School board backs Gunn counseling plan | June 14, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 14, 2013

School board backs Gunn counseling plan

Full rollout could take five years, like 'trying to turn an aircraft carrier,' principal says

by Chris Kenrick

The Palo Alto Board of Education Tuesday approved Gunn High School's plan for reforms to its guidance counseling program even though the principal said it could take as many as five years for full implementation.

Board members said their approval was contingent on updates this November and next March to ensure the reforms were being measured and staying on track.

The approval came despite vehement opposition from several parent members of We Can Do Better Palo Alto, who argued that Gunn's plan — which will require a change in the school's daily bell schedule in 2014-15 — fails to achieve "comparable services" to those offered in Palo Alto High School's guidance-counseling program.

They cited polls from two years ago as well as from this past year indicating Gunn students and parents are less satisfied than Paly students and parents with existing counseling services.

"This is unacceptable," We Can Do Better member Kathy Sharp said, urging board members to "send Gunn back to the drawing boards and have some measurable implementation next year."

But board members said they were swayed by the level of commitment and progress in Gunn's reforms so far, which include plans to open a new college and career center this fall, designate a lead counselor as well as a specialized college-and-career counselor and hold a series of assemblies aimed at sophomores.

The school also has added a weekly email to update parents on activities of the guidance-counseling program and will make a counselor available for drop-in visits from students.

Gunn's "action plan" for counseling reform follows the February recommendations of a parent-staff-student Guidance Advisory Committee, whose members represented sharply divergent viewpoints at the school.

To be successful, the reforms must have the commitment and buy-in of all groups at the school, Principal Katya Villalobos said, likening the change to "trying to turn around an aircraft carrier."

Superintendent Kevin Skelly challenged what he said was a faulty assumption of the critics.

"This conversation starts with a mindset that somehow Gunn is broken, and I disagree wholeheartedly with that premise," Skelly said. "I think it's one of the great high schools in this country.

"Gunn, and both schools, do a remarkable job of helping families get to the next level. Kids get into colleges because they have academic experiences at our schools that are second to none."

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Posted by Turn out the lights, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:09 am

Those in the public education industry often use the cliche trying to turn around an aircraft carrier to squash any expectation of reasonable change. The other cliche is trying to fix or build the airplane while it is flying. Beware those who rely on TED videos or Googled quotes. It doesn't take five years at all. It could be done by August by Kevin Skelly, but he would lose PAEA's support and would be out of PAUSD. He has lost so much parent support in the last 13 months, but they don't have a union.

Gunn is not a great high school, if measured during Skelly's reign. The vast majority of students would succeed almost anywhere. Measure Gunn by measuring Gunn's effect on our challenged and at-risk youth. I cringe when Skelly calls Gunn one of the best high schools knowing how many Gunn students we lost.

Posted by Lie After Lie, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:29 am

Again, Skelly and the board does not keep their word. They are again throwing a Skelly on us parents, and they just want is to make us believe that they will do, so we lower our defenses, and then "got you with my lies". This is a Skelly, he throws one every time a parent complains. This is his way of dealing with parents and school issues. At least he gave the teachers a raise, to keep them quiet, the teachers were smart to stand up in these period otherwise he would have done nothing. Perhaps a protest outside the district will do. We have to get serious when the time calls for it. Enough is enough! Anyone for it?

Posted by Really Katya?, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:59 am

Really Skelly?
Not broken?
Wake up. It's pathetic.
The administration at Gunn is in the weeds. If Katya can't get it done, replace her.

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

Seems like a great plan. The improvements so far have been huge. The stats detractors quote already show Gunn has been far greater improvement than Paly during the same time period. Way to go, Gunn!

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:05 am

Thanks to the school board and the staff for taking a deliberate and thoughtful approach to improving this aspect of the school. While our counseling experiences have been fine, there seems to be room for improvement.

It would be good to see both high schools take on specific improvement initiatives each year, and develop a culture of continuous innovation and improvement. Change can be good, and we cannot simply rest on the fact that our schools and students have been successful in the past.

