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A Simple Question For Mandarin Opponents

Original post made by Outsider, another community, on Jan 11, 2007

I have a very simple question for all those opposing the Mandarin program:

Why are you not also advocating elimination of the Spanish immersion program as well?

Because it seems to me that all the reasons you put up for opposing Mandarin would equally apply to the Spanish program.

Just one thing: Please don't say "because the Spanish program already exists, we can't eliminate it now." That’s just a cop-out in my book.

I look forward to your responses.

Comments (18)

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Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 11, 2007 at 11:46 am

I have consistently called for the elimination of SI. It was SI that set up the slippery slope for more language immersion programs that take over neighborhood schools. I also support the elimination of other 'choice' schools (back-to-basics, connections).

Choice programs should be put in charter schools.

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2007 at 12:04 pm

I have consistently called for more accountability for SI, all the same accountability that we requested for MI. For example, there is no reporting on the success rate of original entering kindergartners for SI, there is not 'cost neutrality' reportin for SI, etc.

I think that once a choice program is established it becomes an 'entitlement' to exist into perpituity is one of the precise reasons that the community is very opposed to setting up more choice programs - complete lack of flexibility, complete lack of ability of the district to manage that much more of its curriculum, its sites, its cost tradeoffs, etc., in the future. I think the fact that SI has been so teflon is a VERY good reason to oppose MI, in and of itself.

Plus the fact is that SI was set up in an environment where there was excess capacity, in fact to solve an underenrollment problem in some schools, and it did not AT THE TIME require the displacement of neighborhood schools, or the displacement of other already established choice programs, which is no longer the circumstand under which MI comes to us for consideration. Nevertheless, this AGAIN points to the fact that there was not enough long term thought given to the issue of capacity, displacement, over enrollment, that we see today. Again, supportive of the fact of EXTREME CAUTION in setting up more choice programs of any kind.

In fact I WOULD support a re-evaluation of SI and of all the other choice programs under today's circumstances.

Having said that, I think its also quite predictable (it was predicted many times on these threads) that the proponents of MI were using and would resort to the argument "if they get it, then I should get it". As if two wrongs make a right. I think its ironic that the SI folks were called in to action to support MI, and MI also turned to Ohlone in the 11th hour for support.

And its taken all of about 24 hours for MI supporters to turn on them. Shame on SI and Ohlone for not having a little more forthought on a whole bunch of issues.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Pretty much what Observer said. The issues facing the district now are very different than the ones facing it when SI and the other programs were set up.

I'm not for eliminating the choice programs--I'm for making them more available if anything. Ohlone has its own waitlist, so do Hoover and SI. SI, as the smallest program, I think creates real equity problems. It's just about impossible to get into for non-sibs and non-Spanish speakers. When you add the current neighborhood school displacement that's been happening--well, the resentment of the choice programs is understandable.

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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 11, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Speaking purely from the point of view that Palo Verde School has a big problem with over enrollment in this area, I would be very happy to see Ohlone return to a neighborhood school and serve the neighborhood children. Palo Verde has the largest number of elementary age children in the district and since many of them are spread around in Ohlone, Hoover and SI, it helps us out. However, if they were all expected to attend Palo Verde, we would be the biggest school. As it is, we have one of the smallest sites and so that would be impossible. With the new residential homes being built on Meadow and proposed for Bayshore/Loma Verde, our numbers are going to expand. What we need is the Ohlone site to become a second neighborhood school and that will house our own neighborhood children. I know it isn't going to happen, but it would be the solution.

The real problem goes back to why the District closed, sold and allowed the old school sites to be built on. Now if the Board back then had been forward looking, maybe we would be in a position now to house all the "choice" programs being demanded. But then I am sure that there would still be scope for discussion on that one.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Word on the playground when I was applying for Ohlone is that Ohlone did give some (not total) preference to kids in its neighborhood. We were in the PV area at the time and we did get in on the first draw, though I had neighbors who did not.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 4:54 pm

I think the worst enrollment crunch, though, was in the north PA schools.

If Garland reopened, I'd guess that it would grab a portion of the Duveneck and Walter Hays districts and maybe some of Palo Verde?

It sounds as if the board is keeping the option of expanding Ohlone--it would then do what it did with the second strand of SI and give priority (I'm guessing) to overenrolled schools. It would make sense since Ohlone gets more lottery applicants than either Escondido or Hoover.

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Posted by curio
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2007 at 9:16 am

It's interesting that in the MI feasibility study the only immersion program that didn't require additional fund raising or grants was SI. All the MI programs visited, even those that stated they were cost neutral, either had additional grants, mandatory "donations" or additional fund raising to be "cost neutral".

From the report: Web Link

Woodstock Elementary School

Starr King Elementary School
They will receive some funding from a District-wide Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant funded this year.

West Portal Elementary School
They will receive some funding from a District-wide FLAP grant funded this year.

Alice Fong Yu Alternative School
They will receive some new funding from a District-wide FLAP grant funded this year.

El Marino Elementary School
A parent group raises $250,000 a year, which is used for classroom aides.

Cupertino Language Immersion Program (CLIP)
CLIP has a foundation that raises funds for the program. Also, parents are asked to contribute $400/per child or do mandatory volunteer work for the school. Cupertino is just finishing a three-year FLAP grant which was used to fund a 50% resource teacher for the program.

