News

Palo Alto teachers speak out against full-day kindergarten proposal

Teachers defend small group time that current model allows for

Several Palo Alto Unified kindergarten teachers, speaking on behalf of their colleagues, told the school board Tuesday night that they do not support a proposal to implement full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools in the coming school year.

The teachers defended the current practice in place at the majority of Palo Alto's 13 elementary schools, which is called an "extended-day" model: Half of the kindergarten class stays for a longer day, until around 2 p.m., two days each week, allowing teachers to work with students in smaller groups on a regular basis.

One teacher called this model the "gold standard" of the district's kindergarten program. Another said that moving away from it would be a "serious loss."

The primary driver for moving all schools to a full-day model is a recommendation from the district's Minority Achievement and talent Development (MATD) committee, which spent months during the last school year analyzing how to best close Palo Alto's longstanding achievement gap.

Putting support and interventions into place at the earliest points students' careers is critical, the committee found, and the group recommended full-day kindergarten as a way to do that. The group cited as support research that shows full-day kindergarten produces stronger long-term academic achievement and social-emotional growth, particularly for historically underrepresented students but also for all young children.

Some kindergarten teachers, however, "don't feel that full-day kindergarten is the best remedy for a systemic problem," said Corey Potter, a kindergarten teacher at Hoover Elementary School.

"It is a misguided belief to presume that the achievement gap will be closed or decreased by selecting the other proposed options," teacher Barbara Susco said. "In fact, children that need special and individualized attention would be less likely to get it, given that all the children will be present all day.

"Of course, this can be done, but the experience for the children will suffer. Moving to a full-day model would weaken our already strong program," she added.

Currently, Barron Park Elementary School is the only school in the district with full-day kindergarten, in which all students stay until 2:25 p.m. At Palo Verde Elementary, all students stay every day until 2 p.m. (except Wednesday, which is an early dismissal day at all elementary schools).

Addison, Fairmeadow and Hoover have the half-day extended-day model (and Ohlone and Nixon, though their schedules are slightly different). At Escondido, El Carmelo, Juana Briones, Duveneck and Walter Hays, half the class stays for a longer day twice a week, but students who may need extra support, particularly in literacy, also get time with an instructional aide twice a week.

The district is considering the following possible models for the elementary schools:

• Full (or extended) day every day for all students with additional highly trained instructional aide support. This is the most expensive option with an estimated cost of $647,000.

• Full (or extended) day every day for all students with the current level of instructional aide support. Estimated cost is $347,000.

• Maintain the current model, but provide additional highly trained instructional aide support at school two days a week for students who need additional academic, social and emotional help. Estimated cost is $193,000.

• Reduce kindergarten class size at the neighborhood schools to 19. Kindergarten class size at the choice schools and programs will remain at 22. Based on the current enrollment, it is estimated an additional two teachers will be needed to do this. Estimated cost is $275,000, which includes remediation for kindergarten classes with more than 19 students.

• Increase reading specialists by six hours a week. It is estimated an additional 2.4 reading specialists would be needed. Estimated cost is $300,000.

School staff have also discussed allowing parents to opt out of a longer day if they feel their children aren't ready for it.

"I do not want my incoming kindergarten to attend school full time," one mother, Renee, wrote to staff in a comment during the March 16 webinar, stressing the importance of free play for young children. "This is a backwards approach."

The parent of a Palo Verde kindergartner said her son "comes home angry, stressed out, upset and it takes him a couple hours to settle down."

"The idea may be presented as more free time for children in class, but I see mostly more seat work for children who at 5 years old aren't developmentally ready to sit for so many hours doing so much fine-motor work," she said.

Other parents in the webinar expressed support for full-day kindergarten, including one father who called it a "dream come true."

The extra time in a longer kindergarten day would not be given over to academics, Superintendent Max McGee said.

"We do not want kindergarten to become the new first grade, or the new second grade," he said in the webinar. "What we want is more time to ensure the success of all students in achieving our existing goals.

"Do not think we're talking about expanding time just to provide more worksheets and have more academic load. We want more time for play; we want more time for interaction; we want more time for singing; we want more time for music, for being outdoors, more time for student choice of their activities."

Ideally, the extra time would also provide teachers with more flexibility to work with students, not less, McGee said.

"I don't think that a longer day is mutually exclusive with protecting small group time," said board President Heidi Emberling, who works in early childhood education. "I think we have to balance the needs of our community with the needs of our professionals, and we have to listen to our professionals in terms of what the curriculum should be."

Whatever model staff eventually recommend, Emberling and other board members urged staff to preserve downtime and unstructured play.

"My goal is to protect childhood and protect play," Emberling said. "We have got to figure out ways to create playful, fun, interactive, exciting, curiosity-inspiring environments for our youngest students."

Other board members said they wanted more information and input on full-day kindergarten before opining.

McGee has been working with a kindergarten "think tank" group made up of representatives from each elementary school to collect data, read research and gather feedback from the school communities on full-day kindergarten. He said he will bring comments from Tuesday's board meetings back to that group and could return at the board's next meeting on April 19 with a budget recommendation for full-day kindergarten.

To view a recording of the district's "Investing in Kindergarten" webinar, click here.

Comments

40 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

"My goal is to protect childhood and protect play," Emberling said. "We have got to figure out ways to create playful, fun, interactive, exciting, curiosity-inspiring environments for our youngest students."

And the older ones.

Did the studies on full-time kindergarten actually compare to a program like the teachers are advocating (our existing program)? I doubt it. Listen to the teachers and the parents.


48 people like this
Posted by Seriously??
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Most private schools have full-day kindergarten. Are we going toilet PAUSD look inferior to private schools?

Many pre-K programs are full-day, too.

The kids are already reading and doing simple arithmetic in kindergarten-- they have given homework in kindergarten for decades. It is no longer a substitute for kids who didn't go to preschool.


54 people like this
Posted by Barron Park parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2016 at 10:21 pm

I think the Board ought to give serious consideration to the voices of these teachers. If they don't think full-day kindergarten is worth it from a professional educator perspective, then let's re-examine our assumptions.


20 people like this
Posted by Obvious
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 23, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Not to overstate the obvious, why don't they make the longer day only for kids who need extra instruction?

That way they don't burn money and time turning kindergarten into the next competitive gladiator arena where kids are overloaded.

Also, they should end the practice of delaying kindergarten until 6yrs old. Many parents are using this tactic to game the system for better grades later on...


17 people like this
Posted by K teachers are lazy
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Mar 23, 2016 at 11:18 pm

[Post removed.]


58 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:11 am

My three children hugely benefitted from coming home early three days a week from Addison to spend time at home playing, resting, reading with me etc. They loved school but were tired and ready to be home after four hours. Some people love the thought of all day kindergarten because it is easier on their own schedule not because it is good for their kids. The abbreviated kindergarten schedule is a wonderful stepping stone between nursery school and the longer school day of first grade. This may not be the case of kids who are used to long days in daycare. Parents will have many different opinions on this; trust the teachers.


58 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2016 at 1:42 am

Knowing that most of this city has housepoor residents, this is likely the reason people want all-day kindergarten, which is to work so they can pay the mortgage.

