision is made with total disregard for Gunn students. It is disrespectful to make a decision over spring break, and not even allowing it to be discussed/voted by board and student body.


At Gunn, students HAS NO VOICE. PERIOD.


97 people like this
Posted by Gunn '15
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

I would have to agree with the students. I personally hate getting up early, which is why I don't take zero period, but my other friends take zero period currently and it works out very well for them.

Also, I absolutely detest test stacking. The week before the third quarter end, I had three tests, an essay, and a project due all on Friday. Now, why don't we start with that - having better inter-teacher-communication and not piling all the homework onto the same due date.

And hey, parents. How about you all try to change yourselves as well rather than trying to blame everything on the school. Just fixing the school won't do anything.


36 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:10 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

"A Gunn junior said Tuesday that he had six tests on the day before spring break "

This is terrible. How is a kid supposed to do their best work on 6 simultaneous tests?

Okay - why is this happening? Let me see...Let me see....Oh - I know! Because the teachers refuse to coordinate on this stuff. How would such coordination happen? Maybe a common calendar they can all view. It would look a lot like Schoology.

Which the Union opposes:

Web Link

Now we are starting to see where the mismanagement originates in our schools. The union is opposed to the very tools that would help our students manage the giant pile of work that the teachers create.

Fix that Max.


95 people like this
Posted by Gunn '15
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:16 am

Also, I feel bad for Mr. McGee. He seems a bit lost, as if he's wondering whether he should listen to the students or the parents and other adults in Palo Alto. Of course, since everyone keeps harping on him about removing zero period, especially on online forums like this, he really has no choice but to follow whatever they want him to do, even if the students' voices are ignored.

In the meantime, let me say that Ken Dauber is a hypocrite.

And to those of you who aren't affiliated with Gunn High School who are thinking about commenting on this article - don't think you understand Gunn. Gunn is different from Paly, different from Cupertino or whatever other school, and unless you have been to classes and seen what Gunn is like, I don't think people outside of our community should be trying to decide on issues that affect us and not them. Thank you.


8 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:27 am

I don't think McGee really listens to what people say on these forums, or he would have worked on rebuilding trust and communication in this district as his top priority when he arrived.

Then you would probably feel like you had a better opportunity for dialog, and McGee would be a lot less lost as he would have replaced most of his immediate underlings who are useless and working against him and he doesn't even realize it.


72 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:50 am

This is not interesting. Let me summarize the article.

Over 100 doctors and specialists, including the district's own consulting Psychiatrist, Dr. Shashank Joshi, an eminent professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford, and Dr. Meg Durbin, and the ENTIRE PAMF peds department, and 100 other doctors and professors have all said that zero period is a suicide risk and should be eliminated.

Out of the 13,000 students in the district, 20 of them marched down to the school board and demanded that Dr. McGee, Ken Dauber, and the rest of the board disregard those 100 doctors and do what they want because they want it. Some of their comments were that "they know what is best for themselves," and that they should get to choose and decide. They articulated a radical libertarian and social Darwinist theory that no sane administrator could possibly adopt.

Every parent of adolescents felt for McGee and Dauber -- we have all been on the receiving end of tirades like that: I want to go to the party in this dress! It's my body! I know what's best for myself! You are so unfair! Why aren't you listening! You are a dictator! You don't listen." McGee showed real character and also some parenting experience in patiently listening and saying that the decision is not going to change but he was still willing to listen. Good on McGee and Dauber for standing by patiently and listening but not reopening the question.

Not everything an adolescent feels is important is actually important. This will pass.

What was not so understandable and was far far far more worrisome was the student who said that she was there becasue she was urged behind the scenes by her teachers to speak up on their behalf. That disgusted me and is just one more reason that the PAEA has to be brought under control.

They do not have the interests of our students at heart and this child is being urged on and manipulated by adults who have tenure and certainly know that they are not "silenced". These kids are just being used by PAEA as human shields.

Until PAEA is under control we cannot in good conscience vote for Measure A. It is just a giveaway to the union.

[Portion removed.]


46 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:52 am

The combination of some rabid vocal people running on feeling not knowledge, plus a political desire to just do SOMETHING even though there's not a shred of rational evidence of any connection to the problem, against common sense. There's more "critical thinking" in the high schoolers than the grownups. Maybe it was a zero period class.


48 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:56 am

I feel like these kids are mistaking a decision not going their way with not having a voice. The tumblr with all the hands over the mouth, thus, is just a little bit melodramatic. It seems to me that their opinions were well known, and heard, but that the Superintendent just made a decision that they don't agree with. I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but hey, get used to it kids. That's life.

I mean really, their classmates are killing themselves in shocking numbers - even if eliminating zero period doesn't solve the problem (it probably won't) the administration can't do nothing.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:05 am

@ Paul

"even if eliminating zero period doesn't solve the problem (it probably won't) the administration can't do nothing."

Precisely.


82 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:29 am


@RightNow
Please listen to last nights board meeting when it comes out. This article doesn't show the caring, well spoken, mature, informative and sometimes humerus speeches these kids did. Their goal was to be extremely respectful of the board, the supt., and the parents but to show how much they CARE. They did a GREAT job at that. And they weren't considered in the decision. It WAS made without their voice. Even Dr. McGee said that several times.

I am not pleased with Mr. Dauber. He seems to be against anything about Gunn. Zero period has not 'killed' any of our students. I agree with the AAP that sleep is important for teenagers (and even the adults could be better at sleep). I agree with the AAP that starting school after 8:30am lends to students getting more sleep. And I agree with the AAP that says 'on average teenagers' and 'most teenagers', not all. Gunn complied 100% with the AAP's reccommendation two years ago long before the recommendation came out. 100% of Gunn students can start at 8:25am. Even Dr. Max McGee stated that he has gotten up at 5:50am most of his life. And he is a caring, well articulated, intelligent leader for PAUSD. It was obvious that McGee HAD to make this decision but didn't believe in it.

But last nights board meeting was special. The kids came together for a very important cause. I think Denise Herrmann was proud of these students. I think most of the board and McGee was proud of these students. Their parents were proud.

My son did say that this topic was discussed with the class and teacher in several of his classes and that he has participated in several surveys. Clearly the students are talking and taking action. I'm so proud of them


19 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:34 am

Most--if not all--of that data is in regard to mandatory early starts for entire schools and the lack of sleep that engenders, not optional early start for those who choose to do it. The choice factor here is a very big difference. The student surveys (which aren't scientific, but better than any data any on the other side have provided) show that the zero-period show that zero-period students on average get more sleep than their non-zero-period peers.

The speaker last night who praised the decision as making a real difference on the ground is myopic. The fraction of students at Gunn who take zero period is fairly small, and most of them like it. So the only facts on the ground that are changing is that a relatively small number of students can't do something anymore that was really working for them.

For the vast majority of kids, at Gunn, this doesn't make any difference whatsoever.


54 people like this
Posted by A Gunn Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:38 am

I'm very impressed that our superintendent is willing to take decisive action in improving the lot of students in this district. Clearly, this end run around the later start time at Gunn was the result of the unhealthy pressure that students are under. The students who spoke up for zero period academic classes are adolescents and do not know what is best for the most students. This is why we employ adults to make these decisions. While I respect them for speaking out, it is clear that students here need the adults to take decisive action to protect them from their own drive to overdo the race to nowhere. [Portion removed.] Thank you Principal Herrmann and Superintendent McGee.


32 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:44 am

How anyone can assert that these students were not listened to is beyond me. They have written editorials, met with board members (including Dauber repeatedly), emailed with board members, conducted and submitted surveys and spoken for hours (more than 6 hours total) at multiple board meetings.

Dr. McGee has been to Gunn to meet with students twice, bringing Drs. Joshi, Durbin, and Heneghan with him. He was there that very day. The idea that no one has "listened" to these students is just a baldfaced lie. They have been listened to.

What they haven't been is successful in their goal. Part of the reason for that is that they set a goal that was unrealistic and then seeing the fact that they were not prevailing did not change their goal to one more acceptable. They did not build compromise or negotiate. They demanded.

They could have negotiated for an end to test and project stacking or for a concession for athlete scheduling.

They are only teenagers so they are not yet in terms of brain development able to think or act outside the range of "give me" -- that's age appropriate for young adolescents. OK. But where are their teachers in this?

[Portion removed.] The teachers for their own reasons encouraged this hard-line rebellion. They fanned the flames for their own reasons. They encouraged the idea that the kids are being squelched when they aren't.

The teachers do not want direction from Denise Herrmann. The union hates her and if you need verification of that fact, take a look at their [portion removed] grievance against her. They don't want direction from her or from Max or from anyone. [Portion removed.]


50 people like this
Posted by DD
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:50 am

@Paul, very well said. Dr. McGee, please stand firm. Your decision is sensible and should stand. Thank you for caring about our kids!


52 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

I will take this chance to lay out the students side on this issue:
1) THERE IS NO RESERCH ON ZERO PERIOD
2) we have strong survey evidence put together by our AP statistics class that shows stress is reduced with zero period
3) Even Dr. Durban has told our student government that the studies are not conclusive
4) The medical professionals do not know Gunn. We had two doctors come and speak to the student body and they lectured us on how taking eight classes with zero period is bad. I think this is repressive of how misinformed the signers of that letter were. [Portion removed.]


54 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:07 am



"The students who spoke up for zero period academic classes are adolescents and do not know what is best for the most students."

Clearly you are not a parent or not a parent of these students.


27 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:11 am

It's interesting how the district can move forward with changing the school schedule (the are also looking at going to block schedules as early as next year), yet they fail to address the enforcement of the homework policy that was passed years ago and shy away from doing anything that would cause the least bit of discomfort to the teachers.(e.g. using Schoology)
It's also sad to see that more teachers are not independently standing up for the students and demanding more of themselves. Zero period affects a small portion of the school, but there are many other things that can be done to benefit a much larger percentage of students in the district.


62 people like this
Posted by Talked to AFTER the fact
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

What many of you do not understand is that Mr. McGee (whom I respect but is being severely pressured) and the doctors came to speak TO the students AFTER the decision had already been decreed. This is far different than Listening in advance.

To explain my perspective, I am the parent of a Gunn sophomore, not currently enrolled in Zero Period, but was last year. I WAS at the meeting last night. And I know many of he students and families involved.
Those students were not whining or throwing a temper tantrum about not getting their way. They were exibiting exactly the kind of high level, critical thinking and communication skills that we want our students to have and utilize. Even those on the other side of the issue should be PROUD of these high schoolers.

The fact is that a decision was made to remove options from a small group of hard working students to satisfy the loud "Something has to change" crowd. This decision does not in any way improve anything for the majority of high school students. In fact, the message that ALL Gunn students received loud and clear is "what you think and want doesn't matter." Even students who do not themselves care about zero period are feeling disenfranchised by the handling of this decision.


16 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:22 am

Listening to the students after the decision has been made is a world apart from listening to them after the decision has been made.

The continuing claims that students take zero period as a way to boost their academic profile, or to compete in any way with their peers needs to stop right now. It just doesn't happen.

I fully support later start times, and think the PAEA needs some serious reform, but this decision is separate from all those.

The posters above saying that the teachers are manipulating the students for their own ends are as wrong as those who were accusing the board of trading zero period for measure A support.


27 people like this
Posted by Another Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:24 am

Imagine a place where parents and students trust the professionals who teach, coach and run the schools they attend...

Just a thought...


24 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

Also, zero period is optional. Optional, optional. Students cannot use it to get ahead of their peers, so its not even one of those optional things that all the smart kids do.

So what is best "for most students" is completely irrelevant here. Zero period is simply a tool that is useful for some, not useful for others, but no one has to use.

So those opposed to it need to stop talking in terms of generalities and "all students", and start talking about how it affects just those who choose to use it.


13 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

Sleep sleep sweet sleep such important thing, for esp the teenagers!!!!!

You look at high schools in different states just to compare and contrast. Quite a lot of High schools around the country start at 9:00 AM and no zero hour. This gives high school teens to relax and get good sleep. Elementary and High school are almost similar where as Middle school kids do manage with 8- 8 1/2 hours sleep.

Sleep deprived kids are unhealthy kids. Focus on sleep first, grades next and zero hour next to never.

I think teachers should also co-ordinate how much work load each combination (of classes) of student is getting each week.

All in all it takes a village to live a healthy life. All need to do brain storming and come-up with right solution. I think highest priority should be given to doctors' and psychologists' suggestions.

Wake-up or should I say stay in bed and get some more sleep.


10 people like this
Posted by PA denizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

Can we please disconnect the discussion about Measure A with the dissatisfaction with the administration in Churchill, Gunn and PAEA? It's true that Measure A funds teachers in the school district and it is also true that the funds are fungible, but for the small fraction of affected students who are being discussed here, does it makes logical sense to penalize the rest of the district (meaning all of the other elementary/middle/secondary students and teachers)? And penalize it will because if the measure A does not pass this year, passage next year is even dicier and then the money is gone (and so are the teachers).


31 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:29 am

As a close follower of the zero period debate over the past month, this needs to be said again: "I feel like these kids are mistaking a decision not going their way with not having a voice."

We heard you. We don't agree with you.

Thanks you Max McGee for making a decision.

Thank you Ken Dauber for putting some sunshine on this zero-period issue, and tee-ing it up.


21 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:34 am

Joyce:

You do know that on average zero-period takers get a half-hour more sleep than non-takers? You do know that no one who doesn't function well in the morning has to take zero period?

You do know that zero period is optional?