Posted by Gidget, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

There should always be a COUNSELOR OF THE DAY available for drop-ins. EVERYDAY!!

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm

The lack of leadership in this district is disturbing. Why is it that Paly has a superior counseling program AND schedule (block scheduling)? It's called leadership. By the way, Paly implemented tremendous change in terms of moving toward block scheduling over a short period of time. It certainly didn't take 5 years. The majority of private and public schools in this area have all moved toward block scheduling because of its positive effects on levels of homework and student stress. Not Gunn. Gunn is stuck in a holding pattern, resistant to any sort of change, due to lack of leadership at both the site and district level. There is always room for improvement, at every school, but Gunn has a knee-jerk reaction to any sort of suggestion of change. The services at each high school are certainly not comparable, but nothing will improve unless parents rise up and demand it.

Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm

For the 2013-2014 school year Gunn will have 7 counselors with average caseloads of 270 students per year and two college and career staff - one a counselor and one a para-professional. This team will need to provide the same level of service and secure comparable outcomes to the 40+ Teacher Advisors, 4 counselors and 2 college and career counselors at Paly. Paly continues to improve it's Guidance Delivery Service with Teacher Advisor training and evaluation, on-line college application request tool (no envelopes and waiting in line) and a full color brochure explaining the three tiered counseling model. Paly also continues to improve its already robust website. By any measure currently used - satisfaction, touchpoints, service levels - Paly has a better system for delivering Guidance Services. If you live in South Palo Alto, you don't have a choice of the highschool you attend. You pay your taxes just like your neighbors to the north and you get less value from your local highschool.

The Board had a Focus Goal in 2008 to improve counseling services and again in 2010. They invested in a yearlong study by Kelun Zhang and another year of study and planning by the Gunn Advisory Committee. For 2013-2014, the Board affirmed another year for Gunn to plan.

There is no need for parents to "rise up." Simply call Phil Winston at Paly to book your appointment to use their counseling services. South Palo Alto residents are entitled to comparable services. If the Board cannot enforce their own policy, as residents we don't have an option. It's either accept a lower level of service for your tax dollars from Gunn, call Phil or shell out big bucks for private college and academic advising.

Posted by HesInDenial, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Skelly is in denial. The Board is facilitating this.
Disagree wholeheartedly?
Get a heart first.

Posted by Gunn Mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Dana Tom doesn't care. He said he was tired of Gunn parents like Kathy Sharp and the GAC members describing Paly as "Shangri-La." That was a catty comment from someone whose kids go to Paly. Walk a mile in our shoes. Pitiful. And Kevin Skelly's persistent insistence that the way to evaluate high school guidance is by number of elite acceptances is just sickening. Sickening. Anyone remember 2010? I do. Do you? How should we evaluate Gunn? By student health and happiness or "great" colleges? What colleges to you think these kids would go to if they didn't go to gunn? Just clueless. And board he will never do anything you ask again. As Barbara Klausner said there are a lot of other things you can do on Tuesday besides get ignored. He now knows you are useless and he runs you. Convenient that 4/5 of you are Paly parents and never have to experience the consequences of this surrender. Other than Heidi and I agree with the other poster who pointed out that in a few years she will know why she screwed up. Too late.

Posted by paly parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Rather than blaming the BOE for Gunns counseling, credit should be given to Phil Winston for choosing to spend the extra dollars on counseling, for writing the counseling brochure, for implementing the block period, etc. The leadership issue at Gunn is the principal not the school board.

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

"The leadership issue at Gunn is the principal not the school board."

That's a perceptive point. The data is accumulating that Ms. Villalobos may not be up to the job of moving the school forward with the kind of change and innovation that anyone (including the senior staff and the Board) would like. In our decentralized model, that site manager is a key person; if s/he cannot envision or execute change, calling for change will be like pushing on a string.

In my mind, that's the key mgmt question for Dr. Skelly and the Board - if it turns out that Katya is not as strong as needed, what do they do about it? It's no fun admitting a mistake, and even less fun when it involves a personnel move, but it may be hard to move forward otherwise.

