News

Stark differences in high school counseling services, again

Superintendent to propose two new models for Gunn High School

A yearslong discussion over the comparable quality of Gunn and Palo Alto high schools' distinct counseling models returned to the school board Tuesday night, with survey results again showing a gap in satisfaction between students at the two schools.

In the district's 2015 Strategic Plan survey, Paly students reported significantly higher rates of satisfaction than Gunn in non-academic counseling and guidance, career counseling, their social-emotional experience during the last school year and school counselors during the last school year.

Forty-five percent of Paly students feel positively (which encapsulates those who marked strongly agree and agree on the survey itself) about their non-academic counseling and guidance services, compared to 29 percent of Gunn students. And 24 percent of Gunn students indicated they feel negatively (those who marked strongly disagree and disagree) about these services.

Just over half of Paly students felt positively about their social-emotional experience last year, compared to 39 percent of Gunn students. The highest rates of satisfaction for students from both schools was for their experience with school counselors last year: 60 percent of Paly students and 44 percent of Gunn students felt positively.

Paly parents also felt more positive about the school's counseling system (60 percent positive and only 8 percent negative) than Gunn parents (46 percent positive and 18 percent negative).

Though the latest Strategic Plan survey had significantly lower rates of student participation than previous years – only 715 students voluntarily took the survey – several school board members said Tuesday that the results are consistent with past surveys, and must be addressed this year.

"This has been a conversation that has come up again and again and again and each time the administrators have said, 'OK, we want to try this or we want to try that,' ... It's frustrating over time to just see the same data over and over again and not adopt a different model," said board Vice President Heidi Emberling. "I'm hoping that ... looking at this data will prompt those conversations again and that we will see some new proposals on how to address them this year."

The district has for many years sought to do just that. The very first year the Strategic Plan survey was given, in 2008, students and parents at both schools reported low rates of satisfaction with guidance services, and the board adopted a strategic goal to improve that. During the 2011-12 school year, the district brought in an independent contractor to review the guidance programs at Gunn and Paly.

In the fall of 2012, the district convened the Gunn Guidance Advisory Committee (GAC) to evaluate and recommend reforms for the school's counseling system.

Paly has long had in place a teacher-advisory model, which connects students with a teacher-advisor (TA) throughout their four years (one their freshman year, and then another for the next three years). Students meet regularly with their TA around academic planning and anything else they might need support with, though freshmen meet more frequently than the other grade levels (weekly rather than monthly). Guidance counselors work with TAs to identify students who might need extra academic or social-emotional support, and college and career counselors provide juniors and seniors with post-graduation guidance.

Gunn, by contrast, has a traditional counseling model, with a group of staff members providing guidance counseling, college and career advice and social-emotional support. Members of the community — particularly the group We Can Do Better Palo Alto, which was co-founded by school board member Ken Dauber before he was elected — have advocated for Gunn to adopt the teacher-advisory model.

Dauber noted Tuesday night that years of surveys — from the first Strategic Plan survey administered in 2008 to past Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation surveys and counseling-specific surveys — have yielded the same results.

"We've been looking at these gaps for many, many years," Dauber said. "I think it's time that we stop taking note of the gap and start figuring out how to actually address it in a serious way. I hope that we're actually going to do that. I think we have to do that."

Dauber attributed the gap in satisfaction levels to Paly's teacher-advisory model, which he said produces higher levels of connectedness, higher levels of service and puts multiple adults on campus in guidance roles with students.

About half of all students reported in this year's Strategic Plan survey that they feel connected and engaged in school. A higher percentage, 61 percent, said there is a caring adult at their school who they could go to with a problem.

However, board member Terry Godfrey pointed to students' relatively low perceptions of their schools' "culture of trust." Only 36 percent of Paly students and 47 percent of Gunn students said they feel their school has a culture of trust.

"That's another one that I would love to get my arms around and fix because we can't do our jobs if they don't feel trust for the adults that are around them," Godfrey said.

The district plans to conduct focus groups with students to better understand the Strategic Plan survey results – such as what a student who doesn't feel his or her school has a culture of trust means by that, or what his or her perception of "culture of trust" is.

During the last school year, the school district administered yet another counseling survey to 2,400 high school students, director of Research and Assessment Chris Kolar said Tuesday. The results of this survey will be presented at the board's next meeting on Oct. 27.

At a budget study session on Nov. 3, Superintendent Max McGee said he and staff will present proposals (and their costs) for two potential counseling models for Gunn – one like Paly's teacher-advisory system and another "more robust" one in place at New Trier High School in Illinois. At New Trier, counselors work with sophomores, juniors and seniors in group guidance settings through an advisor system, while individualized post-secondary planning and guidance begin during the second semester of the junior year and continues through graduation, according to the school's website.

McGee also said that he hopes the district will address counseling satisfaction at not only Gunn, but also Paly.

"I don't want perfect to be the enemy of the good, but that's far from perfect," he said regarding Paly students satisfaction levels. "I think we need to look at how to improve counseling at both places."

Board President Melissa Baten Caswell noted that any discussion about the high schools' counseling services must include the students themselves.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct inaccurate information about Palo Alto High School's counseling system, which stated that Paly had a weekly teacher-advisor (TA) model through which students were connected with one TA for all four years. Students have a different TA their freshman year compared to the higher grade levels and meet regularly with their TAs, but not weekly.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 9:37 am

"I don't want perfect to be the enemy of the good, but that's far from perfect," he said regarding Paly students satisfaction levels. "I think we need to look at how to improve counseling at both places."

By George, I think he's go it!


20 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:05 am

From the article:
""That's another one that I would love to get my arms around and fix because we can't do our jobs if they don't feel trust for the adults that are around them," Godfrey said.

