News

Principal leaving Jordan Middle School after one year

District conducting 'comprehensive' search for replacement

The new principal of Jordan Middle School, Katie Kinnaman, will be leaving after one year on the job to move to Texas, she announced in an email to the school community on March 29.

Kinnaman, who was most recently the principal of Gardner Bullis School in Los Altos Hills and is also a former Palo Alto Unified School District teacher, was the school's third principal in as many years.

In the fall, Kinnaman replaced Tom Jacoubowsky, formerly Gunn High School's longtime assistant principal, who served as Jordan's principal on an interim basis in the 2015-16 school year. Jacoubowsky had replaced Greg Barnes, who left Palo Alto after four years to become director of secondary education in the Milpitas Unified School District.

Kinnaman did not return requests for comment. In her message to the Jordan community, she said she will be relocating to Dallas, Texas, where her husband got a job.

"While I know this is the right decision for my family, I understand that it certainly is not the best decision for Jordan," she wrote. "It was always my intention to stay with this school community for much longer."

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

In a weekly memo, Superintendent Max McGee lauded Kinnaman for leaving a "sound legacy, despite her short time at Jordan's helm."

"She has such an upbeat, forward-looking persona that it really impacts the culture of the school and the community," he told the Weekly Wednesday.

Kinnaman previously worked in the district as a special education aide, elementary school teacher and district-level teacher on special assignment before leaving to head Gardner Bullis in 2013. Her two daughters also attended Palo Alto Unified schools.

The district is conducting a "comprehensive" search for her replacement and is accepting both internal and external applications, McGee said. He said he hopes to find someone who can follow in Kinnaman's footsteps and "who is going to stay for a few years, too."

McGee and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers plan to meet with members of the Jordan community after spring break to discuss the "key qualities and qualifications that students, teachers, and parents want to see in the next principal," McGee wrote in his weekly message.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Principal leaving Jordan Middle School after one year

District conducting 'comprehensive' search for replacement

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Apr 5, 2017, 11:01 am

The new principal of Jordan Middle School, Katie Kinnaman, will be leaving after one year on the job to move to Texas, she announced in an email to the school community on March 29.

Kinnaman, who was most recently the principal of Gardner Bullis School in Los Altos Hills and is also a former Palo Alto Unified School District teacher, was the school's third principal in as many years.

In the fall, Kinnaman replaced Tom Jacoubowsky, formerly Gunn High School's longtime assistant principal, who served as Jordan's principal on an interim basis in the 2015-16 school year. Jacoubowsky had replaced Greg Barnes, who left Palo Alto after four years to become director of secondary education in the Milpitas Unified School District.

Kinnaman did not return requests for comment. In her message to the Jordan community, she said she will be relocating to Dallas, Texas, where her husband got a job.

"While I know this is the right decision for my family, I understand that it certainly is not the best decision for Jordan," she wrote. "It was always my intention to stay with this school community for much longer."

In a weekly memo, Superintendent Max McGee lauded Kinnaman for leaving a "sound legacy, despite her short time at Jordan's helm."

"She has such an upbeat, forward-looking persona that it really impacts the culture of the school and the community," he told the Weekly Wednesday.

Kinnaman previously worked in the district as a special education aide, elementary school teacher and district-level teacher on special assignment before leaving to head Gardner Bullis in 2013. Her two daughters also attended Palo Alto Unified schools.

The district is conducting a "comprehensive" search for her replacement and is accepting both internal and external applications, McGee said. He said he hopes to find someone who can follow in Kinnaman's footsteps and "who is going to stay for a few years, too."

McGee and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers plan to meet with members of the Jordan community after spring break to discuss the "key qualities and qualifications that students, teachers, and parents want to see in the next principal," McGee wrote in his weekly message.

Comments

Whew!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm
Whew!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm
48 people like this

This is a gigantic relief! This woman has been ineffectual [portion removed.]

The next principal will have his or her hands full next year, just trying to gain control of kids allowed to run amok!


Scotty
Green Acres
on Apr 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm
Scotty, Green Acres
on Apr 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm
33 people like this

Sounds like this IS in the best interest of Jordan.