Posted by Gunn is a great school,, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm

"By any measure currently used - satisfaction, touchpoints, service levels - Paly has a better system for delivering Guidance Services."

What about the measure of looking at results:

"The top 5 high schools that have the largest share of users going to top private schools (Ivy League’s + Stanford + Caltech + MIT) are (1) Harker (2) Gunn (3) Saratoga (4) Lynbrook (5) Bellarmine."
"The top 5 high schools that have the largest share of users going to the top 3 UC’s (Berkeley, LA, San Diego) are (1) Mission (2) Gunn (3) Saratoga (4) Lynbrook (5) Leland."
"Gunn has the highest share of users (11%) going on to Stanford. That’s more than 2x the second place high school (Harker)."

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm

You are very naive if you don't understand why there are so many Stanford admits from Gunn. It is because these are faculty kids and they have preferential admission. It has absolutely nothing to do with gunn. Not one thing. This kind of willful blindness is why we are in this mess.

Posted by Denies the Holocaust, too, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm

@Gunn mom,
So having a parent at Stanford helps Gunn make the top five for top UCs? And helps make Gunn the top 5 for Ivy Leagues?
The best measure of counselling is in the results. Gunn passes with flying mortarboards.

Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm

It is a common misperception, widely echoed by Camile Townsend and Dr.Skelly that the best measurement of counseling effectiveness is admission to super-selective schools. As one of the posters above points out there are many factors that go into the admissions process including faculty affiliation. Of course another input into the admissions process is the quality of instruction.

What the Board has required is that the schools demonstrate comparable guidance services. Relevant measurements could include # of guidance touchpoints, before & after test measurements for key units of the guidance curriculum, satisfaction measures and WASC acreditation. The measurements need to directly map to the services provided not a generalized outcome measure.

It is perfectly acceptable to say that Gunn is a great school and that the guidance system needs improvement.

The parents, teachers and students who participated in the Gunn Advisory Council and came to consensus on 40 changes deserve to have these changes implemented. The Board has allowed Gunn to defer another year and even then the implementation plan is uncertain since it lacks dates and owenership.

Too bad.

Posted by Lie After Lie, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Well if Kathya Villalobos is the person to blame for not accepting changes in the existing Gunn counseling system, then what is Skelly waiting to find someone else. Yes, he is guilty too. He is afraid to take the next step, and if he is afraid, what about the board members, yes they too are afraid to tell Skelly what to do, and want to sugar coat the problem by pretending that it does not exist and that Gunn counseling is working [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Elite college admission is not even a legitimate criteria to guidance professions. Call up your girl Trish Hatch and ask her. How would we evaluate the guidance professionals at poor schools? Are they all failures and Gunn a success? This is stupid. Palo Alto just can't stand to hear bad news. That's dysfunctional. There will be crises in the future. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Wow Great discussion., a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 12, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Wow, great comments. I hope Skelly and Villalobos are reading them.
The idea that counseling is about fancy college admits is just so indicative of the problems we are facing...I have heard absolutely no compelling argument for 2 systems of counseling in the district. The only explanantions are laziness, inability to effect change, and negligence. The idea that every school should dream up their own solution is just plain wrong. We should collectively look at what works best ACROSS the district and strive for the best for our students. How can that possibly be 2 or more differing approaches? All that does is eliminate the momentum and synergy that getting behing ONE plan brings. Why on earth do Paly and Gunn have different scheduling systems? Same three reasons. Lazienss, inability to effect change, and negligence. These reasons apply at both the school and district level but clearly the ultimate responsibility is 100% Skelly's. Why are we lining up to extend his contract, give him huge juicy benefits, and finally a $160K alowance for a PR mouthpiece when his performance is so lacking, because the school board is not willing to face the hard realities that Palo Alto is not Nirvana (and the last one because he is too dangerous speaking for himself...). Our school administrators are riding on the coat tails of huge parent involvment, children of highly intelligent and educated parents, and fantastic teachers. The administrators are not earning their keep in many instances. Where they do shine they should be used as an example to set for others not as a reason do do things diffenrently. If Phil's team has better ideas than Katya's then lets see the cross over. and vice versa. THE BOTTOM LINE IS, WHY ARE WE DOING EVERYTHING TWICE? Laziness, inability to effect change, and negligence.

