News

Palo Alto committee analyzes school enrollment data to identify issues, solutions

Group to present interim or final recommendations to school board in October

The school district's new enrollment management committee took a deep data dive on Monday night in order to better guide its members toward the charge they have been given: Come up with a series of innovative recommendations for how to address growing enrollment in Palo Alto Unified.

The committee, made up of parents, community members and district staff, discussed at its meeting the potential effect of several strands of data and enrollment trends, from overflow percentages and kindergarten enrollment over the last 20 years to the number of students the district will absorb when families move into a new Stanford University housing development currently under construction on upper California Avenue.

The data is somewhat inconclusive, one committee member noted, both identifying clear problems to be solved but also indicating that in some areas, the enrollment picture is less urgent than has been perceived in the past.

While Palo Alto Unified's actual enrollment has grown by 20 percent since 2006, capacity has also grown by 25 percent, a subgroup of the committee that focused on elementary enrollment found. At the same time, average class size has steadily risen: from 20.7 to 23.5 since 2006. A total of 725 seats – a number equal to the size of nearly two full elementary schools in Palo Alto, committee member Todd Collins noted – have been added over the last decade.

Yet district capacity is higher today than at any time in the last decade, with 18 available elementary classrooms and 642 total available seats (also more than the size of one elementary school).

"That really colored my thinking about it because as you think about – should we add more capacity there, do we need it there — we have an entire elementary school's worth of capacity available," Collins said. "We ought to look to use what we have if we can before saying ... 'we should add more capacity just because we need it in a certain place.'"

Elementary school enrollment today is also higher than it has been historically, but is "still acceptable," the subcommittee said. Those with the most significant growth compared to their size in 2005 and 2010 are Escondido, Juana Briones, Fairmeadow and Ohlone elementary schools.

However, Palo Alto's elementary schools remain smaller than most of their counterparts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Palo Alto Unified has only one elementary school with more than 600 students (Ohlone reached 610 students for the 2015-16 school year), compared to a 19 percent average in both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the subcommittee found, and its median elementary size (470) is below the counties' average (501).

The subcommittee also compared Palo Alto's elementary schools to those within Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that rank in the top 100 for Academic Performance Index (API) scores. Palo Alto enrollment still remains lower than the average of these top-ranked Bay Area schools.

The subcommittee found that K-5 overflow levels, though higher than in the last three years, are actually on the decline. The district overflowed 2.1 percent of students in 2015, compared to 2.4 percent the previous year and 2.6 percent in 2013. The district's highest overflow percentage (3.4 percent) was in 2008, according to the subcommittee.

Broken down by city clusters – north, south and west – the subcommittee said the overflow issue becomes heightened in the city's south cluster (which contains El Carmelo, Fairmeadow and Palo Verde), 68 percent of students are sent out of their cluster to attend school. Palo Verde alone overflowed 100 students out of its cluster, the subcommittee found. In the north and west clusters, only 28 percent of students are overflowed out of their cluster.

The committee also previously discussed a potential need for streamlining the overflow process. Members have said that many parents whose children are overflowed out of their cluster in elementary school are unaware – and not told by the district – that their child will return to their neighborhood school in middle school. The district also gives parents only 24 hours to decide where to go when a student has been overflowed. The committee plans to survey overflowed families in particular to explore such issues.

As the committee considers questions like whether or not to expand some of the district's choice programs or whether there is a demand in Palo Alto for new alternative, non-traditional programs or schools, the data offers one answer. Ohlone's English-only choice program, which emphasizes project-based learning, personalized instruction and collaboration, is the most consistently oversubscribed choice program, with 52 applicants not getting a space through the program's lottery system in 2015. In comparison, almost all applicants to Ohlone's Mandarin-immersion program and Escondido's Spanish-immersion program were accepted.

Collins noted that of those 52 "lottery losers," some were families who valued going to a local school close to their homes more than the choice program itself.

"They're people at Palo Verde and El Carmelo and Fairmeadow who are very scared about getting overflowed to Walter Hays or Barron Park or Nixon," Collins said. "Whatever they think about the Ohlone program, they know it's nearby."

Only offering the Ohlone-philosophy program at one campus also has "spillover effects that are unintended," he added.

The committee has felt some urgency due to impending enrollment growth anticipated from University Terrace, the new 180-unit Stanford development currently under construction. The district will have an estimated 110 children to place from families that move into that housing development – a lower and more manageable number than the committee initially thought.