Nancy
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm
Nancy, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm
29 people like this

Sounds like the PARENTS let the principal down by sending UNRULY children to school.

After all it's the THIRD PRINCIPAL IN THREEE YEARS!!!


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm
38 people like this

The school appears not to be able to keep a principal.

There must be an underlying factor why principals do not want to stay there.

I doubt very much it has anything to do with its name.


must be the name
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm
must be the name, Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm
38 people like this

She probably go sick and tired of the PC crowd and money wasted on changing school names


Inside View
Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:36 pm
Inside View, Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:36 pm
67 people like this

Katie was a good principal and good to work for. This is not the old days when principal ran the school and took care of things.

When it comes to discipline her hands were tied because of various factors.

1. If kid is special ed you have to be very careful with discipline because of 502 plans etc...basically be very careful because school could end up in court and nowadays special ed kids act out because they are special ed......crazy but a true feeling and belief by some. This is especially true if this kid who acts out is a huge trouble maker but comes from lots and lots of money, stay out of court!!!!

2. Parents run this district and the more wealthier they are the more their kid gets away with. Just a fact!!!

3. PAUSD is a great district where 90% of people, parents, are very, very happy with the district and its performance but the 10% who are not happy seem to get the most attention from School Board, 25 Churchill etc...this is understandable because these people pay huge money to live in Palo Alto and want their say and PAUSD wants to stay out of court.

When you teach in this district, especially at Jordan, you learn to just keep your head down and keep moving forward with the idea that you are there for the kids and the passion you have for working with kids knowing not to get to close to the principals. They most likely will be two and a barbecue or move on to 25 Churchill. Being principal at Jordan is a grinder and is just a very, very tough job because of the pressure and politics that come with the job.

Katie is a good person and with all her education, beautiful family, etc .... she will be better off. It is sad because she knew her stuff and was good but we never even really got to know her which is just par for the course at Jordan.

With all of that said Jordan is still a really good school with its good points and bad points, just like all schools and life in general. Some parents for whatever reason always want to blame the school for their kids problems and behavior rather than have their kids look in the mirror for their part and that can get really tough to take at times, thus the turnover.


concerned parent
Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm
concerned parent, Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm
16 people like this

[Post removed.]


BP
Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 6:45 pm
BP, Barron Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 6:45 pm
21 people like this

PAUSD schools are getting worse the past 10 years.

Standardized test scores, reflecting the amount of time students and parents spend outside of school, and not the teachers and administrators efforts, are what keep propping up the reputation of the district.

[Portion removed.]


A Noid
Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 6:50 pm
A Noid, Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 6:50 pm
47 people like this

The Jordan area has always had a surfeit of wealthy, arrogant parents and spoiled pre-adolescent kids with a sense of entitlement.

Katie Kinnaman seemed afraid of the wealthier parents, especially the wealthy immigrant parents who would boldly confront her regarding grades as well as accusations against their boys.

This resulted in the wealthy kids getting away with almost everything but murder!


won't be fooled again
Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm
won't be fooled again , Greene Middle School
on Apr 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed.]


clean up batter
Southgate
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm
clean up batter , Southgate
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm
40 people like this

maybe she threw her hands up when the board was more focused on changing the name of school than supporting her in the areas that really need attention at the school

wake up board - jordan is in dire need of attention


American
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:45 pm
American, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:45 pm
7 people like this

[Post removed.]


wow
Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2017 at 10:55 pm
wow, Mountain View
on Apr 5, 2017 at 10:55 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed.]


must be the name
Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:51 am
must be the name, Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:51 am
18 people like this

thank you "Inside view" for some insight on what is going on at Jordan. My kids went to Jordan a few years ago and it's sad to hear comments from you and others in this post. It must be very difficult to be a Principal in this school district.

The good news is Jordan will have a new name which will solve all problems!!


Resident
Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2017 at 8:08 am
Resident, Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2017 at 8:08 am
17 people like this

Her husband received a job offer in Dallas Texas , housing is much cheaper, period.


Eichler Geek
Fairmeadow
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:53 am
Eichler Geek, Fairmeadow
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:53 am
2 people like this

Dallas Texas? I'll take PA any day over that. Hosing costs and all!wF


Hulkamania
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm
Hulkamania, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:02 pm
Like this comment

At least she didn't have to take a punch for the District.