The district plans to conduct focus groups with students to better understand the Strategic Plan survey results – such as what a student who doesn't feel his or her school has a culture of trust means by that, or what his or her perception of "culture of trust" is"


Oh please, this is not rocket science. Just get employees who don't LIE, and go back and look into complaints from parents about employees who have lied, schemed, etc. I'm not going to do it, I'm too busy pulling knives out of my back.

Most parents who have had any problems recognize the bad faith -- the culture in the district office in which there always seems to be something secretive going on at a different level and they're never honest and straight with you. That filters down into the school level. No one is just honest with you. If a child needs accommodations, the children are the first ones to see that the teachers and school don't see their struggling, and don't respond to it honestly. If a child (or their parents) is bullied by adults at the school, and it's handled with denial and retaliation against the family, how is the child then going to interpret anti-bullying initiatives by those same adults? It's going to come across as hollow and false.

If an otherwise smart kid is getting way too much homework, day after day, and the teachers never hear the complaint, or blame it on the kid 50 ways 'til Sunday, how is the kid supposed to trust when the adults claim they care about the kids?

Terry: It starts at the top. Fish rots from the head down. I don't mean you, I mean in the district office. You and the other board members have heard plenty, you've just ignored it. Face the music. Ask people who have complained to tell you more. Did I say face the music? The first way to solve a problem is to genuinely care about acknowledging it.


23 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:08 am

PS - You know who left the district this year. I would start by asking them.


7 people like this
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:12 am

@Trust,

This was about the students trust. It's more likely a response to the zero period fiasco than what's going on in the district office. That was all down to the board and McGee. They should acknowledge they screwed that up and start trying to re-gain the students' trust. Though, from the article in the Verde, certain members of the board have even more outreach to do


19 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 10:56 am

@Pygmalian,
From the article: "several school board members said Tuesday that the results are consistent with past surveys,"

The numbers regarding school social-emotional experience are pretty abysmal, too, worse since so much effort was put into improving it (not just last year, which wasn't the first suicide cluster). I don't think you could chalk that up to the zero period issue, especially since the vast majority of kids are not affected by zero period, and certainly that couldn't explain consistent results from previous years.

I don't really want to get into a back and forth about zero period here, though, it's its own discussion. Nothing happens in a vacuum, is all I'll say.


3 people like this
Posted by Eli
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:05 am

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

Shouldn't we look at making the high schools smaller? Wouldn't that help to some degree? Instead of spending all of that bond money on cramming more building in to the high schools, they could have opened up a third high school. Paly has two gyms and will soon have two theaters. Does one school need two theaters? There is little to no open space outside of the athletic fields. Students are crammed into classrooms and packed when moving in between classes and at lunch.


8 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

@Eli, no one from the audience commented about counseling at Gunn. There was some discussion earlier about an incident involving a student, is that what you're talking about?

Why would you be trying to look over people's shoulders and read their emails? That's really strange.

Let me ask you: Who's giving you your marching orders? Please post any of your emails that shed light on this, particularly those with indented bullet points, which are particularly suspicious.


10 people like this
Posted by Man in the mirror
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

From "The Students Are Watching" by Nancy and Theodore Sizer:

“The students are watching.

How we adults live and work together provides a lesson. How a school functions insistently teaches.

If we care about our children’s values – how as a matter of habit they treat others and how aware they are of why they do what they do – we must look into the mirror. Do we teachers, as a matter of habitual practice, bluff? Do we sort unfairly? Do we treat students harshly in the name of order rather than as a way to promote student growth? What do our actions tell our students about our purposes? About our principles? Have we adopted a style which is insistently moral without becoming moralistic? Do we administrators and policy-makers impose regimens and instruments which are arguably thoughtful and fair?

All this does not mean that each of us consistently must be a paragon. “There is never an instant’s truce between virtue and vice.” As Thoreau realized, the struggle within the human heart to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong is never-ending. It pops up in unexpected places. It makes us human; in that sense it is our challenge but also our delight. Teachers and administrators are as caught up in that struggle as anyone else. We get angry, cut corners when things are tight, get exasperated. However, if we are honest with them, young people can watch us deal with that and learn (and, we hope, learn worthy things) from the way we regroup and rebuild.

What the young people should not experience is sustained hypocrisy. The school which claims that “everyone can be what he can be” but which demonstrably discriminates or silently tolerates discrimination imposed by higher authorities sends a devastating message: Do as I say but not as I do. No message is more corrosive, especially for teenagers.

As soon as we honestly focus on the “curriculum” provided by the school’s daily functioning, we get into a nest of particulars. Morality is not “achieved,” like the soccer trophies or the essay contest certificates… The state of a school’s goodness is far more fluid. It depends on what each person brings into the community every year – indeed, every day. A school is prizeworthy if inside every single head – adult and child, producer and consumer – there is a clear reference to principle in every decision and a determination to do the best thing. This is an active process. …

All this takes time, a willingness to struggle, and a commitment to involve students in that endeavor. The formal curriculum, especially but not exclusively in the humanities, is a superb vehicle for this hard work.

However, it is critical for a faculty to make the time to consider – again, with the students – the routines of a school, why they are needed, what they tell us all about what is more or less principled, what they signify about respect for truth, for differences and for fairness."



28 people like this
Posted by Play It Again Sam
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:51 am

We've heard this song too many times.

Why can't we just:

1. Agree that counseling at Gunn needs fixing.
2. Adopt Advisory at Gunn.

That would be an improvement.

How much hand-wringing and moaning do we need here?


19 people like this
Posted by Annika
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Annika is a registered user.

Gunn's principal sent an email apology the second week of school for not having assigned counselors before the start of the school year. My son never knows who his counselor is at the start of the year, as they have changed every year. There seemed to be an exodus when Tom Jacobowsky left last year. He is definitely missed at Gunn by students and parents. Wonder why it's so difficult to keep counselors on? Paly's model makes more sense; tenured teachers stick around forever, whereas counselors seem to come and go through a revolving door.


