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Mandarin-immersion grant saves PA district $$

Original post made on Jun 25, 2008

A previously controversial federal grant for Mandarin instruction improved the district's Mandarin program and even saved a little money this year, Associate Superintendent Marilyn Cook told the school board Tuesday night. RELATED STORIES:

  • Todd Feinberg named assistant Paly principal

  • Mary Bussmann named Walter Hays principal

    Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 11:19 PM
  • Comments (129)

    Posted by confused
    a resident of Green Acres
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 7:33 am

    "Board President Dana Tom asked whether a middle-school Mandarin program would be established when the Ohlone students grow up. Superintendent Kevin Skelly said staff would have to examine the issue and bring ideas to a future board discussion."

    I thought MI was only on a three year trial period? Ok, so they haven't sorted out what's going to happen in 3 years but want to start planning for middle school......

    Posted by High School Parent
    a resident of Palo Alto High School
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

    So possibly the other high school language classes can benefit from computers purchased for Mandarin classes.

    How wonderful!! Mandarin classes get brand new computers costing $20,000 and possibly the other language classes, (how many exactly) possibly get to use them. I can't see much when spread around. Still they get computers, we get an occasional video (not dvd) in Spanish!!!

    Inequity in the language classrooms is very evident. Mandarin will have the cool toys, the rest have falling apart textbooks.

    Posted by High School Parent
    a resident of Palo Alto High School
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 8:54 am

    It hasn't been decided to do MI for more than three years and Dana has already said in the past that no decision has been made for Middle School. Now he asks Skelly about Middle School. Doesn't he realise no decision has been made, so why ask Skelly? Doesn't he know that SI has just been cancelled in Middle School due to problems, so why is he asking about Middle School?

    Wake up Dana.

    Posted by Al
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:00 am

    > Inequity in the language classrooms is very evident.
    > Mandarin will have the cool toys, the rest have falling
    > apart textbooks.

    The PAUSD "All Funds" expenditures for the 2007-08 year was about $160M. Where does all that money go? How expensive can text books be?

    Posted by Dana Tom
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I'd like to correct the reporting of my question about offering Mandarin in the middle schools.

    I said that I was pleased that the grant is helping to fund the expansion of our high school Mandarin program, which just completed its second year. My question was about offering Mandarin in the middle schools to be available to all students, expanding down from the high schools. It would be like our offerings of first year Spanish, French, and Japanese in the middle schools. I was not asking about growing the immersion program from the elementary to the middle school.

    Posted by Kevin Skelly
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:21 am

    I would like to offer some clarification on this topic.

    If you review the tapes of the board meeting and my comments, it is clear that Board President Dana Tom's questioning about Mandarin were in relation to offering middle school Mandarin for students who want to start their studies of Mandarin in middle school, NOT in relation to MI. There was no discussion at the board meeting about extending Mandarin Immersion to the middle school level.

    Kevin Skelly

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 9:23 am


    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Mr. Skelly and Mr. Tom,
    I wonder if you could provide us the facts on what recently happened with the SI program at Jordan. What is the status of the program and why?

    You may not be aware that there is a raging debate and including much speculation and accusations on another thread pertaining to the cancellation of SI at Jordan.

    Was this discussed in board meeting last night? If so, can someone recap the conversation? If not, why not? When will it be discussed in a board meeting?

    You might also be interested in the other thread as it brings up some interesting conversation about MI - such as: Did this years and last years emphasis on MI have any impact on SI resources available for middle school implementation? Does the cancellation of SI have any implications for MI's future at the secondary level? And more. Please read through the thread if you have any questions about whether the community concern about MI has resolved itself.

    Finally, can you please explain how these perks for MI (such as dedicated time from district staff, technology, etc) will be funded 2 years from now, once the third year of the grant is completed? Will MI in essence be at that time 'frozen' at par to standard classroom spending, and how will that impact the program itself?

    Sorry, one more question - did the granting agency (US Dept of Defense) actually approve that existing personnel (that are in place whether Mandarin exists in Palo Alto or not) actually qualify as the matching funds for the grant?

    Posted by Austin
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:22 am

    > did the granting agency (US Dept of Defense) actually
    > approve that existing personnel (that are in place whether
    > Mandarin exists in Palo Alto or not) actually qualify as
    > the matching funds for the grant?

    Marilyn Cook was asked a question along these lines last year. She answered: "We can do anything we want with this money, if we get the grant" (or words to that effect).

    Posted by Thanks
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Great news. How wonderful to have outside money flow into the district! It's exciting to hear about these opportunities, though my kids are not old enough to benefit yet.

    Who had the foresight to apply for the grant? Previous superintendent? Anyway, good job!

    Posted by Albert
    a resident of Greenmeadow
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:35 am

    > How wonderful to have outside money flow into the district!

    Yeah! Having the Federal Government borrowing trillions of dollars from the Communist Chinese Government to fund programs like this one. The Federal Taxpayers take it in the shorts while greedy Palo Alto parents cheer the irresponsible use of Federal Tax Dollars for providing education which is outside the bounds of what the public school system should be providing.

    Not a great idea at all--when you stand back and look at the big picture.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Why all the focus on Mandarin? I understand that producers of materials, software, and all things related to Mandarin are making a big business out of this. Why are we falling for this?

    Posted by longer view please
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I don't agree that using a temporary one-time infusion of $ to start up a long term program committment is a great idea. As we can see from the SI Jordan thread, the expectations for ongoing program development, program management, staff training, etc. is a long term expecation once the program is put in place. In fact, in very short order, the community suddenly claims itself 'entitled' to receive these services basically forever.

    Is PAUSD committed to the long term funding needs of this program: development and management costs over the long haul, and if so, how much will it cost, and how are they paying for it beyond year three?

    Furthermore, I heard more than one board member approve this program last year under the clearly stated premise that these programs would remain at parity with the rest of the classrooms in the district. In other words, fancy shmancy bells and whistles spending (like fabulous technology perks) would NOT be OKd, even if the grant funding was sitting there. Is the district going to hold the line on this?

    Posted by Mom
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    "the expectations for ongoing program development, program management, staff training, etc. is a long term expectation once the program is put in place"

    Time, effort, and attention from district staff for only 40 kids, out of thousands. Would a teacher spend all this effort and time on just 1 child in a class?

    Posted by Expecting-the-Worst
    a resident of Midtown
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    The passage of Measure A now provides millions for Charter Schools. It won't take long before various special interest groups realize that, and make demands for their own buildings, computers, and technology infrastructure, etc.

    Measure A is a green light for every special interest group in the Bay Area to target the Palo Alto schools for money for their own private school system and agenda.

    Posted by thanks Dr. Skelly and Mr. Tom
    a resident of Monroe Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for the clarification Dr. Skelly and Mr. Tom. Well said.
    There should be foreign language instruction for all middle school kids who want it...period. Trying to get more classes into the middle schools so 6th graders can start also would be a good idea.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Mr. Tom and Mr. Skelly,

    Thank you for the clarification.

    As an Ohlone parent, I have to say that the implementation of MI has already been disruptive at the school. The grant may have paid for substitutes, but taking teachers out of the classroom to develop another program didn't help their students.

    But this is typical--just one more example of how MI takes time away from more important district matters.

    I hope the efforts at Mandarin instruction will continue to focus on better language instruction for all students--in other words, that computer equipment should mean better language labs in *all* languages taught in the district.

    Posted by What?
    a resident of Old Palo Alto
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    "The grant is a matching grant the district must fund equally."

    279,000 x 2

    $558,000 for 40 students?!

    and these are just dollars, how about district resources?

    Posted by tradeoffs
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I wonder if the 20K or so of funding for part of Masuda's expert time was a good trade off for having him focused on MI instead of helping roll out the SI secondary program? Spread too thin? Stressed out district? I guess the grant may have backfired a bit if you're an SIer.

    Posted by Tyler Hanley
    digital editor of Palo Alto Online
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

    Arden Pennell, the Weekly's education writer, left on vacation after covering this meeting, so isn't available to respond to questions until she returns.

    Posted by confused (no longer)
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jun 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks, Dana, Kevin. Amazing what some real information can do to a thread

    Posted by questions
    a resident of Midtown
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 5:11 am

    WAit a sec,...the funds must be matched by our district? Where do the matching funds go? Are the matching funds for all the district foreign language programs? I thought we couldn't have elementary school Foreign language instruction cuz it was a million/year.

    If we are supposed to match 1/2 million..what about grades 4-5 Foreign language instruction for 1/2 million instead of 1-5 for a million? Or extending the day in middle school to allow for foreign language in 6th grade? Or something along that line for all the kids.

    Or much more accessible language labs at the high schools and middle schools, so all kids can practice every day a little bit if they want to after school or even have weekly, instead of monthly, language lab time in class?

    Posted by palo alto parent
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 8:23 am

    The matching funds are for Mandarin only. They don't need to be "new" funds, they can be money which is already allocated for current teachers for example,

    Posted by anonymous
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I have strongly opposed MI in PAUSD for several reasons, but will write only briefly now: unfair and uneven focus on a special interest group (PACE special interest group), including with district resources, staff, facilities, appears inevitable that this is happening.

    Facilities planning in a time of growth - just one thought:

    As a PA taxpayer and PAUSD parent, I recommend that PAUSD focus on our district, meaning(all)the children of this district as an entity - that is, facilities planning for K-12, for example as opposed to focusing on a plan to specifically "grow" MI at a time when California education faces numerous challenges and issues. I would not accept seeing an MI program in luxury facilities while other students are in portables as they receive the standard education offered accross this district.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Will MI and SI be accepting an increase in class size to take on their fair share of enrollment growth across all grades? Or will they enjoy the benefit of favorable student teacher ratios as well?

    If not, that's not cost neutral.

    Smaller class sizes are more expensive on a per pupil basis - otherwise, Skelly wouldn't be warning us about increasing class sizes pending. Are a few of our boutique programs immunized against this issue?

    Posted by some
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    They are in the higher grades where they can't find enough native speakers to take up those that leave due to falling grades.

    Posted by Outraged
    a resident of Professorville
    on Jun 26, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Questions and anonymous,

    I completely agree with you,

    the headline, "Mandarin-immersion grant saves PA district $$"

    "saves" ??

    This is like buying a designer bag on sale, oh yeah we "saved" some $$.

    Posted by Winwin
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:21 am

    "This is like buying a designer bag on sale"

    Naw, this is more like the store giving you matching funds to buy vegetables when you buy a bag of flour.

    S goodgoodgood.

    Posted by Shopper
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Where do you go to get free vegetables with a bag of flour? Maybe I will pay the store a visit.

    Posted by No thanks
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Vegetables for 40 kids, but you have probably about 3000 to feed.

    and these vegetables are experimental

    Posted by Winwin
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The parents of the 3,000 mostly don't want their kids eating these vegetables, which are not experimental, but organic.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    When you use up our highest experts and 'pay us back' with a little bit of cash - what good does that do? Can we replace the time that Masuda or Becky Cohn Vargas spent on MI with temps? We can't replace their time or their expertise when its diverted into these customization projects that benefit so few.

    Unwise use of irreplacable district staff resources in exchange for a few bucks - only a one sided win as far as I can see it. I wonder if SI Jordan -that apparently didn't enjoy any of the district staff efforts while MI was sucking it all up, consider this a 'win-win'? Maybe the district should have hired them a temp. Would that have helped?

    Posted by No thanks
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Win Win

    You must be one of the "winners" of the lottery. For you to call Mandarin immersion an

    organic vegetable goes to the lobby into this whole thing. I think it's highly improper to

    take "outside money flow" just because it's there, and when it benefits only a handful of

    students. The equity issue is not new, isn't that why PIE was created? You are either very

    impressed with the money, or with the program, at any cost.

    Posted by longer view please
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    And will it still be a 'win win' three years from now when the grant money is no longer there, but the MI program has become accustomed to sky's the limit spending? Wonder if it will kind of painful when the spigot is turned off. And then the administration will wonder where the raging sense of entitlement came from?