Parent of Jordan Student
Greene Middle School
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Parent of Jordan Student, Greene Middle School
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm
15 people like this

As a parent of a Jordan student, please realize that the reason there has been so much turnover in principals has nothing to do with the students. Greg Barnes left due to personal reasons which really had nothing to do with the students - do not want to share the real reason since not wanting to deface anyone. Then Tom J. came at the last minute as an interim since it really was last minute that Mr. Barnes left. There was not time for the district to find a replacement. Katie came and now is leaving since her husband has a new job in Texas and her last daughter has begun college. So, please no comments about the district or the students. It is part of the ebb and flow of jobs.

Let's focus energy on finding an awesome principal to make Jordan an amazing school and hopefully no major life events will happen and the principal can stay for years.

I do hope that Jordan seriously considers adding a Connection program like is done at JLS. It will help the students feel more connection given the frequent administration changes.


Susie Q
another community
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:16 pm
Susie Q, another community
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:16 pm
45 people like this

Good for you and your family, Katie! You'll be better off living anywhere but Palo Alto. I lived there for 15 years and worked for PAUSD. You don't realize how stressful life is there until you move away. Now I work with REAL parents who don't tell me how to do my job and they have kids who are respectful of adults. What a concept! I'm not throwing away all of my money on a house that is falling apart anyway and best of all, I have peace of mind that I can actually retire within my means. Way to go, Katie!


David
Greene Middle School
on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm
David, Greene Middle School
on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm
13 people like this

My wife and I are happy we pulled out child out of Jordan and they are happy too - the change is amazing.
I am sure its not easy to be the Principal but may be harder to be a student there. Often one of too many students in a class, teachers that can offer you just a minute or two of extra help if you are brave enough to step forward. A lunch hour that's free reign for kids insulting each other, spoiled thugs that threaten with weapons and get away with it. Education varies - get a good English teacher and a bad math teacher or vice versa. Consistent leadership would fix much of this - even the the vice principals don't stay. I hope for those that are part of the Jordan community they find a strong leader that sticks around and also gets things moving ASAP vs waiting a year to see what the landscape looks like. [Portion removed.]


ForAllItsProblems
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2017 at 8:04 am
ForAllItsProblems, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2017 at 8:04 am
16 people like this

For all it's problems with staff, principals, chaos, bullying, Jordan still performs well - because the students and families survive in spite of this place. Not because of it.

A strong, long term leader would go a long way toward managing this hot mess: first the staff, then the students.


The reason the students run amok is poor oversight.

Despite all the student-bashing and parent-bashing in comments above, keep in mind one fact: there is an adult in the room.

The adult in the room should be responsible.

When you see them parent-blame, that is just dodging their own failure to manage the kids.

How to come to that conclusion? Simple existence proof: there are some very good teachers there who have no problem keeping order. Who are engaging, interesting, and teach all the kids well.

Our problem isn't the children. It's the teachers who aren't making the grade. Sad part is the long train of useless principals who haven't gotten rid of the incompetent staff who allow or even model bullying.

Get a strong principal who wants to teach all kids. Fix or fire staff who don't buy into this goal, and the entire culture of the school will change. Work with the community, not against.


District Teacher
Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:35 am
District Teacher, Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:35 am
29 people like this

Something to note: the student population of Jordan has increased by about 33% in the last ten years. Yes, there are more teachers and class sections to accommodate the numbers, but the truth is that the hallways, lunch lines, activities, etc. do not accommodated the numbers. Until 25 Churchill understands that this is not a workable model, Jordan is going to be a tough place for a lot of students, even with the best of administrators and/or teachers. Time for a paradigm shift so we can better serve our adolescent learners.


It's PAEA
Gunn High School
on Apr 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm
It's PAEA, Gunn High School
on Apr 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm
23 people like this

Jordan, or PAUSD, cannot attract a strong leader, or cannot retain one, because PAEA still wields unearned power. There are many teachers who are thankful that Katie is leaving because Katie was strong, that's why it's a bad fit. The next principal will be extremely likeable, and will present a series of superficial changes that the teachers can support, but the needs of students and parents will continue to be second class. The community has to reign in PAEA.