There is no reason children need full-day kindergarten. People need to prioritize their childrens' needs instead of having everyone else take care of their children. The early years is when parents need to spend time with their children. They are much more respectful as teenagers if their parents respect them and spend time with them.


23 people like this
Posted by K teachers are lazy
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:39 am

[Portion removed.]. Better for the K teachers trying to have PAEA block full day K to say that some children benefit from part-time K, then hope that someone doesn't point out the obvious that some children benefit from full day K.


6 people like this
Posted by Researcher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:45 am

>> The group cited as support research that shows full-day kindergarten produces stronger long-term academic achievement and social-emotional growth, particularly for historically underrepresented students but also for all young children.

What specific research did they provide? There is a huge amount of research on Pre-K and K instruction. Did they pull multiple peer-reviewed articles or did they just grab one article that served their needs. Proper research requires arguing and understanding both sides of the argument, and should preferably be peer-reviewed and published. I have yet to know a single Kindergarten teacher that reads and understands complex research. Serious Research is not something that most teacher training programs include. The Board needs to look more deeply before making decisions.


5 people like this
Posted by A Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2016 at 8:36 am

@Researcher - I went looking too for that research. Here's the MATD final report. Web Link The major support for full-time Kindergarten comes from (and only from) "Full Day Kindergarten: An Advocacy Guide", published in 2006 by the National Education Association (yes, the national teachers union). Web Link

This document is freely quoted. Needless to say, when you look at it, as the title states this is simply an advocacy guide, not a review of serious research. I like teachers and value their views, but this is not the source the MATD should have relied on.

Unfortunately, this exposes what insiders already know - that the MATD, for all the self-congratulations, did a sloppy job and will end up spending money for likely very little in the way of real results. Sorry, minority students. Sorry, community.


32 people like this
Posted by SF transplant
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2016 at 9:15 am

When all-day K was enacted in SF a number of years ago, K teachers at our school simply increased the amount of free time. This wasn't a bad thing (and the free childcare was helpful for our family) but it didn't have any additional academic benefits.


48 people like this
Posted by Green mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

Two steps forward, two steps backward.... Lets make up our minds. Have we not been advocating against rushing our children into academic life beyond their natural pace? What is the hurry? To tire them soon, to make more apathic tired youth? Have we not learnt that rest, free time and play are escential to a healthy mind during those critical early years of emotional-social-intellectual developmet? But at the natural pace? What is the hurry? Listen to the studies, the proffessionals, the parents, and the children!!


2 people like this
Posted by Green mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

Sorry, the former message went out with two spelling errors: essential and professionals.


14 people like this
Posted by bp
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

Can the minority committee share how full day kindergarten impacted achievement at Barron Park? Barron Park has had the program for several years now and persistently has by far the largest share of minorities and students overall who cannot preform at grade level. I think the first year of full day kindergarten students will be off to middle school soon, so the data (actual data, not motivational stories) should be available.


8 people like this
Posted by A Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:09 pm

In the report, the MATD points out that the district's data is hard to use in terms of tracking individual student trajectories. I am guessing that applies to the kids at BPES, which has a more transient population anyway (lots of overflows); you only want to look at the impact on kids who actually had the full-day Kinder experience, not those who transferred in later.

That said, for something important like this, you'd think you could piece it together by hand for one school, and at least see how it compared to prior results at that school.

The MATD is disbanded, so they can't do it. The district won't be bothered unless the board insists.


17 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

iSez is a registered user.

If they move to all-day kinder, they should just have no academics in the last couple of hours so those stay-at-home moms who don't prefer all-day kinder can pick up their children. Win-win (except the kids who see the others leaving early and have to stay).


14 people like this
Posted by mom of several
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm

Everyone assumes McGee is not telling the truth when he says more music, more play time? Why not hold them to that? It is nice to think that they are all going home to quality time with mom and some of you are better than others of us, but the reality for me was we rushed home to eat, they settled in and then were cranky when we had to rush back to school to pick up the older sibling. It is only more relaxing for the oldest kid, or only kid IMHO, when once you're home you're home. I do agree that they don't need to add more academics, I helped in that late day Kinder for reading and writing and the kids were DONE, tired. If they are having more age appropriate play based learning activities they would be fine. Kids in high quality day cares that are a long day but include art, playing and story time are not tired and cranky after a long day (at least mine wasn't, she loved it there)


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2016 at 1:34 pm

In an ideal world kindergarten would be as it traditionally has been. The kids have certain numbers of hours in school then picked up by Mom, taken home for a nap and then able to play with Mom at home all afternoon. Unfortunately, that rarely happens even with a stay at home Mom. That stay at home Mom is getting more rare and even if there is a grandparent or nanny, the kids are rushed from one activity to another, if not for themselves then for siblings or others being nannied. If they have after school care elsewhere then they are still likely to be "enriched" rather than allowed to chill. The busy kindergarten kid now gets language classes, or extra math enrichment, or swim, art, music or dance classes followed by music practice at home and then homework.

For those who don't have a preschool experience, they have not been prepared for scheduling gone crazy. They don't yet know that they can't wander around when the teacher is teaching or look out the window when they are supposed to be doing their table activity.

We have already changed the cut off date by 3 months for kindergarten, perhaps these teachers would like to cut off another 3 months so that they will be mature enough for a longer day. Perhaps we are just expecting too much of some of the kids. Perhaps we should just let our 5 year olds be kids for that first year of PAUSD.


6 people like this
Posted by Respect the Kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2016 at 3:20 pm

@Resident,
There are some nuggets of wisdom in there, unforunately buried by some wrong facts that stink of biased judgmental gossip against parents.

Start with the idea that stay at home moms ever spent inordinate amounts of time with their kids. In that book (sorry, can't remember exact title, I'm sure Google wiil help) All Fun and No Joy, the author points out that parents are spending far more time with their kids than their parents generation and that stay at home moms used to spend more time on housework and other activities with adults outside the home. Parents actually spend more time with their kids now than ever, even when both work.

Since the choice here is putting kids in school longer, I personally feel what you call "enrichment" activities, or that my kids might call "fun" are better than sitting in school longer at that age. You talk about those things like they aren't opportunities that might be chosen by the kids themselves and be as much or more educational than school. Sports, music, and art are good for the soul, whereas homework at that age is just not. Talk about what you know of, which is homework - and why would anyone assign young kids any homework at all? When the school day ends, it should be the kids' and the family's time.

Yes, we should let our kids be kids - don't give them homework, and respect rather than lambast what they themselves choose to do with their own time and energy. (It never ceases to amaze me how dismissive teachers can be of programs after school that are so much more fun for the kids than the same ones offered in school...)


23 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2016 at 4:29 pm

The current Kindergarten hours worked well to transition my children into the new school environment, and yes, I worked full time and could not pick them up after school. Please listen to the excellent and experienced kindergarten teachers of the district and chose a different solution like more reading specialists or smaller class sizes. I don't think anyone would have a problem with that!