5 people like this
Posted by Snowden
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm

[Post removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by Remembering Dana
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm

I'll never forget Dana Tom's castigating Gunn parents for wanting equity with Paly by saying, "Paly is no Shangri La." Shameful. Max is right. Bring Gunn up to the level of Paly by giving Gunn students advisory, and then improve both schools together.


5 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Are Gunn parents willing to give up on smaller classes to have the advisory system? It is a money matter. Paly chose advisory over smaller (English?) classes. Gunn chose the smaller class size over advisory. Now Gunn seems to want both smaller classes AND advisory, i.e. have their cake and eat it too. There are choices to be made in life and accepted. If I was still a Paly parent and Gunn got advisory on top of its smaller class size, I would raise a big stink. So, again, Gunn parents, do you accept to give up smaller class sizes to get advisory? If not, how about Paly getting both? With what money will all this be funded?


15 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm

As a student, who do you go to when you have an issue with another kid, when you want to change a class, when you have a problem with one of your teachers and you would like someone to be your advocate or at least when you want someone to listen to you emphatically?

In theory, every student at Gunn has a counselor. In practice, you have nobody to go to if your counselor does not care at all.

Difference between Gunn and Paly; if a teacher chooses to be a TA at Paly, then you have a person that CARES.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm

@ JimH: Haymarket is obsolete, too small and is falling apart. It will be re-purposed. Have you ever been inside that dump?


38 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Former Paly parent is repeating a myth from the counseling debates of several years, that Gunn just decided to spend less money on counseling and instead spend it on lower class size. 4 years ago there was about a $200k difference in spending, with Paly spending about $1.5 million on its counseling program. In the meantime, the school board gave Gunn more money and Gunn hired several more counselors, so now Gunn is probably spending more money on counseling than Paly is, not less. If the myth were true, Gunn should be delivering better services than Paly. But it's the opposite. Gunn is still getting worse results.

That's no surprise, because the gap in spending was never large enough to make a difference in class sizes -- about a teacher and a half, with benefits.

The real reason for this result is that Paly is spending its money in a system that is more effective and efficient than Gunn is. Spending money on release time for teachers rather than fulltime counselors is a cheaper way of delivering counseling services, and it works better. It's time to give Gunn students and parents what Paly students and parents have had for the last 20 years. It's exactly like block scheduling, which is now loved at Gunn. If it works at Paly, let's take advantage of that learning at Gunn -- and vice versa.


8 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

@Former Paly Parent,
"Now Gunn seems to want both smaller classes AND advisory, "

Seriously, you are trying to compare Gunn and Paly and say that everything else is fair, and therefore, this one thing would make Gunn have so much more? Let's see... Gunn got a new athletic center for $12 million that already has potato chippey floor boards. Paly will get a new athletic center (both gyms replaced) for almost $40million. I'm not sure how we can even talk fairness with the media center at Paly and the scale of the new theater. If you want to know which high school the administration considers its flagship, one has only to stand in the middle of the campus and open one's eyes.


11 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

@ Reality Check

Thanks for the updated info. What I said was not a myth though. It was the state of affairs a few years ago. It seems that Gunn then got more money to beef up its counseling system.

So, Gunn did get more money and has more money for counseling, while it also has money for smaller English classes? Am I understanding this right? This does not seem very fair to Paly, but I no longer have any skin in the game and I will not argue about this.

At any rate, if Gunn did get the extra money required and still did not adopt the advisory system, I am speechless. Advisory worked very well at Paly for my kids. Students get to choose their advisor and they get their chosen advisor in most cases. They keep the advisor for 2 or 3 years and can really build a relationship with him/her. My last child could really go to her advisor with questions and concerns and he was really reactive and available. It really is a good system, if you ask me.


3 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm

@ Trust,

As we all know, capital improvements are financed completely separately from operations in our schools.

If we start talking about capital improvements, I'll say this. Originally, it seems that Gunn was going to get about the same amount of capital improvement money as Paly. Do I have this wrong? What is Gunn using its capital improvement money for? I cannot imagine there is nothing happening at Gunn with capital improvement.

Regarding theater, Paly's Haymarket theater was very old and subpar compared to Gunn's Spangenberg. Hence the perceived need for a new one. Were they supposed to demolish the old one because they are getting a new one?

Regarding the gyms, as far as I know, there currently is NO gym at Paly. It was just demolished to start the construction of the new facilities. What happened here is that half the amount that will be spent is a private donation ($20 million). I agree that this does not seem very fair to Gunn.

That said, I think Paly is going overboard on its media center, its new theater and its sports facilities. In the meantime, the robotics lab is ignored and other activities are really neglected. There is too much emphasis on journalism, theater and sports at Paly, and not enough on the hard sciences if you ask me.


4 people like this
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I'm confused. The story says, "Only 36 percent of Paly students and 47 percent of Gunn students said they feel their school has a culture of trust." But "Pygmalion" says about that "It's more likely a response to the zero period fiasco than what's going on in the district office." Why would zero period at Gunn have a bigger effect at Paly than at Gunn? Makes no sense. What about Phil Winston and Kevin Sharp? That has definitely affected my personal "culture of trust".


1 person likes this
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:11 pm

@Paly Mom,

The issue was the promise of the board and McGee to LISTEN to the students. Then they did a complete about turn and forced zero period removal without listening to any students. Finally the completely ignored what the students said at the meetings and the vast majority of the data that backed up the students' case, clutching to the TINY percent of the data that the group collected that backed up their case.

It wasn't a Paly v. Gunn thing, it was a board/McGee vs. ALL of the students. The fact that Paly felt even more disenfranchised is neither here nor there. That ALL of the students felt disenfranchised should be a major concern for the board.