Baron Park Dad:

You do realize that the decision was both made and declared irrevocable _before_ getting input from the students?


8 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:36 am

Six tests on the same day? I have a question about that. Presumably the student takes PE and the other 6 classes are electives and core subjects. That means that every class gave a test? Do classes like choir, drama, cooking, band, really give big tests that need plenty of study?

Is this really happening?


33 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:46 am

@ My thoughts:
There is no easy solution to this. Using Schoology would not fix this. Why? Because after freshman and sophomore year, students are not taking the same classes - a good example would be the overlap between AP Art History and AP Chemistry is generally fewer than 5 students of about 90 taking AP Chem (this is an estimate from Paly. I don't know about Gunn). It's impossible to ensure no stacks stack between classes sheerly because so many students are taking so many classes. It's the same reason that even though College Board tries, AP tests are offered every year and though they try to ensure tests don't overlap, but inevitably some do.
I've found some success with chatting with teachers about my situation and being able to move tests (either take them earlier or later). But this is an experience I had at Paly, not Gunn, and I know for a fact the ability to move tests varies greatly teacher to teacher. But this makes more sense because the onus is on the student to find out whether their schedule is challenging, not the teacher. After all, how is the teacher to know whether 4 tests isn't too challenging for a student but 5 is?

@RightNow: Yes. 20 students went to the meeting - how many normally go (it's on a school night!) to listen to debates WHEN THEY KNOW THEIR OPINIONS WILL NOT BE LISTENED TO? I wonder how many would actually support late start -- but we don't know, do we, because the district won't even survey them. Despite your beliefs, teenagers are not pathetic beings incapable of logical thought that need to be instructed by the oh-so-holy and always correct adults. They have a place in this discussion.
I can't believe you think they're being listened to - you seriously think they're throwing a temper tantrum because they're teenagers, not reasonably becoming upset when someone is completely ignoring everything they say? When they say "listening" I believe they mean actively thinking about what is being said, not just hearing noise and moving on with your merry day (which is exactly what's happening now). The district isn't obviously isn't listening, or they would have done a survey like they did on measures like this in the past.

Link to the Paly Voice story which includes many more student quotes:
Web Link


32 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

Joyce,
I agree that sleep is good, in fact no one disagrees with that. But no doctor or community member can possibly have the knowledge to say they know what is best for every student. You do not know our lives, our schedules and our families. Let us decide based on our own lives decide what is the best way for us to get sleep. No two students are the same and it is naive to pretend you know what is best for every individual student. Do you really think you know my life better than my parents and I do ? Let us chose what is best for us.


20 people like this
Posted by Gunnparent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:56 am

Stay strong Max. If you back down now you jeopardize the new bell schedule at Gunn. You made a good decision, don't let the kids bully you into changing it. Camille Townsend, it's time for you to go. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:58 am


You kind of wonder if a schedule that made Math tests on a Monday, Science tests on a Tuesday, English tests on a Wednesday, Social Studies on a Thursday, and Language on a Friday. or something like this Then the students would usually get one test a day and at most two tests if they have two math classes. Better than six.


12 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:58 am

45 students at Gunn out of the 200 in zero period are taking 8 or more classes according to Mr. Jakubowsky.

Here's his own document showing it: Web Link

You have been misinformed, probably purposely, by teachers who are using you and making fools of you. Nearly a quarter of students in zero period are in fact in 8 or more classes -- a few are even in 9 or 10 classes.

[Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:01 pm


@Gunnparent

The kids WEREN'T bullying. Watch the video


13 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm

@ A Gunn Parent "I'm very impressed that our superintendent is willing to take decisive action in improving the lot of students in this district."

I don't understand this statement. How does this action improve the lot of my student who has no interest in taking zero period classes, but strongly believes the option should be there for his friends. My student still has morning practice, which starts a lot earlier than zero period class, so this did NOTHING for my student.

How does this improve the lot of a student who plays sports and has to miss class multiple times each week? I still cannot understand how people think this is going to "solve" any problem. I would like to see a statement that explains what this actually solves, i.e. how does this action reduce stress for the Gunn Student Body? This just creates more.

Last night it was suggested by a Board member that we look to neighboring schools to see how they deal with the problems that the students were talking about, such as missing class for sports, or wanting a prep in their day. Well, Mountain View High, Los Altos High and Menlo Atherton all deal with it by offering an optional Zero period....


17 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C: "the onus is on the student to find out whether their schedule is challenging, not the teacher"


That is just for lack of trying.

For example, I could think of numerous ways to HELP alleviate the problem. Your reasoning seems to imply that lacking a perfect solution (like the AP problem) means we should not do anything...

But many things could be done to alleviate MOST of the problem:

- department test days. Each department gets certain days on which to test.

- teacher test days. Each teacher gets certain days on which to test.
(based on last digit of SSN, or last letter of first name, or any other hash table function)

- Test market. Teachers have to "buy" test days. You get so many credits, and the school issues only so many test days. Buy the cheap ones.

- You can even spread test days out over a 2 week period, so that students don't get slammed by too many tests back-to-back

Combine some ideas: Math dept. Only gets one test day every 2 weeks. If they miss it, then they have to wait 2 weeks. This doesn't mean they have to stop teaching, they just postpone the evaluating/ranking/sorting fetish.


There are probably other ways as well. It's called innovation. What we have is a crisis of imagination in this district. Everyone is so locked into defending current worst-practices and battling over any task that might require the slightest change that they forget to innovate. We don't imagine how to make something better, because we are busy fighting over how to keep what we have. But what we have isn't working.

As for Schoology - having a common calendar helps the student experience. The student can go to ONE location and find all they need to know about schoolwork due. ONE calendar.

I think many of the adults in the school have absolutely no idea how poorly constructed the student experience is within our schools. It is absolutely abysmal. There is NO coordination among the teachers to standardize on assignments, administration of homework, organization of work, nothing. Every class is like attending a different school. There is no uniformity at all, and it is very disruptive to kids challenged with organization.

This comes about from the attitude that teachers don't have to organize, standardize, or make any consistent experiences between classes. The unwillingness to make a safe place for kids, a consistent, supportive place belies an underlying contempt for the students and community. This attitude is directly rooted in the Union perspective that there should be NO management input to teachers. They view any management as interference, and an attack on teachers job protection. Provincial and outdated; it is surely harming our children.


17 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:05 pm

As the parent of 3 current and recent high schoolers, I challenge the correlation between starting school later and getting more sleep. One does not necessarily lead to the other. If a student has 18 hours of school and other activities per day (as many high schoolers do), then it doesn't matter what time school starts: They will still get only 6 hours of sleep. Shifting school start times later in the day can, in fact, lead to less sleep if it means more time in traffic, or more time making up work for missed classes (ie for athletes), or for early risers, an unhelpful block of time in the morning. What does help students get more sleep is less schoolwork and fewer activities. The school should concentrate on "less schoolwork," and parents should focus on "fewer activities" and "more sleep." And teens can be taught and encouraged to choose classes/activities/schedules carefully and healthfully.


1 person likes this
Posted by How to view meeting rebroadcast
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Does anyone know HOW to view the board meetings after the fact?
I tried going to the PAUSD website, but the links there lead to archives from 2014 and older.
How do you access footage from more recent meetings?
Thanks for your help!


11 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

"45 students at Gunn out of the 200 in zero period are taking 8 or more classes according to Mr. Jakubowsky."

This is because of music classes that require students to be enrolled in multiple classes of music for certain "band" or "orchestra" ensembles. This is true at Paly as well.

They are not taking 8 academic classes.


7 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

For proposals deeply consequential for students' sleep, please look over the plan of "Save the 2,008"--whose solutions would free students from overwork, and from the nightly tossing and turning caused by cheating.

Consider signing our "Open Letter to the School Board and the Superintendent," at:

www.savethe2008.com


5 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm


It's not out yet but here is the link I use:

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent too
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:18 pm

"45 students at Gunn out of the 200 in zero period are taking 8 or more classes according to Mr. Jakubowsky."

Taking 8 classes has to be approved by the administration. If these kids are taking academic subjects, then that is the fault of the administration, which was allowing that to happen. As far as I know, 8 academic classes is not allowed.

Zero period was for being able to adjust your schedule, not take on more classes. That was the context within which students were discussing it. Don't conflate the two issues.


10 people like this
Posted by students will be fine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

"The fraction of students at Gunn who take zero period is fairly small"
"Zero period is simply a tool that is useful for some, not useful for others, but no one has to use."

Not sure I understand the issue if Gunn did not have zero period a few years ago and only a small group uses is now why is it needed. Gunn students got into many of the same universities without zero period as they do now with zero period. It seems appropriate to focus on issues and programs that serve the entire Gunn community rather than a small group that will not be injured without the zerp period. It might be more helpful to teach the students how to balance their schedule and extra programs within the set day that works for the majority.

It is refreshing to see the administration make decisions and not bend to the pressure of the community. Administrators are hired to lead and they need to be given the right to lead.


32 people like this
Posted by Some respect for our teens
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm


to @ #RightNow
You are very strongly opinionated about matters at Gunn High School, but seem very poorly informed about the realities of the school.

Classes such as "Jazz Ens" or "Adv Vocal" are not academic classes. They are exactly the kinds of enriching, 'follow your passions', 'do the things you love', 'don't just focus on your grades' kinds of experiences we want our children to have, if they wish. These do not count within 7 academic classes.

Having zero period as an option gave students who chose it an additional way to control their own schedule and lives to include the pursuit of arts they love.


41 people like this
Posted by Some respect for our teens
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I have been listening to Gunn HS students chatting for months now.
Many of them are feeling like their school (which most of them are proud of) is under attack by outside forces. By extension, the students themselves are feeling attacked.

I would ask the community, particularly those who do not truly have experience with the ins and outs of the high school, to be very careful about how much you want to FIX the school. The strident voices for 'change now' who are unwilling to listen to the actual students are certainly increasing the stress of our teens.


21 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm

#RightNow:

I spent a few minutes at your link. Of the 46 students taking eight or more classes:

- 28 are enrolled in PE.

The change would have had no effect on them whatever, except that they would have to have scheduled zero period PE instead of whatever class they currently have.

- 36 are enrolled in arts classes like concert choir and band. These are worthy classes and pursuits, but they are not academic classes. Many of these are _also_ enrolled in PE, which means that their academic load isn't even 7 classes.

- 5 are enrolled in Living Skills.

- 2 are Teaching assistants, which also shows up as a class, but is more like a job than a class.

So, no, kids aren't using this to get ahead or to compete with each other. Most are doing it to pursue things _besides_ academics.

As near as I can tell, only three have eight or more full academic classes. I know nothing about these students, but this is surely not an epidemic.


33 people like this
Posted by gunn student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:37 pm

To the commenter who wrote: "45 students at Gunn out of the 200 in zero period are taking 8 or more classes according to Mr. Jakubowsky"

I am one of those 45 students; I am currently enrolled in a zero period, and I am taking 8 classes. However, I am NOT taking 8 academic classes or using zero period to get an academic edge- in fact, my 8th class is Stage Tech, an after school class that only meets once a week and has no homework. In addition, I am taking Art and PE.

While your statistic may seem impressive, I'd like to point out how it overlooks people like me and generalizes those 44 other students.


43 people like this
Posted by Gunn Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:58 pm

I listened to the meeting last night. I thought the students were well-spoken. For the most part, their comments were fact-based, articulate, and thoughtful. While they expressed frustration about not feeling heard, they were very polite. Dr. McGee graciously acknowledged this several times. One student presented a petition signed by 791 students (signatures were collected over just by four students over only four school days, she said).

These young people did not "slam" the district. In fact, they made comments expressing that they appreciate efforts being made to reduce stress, but they felt this particular measure would have the opposite effect, reducing flexibility for time management by students who prefer the zero period option.

They presented surveys of students and a petition. They made clear arguments against the Superintendent's interpretation of existing studies (most of which address mandatory bell times, not optional early classes, and most of the studies acknowledge that some percentage of students are early risers who do their best work in the morning.) These are points which Dr. McGee did not address in his comments, though I hope he will. Students pointed out that only 15% of Gunn students currently make use of zero period. Most, who want or need to, are enjoying the later start time.

The district has done some good things:

--They put a limit on the number of classes kids can sign up for.
--They now require kids to outline a time management plan (which includes time for school, sleep, family and friends time, homework, jobs, other extracurriculars etc.) when they make their course schedules. I like this idea. It teaches kids how to manage their time, an important life skill.
--They are moving toward a block schedule that, I think, probably will help.

Principal Herrmann has opened a discussion with teachers about test stacking and making a switch to Schoology. I'm not entirely sure I understand the teachers's objections to Schoology, but I think there may be issues that need to be sorted out. This seems like a good idea, but perhaps a political misstep by a new administrator got the discussion off to a challenging start. It doesn't help that the local press blows up every disagreement with hyperbolic language. I hope the teachers will be open to working with Principal Herrmann who seems to have the students' needs at heart. I think the teachers will participate because, generally, I think the teachers care a lot about the kids.

"Slamming" was not part of last night's process. Hyperbole polarizes the community and is not helpful to a problem solving process.

It struck me, after listening to the kids last night, that they made excellent points that probably would have been addressed in a more open process--not one that was rushed by a group of adults who admitted in the session at Gunn that they were unaware of some of the thoughtful measures Gunn has already taken.

Let's do what our kids asked last night. Let's SHOW them that we are all in this together. Let's all behave like a civil community that supports the education and mental/emotional health of our children. Listen to each other, including our kids who are directly affected by these changes. Demonstrate by our actions that we care about what they think.