12 people like this
Posted by Let children have a childhood
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2016 at 5:22 pm

mm Let the teachers (experts in this area) craft a solution. One size does not fit all. Six years ago when my twins were in K, they came home everyday and took a nap. Then we went to the park or played at home. Play time and unstructured time should be sacrosanct and protected. The Kind. curriculum requirements were so academic that the K teachers I spoke to at the time were very much against turning K into 1st grade. For my kids, there was a lot of pressure to be reading/decoding in Kind. If they weren't reading, 1st grade just became more stressful and they felt very much behind most of the other kids. When did early reading signify intelligence and future academic success for children? Before the District goes to full-day, they should take into account all the emotionally stressed out kids in the District. Many of these children were exposed to competition as early as Kind. and 1st grade.....then burnt out in middle school. Nurturing education and the environment are so critical to a good early education. If minority children need more help, don't make it mandatory for those of us that value unstructured/family time. Every school has a different population. Also the results from BP should be studied carefully. How many of full day K students progressed to a higher level exiting 5th grade. BP has many extra after school programs, lunch programs, tutoring opportunities that other schools don't have. Can't the data be objectively studied???Dr. McGee seems to be advocating one school wide K schedule. For Palo Alto, the autonomy of the elementary schools (especially magnets) has been tremendously successful. Why not look at the Ohlone model, mixed K and 1st grade students for 2 years. I wish we had that opportunity.........kids seem much better off and less stressed out about grades.


21 people like this
Posted by Advocate for Free Pre-K
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 24, 2016 at 8:12 pm

What about a free Palo Alto pre-school (Head Start is an incredible longstanding program!) for low-wage earners with 3 and 4 year-olds at home? Don't the studies reveal that the pre-k / pre-school enrichment schedule show the best results for academic and social success for later public school years for children? Not sure that a longer kinder day would have the same result.


57 people like this
Posted by beyond pissed
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm

[Portion removed.]

This backlash against working mothers wanting full day kindergarten is just crazy. What year is it? [Portion removed.]

Women work. Our kids have already been in full-day daycare since age 3. [Portion removed] a lot of moms work because they want to and a lot more work because they have to in order to afford living here. For them, half day kindergarten is a disaster.

By the way, if anyone wants to know what is really going on with those kindergarten teachers, it's that they have a sweet deal in which they get paid for full time work but only work part time. Of course they don't want that to end.


15 people like this
Posted by Antonio's
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 24, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Speaking for myself, I know that my business will definitely pick up between 12-2, so I support it!


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2016 at 9:40 pm

The scenario I described above is not from a book or data but my own childhood and that of most of my schoolmates at the time. True it may have been a certain niche of society but walking home from school and playing at the kitchen table while helping mom to fix a dinner from scratch and having no after school activities was my fun. When my younger sister started kindergarten I was old enough to walk home on my own and feel like a big kid. I was never over scheduled or bored. I had fun with friends and played outside too. A childhood like that has practically gone but don't knock it as I loved my free time.


22 people like this
Posted by K teachers are lazy
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Mar 24, 2016 at 10:04 pm

[Portion removed.] PAUSD K teachers are not the experts, especially at my school. They don't speak like experts nor do those posters who assert it to be so. The narrative is basically that our youngsters cannot handle perhaps 60 more minutes more reading, math, art, or just story time, though a majority likely are already for more schooling in aftercare, classes, and more. Nostalgia for when we were young and a snack was waiting on the table for us is not expertise either, it's just nostalgia. There is no research which would lead us to believe that our teachers, especially these who are called experts, could not help all kids in the K classroom with full day kindergarten. If you have read the stories, seen the videos, spoken to the teachers, you have to admit that a lot of this looks to the average layperson like folks who don't want to work what they view as extra hours.


13 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2016 at 10:23 pm

The devil is in the details of these Kindergarten proposals and I have serious concerns that the district can implement a fully-baked idea by August. I feel like my child will be part of another experiment, and I'm not convinced that full-day Kindergarten is the answer to any of the problems we're trying to solve.


36 people like this
Posted by What's right for the kids NOT their parents
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm

@beyond pissed, school is not daycare, and it's not about keeping your child busy while you work. Education is about creating an environment that best serves student learning. How much time is spend at school when they are 5 should be about whets developmentally appropriate, not parent convenience.


13 people like this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:28 pm

The argument that kindergarten should be extended because there are mothers who work isn't about what's best for the child, it's about free daycare and convenience.

I think kindergarten as it is now is an appropriate length for kids--a lot of kids need downtime--mine did and do. Being with 20 kids all day is stressful for a lot of children who are learning social skills along with the 3 Rs.

Yes, we have an issue with the achievement gap, but we don't have the sort of overall issue with achievement that would make full-day kindergarten for all suitable in this district.



9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:36 pm

This is mad. We're so fortunate to have a terrific school system available to our kids and a Board willing to invest additionally in our littlest learners. With more play, more music, more phys ed - not more academics being crammed in, there is only upside. Pre-K programs run longer than most kinder days in PAUSD, so kids take a backward step in contact hours. Neighboring cities and private schools all around us are already providing this benefit to kinders, and this is a terrific chance to level the playing field. The teachers will need plenty of support, but the Board has shared plans to mitigate and address. Please approve this, Board!


14 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:43 pm

Completely agree with "What's right for the kids". School is not daycare. Plus, those who need daycare can have their children go to the after school daycare on their campus.

I value all my time with my children - they grow up way too fast. To me, it wouldn't be worthwhile to live in Palo Alto if I could not afford to stay at home with them in their elementary school years. The idiom, "You reap what you sow" is completely true.

"Beyond pissed", insulting the teachers is disrespectful and entitled. "Someone, take my kids so I can work" is not beneficial for your children.


17 people like this
Posted by Working parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 25, 2016 at 2:26 am

@Mom of 3-- You have NO idea what is good for my children. Discounting that we need to work doesn't help them in any way whatsoever. Telling people who are less rich than you are to effectively get out of town is particularly insulting.


Both of us parents work. Turns out that this is the way of the world, and, unless you're lucky enough to have hit it rich one way or another, that is going to be the case for anyone here.

Lets put it this way: We cannot afford to stay-at-home. We'd prefer to have one of us there, but, unless we move somewhere else, that can't happen. Palo Alto is too expensive, and the city has done an inexcusably poor job of zoning for childcare facilities other than schools. Heck, we've been on the waiting list for a preschool nearby for a year and a half. And no, it isn't particularly exclusive-- this is basically the case for any preschool (i.e. not simply daycare).

If you're stay-at-home, and you haven't had to deal with wasting between 45 minutes and 2 hours a day getting to-and-from daycare, please think about that. That is 1-2 hours a day that I cannot spend playing with my kids or helping them learn.

If our kids aren't kindergarten, they're going to be in daycare, or have a nanny during the work day.
It would be much better for them to be part of a rich social experience with knowledgeable and trustworthy teachers within a reasonable distance of home. That was how my kindergarten worked, and I still remember bits of it fondly.