Fish rots from the head
Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm
Fish rots from the head, Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm
13 people like this

The problem in this district is simple. Max McGee is a horrible manager. He put Tom Jakubowsky into Jordan because he wanted to get rid of him from Gunn. But instead of terminating him, he kicked him sideways and made him a principal of our toughest middle school, leading to another bullying crisis and chaos. McGee's hires have all been terrible, many of his decisions have been awful. He does not know how to lead, and he is conflict avoidant so he refuses to get rid of people when they shouldn't be here. Tom J never should have been made a principal of a secondary school. We should not have ever had Markus. We should not be stuck with this PR guy. In the middle of a budgetary crisis why do we have a PR guy? Why are there so many admins and assistants at 25 Churchill? Why is the website so horrible? Why does the data guy never have any data? Why is special ed a dumpster fire? Why doesn't the management and workforce of this district have any diversity to speak of at all?

[Portion removed.] Get someone who both cares about kids AND can do his actual job which is manage the district. Maybe hire a woman this time -- they tend to be less about flash bang and more about getting the job done.


PAUSD Insider
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:56 am
PAUSD Insider, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:56 am
23 people like this

Katie Kinnaman is one of the most caring and professional educators I've ever met. In fact, many of us who have directly worked with her over the years have spoken about her positive impact on our kids and district. She's real, she's direct, and she puts kids first above all else. I'm so sad that I will not be able to work with her any longer, but am so happy for her future in Dallas.

Plain and simple, she is moving because her husband received a job offer and her three girls (not two as reported), have graduated and are in college. She's doing what's right for her family. This is what good people do. They make decisions based on what is best for their family.

Hopefully, the district will make a good decision in hiring a new principal for the students and staff at Jordan.


Been There
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm
Been There, Palo Alto High School
on Apr 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm
16 people like this

We appreciated Michael Millikan, who stayed three years, then went to the district office, and now is Superintendent of Belmont school district. Greg Barnes was good too, but left for personal reasons. Tom Jacoubowsky was not a productive leader.

Ms. Cinnamon was not a good administrator. This is possible, as we had a bad Duveneck principal, Larry Thomas (remember his "no touching rule" that hit the news? Web Link). However, he was a very good teacher. Not all good teachers can be good administrators. Mrs. Diorio (now the Paly principal) was a counselor and although a nice person, her leadership skills are questionable. Neither Kinnamon or Diorio answer emails, even for basic issues, which means they are overwhelmed and not fit to be leaders.

PAUSD, please hire someone who has proven leadership skills, and check many references. It would likely be someone who is high energy who can tackle the issues rather than sit back and be a figurehead. It's someone who is professional with good communication skills but isn't a pushover to elitist parents.

How about Grant Althouse, who was an assistant principal at Jordan but now principal at Fairmeadow? He cared about the Jordan students and has experience with PAUSD parents.


Another insider!
Gunn High School
on Apr 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm
Another insider!, Gunn High School
on Apr 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm
9 people like this

Michael Milliken wasn't terrible, but he wasn't very good, pretty superficial as some of us remember, Greg Barnes was worse, I'll leave it at that, unless you have really suspended your critical thinking skills and believe that he left solely for personal reasons. The so-called bad principal of Larry Thomas is laughable as well, that was just Duveneck, a handful of PAEA miitants together with a few shill parents sent him packing. [Portion removed.]


ForAllItsProblems
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2017 at 7:28 am
ForAllItsProblems, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2017 at 7:28 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Jordan Mom of a 7th Grader
Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2017 at 9:04 am
Jordan Mom of a 7th Grader, Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2017 at 9:04 am
2 people like this

My child is at Jordan Middle School now. I am curious what the issues are about the 'out of control' students and the administration vs. the parent community.

Could someone please tell me what this is about?

Is it drugs, violence, insubordination, gangs, disrespect, sex?

What are the parents doing that is against the power and authority a principal or administration team or school district should be able to do?

Where do rich vs. not rich parent issues come into the situation here?


My child is fairly low key so only tells me that there are indeed thuggish type people at school. But my child says that they feel safe while at school.