7 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:21 pm

@Former Paly Parent,

Actually, the gyms at Paly are being financed by $24 million in donation and $13-16 million being required of the district somehow in order to accept the donation. So, total, $40million. It doesn't matter where the money comes from, the district operates from a principal of parity.

And no, throwing out Spangenberg again does not even things up. It's large, that's about it, and mostly showing its age. I'm not going to claim Haymarket didn't need to be replaced. But the thing going up in its stead brings to mind Icarus flying too close to the sun. Speaking of overboard.

"Gunn" didn't spend its facilities money like some spendthrift uncle. The district manages the facilities bond.


11 people like this
Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Sorry, this doesn't make sense. You say "The fact that Paly felt even more disenfranchised is neither here nor there" in concluding that the trust numbers are due to the zero period change at Gunn. So the supposed betrayal of trust was felt most keenly at the school where it didn't happen? Doesn't pass the laugh test.

I can see what's really bothering you, though. You describe the American Academy of Pediatrics and the unanimous consensus of doctors and scientists as the "TINY percent of the data that the group collected that backed up their case" compared to "the vast majority of the data that backed up the students' case" (that is, a kid's survey).

This sounds a lot like Camille Townsend did when she was ranting at McGee about it, and I didn't think she made a whole lot of sense either.


15 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

@Pygmalian,

I think the article wasn't 100% clear if this was the case, but it indicated that the results were consistent with past years. If that were the case, then the trust problem preceded the zero period issue. Kids also tend to focus on what affects them personally. Zero period only affected a small percentage of students. It really doesn't make sense that it's the reason, as compared to, say, kids not having counselors when they have mental health issues surfacing and getting more stressed because of not getting the accommodations they need.

It doesn't appear that there is any correlation with zero period, but even if there were, there were also much more major issues last year around suicide, mental health, the handling of families. Around 50 kids were hauled out of class and hospitalized for mental reasons last year, but there are no beds in the county for teens. If I were a teen put in that position, I would have a hard time trusting adults (whereas the zero period issue is by comparison not something that rises to that level).

This is ridiculous line of contention anyway, because if even one, or ten, or a hundred children (small percentage) are abused in the school, that would be unacceptable and illegal, and judging the situation based on a survey and what percentage of students feel abused is ridiculous and misleading. It would be insult to injury to say the district didn't have a problem with abuse if the number who reply that they are abused is small.

In many areas of public life, research shows the percentage of people who complain is far, far lower than the number experiencing a problem. If the district sincerely wants to understand why there is a trust problem, they need to be willing to talk to those, especially, who have been abused/suffered the worst (even if it is just a small number, but my guess is it's not).


2 people like this
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm

@Trust,

The other article was nearly 100% clear on the impact of this board's actions: Web Link

"Students were less satisfied, however, with how the district, school board and their school administration communicates with them – likely a remnant of last spring's divisive zero-period decision and other discussions around decisions related to student health and well-being, which left many students feeling like they weren't being heard by the adults in power in the district."

And the 2012 survey had a much higher trust rating.

You can look elsewhere for the problem but it's not what the data's saying.


2 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Our family feels very lucky to have had a great counseling experience at Gunn.

We have a counselor who is caring and responsive. She can put issues in context and our students are not just a number. She genuinely is interested in students and their academic and emotional success.


Like this comment
Posted by Snowden
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:11 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:19 pm

@ Trust

Since you seem so knowledgeable, I repeat my question to you: How much capital bond money was spent on Gunn vs. Paly. What has it been used for at Gunn?

(Note that I already mentioned that the gym gift to Paly does not seem fair to Gunn. Why do you have to be so aggressive?)


9 people like this
Posted by Terman mom
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Pygmalion has an ax to grind about zero period but the Paly vs Gunn comparison proves otherwise. I think its about sex harassment which seems rampant at Paly.


Posted by ParentofTwo
a resident of Palo Alto High School

on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm


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Like this comment
Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

ParentOfTwo,

"I think its about sex harassment which seems rampant at Paly.

That wouldn't explain the lack of trust reported by Gunn students but good try!


7 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:17 pm

@All,

We're all just speculating, but my original point is that holding "focus groups" is not the same as addressing deep problems where the district has already heard from families -- it's more a way of talking to people who are less likely to unearth the worst problems.

Again, even if 99% percent trust the district but 1% don't because the kids were abused by adults at school, it's still a problem. It was an egregiously high number, though, and the special ed department especially has had complaints serious enough that people have moved away -- I know several families who have moved away or gone private -- because of being treated so badly. For us, there were times my own didn't feel safe going to school, because of ADULTS at school. The administration puts on a good show but in person is utterly disinterested in investigating problems where employees have misbehaved.


13 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:20 pm

"The administration puts on a good show but in person is utterly disinterested in investigating problems where employees have misbehaved."

And it pains me to say it, but as much as I like him personally, McGee is one of the disinterested. He seems to be more adept than Skelly at glossing things over, but not really at finding the truth or reconciling.


9 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 7:30 pm

@Paly Parent,
The biggest expenditure at Gunn was that prison-like building that replaced the portables for necessary classrooms.

I don't really want to have this discussion, because I don't really feel the money for the bond was well-spent in general. That's separate from the issue of parity between the campuses -- one has only to spend time on both to know which is the favored child.


13 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Yet another one of these overstudied PAUSD issues. Since 2008, there have been repeated surveys and committees which recommend Gunn adopt the Teacher Advisory model. But it never happens.


10 people like this
Posted by Experienced Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:25 pm

We've been in PAUSD for 12 years and have three children so we are familiar with the system. The Advisory system is overrated. Teachers are paid extra to be advisors so the students cannot just choose any teacher they like because not all are advisors. Plus, each advisor only takes one classroom of students, which narrows the options even more because one teacher is with their class for 4 years.