Posted by Turn out the lights, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Can you imagine the unanimous vote next week to extend Skelly's contract? Other local school boards have taken the difficult step and negotiated the superintendent's release. Skelly did a good job to calm down the principals after their snit-fit with Callan, so the principals won't be showing any real leadership any time soon. There is simply no courage among the administration or the teaching ranks. They ALL got their thousands of dollars in retroactive raises, raises made possible by your votes for Prop. 30, Measure A, the parcel tax, and your PiE donations. Skelly is good at keeping his job, not good at leading a school district. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Terman Dad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Turn out the lights is right. Last night Dr. Skelly disparaged survey data showing that Paly parents and students (and teachers, for that matter) are more satisfied with counseling, both college counseling and non-academic social emotional counseling than Gunn parents students, and teachers. He said that there are more important things than surveys, such as elite college admissions. The board agreed.

But when professional guidance counseling evaluators evaluate guidance programs, they don't look to elite college admissions (for the not surprising reason that those admissions have little or nothing to do with the quality of the guidance program and are correlated with money, fathers' educational status, race). It's either delusional or dishonest to say that such admissions are the result of anything that the guidance staff does or does not do. But that is what PA wants to hear -- nothing to see here, suicide epidemic has nothing to do with the level of stress or support provided or not provided at school, or the amount of bullying, or whether we have a rape culture, or anything else. Just please go about your business, nothing to see here.

When professionals evaluate guidance programs they use surveys of need and surveys of satisfaction. Here's the evaluation tool used by the State of Missouri, which surveys students, teachers and counselors. Notice that there is no question on here about whether or not the student was admitted to an Ivy league school. That's because no education guidance proressional would consider that a mark of whether or not a school counseling program is working.

Web Link

Take a look at the questions they ask and try to imagine how this would look for the typical Gunn student. It should be an eye opener for everyone but Skelly and the school board who think Gunn is the big rock candy mountain of guidance services.

Here's what education scholars think the standard for an appropriate guidance program is: "The school district is able to demonstrate that all students are provided the opportunity to gainknowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that lead to a self-sufficient, socially responsible life.(Gysbers & Henderson, 1994, p. 481).

The authors of this article recommend evaluating guidance programs against that standard, and to focus on both employee evaluation and results evaluations. By results they mean whether students have attained mastery of those skills taught in a guidance curriculum. These scholars like the Missouri evaluation system referenced above because they think it does a good job getting at those issues. Web Link

Using the Skelly criteria rather than criteria gleaned from the scholarly research, we can substitute the criteria "was admitted to elite college" in place of "mastery of guidance concepts," and we can simply press the delete key on students who go to JC, students who struggle, poor students, disabled students, students who don't test well, students who have substance abuse issues, students with anxiety or depression, students who in other words, don't meet Kevin Skelly's own narrow definition of success.

He has given new life to the concept of Shallow Alto, one that the board ratified.

Posted by Wow!!!, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm

It would be nice, so nice if all you negative people would just go away!!! You all are out to destroy a district that is highly respected throughout the bay area as well as the nation!

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Terman Dad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Yeah the WCDB folks are clearly in it for the public admiration they are getting. And media attention. That's what it is.

Posted by Terman Dad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Yeah the WCDB folks are clearly out to "destroy" the district. Trying to help it improve counseling, stop bullying, follow the law, and improve mental health is a well-known method of destroying things.