This group of thoughtful young folks deserve a better response than, "Adults know better than you." as one writer above remarked. Their comments deserve a thoughtful, fact-based, public response. The decision may or may not stand, but I think the questions they asked should be addressed. I think the kids would accept it better if they understood the basis for the decision and felt that their questions had been answered.

Thanks for listening to my thoughts.


15 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

People.

There is no requirement that they be 8 "academic" classes to violate school rules. That is a made-up distinction that is being fabricated by special pleaders who want to keep taking 8 classes which is:

AGAINST SCHOOL RULES.

The school rule is not against 8 academic classes.

The school rule is not that you can take 7 classes plus gym.

The school rule is not that you can take 8 classes is one that you SUPER DUPER LOVE and it is OK because YOU ARE A SNOWFLAKE and MOMMY TOLD YOU THAT THE RULES DON'T APPLY TO YOU.

The school rule is not that you can take 8 classes if two of them are Visual and Performing Arts.

The school, rule, from the Gunn counseling website is that:

"Students are allowed to only sign up for seven classes each semester. There are two reasons for this, one, is that we believe strongly in students having balance in their life and the second, is that we are not funded for students to take eight classes." See: Web Link

The PRA packet on this issue contains an exchange with Ken Dauber over this issue as well as one with parent Keith Ferrell. Mr. J. admits that students are in fact allowed to take 8 or more classes in many circumstances despite the rule, if he agrees to it as the head of counseling. He admits that visual and perf arts classes are very time consuming (which is the health issue associated with taking 8 classes: "VPA classes can be time consuming and it is something we discuss with students about their course signups." These are real classes and are a-g approved, so they are not pass/fail or activities. They are classes -- some very time consuming ones at that.

There is no policy for this, and no notification. It's off the books. On the sly. [Portion removed.] Why? Because no accountability that's why.

[Portion removed.]




8 people like this
Posted by the 45
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Another data point on the 45:

The average number of APs this groups is taking is 1.07.

Not only is their "extra" class a music or drama extracurricular that would run with or without them in it i.e., no extra cost to the district to add them to the roster, they are taking just 1 time-intensive academic class during the rest of their day.


8 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm

#Right Now,

"The district has no rules."

Except when they don't want to do something, such as when someone in the district office has a petty personal issue with a family and can take it out on the children. Then there's always a rule.


13 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Also not a rule that you can take 8 classes if you are only taking 1 AP class.

People.

There. Are. Rules. In. This. World.

Being privileged does not mean that the rules don't apply to you and now is a better time to learn that than when you are caught insider trading, or filing false SEC disclosures, or singing racist songs on your frat bus, or sexually harassing your subordinate at Kleiner Perkins.

Rules. Matter.

8 classes is 8 classes. You aren't allowed to take 8 classes. Telling me and the rest of the world why YOUR 8 classes are OK, and the rule should be bent so that you can get by is NOT A GOOD ARGUMENT. It is a sign of all that is wrong with this situation.


12 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent too
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:13 pm

@Right Now

Ok, 8 classes, academic or not, is not allowed. Then the administration was wrong to let students sign up for 8 classes. That is a separate issue from zero period.

Zero period (as used by 85% of the students enrolled in zero period) was for schedule management. This is what most of the students felt was valuable. But even more important is that they felt so powerless and voiceless when the decision to remove zero period was taken without even talking to them.

That is what this is really about.


13 people like this
Posted by Sleep More!
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Way to Go, Max! Please please stay committed to your zero period stance. I am disappointed that some students and teachers continue to have misguided beliefs about stress and sleep.


25 people like this
Posted by Zhi
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I am a Gunn parent of a sophomore and a senior. I am happy with this decision. My child was friends of the senior who took his life and I think it is unexcused that these students know the truth of that situation and the issue to zero period and are still doing this.

I also want to say that there was listening. I agree with the parent who said that this is what teens do. They say they want something. You hear them, you say no. They say louder. You still say no. They say louder and say "not listening." No, I listened, but I am the mom.

I think the issue is more with teachers who overload the students and they are needing a way to get homework done earlier. That is exactly what the doctors say is bad.


10 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

@RightNow, you say.

"The teachers are using the students to stir up trouble because their **** grievance didn't work. It backfired and now maybe the students can destabalize Denise when they couldn't."

No one has been harder on the PAEA than me. Look at my other postings on this site to see just how I feel about that.

That said, you are absolutely mistaken that the teachers are manipulating the students over zero period. This is something that the students really, really care about. You do the students a great injustice by that implication.

"Mr. J. admits that students are in fact allowed to take 8 or more classes in many circumstances despite the rule, if he agrees to it as the head of counseling."

In other words, "The rule isn't hard and fast, and the administration can make exceptions in consultation with parents and students."

I find it really hard to see such flexibility in reaction in the face of differing students with different needs as a bad thing. Flexibility can be abused, but this isn't it.

Finally, show some respect for these kids. To a person last night they were respectful, calm and intelligent. [Portion removed.]





9 people like this
Posted by CW
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:24 pm

The Gunn students at last night's meeting suggested that the opponents of zero period were holding the board hostage -- saying, either you eliminate zero period or we'll vote against Measure A.

I find that disgusting. The two things aren't related to one another. It's blackmail.

Any leader who has participated in such blackmail should be shamed by the community and ignored going forward.

I have a suspicion of who two of these "leaders" might be, but I'll wait. I'm sure it will come out over time.

Disgusting the manipulation some people will attempt to push their pet causes.


6 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:27 pm

"You kind of wonder if a schedule that made Math tests on a Monday, Science tests on a Tuesday, English tests on a Wednesday, Social Studies on a Thursday, and Language on a Friday. or something like this Then the students would usually get one test a day and at most two tests if they have two math classes. Better than six."
This wouldn't work for a block schedule, because classes aren't offered on the same days. Some history classes are on even days, some are on odd (and it's the same way for every other department). Maybe this would work at Gunn but definitely not at Paly.

Also, My Thoughts, you cannot test over a period of two weeks. That's about half a unit in most classes, so some students would still be studying material from the old unit 2 weeks into a new one. Furthermore, we ALREADY have a cheating problem as chatting about the test is widespread just between classes. I can't imagine how it would be over a two week period. If you suggest creating "multiple tests," you then bring in the issue of whether all tests were truly the same difficulty, etc.
"There is NO coordination among the teachers to standardize on assignments, administration of homework, organization of work, nothing. Every class is like attending a different school. There is no uniformity at all, and it is very disruptive to kids challenged with organization." Paly's math department gives the exact same homework problems and same tests. The history department I can say for sure gives the same tests, and I *think* the science department does too.

I haven't had 6 tests on one day like the Gunn student, but I have had 5 (all in AP classes). I found that teachers were willing to work around my schedule and allow me to take one test early and one test late, leaving me with just 3 tests - not ideal, but doable. I'm just pointing out that rather than upsetting the current schedule you *could* just say "You can take a test 1 school day early or 1 school day late if you have more than 3 tests on one day." Much easier, doesn't mandate that all teachers change their schedules, and gives some leeway.

"Not sure I understand the issue if Gunn did not have zero period a few years ago and only a small group uses is now why is it needed. Gunn students got into many of the same universities without zero period as they do now with zero period."
The point of this isn't to get students into better universities, but to make their lives easier. Zero period allows, for example, athletes to take the same number of classes and be present for all of them (not having to leave early for games, etc). It also allows early risers to make their own schedules, just like students do in college, when they often offer 8 am and 9 am sections, for example.

@RightNow:
The school rules aren't 100% accurate. Boohoo. Because no one ever does anything off the books, do they? Heaven forbid we allow students to do what they want and what their parents consent to because they obviously have to be wrong!
I recall how a few years ago when I was at Paly there was an article about a girl taking AP Spanish and AP French at the same time (same period, the classes literally overlapped. If I recall she was a somewhat native French speaker and had taken Spanish at Paly but I might be wrong on this)). She would walk from one to the other halfway through -- but wait, Paly doesn't let you dual enroll! Yes, she was given an exception by both teachers, the language department, and the school because she expressed her interest, petitioned, and got the okay. I don't have a problem with this. Clearly you do. What exactly is so wrong with allowing students to pursue their passions just like they have the ability to do in college?


2 people like this
Posted by Union Strong
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm

@# Right Now:

"There. Are. Rules. In. This. World."

Those rules include having to abide by contracts, including collective bargaining agreements. Unless you just want to selectively cherry-pick which rules you have to follow. In which case you are not really following the rules. You are just demanding that everyone else do things your way.


21 people like this
Posted by Modest Suggestion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Like this comment
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:31 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@Modest Suggestion

I LOVE it ... HILARIOUS !!!


6 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm

"8 classes is 8 classes. You aren't allowed to take 8 classes."

Funny, every single one of these students got approval from the administration to take them.

In other words, they are allowed to take eight classes. Unless, of course, you think that the administration has no idea that they are doing it.

That seems unlikely to me.


37 people like this
Posted by Gunn Alumnus
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

#RightNow and others have expressed what I believe to be frankly shameful hubris in their comments. While it's true that there has been support from the medical community for the elimination of Zero Period, it's equally undeniable that the concerns of students, parents, and staff merit a transparent discussion which fully explores both existing medical data and studies on factors specific to the Gunn community. When multiple surveys of Gunn students contradict national data, and student opinion is so unified in opposition, it's certainly a red flag indicating that more research and testimony is needed before a decision is made. As a community, we deserve the dialogue. [Portion removed.] Everyone should have a voice in the decisions that affect them most profoundly, and it's up to our elected representatives to weigh those opinions and come to a decision. That didn't happen here, and Dr. McGee's attempt to curtail comments under the Brown Act--the very law intended to protect us from secrecy in decision making--underlined that. Everyone--not just students--should be upset by the way this process was handled. We deserve intelligent solutions to complex problems--not hasty patch-ups done out of the public eye.


2 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Fish in a barrel. Honestly.

The rule doesn't say "waivers may be granted upon application to Mr. J."

The rule doesn't say "in general our practice is to allow 7 classes unless you have permission from Mr. J."

The rule doesn't say "you can take 7 classes unless your parent signs a waiver and 2 are performing arts and one is gym and you only have 1 AP."

The rule says "Students are allowed to only sign up for seven classes each semester. There are two reasons for this, one, is that we believe strongly in students having balance in their life and the second, is that we are not funded for students to take eight classes."

We are not funded for students to take eight classes.

[Portion removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@Modest Suggestion

I really wish you were there at the meeting last night, and performed that for Ken Dauber ... brilliant ...


6 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

@Right Now

"The rule doesn't say "waivers may be granted upon application to Mr. J.""

The item you are quoting isn't a law, and wasn't drafted as an all-encompassing, binding statement. It is simply a FAQ on the Gunn counselling web site. Are you really advocating a careful legal drafting of an FAQ targeted at 9-12 graders?

"The rule doesn't say "in general our practice is to allow 7 classes unless you have permission from Mr. J."

The facts on the ground demonstrate that this is indeed the rule. What is written in that FAQ is obviously incomplete. If the school's policy really is not to allow it, there wouldn't be kids doing it with the school's approval.

The policy you are quoting is simply incomplete. That is unfortunate, but also true.

"The rule doesn't say "you can take 7 classes unless your parent signs a waiver and 2 are performing arts and one is gym and you only have 1 AP." "

Discretion in administering policy doesn't seem to me to be that hard of a thing to wrap one's head around. It happens in every day in all sorts of administrative and legal situations.

Also, I don't believe that the trade zero-period-for-measure-A accusation is correct, but the people who brought it up (one student, one adult) were both calm and respectful in the delivery.

I believe someone can be wrong, even egregiously, and respectful at the same time.


42 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm

It's astonishing to me the level of arrogance that we see from some of the decision-makers in this instance. Gunn students are not children, and don't try to treat them like they are. Maybe you could listen to the people whom your policies actually affect when they say that they like something. If students who take zero period like it, and yet the board still tries to ban it, hasn't the board lost sight of the end goal to improve student welfare and mental health? This feels like the board is doing something for the sake of doing something.

For what it's worth, I know that my high school experience would have been much worse if I wasn't allowed to do zero period, or try taking 8 classes. The breadth of subjects that I was allowed to take allowed me to develop my passions, and I'm a more complete person today because of it. I recognize that that is not the experience that some others might have, but to say that Gunn students don't know what is best for them, when they still have to get counselor and parental permission to take zero period, is patronizing, insulting, and, on the whole, simply untrue.


3 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:22 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm

#RightNow, entertain the possibility that, if the students don't like the rule, the teachers don't like the rule, and the administration doesn't follow the rule, that it's a bad rule.


6 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm

@Gunn Grad 14.

When you don't like a rule, that doesn't make it not a rule.

You can work to change the rule. You can ask to have a different rule. You can appeal the rule. You cannot simply by fiat, silently, and for a select group of insiders who know that the rule is not a rule or in the perfect phraseology of @private parent, "simply incomplete" [portion removed.]

This is a nation of laws not of men. We have a rule of law so that everyone can fairly look at the same rules, which are fairly applied across the board to everyone, not only to those who lack the resources or connections to evade them.

What do they teach in civics class over there? [Portion removed.]





3 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

#Right Now

[Portion removed.]

Let's rephrase the policy with the active voice:

"The administration allows students to only sign up for seven classes each semester."

But the above statement is not true. The administration _does_ allow students to sign up for more than seven classes each semester--you don't dispute this do you?

Therefore, we know that the policy--at best--isn't fully stated. One might also argue that the statement is outdated, or aspirational, or any of many other things.

