News

Gunn schedule change wins support, but implementation feels rushed to some

Palo Alto school board will vote on proposed Gunn bell schedule May 26

Despite mostly broad support expressed at Tuesday's school board meeting for the structure of a new bell schedule for Gunn High School, an expedited timeline for implementation is raising concern among some students and staff.

Gunn's Creative Schedule Committee, made up of more than 20 students, parents, faculty and administrators, is recommending that the board approve a 75-minute rotating block schedule with fewer classes meeting for longer periods each day to start this August. Gunn currently operates on a modified block schedule, with five or six classes meeting in 58-minute periods each day, which is often described as a hectic daily pace accompanied by a "relentless flow of overnight and weekend homework assignments," the committee's recommendation reads.

Gunn math teacher Diane Gleason urged the board to accept the proposed bell schedule but noted that for her, "the implementation in August is disappointing. It's a little bit rushed."

Gunn sophomore Chloe Sorensen said the top concern she's heard from staff and students about the new schedule is the "significant lack of staff development" time.

The committee has laid out a schedule for professional development for teachers, starting with a day dedicated to planning instruction for a new block schedule on June 1, during finals week. Teachers would also be given up to 32 hours of paid curriculum-writing time over the summer and could expect to see more workshops and professional development days throughout the first and second semesters of the 2015-16 school year.

"To me and many others, this signifies that the administration and the board value the demands of the community and the rush to change our schedule more than the needs of the students and staff," Sorensen told the board Tuesday. "Making drastic changes that affect 2,000 people during times of trauma and grief usually isn't the best idea. It's even worse when you rush them."

At a town hall meeting hosted by the schedule committee last month, Denise Pope -- co-founder of education and youth well-being research group Challenge Success and a lecturer at the Stanford School of Education -- said new bell schedules have typically taken a year or two to implement at schools with which her organization has worked.

And though at a bell-schedule panel in March Gunn Principal Denise Herrmann said she was "leery" of an August roll-out, favoring instead for a January 2016 implementation, Herrmann expressed confidence in the committee's recommendations Tuesday night. The recommendation will return for a school board vote on May 26.

Herrmann said the most important step moving forward will be providing ongoing, flexible support for teachers both in time dedicated to professional learning on block schedules and a new 50-minute period teachers will have every Monday afternoon for collaboration. She offered some wisdom from other teachers who have gone through a schedule change: to not write an entire year's worth of curriculum but to start with the first few units and be ready to tweak if necessary.

At the March bell schedule panel, Palo Alto High School Assistant Principal Kathy Lawrence said the most divisiveness during her school's shift to a block schedule in 2010 was, too, over the condensed implementation timeline.

"I was kind of in the camp of, 'Wait, this is an awesome idea, but I need some time to really think about my curriculum and how I want to do this in a better way,'" Lawrence said in March. "We all survived, though, and right now I don't think there would be anybody who would go back to the modified block schedule that we had."

"Some schools change their schedules every year," board President Melissa Baten Caswell said. "The kids just adapt and the teachers adapt. I'm not saying we should do that, but I think that our fear of change may be getting in the way of making some changes that really will help a lot of people."

Hayley Krolik, a Gunn junior and member of the Creative Schedule Committee, said the committee's recommendation was based on trade-offs. Though each class would meet only three times a week in 70- to 80-minute periods, the pace would be more relaxed, she said.

And making tutorial -- an optional period that's currently at the end of Tuesdays for students to do things like seek extra support for teachers or complete makeup work -- a mandatory mid-morning Friday class does mean a longer Friday. (Students will have four classes Monday through Thursday and five on Friday; currently students with full schedules have six classes three days a week and five on two shorter days.)

However, it provides guaranteed time every week for students to access teachers outside of regular class time. Tutorial will also be used as dedicated time for social-emotional curriculum, freshman orientation (Titan 101) and grade-level counselor meetings. Herrmann said the school is in the process of hiring a part-time social-emotional teacher on special assignment (TOSA) who will design the curriculum.

One Gunn junior and one school board member, Terry Godfrey, urged Herrmann to make sure there is extra counseling staff available in the first week or two of the school year to support students and teachers in the transition to a new bell schedule. Both also suggested there be plenty of support for students who already planned their schedules for the next year and might want to opt to do independent study or to take more blended or hybrid classes, particularly in light of the superintendent's recent decision to ban academic classes during zero period.