Look, trying to implement advisory for Gunn students is not the same as trying to "destroy" the schools. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Terman dad wants you to believe that Gunn parents have more money, are better educated and more diverse than Paly parents and that this explains Gunn's superior college admissions. To both elite and general college admission by the way.
This is a simple occam's razor exercise. Terman dads assertion vs. the possibility that Gunn counselling isn't as bad as WCDBPA try to make out,

Posted by Terman Dad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Gunn parents are more likely to be Stanford faculty and that explains the difference in Stanford admission as well as other elite admissions. In addition Paly has a population of very disadvantaged students. I suspect that leaving aside those two populations the record of good college admissions is quite similar between the two schools. But even if there is some difference, it is not explained by guidance services in either direction.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Anyway regardless of the merits students lost. We got the closest anyone ever has in 20 years at getting TA into gunn but the board blinked and that is that until the next crisis. Editor why are you deleting any reference to the suicide epidemic as a basis prompting this effort to adopt TA in the first place? That's just a fact. P-8 recommended advisory, WCDB had advisory at Gunn as its top goal along with homework limits in an effort to implement P-8 as part of the district suicide prevention plan. The point of advisory is that it improves social emotional support and thereby diminishes suicide risk. It also gives the school more adults in touch with each student ( and gunns plan to deliver small group curriculum by counselors fails to do this). The proposal was made to reduce stress and improve student health after the St. marks meeting. Why are you editing that out? It violates no terms of service. Village fool here is an example of what you asked about. Hope you see it before it disappears.

Anyway that's it for this go round. When the next crisis happens and you feel ashamed board, good.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:52 pm

[Post removed because it is a copy of one made on another topic.]

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:19 am

"Gunn parents are more likely to be Stanford faculty and that explains the difference in Stanford admission as well as other elite admissions."
This does not explain the difference in other elite admissions. You are clutching at straws.
To even put out the idea that parents in South Palo Alto have more with money, and better fathers' educational status than those in Old Palo Alto, Professorville and Crescent Park shows you have little knowledge of the demographics in Palo Alto. Remember that little $20m donation to Paly from one family?
Gunn does far more with less as the results show.

Posted by perspective, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

P-8 did NOT recommend advisory. It recommended that Gunn consider advisory. It did.

WCDB DID have advisory at Gunn as a top goal in WCDB's district suicide prevention plan. The problem with that proposal is that neither our district's experiences nor the research takes you from WCDB's A to B.

Surveys show that both our high schools' students (Paly with a decade + of TA and Gunn with individual counselors) have identical "at risk" characteristics. Web Link

According to the UC, the research on teacher advisory’s benefits is "murky" at best. Web Link

Posted by perspective, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

Parents with children who are struggling emotionally want everything possible to be in place to help their children. There are more and less effective ways to accomplish that.

Not effective: forcing exceptionally busy teachers in public schools who have no counseling training to be your child's safety net in a group setting.

Effective: helping your child find a teacher to get to know better.

Erase chalkboards and be helpful if your child feels he "needs" a reason to be there. Sign up for the clubs the teacher supervises. Participate in the afterschool programs he coaches/runs. Or just show an interest beyond what is covered in the classroom and ask lots of questions at lunch, during tutorial or afterschool.

Those daily, working bonds formed out of shared interests are a much better way to get to know a teacher, and so a much better safety net, than institutionalized GROUP teacher tutorial sessions that have students who do NOT want to be there and just meet once a month or so.

Paly recognizes that TAs are not the safety net for struggling students. It directs them to trained grade-level counselors. Web Link

The difference that Gunn likely recognizes is that students in crisis at Paly don't meet with trained counselors until there is a crisis and so they often step in without knowing the whole child and their family.

The added value Gunn provides, and so is holding on to, is that its counselors meet with the students and their families 1 on 1 from the start, are in their offices helping students all day, by drop-in if needed, and, unlike TAs, are trained and credentialed counselors.

Gunn's results? Lifted from another post: "When both high schools' 12TH GRADERS, after having had years and years of experience with their guidance systems, were asked if their system was a valuable resource, Gunn’s 72% approval beat Paly's 57% by a wide margin."

