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MI: County Charter or PAUSD District Charter

Original post made by curious, Midtown, on May 27, 2007

Does anyone know the difference between a county district vs. local district charter?

If PAUSD denies the MI charter application MI can ask the Santa Clara County Board of Ed to approve it. If the county approves the MI application what is the county's responsibility for MI? If it's a county charter does this free PAUSD to do what it does well and what it needs to focus on doing: educating lots of different kinds of kids from various background? As a county charter the MI experience and ideas can be used to the benefit of schools throughout Santa Clara County.

Comments (6)

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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2007 at 9:37 am


If you really want authoritative answers to your questions, come to the town hall meeting.


District personnel & other professionals will meet with the public to provide a summary of charter school laws, choice schools, and financing, and to receive input from the community.

Thu May 31, MP Room, Ohlone School, 7 p.m.

Location: 950 Amarillo Ave.

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Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
a resident of Midtown
on May 27, 2007 at 9:49 am

Hi -- Our understanding is (1) yes, the county board can form a charter school in Palo Alto; (2) that would not free the local district of certain obligations in terms of staff time or space; (3) one can search the Weekly archives by clicking on Palo Alto Weekly in the left margin and clicking on "Search archives by key words" below the front pages of the Weekly.

There have been articles covering those points, I believe, but they might be difficult to sort out from all the articles written about MI. The forum Thursday should be able to provide specifics.

A Google search under charter schools might reveal some information.


Jay Thorwaldson
Palo Alto Weekly

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Posted by nancy
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 27, 2007 at 10:28 am

Even if PAMI (Palo Alto MI) Charter is chartered by the County, PA must still provide classroom space for in-district kids, after the school has 80 kids, I believe. (But the Ohlone principal has said that there is room at Ohlone.) I assume that Choice or Charter would have the same space requirements. The County just re-chartered Bullis for five years, but Bullis must still deal with LASD. The county bears the oversight costs, but receives compensation, as would PA or LASD. Apart from that, I'm not really sure what the difference is, except for the symbolic nastiness of LASD's rejection of BCS's charter, even though it's clearly an outstanding school.

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Posted by Soon-to-be parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2007 at 11:17 am

I like the idea of a language immersion program, but would prefer my kids be immersed in Spanish, which seems much more useful (at least in California) than Mandarin Chinese. Citizens who learn multiple languages set themselves up for a successful future.

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Posted by Older parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 11:33 am

Soon to be parent

Welcome to the debate. Read up on the subject from many of the other threads on this subject in the Town Square Forum and form your opinion when you have read all the facts. I think everyone agrees with you in principle, it is the practice on which we differ.

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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2007 at 8:31 am

It occurs to many that many people in this debate think nothing of the controversy now because they say we've heard it all with the SI program. They think this will all die down if MI gets this program. (I don't think that's going to happen.)

The trouble is that this way of doing things is what made MI so controversial this time, that was brought up when SI went through, that the next language would be harder. In a way, the MI effort is being hampered by being the same as the SI effort. If we put through this MI program this way, it will virtually lock out any future immersion attempts in other languages.

We should be considering other kinds of fluency instruction. I just looked it up, and that school in Mountain View that teaches fluency is Yew Cheung. From a posted article already on this forum: "Only 30% of Yew Chung’s daily class time is conducted in Mandarin (about 1.5 hours per day) by a separate native Mandarin-speaking teacher who has been specifically trained in the Yew Chung methods."

Why not see if this method can be brought to Palo Alto schools? For example, if the program could be offered at Hoover, without changing the curriculum too much during the day but by adding on instruction of 1.5 hours at the end of the day for anyone who wants to learn Mandarin fluency, this would be an opportunity that could be offered to all Hoover students without needing a new separate campus. It would probably fit better with Hoover's direct instruction philosophy already. I could see this kind of program being more of a pilot for the possibility of having other similar fluency programs at any of the other PA campuses that want it -- in fact, if such a thing were put through, it should be with the promise that any other PA campus that wants it (in whatever language) could get the same thing. Since it would be kind of an elective that only the kids who want to take have to take, you wouldn't have quite the same problems with extending the school day issues that FLES has. This would also make summer immersion programs a natural extension. The problem I see is that this would make FLES more difficult, but that would be offset by the language fluency opportunity available on ALL campuses. The advantage is that this doesn't require a separate campus and languages can be added and changed as the district needs. It doesn't take away flexibility from our overenrolled district, it's more fair, it doesn't lock out future programs and changes, and it still provides a proven fluency program.

Has anyone explored this possibility? I would think it could be implemented by next fall, too. It could be implemented without impacting Hoover the way the proposed dual immersion program would impact Ohlone and without changing the size of the school. It also presents the possibility of allowing the kids in higher grades to begin getting the language instruction, rather than just kindergarteners to start. (I don't know if this is true for sure, it would depend on this teaching method, though I suppose you could just give all kids in the beginning the same opportunities as the kinders if that is the case.) And this is more likely to fit with Hoover's existing educational philosophy. Then also because all campuses would be promised the same opportunity, Ohlone students would still get their language opportunity, too, only they could pick Mandarin or even another language. And we would be giving a fluency opportunity to all PA kids. It occurs to me that this would even allow more than one language fluency program at a given campus. And it might not even be more expensive to do that if the teachers already speak those different languages. I have to admit, this would probably also be easier and cheaper than FLES, but again, it would at least be a fluency/language opportunity for all PA kids.

Also, this doesn't lock out other very different kinds of programs in the future, if everyone at a given campus wants to do something very different but modeled on this approach, they could do it. We also have an existing program, Yew Cheung, to go to for guidance. How does that sound? I think Nico pointed out in some forum that PACE hadn't really considered another type of instruction. Wouldn't this be the time for everyone to consider it in the interest of compromise?

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

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