That now-contentious decision, strongly opposed by the Gunn student body, was again debated Tuesday night. Students again spoke out against the way the decision was made (without real input from the students themselves, they said), in contrast with several local health professionals -- including Rafael Pelayo, a psychiatry and behavioral science professor at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, and Meg Durbin, Palo Alto Medical Foundation pediatrician and HEARD Alliance co-founder -- who expressed support for not having the school day start before 8:30 a.m., in accordance with a recent American Academy of Pediatricians policy statement on later school start times.

School board member Camille Townsend said she was "troubled" by the process by which the decision on zero period was made. Over spring break, the day after Superintendent Max McGee sent a memo to the five school board members suggesting he propose a ban on academic classes during the early morning period, he sent a message to students, staff and parents letting them know that such a ban would be in place for the start of the next school year.

The zero-period issue had been simmering throughout the community for a month since school board member Ken Dauber raised it at the March 10 board meeting, asking that the board consider it and take action on it. Townsend balked, saying that such a discussion would be premature. But Vice President Heidi Emberling and Godfrey suggested scheduling zero period as an informational item on the board's April 21 meeting agenda, which the rest of the board agreed to do. Following McGee's April 10 message to the community, however, zero period did not appear on that agenda.

"I can assure you this, that in my 12-some years on the school board, there has never been a decision made like this with so little information that the board has been able to discuss," Townsend said Tuesday night.

"Why is there secrecy behind this?" she asked. "Why was it that during break, I received a directive from the superintendent? That is not how we do business here in Palo Alto."

While Godfrey and Emberling described the discussion around zero period as "truncated," "short-circuited" and even the lacking consideration of student voice "disturbing," Dauber defended McGee's authority to make such decisions.

"This is a matter of management discretion," Dauber said. "It was, like many, many topics and decisions within our school district, left to the superintendent and his staff to administer within the parameters set by board policy.

"If we decide as a board that we don't agree with a decision that Dr. McGee has made and we want to set policy around that, just like I didn't agree with a decision that the Gunn principal made three years ago on zero period, then we're perfectly entitled as a board to set policy on that," he added. "What we should not do is criticize or castigate the superintendent for making the decision in the first place. Dr. McGee had the full authority, the full right to do that. He was under no obligation to engage the board in some sort of process around his management decisions."

Most board members agreed that student voice must be better taken into account in future decisions and supported Gunn school board representative Rose Weinmann's proposal that the district form a "student voice committee" to look at how to create channels district-wide for students to be heard.

"My biggest disappointment is that the conversations we are having with our students face-to-face are when there's a problem and not regularly," Baten Caswell said. "There needs to be a way to have dialogues back and forth."

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Showboat
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 10:16 am

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

I hope this ushers in a new era in PAUSD where things can actually get done, and the school board stops micro management and focuses on oversight.


11 people like this
Posted by Townsend IS a bully
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2015 at 10:35 am

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2015 at 10:53 am

What this story doesn't mention is the discussion of people in the community who were threatening to withhold support for Measure A if the district kept Zero Period at gun. Townsend and Dauber had quite a back-and-forth on that, according to the other paper in town, but not a mention of it here. I'd like to see the Weekly investigate who was blackmailing the board by saying I won't support Measure A unless you eliminate Zero Period. Threats made to the district should be public record. Tell us who was making those threats.


Like this comment
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

I don't have a horse in this race, but what you describe is not blackmail. It sounds like politics to me.


9 people like this
Posted by Bully
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

Jesus Christ. It is not "blackmail" even if it did happen. But there's not one scintilla of evidence that it did. McGee flatly denied that it ever happened. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I don't think Townsend said a school board member threatened to withhold support for Measure A. Dauber accused her of saying that, but she never did. I suspect Townsend was suggesting somebody else in the community was making such a threat, and she says she has an email to document it. It may be "just politics," but it's not the way to go about making district policy.

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by News please
a resident of College Terrace
on May 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Why doesn't this story report on the many doctors and professors who came to the meeting? That was very remarkable but it is not reported at all.