Makes sense.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

So much of what you write is incorrect. And there is a real sense of futility that surrounds the topic. 1. The point of advisory is to provide touch points for students who can't or won't be the kind of go-getter you describe. You place all the burden of initiative on the teen. But what becomes of those who can't do that? Is it just too bad for them? 2. Advisory most certainly is part of the Paly safety net. TAs don't do social emotional counseling but they are a touch point and make referrals. That is very valuable in making students feel and be connected. In the event of tragedy they are part of a schools net of connection. That matters due to the threat of contagion. 3. The schools do not have the same at risk characteristics. Gunn has a suicide cluster and that fact places the population at increased risk. The cluster may not be over. There was a serious suicide attempt on campus in the bathroom during school hours a few months ago. The police say they are still finding teens at the tracks. Gunns at risk characteristics exceed those of Paly due to the cluster and gunn has fewer resources to address them. 4. Advisory is a best practice and a superior for
of counseling delivery. Gunns high test scores have made people blind to its shortcomings. That is very sad. I wish the students well but the elected leaders particularly Dana Tom have failed them utterly. Thank you Melissa for trying. However as you played a role in helping Camille be reelected you also are to blame for what has happened here. No one of you deserve any credit. Heidi Emberling was particularly bad. None of you cared enough about the students to face down the insubordinate administration.

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:03 am

I'm glad the detractors have now given up saying Gunn provide inferior guidance counselling and are now going back to their other argument on social/emotional health.

"TAs don't do social emotional counseling but they are a touch point and make referrals. "
Unfortunately their arguments are still flawed.
Students at Paly don't go to their TA with a emotional problem and don't recommend friends go to them. This was called out as a Paly failing in the surveys. If the students don't go to their TAs with their problems, the TAs can't refer them.
You're jumping to results that you can't derive from the data. It's not working at Paly why do you think it will suddenly work at Gunn?
Your single-minded fixation on a solution that isn't working at Paly rather than looking at the problem isn't helping.

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:04 am

So, making sure I have it right, Gunn Mom:

Gunn counseling = inadequate
Gunn administration = wrong-headed (? not sure)
PAUSD staff = bad / insubordinate
PAUSD board = bad / "failed utterly"
PAUSD voters = also to blame, since they supported the incumbents and rejected the candidate who focused on this issue

So your view is pretty much everyone in a position on responsibility on this issue is bad, wrong, inadequate, and misguided, except for the (apparently few) who share your view. Maybe. Or maybe your view is simply in the minority, and others are proceeding on a different path. We can disagree, you know, without denigrating and condemning those we disagree with. I hope you can bring your passion and energy for this issue to supporting and bringing to fruition the path we are now on.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

Gunn guidance delivery is far worse than Paly. That is a documented indisputable fact. The counselors at gunn are as good as those at Paly but they have an impossible task given caseloads and resource constraints. There is no data that supports any other conclusion.

Gunn parent--you are right and we lost. Unfortunately "we" includes students at Gunn who have no vote but would surely be better off with TA. All those adults you listed put teachers egos ahead of student needs and that is to their everlasting shame. PAUSD taxpayers south of Oregon have been given the finger by the north side board. That's too bad. I agree that Ken lost and that says something about PA politics. I disagree that it means that people voted down TA at Gunn since the Gunn GAC parents not all of whom supported Ken supported advisory 5 to 1 and unanimously supported Expanding Titan 101 to all 4 grades which is TA. So the election was not a referendum on TA. It was the opposite since due to the GAC process and misrepresentations made during the campaign people incorrectly believed that they could get advisory regardless of whether Heidi or Ken won. Heidi portrayed herself as beig the candidate from PSN saying she served on it in her ballot statement which was false. Anyway who cares? Well played insubordinate admins and useless north side board.

Posted by Terman Dad, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

I agree with Gunn mom that the board failed south Palo Alto. Greg Schmid has been saying for many years that south PA gets the short end of the stick and I think here we have a bit more evidence for Greg's thesis. t's fine if south PA kids get worse services. By the board's logic so long as they get high test scores and (a few of them) get marquee college admissions, we can just call it good enough. They're immigrants. What do they expect? To be treated like the children of millionaires on the north side? Get real. The parks and other public facilities are also unequal so why are we surprised?