But what one can't argue is that it is completely accurate.

As far as the rest:

As this is an online debate, I know that such a statement isn't meant seriously, but rather is intended to provoke.

Therefore it doesn't bother me--no one who knows anything will take it seriously.

Just like the allegation you are talking about more broadly. I think the student was wrong, and I think the allegation has been pretty well refuted. This student made a mistake, but even in the process of making it, he took care to speak calmly and rationally.

I respect that.


Like this comment
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:37 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@Modest Suggestion

Hey, they removed your post because you used different names (don't know how it works, because I'm registered).

You should register, and re-post it, because it was absolutely hilarious ...


2 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

I wish they had something like a facebook login for these comments, and you were forced to use it with real names. Then, it's possible that some civility might break out ...

[Portion removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

This is the Ken Dauber, Bill Johnson team running the entire school district. The students want zero period, the teachers want it. It's an *option*. If you're not a morning person, don't take it. My two kids took several years of zero period, starting in 8th grade, and loved it. They loved the extra prep period during the day - a great homework and test studying catch up time.

I hope Ken and Bill plan for the extra 300 or so Gunn students arriving at 8:25 and the huge amount of additional traffic that will cause. Talk about stressed out parents, let's wait and see what happens. There will be unintended consequences of this action.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

@GreenmeadowDad

Thanks. Unfortunately I didn't save it. "@Modest Suggestion" was just supposed to be another cue it wasn't serious ...


2 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Resident / Modest Suggestion

I've got it here on my phone from earlier (on computer now). May I have your permission to re-type it?


3 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm

The rule is:

"Students are allowed to only sign up for seven classes each semester. There are two reasons for this, one, is that we believe strongly in students having balance in their life and the second, is that we are not funded for students to take eight classes."

Your rephrasing is wrong and sophistry.

What the actual phrasing of the rule shows is that Tom Jacoubowsky broke the rule. Students are only allowed to sign up for seven classes. Tom allowed certain students to sign up for 8, 9, 10 classes. That shows that Tom Jacoubowsky broke the rule.

We could revise endlessly all rules to match reality as you suggest. Let's try:

"There is no rule against taking performance enhancing study drugs in PAUSD."

The use of these stimulants is very common therefore any rule against it is "simply incomplete" as it fails to accurately depict the lawbreaking behavior that is going on. At best those rules are "aspirational."

"There is no rule against cheating in PAUSD high schools."

Cheating is rampant in PAUSD high schools according to district surveys. The rule against cheating does not reflect reality since so many people cheat. As best these rules are just "outdated, or aspirational, or any of many other things." Perhaps they are not "fully stated."

Maybe a better statement would be "cheating is not allowed unless you are rich, white, connected, and headed to Harvard, in which case we will make you validictory speaker" (spoiler alert this happened 3 years ago at Paly).

The rules are the rules. If you don't like the rules, change them. Don't break them with a nod and a wink for some people and then falsely inform students that no one is taking 8 periods so that they can make fools of themselves declaiming that no one is taking 8 periods when 25% of those in zero period are doing just that.

Let's just get over our bad selves.

The. Rules. Apply. To. Everyone.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

!

Fine with me if you want to.


3 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:51 pm

@Right Now writes in response to Gunn Grad '14:

"When you don't like a rule, that doesn't make it not a rule."

Gunn Grad '14 describes it as a bad rule, not as no rule at all.

And he is right: no zero period is a bad rule.


8 people like this
Posted by Zero Period Mysteries
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Just out of curiosity, why is the information about whether the three most recent suicides from Gunn were in academic zero periods or not? From the reporting I have seen, it is stated that this is not going to be made public. It would seem that getting the information that these students were all busy doing caluculus at 7:20am would lend one to further believe that academic zero periods are not helpful to most students.

Students need to learn that they don't always get their way.

I applaud Dr. McGee for making a decision and sticking by it. All the medical professionals who weighed in on this cannot be wrong.

Thank you also Ken Dauber for championing this as the other board members probably wouldn't have.

To further reduce our students stress, let's get Schoology on board as soon as possible. Eliminating zero period is a good start in moving in the right direction.

We all have our student's best interest in mind. Sometimes students don't know what their best interests are. I was amazed at the one student at the board meeting who accused the district of increasing her stress because she won't have zero period in the fall.
[Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Right
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Re traffic: If those larks love the early hours, surely they can arrive to school earlier to avoid the traffic.

When one 5-year old boy died at Great America's wavepool due to negligent parenting, the management established a rule that children under a certain age had to wear a life vest in the wavepool. Yeah, one parent ruined it for all the others.

We've had 9 suicides and sleep deprivation is a factor in most of them. This is the first time anything has been done to address school stress. Zero period should have been yanked long ago. The school district has to support the majority of teenage late sleep schedules. Are there 300 natural larks at Gunn? Doubtful!


12 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:59 pm

#RightNow, we are having two different arguments. You argue that it is a rule, which is true, albeit de jure and not de facto. I argue that it is a bad rule, and that it should not be a rule. You're identifying what is, I'm identifying what I think should be. Under your paradigm, the law cannot change for the sole reason that it is a law, and that people have to follow it. Meanwhile, I maintain that while the 7-class cap is a bad rule (not only is it not being followed, but it restricts student choice and tells the students that they can't choose for themselves what's best for them). Don't respond to this by saying that it is a rule, and that people should follow it because it is a rule. Instead, articulate what you think *should* be done about the rule, given that the status quo (of the rule being in place but the administration not following it) seems to be disagreeable to you.


36 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:02 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Re-typed with permission from another poster.

This is hilarious. I wish he/she were at the meeting last night to perform this for Ken Dauber ... brilliant ...

___________________
The fact that so many Gunn students oppose eliminating the zero period option simply show how self-interested high school students are, and frankly, how parents cannot be relied on either. While there are no doubt some students who could truly benefit from the flexibility of a zero period option, some students might sign up by mistake, and a few of those might not even have this choice approved by irresponsible parents. While there's no evidence zero period classes contribute to teen depression, the school district must protect all students not only from actual stresses, but also from hypothetical ones. Because, you never know ...

The problem with the district's new "eliminate flexibility" doctrine is that it does not actually go far enough, because zero period applies to so few students. PAUSD must think BIGGER.

For example, a much larger number of students read "The Catcher in the Rye" in English class. Now, clearly many students are mature enough to handle Holden Caulfield's antisocial and negative behavior in this book. However, some students might not be. Therefore, this book should be removed from the curriculum and in fact from the library as well, since some students might stumble upon it there and accidentally read it.

Yet not even this goes far enough, since not every student is assigned The Catcher in the Rye, and anyway some only read the CliffsNotes. However, one optic that every student is exposed to is the Theory of Evolution. Now, clearly many students are mature enough to handle the adea that they are descended from apes. However, some students might be troubled by it. The district should therefore stop teaching this unsafe idea.

By broadly cracking down on flexibility, the district can truly eliminate variation in students' education, and so protect all students, not only from schedule choices but also from thoughts and ideas which might be appropriate for some, but not for others. Only then can we achieve the true progressive dream of perfect equality for all kids.
___________________


11 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

"What the actual phrasing of the rule shows"

Here is where you go wrong. The rule is not a legal document. But even if it were, administrative discretion is a real thing, with real history, and full legal history. Here is a primer, if you are interested:

Web Link

"We could revise endlessly all rules to match reality as you suggest. Let's try:"

When an authority declines to enforce a rule, as a practical matter, the rule itself changes. (cf, Salutory Neglect in the seventeenth century.)

None of your hypos involve an authority actively deciding to stop enforcing a rule, and so are irrelevant to this one.


37 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student '16
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm

Hi. I'm a Gunn student, and I attended the school board meeting last night. First of all, I'd like to express how proud I am of my community- our school's unofficial motto, adopted from Not In Our Schools Week, is "We're All In This Together", and I felt that we truly proved that message last night. Something that one speaker brought up last night, and that I completely concur with, was the feeling that the school board is pursuing change for change's sake. Many commenters have praised Dr. McGee's courage for making this "decisive" action which they claim will help students, but really? Fifteen percent of Gunn students are enrolled in zero period, the vast majority of which feel that it is beneficial to their lives. At best, this decision helps fifteen percent of Gunn students, ignoring the majority but claiming that this illogical decision helps all students.

In addition, we students are angry about the loss of our right to choose when we take our classes and the right to manage our own schedules, but we are also disappointed in the way in which this matter was completed. The decision was announced in the middle of spring break, with no prior indication that zero period was in danger of being removed. Many students- I was one of them- had already been allowed to enroll in zero period for the upcoming year. It's clear that this decision was not one that had been well thought-out ahead of time, and without consulting students or staff, the only ones directly affected by this policy change.

We appreciate that we have been given the opportunity to voice our opinion through this school board meeting, the brownbag lunch last week, and the town hall meeting on Monday. These were valuable chances for us to speak our minds. We just wish we had been consulted earlier so that our opinions could have affected the outcome of this decision- that is, assuming that the school board and Dr. McGee would have taken it into account.

Remember, school is for the students. It is not for furthering your own personal political agenda, or to appease competitive parents. Remember the students.


22 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Good going, Gunn Students. You are doing a good job speaking up and representing yourselves. This is Dr. McGee's decision to make, but that shouldn't let him off the hook for just caving to political pressure to get Measure A passed. Good for you guys, called BS on the lazy thinking. My guess is that when the heat dies down in a year or two, zero period will be back, since it obviously serves a need.


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:50 pm


Zero period won't be back until Dauber's gone


20 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[My guess is that when the heat dies down in a year or two, zero period will be back, since it obviously serves a need.]

Just around the time that Ken Dauber will have to answer tough questions during the board election ... for creating this whole mess ... which solves nothing ...


3 people like this
Posted by Stephanie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm

@ CW. Just because someone makes an unsubstantiated accusation, does NOT make it true.

First of all, the Board does not 'vote' on Measure A, residents do. Secondly, all of the Board Members came out in support of, and made donations to, Measure A long before Dr. McGee made the zero period decision.


13 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm



What if hypothetically speaking, one or more if the students in a zero period AP class died by suicide.

Let's say further hypothetically that over 100 doctors following that death(s) informed the district that it is a suicide risk to continue to run zero period classes, especially academic classes.

Let's say further that the district superintendent decides to ignore expert opinion and the recent deaths and continue to run zero period.

Let's further say that another student in a zero period advanced academic class then dies by suicide.

The student's parents are immigrants who are not fluent in English and did not understand the documents that they signed, which were not translated into their native language, and were not familiar with the health warnings regarding suicide. The district did not make any additional warnings or disclaimers regarding suicide risk.

The parents are now very upset and want to bring a lawsuit against the district for negligence and wrongful death.

What result? What would be the implication of the medical opinion in the context of the litigation?

Do you think concern about such a situation would influence a school district to change its policy to bring it into line with that opinion?


24 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

What if Spartacus had a piper cub?

The Ken Dauber proposal does not bring the district in line with the opinion of the Sleep Industrial Complex ... it solves nothing ...


24 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student '16
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:15 pm

@ Right Now, while I appreciate your concern for the wellbeing of Gunn students, there is no known correlation between taking a zero period and committing suicide. As far as we know, none of the students who have committed suicide were enrolled in a zero period class. Even if- hypothetically- they were, that is no reason to point fingers at zero period and accuse it of being the culprit. While we're at it, should we get rid of sports because they have early morning practices, which cause sleep deprivation, which itself could lead to suicide? Furthermore, there is no known correlation between zero priod and lack of sleep. Several surveys have actually shown that students in zero period get more sleep than those who start school at 8:25.

I was good friends with two of the students who committed suicide. There is no one, easy answer to the question of why they did it. I understand that this is hard to understand, but it is the truth. Zero period has not caused anyone to commit suicide. The school board needs to stop blaming things like zero period for our suicide epidemic, and start making the changes that need to be made- the toxic culture of parents and administrators that we find here in Palo Alto is hurting the students.


20 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm

iSez is a registered user.

I am so glad the Superintendent had the balls to make the right decision for all the students, although, unfortunately, I suspect there was lobbying behind the scenes (thank you to those).

Someone on another thread made a good point, which is, what about the night owls? How about an 8th period for them? Yes, where does it end? At some point, you zero-period proponents have to fall in line with the rest of society and realize it's not all about you.


7 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C denies any solution to test stacking:"This wouldn't work for a block schedule, because classes aren't offered on the same days. Some history classes are on even days, some are on odd (and it's the same way for every other department). Maybe this would work at Gunn but definitely not at Paly.

Also, My Thoughts, you cannot test over a period of two weeks."


Well, I wouldn't do it the dumbest way possible.


Let me try to explain just one example, as you seemed to miss the point (probably intentionally, but anyhow maybe someone else out there wants a solution). There are other ways as well, as mentioned - we suffer a failure of imagination.


Imagine a school with 5 major departments: M, S, E, H, L (math, science, English, history, languages)

Every two weeks the test schedule looks like this:

Mon, Tue: M
Wed, Thu: S
Fri, Mon: E
Tue, Wed: H
Thu, Fri: L

Each teacher in said department can pick one of the two days to hold tests. That's it. In this case there would be no test stacking between these 5 departments. You would have to postpone tests no more than 2 weeks. Other departments which are smaller could be overlayed on top of this, so that students have no more than 2 tests per day.

Okay - someone won't like this. But there are, like, infinite combinations. Again, when failure to imagine gives you the dumbest solution possible, you may claim it is impossible. But it really isn't.