6 people like this
Posted by Joe DiMaggio
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Baten-Caswell is not a contributing member of the board. She has shown virtually no leadership -- just operates like a weather vane.


27 people like this
Posted by Jetpilot
a resident of Stanford
on May 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Lots of good discussion at last night's PAUSD board meeting on both the new block schedule and the "zero period" issue. Hats off to Dr. Hermann, the teachers and students who served on the schedule committee who put so much thoughtful effort into the new schedule. Dr. Pelayo was also very articulate in summarizing the compelling science behind why having school start later is the right thing to do. His comments made the handwaving arguments raised by many questioning the science behind later school start times seem like the "climate change deniers"on Fox News.
I was disappointed at the selfishness, lack of empathy and arrogance of the majority of the students who spoke in defense of the status quo. It reminded me a little of Veruca Salt from the Chocolate Factory with the focus on just themselves and what they want-- not what is good for the majority of kids. The finger snapping they did at the meeting is something I'd never seen before-- very rude. Definitely not the kind of young people I would want to become doctors or to serve in the military where the most important value is caring for others. In the US military we never want to leave a comrade on the battlefield. With the 10 or so recent suicides, I'd argue they've already left 10 of their buddies on the field...
Perhaps my perspective is different after having lived for 6 decades, raised 4 children, and served 6 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan--witnessing unbearable tragedy. Achievement is over-rated. What really counts in the long run is resilience, integrity, service to others, and showing love and kindness every day.


8 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm

I supported Measure A and am so glad it passed.

But I'd bet $50 that Max McGee made a secret deal with Ken Dauber and Bill Johnson to win their support for Measure A. I bet Max said that he would nix zero period and change to a block schedule at Gunn if Bill and Ken would support Measure A. Ken was probably going to supper Measure A anyway but getting him to push Bill Johnson to endorse was crucial.

Ken has wanted block scheduling at Gunn for a while. And we know who runs the district these days!

So sad. So glad my last kid is graduating.


13 people like this
Posted by Terman mom
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

It's very odd to be speculating about complicated conspiracies based on nothing, to explain why Max is making changes that are based on medical science, recommendations from Challenge Success. Townsend opposes those changes. Fine. Let her make the case against them. Casting aspersions on Max is bad form.


4 people like this
Posted by a Name
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 1:54 pm

>> "That is not how we do business here in Palo Alto."

Well, maybe it is now.


3 people like this
Posted by Tin foil hat
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Last week they were out of tin foil at safe way so long story short the messages came to me and I am sure the Rodin statues at Stanford told me that Ken and the Weekly did a ton of bad stuff. Really bad. The statues also told me to tell you.


38 people like this
Posted by Diane
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

The best decision the previous Board made was to hire Dr. Max McGee. We asked him to do something so our high school students would not feel that suicide was their best option. He listened to doctors and psychologists who were unanimous that starting school before 8:30 AM added needless stress. He listened to students, parents, staff, and board members who wanted to continue the debate for a month or more. He decided that we could not wait and that he had enough information to make a decision. He acted on this information and declared an end to zero period. Bravo for Dr. McGee!


41 people like this
Posted by Gunn Father
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Rushed? Really? How about the 2010 homework plan ; is it 'rushing' to get it implemented in 2015? Teachers that feel rushed should get in the real world. This has been discussed for months, time for action, and August is doable for those who care about kids dying and realize that change is needed.
As to the Zero Period issue, this is done. Adults , not kids, have made an adult decision based upon the science of sleep. Maybe Gunn needs to teach this science in class so the kids get it , sleep matters more than anything on stress. Kids, and adults for that matter, make bad decisions when they are sleep deprived . There has been enough hand wringing and delay. Move forward with the new bell schdl, get the kids some sleep and lets take another straw off the suicide camel's back.


14 people like this
Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on May 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

@Gunn Parent,

"Secret deals" are what we spend a lot of our time trying to prevent or uncover in our community by probing and monitoring the emails and other communications to and from public officials. You are entitled to your opinion about what may influence these officials, but any suggestion that we asked for or were offered a "deal" on zero period or anything else to win our support for Measure A is completely false.