Dana Tom's behavior at this board meeting was nothing short of bizarre. He said that if the board instructed Gunn to come back with a timeline to adopt all the recommendations in the GAC report as Melissa wanted that would be equivalent to "breaking" Gunn. Never explained was how that would "break" Gunn or what it would mean to "break" a school. When Milliken said that the school would never commit to implementing all the GAC recommendations, not now, not ever, not unless the teachers voted to do so, Tom didn't bat an eyelash. He just said Paly wasn't "Shangri-La." Whatever that meant.

Gunn is a good school. It is not inconsistent to say it is good but its guidance delivery is so far noncomparable to Paly's that it is a problem that the board needs to address. Parents on the south side of PA are entitled to have services that are as good as Paly's. When you have a unified district with gaps in satisfaction of this size you have to address them. This board has been diddled by the administration for 2 years without closing that gap -- in fact, it has grown larger while the board has been diddled. The recent strategic plan data shows gaps growing not closing. Now college counseling is better at Paly by a larger margin than previously.

Total. Board. Fail. But as Greg Schmid has said repeatedly, south PA is often underrepresented and under resourced. This is nothing new. Ken Dauber would have been a great addition to the board to add that Gunn parent voice when Klausner departed but we apparently can only have yes-women on this board. No diversity of viewpoint, no data, and no management expertise, only go-along get along northside ladies.

Posted by hold on, a resident of Ventura
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

Having observed a paly advisory session or two it is notable that some of the instructors did not know the simplest information about which of the most popular and longstanding courses counted for graduation within PAUSD, within California or for the CSU/UC's. The students are in a dark room with a teacher talking at an overhead projector; no eye contact, no personal anything. Sessions meeting in rooms like labs or art rooms have no privacy; other students at their table can see their transcripts, college lists, essay drafts, or whatever personal paperwork pertains to the lesson of the day. On the whole the sessions can be impersonal, can give out incorrect information and can be run in violation of student's privacy. All contributing to a situation that many students consider a waste of time or, at worst, dread. In no way are these classes an emotional or social touchpoint.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:19 am

@hold on. I hope you will propose and the board will support changing Palys system to be the same as Gunns. Since it is not Shangri La I am sure this Paly parent board will immediately vote to eliminate TA and give their students what mine are getting at Gunn. Lets eliminate TA for Paly and then I am sure using your logic all those apply kids can expect to be admitted to Stanford! I see no reason why we would maintain the expensive and obviously lousy TA system at Paly and deprive Dana and Melissa's kids of all the fabulous system benefits of Gunn's patchwork 270 to 1 ratio. Don't Dana and Melissa want their kids to get to the Ivies and wear a colorful hat to graduation? At least Camille was honest and said her kids liked TA (and went to Princeton) and Gunn kids complain about counseling every year. She won't vote for it because who knows why but at least she's honest enough to admit its better. The rest of you please vote to eliminate TA at Paly and bring Gunns great system to your kids. Please don't all rush to sponsor that resolution.

Heidi your reward is waiting for you in two short years.

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@Gunn mom
Finally you understand. Progress at last!

Posted by Happy at Paly, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

@ hold on

I beg to differ. My son is at Paly and not only like advisory, but also he likes his Teacher Advisor and knows that for more private discussions he can request an individual meeting with his TA any time. His TA, whom he requested as a TA, knows him well. It's been a great system for my son.

What Gunn parents don't seem to realize, however, is that the TA system is more costly. Where will they take the extra money required? Are they willing to forego the smaller class sizes they enjoy and that Paly does not offer? As a Paly parent, I am opposed to Gunn getting more money per student than Paly in order to change their counseling system while retaining smaller class sizes. I would demand more money for Paly as well, then, to cut class size at Paly. That would only be fair. See the problem?