26 people like this
Posted by Former K teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:45 am

Thank you mom of three. We need to put children first, not parents' schedules. Imho children need lots of unstructured free time in the transition from pre school to Kindergarten, and K to 1st grade.The precious developmental period of 4 to 6 years of age is an incredibly short time, but critically important in the development of character, self esteem, curiousity, imagination, and a base for what type of human beings we want our society to produce. Experiencing the simple pleasures like taking a walk with parent, looking at a flower,taking their time,examining a rock, singing a song shouldn't have to be crammed into more class time with 20 other Kindergarten children, all wanting the teacher's attention. The academic race here in Palo Alto starts in pre school. Kindergarten and early primary grades are way too academic already. My kids had more homework in K, 1and 2 , than in 3 rd and 4th grade. Having our precious children exposed to the toxic Palo Alto education competition system in Kindergarten (parents, unreal academic expectations, Principal patronizing attitude) should be dealt with before endangering our children to more "time in Kindergarten class". Our children don't need any more class time, this time will just get usurped into more reading and math......seriously, have you looked at state Kindergarten curriculum standards. They are a joke! Kindergarten teachers are handcuffed already with an academic curriculum that they can barely cover.Why would we want to go to full day Kindergarten, one size fits all approach when we know the partial day Kindergarten program has evolved over time to best serve the students, families and teachers at the different school sites. From my experience, many families wanted full day Kindergarten mostly as daycare, so they wouldn't have to deal with scheduling problems or changing their work schedule, not making this decision based on the NEEDS of their children. PUT CHILDREN FIRST.


11 people like this
Posted by Fired up
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:03 am

@beyond pissed, thanks for your honesty; your schedule is your priority. Rest-assured I will fight you to the end to ensure that my child doesn't end up with a diluted Kindergarten experience to accommodate your schedule. I wouldn't dream of stereotyping a working mom they way you stereotyped a SAHM. This is Palo Alto in 2106 and we don't judge each other's life choices. [Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Wrong argument
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:18 am

To those making the argument that this will help working parents, I ask how exactly? The regular school day starts around 8:15/8:30 and ends at 2:30/2:45/3:00 depending on what school you go to. I don't know about anyone else, but last I checked, that's doesn't equal a full-time workday.


22 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:30 am

I have raised two daughters.

Children should spend more time with their parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grand parents and whoever loves them.

Half day kindergarten is right. No Change required.

Also, all schools need to start at 9:30am. No need to have children sleep deprived to rush kids to school to meet you company/business money making ventures. Many countries start school around this time.

respectfully


20 people like this
Posted by Truce already
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:40 am

Parents - we need to unite on this issue. Please listen to the recording of Tuesday's school board meeting. Board member Heidi Emberling expresses her belief that we should extend the Kindergarten day to protect play because parents are falling short of this and over scheduling their kids. This should be a huge red flag to all of us. It's not the school's job to dictate our kids' unstructured playtime. Whether we choose to pick them up and take them to karate, plant them in front of Dora the Explorer, send them to aftercare at school, hire a nanny to take them to the park -- it's up to US, not some school administrator. You are the parent -- fight for your right to make choices for your child at just 5 years old. If we turn this into another battle in the Mommy War, we all lose.


10 people like this
Posted by okay
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:14 am

How many of you palo altan onliners think homework is developmentally appropriate at kindergarten? How about a thread on this? Would love to see what you think.


1 person likes this
Posted by okay
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:18 am

Kinder garten. not kinder cubicle, maybe?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:36 am

Former k teacher posted exactly what I tried to say. It is not about how long a child is in kindergarten or child care or enrichment classes which may or may not be classed as fun. It is more to do with how many hours a child has that are unstructured, being inquisitive, finding their own amusement and being a child. Too many today are unable to just chill with their own toys at home or on their backyards. There is no time to stop and smell the roses because we haven't time before the next activity. Do we want our kids to remember a childhood of being rushed from one place to another or do we want them to remember the times they discovered worms or butterflies in the backyard or made a fort with blankets under tables and chairs in the living room. Give them the time to do both please. Don't over schedule them.


3 people like this
Posted by LelandManorMom
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

Dear community, The topic of quality child care is much too complex for Town Square. The US has a long way to go. Perhaps the District could trial several options including, for example, extended day for all at the lowest and highest performing schools (excluding lottery programs), optional longer day for pay with scholarships available for those who don't have it and expanded on site traditional after school care. We must all get creative and respect each other.


14 people like this
Posted by Reapect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:45 am

I think PAUSD should go in the opposite direction and do the Finnish model, where the kids aren't pushed to be academic at all in the early grades, but given lots of opportunities to learn - and be with their families. It's hard to understand the teacher above whose attitude is practically dripping of parent hating while also saying kids should have more time with them.

Families who do not want their kids to be too academic early on can also band together and file private school affadavit's - basically, homeschooling. If enough families band together, they could form coops, hire teachers to focus on the important developmental stuff and leave the rest for later. No more rat race for k-3 or more. They could provide the experience they want for their kids.

No? Too afraid of getting behind in the school rat race if you do? Remember there is strength in numbers. What do kids learn in rat-race school in those years that is worth crushing their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning? Just ask the Finns.


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Posted by Redident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 9:49 am

Please no childcare coops. Coops are for chickens not children


8 people like this
Posted by Stay-at-home Mom
a resident of Addison School
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:23 am

@working parent: If Palo Alto is too expensive and you don't like the location of the preschools, move elsewhere. Why does everyone think they have to live in the most expensive city in the area? Is it their pride and ego? That they have somehow arrived? It's hard enough raising children as a stay-at-home mom. Having a full-time job and being a parent is like having two jobs. The children who turn out well with working parents are the ones who have nannies or the ones who highly value family life and any time they are not at work, they completely enjoy being with their children and are a part of their lives.

As they say, on their deathbed, people don't say they wish they worked more, they say they wish they spent more time with their family.


12 people like this
Posted by beyond pissed
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:32 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Researcher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2016 at 10:50 am

In my eleven years on school boards, public and private, I always needed to take time to remind the Board, the administrators, and teachers, that we are here to talk about students, not adults.

If we all focus our discussion purely on the students instead of the adults, we will have a far better opportunity to find quality solutions to education at any level.


23 people like this
Posted by Different working parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm

@ Stay at Home Mom:
Most working parents who live in Palo Alto are here for the public school reputation, period. The "prestige" of the city is a bug, not a feature, for these folks, which includes most of the local working parents I know. Moving is not a realistic option at this point, even if you were willing to uproot family, since the surrounding areas are not significantly cheaper (they are a bit cheaper, but not to the extent you could send your kids to private school or switch to staying at home, for example).

I do agree with you that family time is the most valuable. Basically every minute I'm not at work is spent on family. This is actually one of the reasons I have a hard time with the "just move" solution: in order to make it worth it financially to uproot the family, you have to move out far enough that your commute becomes hellish, which ... guess what ... damages that precious family time by adding at least an hour more away from the kids in the mornings and evenings.

Oops, this isn't even a housing thread and people are being told to move! Full day K... can see pluses and minuses. Many other states have it as standard, and back in the dark ages I went to full day K, which was mostly fun and games. My kids are older so I don't have a dog in this fight, but at least now I'm on topic.