I feel like I don't have the full story.

Thank you.


Jordan History
Greene Middle School
on Apr 12, 2017 at 9:23 am
Jordan History, Greene Middle School
on Apr 12, 2017 at 9:23 am
9 people like this

@Jordan Mom asks what's the deal with Jordan -

Jordan has a history of bullying, intimidation and stress. It is not limited to students. Teachers bully and intimidate students. The students see this behavior and use it on each other. There is less than ideal oversight in some classrooms. While most kids are fine, some are not. The teachers blame wealthy parents for steamrolling admin, but none of the parent community I know have that perspective.

The admin has been historically weak, unable to manage the worst behaviors of the teachers (intimidating and bullying students, homework overload, poor quality English teaching in general, etc.). If your kid needs any extra help, forget it - its not going to happen. If your kid needs accommodations ala-504 plan, you will find a 2 year stall tactic by the administration to delay documentation, delay diagnosis, delay accommodating. This is followed by the teachers basically ignoring all of it anyway. And the administration will ALWAYS side with staff over student needs or concerns. ALWAYS.

Any principal put in to change the dysfunctional culture runs into the PAEA buzz-saw of recalcitrant teachers. So they are forced to no-win situation: support the students (which requires managing the teachers), or support the teachers (which is the easy path). A few of the recent principals didn't even bother trying to support students. One left for rather poor behavior. The district puts minimal effort into the job search for this challenging position - usually it falls to some extra within the district to "just keep the wheels from coming off".

Supporting the teachers is always chosen in the short term, because it is the right thing for a new principal to do - support and motivate your staff. That is how you get good results. But it turns ugly when you actually ask that staff to change and reform. They have been known to sabotage principals in the past.

The community is generally aware that Jordan is a long-running motivational black hole for students, and a precursor to the burn-out they will experience in high school. It is a good place to learn homework overload, uneven teaching quality between classrooms, sleep deprivation, judgemental teachers, anxiety, depression, and a general dislike of school, teachers, education.

That must really make the Paly teachers frustrated, as Jordan creates an engagement mess, then hands it off to Paly to fix.

That's all the downside (well, maybe there is more...). The good news: there are some great teachers there, and many many great students. The Parent community is generous with time and money, and a lot of people want to help. So if you roll the dice, and get lucky with teacher assignments, your kid will have a great experience. If not, then not so much. And there is no changing teachers when you get a crappy one.


Sanctimonious City
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm
Sanctimonious City, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm
8 people like this

Looks like the 2nd middle school principal in one week has just announced the intent to leave Terman Middle School. So far, nobody wants to step up to be President of the PTA either.

Could it be that rampant careerism, progressive liberal extremist policies and overall poor leadership with the community are taking their toll?

Like the classic pump and dump tactic with IPO stocks, it feels like the PAUSD administration has inflated its metrics and padded its resumes just in time to jump ship and let somebody else clean up the mess after the crash that is surely coming.


Jordan mother
Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:13 am
Jordan mother, Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:13 am
8 people like this

I must say this is such a *gigantic* relief. Our family had one incident that convinced us that Katie's philosophy and style are not compatible with our diverse, highly educated, and liberal city.

Some details are below.

First some context. Our family had children in PAUSD continuously since 2003, and my oldest two are now enrolled at top universities. Over these years, we parents had many interactions with PAUSD stuff and overall there was listening and communication. The counseling stuff was mostly amazing in communicating with children and parents and finding sometimes innovative tailored solutions, most teachers are highly competent, and administrators respected input from parents, teachers, counselors, and kids. While there are some faults, we strongly believe in the importance of supporting and being part of the public school system.


Our experience last semester was different and without strong home support would have devastated my 7th grader.
The issue of concern was not behavior (my son never had behavior issues) but inconsistent HW submission. Our family is ok with the inconsistent HW submissions in middle school, as we see a child that learns, is very creative, considerate, reads a lot, and happy to go to school. Our take is that he should be allowed to be a child a little longer -- before becoming the point churning machine required for success at Paly and beyond.

Katie called us for a meeting a month before the semester ended. She told us she plans to disenroll my son from his favorite math class (Algebra, in which he had A average on exams, but not well on HW), as a "punishment."