This is not the district's first attempt to address its enrollment. Several committees have been convened before (this is the third in the last two years) but they had a singular focus on opening a 13th elementary school and there was a lack of follow-up on their final reports or recommendations.

Superintendent Max McGee has said he hopes this group will take a more creative tack on the issue. He has also repeatedly stressed the importance of addressing Palo Alto's three growing middle schools, the enrollment for two of which this year topped 1,100 students.

Palo Alto's two high schools are slightly larger this year than last, with a total of 1,915 enrolled at Gunn High and 2,038 at Palo Alto High as of July 5. Last year, 1,874 students were enrolled at Gunn and 1,933 at Paly, according to 14th-day enrollment numbers compiled by the district.

The enrollment committee's meetings, which began in April, have ranged from discussions about how to take advantage of the district's new five-year lease of the Cubberley Community Center to conversations with Stanford University's Institute of Design, or d. school, on creating an innovative, alternative high school.

The committee's recommendations, due either as in interim or final form to the board in October, made it onto the school board's draft list of five focused goals for the 2015-16 school year.

"Based on the recommendations from the Enrollment Management Advisory Committee

(EMAC), design, develop and begin implementing a strategic enrollment management plan which includes expanding or enhancing choice programming, reorganizing schools and spaces within them aligned with community values (in BP 7110), and developing Cubberley and/or other district owned facilities in an innovative manner aligned with the district's vision and strategic plan goals," the draft goal reads.

Over the next few weeks, the committee will be fine-tuning a survey for parents and organizing focus groups. Their next meeting is Monday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave., Room A.

Comments

20 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Suggest you look carefully at people who say their residence is Palo Alto so their children can attend Palo Alto schools, but really are living somewhere else. I hear all they need is a drivers license that says they live in Palo Alto. If they have a friend or relative living in Palo Alto they use that address.


27 people like this
Posted by Transplant
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm

The increase in enrollment has not been a good thing at all. Many studies have shown that a teacher's effectiveness plummets when the class size increases to more than 20 students.

Many class sizes at the elementary level are now above the mid-thirties. Perhaps there is a correlation between this and the lowering of educational quality at the elementary and middle school levels


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm

When I was a PAUSD elementary student in the sixties, classes routinely had over 30 kids.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Several points.


I seem to remember a bond/tax measure about 10 years ago designed to keep K - 3 grade maxed at 20 students. What happened to this money?

I seem to remember the AAAG committee recommended opening a 13th elementary back 10 years ago, but they were ignored.

I seem to remember a cap put on elementary schools of 500 students, with a couple of schools being given leeway to go above this number. What happened to this cap?

When elementary schools have to stagger lunchtimes, stagger which grade gets to play on the field, and invent quiet activities to prevent too much activity in the playgrounds, it is a clear sign that our elementary schools are too big. Elementary kids need to be able to run around and let off steam every day at recess and lunch time. They learn better if they get rid of their energy and use their major motor skills in the playground, not playing chess or learning handcrafts. Nothing wrong with chess or handcrafts, but they are not alternatives for free play in the playgrounds.

When families are driving across town to get kids to elementary school, the kids are losing out on the ability to walk or bike to school, as well as the ability to get to know the kids in their own street let alone their own neighborhoods. This practice of overflowing also causes a great deal of traffic around town.

We need to keep elementary kids in their own neighborhood schools not commuting across town.

We don't have school buses anymore. Kids should not be in cars adding to the traffic nightmares.


29 people like this
Posted by Transplant
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Musical: that was during the post-WWII baby boom. Prior to that, birth rates were low due to war, economic hardship, and higher infant mortality. Consequently, not enough schools were built to educate the then-new Baby Boomers.

Don't you recall a boom in groundbreaking for new schools during the late fifties through the late sixties? The class sizes were in the thirties and even low forties in some places. A few places still had one-room school houses.

Then, in the seventies, birth rates dropped drastically due to The Pill and other forms of birth control. School buildings were rented or leased out for community and private use. Then, in the mid-eighties, we had an Echo Boom, and many schools had to be reclaimed for education.

Now, we have the Echo of the Echo Boom, and wealthy people as well as the recent immigrants are having multiple children. However, none schools have been built, though they are needed because the classrooms are getting overcrowded again.


26 people like this
Posted by This is 2015
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm

@musical

just a few questions....