3 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm

@"Redidant"
You would think with your apoarent difficulty typing on a small screen you would have some grace for others who do, too. I of course was suggesting parents form "co-ops". It was less a suggestion about any institutional structure and more a suggestion of coming together with others.

The fact is, there is no law requiring anyone to send their kids to the local schools, and private school isn't the only alternative. If parents have a different educational philosophy, they can take their kids out and spend whatever time they want teaching the kids the way they want. They probably want to make sure their child isn't isolated from peers, which is the reason parents put up with a whole host of ills from schools. They just have to band together. There are a huge number of resources out there now, people can send their kids to an outdoor program one day a week, etc. Call them communities of learning. It's the opposite of cooping up the kids which is what the schools do. At least until the schools get them into the rat maze. Then they also run them ragged.

I know people who are doing this now as we speak. Cupertino even now has a program that allows kids who are custom schooling to go to the neighborhood school to have lunch and recess with the kids at school. Palo Alto is really behind when it comes to innovating, but it could solve a lot of problems all at once, starting with not having to build new schools with greater enrollment but instead improving the school sites we have and using them more effectively.


19 people like this
Posted by Depends on parenting
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Why do people choose to have children? For the joy of it or so they have someone to care for them in their senior years? Um, truth is, they won't give a hoot about you if you don't give a hoot about them. My mom stayed at home during my elementary school years but might as well have worked. They had a lousy marriage and didn't spend time with me. Although it was still nice to come home to someone instead of an empty house. I reluctantly speak with her about twice a month even though she lives a mile away. I would have been more well adjusted if I had parents who spent time with me and cared about my feelings and guided me. I think it's great that people nowadays can just say no to children if they don't want them. And if they DO want them, they do prioritize their children. To fulfill the needs of all children, Kindergarten should not be all day because some can't handle it at that young age. There are a lot of misdiagnosed children on ADHD meds these days, and all due to their overtime in daycare and over scheduled lives - they are exhausted. And what about all the teens who use pot and alcohol on a regular basis and rebel against their parents? A serious breakdown in family cohesion.


20 people like this
Posted by No Homework
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm

WhenI was in kindergarten in the 80s, we had homework five days a week, right off the bat. By first grade, we had it on weekends and all holidays, too. It absolutely ruined Christmas.

We also had morning kindergarten and a separate afternoon kindergarten, so the teachers did work a full day.

Back to the early homework issue: it puts a damper on after-school activities. The kids are too tired to go out and play or take any kind of lessons by the time they have finished an hour of homework every afternoon. That amount is inappropriate for kids under ten years old-- and yet that is what kindergarten and first grade is given.

Atrocious!


24 people like this
Posted by Yes, please
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:11 pm

My youngest of three was in first grade when Palo Verde Elem switched to "full day" K for 4 days/week. I was so jealous.
The crazy three different ending times over the course of the week was maddening. It also made it hard to play with friends in the other group.

I spoke with the PV kinder teachers about it is going with the longer days now.
They are pleased with it. It has given them breathing room during the days with the kids. They do not feel as pressured, transitions between activities can be less stressful. Fun activities that were being cut out (like a little class play, or cooking together) now have time to be included again.

Yes, the Palo Verde Kinder teachers have more working hours with the kids. They think it is worth it and valuable. I trust them.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Touché. Yes typing on a small screen is a pain. Sometimes though you misread something quickly and get the wrong idea in your head and it remains. Sorry


2 people like this
Posted by Respect the Kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2016 at 1:04 am

@Resident,
I'm glad you wrote that msg. I love our elem teachers and probably would be your best supporter if we were in the same school. I totally agree about no full day kinder. Just please watch the parent bashing. "Parents" seem to be the whipping boy for everything these days.

@yes please,
That's great, but life is finite, and you know that great feeling you get from having more time with the kids? Well, the families of those kids want and deserve that more than you or any other people do. Your desire to spend less hurried time with the kids should not take precedence over parents' and childrens' wishes for how to spend their time, including having less hurried family time. Make after school activities available and some families will choose them. Don't make it mandatory.




6 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2016 at 5:43 am

... And the bouncing ball moves from -- what was Heidi's last attempt at stirring up controcpversy? I can't even remember - - to extending kindergarten, and see? She got practice at distracting the public from Addison and nasty old fairness issues she and the board didn't want to deal with. Notice how the review of what all the campuses needed just got dropped?


7 people like this
Posted by No judging, just options
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Mar 26, 2016 at 8:59 am

Why not try an opt-in system for full day kinder?

I loved half day kinder for my kids - we had so much fun in the afternoons and being stay at home mom is important to me. But, I grew up in an emotionally abusive household and for kids from families like that, full day is a safe haven. The less time home, the better. I'm sure my mom would have signed me up in two seconds just to get rid of me.

I'm proud that I broke the cycle of violence. I grew up in an relatively affluent family and no one would have ever known I had Mommy Dearest as a mom - she covered her tracks quite well. For those who think this sort of thing doesn't happen in places like Palo Alto, you're wrong. A few extra hours with a stable grown up helps a lot.

Of course, there are other reasons that a full day might be best for a particular child - work schedules, family illness, family configuration. And if it works better for a particular family situation, then where it the harm? No judging, just options, please.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2016 at 9:55 am

I agree that it does not always have to be at home with parents but I do think at this age kids ned consistent unstructured time to be kids. Ideally this should be at the same venue in a small peer group where there are few rules and lots of flexibility. Kids should be able to make a fort under a table and take favourite toys and a flashlight in if he so wishes and stay there for hours. They should be able to dig a hole in the backyard and come back tomorrow to see if he caught any worms or slugs. They have to be able to leave something they have created for a few days in the knowledge that it will be undisturbed at least for a short while. There is a fabulous tv commercial that shows a child planting jelly beans and coming back to water it day after day and on Easter morning she wakes up to find a fabulous garden of treats has grown. This is the sort of magic kids do need to be able to experience imo.


2 people like this
Posted by Respect the Kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2016 at 1:28 am

@Options,
It probably isn't legally possible to give kids a different school day, though, come to think of it, the article says it already happens. Not that parity means anything here.

I'm glad you found a haven but don't assume abuse happens only at home. We're still trying to repair the consequences of school with adults with degrading attitudes, dishonest, erratic, emotionally abusive or unsafe behavior, and no one willing to step in or stick their neck out to even question the obvious wrongs. When home is a haven with people you love againat school which is unhealthy in every way, the piled on homework robs kids of any control of their lives. It doesn't get bad until later but I agree, young kids don't need homework. They do need time with their families.


11 people like this
Posted by thebiggerpicture
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 27, 2016 at 9:57 am

Providing kids with downtime/extended care is not the responsibility of the teachers. It is that of parents. Whether it is full or half day kinder, ultimately whether the kid gets downtime or not is dependent on what he does with his time after school. and that is becoming a rarity for most kids whether they are from families where both parents work, or from families where one parent stays at home. We all get sucked into the race for over scheduling our kids and boasting about our kids making the swim team, making the next marvel at robotics, reading Harry Potter in first grade, doing triple cart wheels at twisters. I am a stay at home parent and I learnt early on and the hard way that kids tune off after a certain point of time in the day and it is best to leave them alone. My child is now entering middle school next year and there is already buzz in parent circles about how important it is to sign up for the city run athletics program as soon as registration opens in August because girl's volleyball is popular and spots fill up in 15 minutes. We as a culture are always planning and preparing to make our kids ready for the future and never seem to live in the now with our kids. It is the parents who create this frenzy not the teachers, not the kids. Every family needs to decide how to provide their child with downtime after school and whether it is necessary and not add that to the list of teacher to dos.