The Weekly bases it editorial positions on what we think is best for the community, which takes into consideration the policies adopted by the city council, school board and their administrators. If Weekly editorials or concern about how we might editorialize on a topic influences these groups, then that's a natural and perfectly appropriate part of the democratic process. That's why we write editorials. Sometimes they may have an impact on decision-makers or the public and sometimes they may not. But editorial positions are not for sale nor up for bargaining, ever. Our job is to help the public hold elected officials accountable by accurately and fairly reporting on what they say and do, and by asking tough questions. I think our track record on this speaks for itself.


8 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 2:32 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Bill Johnson

[The Weekly bases it editorial positions on what we think is best for the community]

Really? So, is that how you would characterize the abuse of circulation by demanding our superintendent bypass "data collection and analysis" in the "Zero Period Hypocrisy" editorial?. Is this a responsible actor in our community? Hogwash.

Your editorial was the real "Zero Period Hypocrisy" ...

Sincerely,

Robert Rozak


8 people like this
Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on May 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Mr. Rozak,

I think the editorial explains our thinking, so for the benefit of others, here is a link to it: Web Link

The point was not that data wasn't important, it was that it was not necessary to spend weeks or months to gather and compile it. And in fact, within three days of the board meeting all the data about zero period had been gathered by the Gunn staff.


12 people like this
Posted by Comp sci prof
a resident of Stanford
on May 13, 2015 at 2:58 pm

When you have an overwhelming scientific consensus that something is universally harmful, you don't need data that is also harmful in some particular location. Does Rozak wear a seatbelt in Palo Alto? Why -- none of the seatbelt studies were conducted here. Does Rozak avoid consuming DDT? Why -- none of the DDT studies were conducted here.

When you couple an overwhelming scientific consensus with an actual death of a student at Gunn in zero period, what responsible adult would still be fighting over this [portion removed]?


2 people like this
Posted by Comp Sci What?
a resident of Stanford
on May 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by Rushed???
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Couldn't agree more with Gunn Father. How is rolling this out by August rushed given the amount of discussion there has already been? There is another high school & teachers across town that have been doing this for several years. Don't reinvent the wheel, borrow from what has been successful elsewhere and do what's in the best interest of our kids as quickly as possible.

I'm tired of seeing PAUSD and the teachers move at such a glacial pace when student well being is at stake. Now once the block schedule is implemented how about that homework policy?


10 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 3:11 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Bill Johnson,

Here. In case you have forgotten what you have written, let me paste it for you here:

"But to suggest this is a complicated issue needing extensive data collection and analysis is merely a tactic to delay and appease some unidentified stakeholders who are apparently wielding influence behind the scenes."

Actually, it turns out to be a fairly complicated issue. As the AAP papers were read and contact was made with its authors, we learned that the data did not take into account self-selection bias of a voluntary group.

Before you wrote your editorial, did you read the AAP papers and understand this?

I am waiting for the tape. But, I thought I heard from a doctor last night that they looked further into the holes in the data. I don't know if I heard this correctly, but she may have found data that accounts for the bias? But, she did confirm that there was no data regarding the class (PE vs Academic).

We may have saved the academic kids. But, do you think it OK for us to just leave the PE kids at risk and just drop it at this point ... because data collection and analysis is merely a delay tactic?


2 people like this
Posted by Choices
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

@Comp Sci Prof writes: "Does Rozak avoid consuming DDT? Why -- none of the DDT studies were conducted here."



Aren't you aware? Choice confers immunity! By "choosing" to drink DDT, the harmful effects are mitigated in a way that being forced to drink does not.

Being forced to wear a seatbelt doesn't statistically help you at all. Only by "choice" do you gain the benefits of a seatbelt.

Choice is everything to some people - as long as you "Choose", you can expect a subset of data to read differently than all the other data in a study. You can literally "choose" to believe the exact opposite of what a broader study on healthy behavior is, and because it is your choice, it must be good. Or must be disproven by the otherside.

Absurd thinking. Not even scientific-ish.


Like this comment
Posted by HellloooAnyoneHome
a resident of Southgate
on May 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

@BatenCasswell: ""My biggest disappointment is that the conversations we are having with our students face-to-face are when there's a problem and not regularly,"


Um, really? We brought issues to you in the past which you ignore. You keep ignoring, until finally the entire engagement is yelling at you to do your job and fix a broken system. Then out of exasperation, we give up.