This did not make any sense: We knew he would be devastated. Why disrupt him like this, so close to semester end ? why out of the blue? Isn't it pedagogically flowed, to take away a class he loves in order to achieve compliance ? I *begged( Katie to hand this over to a counselor or trusted teacher that can talking to my son 1:1 to asses impact on him before a decision is made and said we can address HW if it is such a concern.

Katie heard BUT refused to listen. She made very concerning statements: That children should not be listened to, but be told (apparently, also applied to their parents). After I left, she called my son for a meeting which traumatized him and he did not say a word. The counselor was there, but Katie dominated. My son came home shattered. He was out of school for 3 weeks.

The issue was eventually resolved with my child back to his old schedule. It took him few weeks and a break to recover emotionally. I had to take time off work for the crisis. I must say that upon his return the teachers were helpful fair and amazing. The counseling stuff was great. And since we had no more interactions with Katie and all is back to normal (except that now he does submit most HW.... so the numbers are more consistent with what he actually knows)


Jordan History
Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:26 pm
Jordan History , Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:26 pm
4 people like this

@Jordan Mother

What you have just experienced is classic, textbook bullying by Jordan staff. In this case, the principal.

It is terrible, and terribly common. (At Jordan)

There are no reasons to subject children to the random horrors of bullying and intimidation by staff (that we pay!)

I would encourage anyone experiencing this kind of behavior to file a formal complaint. Staff should not be mistreating students in this manner.

Now the real problem- retaliation. It is a very real fact that your son may be retaliated against by other staff. If you imagine the "one-bad-actor" theory of Jordan dysfunction, you would be wrong. Please keep a close eye on your son's engagement level. If it drops in one specific course, that should set off warning bells.

The staff is more connected on this bullying behavior than you would imagine. I have literally been told that teachers within a team use different pressure tactics together.

I am sorry your son has to experience the worst of Jordans culture, but until the Board pressures Max to reform the broken culture of this school, students will be randomly selected for abuse.

It is a terrible place to send children.


Jordan Mom of a 7th grader (again)
Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:40 pm
Jordan Mom of a 7th grader (again), Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:40 pm
15 people like this

Thank you for the information / description, it is really helpful.

Do you think it is wrong for the principal and teacher to insist that homework be turned in? I would guess that not turning in homework would lead to the student's overall grade dropping to a C or below. It is known that the principal will get involved with every student who has a C or lower in any class.

I don't view it as bullying that Ms. K drew a line in the sand saying that the student needed to get the homework done to return to that class. In fact, it appears it worked. The mother or father says that the child now does his homework.

I agree that homework is not really proven to be useful in the elementary years, I imagine that doing it in the middle school years not only helps students prepare for high school homework, but also supports the learning of when you are asked to do homework by your teacher, it is expected that you do it. It will be the same in the rest of life. Why not learn it now?

If we are allowing kids to determine whether or not they need to do what a teacher or administrator asks, aren't we failing to prepare them for their own future? Aren't we failing them by putting a decision which is not theirs to make in their hands and therefore putting too much 'adult' responsibility on their shoulders?

I find it confusing to be certain of who is right and who is not right in these scenarios. It used to be so much simpler when I was a kid. The Palo Alto scene seems to make it so hard to parent, teach, administer, hold people accountable, and so forth.

It seems that there is no easy fix.





Jordan History
Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm
Jordan History , Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm
6 people like this

@Jordan Mom

This is where the schools sow confusion.

It is perfectly fine to ask a child to do homework. While its value is overestimate, many teachers are quite good at motivating and ENCOURAGING school work.

But Not all.

Some teachers take the motivational short-cut, and skip encouragement. Instead relying upon bullying and intimidation.

At the point the Principal hauls a kid into private meetings for the sole purpose of pressuring them (without parental representation), resulting in traumatized students - that is crossing a line.

Now this often results in further disengagement. Or long term motivation drop.

Here's the controversy: many on staff at Jordan feel this not only acceptable for adults to bully students, but they feel compelled and justified by this action. The end, in their mind, justifies the means.