And in the 1960s what percentage of kids didn't speak english as a first language?
What % spoke English, but their parents/caregivers did not?
What % had both working moms and dads?
What % had single parent households?
What % had no extended family
What % were being raised by grandparents?
What % moved often?
What % were hungry or didn't have any home infrastructure?
What % of teachers knew the kids outside of school because they lived in the same community and knew when there were other issues facing a child
the list can go on.....

The demographics of Palo Alto has shifted radically since the 1960s...and what's going on in the community filters into the classroom. Palo Alto is diverse - which is wonderful - but it comes with educational realities and small classrooms for small children is the best defense against kids falling through the cracks. Money well spent to keep classes small.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm

"Many class sizes at the elementary level are now above the mid-thirties."

@ Transplant: Please document this claim.


4 people like this
Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 11, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Member, you need to show more than your driver's license. You have to also provide either your property tax bill or your utility bill. Also, the District will randomly pick a grade every year or so and then you have to come back in to show proof of residence if you have a child in that grade.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Excuses, excuses. Any of us in the sixties could come up with countless reasons to be high-maintenance. And none of us had cell-phones.


17 people like this
Posted by This is 2015
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm

@musical,


So - by your logic education over time shouldn't change - therefore - we can go back 50 years from the 1960s to education in to 1910s..... yep... if a one room school house and education up to grade 8 (maybe, if you're a boy), no indoor plumbing at most schools. It's true, a lot of people had a terrible education in the 1910s and went on to become amazing leaders. It was good enough for them....then it was good enough for you....

And do you also believe in separate but equal schools, and corporal punishment? Ah...the 1960s....such a calm time in our Nation's history.....

Please provide weblinks to research (peer reviewed, non-partisan studies) indicating large class sizes for elementary are better...keeping in mind that the teacher ratio is one teacher and perhaps an aid - but the aid is paid about $10 an hour and has not formal teaching credential. Don't forget to make sure these studies accounted for non-homegeous populations, multiple language and income levels - and also factor in that California is 49th in spending on students....which would affect the outcomes in terms of teacher retention and continuity...

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Who?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Elena: Who is on this committee? The membership has not been released to the public on the district website, which hasn't been updated since the members were selected.

It seems as if this is about to be yet another north-side dominated committee that determines that no new 13th school is needed now because it would have to be built south. Todd Collins certainly doesn't hail from down here. Is he the chair?

These schools are overcrowded by any definition. They can try to come up with numbers that ask parents to disbelieve their own experience but all that will happen is their recommendation will go to the board which will reject it if they want to be re-elected.

We need smaller, less crowded schools. We need the smaller classes we have been paying for. And someone (Perhaps the reporter) should have noted that the "excess capacity" being hailed by Collins as obviating the need for reopening Greendell or Garland is TRAILERS.

Everyone raise your hand if you want a bunch of ugly trailers dumped onto your school playground permenently.

No one even knows what the health implications of having these things in such extended usage is. They are supposed to be temporary. Who only knows god-what-all mold is growing under those things or what kind of chemicals are outgassing.

I didn't pay 2 million for a house so my kid could sit in a trailer. If Todd Collins did, then he should run for school board on the platform of "trailers are good enough for the [Asians on the] south side of town."


28 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Hmmm,

So, Ohlone-main has a huge waiting list, while nearly all the MI applicants got in.

Just a reminder for those who weren't around--Ohlone had had an expansion to its program from 3.5 strands to 4 strands already approved, when MI moved in and grabbed that space. A program that continues to be less in demand made it impossible to expand the most-desired elementary program in the district.

Meanwhile, the expansion of SI at Escondido bumped incoming Escondido-neighborhood kids from their own school.

Isn't it time that the district used the Greendell space and moved the two language programs there? Ohlone-main could then expand to 4 strands (which would still be a well-needed overall reduction in enrollment and create some breathing room at the neighborhood schools by picking up 20+ students.


Like this comment
Posted by Members
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 8:17 pm

The list of members was buried in this article:
Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2015 at 9:03 pm

What percentage of PA school children are Chinese? Anyone know?


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

@Transplant, you suggested that perhaps there is a correlation between class size and the lowering of educational quality. @This-is-2015 suggested a laundry list of alternate theories. Maybe the PAUSD mission is shifting from education to social work, but I don't want to touch that third-rail. Speaking of which, a pleasant young man was at the Cal Ave farmers market last Sunday soliciting signatures to amend Prop 13, but that's a related subject for a whole different thread.