4 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 6:52 am

@the bigger pricture,
If kindergarten in this overly academic district from day one is a full day, ultimately kinders will be too tired for down time explorations. Kindergarten was long enough as it is, and looking back, despite a wonderful elementary experience, the one thing I wish had been different was to have no homework in elementary school. It's just not necessary and not supported by research as beneficial. Whether kids have downtown after school or not is completely dependant on teachers' assigning homework. It's not even just the amount of time, for most young kids, it's also about the focus. When it's time for home, they want to go home. They don't want school constantly looming over them. You're right, it's not the teachers responsibility for downtown, and it also shouldn't be their right to totally ruin it with homework.

Where did your parent-hating attitude come from? I found the parents in this district to be completely the opposite of that, and the families were the best thing about school here. They were complaining about all the homework too early on and trying to give their kids a chance to explore and have a childhood instead of pushing them. Since when is READING A BOOK or swimming "overscheduling"? It's only overscheduling if school takes over all hours of life. Sports are really important for kids' mental health, and in case you didn't realize it, kids get less and less time to play and be active, including in PE, as middle school goes on. The opportunities to play sports with others are limited - if your kids want to do that, there are no other intramural sports, etc, the rec department is it, and people were giving you information on what you have to do to sign up because the powers that be consider sports "overscheduling" like you I guess and don't make enough space for everyone who wants to join in to play.

In our household, downtime was often filled with fun reading that stopped when school started because of all the busy work from school and exhaustion. Summer reading programs are in summer for a reason - kids in this district get no time for anything of their choice because of school. In contrast to your portrayal, the surveys show kids with far more homework than the district is supposed to be giving, and district personnel interpretating the results downright dishonestly to the public. Look at the district data on the number of kids who have ANY activity at all after school, whether a sport or just time out with friends, even once a week, and it's absolutely abysmal in the high grades. Kids here "do school" - the parent-hating is not helpful in a discussion of whether taking little kids away from their parents even longer so that all they can do when they get home is collapse, is not helpful.

The teachers are right, leave kindergarten alone. But if the district does go to full day kindergarten and parents don't like that, they really can simply take their kids out of school after filing some easy paperwork with the state. As has been pointed out so negatively, there are other enriching things they can do that don't involve sitting at a desk and doing, as Sir Ken Robinson calls it, low-grade clerical work. And contrary to what many believe, the kids won't be behind in later elementary if they don't do the low-grade clerical work, but instead have more time to read things of their choosing, swim, and be kids. The one thing parents find difficult is not having an easy place to get the kids together with other kids. That's possible to fix.




18 people like this
Posted by outisder
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2016 at 9:10 am

World languages and teachers who have better skills would be better money spent.

I would not want my kid stuck with one person for a whole day during this very crucial year. If parents have the luxury of being able to spend time with their own kids, they should be able to.

All they will get out of Kindergarten in this district is, counting to 20, Dolce sight words. easy readers and some cute art projects. They will for sure get lots of viruses and probably lice. If I had it to do over again, I would let them nap, read books, do an hour of spellig and math and then just visit musuems and some play groups to visit zoos and camp with. Start piano lessons.... join a choir. No one really needs to start a full day of academics or have to be stuck in one room with one teacher and the same kids. It seems so depressing to me to see this. In Santa Clara, there is Millicken school and all the kids sit at desks for 45 min. intervals. The all do really well on common core testing and then disappear and have lost all creative instincts. They all look really sad and really tired. This is a good set up for raising robots or military kids. Come on Palo Alto, embrace your hippie past and just let the kids do art, sing, play create. We did no preschool, no workbooks, no kindergarten and they tested out way, way above the ones stuck in the room. Kindergarten should only be focusing on a child's self control,.speaking and self esteem and some motor skills -memorizing songs and poems and dance steps are painless and higher order thinking than new rubrics some stepford teacher creates and no kinder needs rubrics that place him or her in competition with others at this age.


23 people like this
Posted by Holy Moly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 10:37 am

Every time I go to Europe, especially the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg, I am astonished anew at how many childcare facilities there are. In the Netherlands there is literally one on every block! Some are small, some are larger, some are full day, some are after school. There are literally more day care centers than schools in most of Western Europe!

Palo Alto is so wealthy, but there are more dog parks than child care facilities! What is wrong with this city ( and country)??

I get depressed when I come home from Europe: the US looks dumpy because the infrastructure is so bad, even on the wealthy Peninsula; the schools are so bad, the school day is so short, the school year is so short, the schools themselves are so dumpy, and the kids get overloaded with homework ( partly because the school day is too short to do the school work in); and the medical care is so overpriced.

If my work and family weren't here, I'd be sorely tempted to live and work in Europe


4 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 10:39 am

@outsider,
What did you do? Do people have to enroll in kindergarten and file a private school affadavit with the state, or can you just start your kid in first grade?

I think your post is so right on.


8 people like this
Posted by Lupi
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2016 at 11:02 am

The elitist tone of some of these comments is shocking. I agree with the person who said that most parents are working full time in order to pay for very expensive housing. A short kindergarten day requires them to make financial provision for the care of children in the remaining hours. Also, most children of working parents, as was pointed out by another comment, have already been in a full day program.


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Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:24 pm

@Holy Moly Palo Alto isn't Europe. Palo Alto isn't NYC. We don't have the same tax rate, We don't have the same social infrastructure. We don't have the same housing density, and so on and so on.

We don't have lots of things other places have because we are not them. Don't complain.

Taking things out of context doesn't help solve problems.

/marc


2 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm

@Lupi,
I don't think the comments are elitist at all especially Holy Moly who is right, the rest of the world Moly mentions used to look shabby compared to us now those same places have better infratructure and wonderful - usually free - day care. Here we are living Ronald Reagan's dream in which the ultrarich pay almost nothing in taxes and the public infrastructure they relied on to halp make them rich falls into disrepair and the society looks more and more like the third world every day.

Sadly, the election isn't going to solve the problems because people on the left still seem unwilling to take on the lie of supply side. But that's an argument for another day. It seems to me it's the most elite who have their kids in all-day care. Others have
grandma sleeping on a cot in the kids' rooms and trading off with the other grandmas for group care. Extended kindergarten doesn't fill the school day, and after care isn't usually overly academic like our schools.

You don't have to rich to choose an alternative if you band together with other parents.


14 people like this
Posted by Equal pay
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Has there been any discussion regarding kindergarten teachers receiving full pay regardless of the shortened day and whether this impacts their recommendations?