    On a practical note - I wonder if PAUSD has built any Year 4 budgets for the MI program - anybody care to wonder what that program looks like at true 'cost neutral' run rates in the long term? No perky R&D money, no perky training money, no perky travel money, no perky technology money.

    PAUSD is digging themselves a hole here.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Bloody hell, the point of organic gardening is to limit the use of limited resources that damage the soil.

    MI takes up extra resources--if it didn't, there'd be no need for the grant. Nor would two of Ohlone's teachers have spent 20 percent of their time developing the program while their kids were stuck with subs.

    There's nothing about MI that has anything to do with conservation and careful use of resources.

    Winwin may have bought a few organic vegetables, but clearly knows nothing about growing them. It was a lame analogy.

    Posted by No thanks
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 27, 2008 at 7:46 pm


    Resources indeed

    From the SI thread, "thousands of dollars" are spent by the immersion parents, with "some giving more than others".

    So, PACE and SIPAPA are no different than PTA or PIE, they get to raise money, but make it available only to immersion programs.

    As we're seeing from this article, the money is free flowing, so I don't think the problem is sustainability, there will be more grants, more parent money, perhaps matching funds from corporations, friends and family. Immersion will not only "save" $$, it will make $$, whoopee!

    What will be next for the immersion kids, uniforms?

    Posted by parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jun 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Maybe the district can practice doing some objective reporting to the community on the state of their programs, by starting with an objective reporting on SI Jordan - what happened there? We still have no information. I hope Arden will be back soon to help us on this.

    Meanwhile, I hope the BOE and the Superintendent's staff don't pull a muscle or anything while patting themselves on the back. They're pretty proud that they found a way to fund some temps and substitutes for the regular PAUSD program, while they pulled the full time experts in to the MI development. I bet the parents of the kids who got those subs are pretty impressed too!

    I suspect SI probably deserved some of that expertise - but didn't get it when they needed it. What good does money for subs and temps do us when our experts are being diverted into low priority fad projects? SI and our regular PAUSD business is getting short changed while resources are diverted. To be truly cost neutral, MI should be hiring their own short term consultants with this one time grant $, not sponging off PAUSD staff.

    They guess that all the opposition to MI has gone away, because they didn't have any comments at the meeting???? Maybe they should look a little harder.

    Posted by observer
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Question - this article says they spent $66K of the $200K that was granted in the first year. Is the remainder ($134K) available to spend in future years, or is that remainder now gone because they didn't use it?

    I know they get a new dollar value for year two, also about $200K. So does that mean they have the year two amount plus the remainder from year one available?

    If not, then it looks like they may have mismanaged the grant award. Were they over anxious to stake a claim on that grant (so they over promised what they could actually deliver), And therefore have spoiled the opportunity to maximize these grant dollars? Or is the remaining $134K still there for them to use whenever they get around to it?

    Posted by Go PAUSD!
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

    These complaints reek of the long-ago battle over whether to add MI to this district. That has been decided, so you'd do better to move on.

    This money comes from outside the district, and we are lucky have it.

    I'm grateful to whoever applied for the grants. It's wonderful that our kids have these opportunities!

    Posted by yet another parent
    a resident of Escondido School
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 11:11 am

    You've got an interesting point, Parent, except that SI is supposed to be cost neutral, too. Neither program has EVER been cost neutral, nor will they ever be.

    You're right, though. Upper level staff do have other responsibilities that are potentially being short-changed. For example, the achievement gap is one, but neglecting those duties doesn't cause much reaction because too many people inaccurately associate it with VTP students. Unless the displaced activity is high visibility with popular support, neglecting those issues in exchange for MI goes largely unnoticed. How about overcrowding? Is it being carefully attended to, or are staff distracted by MI until the next housing development completes and another wave of new students exacerbates the problem?

    When PAUSD staff members claimed last year that they could take on MI alongside their other responsibilities and the previous superintendent gave approval, they were essentially saying that their solutions to other issues were under control with no need for improvement.

    It's time PAUSD face the fact that these immersion programs are an additional expense – and distraction – to the district. Given that, are the programs fair (enough) to offer, and how shall they be administered in a way that doesn't adversely affect other students?

    Posted by Cost Neutrality is not everything
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Go PAUSD!

    - parents sounding off about this article are not just "complaints" they are analyzing OUR district's decisions regarding OUR children.

    - it's not lack of gratitude, it's about being sensible about what to count our blessings for. Just because "Outside money" says Jump, we cannot say how high. That is reserved for private school.

    Congratulating ourselves for "cost neutrality" ho hum,

    Agree with very funny Parent above "...I hope the BOE and the Superintendent's staff don't pull a muscle or anything while patting themselves on the back..." They need to put this into a context of priorities, before we can jump up and down with them in glee.

    And it's also about transparency. We are interested in knowing all about these programs, the budget, the funding (including from parents), exactly how many students it's giving a competitive advantage to, the research for this model, what are the results, is the district planning any more of these programs?

    And, about the SI situation, what happened?

    Posted by tax payer
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Go PAUSD - Not appropriate at all to attempt to illegitimize QUESTIONs to the district about their operations, their spending, their budgets, their decision making processes. Go PAUSD is the one who better get used to the concept - this is a public school system funded by tax payer dollars, and there certainly WILL continue to be probing questions from the community (and we HOPE our Board of Education) so that all programs be thoroughly reported on, explained, and defended. Yep, over and over again. Forever. The very idea that MI got a yes vote in one single board meeting (under duress) and now you're somehow free and clear to go along your merry way unobstructed, and unobserved? Utterly absurd. Get used to it, or get yourself to a private school.

    Oh, by the way - that 'outside' money? Federal tax dollars. Still our money, and our right to question how and why its being spent. You don't like transparency? Go to a private school.

    Posted by anonymous
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I challenge that "SI is not cost neutral".

    For the last 6 years, the elementary school program has been cost neutral, not taken any additional resources of the district staff, and has been going just fine - thank you very much.

    The first 6 years (start up years for each new grade K - 5) takes extra costs, which the parents paid for (curriculum development, Spanish library and classroom books, etc.).

    The middle school problems, which appear to be largely due to a lack of solid curriculum and a wavering school and administration, can be neutralized to zero cost. Good planning and communications of expectations and curriculum for everyone involved (parents, teachers, administration, students, etc.) for each year (6th, 7th, and 8th), can bring the middle school program into cost neutrality.

    Just my two cents.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 6:01 pm


    Developing a working curriculum for three grades is cost-neutral? On what planet.

    The first two years of curriculum planning at Ohlone for MI officially took 20 percent of the time of two different teachers (sticking their actual students with subs, particularly in the Spring) as well as consulting outside experts at Stanford.

    No one's even pretended that that's cost-neutral--it's covered by the grant.

    So if SI's middle-school curriculum is that seriously broken then fixing it isn't cost neutral.

    Time and space cost money. I don't know why SI at Jordan slipped into such disrepair, but one of SIPAPA's complaints seemed to be that the curriculum was too traditional and disconnected from the methods used at Escondido. Trying to disentangle that kind of debate costs money simply because there's no clearcut answer.

    And, frankly, pleasing the SIPAPA crowd from the sounds of it would be time-consuming--more money.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Professorville
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 7:51 pm


    Parents paying for curriculum development, library, extra books for Spanish Immersion or Mandarin Immersion are parents not contributing in equal measure to PIE or PTA.

    We're asked to contribute to PIE for equity reasons, and our dollars are split in same measure to Escondido and Ohlone. But, there are parents in those schools that give ONLY to their Immersion program?

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    "No one's even pretended that that's cost-neutral--it's covered by the grant."

    You are confused. Cost-neutral simply means the program does not cost the district any more money, so that additional costs have to be paid for by grants, parent fund-raising, etc. So as it turns out, MI is cost-neutral.

    Actually, it's probably cost-negative, since it brings in technology that can be used by others and the grant can be used for some non-immersion purposes. So the program is already a community-oriented, team player in the district, generously contributing to the wider community.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 1, 2008 at 10:57 pm


    No, I'm not confused. Implementing the MI curriculum costs money. The district's getting away with implementing it because of the grant to start it with the claim of "cost-neutrality". Since it's actually a matching grant, it's not actual cost-neutral, since the district will be putting money toward MI that would not otherwise be directed there.

    SI/Jordan doesn't have a grant. Changing the curriculum for three years would cost money--so taking that money from the district would make the program no longer cost-neutral.

    By the way, why the new name?

    Posted by anonymous
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 12:49 am

    The money matched by PAUSD for the FLAP grant is money towards teacher (or sub) salaries who are teaching students in PAUSD. One time startup time for curriculum and program planning and development.

    It's your value judgment vs. the district's value judgment if the subs were of such poorer quality than the teachers who worked on the curriculum. Probably if you ask the teachers, they enjoyed this professional development time, and found it worthwhile for their own career development and job satisfaction.

    Look at board policy (antiquated, yes, but it's policy):
    Web Link

    Chapter 3 Instruction
    E. Alternative Programs:
    6. Additional startup costs may be required, and some programs may have inherently higher costs, such as programs that rely on technology. Parents of students in the program may be required to provide for these additional costs through contributions.

    You don't like the policy, you're in luck. The board is reviewing and updating the board policies (I think the leads are Barbara Klausner and Barb Mitchell). Take it up with them.

    Constructively yours,

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:58 am

    "it's not actual cost-neutral, since the district will be putting money toward MI that would not otherwise be directed there."

    You still don't understand "cost-neutral." Doesn't mean the district doesn't have to pay ANY money to educate those kids. Just means it won't cost any more than to educate other kids. So, it actually is cost-neutral.

    Posted by Equity please
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 7:41 am


    "... the program is already a community-oriented, team player in the district, generously contributing to the wider community..."

    How can a program that serves 40 out of 3000 students be community oriented, team player (decision was based on a threat?), and "generously" contributing to the wider community.

    Unlike other Alternative programs like Direct Instruction or Connections, which accommodate special learning styles or something unique about student needs, the immersion programs are enrichment for a lucky few.

    This is not a "need" based program. And throwing in a few bucks along the way? Sorry, I'm not sure a few computers will do it for this community.


    If you know the people working on policy for Alternative Programs, you may want to suggest the SI and this thread, the idea that

    "Parents of students in the program may be required to provide for these additional costs through contributions."

    seems wrong, it means that only parents that have money can participate?

    If anything the connection of private money with Alternative programs is what is wrong about this whole picture.

    Posted by pao alto parent
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Maybe I'm confused, but why is there a need for a curriculum for SI or MI? I thought the idea was to teach the PAUSD curriculum, just in another language.

    I can understand more of a need in the lower grades when kids are learning to read and write. But starting in 3rd grade, you are reading to learn, not learning to read. From then on it should simply be a teacher speaking another language. The only additional cost I can see should be text books in 2 languages.

    Perhaps that was part of the problem with SI at Jordan. Parents expecting a different curriculum, teachers expecting to teach the Jordan curriculum in Spanish.

    Posted by yet another parent
    a resident of Escondido School
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Textbooks are replaced approximately every 7 years for most subjects. This year was math, last year was science, next year is language arts, and so on. A group of teachers evaluate & pilot the materials on behalf of the entire district. Most (all?) textbooks are also available in Spanish, although not all publishers do a complete translation of the entire set of materials into Spanish. I assume that SI teachers are part of this evaluation process, having some say in which publisher's materials they'd like to work with. The alternative is toss them a Spanish translation of whatever curriculum is chosen, hoping that the Spanish curriculum meets their standards.
    If SI teachers are involved in the yearly textbook selection process (and you’d hope that they would be), an additional overhead expense occurs. This is just one example of how SI is not cost neutral. The folks who keep singing the “immersion is cost neutral” refrain have a narrow vision of what to include when measuring costs. There’s more to education than a teacher, 20 students and a collection of books.

    Posted by You have to plan ahead
    a resident of Midtown
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Pao alto parent,

    It is considerably more complicated than you imagine.