26 people like this
Posted by Dissed and Disillusioned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 11:42 pm

Maybe the middle school admins should let up a little on the control freakish throttling of inter parent communications. If we'd had any idea how lousy the resources, facilities, and education would be coupled with how awful the experience, we would have gone private. by the time we figured it out, we decided to ride it out and wish we hadn't. We heard a lot of rumblng about the middle school education but had such a good elementary experience we didn't believe it.

The article said little about high school numbers this year versus last year.


17 people like this
Posted by Crummy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm

PAUSD excellence seems to be only in the elementary schools. For at least two decades, people who could afford it took their kids OUT of PAUSD for the middle school years--PAUSD has had poor middle schools for a very, very long time.

We took our child out from grades 5-9, but enrolled him back in for grades 10-12.

Come to find out later, he would have had an easier time getting into college had he STAYED in private school until he graduated: college boards apparently prefer that to jumping around.


3 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm

We could afford private school, yet never considered that route and we are very pleased with our kids elementary, middle, and high school experiences. Like most siblings, they are very different in terms of their interests and academic skills so as parents, we have really had different experiences too. We are involved and supportive, in addition to grateful to the many awesome experiences they have had. They have also had challenges or a less than perfect class, which of course is NORMAL.


3 people like this
Posted by Opa
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Why don’t we ask Palo Alto Forward what their suggestion would be for dealing with growing enrollment? If they have such a presence in the growth debates, they shouldn’t be absent from the conversations about dealing with the consequences.


6 people like this
Posted by Dissed and Disillusioned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:20 pm

@parent,
I'm very glad you had a good experience. I hope you are not implying that because you had a good experience, no one else's input is valid but yours.

We have also been very involved and even forgiving, and never expected perfect. Palo Alto school administrators still seem to care far more about propping up a brand whether it's true or not, and getting rid of "problem" students and families rather than learning how to solve problems (and identifying and getting rid of problem employees). Maybe that wasn't the case when your kids went through. Our special ed department used to have a great reputation (based in fact) but that changed within recent history, too.

The problems with Palo Alto middle schools have been talked about for far longer than that, though. I wish we had listened. I'm secretly hoping the vaccination controversy gives legs to voucher advocates because (I can't believe I'm hearing myself say this) I don't think there is anything that would make our schools shape up except a lot of families leaving AND taking their money with them.


4 people like this
Posted by JLS Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

I certainly can't speak for all Palo Alto middle schools, but our experience at JLS has been wonderful. Our experience with our older child at Jordon was not so great. It would be helpful if people would identify which middle school they have had experience with when relating their bad, or good, experience.


3 people like this
Posted by What About Senate Bill 200
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 13, 2015 at 8:53 am

Is the committee going to analyze how school enrollment will be effected by Governor Brown's signing of Senate Bill 200 this week?

"This bill would provide that a pupil complies with a school district’s residency requirements in instances where the pupil’s parent or legal guardian resides outside of the boundaries of that school district but is employed and lives with the pupil at the place of his or her employment within the boundaries of the school district for a minimum of 3 days during the school week."

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 13, 2015 at 8:59 am

@ Dissed and Disillusioned

I'm sorry as I didn't mean my comment above to suggest that others' viewpoint aren't valid. The poster before me had stated that parents who could afford to pull their kids out and opt for private. I know many families who are committed to public school, yet could afford private if they so chose. The schools aren't perfect, but when I get into conversations with parents living in different parents of the Bay Area, and country, I do feel grateful.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 9:04 am

What about

This is a very valid point and one that should be looked at. I feel that what we are doing with our 24/7 residency requirements is a slippery argument. For example, if a child has weekend custody for a parent living outside Palo Alto and that school district also had as strict a residency requirement as Palo Alto, that child could theoretically have no place to attend school. This would not be legal, but more than that it would not be fair.

As much as we do need to ensure that residency requirements are met to stop abuse, there must be cases where a common sense attitude must be taken.


5 people like this
Posted by Important Point
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

"Posted by What About Senate Bill 200
a resident of Mayfield
15 minutes ago
Is the committee going to analyze how school enrollment will be effected by Governor Brown's signing of Senate Bill 200 this week?

"This bill would provide that a pupil complies with a school district's residency requirements in instances where the pupil's parent or legal guardian resides outside of the boundaries of that school district but is employed and lives with the pupil at the place of his or her employment within the boundaries of the school district for a minimum of 3 days during the school week."