10 people like this
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 28, 2016 at 2:33 pm

@Respect - California doesn't require school enrollment until age 6. So if you don't want to send your kid to Kindergarten at 5, don't send them. You don't need to ask anyone or do anything. When they show up at age 6, generally they will go into first grade, though if they are not ready the district can assign them to Kindergarten.


13 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

@espect,

You can skip Kindergarten without a private school affidavit. There is charter school called Ocean Grove that gives money and have approved vendors/classes and tutors. They say they are homeschooled, but they are really just choosing which adults and which programs there kids are in with each subject. There is a little school called Live Oak academy that has kids go 2-3 days a week and then parents fill in the rest.santa cruz has tons of these "hybrid schools"

You can also file a private school affidavit and graduate them from your school and just consider Palo alto high school your basic a-g requirment school. use other sources to let your kid excel where he/she wants to without begging for special classes or what have you. A trend is to self study the SAT subject area tests to get credit over with quickly.

I wonder if the 5th grade teachers at the schools feel all day K would be fine. Do the Kindergarten teachers pick up extra yard duty or correct papers for upper grade teachers who are more swamped? I am sure they will be happy to see the K teachers not leaving the parking lot hours before them.


14 people like this
Posted by Show me the PAEA money!
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

K teachers get just as much as the 1st grade teachers, because a 6-year-old kindergartner is not ready for the extra 60-90 minutes of school in the afternoon as the 6-year-old in 1st grade. Most of the PAEA K teachers do not want to work the extra time managing, though I would hope teaching would be the primary duty, 5 and 6-year-olds. There is a small minority of PAEA K teachers who have expressed that they would welcome the full day, but anyone in PAEA will tell you that you have to be careful to not upset the power of PAEA. PAEA, that's what this is about, not kids. Our special snowflakes would welcome the extra time, activities, and learning, yes learning, that a few more minutes in the afternoon would bring. They are thirsty for school when they are young. So-called full day K does not harm children or break up families, it is not daycare even if a few or bunch of folks would treat it so.


17 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 28, 2016 at 6:00 pm

The PAEA president is a kindergarten teacher who is against full day kindergarten. The union as a whole has never been asked how they feel about full day kindergarten or the fact that kindergarten teachers get the same pay as a teacher who teaches a full day. Plenty of 1st grade and 2nd grade teachers feel a full day kindergarten program is needed. Children are not coming into primary grade prepared for the curriculum.


4 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2016 at 8:29 pm

@Show me,
As much as we loved elementary, if we'd been faced with full day kindergarten we would have done what the other poster above suggested. Palo Alto schools are too academic too early and it does sacrificecreativity. Kids are thirsty for learning, play, creativity, not being forced to sit and do busy oaperwork. Even school art can be very cookie cutter and about that wall the teacher wants to put up rather than the process for the kids.

@outsider,
Thanks for the info. I did not understand this, though: "You can also file a private school affidavit and graduate them from your school and just consider Palo alto high school your basic a-g requirment school. use other sources to let your kid excel where he/she wants to without begging for special classes or what have you. A trend is to self study the SAT subject area tests to get credit over with quickly."

Palo Alto schools are not very easy to work with and tend to dole out privilege and punishment for personal reasons of those in power. Are you talking about some program or the experience of a lucky insider? Or do you mean put kids through some of high school and then graduate from your own school? That would defeat all the benefits of going independent and saving them from the rat maze.


11 people like this
Posted by Working parent
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2016 at 8:38 pm

My idea of full-day-k would be like what I had as a kid:
Lots of extended, mostly unstructured play both inside and outside, with some lessons mostly taught as songs, a fair bit of reading to the kiddos who wanted to listen instead of doing arts/crafts at the arts station. There was no homework until spelling in either 1st or second (I can't remember which).

Our kiddo already does basic reading and writing, and has been doing the equivalent of the "full day" K for two years. A longer day to play, socialize, and learn would be wonderful for her-- she complains when there is no school because she gets bored.

I can't imagine that she is the only kiddo going to attend K who is like this. I believe strongly that our K teachers, if allowed to create unstructured time periods, would create pleasant days that would be more interesting and fun than what a nanny or daycare could provide. I think that this would work better than a strongly structured K followed by a non-structured free-time.

I still maintain, and am happy to see some others comment about, that Palo Alto has done an absolutely horrible job of zoning for childcare facilities. There should be many times more than there are-- they should be wanting our children, instead of our children being on wait-lists for literally years.


4 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 29, 2016 at 11:31 am

In the current model, half the kids stay late twice a week while the others go home, and it swaps the other two days. The fifth day is early dismissal with the rest of the school. This means the K teachers are working just 3 hours less per week than the rest of the school. This is hardly time worth fighting for.


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Posted by PAUSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Not all schools have the same model. Two days with no kids after 11:30, two days with half the class. This is a big difference in the teaching world. Extended day does not start until mid October. That is two months of only teaching half days.


15 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

I hate to have to say it, but all children are rushed these days. Children in India and China are taking calculus in fifth grade!

Kids have to learn a whole lot more information in the same amount of time as they did decades ago when they had to learn far less! It isn't fair, it is unkind, but it is what it is-- the way of the world.

Having a four year degree has become a necessity for most jobs. Most local employers, who's founders didn't even finish college, now require advanced degrees-- unaffordable by most parents and kids. This is threat reason there is preferential hiring and preferential college admission for foreigners: their governments pay for college, even advanced degrees, even from American schools!


6 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 4:17 pm

@Ahem,
You make very good points : all kids are rushed these days. The problem is that you conclude there is nothing to be done but go along, even if it means kids potential is lost?

The late Steve Jobs is famous for having said, "When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is . ... Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”

Given what has happened in our district in recent years, why would we double down on more of the same and hope for a different outcome? To much is at stake.

@Working parent above expressed the belief that the only alternatives are nanny or daycare. But that's not true anymore. There are a limitless number of possibilities if people decide they want change. There's Reikes, Wild Child, Helios New School, Quantum Camp, Rockit Science, Outschool, Academic Antics, etc etc etc A really long list of very different programs and opportunities depending on what you want. Some are expensive, some less than daycare. If Marie Curie could homeschool her daughter who had trouble focusing in school and couldn't handle changing subjects constantly (she studied no more than two subjects a day and after lunch was enrichment around Paris - this is the daughter who also won the Nobel Prize ) then surely we could find positive change with such rich resources. One of the posters above seems to be from Santa Cruz where they are very open to mixing those opportunities with school (note to teachers union: it did not destroy school there but made it possible to meet a much wider range of needs and wants). There is nothing in the rules preventing people from doing the same here. There is no need for a charter school, in fact, it is possible to even school through county charters already, @Working Mom, and they will give you some money to pay for some of those programs.

If you think a more free and enrichment-filled kinder and early grade experience is better for your child, the opportunities already exist. Being happy and not chained to a desk can actually be good for kids, including their academic performance.


4 people like this
Posted by Mom of K
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm

With the opt-out option and extended hour only for PE and music, I don't understand what we are fighting for here. This can be a win-win for all situation: Stay at home moms, feel free to take your kids home. Working parents, take the option to let your kids stay instead of an otherwise more tiresome schedule for them.