So, by this logic, if you cannot engage students, bully them. Don't bother to engage the parents to work on solutions, just take the shortest path: haul a kid in a room with three adults, and brow-beat them into tears.

Yep. They're doing homework now. Mission accomplished.

And here's how bullying is taught. By the staff.

That we pay to abuse our children.

Sad.


Jordan History
Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:19 pm
Jordan History , Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:19 pm
4 people like this

It comes down to a value call and moral compass:


Do you value homework so much that you're willing to bully, intimidate and traumatized children to get it done?

Do you risk the corrosive effects of demotivation, thus making it harder for next years teachers to teach a student who has checked out? (Well, that's someone else's problem isn't it!)

The school and parents differ on this value call.

Probably because parents see two things: 1) the crying outcome of these abuse sessions. 2) the sum total of ALL homework, projects and test-stacking overload.

We admit to ourselves that no matter how admirable the attempt to do all the work, often it just isn't realistic. The teachers don't see that when they choose to abuse these kids.

But, hey, it's a judgment call by the professional. They think abusing your kid is good for them.

Do you?


Jordan Mom of a 7th grader
Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:21 pm
Jordan Mom of a 7th grader, Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:21 pm
2 people like this

I hear you. I hear how deeply you feel this.

I guess I just doubt that any kid much wants to do homework. Especially if they are already smart in that subject.

My feeling is that the child should be able to do these homeworks easily and quickly and simply do as asked by the teacher.

If we are not supporting our teachers and administration to enforce these basic expectations, then I think we are paving the way for a new crop of students and future adults who think that the rules don't apply to them. Worse we are creating the next generation of adults who have a superiority complex.

I prefer the idea that all kids are asked to do the same work. They will be expected to do that work to the best of their abilities. If they need help, they will be given it if asked. If they do not need help, they can do it swiftly. Easy A.

In this scenario I admit I would much rather know the future adult who didn't love their homework, or even found it hard, but respected their teacher and their obligation as a student. They will have learned some of the subject, resilience, respect and hopefully their character will show all of that.

I remember my grandfather telling me that he was raised to smile and greet not only the President of his company but also the person who cleaned the bathrooms and emptied the garbage cans. That they all were human beings and that was what decent people did.


Jordan History
Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:37 pm
Jordan History , Greene Middle School
on Apr 19, 2017 at 10:37 pm
5 people like this

You may have missed a point I made: some teachers have no problem engaging students to do work. We aren't talking truants who ditch all work.

Rather what you see is isolated to a single teacher unable to get their mountain of work finished.

That same student may be performing just fine for other teachers in other classes. Or fine in prior years with other teachers.

This is Palo Alto, not Mississippi... these kids have motivation coming from home.

If you believe that all students are lazy and need to be brow beaten to tears, then you haven't met the students I've met.

Why, for example, are some teachers capable of getting all the work done? Hint: it's not always a student problem.

And even if it is a student problem, how does bullying solve this? Why not try something less abusive first? At least give it a shot. If the only tool in the toolbox is intimidation, I would argue we need more modern teaching methods.


Been There
Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:30 am
Been There, Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2017 at 11:30 am
7 people like this

@Jordan Mom of a 7th grader: [Portion removed.] Jordan is not full of bullying. I sent two through Jordan and have another one at Jordan now. The one at Jordan was just saying the other day that there is no bullying. Sure NO PUBLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL IS COMPLETELY FREE OF BULLYING. Some people think that their high mortgages should entitle them to Middle School Paradise and have unrealistic expectations. My children said the best thing about PAUSD is that the students are so nice. There aren't the attitudes and bullying that is prevalent across the nation. Why? Because they are all a bunch of nerds. [Portion removed.]

My two children had issues with bullying—not continuous bulling, just one-time episodes. I marched into admin and spoke politely with them and the student was reprimanded and it never occurred again. The teachers were concerned too. I might add that my children are well-behaved and good students.

The problem with PAUSD is that the teachers think all our kids are geniuses, thus, they pile on the homework load and this is very stressful. There are reasonable teachers who don't believe in homework at Jordan, or give a doable amount, but less of those teachers.