Web Link "

Important Point that was just in our California news - supposed to protect nannies who work 3 days per week in a home in a top school district, thereby entitling their kids to attend school in that district! Absolute rubbish and an outrage to the California taxpayer in such top districts. We pay SO much to support PAUSD, which is already crowded, yet we include children of district employees and now will have to support the offspring of anyone claiming to work in PAUSD catchment area, even if just 3 days a week!!!
Oh, we don't have any kids in the schools. But we pay a huge amount in property tax for a mid-range home, and as you know, a LOT goes to PAUSD. I feel it should go for students who actually RESIDE IN the district. Bat, that's just me. Thank you, Governor Brown (not).


7 people like this
Posted by Dissed and Disillusioned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm

@parent,
Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but of course you are grateful, you had a great experience. I'm very glad you did. Many people do not. We had a great elementary experience and an abysmal middle school experience. We will probably have to take our child for counseling. There were times we didn't even feel safe because of the way some of the staff behaved. I wish we had taken the warnings more seriously. The new Superintendent seems to care more about sheen over substance, same old same old.


22 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2015 at 11:50 am

Yes, the district is bursting at the seams, but a big reason for that is not simply growing enrollment but the ongoing refusal of the board to open *any* new schools despite having held on to old school site for exactly this purpose.

During the baby-boom years, we had one-third more elementary schools than we do now as well as a third high school.

Instead the district has moved toward crowding more and more kids into the current schools despite the reams of evidence that indicate that large schools, even more than large classes, have a negative effect on students. I, personally, have noticed that the bigger the school, the more rigid the administration and faculty. Kids without issues can function, but a lot of kids *do* have issues at some point--and, frankly, that's normal.

I think part of the reason that the elementary schools are as strong as they are is that there are actually some options at that level--even if you have no interest in anything but a neighborhood school for your child, there are other schools in the district trying things out--and some of those things influence, for the better, what happens at the neighborhood schools.

So move the immersion programs to Greendell, move Preschool Family to the city Ventura site--merge it with PACC perhaps. I suggest Greendell for this because the parking lot situation makes it fit for a commuter school. Expand Ohlone-main to four strands (and consider neighborhood preference for some spots for people in Palo Verde and El Carmelo draw areas. Actually get around to re-opening Greendell.

Update the middle-school campuses--some work's been done at Jordan, but the middle schools have the oldest and most run-down facilities of any of the schools.

Last and perhaps the most important--open a third high-school. I don't think it needs to be a full-fledged high-school, but there needs to be some sort of alternative program. I'm for a project-based program (and I know there are some talks about it)--the high schools as they are, frankly, already fit pretty well with the whole Hoover top-down test-test-test model--but the district would benefit from a more open approach being available to high-school students.

I suggest a choice high school for another reason as well--far too many people buy here for a particular high school--parents who buy or rent here for the Gunn brand will not want their house rezoned for Cubberley--and will fight it tooth and nail. Parents who dislike the rigidity and competitiveness at Gunn and Paly, however, will be much more open to sending their kids to a new school. Ohlone-main's by far the most in-demand choice program and Connections at JLS has its own long waitlist.

A small (say 500-1000 students) choice high school would be to the benefit of the entire district--it would reduce enrollment at our 2,000-plus student high schools and offer a real alternative to the pressure-cooker environments at Gunn and Paly.


4 people like this
Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 14, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Ms. Kadvany,

Hoover's lottery status wasn't included here. How big is that waitlist? Also, Ohlone's been over 600 students for at least the last 2 years.


10 people like this
Posted by Crummy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Since it reopened in the late eighties or early nineties, Jordan was the worse by far of the then-two middle schools. Many people arranged for their kids to be transferred to JLS because Jordan had a violence problem, a vandalism problem, and an absolutely rotten principal and vice principal. Aldo some flaky counsellors, I am told.

To be fair, Jordan had some great teachers, but they were few and have since left or retired. The special Ed teacher was reputed to be cold and uninterested in what she was doing.

Now that we have three middle schools again, Jordan is still the worst, most recently at its nadir with that principal, JLS is still the best, and Terman somewhere in the middle.