In 2010, students were assigned an advisor, then during freshman year, they chose their advisor for the next 3 years. There were two-pages of photos and descriptions of about 15 teachers. There was basically no way to make an informed decision on a teacher they had not met, so decisions were something like this: "I don't know since I've only been at Paly for one year and have only met 7 teachers, none of which are listed here, but I'll choose Mr. Smith because I like math and fishing too."

So Paly changed it and just assigned advisors, most likely a teacher the student had in freshman year. But it doesn't mean the student has a nurturing teacher they can turn to with all their problems. A friend's child had one that yelled at her for wanting to change a class. Of course, there is a variance and there are teachers who are good advisors that students can feel comfortable to approach. In senior year, the advisor writes a summary of the student and sends it to the colleges.

Advisory in Freshman year is nearly every week, while in Sophomore and Junior years it's 1-2 per month, then Senior year, it's rare.

Of note, the advisors are teachers, not educated counselors or college advisors so they don't necessarily have the compassionate skills and knowledge of academic requirements that the counselors have or the knowledge of the college advisors. Maybe the advisors need more training because we have experienced misinformation from advisors. In fact, students should direct college questions to the college advisors for correct information.

Parents/students still need to find information on their own about preparing for college and cannot fully expect any school to hand-hold and direct them. PLAN test in 10th, PSAT test in 11th, SATs in 11th, start writing personal essay for colleges during the summer prior to 12th. I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to start 12th grade with at least a rough draft of the personal essay completed. Senior year, first semester grades still matter for regular admission and to have to write the personal essay along with completing college apps is quite stressful.

We have been very happy with the entire Guidance department and college advisors at Paly and Principal Diorio has a counseling background and sincerely cares about the students.


8 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:34 am

@Experience Parent,

At Gunn, my student didn't have a one-to-one meeting with a counselor until the end of her sophomore year. So your description of the Teacher Advisory system sounds like a definite improvement.


8 people like this
Posted by former paly parent of two
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:38 am

@anonymous - neither of my kids had a one on one with their "advisor" until senior year. And for one of my kids, his advisor didn't even remember that he was his advisor - after 3 years! So the advisory system is pretty over rated and VERY dependent on the individual. Its much more like homeroom from years ago (passing out info, choosing classes ) than any real counseling and getting to know the student.


10 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:04 am

Paly TAs are not all equal. Some do a wonderful job compared to others. It is a good idea to ask students in higher grades for recommendations, or the parents of students in higher grades for recommendations.

Just because a TA may be known to be a great teacher does not automatically mean that they will be a good TA. We had one TA who wasn't a classroom teacher and that worked out very well. Sometimes the popular TAs are hard to get because of the numbers of students requesting them.

The TA system looks a lot better on paper than it often is. I am not saying it is a bad system, but it really is dependent on each TA and how many of that TA's students need more help than others. I would like to see more TAs each with less students, but as the school increases in enrollment we are not seeing an increase in the number of teachers who wish to be TAs. I think they get to teach one class less if they are a TA, but if their classes are getting bigger and they are having to TA more students, then the amount of time gets available gets less and less.

Once again, the size of the schools is a big problem and this is just another indication of how our students suffer in a student body over 2,000 students.


4 people like this
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

Look at the states: Only "32: 67% of Paly students disagreed with this statement "Advisory is a valuable use of my time.".

So 2 out 3 Paly Students think TA is a waste of time. And you want Gunn to adopt this because....?


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:09 am

Pygmalion - FYI, they have changed Advisory this year. It used to be the case that the majority of students just left campus since it was an optional period. It has now been mandatory and the students must check in with a teacher and check in again at the end of the period. I think the culture of Advisory this year is different from past years. It will be interesting to see how the results of a similar survey question would be at the end of this year.

I know that my own students felt that Advisory was just a day to go home early or hang with friends. They didn't go see a teacher even if they wanted to because they would miss being with their peer group who would "know" they were having to see a teacher. Because they must go see a teacher now, it is easier for the ones who need help to ask for it.


7 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:10 am

@Pygmalion, because even if TA isn't perfect it's demonstrably better than what we have now. And frankly if you look at all of the survey results it looks pretty good.

If I remember right, even Camille Townsend in 2012 wrote to Skelly to tell him to stop delaying and adopt TA at Gunn.

It's really strange that you seem to have these axes to grind first on zero period and now this. Are you a Gunn parent?


22 people like this
Posted by Very experienced parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:15 am

Teens are not always the best judges of what is a good use of their time. My teen does not think cleaning his room is a good use of his time. But it's good for him. Later, when his wife sees that he knows how to cllean up after himself he will thank us. He doesn't always like scout meetings they are boring compared to girls. Later when he has his Eagle he wil thank his troop. Part of being the adult is being able to understand that kids don't always know best.

Advisory is building connections and those connections are showing up in the overall higher satisfaction ratings.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Pygmalion
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:37 am

@VEP,
You have a very selective memory. How many of the other suicides were in zero-period? Maybe it was because they were all taking English? Let's ban, English! Yeah, that's a really good idea.


"Teens are not always the best judges of what is a good use of their time."

With attitudes like that. you really don't need to wonder why our teens have so little trust.


"it's demonstrably better than what we have now."

Not really. Paly's model still sucks - see my first post.


19 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

English isn't associated with suicide while lack of sleep is.

Some of the more depressing moments in the school board meetings on this that I watched had Gunn students saying things like this. Some of them even said they learned them in AP Statistics. I sure hope not.


9 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

@Paly parent: Advisory has never been optional. Tutorial was optional but is no longer optional. This was a good decision because students should have a dedicated period to see teachers since many teachers are clock-punchers who are unavailable after school.

