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Immersion program is not a high priority

Original post made by Jamie Maltz, Greenmeadow, on Jun 15, 2006

The superintendent made a puzzling and potentially misleading comment in "PAUSD News from Your Schools" (inserted in the Weekly on June 9).

She said the priority survey showed parents wanted progress on core subjects as well as looking at how to broaden world-language offerings. This phrasing implies that languages ranked as a high priority.

The data ( Web Link ) actually shows that the community as a whole ranked foreign language 10th of 12 in "Important Subjects for A Child's Education." The parents ranked foreign language sixth of 12.

The top five priority subjects were: mathematics, sciences, English (writing/composition/essays), English (reading comprehension/literary analysis) and social studies (history/government/economics, etc.).

Averaged across community, parents and students, foreign language ranked seventh, with computer/technology coming in sixth.

They seem to be grasping for a justification for bulldozing forward with the Mandarin-immersion program even though the priority survey doesn't support it and despite significant community objection. The board and superintendent should start explaining why they are aggressively pursuing this boutique enrichment program that will benefit few students instead of focusing time and tax dollars on top priorities.

Since tax dollars foot the lion's share of the bill for our excellent PAUSD education, community priorities should count. Will the community continue to support our district with special assessments and contributions to PIE, even if they think the board is misdirecting time and effort to low-priority programs?

Comments (5)

Posted by enoch choi
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 17, 2006 at 12:13 am

For arguments supporting mandarin immersion see the comments by Nerissa & Jocelyn here:
Web Link

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2006 at 5:25 pm

Great! Excellent! So I'll just pop over to the district's community priority survey from March of this year, posted online, and marvel at how highly the community, parents, teachers and students value language over other subjects.... Oh wait a sec... 6th out of 12 in subjects of importance for Parents, and 10th out of 12 in subjects of importance for the Community... I don't understand. So the PAUSD constituency is not yet on board with the value of language over other competing district priorities?

Well, that's OK, whether they know what's good for them or not, at least we've got a plan. So we have a proposal on the table to offer the critical Chinese language to students across the district in a comprehensive, fair and balanced way. Or at least some language... Oh. Well... not exactly.

But that's OK, lets just cram a program through ($ talks you know) that sneaks under the radar of district/community priority setting, and offer a fabulous, designer, enrichment program to just a lucky few? To heck with everyone else! We should just carve out a private little piece of the district for our own personal use, to do with it what we see fit. Yay! I can't understand why people aren't all for it.

Posted by Pauline Navarro
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 17, 2006 at 12:49 pm

If you look at chart 7b, it shows that foreign language instruction AT THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL level is last out of 11 priorities for us. The priorities listed above are generalized for all grades, this chart is specific to elementary school.

Yet, the Mandarin Immersion program proposal started with the ELEMENTARY school, and was approved by the Board for a feasibility study for implementation in the ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

There is more. Somehow, between the time the Board approved this level of feasibility study ( for elementary school) and PAUSD wrote the US Department of Education and asked for a grant to implement this program, the grant request changed to requesting funds for a k-12 program.

If we get the grant, this is what is called a "pregnant project". In other words, we would have the money given by the Feds to implement a program that is the lowest in our priorities for elementary schools, and which was not approved by the Board for study for the 6-12 years.

I think this is also called an "end-run", and it concerns me greatly.

I am not saying that anyone did this on purpose, because I don't really believe any of the folks involved in this process had any devious intentions. I am just diagramming how an idea which seems so pretty on the surface can potentially grow into a done deal before it becomes obvious that it is completely against what we want in Palo Alto,and is taking time and resources away from our priorities.

Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 18, 2006 at 9:11 am

With regards to the secondary school Mandarin foreign language program, Chinese 1 has started at Gunn and Paly this fall, two classes at each school. At the high school level, the district is committed to providing appropriate advanced preparation up to AP Chinese in the following years.

The middle school program is also planned to start in two years, to dovetail into the high school program. The middle school plan will require enough enrollment to start, but Chinese 1 would start in Fall 2008.

The high school year Mandarin classes, 9 - 12, were approved last year. The grant application includes materials for high school and middle school.


Posted by Jamie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 18, 2006 at 4:52 pm

When was the middle school program discussed and approved by the board?

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