Spanish Immersion, Escondido Elementary School
During the initial years, the parent group raised funds for materials and library books, but that is no longer needed.

I wonder how SI manages to be so efficient...

Like this comment
Posted by Outsider
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2007 at 10:36 am

Let's see, exactly ONE person ("Al") has written in to say he opposes the Spanish program as well - congratulations Al, you earn my respect.

As for the rest of you, perhaps it's time to look into the mirror - or better yet take a deep breath, as I do believe there is the strong smell of hypocrisy (with a hint of something else) waifing throughout "Perfect Palo Alto" today.

Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2007 at 11:26 am

I oppose SI and MI and alternative schools (Ohlone, Hoover), because I think our model should be a simple neighborhood model. I also oppose the 20 kids/class maximum, because it is not proven to increase educational test scores (as I understand), and it is very expensive.

Having said this, I am NOT against choice programs. I support foreign language aquisition. I would support science immersion, too.

I just think that such programs should be done via a charter school system or a voucher system. Private schools are free to form to meet the demand, and some already exist.

Too much has been demanded of our public schools in Palo Alto. Keep it simple, and keep it focused on basic educational goals.

Like this comment
Posted by someone without a chip on their shoulder
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2007 at 12:37 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I finally figured out DNFTT means Do Not Feed the Troll.

you are right, and thanks for the reminder

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Hmmm, which is more hypocritical? Supporting extant choice programs but not new ones given the current issues facing the district?

Or opposing all choice programs because you didn't get yours?

(They don't make trolls like they used to)

Like this comment
Posted by back to basics
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:40 pm

How did I get under this bridge?

Like this comment
Posted by parent too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:03 pm


It wasn't the MI supporters who raised all the arguments against choice programs. I think this is a legitimate question given the strong feelings expressed by PA residents, including the inherent unfairness of a lottery which benefits a select few and the importance of neighborhood schools.

If you feel threatened you should, but not by MI supporters who will hope to have a chance again in the future when things are more settled, but by the residents who have argued neighborhood and fairness. Now that you've won the lottery and gotten into Ohlone you've got it made. What about those families that weren't so lucky (the former neighbors who lost that you spoke about in another post) and now have to send their kids across town to someone else's neighborhood school because their's is too crowded? As space gets tighter here in PA, parents will step up the pressure to squeeze out choice and bring back their neighborhood school. Better to prepare for reality than to pin your hopes on your false accusations.

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Posted by someone without a chip on their shoulder
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Ahh, let me see..

To Troll: To deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory comments to a community forum, chat room, newsgroup and/or a blog in order to bait other users into responding.

Quote: from Outsider
As for the rest of you, perhaps it's time to look into the mirror - or better yet take a deep breath, as I do believe there is the strong smell of hypocrisy (with a hint of something else) waifing throughout "Perfect Palo Alto" today.

QED - yhbt.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 13, 2007 at 1:22 pm

Parent Too,

Threatened? Why? It's vaguely possible that the Ohlone program could get transferred to the Garland site, but eradicate the most popular and largest choice program in Palo Alto? It's not going to happen.

I am for making the choice programs more available--the lack of spots in the SI program is a real problem, I think. I think another *small* choice program would create resentment at this time. Well, obviously, it did. Ohlone has the space and demand to expand, though there are serious and legitimate concerns about the traffic.

I don't like the us v. them division the debate over MI has created or exacerbated. I think what matters is finding a balance that works *at a given time*. Thus, I'd like to see summer immersion programs available combined with some school-year second-language instruction. That would make second-language instruction available *now* and, probably, make it clear what sort of second-language demands there really are in the district.

Like this comment
Posted by Grace
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2007 at 11:09 am

Mandarin immersion is a good plan, but it may not be feasible at the current time. There are simply too many programs that the district needs to offer. As a Palo Alto student, I think the schools should be more concerned about creating better core programs, or a Gifted and Talented Program that actually helps gifted kids. Here's an interesting article about the MI issue: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:17 pm

You should read some of the previous discussions. Many of the "opponents" of MI aren't opposed to having an MI program in Palo Alto ever, we were opposed to bringing one in now, on the timetable proposed, under the current conditions of the district. Many of us would like to see MI for Palo Alto, and wonder if MI advocates are really in this to bring the program to the district for the long-term or just wanted the program for their kids now and aren't going to bother if it requires a longer commitment or requires being involved in strategic planning so that MI can be more appropriately worked into district priorities.

In my book, the way you phrased your question was the cop-out. Why should anyone opposed to adding a new lottery program now want to spend time dismantling SI? Opposing a program that doesn't yet exist and has significant facilities needs at a time when we are in a serious discussion over facilities district-wide makes sense. Taking additional resources and energy to get rid of a program that already exists — and which existing students in our district are in the middle of and would suffer from the cessation of -- makes little sense.

Language instruction should have been established for all elementary students well before SI was started, I think not doing that was a mistake. One could argue that the specialized language program for a few syphoned resources from the effort for the rest of the district. I am one of many parents who favors offering foreign language instruction to all students districtwide before adding any more immersion programs. There is such a thing as learning from past mistakes.

Someone else pointed out that we could be offering summer immersion programs without the kind of facilities crises adding MI now would create-- and would then have the flexibility of offering immersion in many languages without the conflicts inherent in the current MI proposal.

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