    The district must decide between different romanization scheme/syllabary and character sets, which impact textbooks. The curriculum has to be aligned with the English class curriculum. Benchmarks must be set for Chinese (how many characters, which ones at each grade level). What supplementary reading will dovetail with the curriculum. Etc.

    Someone has to think all this through to make sure it forms a coherent whole. Just buying textbooks is the least of it....

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Annonymous - then if as you suggest, we should feel completely neutral between our regular PAUSD staff and subs/temps, (nothing but a our 'value judgement' - which you connote is a misplaced judgement on our part) then perhaps PAUSD regular programming can keep our own regular staff on regular PAUSD programming, and the MI program can go ahead and use those dollars on temps and subs. This should be of absolutely no consequence to you - because they are completely interchangable in value. According to you.

    BOE and Skelly - there is a VERY easy way to keep this cost neutral. Keep PAUSD staff off this project, and instead fund the MI development completely (100%) from the grant funds. Meaning, take Cohn-Vargas,Marilyn Cook (or her replacement), Masuda, permanent teachers at Ohlone, Susan Charles, completely off the MI program, and let it be developed using whatever services they can hire using the grant funding. THAT would be cost neutral.

    Posted by Rudy
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Barack Obama knows the value of multiculturism since he is one! Barack Obama is dedicated to reaching out to the rest of the world and to becoming fluent in other languages.

    We can have both Spanish Immersion and Mandarin Immersion if Obama is elected becuse he will support these important programs with his education policies.

    Elect Obama. Save MI and SI!

    Posted by anonymous
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Parent, I rather have the idea that district staff WANT to be on the MI program and they are quite willing to devote their time to that. As a PAUSD taxpayer/parent I would like to really know how much time and effort they are devoting to this new boutique program as opposed to established district-wide programs.

    For one example, some have noticed a need for support in some existing World Language programs (this is really another subject) yet while I have been looking for it, I have not detected attention from Mr. Masuda about this. Sure, it's possible I just don't have the information.
    However, my point is, we deserve to know how district staff are spending their time. We DO have some budget cuts, as I understand it, teacher hiring this year is greatly reduced, I am disappointed to learn class sizes will increase at the high school level (my kids have often been in very large classes at Paly -- not the greatest thing for education), there ARE money/budget concerns and I object to a prioritization of starting up MI within this big picture. The rest of us are supposed to tighten our belts while MI gets a glamorous introduction?

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I was at a meeting a few weeks ago where Skelly was asked about the competence of our subs. He was well aware of the problem due to his own child having complained about too many subs and too much time watching movies with them.

    Subs are not good alternatives to classroom teachers. Many of them are excellent teachers themselves, but many are not. And, those who are cannot teach the class the same way as the regular teacher because of all sorts of reasons, not familiar with the curriculum or where the lesson stopped the previous day, not familiar with the class and classroom dynamics, not familiar with the material and also not familiar with the subject. Last of all the class is not familiar with the teacher and that in itself can be the biggest problem, particularly in the lower grades.

    Subs have to be a last resort as an alternative to classroom teachers. Any day a student spends with a sub is definitely not a day of learning to the child's full potential.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Downtown North
    on Jul 2, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    our kids could write a book about our PAUSD subs, and it would be a bestseller.

    Other world language options? for PAUSD? I heard that at this same meeting, amidst the "self-congratulations" FLES was referred to as a "disappointment" which coincides with that article where Arden wrote about the "bitter pills" parents needed to swallow. I thought that the FLES work was impressive, 3rd grade start, all kids...FLES $1 million for 3000 kids, $300 per head versus nearly $15,000 per head for immersion? The 1 million is starting to look like a sweet deal.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 12:34 am

    The funny thing about the FLES proposal is that it took into account that kids learn second languages better when literacy in the primary language has been established. Somehow, the same research doesn't apply to immersion programs.

    Having lots of subs is disruptive. There's no way a sub is going to know how a particular child has been developing. Taking one-fifth of a teacher's time to develop a curriculum means that somebody gets short-changed--either the kids, the teacher (who's probably working overtime so as not to shortchange her class) or the new program.

    Honestly, a charter looks better and better in retrospect--would have lightened the burden on the elementaries and could even have brought money into the district. And, frankly, there would probably be a better program (and Ohlone could work on some of its own issues in the middle grades).

    You have to plan,

    I get the feeling, somehow, that there isn't quite the same range of textbooks published in both English and Mandarin that there is published in English and Spanish.

    palo alto parent,

    I think you're right. It sounds like SI at Jordan was simply advanced Spanish classes. The district doesn't teach a regular curriculum in Spanish. As I understand SI, the kids are using more and more English as they progress through the grades--I think the Spanish to English ratio goes from 80/20 to 50/50.

    So yeah, sounds like the SI kids were used to the regular curriculum, but in Spanish. At Jordan they were getting the regular curriculum in English and an advanced Spanish class.


    Again, if the district has to match funds, it's not cost-neutral. Cost-neutral is more the claim that well, gee, Ohlone was going to get three more cubicles, anyway . . . so that couple of hundred thou doesn't count. (Of course, given that you can't handle attrition the way you do in other programs, immersion programs aren't cost-neutral even in terms of space.)

    MI will continue to have special costs associated with it that will last long past the initial grant. It will always have specialized and more expensive materials. It will need specialized curriculum development. It will need, no doubt, its own set of specialists to help the kids with reading.

    My guess is that costs will get hidden under various budgeting magic (See, I'm still trying to figure out how new grass at Green Gables is going to cost $1.2 million, even with really snazzy new black top and a sprinkler system.) Or not, depending who's in power at the time.


    If you're a Barack Obama supporter, why choose the unpopular side on this debate? I'd hope Obama had more sense the BOE did on this one and I certainly think he'd be aware of the lack of equity in this situation.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:08 am

    "Again, if the district has to match funds, it's not cost-neutral."

    No, that's wrong. You still don't understand "cost-neutral." You're thinking of "cost-free."

    Posted by Cost Neutrality is not everything
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:35 am


    If the district got, say, doble the current grant again, for immersion and the district would need to match it, and the funds go mostly to immersion, would that spending still be considered cost neutral?
    Is there no limit before there is an equity issue?

    If you are an SI or MI person, they sky is the limit to spend on your program

    but pretend you have the best interests of ALL kids in mind, and explain how regardless of the amount of money, this remains "cost" neutral.

    Doesn't it depend on your definition of cost?

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:48 am

    I am no expert in the field, but it strikes me that at the middle school level, the core subjects need to be taught in English rather than an immersion language and the immersion language should be an advanced language class.

    The reasons for this to me sound obvious. I higher you get in math and science particularly, the more technical the vocabulary has to be to study it adequately. This may not be the case for social studies, but even in these subjects learning the English name for the countries, rivers, historical facts, political scenarios, etc. make sense. In math and science at middle school the students have learned the building blocks of the subjects but are starting to learn the in depth vocabulary and understanding it in the language that they will be learning in high school and college. To be able to describe the make up of a cell using its scientifically accepted English names or to learn geometric formulae in English, is something that foreign students struggle with after they have learned the material in their own language. We would not want to put the immersion kids at a disadvantage that when they get to high school or college level math or science.

    I am all for continuing the immersion languages into middle school as it seems wrong to stop them (provided of course that we have the space, the funds, the teachers, etc.) but it strikes me strange that the advantage of being fluent in a target language has been achieved and studying it should be the same in the language class as studying English in an English class, rather than using the target language for more in depth study of a core subject which serious scholars will always do in English. (These serious scholars to which I refer are at the highest level academically in the subject around the world). The language of serious academics in sciences, maths and many other subjects is English and the students should start their development of these core subjects is when they start learning the technical vocabulary.

    Posted by Perspective
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Correction - so if you go to great lengths and premium expense to hire the best child care provider you can find, and that provider comes to you one day and says they're cutting their hours back by 25%, but don't worry, she'll give you back the portion of her salary you paid for that 10 hours per week, AND she'll call a temp agency to get a babysitter to fill in that 10 hours per week (plenty in the phonebook afterall). And won't that be great because its CHEAPER for you and you save money!

    Well saving money was never your objective in finding quality daycare in the first place, you were willing to pay premium dollars for retaining the best most experienced - what good does saving a few bucks do you?

    Are you really 'neutral' to this arrangement? Is 'cost neutral' in strictly dollar and cents terms really the only 'cost' that you are considering in this situation? How about the quality of what you get for your dollar? How about the best interests of your kids? Anything else come to mind that might make you consider that a raw deal?

    Posted by more perspective
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:15 am

    To add to that Perspective....
    And what if she tells you that the reason she's not available is because she'll be working for someone else. Actually, a group of neighborhood families but you can't join in because your kids are too old. But don't worry - it won't affect your bottom line budget so why should you care.

    Posted by one more
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Parent on the Middle School,

    For perfect immersion PACE and SIPAPA need to move to Mexico or China, that's the real immersion thing.

    Trying to get Jordan Middle School to comply with moving target "expert" Spanish and Mandarin "immersion recommendations" is nuts. These experts make a business out of these recommendations to gullible parents, where is common sense?

    I'm afraid the experts themselves have lost it, and forget this is public school where at the minimum, it's not nice to run elite luxury boutique programs, whether it's French or fencing.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:47 am


    And so all these months and thousands of hours of work on a strategic plan that says we're committed to hiring and retaining the highest quality staff within our means - and that's so we can hand them over to our boutique programs that serve a tiny percentage of our population (basically creating private schools within the public school district - for a few lucky winners, for those that can find the funding to kick cash over to the district) - while the rest of the district kids get subs, temps, - whatever the cheapest thing we can find to fill in.

    Wow, that's probably world record time for trashing the strategic plan.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 12:07 pm


    No, I'm not thinking of cost-free. The district has to educate those kids somehow.

    HOWEVER, if those kids were simply part of extant programs or at neighborhood elementaries, teaching them would cost no more than it costs teaching any other children in the district. That's cost-neutral.

    Creating a special program for 40 kids costs money. And while computers and consulting specialists may be covered by the grant, not all costs will be. The grant is limited in time, while there will continue to be additional costs in developing and implementing the MI program while it exists.

    Yes, I *know* what the rules say, but it's already not happening here. The exta costs, as I say, will be shifted elsewhere under the glories of district book-keeping. (No one ever could explain the $1.2 million alotted to Garland landscaping in the bond. There's a nice example of weird figures.)

    Or not. Again, depends on the shifting of political winds.

    Ohlone and Hoover, by the way, are programs that are cost neutral in that they don't require specialized materials. The Farm does cost extra and is the focus of Ohlone's fundraising. (Harvest Festival and weekly Everything Shop).

    MI has always been about private-school perks at public-school prices. Part of the reason PACE was so dogged is that many of its parents were sending their kids to the International School's preschool program and looking at I-school tuition.

    It's never been about what's good for the district because, frankly, these weren't parents with kids in PA public schools.

    You know, at least SI wasn't trying to replicate private programs already in existence. And we really *do* have an issue in this state with Spanish-speakers underperforming in our public schools. And it was occupying empty classroom space instead of bumping families on a waiting list to grab classrooms originally alotted to them.


    Writing English well makes or breaks a college application. One of the main reasons given for dropping out of immersion programs in Canada at the middle-school and high-school levels was "academics". Basically, families felt their kids had a better chance at getting into a good college if they switched to the English track.

    It makes no sense to do core subjects in a foreign language if you're planning to send your kids to an American college. The only exceptions to that would be potential Spanish and Mandarin majors.

    At the same time, you have the use-it-or-lose-it issue that comes with learning languages early.

    So while the greatest second language proficiency would occur if an immersion program continued through 12th grade, it's not actually a good thing for American students planning on going to American colleges.

    It makes the most sense, then, in terms of child's overall education to turn SI to advanced Spanish at the middle-school level. So right idea at Jordan, clearly questionable implementation and unrealistic expectations by SIPAPA (who wants a specialized immersion track through 12th--i.e. private school curriculum).