Here is another example:

Mon: M
Tue: S
Wed: E
Thu: H
Fri: L

Mon: E
Tue: H
Wed: L
Thu: M
Fri: S


Now there is a test day every day of the week.

Heck, let's say you still don't like that one, but are willing to have 2 tests per day. You can now bring this down to a one-week cycle. It is a very very small inconvenience to the teachers to deal with this; but a huge benefit to the students. I am sure you will see teachers jumping on the bandwagon to any approach which would alleviate student stress ON THE NUMBER ONE SURVEYED STRESS INDUCING PROBLEM OF STUDENTS.

Here we go, the two-tests per day plan:

Mon: M,S
Tue: S,E
Wed: E,H
Thu: H,L
Fri: L,M

Limited stacking, great convenience for teachers. But still will be rejected.

There are other schemes as well; but again our problem is not solutions, but lack of will, desire, and blocked by a failure of imagination. For many small-minders, unless they know the answer, they deny the problem.

In fact, once you admit you have a problem, all manner of solutions are possible, and could be found. It's the basis of innovation. Mother Necessity and all that...


7 people like this
Posted by Zero Period Mysteries
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Gunn Student '16: Sleep deprivation has definitely been indicated as contributing to depression. Nobody is saying that it is the only culprit. There are so many factors playing into the kinds of suicidal depressions that caused our students to take their lives. We have to look under every rock. There are so many other things we could do reduce stress such as actually enforce the homework policy, start using schoology, provide better counseling system at Gunn (at least equal to if not even better than Paly's teacher advirsoy system), educate the parents and students about so many things including cheating and the use of alcohol and other drugs. Indeed, we are in a crisis state here and need to try everything to help reduce the pressures on our students. You are right, zero period was not (notice I said was) the only culprit or contributing factor in the suicides but if we start moving ahead to change ALL of the fators that we can we certainly have a better chance of making the lives of our students more tolerable.

Thanks to Max for having the courage to do the right thing. Gunn students, get over it and realize that you are still children and will need adult supervision for some time.


12 people like this
Posted by jetpilot
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

The controversy about zero period is really just a distraction from the larger issue of the toxic, hyper competitive culture in our community. NY Times columnist Frank Bruni expressed this far better than I could in his recent column: Web Link
The issue isn't that some children can "handle" zero period, it is really that this "option" along with taking 8-10 AP classes at Gunn HS has created this academic "arms race." I am a professor at the "local prestigious University" and can assure you that even the elite schools like Stanford and the Ivy Leagues are no longer overly impressed with kids who have 4.5 GPA's from all those AP classes. They want "real people." As Bruni also points out, in the real world after college you go just as far with a degree from Penn State as you do with one from Stanford or Harvard.
I applaud Dr. McGee for not caving in on making this responsible decision in the interest of the welfare of Gunn students. Hopefully they will also soon sharply restrict the # of AP classes students can take and eliminate the perverse GP incentive of AP classes so students will take these because they want to learn-- not for a competitive advantage. More importantly, our community needs to address head on the toxic hyper competitive culture we have.
As Bruni says, "We need fewer Tiger moms and more Koala dads." (I guess I'm a koala dad!)


5 people like this
Posted by Mathlete
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm

@gunn 16 or other students, wasn't Harry Lee in zero period AP calculus ?


20 people like this
Posted by Dead Issue
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Given the recommendations of 100 doctors, PAUSD would be crazy to keep zero period.

Students need to wake up and smell the coffee. (And wake up later :). )

Zero period is a dead issue.

Thanks to Ken Dauber and Max McGee for showing some leadership here.


14 people like this
Posted by Gunn junior
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Yes, Harry was in a zero period class but I doubt it caused him to die.


7 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

The Gunn students are in an advantageous position right now, thanks to Supt. McGee's apology to them for making the zero period decision on his own, thus taking it off the table as an issue likely to threaten passage of Measure A. His promise of a powerful voice for students in developing the new bell schedule is an important development. Students will have a positive impact on all students at going forward if they help develop and support ideas that result in less stress and a positive learning climate at Gunn.

It struck me that the students seemed unaware that passage of Measure A was a significant concern for the district, not just an excuse to deny what they wanted regarding zero period. Zero period academic classes have been a major item on the list of reasons advanced to say No on A and reject the parcel tax. Measure A could lose despite the absence of an official campaign against it with position statements in ballot materials, street signs, and a recognized and accessible leadership.

Something I heard loud and clear from the students last night was distress about test-stacking and excessive homework, far more universal concerns than zero period. I think the students should use their leverage, credibility, and truly marvelous communication and organizing skills to work with allies in the schools and community to make progress in this area.


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student '16
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:06 pm

@Zero Period Mysteries: I agree that no one factor is the reason for any kind of mental illness, nor is any case of depression the same as any other. However, I would hesitate to hold up Paly as the standard by which Gunn should be measured. Paly and Gunn are extremely different environments with different demographics, issues, and needs, and what is right for Paly is not necessarily what is right for Gunn.

I appreciate your response, and agree with most of it, but I am afraid that I strongly disagree with your assessment that Gunn students should "realize that you are all still children and will need adult supervision for some time". It is unfortunately commonplace for parents and administrators in Palo Alto to treat their students as young children, assuming that since they are not yet adults that their opinion does not matter. It is precisely this dismissive attitude that has led to the situation we are in right now, with hundreds of students feeling disenfranchised and ignored. Hundreds of students at Gunn are eligible to vote- would you say that these students need adult supervision? The truth is that immediately after graduating high school, we are expected to attend college and somehow become contributing adult members of society, when we have been treated by PAUSD as children for years. While I agree that your comment may have been appropriate if these were eight-year-olds complaining, we are dealing with hundreds if not thousands of fourteen to eighteen-year-olds. I assume that you didn't not attend last night's board meeting, because I am certain that if you had, you would not be so quick to dismiss these students as children.


8 people like this
Posted by jet pilot
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm

jet pilot is a registered user.

The controversy about zero period is really just a distraction from the larger issue of the toxic, hyper competitive culture in our community. NY Times columnist Frank Bruni expressed this far better than I could in his recent column: Web Link
The issue isn't that some children can "handle" zero period, it is really that this "option" along with taking 8-10 AP classes at Gunn HS has created this academic "arms race." I am a professor at the "local prestigious University" and can assure you that even the elite schools like Stanford and the Ivy Leagues are no longer overly impressed with kids who have 4.5 GPA's from all those AP classes. They want "real people." As Bruni also points out, in the real world after college you go just as far with a degree from Penn State as you do with one from Stanford or Harvard.
I applaud Dr. McGee for not caving in on making this responsible decision in the interest of the welfare of Gunn students. Hopefully they will also soon sharply restrict the # of AP classes students can take and eliminate the perverse GP incentive of AP classes so students will take these because they want to learn-- not for a competitive advantage. More importantly, our community needs to address head on the toxic hyper competitive culture we have.
As Bruni says, "We need fewer Tiger moms and more Koala dads." (I guess I'm a koala dad!)


18 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:16 pm

@Gunn Student '16

"and start making the changes that need to be made- the toxic culture of parents and administrators"

I'm not going to argue with you about the toxic culture of administrators, the definitely has an impact on communications and trust, which does have a relationship with connectedness and stress/mental health, policies, how we address these problems, etc. Yes, that does need addressing.

You went to a great deal of effort to defend zero period, and did so admirably, but then you blew your own premise ("no known correlation between zero period.."), because while there are doctors saying there is a correlation between sleep problems and increased depression, there is no evidence that our district's parents are a "toxic" culture more than anywhere else (especially in Silicon Valley) or that it results in suicidality. In fact, your inference is that the already suffering parents were at fault for their children's deaths. You can't use anecdotes to make a case, you would only be libeling people. I know people who were abused badly as children -- they didn't become suicidal. It doesn't prove anything for the larger population.

My own observation, having lived in different areas of the country, is that this is a far better parent community than anywhere else I have ever lived. I don't see girls who are pressured to wear a lot of makeup by their mothers, shave their legs and get bikini waxes starting in late elementary school, or boys regularly beaten up for seeming "gay". I see a community that supports your academic aspirations rather than persistently belittling kids who care about school.

You don't wear a seatbelt because every time you go out there will be an accident. You can't say, just because no one in zero period has died in a car crash last year that they therefore shouldn't have to wear their seatbelts. Yes, maybe you do feel you are freer to move and look around your car without your seatbelt.

The doctors are saying there is evidence of increased depression and sleep deprivation with earlier school start times, and that later school start times do result in improvements per the studies. You haven't touched on the issue of depression (as opposed to suicidality). These are complex issues -- if districts knew the exact reason in every case, they could all be predicted and prevented.

Sometimes where safety and health are concerned, you just don't have a choice. I think Dr. McGee is right that the answer is to help you achieve whatever benefit you feel you are losing another way. And if not, helping you accept that sometimes the world isn't fair. It's not the difference between a world class education and not. I have a lot of confidence that the very smart kids we have in this school will continue to find ways to achieve their educational goals.



1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This decision and the response to it demonstrates the weakness of a "Unified" school district.

Perhaps what students and parents need are more choices and more educational diversity yet a unified system is philosophically and organizationally inclined to adopt the one size fits all approach.


7 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Interesting discussion on the idea of "no 8 period schedules". I understand that the Science Research project class at Paly is 8th period. Which means that some of those kids take 7 others classes plus Science Research. Last night we heard lots of support for this program and that it was going to be expanded. Where is the consistency here? Also, there are a number of kids at Paly that take 7 classes plus the after school math problem solving class. Some of these kids have 8 classes as well.


10 people like this
Posted by Koala Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Gunn 16 says "Paly and Gunn are extremely different environments with different demographics" which is interesting.

Actually Paly and Gunn have virtually identical demographics and environments. Please specify what you mean.

Also, I am curious as to your reaction to Gunn junior. If it is true that Harry was in zero period AP Calculus as is being stated here by your classmate, to me that concludes the conversation about zero period and I am sure most adults would agree. Obviously his "choice" failed to protect him as is being claimed. We cannot allow students to pick "optional" things that can contribute to their deaths, particularly when it is not just a theory.

if this is true, and I don't doubt it, how do the teachers reconcile these student leaders going to the school board to insist that how there is no evidence that anyone in zero period died by suicide when they have to look at his empty desk every day?

I personally think these teachers are terrible if they know that a zero period Calculus student died by suicide and they are letting these students argue that it didn't happen. I know enough by now to know that a lot of teachers at Gunn are in a power struggle with Denise and Max. They aren't above using these students. I would like to see this union gone. I certainly don't want to pay any more money to this union that's for sure. The teachers need to come clean about zero period. If a student in zero period died by suicide then these teachers who are leading the charge to keep it . . . I wouldn't want my child taking a class from them.


20 people like this
Posted by Gunn Student '16
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:33 pm

@parent- I apologize if I made it seem that I was citing any evidence that claimed that Palo Alto's parents are more toxic than those of any other community. I was simply stating my own opinion based on the experiences that I have had with parents in PAUSD. I'd also like to address your point about parent pressure- I agree that there is not much pressure to wear makeup or anything like that, for which I am extremely thankful. That's certainly something to be proud of. While I agree that the Palo Alto community does support our academic aspirations, it often goes too far. There have been countless discussions of academic stress and pressure in Palo Alto, and I'd rather not bring them up again, but I can assure you that Palo Alto, at least for high school students, is not this idyllic place where everyone can study what they want to without stress or pressure from parents, friends, teachers, or anyone else.

In addition, of all the studies cited by the administration, there was never a control for choice. Gunn *does* have a late start- 8:25 is a significantly later start time- according to the National Sleep Foundation, the average start time for high schools is 7:59 a.m. Gunn's start time is 8:25, and the only ones taking zero period are those who choose to start school earlier.

Finally, I realize, and I believe most if not all Gunn students realize, that this issue will likely not be discussed any further. The most likely situation as it stands is that Dr. McGee's decision will not change, and zero period will be taken away for an indefinite amount of time. However, while zero period certainly is an issue we feel passionate about, I think I'm speaking for many Gunn students when I say that we are disappointed, upset, and angry because we as students have been disenfranchised and ignored in the decisions that are supposedly for our own good. Making our decisions for us, and labeling them compromises when we haven't had any input, is patronizing, and as our school board representative put it, "misguided paternalism".


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm

I remind everyone that correlation is not causation, and that simply because one student who committed suicide was in a zero period class does not mean that zero period caused it.

To iSez: "At some point in time, you strong math students have to realize it's not all about you." A rationale for banning AP Calculus.

"At some point in time, you athletes have to realize it's not all about you." A rationale for banning sports.

"At some point in time, you bookworms have to realize it's not all about you." A rationale for making English voluntary.

The cool thing about zero period is that it is ***completely and utterly voluntary.*** In fact, it's much more than that; for a student to take a zero period class, they have to get approval from their parent and their counselor. If, like you say, the adults know best, then why are parents and counselors allowing students to take zero period? Maybe it's because zero period is actually beneficial.

To those citing the sleep-deprivation studies and the doctors' recommendations: those are not indicative of all students, they merely report averages. There do, in fact, exist students who function better or the same in the morning. In fact, as some have cited, Gunn students who take zero period get, on average, more sleep than those who don't take it. Doesn't quite seem like the boogeyman people say it is.

Finally, to Zero Period Mysteries and others who believe in sentiments like "Gunn students, get over it and realize that you are still children and will need adult supervision for some time." Could you be any more patronizing? Accept the notion that Gunn students are young adults who have brains in their heads. I would say, and many would agree, that Gunn students are actually the one of the best groups of people to listen to at this time. They have what you don't have, which is real first-hand knowledge of what is happening at Gunn. The only other group that is this connected to the community on a day-to-day basis is the teachers, and funnily enough, ***they agree with the students!*** Both of the two groups who experience Gunn firsthand agree that zero period is valuable to Gunn students.