Baten Caswell said. "There needs to be a way to have dialogues back and forth."

Okay. How about you listen and do something when we report things that are broken?

[Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[may have found data that accounts for the bias?]

Let me be clear ... as clear as I can. I think she said there is data that fills the hole in the bias, but it still shows self-selectors don't get enough sleep.


Still ...

Bill,

But, do you think it OK for us to just leave the PE kids at risk and just drop it at this point ... because data collection and analysis is merely a delay tactic?


--

I really think that was highly irresponsible for our community newspaper to suggest that we do away with due-diligence ...


9 people like this
Posted by Asked and Answered
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm

@ Greenmeadow Dad - Sleep specialists are on record that people (subjects - and especially teens) are not good judges of whether they are truly early risers or whether they have habituated to a pattern, whether they have adequate sleep or truly "need less than others". For high schools to build in zero period classes and allow students to self-select by leaving it to their own assessment, feels reckless in light of what sleep doctors are telling us.

It seems the only responsible decision to end zero period now - for the best interest of student health, given the connection of sleep to suicide, the number of students known to be at risk and the urgency of a renewed suicide cluster in Palo Alto.

The luxury of time seems more on the side of making the scientific case that it is safe to bring it back IN (for early risers, for flexibility). Your posts reveal your passion for that work ahead.


14 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 3:59 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Bill Johnson

[appease some unidentified stakeholders who are apparently wielding influence behind the scenes]

Oh ... you mean, like, students?

A policy change on zero period has a real, tangible, and immediate effect for the students who take it. From Gunn administration, 80-90% take it to get a G prep, and many of those students use it so they can participate in sports.

In the end, the data may not have been in their favor. But, this change has a big impact on them. For my daughter, who is academically very talented, she will have to drop down to 6 classes. It's not life altering, but it's a real impact. Do you not think that the students deserve due-diligence? Or is my daughter just wielding too much influence behind the scenes for your liking?


Like this comment
Posted by Don't Tread on Me
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Asked and Answered
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Academic classes during zero period are a three year old phenomenon. An artifact of recent creep. To suggest that this is a huge policy shift or takeaway from the well-known academic opportunities at Gunn is absurd.


5 people like this
Posted by Gunn mom of 2
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm

@Rozak, I have read many of your posts and never seen you deal with the fact that a child in zero period died. Why not? Cast out the plank in your own eye.


6 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Gunn mom of 2

Each and every loss is a tragedy ...

I've got no problem telling my daughter that sometimes you've got to take one for the team. But, for those students who are going to be displaced, we owe it to them to demonstrate that the decision is principled, logical, and preferably based in data ... not politics.


9 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ Gunn mom of 2

It just smells of a political decision.
- Removing an agenda item from a future board meeting, eliminating open and transparent discussion, by an executive order decision.
- Calls from our newspaper to skip due-diligence
- If you don't want people guessing and spreading rumors about what the real motivations might be, then start with a proposal that conforms to some kind of logic laypeople can readily identify. If you are swayed by the sleep opinion, this doesn't even conform to it, by keeping PE.

I don't think it's a good thing if we are making student wellness decisions based on politics.


Like this comment
Posted by Rozak takes helicopter parenting to the next level
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by tbt to wasc
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm

At this point I'm still extremely confused as to why zero period still exists for PE, both at Gunn and Paly; apparently McGee attributed the reason behind this to the "benefits of exercise" during his question and answer session with students at Gunn, but the inconsistency here is absolutely absurd--do the benefits of exercise outweigh the detriment of sleep deprivation? How is the continuation of a zero period PE class justified?


2 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Rozak takes helicopter parenting to the next level
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:50 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by a Name
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Ending zero period was a principled, logical, data-drive decision by our superintendent. Action needed to be taken, and he took it. The superintendent doesn't need to be micromanaged by high school students and their demanding parents any more than the school board. His decision was completely within his purview.

Zero period should never have been allowed to happen, and that is on the last superintendent and board.

Bravo to McGee for doing what was right and not being bullied by all of the super special families and their super special requirements.