    The issues with Mandarin will be worse simply because of the language's difficulty. Native speakers aren't all that literate--China doesn't even test written skills when assessing literacy. You're considered "literate" in China if you can read 1500 symbols.

    In other words, six years of elementary school won't give the same level of proficiency in Mandarin that it does in Spanish. So, at the middle-school level, there will be a real issue of how to continue advanced Mandarin.

    What all of this says to me, is that there's a lot to be said for the way the Europeans do it--introduce second and third languages in grade school and then just keep going. It's not as flashy as immersion, but the results are good and the effort's sustained.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 1:58 pm


    "The district has to educate those kids somehow." Exactly.

    There are additional expenses, but those must be covered by grants and fund-raising. It is the same with Ohlone. That school has extra expenses, such as the farm, which required initial start-up money and ongoing infusions. Those expenses must be covered by fund-raising. Same deal with MI.

    You can toss around terms like "private-school perks," as you see fit, but they equally fit programs like Ohlone and Hoover. It is inconsistent--or dishonest--to oppose MI and simultaneously back Ohlone. But perhaps your position has more to do with self-interest than you let on.

    Your suggestion that parents who want their kids to do immersion should go outside the district is also self-serving. One could make the same suggestion about Ohlone parents. (Or any others.) It raises the troubling question of why you'd like to single out those children, who would study Chinese, for expulsion from the district. I wonder why you chose them.

    Again, toss around names all you want, but the fact is that thanks to the community-minded spirit MI organizers, the district has extra funds to cover non-immersion expenses and purchase multi-use technology.

    Another correction: MI bumped no one from any list. That was just one of the talking points pushed by the anti-language gang.

    Last one: doing core subjects in a foreign language is the point of immersion, and immersion studies have shown these programs to be very successful at turning out bilingual, bi-literate kids. In other words, don't worry about those immersion kids--they're headed to the top colleges and universities.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Good point

    We have now had the first or second SI group graduating high school. Any one got any data of what colleges they are going to or what their projected majors will be?

    This is very relevant information and should be available for all prospective immersion parents. Do they outperform their peers when it comes to college acceptances? Do they plan to continue in their language studies or do they transfer back into the regular mold?

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Ah - the old two wrongs make a right argument. Well guess what - OP may be alone in her opposition to MI while supporting Ohlone. Many opposing MI oppose all the 'choice' programs in as much as they are inequitable. There is only one single difference that I can see - and that is that Ohlone is long established, and is no longer an incremental user of resources. No reason whatsoever to buy separate nothing for Ohlone on an ongoing basis. Ever again.

    On the other hand MI is in development stage, will be a long term heavy user of incremental resources, and in fact, even once established will continue to require a parallel cost structure to keep its parallel curriculum in place, fresh and up to date with PAUSD regular. Ohlone is just another user of PAUSD regular curriculum.

    If Ohlone, Hoover or SI are receiving incremental resources, or are benefitting their kids with premium perks overand above PAUSD standards that we deliver to all kids, then they should be shut down too.

    Posted by enough
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm


    you sound like Elementary on the SI thread. delusional, and a snob.

    we may want to call this one a day,

    EVERYONE in this district is opposed to immersion except for the beneficiaries of these tiny programs, and the district and BOE who does not want admit mistakes.

    what's new?

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    There's also one other key difference between Ohlone, Hoover and the immersion programs.

    Both Hoover and Ohlone were established at a time of falling enrollment. The district closed a third of its schools.

    So when Ohlone started, it was not encroaching on an existing elementary, nor was it bumping kids from the school's waitlist.

    One of the *main* reasons for immersion programs is to attract enrollment. This is not an issue in this district. The last thing we needed to do, frankly, was bring in private-school parents--and a specialty program that has limited interest and high barriers to transferring in the later grades.

    If Palo Alto had numerous empty elementary-school buildings that were slated for being sold or being torn down, well, then, an immersion program would be a very different kettle of fish. Even then, I think MI isn't the right kind of language program--I think a Yew Cheung variation with various languages being taught in the later grades for an hour a day would have served a wider range of people--Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Hindi--more flexibility and less likely to be co-opted by the loudest parental/special interest group. Also a better way to develop district-wide FLES. (Heck, you could have after-school language programs at such a place for other kids in the district.) Oh well . . . usual lack of creativity, research and thought we've seen throughout all of this.

    I've also said before and I'll say it again--I wouldn't favor starting up Ohlone or Hoover or any magnet program at a time when the schools are sending kindegarteners across town.

    Closing Ohlone and Hoover or switching them back to regular elementaries would create more problems than it would solve--we don't need two more schools in the south cluster. We desperately need one in the north cluster. Switching Ohlone back to neighborhood school status mean that people like me, whose kids are entitled to slots at Duveneck, would be back asking for space at schools that don't have it.

    Ohlone, because there are no barriers to entry and because of the demand, was a natural for expansion of its own program under the circumstances. Sorry, Correction, there's no two ways around it--the demand was there and, unlike MI, it truly would have been cost neutral: no need for curriculum development, no specialized textbooks and no 500-plus elementary school because a half-strand expansion would have been possible.

    The Farm, unlike an immersion program, doesn't require the involvement of district personnel to run and develop. It really is a resource used by the school, but it is maintained and run by the parents and one part-time farm aide.

    The comparable situation for Mandarin Immersion would be a program completely supported and run by parents. It's closer to the situation of the PTA after-school language programs.

    So, basically, PACE raises all the money for the program every year. It pays for the teachers--every year--and the equipment--every year. The school runs separately and it's up to the teachers to decide if and how they want to use Mandarin Immersion. The MI supporters would be allowed to hold meetings and fundraisers on campus.

    By the way, Correction, do you really think changing your name endless number of times makes any difference? We still know that you can't acknowledge the validity of the many objections to MI/Ohlone. I'm perfectly aware of why many people don't want any specialty schools in the district. I agree with some of the reasons, not with others. You don't seem capable of that sort of analysis, but let's see if you can prove me wrong.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm


    A couple of points--Potomac--first MI program in the country, by mid-high school only three kids from the original class were still studying Chinese and planning to take the APs. Not a success--particularly given that the high-school Mandarin teacher thought many of the kids were not qualified for advanced Chinese classes.

    Core subjects in a foreign language is, indeed, what's done in elementary schools. It's not what's done with kids in high school here. That you think that such a thing is even feasible in this district says a lot about how unrealistic your notions are--yeah, we're supposed to find someone who's qualified to teach U.S. history in Mandarin. You're revealing your own issues with assimilation here--the vast majority of Americans work, write and speak English. Your fluency in English needs to be greater in English than any other language. Even Spanish, which is widely spoken, is a distant second.

    We're not a bilingual country. We will never be bilingual in English/Mandarin. It turns out that we're not even becoming a bilingual English/Spanish country.

    In other words, your kids' English matters a lot more than their Mandarin. Nobody, but you and your family, gives a damn what your kids' Mandarin's like. It's going to be noted by every employer and college, though, if their English is poor. (And, again, the Canadian studies are relevant because they actually study long-term immersion programs. We don't really have those kind of programs--again your misunderstanding here is sad.)

    Ohlone had many more applicants for its kindergarten spots than did the Mandarin program. Since Ohlone was already approved for program expansion (and the three modulars which were approved before MI was approved), yes, MI bumped those families. Ohlone has a large waitlist. MI made sure that it won't shortened any time soon.

    But, see, that's part of your problem--you can't even admit the obvious--and that one's real obvious. It would be one thing if you could admit the obvious and then, say, defend the decision. That would show some sort of intellectual integrity, but instead we've got denial of the obvious.

    Elementary, isn't it?

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 9:32 pm


    Wow, a lot of typing, but you never managed to lay out a significant difference between Ohlone and immersion programs. It's simply inconsistent for you to be pro Ohlone and anti immersion.

    (I'm not sure why you think one of the main reasons for immersion is to attract enrollment--that's simply wrong. They are entirely unrelated issues.)

    As for expansion, Ohlone has expanded--thanks to MI. I'm not sure why you are unhappy. It is what you say you wanted.

    I do have to point out that core subjects are done in a foreign language here, even in high school. Every immersion program that continues into high school does this. You don't seem to be up to date on the subject.

    I entirely agree with you that foreign language is unimportant--to you. For others, it is important, not matter how loudly you shout at them that you don't value foreign languages. I'm not sure why you jump to the conclusion that immersion kids have poor English. Studies show them equaling or outperforming their monolingual peers in English. This is the result of immersion.

    Interesting how you have shifted to haranguing MI supporters for not assimilating. It's been clear all along that you don't like Chinese people. I wonder why.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:07 pm


    The differences are quite clear. Ohlone--open to transfers in later grades with no foreign language proficiency requirement.

    Ohlone--instituted at a time when there was no shortage of space, but a lack of students.

    Ohlone--same curriculum, different approach. Immersion--extra subject being offered to a small number of kids while being denied to everyone else.

    Ohlone--truly cost-neutral. Immersion--requires special equipment, teachers and materials.

    MI is not an expansion that did anything to alleviate the Ohlone waitlist. Two separate lotteries were held. It's a trial program for three years. So, no, not an expansion of Ohlone, but a delay.

    *If* Ohlone had been expanded, it would have been possible to offer space to kids in higher grades--a 2/3 class, for example. Which would have alleviated the current waitlist.

    Why on earth are you equating "MI supporter" with Chinese? If it's a program intended for only Chinese kids, then it has *no* place in a public-school curriculum. (Though that's another difference, then, between Ohlone and MI--there's nothing about it that favors one ethnic group, by requiring native speakers of a particular language. So, yeah, Ohlone's not innately discriminatory. MI is.)

    My comments about assimilation are directed at *you*--you have obvious issues around this--which has a lot to do with your irrational defense of MI and inability to see why it's not wanted by the majority of the district.

    My point isn't that foreign languages aren't important to me, personally, but that they're unimportant for functioning in the United States, while English is mandatory.

    Like I said, you've got real issues about this. I mean you can't claim MI kids outperform their peers at college level because--guess what?--there are no such kids. And when there will be in a couple of years, the numbers will be too small to be meaningful.

    I mean, if those three kids still studying Chinese at Potomac get into good colleges, what does that really say? Particularly, if 17 other kids dropped out?

    But Elementary, you *always* make these kind of mistakes. You parrot a party line without knowing anything that's not on PACE's talking points. You didn't even know what Lindholm-Leary's work actually said.

    So, ready to mutate yet? Or are we going to see you decompensate first?

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 3, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    The distinctions you make are irrelevant to the question of whether choice programs are fair. (Except cost-neutrality--that would be relevant, but the notion that there is a difference there is just a figment of your imagination.)

    "Why on earth are you equating "MI supporter" with Chinese?" That's your assumption, not mine, as is your obsession with Chinese and assimilation. But you skirt the real issue, which is what your problem with Chinese people is. I wonder.

    You are once again all over the map, and that fact is revealing: you don't have any rational arguments to make, just an ax to grind. The bottom line is that we now have a new immersion program based on proven academic models that addresses an acknowledged academic need in our community. The program is cost neutral, and in fact has graciously contributed to the wider community. The program is widely supported, though there are a few vocal dissenters (at least one, anyway) here.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 12:46 am


    Sorry, we've already seen you attempt the proclamation in lieu of evidence or logic before.

    No, dude, you made the assumption. I'm just having fun calling you on it. You're so completely desperate to make this about race--as long as you can attack MI opponents that way. When I flip it and point out that if MI equals catering to those of Chinese ancestry, the program's discriminatory, you go running.

    "Proven academic models"--nah, don't you remember your previous alter ego "Elementary" being unable to come up with one example of where project-based learning was used in Mandarin immersion. Heck, with any immersion?

    But that's par for the course for you--you know zip about the history of immersion in this country. Your Elementary persona really made a fool of itself on the whole Hispanic immersion thing. That was bad, dude. But, then, given what you've said here, the last thing you'd want to recognize is that the immersion programs developed in this country are about assimilating ESL kids--yep, making lots of little all-Americans.