Academic zero period is making a great scapegoat for board members to take out and assure people that they're doing something. Only problem is, getting rid of zero period actually hurts, rather than harms, the student body. As for Measure A, it is morally despicable that anyone would let politics get in the way of actually making the best choice for our students, EVEN IF Measure A would help the schools in the long run. The number one priority should be to help the students. Banning zero period is a step to the side, or even backwards.


11 people like this
Posted by Koala Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Is zero period "misguided paternalism"? That depends on if it is misguided.

As a parent, if the allegation above that Harry Lee was in zero period AP calculus, then that means to me it is not "misguided" although it is paternalistic, as in "fatherly" as in Max and Ken don't want you kids to die, like all good "paternal" figures.

[Portion removed.]

As for the idea that "To those citing the sleep-deprivation studies and the doctors' recommendations: those are not indicative of all students, they merely report averages. There do, in fact, exist students who function better or the same in the morning. In fact, as some have cited, Gunn students who take zero period get, on average, more sleep than those who don't take it. Doesn't quite seem like the boogeyman people say it is."

Well if Harry Lee was in zero period AP Calculus as someone else said above, then I think it is exactly the danger that some people say it is. You are the ones arguing that "choice" means it won't be dangerous. He chose. He made a"choice" yet somehow his "choice" didn't save him from sleep deprivation.

The doctors say that teens have a hard time falling asleep early. Choice doesn't fix that.

[Portion removed.]

But to most responsible adults this knowledge is the end of the conversation about zero period and the beginning of an inquiry into why teachers are continuing to support something so dangerous.


7 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:03 pm

@Gunn student '16

Thank you for your thoughtful follow up message.

I agree with you that there are stories of parents applying too much pressure, but a realistic response to this problem cannot be an assumption that you can make parents perfect. The school can only address the school program. And there is great room for improvement there, even such that far more kids can be successful in their own talents and the parent pressure problem would diminish.

You have to realize that parents are not at the school and many believe teachers who tell them their child just needs to get organized, etc. When a parent believes an A is a measure of whether a student paid attention or applied themselves, and they don't understand grade deflation here, what are they to think when the child they can see is smart comes home with poor grades and the teacher is saying it's the child's fault, by extension, perhaps just goofing off, basically? I am myself a pretty open parent looking for project-based, self-paced program options and personally believe mandatory homework is unnecessary (and support independent research options), but if you were a fly on the wall in my home at the wrong time, you would probably accuse me of same because of a combination of exasperation over the constant impinging of school on our lives and control of kids time, and believing (at least initially) teachers who imply it's just the kid goofing off. Sometimes you just hit your limit as a parent, especially if the persistent imposition of school affects your OWN sleep and adds to your own stresses in doing the best for your family. These tragedies and discussions have at least caused me to step outside of just reacting, and questioning how I interpret our relationship with the schools -- the same fly would come to a completely different conclusion now. Not every parent can do that.

Parents are people who are not perfect, the system shouldn't be so stressful or unforgiving that this leads their children to think they are failures or to be despondent. My own father was 2nd son in a large Chinese family during wartime, if you know what that means culturally. I can at least see anecdotally that there isn't a direct line between even unimaginable pressure on a child's self esteem from parent pressure and suicidality, for many people there's an opposite effect. I'm not saying everyone should go through what my father did to succeed, I'm saying that despite everything my father went through, he didn't blame his parents. I tell my own parents, You weren't perfect people, but you were perfect parents. That's a recognition that life is not perfect, and I recognize even in the mistakes they made (even the ones that had pretty serious repercussions in my life) that they did the best they could.

School district, though, is another matter. I do not appreciate being lied to repeatedly in ways that hurt my family and childrens health and safety. Believe me, there are much bigger issues than zero period. I hope you will consider that your combined voices ARE being heard and that you do have power you don't even realize. You just need to pick your battles, as they say. When choosing your battles wisely, you would be more powerful, too, if you joined with parents who are already working to improve things.

PS - I see there was another "parent" "Gunn" who posted first on this thread. Sorry to use the same name, I didn't see it.


9 people like this
Posted by How to view meeting rebroadcast
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:24 pm

[Post removed.]



21 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Harry Lee was in zero period AP Calculus, and he committed suicide. Did Harry Lee commit suicide because he was in zero period AP Calculus? I don't see how you can draw that. Once more, I remind people that correlation does not imply causation, and that just because Harry was in zero period AP Calculus doesn't mean that that was a primary cause of his suicide. I believe Harry was in band, and I think you would agree that his being in band doesn't necessarily mean that he committed suicide because he was in band. To infer causality, we should be looking for a common thread among all those that committed suicide. Zero period doesn't qualify, given that only one of the students who committed suicide was in zero period.

I agree that this change, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't mean much. However, this, like the students who went to the meeting said, sets a dangerous precedent to where the board can make changes independent of the recommendations of the students, or even of the teachers. You can't shut out the two groups who see first-hand what's going on at Gunn.

Finally, allow me to once again register my displeasure at your calling Gunn students "children." It's patronizing. Gunn students are closer to 18, adulthood, than they are to 10. Some are there already. You're not dealing with elementary or middle schoolers who want a longer recess. These are mature people with mature requests, and you cannot, and should not, dismiss them simply because they are young adults.


12 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:40 pm

"As a parent, if the allegation above that Harry Lee was in zero period AP calculus, then that means to me it is not "misguided" although it is paternalistic, as in "fatherly" as in Max and Ken don't want you kids to die, like all good "paternal" figures""

Not sure I am following this argument but I will try, Harry Lee was in Zero Period AP calculus so AP calculus during zero period is "bad" or "a factor". Um.... other students who committed suicide played sports after school, again an OPTIONAL choice, what is going to happen next, are the "fatherly" figures going to ban sports? Some of the students who committed suicide were part of other OPTIONAL activities (choir, theater, clubs, journalism programs etc) are we going to ban all of these?


1 person likes this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Only the ones with a demonstrable connection to suicide such as early start.

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by #RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Paly's Monday schedule is all 7 classes, which meet for less time. From what I've observed, most teachers give tests during block periods simply because there is more time. And it wouldn't be fair to give *one* department all the shorter-time slots, although sure you could rotate that. I took this into account when I said it "wouldn't work" though I should have been more clear and said that I don't think it would work well. Most freshman and sophomores take 7 classes, so their schedule would *ideally* look something like this though it would easily be possible for them to have more tests on one day by having a test in their 2 academic class day and an elective or two electives on one day.
Math, Science, History, English, Languages:

Tu, W - M + E
Th, F - S + elective (?)

Tu, W - H + elective (?)
Th, F - L

If you're wondering why I didn't list it as T/W, W/Th, Th/F to allow for 3 days a week it's because it would make the classes not synced in terms of lecture. For example, on the W/Th day the W student would be taking the test in his first block period of the week while the Th student would have had an extra block lecture (on Tues) before the test.

Meanwhile, you are essentially guaranteeing to students taking 2 classes in 1 department that they will have multiple tests on one day (2 English electives, for example, or any combination of the sciences (ex some combination of physics, chemistry, and biology either of honors, regular, or AP form) are both common). Is this better? Maybe. Is it worth the extra work? Maybe. But what's so wrong with just allowing students to move a test +/- one day given this will greatly alleviate stacking (in theory, even with 6 tests this would reduce it to 2 a day)? It appears to just take less work and teachers wouldn't have to rearrange their schedules much.

To everyone who is convinced that because one student might have died that we should remove zero period:
I wonder how strong this correlation is relative to the numerous others related to suicide. It's known that more males commit suicide than females in the US. Whites are more likely to commit suicide than other races (or so says the Emory webpage I pulled these generalizations from). The list goes on and on - and someone *did* say that we must look under every rock. We must therefore immediately start investigating why whites and males are committing suicide more.

But wait, you say, this isn't necessarily true in Palo Alto! What if the demographics of our suicide cluster are different! 'Ah,' they say, 'that's very interesting. But we know that there is a correlation between these things, and so despite the fact that your local problem may be very different from the national one, we are going to ignore everything you say as a result because it's correlated! We won't even do minimal investigation to confirm whether our assumption is right or not, despite the fact that no harm is done if we're right.'

Does this sound familiar? It was intended to remind of how zero period was eliminated without even the most basic district survey of student opinion, and all the while ignoring all student done surveys that showed support for it.


11 people like this
Posted by Peninsula Shrugged
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:59 pm

When you have a dead student and 100 doctors telling you to pull the plug, you honestly think it's time for a survey? [Portion removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Brian Kaplan
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm

I am the dad of two Gunn students. My senior has absolutely LOVED zero period. He is a well-rounded and very mature for his age. The option to shift his schedule and be able to be done with school earlier has totally worked for him. My sophomore, however, is not an early riser and would NEVER take a zero period class. The option to NOT take a zero period has absolutely worked for her.

I am, btw, a big fan a Dr. McGee.

The larger lesson for students (and many parents) is to understand that school boards are political institutions and can become contentious given the hyper-local nature of the decisions being made.

Many now believe elections (national/state) have no meaningful consequences - voter turnout is at an all time low. Elections do have consequences and local elections have consequences that are felt in your own backyard. Just food for thought as we enter a new election cycle.

With deep respect for the Gunn students, the teachers, the Gunn Administration, and the political process (perhaps in that order).

Brian


6 people like this
Posted by Science please
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

So we have a clear relationship between start times and suicide, and a suicide by a child in zero period? Why do we still have classes in zero period? What will McGee say if we lose another child? School board, please act to give all of our precious students a good night sleep.


26 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:17 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[When you have a dead student and 100 doctors telling you to pull the plug, you honestly think it's time for a survey? [Portion removed.]]

The AAP papers on first mandatory bell are nothing more than self-reported wellness surveys. When the AAP authors confirmed that there was no data to account for self-selection bias of an optional earlier time, they suggested that we conduct our own survey to gather data.

One of the AP Stats students conducted her own wellness survey, and presented the results last night. I wish there were a copy online avail. I think one of the interesting results was that 0 period students were something like 8-10 points less likely to self report depression. I don't know if I'm exactly recalling this correctly.

If Ken Dauber is supposed to be the data guy, then he should act like it.

The data should have been collected before proposing his solves-nothing solution.

[Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by It's called leadership
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Max McGee made an administrative decision that was unpopular with a lot of Gunn folks, but he made the decision in the interests of district students. That's what leadership looks like. Go back 12 months with Kevin Skelly trying to come up with a bullying policy and three years ago with the homework policy. With zero period, Skelly would have sent out a survey for a couple of months, he would have set up a year-long task force, and he would apologize routinely to the board. And he would get a contract extension because the principals kept the ghost of his predecessor alive. McGee actually believes that zero period needs to be dealt with immediately because he has been shocked and awed into leadership by the multiple deaths of his high school students in the last eight months. As for the students speaking last night, I'm not that impressed. They came and spoke but almost every single one of them comes from a privelaged background. As more speakers spoke, I stopped being impressed with the innocence of teenagers participating in civics and started being repulsed by entitled children demanding earned adult decision-making. Listening to students, or their parents, does not always mean doing what the loudest or most powerful say. Good job, McGee. Don't stop, either. Measure A is still not going to pass, and I'm certainly voting NO on the next one in which you will threatened to increase the class size of my children if I don't vote yes, but we the voters need the entire PAUSD organization that it has failed on so many levels in recent years and more money and status quo maintenance are not going to help our children. Good luck!


Like this comment
Posted by Katniss Everdeen
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:19 pm

[Post removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:25 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

It's not called leadership.

It's called political expediency.

The decision solves nothing. If you believe the opinions, then fine. But then, the decision would have eliminated 0period PE, sports, etc.


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Science please, once more I say that those studies are operated on mandatory early start times. They aren't applicable here. No Gunn student is forced to start any earlier than 8:25. On average, zero period students get more sleep than the rest of Gunn.

[Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by #student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Teachers please
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:58 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Exhausted
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:03 pm

My daughter "chose" to take zero period and honestly, we are simply exhausted. I worry for her health and well-being. I worry about driving to work sleepy. Thank you to Max for being a courageous leader and taking action. Had you decided the other way, tired parents like me would have been the outraged ones.

And likewise Thank You to Denise Herrmann for being a compassionate, courageous leader.


8 people like this
Posted by Katniss Everdeen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Statistical relationships are informative even when they are not natural experiments and don't yield perfect causal inference. A large body of medical science demonstrates that early start is associated with a dramatic increase in the number of suicide attempts even after controlling for other variables.

That more than meets any threshold for the need to mitigate and reduce the risk. Most social science dos not yield perfect causal inference. But taking into account the evidence, the strength and significance or robustness of the relationships and the theoretical significance of the argument leads to determinations of how to interpret the association.

In this case the association between sleep, early start, and suicide when considered in the context of an actual suicide cluster including several deaths related to sleep deprivation and at least one in zero period means that we cannot afford the risk.

[Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Misha
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Hear, Hear. What say the teachers union about the importance of youth well-being and suicide prevention? Aside from the individual efforts of a few very brave and good-hearted teachers, I would like very much to know what exactly the faculty have initiated and implemented to contribute to positive change.