Zero period should be ended altogether, but trying to mess with athletes will never fly - they even trump the super special kids.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

Isn't 8:25 too early for some teens? If we really think that moving the start time saves lives, why are people satisfied with an 8:25 start? At a minimum the 8:25 start time should be optional electives for early risers...


3 people like this
Posted by Comp Sci What
a resident of Stanford
on May 13, 2015 at 5:08 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Zero Period works for athletes because they don't actually have to go. They are excused from PE during the season of the sport they are playing.


16 people like this
Posted by Help Wanted
a resident of Green Acres
on May 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm

@Diane, you wrote "The best decision the previous Board made was to hire Dr. Max McGee."

Actually, I think that the best decision of the previous board was to move finals before winter break. That might be the one and only worthwhile thing that they did. Everything else was terrible.

As to McGee, he's a terrible manager with lousy political judgment. I think that the last board selected him because he was weak and was basically a high school principal. He may have been good at that job. But he was terrible at being the Illinois Superintendent of Education and he never was able to manage the board politics. He seems to have the same problem here.

Dauber was spot on to tell Townsend to stop bullying and berating McGee (in public, no less). That was torture to watch and it must have been torture for him to experience. But he let himself in for it by letting them have the idea that they are running the show. He has failed so dramatically to manage this situation that it has now burst into public view. [Portion removed.]

Max McGee is the one to blame for this show of shows. He gets paid over $300K per year plus perks and he has the job of managing the board and the organization. He is obviously failing. He gets to bask in the glow of what Denise is getting done at Gunn. The CO gets to wear the medals earned by subordinates in battle I guess. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Comp Sci What?
a resident of Stanford
on May 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm

"Ending zero period was a principled, logical, data-drive decision by our superintendent."

@Name, let's be honest here. Ending zero period was 100% political, to get Measure A passed. The Super doesn't give a crap about start times - I bet if you look at the schools he has managed, directly or indirectly, over his long career, none has ever had a start time as late as Gunn High. [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm

I apologize Bill. I made an attack on your integrity with no facts. I let me displeasure with the schedule changes at Gunn get the best of me.

I will be more careful in the future.


11 people like this
Posted by Asked and answered
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2015 at 6:24 pm

@ Greenmeadow Dad, here's what it smells like to me:

Dr. McGee's decision was inevitable based on overwhelming medical science. The TIMING of handing down that decision may in fact have been political (or economic), but for a different reason that Greenmeadow Dad suggests. No ransom or quid pro quo or secrecy in my story. Just a leader looking at context, complexities and making a decision.

Dr. McGee is a smart man - and a leader. The medical science was in on zero period being dangerous for our youth. The shocking numbers of students hospitalized and known to be at risk was revealed at the previous Board meeting. 100s of doctors stepped forward in an unprecedented appeal to get rid of zero period.

The proverbial writing was on the wall and all over TS that the community supported ending zero period and wanted action. Discontent with delay and inaction (for ending something this risky) was growing in this community and with it the very real risk that Measure A could go down in defeat.

I believe Dr. McGee always knew what he "would do" even though he genuinely wanted to "hear people out", (students in particular). I'd also like to believe he saw the pain that the delay was causing this community; the arguing and anger, the "friendly fire" and the unnecessary pain it was causing when we really need to heal.

The scheduled Board discussion was simply too far away to risk losing Measure A or cause any more unnecessary arguing. The decision came out on the morning after I received my ballot.

I wish Dr. McGee had made his decision weeks earlier and spared me of the opinion that Measure A was in fact the reason for the timing of his decision. I am comforted in my belief that he would have made the decision anyway... and I support him, his leadership and his right to decide.

I also admire that he went directly to students to explain his decision, acknowledged their disappointment, apologized for the process, etc.

To those board members who talked him down last night - he may have single-handedly saved your Measure A.

This may have all been about timing - and an astute, difficult (but obvious) leadership call.


7 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

Measure A was never at risk. Since it failed many years ago, the effort to get it passed has been much better funded and organized. Realtors have too much at stake. Voters (with students, or not) in these zip codes understand what the key drivers are for the real estate portion of their retirement portfolio.

[Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:37 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:41 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Math Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Hi all,

I just want to cast some light on the data behind the zero period decision, and why the Gunn students well versed in Statistics believe that it is misinformed.