    Your "need" should be met by the private sector because your kid speaking Mandarin is irrelevant to the community at large. You really, really don't seem to get how little your personal "need" matters to the rest of us.

    Welcome to America.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 10:40 am


    You seem very rattled by the points I made, but simply asserting the contrary isn't winning you any advantage.

    I understand that you oppose MI, but you haven't given any reasons for your opposition and you seem entirely unfamiliar with what immersion is.

    No matter. Soon our newest program will arrive, and this debate will be moot. It expands the Ohlone program, addresses community educational needs, and contributes to the wider community. Given the excellence of our district, this new program will no doubt graduate kids excelling in Chinese and English, in keeping with the widely accepted research on these well-established programs.

    The most disturbing aspect of this discussion is your problem with Chinese kids in our schools. You don't want them in MI, you claim they won't assimilate, and now you say Chinese(-Americans) are un-American. Since you brought up race, perhaps you'd care to reflect on your comments. You would have been welcomed by the losing side in the civil rights movement. And by other groups even less savory.

    Posted by Smiley face
    a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I'm beginning to read this thread just to read your comments. It's getting more comical by the minute. You seem to be grasping at straws: now it's back to the race card. It reminds me of little kids saying "I know I am, but what are you" when they have no real substantive comeback in a debate/argument. No real substance to back up your claims, despite many requests. Keep up the comedy; at this point it's sort of amusing, even though I realize that it's not your intention, but I think it's edging towards tiresome.
    I don't think you can make the watchdogs go away, no matter how much you may wish to be left alone to run your own agenda.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 11:53 am


    You made points? Where?

    Anyone catch a point made by Correction/Elementary?

    Really, we need to capture that once-in-a-lifetime Kodak moment.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Smiley Face,

    Yeah, Correction's pretty funny. It always tries to play the race card--it's a way of trying to wiggle out of the argument by invalidating the opponent.

    Unfortunately, it kind of sucks at the whole identity-politics thing--I mean when you equate Hispanic immigrants with illegal immigrants . . . ugh, faux-pas time.

    Posted by Bill
    a resident of Palo Verde
    on Jul 4, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Good points here, I think, about the value, cost, and fairness of immersion programs. I get the feeling that it is a mighty complex issue, that the Charter School way of handling it was appropriate for a public school district overflowing with kids. Now there is a statement that an intelligent MI opponent does not "like Chinese people." {"Correction," 24 hours ago} Re-reading this blog, I can't find the basis for that. I'm going to assume that it merely represents frustration for being unable to counter arguments against immersion by strong
    counter-arguments. To me, it vastly minimizes whatever force "Correction" was displaying up to that point.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 10:04 am


    Ohlonepar said:

    -MI supporters have their "own issues with assimilation here." That is, Chinese (Chinese-Americans) don't assimilate and are problematic.

    -This "assimilation" issue (that MI supporters purportedly have) means that these unassimilated MI supporters are "irrational" and against the "majority." That is Chinese people are crazy and against non-Chinese.

    -"If it's a program intended only for Chinese kids..." Insinuates the program is only for Chinese and equates MI supporters with Chinese.

    -The educational needs of these unassimilated MI proponents are "irrelevant to the community at large.... Welcome to America." That is, the needs of Chinese are unimportant to those who are not of the same race, and America (in Ohlonepar's twisted utopia) insists that the Chinese conform. The implication is that they are un-American.

    Bill, if you don't see that this is racist, you don't understand racism.

    Note that Ohlonepar raised the issue, not I. She has a consistent history of making derogatory comments about Chinese on these boards. Although she narrowly skirts overtly racist comments, employing euphemism and innuendo, her meaning is clear: She doesn't like Chinese and she hopes to rally opposition to MI based on her assumption that only people of Chinese origin will benefit. So, Bill, read up in this thread more carefully and tell me again that Ohlonepar doesn't dislike Chinese.

    Race doesn't belong in this debate, and we owe it to ourselves as a community to call the people on their racist comments, even if they cloak them in semi-PC language.

    Posted by Don't Feed 'Em
    a resident of Barron Park
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Correction = Elementary = Troll. Don't feed 'em.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 10:48 am

    So many posts, I lost my question above about SI graduates, so I will ask it again.

    Now that we have at least one year of SI high school graduates, how many of the original SI kindergarten class graduated each year and what colleges did they go to? Also, did they plan to follow through and study Spanish or Spanish related majors?

    I think these are really relevant questions to ask since we are told that they do better than their English only counterparts.

    Posted by fd
    a resident of Crescent Park
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 11:22 am

    You missed out part of your question: "and what happened to those that dropped out?"

    Posted by Bill
    a resident of Palo Verde
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    "Correction," your assumption that pro-MI means Chinese, is not correct. Examine the facts there. So to be anti-MI is not to be anti-Chinese. Maybe anti -MI is just shorthand for being anti-new-disruptive-choice program in the PAUSD at a time of crushing student growth, with a shortage of space and facilities for that growth. Temporarily handled by modulars and driving kids to school in distant neighborhoods. Further impaired by leasing out Garland for about 3 years too long.
    Maybe it would be logical to re-examine whether MI or SI logistics are any longer helpful to a smooth running PAUSD. Maybe even choice programs should all be done away with, and that would include Hoover and Ohlone, so far as entire schools are so dedicated.
    But surely we don't need to raise images of racial dislike to rebut opponents.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Downtown North
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm


    Bill's right, this is not about race, it is about VALUE and COST and FAIRNESS of the immersion programs.

    You apparently don't know this parent community very well.

    you are the only one that brings up race,

    you are out of arguments

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Poor Correction,

    Honey, you attempted to bait me with the race issue. In doing so, you revealed your own issues. You make MI about being Chinese--thus your "need" for Mandarin even though there's no shown public need for Mandarin immersion here. Very different from Spanish immersion--we do have a lot of Spanish-speaking kids in this state who need to learn English to function in our society and short-term immersion is an effective way to teach them--as long as there are enough English speakes. Otherwise you get the situation of SI in Mountain View where the Spanish-speaking kids aren't learning enough English.

    Bill, thank you, you summarize the issue well. My own feeling is that the two whole school choice programs help manage the population issues at the neighborhood schools in that you get some parents choosing to give up their spot at an overenrolled school. (Somebody who really wants their kids at Duveneck gets my kids' spots.) This was also the case with SI, but because it's a shared space, the double-strand is now limiting neighborhood growth at Escondido.

    I think it became a particular nasty program as Escondido when the board expanded SI, but gave priority in that extra class to families in the overenrolled north cluster. So a real double whammy at that point--school space taken up with a boutique program where priority is given specifically to families who do not live in the neighborhood.

    MI/Ohlone is a three-year trial--at which point, the school would have to be approved as a megaschool with well over 500 kids. Correction/Elementary can't seem to get through its thick head that gigantic elementaries are a negative for *all* the kids.

    Ohlone has limited street access on a narrow neighborhood street. It has one of the greater amounts of acreage (like Escondido), but its lack of street access makes it a poor choice for an oversized commuter school.

    Part of the reason, I keep making the points over and over (and why Correction/Elementary tries to get this stuff off-point) is that all of this is going to be up for discussion in a couple of years and I want to make sure that the rest of us aren't blindsided by the self-absorbed MIers.

    We don't need another Camille Townsend on the board. We don't need a board that doesn't know how to anticipate and deal with a charter threat. (I mean, how could you not see that one coming?)

    Personally, I think the MI trial should go one of two ways in a couple of years--it should be shut down or converted to an afterschool program a la Yew Cheung that's open to everyone in the district. Or it could be moved to the half of the school being vacated by the JCC in 2010. MI could co-exist with Young Fives and Preschool Family on property already owned by the district and well placed for a commuter school.

    My guess is that PACE will fight for half of Garland. But I think the neighborhood should get its own school--one that doesn't involve crossing Embarcadero or Middlefield.

    This should also cut down on SI being used as a north cluster shunt, so that families actually living in the Escondido draw area actually had a chance of getting into their own boutique problem. (And if there's any school that should have put in FLES for its other strands as a matter of course it's Escondido. How can Escondido families not resent the SI situation? And now that I've seen SIPAPA's newsletters, I'm apalled at its arrogance--not that of all SI parents, I know some really nice one. But SIPAPA seems to be a fiefdom.)


    Interesting question, betcha no one has ever collected the information. I suppose we could look at the most honored students from Gunn and Paly for the last couple of years and see if an unusually high percentage of them went through SI. It wouldn't be scientific, but it would a start. Hmmm, we could actually start looking at National Merit scholars from Gunn and Paly for, say, the past five years and see what percentage of them were Escondido/SI grads. The names are always published and it would be a consistent measure.

    We already know that there's zip data on MI grads because they don't exist yet--so that's Correction/Elementary's fantasy.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Ohlone Par

    I have a friend who is a a Spanish immersion teacher in LA, and this is what she explains

    Immersion for Hispanics allows them to learn English in an "identify safe" environment, where their language is valued and preserved. If the purpose was to only to help them learn English, ESL works fine, as they are naturally "immersed" in an all English school, and they get the ESL help. Given a choice, with a great program like SI, a lot of Hispanic families would be interested in learning in both English and Spanish.

    Bottom line, it appears that the rationale for immersion programs for immigrants is now trendily being promoted by parents groups like PACE and SIPAPA to simply teach gringo kids a second language.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm


    Read more carefully: Not my assumption. That was Ohlonepar's. It is possible to be anti-MI without being anti-Chinese, and it is a lesson she ought to learn. It seems obvious she has failed to raise any reasonable objection, so she resorts to talking about race.


    Boy, you were kind of spitting there, sweetie; easy does it. In the end, you can't slither away. Those are your racist remarks above, so own them. (You slipped up again in saying only Chinese could have a need for Mandarin. Thanks for the chuckle. You just can't quite stick to your own party line.)

    Hm, you trot out the same tired arguments that reveal your ignorance of what immersion is all about. They didn't carry weight before and they still don't. Feel free, but the debate is over, and our newest choice program will join the roster. It expands Ohlone, addresses community educational needs, and contributes to other district programs.

    Everyone else has moved on. I suppose you'll figure it out one day....

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm


    Still having issues, are you? My comments are directed to *you*--the individual. You have major issues.

    Everyone has "moved on", hmmm? But here you are ranting on illogically over and over and over. You obviously haven't moved on anywhere.

    Since these are heavily read threads with many participants, I'd say it's pretty obvious that this is a hot issue. In fact, I'd say it's a case of PACE winning the battle, but likely losing the war.

    MI has no permanent home. We both know that. It's up for the vote in a couple of years and it may very well go down. It has lost support on the board and it no longer has a superintendent pushing for it. So, since I don't think Ohlone should be pushed into a 500-plus kid school or try to manage multiple programs, I have every reason to keep posting here.

    Your own behavior serves my purpose by the way. You're a good illustration of what's wrong with the attitude of some of MI's backers. You can't acknowledge that there are legitimate concerns and objections to the program. Nope, you run right to the race card and how we should be grateful for having the program forced upon us.

    You can't even acknowledge that Ohlone isn't meeting the demand for its existing program and that MI's institution stands in the way of its doing so.

    I mean it's so painfully obvious and you can't admit it. You can't even admit that the first public MI program in the country has had sever problems.

    You can't even admit the raison d'etre of immersion programs in this country.

    And, thus, you are an example of how close-minded and self-absorbed MI supporters have been.

    And how unpersuasive you are to non-MIers that your cause is a good one for all of us.

    It is kind of fun to set you spinning though.

    Posted by Correction
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    Ah, the old "race card" ruse, so long since you've used it. When called on racist statements, you cry "race card"! That move itself is racist. The best you can do when pinned with all those quotes, I suppose.... I would guess that is why your posts are becoming a so agitated.

    Instead of making personal attacks and engaging in pure propaganda, you'd do better to come up with some rational reasons why you think as you do. Perhaps then, your fears could be allayed or addressed. As far as anyone can tell, your objections are based on a misunderstanding of what immersion is and on your wild projections of school populations years down the road.