But this leads to the question, do the teachers have to be available? I'll start another thread for that question.


21 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Eliminating Zero Period was necessary. Even without Zero Period, our students are sleep deprived due to schoolwork, extracurriculars, and their teenager biological clocks being set on a later sleep schedule. The Zero Period forced them into a severe danger zone. Sure, some could handle it, but laws are based upon the majority, not minority. The argument of not listening to the students is pure ignorance.


5 people like this
Posted by Been There
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Here's my thread about teachers being unavailable except during class: Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:20 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm

In three years, we have never heard from their advisory teacher. Often, they are unavailable. Usually this is where they dump classes about health and well being or study habits or bullying etc. There is no process for personal connections, follow up on courses taken and possible majors. There is no direction about possible colleges. There has been no discussion of the new SAT and any prep needed ( rich kids just hire this out I guess) No discussion of SAT subject area tests or amc tests for requirements to certain colleges. IT is all on the parents and kids to research which would be ok, but often things are missed when years go by without any help.


1 person likes this
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Been there,

Zero period and adequate sleep work for students who only need 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. While a teen typically needs between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation some teens can handle 7 hours without adverse affect while others need 11 hours a night to feel rested. Web Link

Daily Schedule

7 am: Wake, eat breakfast, bike to school.

7:30 am: Start zero period.

1:30 or 2:30 pm: Get out of school after taking 5 or 6 other class periods.

In the 8-1/2 to 9-1/2 hours before an 11 pm bedtime, spend:

- no more than 2 hours at a job or on extracurriculars a day (Gunn students spend less than 2 hours a day on these Web Link)

- 1 hour for a family dinner

- 1-1/2 (freshmen and sophomores and non-AP taking juniors and seniors) or 2 hours (juniors and seniors taking APs) for homework according to the new board policy limits,

which leaves a PAUSD teen with at least 3-1/2 hours a day for watching videos, posting on social media, reading, hanging with family, exercising, or vegging out before bed.

11 pm: Bedtime per the student's biological clock.

Sleep for up to 8 hours.

7 am: Wake and repeat.

Teachers should monitor students' alertness during the day. Students dosing off in class should be pulled aside and talked to about it, notes should be sent home alerting their parents, and the students should be allowed to take the early class later in the school day.

That's the way they do it in Edina, the poster school district for a later start time. Web Link (Edina "redid its school schedules 6 1/2 years ago after the Minnesota Medical Association sent adolescent sleep research findings to all superintendents in the state, and urged them to act on it")

Edina High School starts at 8:25 am and it offers an optional zero period for students who prefer to start at 7:30.








14 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Is Edina Minnesota in the middle of a 7 year suicide cluster?

Is Edina Minnesota's suicide rate for youth 5X the national average as Dr. Shashank Joshi of Stanford says we are?

If Edina Minnesota jumped off a cliff would you follow it?


Like this comment
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Sense,

To be certain that all students get enough sleep, school shouldn't start before 11:30 am. Yet local doctors were fine drawing a line THREE hours short of that.

They went with the AAP 8:30 start recommendation but that was issued before the Sleep Foundation published an updated recommended teen sleep range of 7 - 11 hours a night. The 8:30 start recommendation is based on out-dated research.

The Minnesota Medical Association's - an organization chock full of doctors from the Mayo Clinic - adolescent sleep research was the basis for Edina's changed bell schedule.

The MMA doctors are well aware of the importance of sleep and the role sleep plays in suicide prevention. Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Perhaps "math" can guest lecture in that AP Statistics class at Gunn. The AAP recommendation isn't based on outdated research. It came out a year ago, and the Centers for Disease Control came out with the same recommendation in August of this year, 2 months ago. Web Link

At least don't peddle misinformation that can be refuted with a simple Google search. What's the sport in that?


4 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Yes, I did get confused between Advisory and Tutorial at Paly. My mistake, apologies.

I agree that Paly does a terrible job preparing students for SAT and ACT. I know they do PSAT, but that is hardly preparing them. I think it is poor teaching to not prepare them for these important tests. Any student who does not pay for outside tutoring for SATs and ACTs is not going to get a good score. Shame on PAUSD for the job they are doing here.


Like this comment
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm

This from a "simple Google search":

AAP's statement, which is what is cited by CDC, is dated August 2014. It mentions 8.5-9.5 hours.

But the National Sleep Foundation revised that recommendation, which it publicized in February 2015, by widening the sleep range from that 8.5-9.5 hours to the 7-11 hours which is in effect now. Web Link ("NSF Recommends New Sleep Times").

Undertaken to "conduct a scientifically rigorous update to the National Sleep Foundation’s sleep duration recommendations," NSF's report, co-authored by doctors and researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Stanford, Harvard and UCLA Medical Schools, and others, is here: Web Link ("the panel emphasized that some individuals might sleep longer or shorter than the recommended times with no adverse effects")


7 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Both of the links you posted recommend 8-10 hours per night for teenagers, not 7-11. That's false. I don't think you know how to read these materials.

The range recommended by the National Sleep Foundation is 8-10 hours for teens. This is a duration recommendation, and it does not alter or affect the 8:30am made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.

Stop. You are like the tobacco companies trying to continue to see cigarettes to children, or the "clean coal" proponents. Now maybe you want us to put "abstinence only" sex ed into the schools. You are pushing junk science and lies on a public health issue that is literally killing the children of this community. The kinds of things you say remind me very strongly of the AP stats teacher at Gunn who I cannot even believe is allowed to teach math since she cannot understand elementary statistics.


13 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Moderator, this thread is about counseling not zero period. Why not delete all this and invite math teacher to just start her own thread on the subject of zero period so that we can discuss counseling?

thanks.


1 person likes this
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Sense,

Read NSF's summary and full report carefully.