48 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I have a question to people who are feverishly congratulating the decision:

If you are so passionate about sleep research and teen mental health, why do you not care about more than 200 students (PALY+Gunn athletes) who are currently taking zero period? After all, they can still take the zero period PE. When a student becomes an athlete, does he/she suddenly become an adult?, can he/she suddenly have a CHOICE to take the zero period? and is it OK for him/her to wake up early? And, how about the school athletes who have practices at 5:30am? Aren't they -as you put it- children who are also covered by SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE?

See the hypocrisy?


2 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

My daughter "chose" to take zero period and honestly, we are simply exhausted. I worry for her health and well-being. I worry about driving to work sleepy. Thank you to Max for being a courageous leader and taking action. Had you decided the other way, tired parents like me would have been the outraged ones.
Why did you put this in quotes? She did choose to take it, because she clicked the "enroll" button. And if Gunn is anything like Paly, you signed a slip of paper acknowledging she had enrolled. Regardless -- have you considered asking her to bike or carpool with friends? Perhaps this would reduce your sleepy driving.


Unrelated to above but -- someone mentioned that a student survey indicated 0-period students were getting more, not less, sleep on average and/or were less likely to admit to being depressed than Gunn's general student body. You'd think this merits further investigation.


3 people like this
Posted by You Know...
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I think these type of articles should not be open to discussion on an online forum. The hurt and damage caused by many of the comments, on both sides of the argument, are being read by our high schoolers, the very ones we are trying to help.

There is nothing good in these posts for our teens.

This online forum just sells ad space for the Weekly.


5 people like this
Posted by Gunn Grad '14
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Katniss, I don't doubt the validity of studies that say that students, as a whole, are benefited by later start times, and any studies linking earlier start times to suicide risk for the average student. What I take issue with is the erroneous assumption that that trend is perfectly translated to every student. When averages are taken, the margins are going to be misrepresented, and I hypothesize that students who take zero period are, in general, on the margins.

As to your point that students who don't want to lose their zero period are selfish, well, this whole article is about 20-odd students, most of whom are in zero period, testifying that it is not the problem. Nobody wants another suicide; nevertheless, removing zero period is not the answer. [Portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by @RightNow
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:48 pm

@parent

I personally do care about PE and Broadcast. Particularly Broadcast. This is a class that is NOT based on "choice." It is only offered at one time, 7:20am. If you want to take that class, if that is your passion at Gunn, you have to take it at 7:20am. At Paly you can take it in the regular day. Paly has a far superior journalism program and they have no trouble figuring out how to teach this later in the day. So there isn't any issue with this being taught outside zero period but yet if you want to do video journalism at Gunn, you have to take it at 7:20 with no choice. Hear that "choicy" people? No choice other than to forego the class.

So that one should no way be in zero period.

PE likewise should not be at 7:20. Nothing should be at 7:20. But Max clearly sees this as a compromise -- he said it directly, this is a compromise.

Would you like to see 100 doctors at the next school board meeting arguing that PE should be moved too? Keep arguing and that could happen. Maybe you should take your half a loaf and stop.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:51 pm

@ You know...

If you want to find a forum where opinions are not welcome and any kind of advocacy for kids or expression of emotion will be promptly squashed, sign up for your parent list at JLS.

I think the kids have handled themselves in a very mature fashion above, and I think the community has been honest and (mostly) respectful. Emotion is allowed and normal.

I watched a TED talk recently by Nobel Laureate Kallash Stayarthi, who urges us to become angry. The title: How to make peace? Get angry. Anger is power, anger is energy. He says anger leads to ideas which lead to action. That if we are confined within selfishness, then anger results in violence and destruction (note to district office). If we use our inherent compassion, the same anger could be transformed to making a better world (note to parents and students).

"The one who can transform his anger into idea and action will change the world."

Note to Brian above: If you are a McGee fan as I am too, then help him get a few millstones off his neck and out of the district office so he can soar for our kids. (Why I am voting NO on Measure A.)


5 people like this
Posted by Katniss Everdeen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:58 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


16 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:02 pm

@RightNow,

What kind of a compromise is this?

* Less than 200 kids can not take academic zero period.
* More than 200 kids can and will take 7:20am PE.

Why do you think it should take 100 doctors to present at the next board meeting?


19 people like this
Posted by #student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Sleep deprivation is a problem, but it's not strictly limited to kids in 0 per classes. I have friends NOT taking zero period classes who get <5 hours of sleep per night, due mainly to test stacking, bad study skills, or just a lot of work in general. Eliminating zero period is not an end-all-cure-all.


11 people like this
Posted by Gunn Alumnus
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:12 pm

@You Know

I find this attitude horrifying. It is both deplorable and despicable that you would seek to isolate students from a debate about their future. Pretending the debate doesn't exist is both counterproductive and an affront to every single Gunn student concerned about their education. If you would rather not consider the opinions of others, that's fine, but do not ever presume to make that choice for others. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm

iSez is a registered user.

@parent: The difference is that there is pressure on the students to take a zero period core class to stay competitive. Wherever the pressure is coming from (themselves, peers, parents) there are students who are not larks who attend zero period to stay competitive. No one feels pressure to take zero period P.E. And those who take zero period P.E. don't usually have to wake up early the entire year. When their sport is in season, they can skip the class and get more sleep. Zero period core classes are regular classes that are supposed to be attended.


17 people like this
Posted by Gunn Alumnus
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Gunn Alumnus is a registered user.

@Right Now

As a Broadcast alum, I'd like to point out that Gunn's broadcast program, which is wholly separate from Gunn's print journalism program, outperforms Paly's broadcast program, which is wholly separate from Paly's print journalism program, on a regular basis at national student broadcasting conferences, and indeed in quality of daily broadcast. Your characterization of Paly's broadcasting program as "far superior" is quantifiably false. Nobody is forced to take Broadcast--every staffer makes the choice to come in early because they like taking the class, and part of the class is getting up early to do the news. Just like in the real world. They are not coerced, nor do they gain an academic advantage from it--they are there because it's their passion. Let me assure you, if you've found your passion, you are happy to get up early for it.


11 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@#student

"I have friends NOT taking zero period classes who get <5 hours of sleep per night, due mainly to test stacking, bad study skills, or just a lot of work in general."

I think you're touching on something very important here. I worry about this far more than the zero period issue, which is acting as a proxy for the bigger issue: "How do we reduce sleep deprivation and its effects among our students?" If a student is diligent about completing work and studying for tests and has over scheduled, the options are not good: cut corners, accept bad grades or reduce hours of sleep. I remember students at MSJ in Fremont, where I taught, who were quite competitive while talking about how little sleep they were getting by on while carrying their heavy academic and extracurricular loads. Subtext: "This is how little sleep I can get by on and still pull it off. Can you match that?" I'm glad to hear that many Gunn students and their parents safeguard sleep time, but I suspect that many are caught in the bind that my former students were and suffer as a consequence.


11 people like this
Posted by _Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:54 pm

_Parent is a registered user.

@Jerry Underdal,

I'll let the students speak for themselves for Gunn, but my experience of Stanford some years back is a kind of I'm-not-breaking-a-sweat intellectual machismo -- people killing themselves behind closed doors with a load they could brag about while trying to maintain a facade of it being easy as a measure of their intellectual superiority. I don't know if that culture continues today, but I've heard disturbing reports of similar in our high schools.

I think Gunn families try to safeguard sleep time, but I think a lot of them aren't all that successful, because of the homework loads, test stacking, etc. Sadly, we got nowhere even in MS with complaints about homework, nowhere at all, until after the last tragedy, not even after the first.

The new world of computer knowledge environments is a gamechanger, though. One common theme from homeschool communities is the kids can now get through their required class material (even advanced courses) in the first few hours of the day and have the rest of the day for projects, reading, field trips, or more advanced work. It really is possible to do all that and not break a sweat anymore, but the kids have to have the freedom/opportunity to choose blended courses.


11 people like this
Posted by Gunn15
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Gunn15 is a registered user.

To All:

I have devised a most wonderful solution that will appease all concerns for the welfare of my fellow students, as well as provide an answer to the questions the Adults of the community are posing.
First of all, school shall start precisely at half past eight in the morning. We, the people of Henry M Gunn Senior High School, shall collectively recite the pledge of allegiance in the Spangenberg Theatre and afterwards, sit down quietly with our hands in our laps, so that we may listen to the Great Leader Dr. Denise Herrmann's speech for the next half hour.
At nine o'clock, we shall disperse and walk to our homeroom classes. There, we shall learn the splendid subjects of mathematics and sciences until noon, when the people of Henry M Gunn Senior High School will be allowed to eat lunch. "Lunch" will last for no more than half an hour; classes will resume at half past noon.
Students shall return to their homeroom classes, where they will then learn the wonderful language of English and the fascinating Histories of the United States of America and Its Surrounding Countries for the next three hours.
Then, class shall be dismissed. However, students are required to return straight home. Students absolutely may not engage in the disgraceful, stress-inducing practice of "Sports" after school.

I sincerely thank you all for listening to this humble proposition of mine. I wish the best for all.


23 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:36 am

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Palo Alto Online and Bill Johnson need to be called out.

Forgot about quality journalism. Our community newspaper doesn't even exhibit the least bit of "intellectual curiosity".

PAO/BJ have as much a role to play in this mess that were in now as Ken Dauber, calling on McGee to bypass "data collection and analysis", in the editorial "The "Zero" Period Hypocrisy":
Web Link

Being bullied by the local paper serving our community is partly how we end up with McGee making a decision of political expediency to adopt the Ken Dauber solves-nothing (does not even conform to opinion, leaving 0 period PE/sports) proposal, bypassing due process, data collection, and input from students. This is a responsible actor in our community?

Hogwash.

When the paper promotes a proposal citing papers (AAP), I'd like to see our community paper have the intellectual curiosity to actually read it. It doesn't take long before it is clear that the paper is not relevant to a self-selected group in a voluntary program. I'm not even asking for investigative journalism, but all it takes is to drop a dime and ask one of the researchers and they freely admit that there is no data for this. The students that you are so quick to dismiss (by effectively calling for McGee to ignore) read the paper, identified this, ran their own wellness survey (that AAP paper part on start time is based simply on wellness surveys, not rocket science). I'm not seeing even a little intellectual curiosity here ...


So, Palo Alto Online and Bill Johnson, what do you see as your role in our community here?


3 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:48 am

parent2 is a registered user.

Greenmeadow Dad, [Portion removed.] You have been arguing very vigorously against this change and there is nothing wrong with that. [Portion removed.]

This is a political situation. Politics does mean compromise -- that's what politics is. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing. There is nothing awful or bad or illegitimate about compromise and the fact that you are arguing so strenuously against compromise is very weird.

Compromise is when everyone gets something and no one gets exactly what they hope for. Personally I think that Broadcast News should not be in zero period. I don't think if that is your passion you should have to choose between losing sleep and giving it up. But in the interest of moving on and compromise I and others are compromising on that issue and on PE.

You have an absolute right to continue to agitate for your position and to keep going. Is that helpful when Dr. McGee has already said that he isn't changing the decision? Whose interest does that serve?

What about throwing stink bombs at the guy who buys his ink by the barrel? Helpful?

These students are being whipped into a frenzy by adults like you who I think are acting completely irresponsibly. A student in zero period has died. The doctors have all said pull the plug. It would be irresponsible to say nothing of legally untenable and dangerous to the public money to maintain it under these conditions.

[Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:34 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@C Writes: "There is no easy solution to this."

Then I demonstrate one possible solution. In response she shows a solution:

"Math, Science, History, English, Languages:

Tu, W - M + E
Th, F - S + elective (?)

Tu, W - H + elective (?)
Th, F - L

Is this better? Maybe. Is it worth the extra work? Maybe. But what's so wrong with just allowing students to move a test +/- one day"


Some comments on this:

1) You ask Is this better than 6 tests in one day? - really? YES! And it is definitely worth it. Do both - test schedule and allow test movement. Do it all.

2) Why has this problem eluded the district for 6 years? THE BIGGEST STRESSOR ON STUDENT SURVEYS ignored for 6 years!! That is a collosal failure. Why?

There is something here to analyze: we went from "There is no easy solution to this." to a workable solution in about 30 minutes. Our district has known about this problem for 6 years, and yet no solution. We have to ask ourselves why? There are a few reasons for such epistemic failure:

3)I think that how you manage problems is important - a common response (we see here) is that a failure to KNOW the solution leads to denying the problem is solvable. An existence of a solution frees your mind. You fail to solve what you don't know because you are not managing problems, you are managing image.

Obviously problems exist without solutions. You gotta stop denying the problem. It is far easier to declare no solution (the problem is hard), than do declare that you don't have a solution. And this epistemic failure is rife in our district. They have to admit they have problems, then set about solving them. If you wait for a solution before you admit you have problems, nothing happens.

4)Another aspect is poor leadership. When a leader in this district proclaims: "There is no easy solution to this." It signals to the rest of the organization that this is not important, don't bother. I have never once heard a board member say: " I HAVE no easy solution to this, but it is REALLY important, so can we get some people together to work on this problem?" Never once. They are far more concerned with being the smartest _looking_ person in the room that they forget to solve the actual problems. Many, many problems. Unsolved. Many. Or maybe our board members don't really care about the student problems. The NUMBER ONE STRESSOR PROBLEM FOR STUDENTS. I suspect they don't really care. Never showed any empathy on this item publicly in the past. Just don't give a shit.