    In the meantime, under your nose, the program is arriving. It expands the Ohlone program and will become another jewel in our district. The parents will continue to contribute to the community.

    Others have moved on.... I'm sure you'll keep making these strange, angry posts, but in a few years your kids will leave Ohlone and you will move on, too. I hope you don't then waste your time on another angry, belligerent cause.

    Posted by couldn't resist
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    You know there are lots of school districts that don't fund direct instruction, open eduction, Spanish Immersion, etc.

    And yet you're here.

    You know, Palo Alto isn't a spectacularly beautiful place. The lots are small, the architecture ranges all over the map. We're not a cultural center like New York or a foodie haven like San Francisco.

    But a lot of us have worked very hard to live here. Yeah, you can say it's the extras--but Mountain View's libraries are better, Los Gatos Park's are just as good and even better.

    So why are we here? I know I'm here, in part, because Palo Alto has had a tradition of going that extra mile in creating programs and places that benefit the community. Yeah, we don't *need* a Mandarin Immersion, but man, it's nice to have it--and, for some parents, it is what they need.

    We don't *need* an "Open Eduction" option. We don't *need* "Direct Instruction" or our myriad of other educational choices. We don't need city summer camps or an interpretative center at the Baylands. We don't *need* the fields at Cubberly. We don't *need* Winter Lodge. We don't *need* our funny little museum at the cultural center.

    But all of these things make Palo Alto an exceptionally nice place to live--even, like Mandarin Immersion, the educational options I've never used and never will use.

    Yeah, we pay more for living in a place that provides these extras. If you really don't want to pay that extra, you really can move a town or two over and not pay for it--nice houses, good schools--there may be no downtown, let alone a bunch of stuff just for the kids--but you won't have to worry about paying for it.

    Remember, you'll even be able to sell your house at a premium because some family's going to want what you don't.

    Posted by Also an Ohlone parent
    a resident of Ohlone School
    on Jul 5, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I see the Ohlone MI program as an expansion of the Ohlone program, sorry that OhlonePar insists on separating the groups.

    The school was rationally decided to expand since it has space. Whether it's students learning Mandarin, they are all learning the Ohlone Way in the Ohlone environment.

    OhlonePar isn't supportive of the Ohlone inclusive core value - too bad - and doesn't represent the Ohlone community, most of whom support the new program.

    Sorry, OhlonePar is so off the top.

    Posted by Yet another parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 12:58 am

    couldn't resist,

    "You know, Palo Alto isn't a spectacularly beautiful place."

    You have it all backwards, Palo Alto IS a spectacularly beautiful place!

    equating MI with Winter Lodge?

    Also and Ohlone parent,

    with Ohlone and Mandarin, you have a situation with practically nothing in common with the rest of the schools, I can see why what anyone else thinks would not matter to you

    Posted by couldn't resist
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Yet another parent, you need to read the forums more: Web Link

    Posted by Also an Ohlone parent
    a resident of Ohlone School
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 8:30 am


    Ohlone is a unique school, I don't expect to compare it to other schools. Why do you? You are not of the Ohlone community, so I don't expect you to understand our sense of community. Our core values, if you are interested are here:

    Web Link

    OhlonePar needs to reread these values, too.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Couldn't Resist,

    Ah, but you see here's the difference--MI takes limited resources and benefits a tiny set of students but not the others. In fact, it encroaches. Also, public school systems have a mission to be equitable, this program violates that. DI and Ohlone don't in that they offer the same curriculum as the other schools, but with different approaches.

    But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so thank you. And, I've always been in favor of summer-immersion programs open to all kids, which is more comparable to the children's theatre situation.

    To be clear, I have no problem with families who want their kids to learn Mandarin--but I don't think it's a suitable program to be offerec by the public schools. We have numerous programs right around here where kids can learn Chinese of various sorts. It is probably the least expensive language to learn--with the Saturday morning schools.

    Also an Ohlone,

    You're funny. *I'm* not in school and I aced the little essay, so I'll put my understanding of core values up against yours any time.

    Fact is, project-based learning for immersion has been discouraged because project-based learning means kids work in teams and tend to use their first language. Immersion benefits from top-down instruction. Mandarin, even in China, demands heavy rote memorization as well.

    So how does it fit with Ohlone's core values that we will have one small group of kids get intensive second-language training while other kids will have nothing besides a one-hour a week afterschool program?

    How does that work as an integrated, cohesive whole? How does cross-pollination work when that special class is supposed to spend 80 percent of its time speaking another language?

    How does an immersion program work in an environment stressing integration of the community when immersion is *most* effective when kids are *isolated* from kids not in the program?

    Sorry, I don't buy your line. I've never seen anything in the Ohlone core values that forbids telling it like it is.

    And, of course, you can compare Ohlone to other schools. It's a public school that's kind of the point.

    I've heard Susan Charles speak several times at board meetings. One of the things she's emphasized over and over is Ohlone's connection to the *rest* of the district. We don't exist in a vaccuum and you're showing a basic lack of respect for the rest of the schools, which *also* have their communities and ways of doing things.

    In other words, choice programs should bring a clear value to the district as a whole--Hoover offers an academically challenging environment desired by many. Ohlone is a laid-back counter. The neighborhood schools can and do look at the two ends of the spectrum and incorporate facets as it suits them. Nixon, for example, dropped homework in kindegarten. I think Ohlone's no-homework policy makes it easier for Nixon to institute a no-homework-in-K policy. They did it at Ohlone and the world didn't fall apart.

    So Charles argued that MI could be the start of language programs at all the schools. Given the lack of interest in that and the space, financial considerations, that's not happening.

    In other words, when she made her arguments to the board, she was well aware that Escondido had been shortchanged by SI.

    Ergo, I don't see a district OR Ohlone benefit to MI. I think the program should have been either scrapped or held off until 2010 when the district would have more classroom space at Greenfell and Garland.

    Susan Charles has always been very careful to treat the other programs and schools with respect. I suggest you do the same.

    I told you earlier that if you wanted to persuade me of the error of my ways, I'd listen. But you're not doing that. I've given you several of my quite-specific objections to MI at Ohlone. Telling me that I'm not conforming to *your* idea of an Ohlone parent isn't persuasive. It comes off as weirdly authoritarian. Which is kind of funny.


    The threads are read, I've seen points and facts I've made used by other people and give them something to think about. So, yep, I'll be posting here.

    Posted by couldn't resist
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Unfortunately the CT isn't available to every child. I agree every child has a chance but there are only limited places available. Sounds a bit like a choice program.

    That Palo Alto offers varied choice programs is part of what Palo Alto is. You may disagree with it in the same way that others disagree that we should fund the CT. However, in both cases, Palo Alto is going above and beyond supplying the basic level of services. You may feel it is taking away valuable resources but that's the way it is.

    To be honest, I'd never place my child in an experimental program but other parents are more gung-ho with their children. Or maybe more naive.

    Really, I was simply surprised to see you using such an emotional argument on the other thread, which could equally be applied to any choice program and/or extras some schools get (think of the farm).

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Couldn't Resist,

    Obviously, I don't oppose the existence of choice programs, but I think there needs to be balance. MI doesn't meet my criteria--it overcrowds one school and makes it impossible to expand the existing program for which there is unmet demand.

    I also think that the choice programs should add value to the district as a whole. I don't think MI does that. I think Hoover and Ohlone do. Both came in when there was a surplus of classroom space and magnet programs were helpful. Hoover offers steller scores and a competitive environment. Ohlone offers a place for differentiated instruction. Both serve as models for the neighborhood schools to use or not use--which they do.

    SI could have done this, but has been relatively self-absorbed. I think the rest of Escondido should have had some sort of FLES.

    MI is the wrong program at the wrong time in the wrong place. I can think of situations where MI would be beneficial. MI/Ohlone isn't one.

    As for the Farm, not a dime comes from the district. The Farm raises all of its budget--the Harvest Day is its biggest fundraiser, the weekly Everything Shop is its second fundraiser--and includes food raised on the Farm. Parents provide the labor--and there's a lot of it. The Farm falls much more into the nonprofit category if you want a comparison. It even has its own council. Basically, it's run by parents for the benefit of the school.

    I've always thought the resentment the Farm sometimes gets as kind of funny. It's a little school farm, but it's a farm and requires things like mucking out the stalls. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment. When that goes, so will the Farm.

    Given the recent emphasis on food supply and eating locally, I'd love to see the other schools at least get some garden/chicken coops going.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Professorville
    on Jul 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Not all are into CT, or farms, or direct instruction, these choice programs are truly unique, and speak to very specific "needs" and interests. And they actually meet the needs of most of the families that are interested.

    In contrast - relative to the amount of families that want their kids to learn a foreign language - SI and MI are so exclusionary for so many reasons, that they can't possibly be compared to the other choice programs.

    Putting the "oh, let's be accepting of everything" mentality apparently got MI off the ground, but it does not make it a very good choice program

    Posted by was for, now against, all choice programs
    a resident of Midtown
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 7:20 am

    I supported SI because at the time I supported teaching as many kids from poor Spanish speaking families in Dual Immersion programs as possible, based on the data that showed that those kids did much better in HS and were more likely to go on to post HS education. I thought it was a happy side benefit that English speaking kids got to learn a second language also. I also believed the claptrap that it would expand to meet the "need" ( desire, let's be honest here), and frankly hoped my kids would be able to benefit. ( Dual language family, here, but English primary).

    I supported Ohlone and Hoover because I thought it was a good idea to have programs that teach with different styles for different kids. I actually naively believed that they would be used for kids who actually learned better in certain situations.

    What a bunch of bull. The years rolled by, the lottery was instituted, the program didn't grow until just a couple years ago, and then only by 1/2 thread, the odds of English speaking families getting in ever decreased. Including mine.

    And then, it turned out that my kid really needed a certain teaching style, but it was too crowded by the time we figured out that he was in dire need, so we still had to find a private school for him that would be able to help him grow.

    Ok, call it anger. Call it growing up. Call it getting kicked. But here I was, supporting with taxes and words programs that I BELIEVED in, BELIEVED were equitably open to any and all kids and families, therefore suited to what I used to believe was the basis of a public education...and learning how wrong I was on a very personal basis.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    I am now completely and firmly against starting any more such programs. The basis of the deal was good, but the execution lost my trust.

    IN ADDITION, I see now that across this State, and even in some other parts of the country, the original bases for Dual Immersion has been perverted. Language immmersion for the sake of language immersion, with no goals by the originators other than to improve the basis of heritage language for heritage reasons, ( Mandarin, Arabic, German, are the 3 that come to mind), is one base. The second base is because it would be a cool thing to do, to use your crystal ball and predict which language is the language of the future, and proudly state your child is bilingual ( until 80% of the kids drop the language in HS, never to go back to it again).

    Don't you guys see how this has, like so many "good ideas", been completely inverted? Instead of dollars used for the good of all, we have dollars used for a few. All that energy and money spent on a new MI program, and is there yet a full language program even for the 6th grade in our district? It is a shame that we have no ability for ALL 6th graders to start a language, but now we have 2 programs for a lucky few to start languages in kindergarten.

    And yet, so many people were afraid to speak up for fear of being called "racist"! And, suddenly there is a new program shoved down our throats. Oh My God! I saw at last how the freedom of speech erodes, and our basic equity of opportunity then erodes. Watch out people!

    The abuse of the system has turned me into someone who no longer supports ANY choice programs, even those that promise to not displace neighborhood students and grow to be open to all who want it. Because those promises will be broken.

    I will be firmly against "choice" programs of any type in the future. And in particular against any more programs which have no ability at all to transfer students in and out of the program as the numbers shift ( such as language programs, regardless of language, for those of you ready and waiting to cry "racist")

    Posted by couldn't resist
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 7:43 am

    "Not all are into CT, or farms, or direct instruction, these choice programs are truly unique, and speak to very specific "needs" and interests. And they actually meet the needs of most of the families that are interested."