The NSF says that it discarded its previous recommendation of 8-1/2 to 9-1/2 hours; that means it threw out the recommendation that the AAP and CDC relied on.

The updated NSF recommendation mentions 8-10 hours but it says that for some students 7 hours is fine and for others 11 hours is needed. Hence the quote I lifted from the report's conclusion which I will repeat here: "importantly, the panel emphasized that some individuals might sleep longer or shorter than the recommended times with no adverse effects."

The expanded range of acceptable sleep time - from 1 hour (in 2014) to 4 hours (in 2015) - calls AAP's one set 8:30 am start time into question. It suggests that schools can be more flexible in start times without compromising high school students' sleep and health. This is what Edina High School does with its optional zero period.


17 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:22 pm

I call BS. The recommended time is the same 8 to 10 hours. As to doctors, not a single one showed up to support zero period, as opposed to over a hundred local doctors supporting the change. There was just no informed opinion claiming that zero period is a safe option. A bunch of teenagers and a couple of teachers with an ax to grind with the new principal doesn't count.


Like this comment
Posted by Snowden
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Mother of two
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm

I think the survey is misleading. The survey was given to juniors at Gunn who had a different counselor freshman, sophomore and junior years for various reasons and there were a lot of complaints about that, rightfully so! So it's not a wonder that they are less satisfied with counseling. Also, the 2008 survey reported lower levels of happiness at Paly than Gunn, but Ken Dauber cherry picked the data to support his own narrative, so I'd be careful about buying into the idea that the survey results have been consistent.


Like this comment
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:24 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Ned
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Considering this data, it's puzzling as to why the ineffective Gunn administrator who oversaw counseling -- Tom Jacobowsky -- is now interim principal at Jordan. Why promote ineffective performers?


3 people like this
Posted by Concur
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Agree with Ned. Have not been impressed with the Jordan interim principal. Hope it's not a stepping stone to a permanent position, but it usually goes that route.


5 people like this
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Jordan is lucky to have Mr. Jacoubowsky. I think I can speak for many families and say we wish he was still at Gunn.


10 people like this
Posted by Snowden
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Annika
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Second Gunn Parent's emotion on Tom Jacoubowski. The warmth and humanity he embodied are sorely lacking at Gunn this year.


1 person likes this
Posted by Gunning It
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I'd also like to toss a hat out for Tom Jacoubowsky; he was one of the few extremely competent administrators at Gunn, and it's disgraceful that he was essentially forced out of the school.

My senior was annoyed at the counseling reshuffle at the beginning of this year--he was not informed that his previous counselor had quit until the second day of school--but is very pleased with the new counseling staff. While he believes that the transition was extremely abrupt and poorly handled by the school's administration, he has only good things to say about Mr. Leftwich, his new counselor.

The college and career counselors, however, are another matter. My son has mentioned that information presented by various members of the college and career counseling office to juniors and seniors during mandatory assemblies has ranged from somewhat useless to woefully inaccurate. If any part of the guidance department really needs a reshuffle, it's the college and career center. It's quite a shame Ms. Espinoza no longer works at Gunn--many parents of Class of '15 claimed to have had wonderful experiences with her.


2 people like this
Posted by the math on zero period
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2015 at 6:16 am

The discussion about sleep, covered by the Weekly, is an important one. Adequate sleep is needed and showing up for school at 8:30 am instead of 7:30 is good for teens who grab sleep more easily in the morning.

That said, most students will continue to be at risk with the 8:30 school start (i) without a 10 or 11 pm mandatory bedtime, and (ii) without treatment of sleep disorders.

So why didn't the Stanford doctors redirect some of the limelight they focused on schools to parents, advising them to set and enforce bedtimes too?

District surveys show that students get under 7 hours of sleep a night even with 90% of them starting school at 8:30, far short of the mid-point (9 hours) and even short of the low end (7 hours) of NSF's 7-11 hour sleep recommendation.

That means that students are not getting to bed by 10 pm (to get in 9 hours of sleep) or even 11 pm (8 hours of sleep, their biological clock bedtime). Most of them are getting to sleep after midnight.

The problem is too late a bedtime. High school students can fit in a full school day, 2 hours of extracurricular activities (their average), a leisurely dinner with the family, 2 hours of homework (a bit more than the district's limit), and still have enough time to enjoy 3 1/2 hours of completely unstructured down time each school day.

Also, why didn't the Stanford doctors mention to pediatricians and parents screening teens for sleeping disorders which, if found and treated, would ensure that they got a good night's sleep while asleep?

Listing 8 different pediatric sleep disorders, the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center says that sleep disorders in children and teens "are common" and that both sleep quantity and QUALITY are "associated with a host of problems." Web Link




15 people like this
Posted by Dad
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 16, 2015 at 11:12 am

We pulled a child out of Palo Alto schools when he was in 1st grade because of the constant discussions about where he was in comparison to his classmates... and if he was to make it into XYZ University then the outlook is not good unless he gets outside tutors to start helping him with math, science and a foreign language -- this was from teachers and other parents.

thanks, he's getting A's in high school now in a different city, and amazingly isn't stressed out or worried about his classmates grades. All done without tutors.

Get your crap together PA and stop pressuring the kids!!!!


9 people like this
Posted by Former Paly parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm

@ Dad,

I am very happy for your son in another town. Make no mistake about it however. Having all As in some Bay Area high schools does not mean a child will be ready for college. Our kids went to UCs after Paly. They did very well at those UCs coming from Paly. Some of the classmates they encountered at the UCs, and who came from some other Bay Area school districts where they had all As, struggled tremendously once at the UCs, unlike our kids. It was to the point where those other kids ended up variously having to: drop out, change majors, and/or take more years than four to graduate.

All schools are not equal. All As do not mean the same thing.