What is good for kids vary depends on situation, why everyone is fighting so hard here to prove there is ONE solution best for ALL?

I am stunned at all the comments about if you cannot do this, then move out of Palo Alto. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE to make those comments?????


14 people like this
Posted by Respect the kids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

@Mom of K,

There is some rude aggressive parent who keeps making posts about how teens who can't afford to eat out at T&C should move out of Palo Alto. Those kinds of comments pop up, it's best to just ignore them. Most of the posters are not engaging with that, I see a healthy discussion with reasoned disagreement.

The trouble with this district is that it is too academic at the early levels. If there had been a move in the opposite direction in, say, first grade, perhaps it would be easier to trust. (Which is the other problem with this district, bad track record when it comes to trust, and McGee hasn't changed the culture to fix that.) When the district adopted Everyday Math, there was a huge swell of support to delay the decision one year and to pilot something that hadn't been considered by accident (and is used at some very good schools locally). Our principal held a meeting and parents were told little would change and that EDM would be like a supplement to help kids who didn't get the regular math. It was a bald-faced lie. The district would do better to make a lot of the young fives slots available, not as a choice/lottery, but by teacher recommendation after the first week of school.

There is definitely a disrespect of families, parents, and family time in the district office. I think in this case the teachers are right, and they know the students in that environment. I don't think it helps to impugn the teachers' motives. But, parents should realize that they have a panoply if really cool options should the district decide to lengthen the kinder school day but parents don't agree.


20 people like this
Posted by War_on_Boys
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2016 at 10:41 am

We should separate the issue of socialized day-care from full day kindergarten. Whether being forced to turn your baby over to the care of strangers after only six weeks of unpaid maternity leave to school schedules that don't line up with standard work hours, our system is poorly structured to support two income families. Why we let this happen I don't know.

What's worse, the structure and curriculum for little boys is increasingly becoming hostile. Even though their young bodies are screaming to develop motor skills, we force them to sit still and be quiet for hours on end. They are relentlessly subjected to gender or sexuality rubrics propaganda and threatened with zero tolerance policies for drawing a gun or making a bow and arrow from sticks. Their self worth is constantly challenged by accusations that masculinity (particularly American) is bad and responsible for all the evils in the world past and present.

If they resist, they are liberally prescribed Ritalin or Adderall to medicate their free will out of existence. Make a visit to a classroom and you will see them look up at you with perplexed expressions on their cute little faces wondering why anybody that cares about them would intentionally punish them this way and silently wishing they could be anywhere else in the world but in school.

The data is indisputable. This approach causes long term problems. Unless counteracted, they develop a disdain for learning, an inherent cynicism for authority and a subconscious desire to subvert the system. The result of our education policies has been the creation of a reverse gender gap and a learning environment that is failing our boys.

By all means, change our system to better support families, a healthy society and a productive economy. However, please provide more time for physical play and team building. Otherwise, it is just another attack on our boys and a reinforcement of misguided policies that hurt their well being and academic progress.


5 people like this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I think the bigger problem is that they are trying to fill their made up rubrics and admin. wants every teacher to exactly the same thing every day so all the kids will have exactly the same skills so they can market their programs instead of.. hiring professional teachers that are able to have flexibility to go ahead or behind of their robot partners. many medium kids do very well. The bottom stays the same. The top suffers.
Go to the open house at Nixon and you will see that every kids desk at each grade level looks exactly the same. It is eery. They even have projects placed on desks the same way so parents will not think one teacher works harder than the other.Parents are all so happy to say they are in Palo alto...

By top, I mean the gifted kids that need to go behind in one subject and ahead in another. Every kid is rarely just medium in all subjects. Also, kids develop language and math perception skills at different times and do have different levels of retention and understanding of skills. The model for most classes in high school is written text. 4o min. lecture, work time with friends , then testing. You will need to make sure you kids are able to memorize( the lowest level of thinking but the one that will get them an A)


Poems/dances/songs-lots of them will train this part of their brain early. Reading books and telling stories, crafts are all not slacker activities. algebra skills can be taught easily with tons of games and puzzles. Filling out stupid worksheets so an admin can check off his common core box for Kinders is useless for the kids and will actually drive the gifted kids nuts, keep the middle kids happy and the low kids low


3 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Staff
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Below are Full-Day Kindergarten schedules from Barron Park and Palo Verde. From them, you can get some idea of how their time is spent. Keep in mind if Full-Day Kindergarten is adopted, each school/Kinder teacher(s) would have some flexibility in how they allot their time, just as currently, schools vary in what they offer students depending on how each site decides how to spend their discretionary funds.

Barron Park:
Web Link


Palo Verde Schedule

8:15 - 9:45: *Opening routines, including Math & Literacy activities & lessons
*Writing Workshop
*Interactive writing

9:45 - 10:15: Snack & Recess

10:15 - 11:15: *Reading Workshop
*Word work, Shared & Interactive reading

11:15 - 12:00: *Math (EDM)
*Science

12:00 - 12:45: Lunch

12:45 - 2:00: Centers - *Rotating work stations featuring math & science investigations, largely from the K Foss Science, and Everyday Math programs, as well as literacy centers, such as word sorting.


4 people like this
Posted by Snack and recess!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2016 at 8:19 pm

30 minutes for snack and recess? Really? Then another 45-50 minutes for lunch less than two hours later? Is that all we do in America, eat? I taught kindergarten, full-day, years ago, and we didn't take a 30-minute recess.


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Posted by Grandmom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2016 at 10:08 pm

A great way to give a child school burn out! I studied to be a teacher, have been a mom of three and I am now a grandmother. My mom loved kids and taught them as well.
We both agreed years ago that small children need to be at home with mom or dad in the early years where we could teach our kids the values we were taught as children ourselves. There will be enough school later on.... why rush the little ones. Besides isn't learning a LIFE LONG thing? I am still learning new stuff and there is no rush. Let the little ones enjoy being small while they can... being a grown up is full of enough troubles. Grown ups need to learn to play.. so lighten up. Life is short enough as it is.


5 people like this
Posted by Dawn
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm

As a teacher, I have seen both the 1/2 day schedule and full day schedule at my school site. The students have moved along, better prepared for school with a full day. Many other states kindergartners go to school with the same length of day as the rest of the primary grades. There are other skills that can be addressed during the additional time, not all seat work. Music, arts, structured choice activities. What I am baffled by is the fact that I see Kindergarten teachers on a shorter day work schedule leave while other teachers on the site are still teaching and required to stay for 30 minutes past their instructional time. This equates to an extended work hour day for those teachers on top of more work to correct. A longer school day might also provide more structure for the many kids in our society who are lost and aren't fortunate enough to have the family support they need.


5 people like this
Posted by Just check for soft drinks
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 3, 2016 at 3:52 pm

I remember when my kids were in elementary school, the kindergarten teachers often hand soft drinks and cups from local fast food joints and coffee places, while the first through fifth grade teachers had to hurry up and finish their lunch to get back to teaching. I asked a few parents what the kindergarten teachers did in the afternoon after the kindergarten kids went home, but everyone just shrugged.


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