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Perhaps you can get that money from the salary for the PR officer. But the board policy is for equal services not precisely equal spending. So where is any evidence that hose smaller class sizes are in fact leading to anything better for students? I think they lead to easier workloads for English teachers. Less grading. But please we are going to be eliminating TA so think of all the English teachers who can have a lighter workload at Paly too! Please Dana ensure that your kids have what ours do. Paly is not Shangri La, gunn is the path to the Ivies. Make sure everyone has comparable services, put your kids where your mouth is.

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

"Ken Dauber would have been a great addition to the board to add that Gunn parent voice "

Ken Dauber isn't a Gunn parent. His only school-aged child isn't even in Palo Alto schools.

Posted by Gunn, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

The Daubers has 3 kids at Gunn. Doesn't that make them Gunn parents? Or do you just exclude everyone you don't agree with? Their youngest is at a private middle school. Do you know for a fact they aren't coming back for high school? No? What? Nothing to say?

Posted by perspective, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Gunn mom,

The student to staff ratio is a red herring.

What matters is the time students get with their counselors. Gunn students get 2 times the time with counselors that Paly students get.

Pencil it out.

The "individual" time 10th graders spend in Paly tutorial (total group time divided by the number of students in the group) averages out to 20 minutes/student a year, plus one 1 on 1 meeting a year which averages out to 10 minutes (some will get more time and others will skip it entirely).........Total: 30 minutes of counseling, 10 minutes or so of it 1 on 1.

Now look at the time students get at Gunn. 60 minutes a year 1 on 1 with counselors is required. Grades 11 through 12's also have small group sessions and freshman get a TA-like experience in Titan 101 .........Total: 60 minutes of 1 on 1 counseling, plus Titan 101 (about 30 minutes/student on average) plus small group sessions.

Students can ask for more as needed at both schools.

Posted by Gunn is a great school, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm

The Dauber's have no kids at Gunn so, no, they aren't Gunn parents. I can also quote from Michele's posts and you can work out for yourself whether they have any intention of coming back.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jun 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Perspective you are right I absolutely support ending TA at Paly. It's clearly horrible compared with this marvelous Gunn program! tA is garbage. Why it has those high satisfaction ratings is mysterious and should be investigated. Maybe it's like all those high standardized test scored for minority students in math in other districts. I have always suspected that any district claimi g better results that. pAUSD is probably cheating. I now think that TAs are probably filling in those surveys and erasing g all the negative evals to make TA look good. eliminate TA board. Gunns system is better. Whew. Such a relief to stop caring about data.

Board we need comparable services for Paly. Paly needs to be at the same level as Gunn which I now see is better. Cancel TA.

Posted by registered user, spectator at large, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 13, 2013 at 10:16 pm

You people that criticize TA, the Daubers (can you blame them for not wanting to have their child attend Gunn after they have seen first hand the hideous dysfunction?) The Dauber's son (the only one who would still be in the PAUSD system) is not old enough to be at Gunn if I am not mistaken. What about Melissa's daughter being at Castie (geeze) and making decisions for our students. I wonder if Melissa would want her daughter to transfer out of Castie and enter [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] Gunn? I know that she is a N. Ender but I don't think she would line up to have her daughter attend Gunn (are those students called Gunners as a recent poster called them? I think that is a great name for the Gunn students. And I like the fact that this makes Kevin Skelly the top Gunner parent. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by registered user, village fool, a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:26 am

@spectator at large - as far as I recall it is not the first time that I am responding to one of your posts - the dialog of those who log in.
Nixon - as far as I recall, it was not the dirty tricks brought him down, but the fact that those tricks were revealed by The Washington Post. I am assuming that the practice of dirty tricks was not invented in Watergate. I think it is reasonable to assume that those in power used those tricks, knowing that nobody would step forward. There was a whole chain in the knowledge of Watergate - those in power assumed that no-one would come forward.
Luckily - the Washington Post paid attention to Deep Throat, one single source. The Post looked seriously into the issues based on one source. I doubt this would happen here. Also - as far as I recall, Deep Throat kept his identity secret until death. I wonder why.
I think it is interesting to note that the lack of simple, best practices - transparency, etc., creates the grounds for those in charge to do as they wish.