Yet another insider @ Jordan
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm
Yet another insider @ Jordan, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 20, 2017 at 2:39 pm
22 people like this

Many of us are glad that Katie is leaving. She was on the trajectory towards a better position in the district. She is very heavy-handed in implementing change, not the best way to get buy-in.

Teachers at Jordan are extremely hard-working, and the majority of them have the student's best interest. What parents do not see is how teachers make sure students are successful, and often stay late to help their students.

The majority of students are extremely polite, attentive and compassionate. As with all institutions there are always going to be those (students, teachers, and parents) who are disrespectful, disengaged, and extremely negative. Can we put more of our attention towards the fact that Jordan has been doing its best to meet the needs of students despite the revolving door of administrators. Focus the criticism towards an administrative office (25 Churchill) that allows this. Is this best for students?


GB Parent
Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2017 at 9:50 pm
GB Parent, Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2017 at 9:50 pm
1 person likes this

[Post removed.]


Former PAUSD Parent
Greene Middle School
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm
Former PAUSD Parent, Greene Middle School
on Apr 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm
6 people like this

Perhaps Katie is simply doing the thing any other person would desire doing...
Moving to a place where she and her husband can actually OWN their own home before they die.
A lot of people are moving out of this area for this simple reason.
It's hard getting for older people to get a job transfer of any kind.
I am happy she was able to do it.
Good luck to you Katie.


Jordan mother
Greene Middle School
on Apr 25, 2017 at 10:07 am
Jordan mother, Greene Middle School
on Apr 25, 2017 at 10:07 am
2 people like this

There is a parent-input meeting tonight 7:30pm April 25 at the Jordan library on the selection of a new principal. It seems that there are many different philosophies on what to look for.

My take on the situation:

The majority of teachers at Jordan do care about the kids, are competent to excellent, and work very hard. Middle-school years are a challenging age for kids. Issues do arise: Students may not be well understood, getting too much HW, not getting challenged and being bored, being in crisis, mismatch in personalities between student and teachers, and more. The teachers do not have the time resources or the training to deal with that on top of teaching!

The principal with 1200 kids is not the address either - Making quick solutions and cookie cutter approach can destroy a child.

What is needed in these cases is someone that listens to the child, parents, teachers, and follows the child over time. Someone that has the power to make innovative out-of-the-box solutions. I had seen first hand how this approach works miracles with a child productiveness and happiness. How it can build trust and change the trajectory to success later on.

The answer, the department in charge of that at the school, is the counseling department. They are very well qualified individuals, but also very short handed. One counselor per grade. They professional judgement can be overruled by disconnected administration and politics.

We need more counselors. One per grade is not enough. We need to empower them as the final decision makers, even if it involves schedule/class changes, sitting in the library for independent work, taking replacement on line classes, help with organization, listening to other growing pains. Perhaps they can report to someone that is not the principal, because some issues are very sensitive.

We need a school principal that will let professionals do their job. Teachers and counselors. That will create an environment where children can speak and be listened to. That parent input is also taken into account.


Jessie
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2017 at 3:50 pm
Jessie, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2017 at 3:50 pm
4 people like this

I grew up in Palo Alto and went to Walter Hays, Jordan, and PALY - graduated around 10 years ago. Nowadays when I read articles about parents complaining about teachers, homework, stress, and the teachers/administration it makes me sad. The example Jordan Mom gave is a good example. It's all good and well if you're happy your son is happy as is and doesn't complete homework assignments (as long as her understands the subject matter) but that's hardly smart planning for PALY or even college. While you mentioned you're fine with it for now / let him have just a bit more childhood and that makes sense, that sets a standard for him going into PALY and college. Will you start forcing him to do his homework in high school and college now that he actually has to? Colleges often consider attendance and homework as part of your grade - just because you show up and ace the exams doesn't mean you'll pass.
I think a lot of this "too much homework and stress" and "it's all the teachers fault" sentiment has been slowly drummed up and overhyped. I went through the same schools and took multiple APs courses and was on a varsity team at PALY but I handled it just fine as did most of my teammates (many of whom were even more ambitious than I). I don't deny there are some stress issues in the school district, after all there was a slate of train suicides while I was at paly / shortly after, but I also think we "should hold kids to high standards and this fault" mindset isn't helping at anyone.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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