Like this comment
Posted by Dissed and Disillusioned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2015 at 1:38 am

I think the solution is obvious. The district just needs to expand the group of people the staff discriminate against, or to whom they are untpremittingly nasty or whose kids they bully until they leave or worse. That will reduce enrollment pretty fast. And clearly, they have staff who are good at covering it up.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dissed and Disillusioned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2015 at 1:43 am

@Crummy,
JLS ismt really thr best. It's just bigger than Terman so just based on curves, there will be more on the up side than at Terman. If we had to do it all over again, we wouldn't have.


7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2015 at 9:59 am

We sent our kids to private schools. One of the best decisions we have ever made.


6 people like this
Posted by Also Anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2015 at 11:02 am

We sent our kids to public schools. One of the best decisions we ever made. To each their own.


11 people like this
Posted by Happy Ohlone MI Parent
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm

I'm a bit surprised by this statement:

Ohlone's English-only choice program, which emphasizes project-based learning, personalized instruction and collaboration, is the most consistently oversubscribed choice program, with 52 applicants not getting a space through the program's lottery system in 2015. In comparison, almost all applicants to Ohlone's Mandarin-immersion program and Escondido's Spanish-immersion program were accepted.

Maybe our family is in the minority here but it was surprising that most MI students are admitted given the limited class space and the results of the Stanford Study (Web Link). I would think that more parents that seek to enroll at Ohlone would desire MI over the English program if given the chance.




11 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

Happy MI

Why would you think that? The MI program has had problems with classroom control and developing a good teaching staff--there was one class which saw a new teacher every year. In addition, many English-speaking families found that their kids learning Mandarin meant pretty heavy-duty parental support that they were ill-equipped to give.

Not every parent (most of us, in fact) care whether our kid speaks Mandarin. However, a sizable minority of parents in the district are concerned by rigid one-size-fits-all educational models and are drawn to Ohlone's differentiated non-competitive instruction models. Some of us wanted our children to simply develop a love of learning.

If you don't get why Ohlone-main is far more popular than MI--which is pretty much a boutique program--well, one more reason MI and SI should be spun off from their current locations and placed at their own site. Indeed, given that Ohlone-main has a long waiting list and there are 600-plus Ohlone students, the only real way for MI to expand is to move. Ohlone MI parents should actually push for that instead of tromping down to the school board any time there's a suggestion that they should stand on their own two feet.

In a way, I don't understand why--Ohlone-MI has to be a hybrid program--a school that focused solely on language immersion could optimize its program instead of trying to mesh with the Ohlone Way and burning out the school administration.


Like this comment
Posted by Former OParent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2015 at 1:12 pm

I can't help but wonder about the segregationist tone of the Ohlone for English only arguments, which often melt down into the logic of sending away the Chinese- and Spanish-speaking groups to their own campus--not the campus with the nice new buildings. There is a logic to it, but it smacks of ethnic/racial ghettoizing, too.


3 people like this
Posted by Looking for trouble?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Looking for trouble - where none exists? (@ FormerOParent). Stick with "there's a logic to it"...as there IS a logic to OPar's suggestions, given the question at hand - "Come up with a series of innovative recommendations for how to address growing enrollment in Palo Alto Unified"

"Ohlone-main" is the term used by OPar to describe and differentiate the 'traditional' Ohlone program (with "English-only" used - likely innocently - by a self-described "Happy Ohlone MI parent").





Like this comment
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Former Ohlone,

You do realize that both immersion programs have a chronic problem attracting enough native-language speakers? Plenty of white kids in both programs. There are also plenty of Asian-American and Hispanic kids in Ohlone-main. Did you really not notice the number of active Ohlone-main parents of Asian descent?

Since both immersion programs are choice programs--indeed, you have to win the lottery--using the term "ghettoization" is offensive--no one's being restricted here. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of ghettos--please look it up.)

As for "nice, new building"--personally, I preferred the less-crowded Ohlone with the old buildings, but any site for a public elementary would be brought up to code and look pretty spiffy. Your MI pity party is pretty misplaced--I'm suggesting giving them what the PACE crowd claimed to want--their own school (well, shared with SI). It's actually sort of funny how scared MI parents are of an opportunity.

But, really, both Ohlone and Hoover built up their own programs at their own sites. Time for the language-immersion crowd to do the same.


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Posted by FormerOParent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm

OPar,

Let me adopt your tone: You do realize that Latino/a Americans don't always like being called "Hispanic"? If you are unfamiliar with the reason why, please look it up.

I am disturbed by comments about Ohlone (in different posts about the school) that describe the "main" group and the "MI" group as being so alien from one another. Is it really "them" as opposed to . . . "us"? That type of language is divisive.