We happily disregarded the pressure here and were very happy with our Palo Alto school experience, especially after the fact. Parents, just don't go along with the pressure and the "prestige" game. It is ridiculous anyway.


8 people like this
Posted by Baloney
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm

With all due respect, please skip to the last paragraph of FPP's post and ignore the rest.

The suggestion that other Bay Area schools are so different than PAUSD is bordering on an urban legend - one that is actually dangerous to keep repeating - especially when it serves to maintain unhealthy practices in our schools and unhealthy perspectives of ourselves in comparison to "others",

It just isn't true or fair to other local schools. The UC system admits students from schools where there is a track record of those students doing well within the UC system. While your child may indeed have seen students who struggled (MANY do for a variety of reasons and in a number of ways) - it is a huge leap to conclude that (a) their previous/entire school system is to blame and then that (b) PAUSD is so superior.

I am tired of hearing this story repeated and repeated. It is harmful to EVERYONE.

We have no idea how many of PAUSD graduates (or grads from other districts for that matter) come home during their first year - but perhaps it's a good thing to look into if we're going to incessantly repeat this story.

A story worth repeating that helps everyone?

"We happily disregarded the pressure here and were very happy with our Palo Alto school experience, especially after the fact. Parents, just don't go along with the pressure and the "prestige" game. It is ridiculous anyway."

Amen. Stick with that good advice - wherever you come from.




5 people like this
Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 16, 2015 at 2:21 pm

With all due respect Baloney is wrong. First I said SOME other school districts are not preparing children well for UCs, never said all of them are inferior. Second, the reported experience is absolutely true. I stand by what I said. What is wrong is to keep bashing PAUSD as in it is awful. The truth is is that there are problems to address, sure, but it works very well for the silent majority. And it prepares the kids very well for college. Again, ignore the snobs and the bashers and you will be fine.


5 people like this
Posted by Baloney
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 16, 2015 at 2:49 pm

FPP - you cannot possibly make even a nuanced global statement about SOME other school districts based on your kids' encounters. I don't doubt your children's experience - it's what you conclude from them that I believe doesn't compute, does harm to repeat and is irrelevant to your better points.

I agree it is harmful to bash PAUSD or any school district, for that matter. Words matter.


11 people like this
Posted by Experienced Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm

@the math on zero period: It doesn't seem that you have recently raised a PAUSD high school student, otherwise your posting would be different. The most obvious is that students are not studying 2 hours per day unless they are fortunate enough to have super easy teachers or they are slackers who don't care about their grades. Most students are studying 7 days a week, and on weekdays, at least 2 hours, more likely 3-5+ hours. Most students are enrolled in 6 classes. How can 2 hours be accurate? And AP classes require an extra 30-60 minutes per AP class. Calculate, and some students are studying way beyond 2 hours, despite the ruling that homework should be 2 hours even for AP classes.

If it's only studying they need to be concerned with, yes, an earlier bedtime is doable. But students also need extracurriculars for college applications. Add to the schedule one or more of these: sports (2 hours), commuting time, tutoring or studying for PSATs, SATs, community service, church group, hobby. How can a PAUSD student possibly get enough sleep? I spoke with Stanford engineering students who they said they were getting more sleep in college than in high school because of all the APs and resume-building.

Okay, so now it will return to "Don't take so many APs", don't shoot for Ivy Leagues or elite schools. Guess what? Game has changed. I don't know about Merced, but the rest of the UCs require AP classes on the transcript, at least a couple of them.

As per the argument between Former Paly Parent and Baloney, they are talking apples to oranges. Depends which college, depends on student's high school classes selected. But my child shadowed at Mtn. View High and said that clearly the AP and regular lane classes there are easier than PAUSD. They were even speaking English in Spanish 2 class - English is forbidden in any PAUSD World Language class, even in middle school. And we lived out-of-state prior to moving here - at this "good school district", it was clear that my mostly regular-lane children would easily be 4.0 GPA students there.

Which leads to the issue of teachers pushing PAUSD students harder because they know they are capable. Students in public schools across the nation are not being pushed as hard as our students are.





7 people like this
Posted by High Horses
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 16, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Whoa......


13 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2015 at 7:39 pm

"Again, ignore the snobs and the bashers and you will be fine."

That's hilarious. Just ignore the unhappy students crying out because of problems hurting them and making them depressed and nothing bad will happen to you! (This has been the cultural bent criticised in much great literature that ironically, the kids will probably be studying in school.)

When you tell people to pay no attention to those trying to point out problems, and castigate them, you make it harder to fix them and become yourself the problem. A reputation should be deserved and a public school system should be engaged in constant improvement and soul searching. There are many wonderful things about PAUSD, and many problems that shouldnt still be unsolved except for unwilliingness to do what it takes. I don't know about others on this list, but we have seen is a serious trust problem because of how many families have been treated. Makes you wish there was as much anti-bullying education among staff.


15 people like this
Posted by Trust
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm

I went to a prestigious college and found the kids with the most problems were the burnouts from intense high schools.
Clearly, the system works for some kids. Clearly, it doesnt for others. Read the district mission statement. That should matter. It didnt work for us mainly because of untrustworthy behavior by staff. I'm quite sure not everyone had the same troubke, even we didnt for many years. The trouble is that there literally is no mechanism to root out problem employees and no interest in truth and trust when problems inevitably arise. Appearances trump integrity here. With apologies to Billy Crystal, the motto really is: it's better to look good than to be good. Again, that wont hurt everyone. But shame on a public school district.


6 people like this
Posted by just saying
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 16, 2015 at 10:39 pm

"The argument of not listening to the students is pure ignorance."

Refusing to listen to other opinions because you believe your position is right is a pretty fast tracked path to divorce.

You are seeing the result of the loss of trust in these surveys.


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

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