    Actually, they don't or there wouldn't be waiting lists and disappointed children. I would also counter that MI does speak to very specific "needs" and interests.

    You're welcome to your opinion but I wouldn't want to drop all choice programs/activities because not everyone agreed with them. Remember, even before MI, there was the whole choice vs. neighborhood schools debate.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 1:02 pm


    There's a critical difference between the immersion programs and the other choice programs (and CT, for that matter). The immersion programs require second-language proficiency for any children entering the program in later grades.

    There are a lot of families who transfer their kids into Ohlone in the later grades. Only in rare situations can you do this with SI. Immersion programs are intrinsically exclusive in the way the other programs are not. (As for CT, you can take a class even if you don't get into a show. You can audition again if you don't get picked for the first show. So it is, in fact, open in a way the lottery programs are not.)

    Immersion problems also, obviously, have a huge equity issue. If languages are that valuable why are we offering nada to other elementary school kids? Was for has it exacly right when s/he points out the rationale for immersion programs in public schools has been completely subverted. It's not about bringing ESL kids into the mainstream, but about a boutique perk.

    I am *fine* with kids learning Mandarin. There are several affordable programs around here that do just that. I'm not fine with a program that offers a lot to a few in a public school. Particularly as it means that we can't expand the most popular choice program in the district at its own location.

    There were better ways to have done this--i.e. offered second-language instruction. This is divisive and counterproductive to the district as a whole.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I'd argue that MI won't speak to the very specific needs of anyone. some will need it to teach their fluent native mandarin speakers in mandarin, and in english - to maintain their heritage language AND ALSo to get them up to grade level speed in English. Those children will not come - their parents see that what they need most for success in school in the US is English immersion. And for them, the pace of the Mandarin language will be inadequate.

    Some need it to teach their native fluent english speakers mandarin -they will come, but those kids are going to be learning an elementary level of Mandarin in an "ohlone" cooperative approach that won't work, and will get a stunted pace of English language arts, and will not be able to self-maintain at home (because Mandarin not spoken at home), and will not have an extension of mandarin offered to them for FREE (a big part of the 'need' equation), when it comes time for secondary school. So their Mandarin will go by the wayside as a natural outcome of living and going to school in a predominanty english speaking world.

    Yet some others need it to feather their caps, so they can be different, and faddish, and trendy. It will not meet their needs because they don't understand and embrace the personal committment (their nanny's might not work out, etc), and will soon be alarmed by the pace, structure, and trajectory of their own child's progress. They will not be keepign up with the Jone's as it comes to 'STAR' testing and other standardized measure of progress and this will soon alarm them. These will be the vocal parents that really start to pressure the district for results (and will probably get drummed out of the program by the avid immersion supporters crowd.)

    I really have a hard time envisioning the constituency who's needs WILL be met by PAUSD in this program.

    Although, perhaps there is that special number of parents out there who are willing to send little jimmy and little jane to school, and let their education wash over them peacefully and without a care in the world, and absorb whatever may come their way, like little sponges drifting in the tidepool. And whatever doesn't come their way - no big deal... Yes, perhaps for those parents, this will serve their needs. I didn't know we had any of those in Palo Alto.

    Posted by Yosssarian
    a resident of Old Palo Alto
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    All choice programs have an equity issue in that not every family that wants in gets in. This is true for SI, Hoover, MI and Ohlone.

    It seems to me better to meet the needs of some than meet the needs of none, so I am for continuing these programs. I would also like to see a comparison of how oversubscribed each of these programs is. If there are long waiting lists, it would make sense to consider expanding these programs.

    There is a lot of special pleading going on in favor of Ohlone on this board, but it remains true that all of these programs deny entrance to some families. Whether or not families can get in at later stages is a red herring--simply irrelevant, a ruse to distract from the fact that all programs are in the same boat.

    It is also irrelevant to this discussion whether other kids have non-immersion language instruction. It is an entirely separate topic. (It would make as little sense to demand that Ohlone be closed since the neighborhood schools don't differentiate as much.)

    The rationale for bilingual dual immersion has nothing to do with brining ESL kids into the mainstream. That is a misconception.

    Families flock to these programs when they are set up despite the nay-saying here. They have done their research and set their priorities. For some families, it cements English; for others, it teaches the target language. These programs meet their needs all around the country.

    Posted by parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    was for, now against, all choice programs,

    you've expressed how many of us feel, what comes to mind is the BOE, THEY should be looking out for voices like yours/ours. The BOE, and anyone that has worked on immersion programs, including the parents, will just keep trying to spin

    we can only hope that in their tireless efforts to spin this, our valuable district resources won't continue to be distracted, and fail yet again to make smarter decisions, the immersion blinders need to come off

    Mandarin of course was never the issue, and racism is really only brought up by those who spin,

    couldn't resist,

    did you miss the post from "was for, now against, all choice programs",

    in your efforts to spin?

    Posted by couldn't resist
    a resident of Adobe-Meadow
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Parent, not trying to spin anything. Just needling OP for his/her post on the CT thread. Obviously s/he can see a subtle distinction but there is inequity in both. Sure not as severe as with MI but it still exists.

    I've got no skin in the game either way so I'll leave it at that :->

    Posted by Also Ohlone
    a resident of Ohlone School
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Also an Ohlone parent,

    Ohlonepar has you mixed up with me. I said something similar (to your comment) on another thread to Ohlonepar--and here she is doing the same thing again. In her comments, she is eager to create a division within the program. There is one like her at every school.

    She is a known quantity. Ask around families you know and be prepared for eyerolling. Her identity is no secret, so apparently she's not ashamed of her posts here.

    Posted by to the eye rollers
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Also Ohlone, the "eye roller"

    I'm not in the know with the Ohlone community, but as an outsider, I don't find Ohlone Par's posts something to be ashamed of. And the "eye rolling" that you engage in with other parents is actually pretty mean. Does Susan Charles allow you to do that? Or does she "eye roll" with you?

    Getting into a topic is what these posts are about, we argue, debate, challenge. If you are not up to it, with any meaningful arguments, move on.

    No confusing you with couldn't resist, at least he/she admits to "needling" Ohlone Par, that's very different from eye rolling. Eye rolling and the threatening tone saying that her "identity is no secret," ?

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Ohlone Also,

    This is getting funnier by the second.

    I can pretty much assure you that you don't know who I am. I like it that way because I hear more. It's why I know people on both sides of the debate.

    But let's make it easy--describe something physical about me.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 7, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    to the eye rollers,

    I get what Couldn't Resist is saying and understand the point being made. I don't agree, but it's a reasonable point.

    But this sudden emergence of two Ohlone parents with identical attitudes--well, curious to say the least. I remember the last time that it happened, it became pretty clear that the Ohlone parent was actually an MIer.

    Not saying that this is the case here, but I wonder. The emphasis on conformity and public shame is weird. Which isn't to say that there aren't Ohlone parents like that, but I don't hang around with them.

    What we can gather from this, I think, is that there is an Ohlone parent who doesn't like the MI program coming in and has been very vocal about it.

    That would not, in fact, be me--though I know several who feel very strongly about it.

    Of course, if you really knew who I was you'd know exactly why I'd consider it my responsibility to speak up.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Hmmm, 24 hours and no response.

    Okay, I think the two Ohlone parents are trolls, possibly from the MI camp.

    Which would make the weird emphasis on conformity and keeping quiet make more sense. It just isn't how the real Ohlone parents I know operate.

    It is very much, however, in keeping with PACE--remember the weird demands in its letter to the board about the conditions under which it would drop the charter? How the board was supposed to sound happy about it?

    Neither Ohlone "parent" showed any inside knowledge of the school. It sounded more like they'd listened to an orientation from Susan Charles and were parroting bits of it.

    I suppose one could be somewhat dim Ohlone parent who never got the memo on fostering independent inquiry. She kind of makes Ohlone parents sound like one big sorority. And not in a good way.

    But I think the lack of direct answers combined with the whacky insinuations adds up to a bad bluff.

    Posted by Non-Ohlone
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:39 am

    As a parent in one of our regular elementary schools (I won't call them neighborhood as many of our kids can't get into their closest elementary school) I would like to generalize and say that from my perspective I have met many Ohlone families from outside school activities and they are among the nicest families you could meet. They are friendly, non-cliquey, and are among the first to volunteer to do the support tasks. I really enjoy their friendship and my kids getting to know them and becoming good friends with them.

    On the other hand, no disrespect, but I don't meet Hoover families from being involved in these activities, so I can't comment on what they are like apart from one family who are neighbors. Their kids are seldom seen playing outside their home and are driven everywhere they go to their tutoring sessions and anything else they do. The parents are pleasant neighbors, but since I never see them except for waving as they get into or out of their cars, I can't say I have experience of them.

    Perhaps those of you running Ohlone families down, should get to know them. And at the same time, if you are or know Hoover families, we should try to get to know them better too.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:51 am

    But OP, that's the same sense I got from the "SI Onlooker" response to the original SI at Jordan thread. It was a tsk tsk message reminder (or warning) to parents of SI to go through the SIPAPA organization for communications to the district, so they could basically control the spin, control the parents, control the relationship with the district. And then a 'heed this lesson' warning to MI program to hurry up and get the same control over their parents.

    I think the recurring theme here is that the district has fostered and basically forced an organizational system with their language programs where there is vacuum of leadership/administration, which creates a requirement for highly formed special interest organization, that operates not as a PTA but as a political arm twisting group that is the purse strings for the organization, a 'watchdog' for overseeing that their program goals are met, and sort of a parent control organization to keep everyone marching in the same direction. (Our way or the highway.) We saw it in the threat letter, we saw it on the SI Jordan thread, we see glimpses of this as we attempt to dig in to SI results. Cultish? Gangish? Unionish? Not sure, but it looks like a requirement for signing up with these programs is to get on board, be quiet, behave and get with the program.

    The PAUSD district is fostering it because they really don't support these programs as if they 'own' them. They don't fund anything incrementally as a matter of policy, they take a hands off approach to the goals of the program and to the development of the programs (evidence SI Jordan), they don't even ask for any accountability on the results, so they've basically said - go do this but leave us out of it. They've created a hungry pack like atmosphere of people with a common drive, that are fighting for their scraps.

    Unhealthy - but not unexpected given the parameters of the immersion program. I'm surprised the board agreed to set up the district to have another program and organization in place like this. At least in a charter school, the 'organization' would have been as expected but also would have required transparency, would have had accountability, would have had a clearer relationship with the district.

    Posted by Cast out the Beam!
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:58 am


    Perhaps your message about respecting Ohlone families would be stronger if you didn't simultaneously run down Hoover families. Our kids also go to a neighborhood school, but we know active, engaged Hoover families.

    (We also know great families from Ohlone.)

    Actually, all of you on this thread should first cast out the beam....

    Posted by Non Ohlone Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I was not trying to run down Hoover families. I explained that I only know one family and it is hard to judge a whole school on one family. I would dearly love to know more Hoover families, but I am not sure where to meet them. I am glad that Cast knows some great families. My point is just that I can't find them. I am glad that they are active and engaged and perhaps when I know them too I can value their friendship.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Non Ohlone, Thank you for your kind words. My real-life dealings with other Ohlone parents have generally been very pleasant.

    I've met several Hoover families, though I don't know them well. My general take on them is they're somewhat more serious and a bit more reserved than some of the other groups of parents. Which would go with why they're attracted to Hoover in the first place--education is a serious business.


    I think you're onto something here--the immersion programs are different in their genesis than Ohlone and Hoover--they've always had to share space and they don't seem to have ever been as integrated into the system like the other two alternatives. And that seems to have resulted in gung-ho parent groups trying to fill a power vaccuum.

    At Ohlone, it is very, very clear that Susan Charles is in charge. The program demands a strong administrator because it's not that easy to run (and Ohlone has had problems in the past). Even with all the family volunteering, the situation with SIPAPA--where they aggressively confronted a teacher and then supplied their own candidate to replace her is just alien. (The start of Ohlone also differs from SI/MI in that it had teachers on board from the get-go. We still have retired teachers from Ohlone's first days volunteering at the site. It's very much a teacher's community.)