Finally, our Board abdicated authority over sites years ago. The Site-based fiasco leads to no leadership in the District, none in the sites, and teachers are operating as a school unto themselves. What impact does this have? Well it means that even if a teacher shows some initiative on this item, it will go NOWHERE. The problems we face today are systemic. Meaning that they cross departments, they cross sites, the are interactions between District and sites and community. They cannot be solved from the bottom up - no one teacher can solve a department scheduling problem that spans the entire school. So the individuals cannot solve this, the sites don't bother because the board doesn't ask anything of them. Like, literally this is one of a half dozen problems that nobody is even trying to solve. The organization is so fractured top-to-bottom that systemic problems cannot be solved by individuals; and leadership is non-existent to solve these problems.

What else could be solved:
- Schoology usage.
- Homework policy
- Bad teachers intimidating, demotivating, bullying our kids
- Bad principals backing up bad teachers
- Test stacking
- Union relationship with the community
- District trust (they don't have any)
- Board respect (they don't have any)
- Creating a better user experience for students. This is huge: top-to-bottom, K-12, the user experience for students is a confusing, bureaucratic, disjointed, disorganized mess. Every year is like joining another school, every teacher manages their class so different (and not very well)

...chop-chop. Lot of problems to solve. Time to stop denying them. Time to start managing problems instead of managing image. time to admit you don't know the solutions, but want problems solved. Get to work.


9 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:58 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

...here are some more systemic problems that could be solved if someone admitted:

- Improve the transitions between Elem - Middle school, Middle-High school

- Improve the entire English writing curriculum end-to-end. When the schools fail to teach sentence, paragraph and mechanical items in middle school, it becomes impossible to teach analysis, framing and organization in high school.

- if you get a bad teacher one year, you are promoted in priority to get a good teacher next year to help catch you up.(this makes the system responsible for fixing the mistakes it creates, eliminates gaps in learning, and may restore engagement. Squarely places responsibility to teach on the teachers and the system)

- organize school wide, individual teacher-class surveys. Each student in each class should have the ability to survey their teacher for that specific subject and comment on clarity, organization, quality of teaching, engagement, fairness, and whether the teacher tests beyond what they taught.

- organize the teachers to teach the teachers. The best teachers have some magic in how they organize the classroom, how they organize the homework, how they engage students. Use them to teach those who lack these skills.


Systematic problems abound in this district, as do relatively simple solutions. But nobody is even trying because each teacher is treated like a sovereign school operating in isolation.

How to get this noticed and solved: Vote No on Measure A

Demand good management of our schools.
Stop pressuring students #RightNow


106 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:41 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

Greenmeadowdad

I agree with you. It bothers me that on-line "journalism" has come down to getting advertising clicks. There are many remedies that could and should be explored besides the things that happen at school. My impression is that PA OnLine has concluded they will get the most attention by focusing all blame on the teachers and schools - it is all about advertising dollars and too hell with the students and teachers.
I also agree a paper interested in real journalism would focus more attention on the harm Ken Dauber has brought. I think many parents would like to know how many of the PAUSD legal issues were promoted (actively involved in) by the Daubers? - what is the scorecard of outcomes?, how much have the fabricated cases cost the district?, how much teacher/admin time has been wasted? and how much damage has been done to both teachers and students? - being accused of things that are simply false.


7 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

parent2 is a registered user.

Many of these students demanded action on test and project stacking. I would like to recite a brief history of this issue just so people know where the responsibility for the lack of action on this issue lies.

In 2008-09, test and project stacking came out as a top stressor of students in both WASC surveys as well as in the Strategic Plan survey. Most students ranked it either first or second after homework as a source of stress.

In 2010, Project Safety Net Item P-8 included it as an item that should be addressed as part of the suicide prevention plan.

Nothing was ever done about it. Camille Townsend and Melissa Caswell were on the board during this period.

In 2011 Ken Dauber asked that P-8's items and specifically test and project stacking be considered. He held a series of public meetings, organized a parent group to press for stress relief and met with board members and the then-superintendent to ask for this. No action was taken.

In the summer of 2011, Ken Dauber asked that the board set focused goals regarding test and project stacking and homework and counseling. Counseling had already been a focused goal for 3 years but nothing had yet been done. Goals for homework, counseling, and test and project stacking were set and Dauber played a substantial role in drafting the goals.

During 2011-12, homework was addressed through a committee that Dauber served on. He continued to press for reform on counseling and test and project stacking. Counseling became a major issue but due to the intransigence of the very same union leaders who filed a grievance against Denise Herrmann it became a big controversy. The superintendent made no progress on test and project stacking. Schoology was purchased but Skelly announced it was not required.

During the summer of 2012, the board decided at Skelly's recommendation to drop the test and project stacking and homework focused goals for 2012-13. Dauber pleaded with the board not to drop the test and project stacking goal since nothing had been done yet, and to continue to work on homework until the policy was implemented. They ignored this request. Skelly told the board and public that the test and project stacking goal was no longer needed becasue "we have schoology now" and that "solved the problem."

hahaha.

The board, including Caswell and Townsend agreed heartily and dropped those goals.

During the summer 2013, Dauber again asked the board to re-adopt a test and project stacking goal for the 2013-14 school year and also to again take up homework policy implementation, on which zero had still been done, and also to look at schoology. The refusal of Gunn teachers to use Schoology was starting to boil over in terms of parent frustration and Dauber pleaded with the board to address that issue.

Nothing was done. At that time, the board was fully immersed in spending all its time and attention fighting with the federal government, and was expending nearly $250K per year on fees for Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost to fight over the OCR complaints on bullying and sexual harassment. The board also was not treating stress as a major problem any more since in their minds the suicide danger was past and it was back to business as usual.

During the 2013-14 school year Kevin Skelly announced his departure. The board got involved in the superintendent search as well as formulating a strategy in secret to resist the authority of the federal government and lobby on this issue with Fagen Friedman. Fagen's fees became a major issue in the community and serious questions were raised about Fagen's advice, fees, and strategy.

Nothing was done to implement schoology on a mandatory basis. Teachers continued developing their own separate websites, there was no enforcement of the homework policy, and there was no addressing of test and project stacking.

During the summer of 2014, Dauber AGAIN asked the board to please please address test and project stacking, Schoology, and homework policy implementation.

Nothing was done.

That is where we are today. So kids, if you want to know why nothing has been done on the issues you are so upset about -- test and project scheduling and homework, then you need to ask Townsend and Caswell, as they are the ones who did nothing for all those years.


8 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:47 am

My Thoughts is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

At this rate, let's see, if we have a dozen issues...x 7 years + a Union battle to solve every issue... = 96 years to solve the problems they have currently made for us.

Not counting the new problems they create each year with their head in the sand.


8 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Things were not moving fast enough before, no doubt.

So, the way to fix this is to have our community newspaper call out to our superintendent to bypass "data collection and analysis" ("Zero Period Hypocrisy" editorial), and bully our superintendent into the Ken Dauber solves-nothing proposal? The newspaper, board, and superintendent ignored existing data, didn't bother to collect additional data (so easy, a high school student who hasn't "fully matured" could do it), didn't give students a voice in the process. And for those who were so enamored with the opinions, we got a decision that doesn't even conform to the opinion and solves nothing

So, I think we swung a little too far in the other direction in this case of 0 period, as illustrated by an embarrassed superintendent apologizing profusely and promising to do better with the decision making process in the future ...


10 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Again, agreed that things on many issues haven taken too long.

[In 2008-09, test and project stacking came out as a top stressor of students in both WASC surveys as well as in the Strategic Plan survey. Most students ranked it either first or second after homework as a source of stress.]

So, why then has Ken Dauber spent his "first time up to bat" on a voluntary Zero Period. Have the students ranked that as a stressor anywhere? Did he act like the data driven guy he claims, and read the AAP paper to see if it applies (which we know it doesn't)? Did he have the intellectual curiosity to conduct his own study (AAP on start time is simply wellness surveys, not rocket science), as suggested by the AAP author?

So, rather than focusing on the top priority, Ken Dauber (and the Palo Alto Online) led us into the weeds with Zero Period ...


10 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm

parent2 is a registered user.

Greenmeadow Dad -- for a guy who complains that no one is listening, you are not a good listener. Many people have responded to your question as to why zero period is an issue and you don't like the answer so you are pretending you didn't get an answer.

Here's your question with an answer. Please stop posting that you haven't received the answer.

Q. So, why then has Ken Dauber spent his "first time up to bat" on a voluntary Zero Period. Have the students ranked that as a stressor anywhere?

A: Because Harry Lee was in zero period AP Calculus, became depressed and suicidal very suddenly and then took his own life. As a result, over 100 doctors came forward including the district's own consulting psychiatrist, every pediatrician at PAMF, and the members of the HEARD alliance and asked the district to eliminate it. It would have been irresponsible to make any other decision for Dauber or McGee given that neither of them are doctors and there was already a dead student. Had they waited and another student died, hushed, they would have properly faced public disgrace and possibly even bankrupting lawsuits. Under this set of facts there was no right decision other than the one McGee made and Dauber advocated. I would personally have gone further and eliminated athletics and other activities before 8:30am. The research on sleep is overwhelming. This is actually pretty much the minimum that the district can do and it brings Gunn into alignment with Paly.

Q. Did he act like the data driven guy he claims, and read the AAP paper to see if it applies (which we know it doesn't)?

A. Dauber is not a doctor, nor is he a sleep researcher. He heard from every major practitioner and scientist in this area and they were uniform in their views. Not a single doctor or scientist advocated on the other side. Without exception they urged the district to go further than it did and also eliminate PE and move middle school start times to 8:30.

It was reasonable for Dauber to rely on peer-reviewed scientific evidence. He should disregard it on the basis of what? An anonymous fulminator on Palo Alto online who states as fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics is wrong? What?

Q. Did he have the intellectual curiosity to conduct his own study (AAP on start time is simply wellness surveys, not rocket science), as suggested by the AAP author?

Dauber is not a sleep researcher and is not qualified (nor are you) to "conduct his own study." He consulted Professors William DeMent and Raphael Pelayo of Stanford who are qualified and they recommend strongly eliminating zero period. A reasonable public official should reasonably rely on those expert views. Those expert views, coupled with the fact that a student in a zero period course had already died made it the only responsible choice.

Dauber was right to raise the issue and took a position consistent with his ethics and conscience I am sure. It makes sense that you are disappointed but what does not make sense is your repeated personal attacks and those of others on someone who has been a fighter to make life better for kids in the district, to reduce stress, and to prevent suicide. When students are dying, we need our leaders to be willing to step up and make hard choices that won't always be popular. We don't have time in a crisis, when we have four dead students this year alone, to dilly-dally. We have the informed medical opinion, we have a death, and no leader would be forgiven if they did not take strong action and then the unthinkable occurred again.

Dauber may have made a hard choice you don't agree with but that's what I want my leaders to do -- make the choice for the greater good, ignore the screaming mob that wants their own kid to be advantaged over the good of the community, and take the heat for it. Good on McGee and Dauber for it. You can disagree but stop smearing.


8 people like this
Posted by parent2
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

parent2 is a registered user.

Most parents, when presented with this set of facts, see this "first at-bat" as a grand-slam homer, exactly why they elected him, why he came in first, and as a long-overdue and much-needed breath of fresh air on a board that sat around fiddling while Rome burned.

This district has been in a long suicide epidemic. Our suicide rate is many times the national average. We have had two different clusters in the past 6 years, and the rate between the clusters was also elevated, meaning the cluster never fully subsided, and now has re-emerged. The statistical odds of that occurring by chance are infinitessimal.

[Portion removed.]

Camille Townsend and Melissa Caswell sat around praising Kevin Skelly and Charles Young and doing nothing for six long years and now the students, teachers, and parents of this district are reaping a whirlwind of death and destruction that might be literally unparalled in any school district anywhere in this country.

To me this is a grand-slam home run, and I am betting on the good sense of the parent community on this one.


7 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Every lost life is a tragedy.

[Portion removed.]

We have wellness data from the students on their top stressor.

Instead of spending his valuable political capitol for his first agenda item on the item identified (by data) to take the biggest bite out of stress for all students, he (and the Palo Alto Online) lead us into the weeds with Zero Period.

Let's give you the benefit of the doubt imagine a study that has data showing harm for an optional program. The Zero Period issue is in the weeds for providing a benefit to ALL students.


Leadership ... is not wasting your time/effort on things that are of little consequence [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by My Thoughts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:37 pm

My Thoughts is a registered user.

@Greenmeadow Dad - I have some questions about your line of reason. I have read and re-read your posts, and I think your take on the research goes something like this:

- many papers examine loss of sleep pointing to depression
- many papers examine early start times pointing to depression


All of these were controlled studies where kids were assigned a start time rather than choosing a start time.

Your point, if I understand, is that very little research has been done where students are allowed to "choose"; is your hypothesis that "choice" immunizes students against the base rate of sleep-linked depression?

Okay; maybe there is no data for this, but we still have the base rates of sleep-linked depression. In the absence of more precise studies on the impact of "choice" what we are left with is the base-rate impact of sleep loss on depression. Ignoring this is senseless.

But we actually have more. We have a class of 200 students with early start times, and one suicide. That alone would make any experimenter shudder, and early-terminate the experiment. There is in fact existence proof that "choice" does not immunize one from depression. Do we know the exact cause? No. We don't need to - any experimenter at this point would error on the side of caution, and end such an experiment. That is why we have ethics boards review human-subject experiments. To prevent further harm to remaining subjects.

This experiment needs to end. The evidence is in. And Max and Dauber are acting with an abundance of caution because that is the sane, mature, healthy thing to do. And our research in this experiment supports it. I don't think we need to collect any more data points on this item. One is more than enough.

(With apologies and condolences to Harry's family)


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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