In the past, Asians were described as being so different as to be perpetual foreigners in this country. It's that sort of rhetoric that contributed to the ghettoization of Asian Americans into Chinatowns, Japantowns, etc. (I do know something about ghettos, and not just ones in Europe.) No doubt, we still have ethnic enclaves in this country. This is one reason why schools probably should be more culturally and linguistically integrated.



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Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Former,

You are grasping at straws here in an attempt to play the race card when it doesn't fit. Try not to be quite so obvious. You don't have a good argument against moving MI and SI to Greendell, so you're trying to bait me.

Won't wash--the fact that you refer to Ohlone-main as "Ohlone English" is, as someone else pointed out, a little suspect. Ohlone-main focuses on project-based learning, teamwork, and differentiated instruction. It has had, for years the largest afterschool foreign language program in the district. The rest of us don't share your obsession with identity/language.

Anyone who places his or her child in an immersion program is choosing to isolate their child from the general student population--indeed, it's considered a privilege, so your wailing about inclusiveness is beyond ironic. It's not like we actually have a bunch of ESL kids trying to learn English. I've known of more than one kid who's qualified as a fluent Spanish or Mandarin speaker whose first language is actually English.

Tell you what? You really care about this? Go push for a FLES program so that ALL the kids in our district have a chance to study a foreign language at the elementary school level. Then you won't have to worry about self-selected ghettoization.

(Sigh, I always think of how Grace Mah declared she was going to push for FLES in the forum years ago and then proceeded to do exactly . . . nothing.)


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Posted by Think Again
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Aug 17, 2015 at 10:01 pm

From the article:

>> Broken down by city clusters – north, south and west – the subcommittee said the overflow issue becomes heightened in the city's south cluster (which contains El Carmelo, Fairmeadow and Palo Verde), 68 percent of students are sent out of their cluster to attend school.

Is Elena Kadvany saying 68% of south PA kids are overflowed to non-neighborhood schools? That's over 2/3rds! Please clarify, because that number makes no sense.



Our "district capacity" has increased due to new buildings that replaced field space - for recess and after-school sports activities (soccer, baseball, softball, etc). This extra capacity is representative of what we have LOST in open space for our kids to play. IT'S NOT OK!

WE HAVE NO EXTRA CAPACITY - WE JUST HAVE SPACE BEING CONVERTED FROM ONE USE TO ANOTHER.

Despicable.


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Posted by Clarify
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm

To clarify for Think Again:
Currently 67% of students residing in the South cluster attend Sounth cluster schools. So roughly 1/3 do not attend a school in their cluster. Possibly they are overflowed, possibly they are at SI, perhaps they moved mid-year. Reasons aren't exactly clear. however, when you have data that shows that 788 kids are residing within the Palo Verde boundary and only 405 of those kids are enrolled at Palo Verde, you realize you have a very serious capacity problem!


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Posted by Further Clarify
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

@Clarify - it is a problem, but not quite that bad. Looking at the Enrollment Report, actually only 362 of the 788 kids in the PV district attend PV. BUT, another 276 attend Choice Programs, including 157 at Ohlone (not surprising given how close they are). So 362 / (788-276) = 71% of PV district kids attending non-choice programs attend PV. Still pretty low, but not as bad as it might have appeared.


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Posted by Clarify
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm

You are right. 362 PV students live in the PV boundary. Another 50 live within the south cluster.

How many of those Ohlone or MI kids just wanted to go to a neighborhood school? If Ohlone is right across the street, you apply no matter what you think of the program. If you are a parent in the PV neighborhood and you are worried about your kinder getting in, you apply for anything just to avoid being overflowed across town.

One of the major issues with capacity is that the extra seats are not in the places where the overcrowding is occurring. It's fine to have 18 classrooms available, but if they're all at Juana Briones, Barron Park, and Duveneck, then we come to the current problem.


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Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm

The close-all-the-choice-programs crew likes to suggest that there are kids in choice programs who would have preferred a neighborhood school. Honestly, I never met anyone at Ohlone or MI who fell into that category. Or Hoover, for that matter, though I don't know that many Hoover parents. Not saying it never happens, but it's not at all the norm--I really doubt anyone would apply to MI just to keep his or her child in a neighborhood school. Might possibly do it for Ohlone, but the parents I've known were all pretty invested in the Ohlone community/educational philosophy.


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

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