    Some of the public opponents of MI/Ohlone hold high-profile volunteer positions at Ohlone. Susan Charles is not interested in alienating them--so this kind of primitive attempt to silence me isn't actually keeping with the dynamics I've observed at the school.

    Ohlone doesn't need me to be silent.

    But a situation where there's a program where there's inconsistent support from the district, where its continued existence is in question--well, then both the existence of a strong parent's group and pressure to present a united front would occur. Insecurity can breed an authoritarian attitude.

    And the immersion programs were set up to be insecure. At Escondido you have a have and have-nots situation visible every single day on campus. It's innately divisive. You get parents like John who are bitter and SI parents who are defensive.

    I'm not sure why the board was so appalled by the idea of a charter. Bullis, despite all the politics, didn't destroy the Los Altos school district. And even with the Basic Aid issue, it sounds like the charter might have been the most affordable option--particularly with Greenfell and Cubberly around (or locations elsewhere in the county).

    And for families that really want their kids fluent in Mandarin, an MI-only school works better. Main issue would be the diversity problem--but that would be the MIers problem.

    Posted by Move On
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    All these arguments were refuted before:

    If the immersion programs are unfair (lottery), then so are Hoover and Ohlone. Check.

    If the immersion programs "displace" neighborhood kids, then so do Hoover and Ohlone. Check.

    If it would be disruptive to dismantle Hoover and Ohlone, then it would be disruptive to dismantle the immersion programs. Check.

    The plain fact is that we now have four choice programs that fit into an overall district policy on choice programs. You may not like the policy, but it exists. You may not like the individual programs, but each meets an educational demand in the community. The district is not going to start shuffling programs around to suit someone's whim (though it may move MI to Garland or elsewhere depending on how big they want it to grow).

    And you have to be naive to imagine the district is going to axe any of these programs. (Yes, I know MI is still a "pilot," but it's hard to imagine any set of circumstances in which the program might be deemed not to be meeting goals.)

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Hmmmm, so let's see, call a couple of bluffs and our usual MIers disappear. Now we have yet another new/old name making proclamations.

    So, you have a crystal ball that can predict the future, eh?

    Until it happened, I wouldn't have imagined that Jordan would abruptly cancel its SI program.

    You really think Ohlone's going to grow to 500-plus students when there's a new school opening and space opening at Greenfell?

    This is all completely open--and yeah MI's a pilot--but it's not a pilot with district support. It's so politically unpopular that its chief proponent on the board left her big accomplishment out of her campaign literature.

    In fact, there are so many variables that I think it makes MIers nervous how often they get turned over and discussed here. You guys have been trying very, very hard to stop the conversation.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    That’s so cute – you can’t imagine ANY set of circumstances where they’d shut it down.. Let’s see if we can jog your imagination…

    Once upon a time there was a small group of rich and spoiled folks that wanted to start a Mandarin Immersion school, so they forced the school district in their town to give them a few classrooms and a few teachers and the help of a head strong principal to help them get started. The folks were very hopeful about their new school because they were sure they could find an unlimited number of people and government agencies to write checks for it. The problem was, they were demanding, and they actually wanted their little ones to keep up with the rest of the school district, even though their classroom days were spent speaking Mandarin.

    The parents started to get a little perturbed that their kids were not learning quite as much, quite as fast as what the other kids in the district were learning. These were all parents that were used to getting their way by stomping their feet, by calling the big wigs they knew, or by writing checks. They were pretty mad at the fearless leader of the group that kept demanding stuff from the stubborn principal, and kept writing checks, but who couldn’t seem to make those kids learn faster, and she wasn’t having any luck changing the principals mind on how to run her school.

    It seemed the more the parents and the leader complained, the madder and more stubborn the principal got. She was lukewarm to the idea in the first place, and very very protective of anything that might depart from her vision of how her school would run. She wasn’t about to let a little group of whining wailing parents push her around.

    So one day they went to the board of education. And what they found when they got there was one sympathetic ear, from a board member who alas had no influence remaining, and a few other board members who wanted everyone to make nice – they pretty much stood by their highly respected principal. And the other thing they found there was a superintendent who wanted no such thing as a noisy contingent of parents making life difficult for him. They thought if they escalated their threats and whining, eventually they could make life miserable enough for everyone that they’d get their way. What they didn’t count on was how emotionally draining and painful the politics would be on the teachers of their little program who were caught in the middle. Those teachers turned to their protector for support – who was The Stubborn Principal! And what do you think they did. They decided that the fastest way to wash their hands of the whole ugly mess was to quietly go about convincing the parents that their kids were suffering (one at a time, so the big mean fearless leader of the gang wouldn’t realize it). Or quit, which really put a damper on everyone's party. Finally, the parents began to catch on that their kids weren’t getting all that they could be getting if only they were in regular classrooms, and one by one they began to lose faith in the ‘fearless leader’ and her wacky ways, and they left.

    Finally, everyone got madder and madder at each other, and one day the board of education had a meeting and said, “You don’t have enough enrollment to justify your program” and they voted to shut it. The small group of parents that still really wanted to teach their kids Mandarin signed up for Saturday school. All the kids went to regular classrooms and eventually went on to become doctors, scientists, venture capitalists, and CEOs, even the ones who only spoke English! And everyone lived happily ever after.
    ~The End~

    Isn't this fun? I have a million more, but it brings up a fun idea. Maybe we could start an essay contest and see how many scenarios we could come up, to help out those poor folks who have their heads buried too far in the sand.

    Posted by Move On
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Sorry, I should have been more explicit. I meant on circumstances on this planet.

    Posted by another circumstance
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 9, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Once upon a time there was a mistake that was made in a school district, a group of parents convinced the board and superintendent that they needed a program. It turns out that nobody really needed that program. It was a fancy program, and worked like a charm, lots of people were really invested in it, but nobody really needed it. A new brave and smart board of education and superintendent decided, nobody needs this program, I'm sorry we need to cancel it.

    The End

    Posted by Ohlone parent and and MI supporter
    a resident of Ohlone School
    on Jul 10, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Hello OP,

    Remember, there are now about 80 new Ohlone parents who are MI supporters. So, don't be so set on separating them from the other Ohlone parents. We're all just trying to get along.

    It's interesting to see you blow your cool and admit that your purpose in life is to make MI fail, crash, and burn so that the pilot is discontinued in three years. But you're too ashamed to come out of the closet at Ohlone, preferring to do your job all under cover.

    There's something seriously wrong with this picture.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 10, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Aha, glad to see I was right--you're an MIer and your knowledge of the school is superficial.

    And, gee, come out of the closet? I thought it was supposed to be obvious who I was. Remember, you or one of your clones are supposed to be rolling your eyes. So much for that bluff.

    But anonymously complaining about my anonymity? Wow, talk about irony challenged.

    Well, this has been a nice demonstration of just what a clash the MIer culture is with the general Ohlone culture. I'm for open debate, you're for squelching and threatening anyone who disagrees with you. Typical MI bullying tactics.

    I'd be perfectly happy to see MI at Ohlone fail--I've never liked bullies and I think it's mashed-together program approved for the wrong reasons. (Like my opinion on this is news?) I'm fine with you guys having a charter somewhere or even a chunk of Greenfell. But if you're an example of a typical MI parent, you're really not my cup of tea. Fortunately, I know some would-be MIers who are nice people. Just hope they got in--but they're not PACErs. (Too nice.)

    Hmmm, what started this--oh yeah my description of how MIers are viewed as a group who needs to be managed and assimilated. Wounded your pride, I think--but your behavior online is a perfect example of some of the behavior issues.

    Are you really naive enough to think you're not seen as a potential problem that needs to be handled before you have a chance to be the sequel to SIPAPA? You have a lot to learn, I think--particularly about respecting the rights of others to express views you don't like.

    You're going to hold the minority view at Ohlone--80 parents, eh? Versus 500 in the regular strands? Seriously, are your really going to launch personal attacks on all those people who don't agree with you about MI? Are you really going to go up to other adults and demand that they adhere to your interpretation of the Ohlone Way? Are you going to sulk because other people don't love the idea of MI as much as you?

    I'm surprised you chose MI, given your intolerance for dissent.

    Posted by Also Ohlone
    a resident of Ohlone School
    on Jul 10, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Ohlone parent and and MI supporter,

    You didn't make clear if you are just an MI supporter whose kids already attend Ohlone or if you are an incoming MI family.

    In any case, we know many Ohlone families, and in our experience Ohlonepar is an outlier. Some families are neutral about MI, and others worry about change, but no one we know makes this kind of aggressive, deliberately divisive comment about the incoming MI families.

    I don't think the discussions here are productive or representative, so I'd suggest ignoring them. My best guess is that you will be welcomed in a friendly fashion.

    If you haven't met any Ohlone families yet, let me be the first to welcome you. It's a great community and quite diverse. I'm sure I'll see you around in the fall.

    Posted by Parent
    a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
    on Jul 10, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Really? Not realistic? Which part was unrealistic? I'm wounded.

    Was it the part about the administrators and staff that were resistant to parent pressure, and protective of their turf? Or was it the part about the demanding parents? Or the part about the kids not picking up on PAUSD regular curriculum as fast as the kids in regular PAUSD which made mumsy and daddykins mad? Or was it the part about the board's weak to lukewarm support for the program? Or was it the part about the Superintendent who's not going to bullied around like the last one? Or was it the part about the board cancelling for a reason like too high attrition? Or was it the part about checks not be able to fix everything? What part was it that you couldn't see happening on this planet?

    Oh you're right. On THIS planet the Ohlone community isn't married to its Ohlone way philosophy - they're super flexible about changing it to a direect instruction philosophy or any other changes that would help MI do its own thing. And the parents aren't demanding, heck they're downright laid back about their kids performance. What in the world wouldthey have to care about how their kids are doing - all they care about is a friendly nurturing environment, and a chance to get one with the earth at the farm. And sure, you're right, the board is wildly supportive ofthe program -heck look at all the resourndingly favorable comments they've made so far when they approved it, and plus all the resources they've lavished freely on SI, and the last board election - the support for MI was loud and clear. And of course then there is the new Superintendent all about status quo and letting things just run their course. And then of course, then there' the big money - and we know that money fixes everything. So I can see how you're thinking this was all nonsense.

    (Or just too painful to see it all strung together into a plausible scenario?) Just trying to be helpful here - some people just don't have the imagination or foresight to see how one thing might lead to another.

    Posted by OhlonePar
    a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
    on Jul 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Gee Also,

    So much for being a known quantity. And I was looking forward to finding out who you thought I was.

    Since you're clearly someone who supports Mandarin and doesn't like to hear opposing groups, why would *you* have any idea how people feel about the program? I've been surprised at how just angry "sweet" parents are about the program--but only once you get beneath the polite facade and let them know it's okay to say what they think. Since it's clearly *not* okay with you, they're not going to tell you. Scratch a "neutral" and you'll find a negative.

    You bluffed and blew it on claiming you knew who I was.

    You have no response to any of the real issues about space management that cause an inherent tension in the program.

    So far, I'm not impressed.


    I enjoyed your scenario. I can see a few variations--i.e. the program doesn't satisfy the MI parents. They complain that their kids aren't learning quickly enough and the immigrant parents worry that little May isn't learning nearly as quickly as her cousins back in Hong Kong. They don't complain, but do transfer their kids to more traditional schools.

    Getting kids to speak Mandarin becomes more difficult because of the lack of native speakers. Parents push for a more traditional format so that their kids are forced to speak Mandarin. They get blow back from the school administration. They then push for an isolated program at Garland.

    The board "suspends" new entries to the program without formally cancelling it. Another 20 board meetings are wasted.

    Meanwhile, a Mandarin charter is started in Mountain View and many of the Palo Alto parents put their kids there instead of waiting for the board to figure out what its doing.

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