Mom of 2, we have had 3 Gunn students commit suicide this year. One was in zero period. However, 3 students is not a sufficient size to say that the probability of a given student committing suicide is higher if they take zero period.

The primary research cited is that (1) mandated earlier start times cause less sleep and (2) less sleep causes increased depression. I do not argue either. However, zero period is not mandated. A Gunn High School student conducted a survey showing that although Gunn suffers from abnormally high rates of depression and sleep deprivation, zero period students are at lower risk for these, and are at lower risk for stress as well. Study 1 is not controlled for choice. 85% of kids do not take zero period - it only takes a simple application of Bayesian statistics and some number crunching to see that the kids taking zero period are primarily only the ones that can handle it. And you don't have to be in a statistics class or some math genius to see it.

Thank you.


7 people like this
Posted by GreenmeadowDad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm

GreenmeadowDad is a registered user.

@ A student died while in zero period

Each and every loss is a tragedy ...


Rather than condemning people to the dark spaces, why don't you show the same outrage that zero period PE remains, and lead the charge to at least resolve this decision with logic?


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Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:49 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Math Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 13, 2015 at 6:49 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

"it only takes a simple application of Bayesian statistics and some number crunching to see that the kids taking zero period are *primarily* only the ones that can handle it."

Ignore the gibberish about Baysian statistics. Look at the word "primarily."

Primarily is the entire problem. Primarily but not solely.

One student, who was not "the ones that can handle it" is now dead.

Primarily.

[Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by tbt to wasc
a resident of Barron Park
on May 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm

While math student's empathy may be lacking, his/her comment is statistically valid. To state that "students are wildly overrepresented in those who are dying" is no more true than saying "students who wear glasses are wildly overrepresented in those who are dying" or "those who ride bicycles are overrepresented..."

Again, the statistical approach displays a lack of empathy and shouldn't really be approached here--but if commenter "A student died while in zero period" wishes to retain even mild credibility in any discussion of zero period from a scientific or statistical perspective, please, please, please, develop a basic understanding of statistical power beforehand.

That being said, attempting to quantify these events from a statistical standpoint has some rather upsetting emotional consequences, and I urge both "math student" and other commenters to err away from doing so.


2 people like this
Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 7:07 pm

I would terminate zero period PE at both Paly and Gunn as well, but I am sure that at this point everyone is waiting for you to crawl off before they talk about it. Perhaps next year or the year after we can come back to it, as well as middle school start times which are before 8:30. But you have made this so toxic and so impossible with your baseless allegations of secret deals etc that everyone just needs you to go away first.


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Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 7:11 pm

To state that "students are wildly overrepresented in those who are dying" is no more true than saying "students who wear glasses are wildly overrepresented in those who are dying" or "those who ride bicycles are overrepresented..."

You would need a theoretical basis for believing that glasses and bicycles can contribute to suicide attemots.

We know that early school start and sleep deprivation do so.

[Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Math Student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 13, 2015 at 7:17 pm

A student died in zero period, I apologise for not making myself clearer. I am self-taught in statistics; Ms. Gleason does not factor into it at all.

And I would never suggest that we ought to obtain sufficient data! I merely suggested that we ought not to extrapolate from insufficient data, and therefore ought not to extrapolate from data about the number of suicides in each camp at all. The following invalidates your base argument:

You see, application of Bayesian statistics to this problem implies that you can have a fraction of a student, which obviously is impractical. Thus, we face rounding errors. If we consider, given a test sample of two suicides and that 15% of students are in zero period, and that zero period is independent of suicide, the probability of one zero period suicide and one not is sufficiently high that fingers cannot be pointed at zero period.
Using reverse statistics and a continuous probability distribution shows that the probability of zero period being independent from or taking away from a suicide mindset is sufficiently high that it is nonnegligible and thus your point does not stand.

Allow me now to quote statistics from a Gunn student's survey.
30% of zero period students were depressed, 38% of normal time students were depressed
zero period students got 30 minutes more sleep on average
zero periods are much less stressed on average, even factoring in things like #AP classes, grade level, etc.
zero period students would become much more stressed than normal-time students on average if they lost their zero period classes this year.


Like this comment
Posted by A student died while in zero period
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 13, 2015 at 7:23 pm

[Post removed.]


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

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