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Delaine Eastin Talk on Public Education

Original post made by Grace Mah, Palo Verde, on Nov 9, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006
Palo Alto High School Haymarket Auditorium
50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94301
7p - 9p
Free to the public

Delaine Eastin
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Educational Leadership, Mills College Former California State Superintendent of Public Schools

Professor Eastin will talk about why the global economy has made education more important than ever before, even as many policymakers seem ignorant of just how stale our educational approach has become.

In a world where information is doubling every two years, children must learn to think critically, to analyze, to work in groups, to find defects and to communicate across borders and language barriers. The failure of American to fully commit to the education of all of our children from preschool through grad school is not only unfortunate, it is dangerous.

Who will carry the democratic values we hold dear into the future? Historically, America has been a beacon of democracy but can it continue to do so when it fails to challenge all of its children to adequately master the full panoply of academic subjects that our competitor nations are providing to their children? Why aren't all children being steeped in the sciences and in the arts? Why are we failing to provide healthy lunches and physical education, up-to-date technology and multiple languages? Why are we making college harder to get into and more expensive to attend, even as the countries of Asia and Europe, copying an American model, are making higher education more accessible to more students?

Silicon Valley has been a haven for progressive education. It can and should be more of a role model to surrounding areas to encourage them to enliven their educational offerings.

Sponsored by: PACE (Palo Alto Chinese Education)

Co-sponsors: Santa Clara County Office of Education League of Women Voters of Santa Clara County Mountain View - Whisman Elementary School District Hoover Elementary School PTA, Palo Alto Jordan Middle School PTA, Palo Alto PAMP - The Parents' Club of Palo Alto and Menlo Park SIPAPA - Spanish Immersion Parents Association of Palo Alto

Media Sponsors: Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online

Comments (38)

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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 24, 2006 at 12:54 pm

"If the World is Flat, What are the Implications for Public Education?" And
"Reforming California's Public School System"

MEDIA ALERT: Palo Alto, Calif.—November 27, 2006

Two speakers will talk about public education and reforming the public school system.

What: Delaine Easton, presents a frank discussion of the issues facing U.S. public schools as they prepare our children to the face realities presented by a rapidly changing global economy.

Ted Lempert, president of Children NOW, will provide an overview of a project in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and the California State Parent Teachers Association to begin identifying common ground for the development of a comprehensive package of both reform and investment relative to California 's public school system.

Who: Delaine A. Eastin is a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Educational Leadership at Mills College. Prior to joining the Mills College faculty, Professor Eastin was elected the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction and served for eight years. She has served as chair of the Board of West Ed, the Western Regional Education Laboratory, chair of the National Compact for Learning and Citizenship at the Education Commission of the States, a Trustee of the California State University system and a Regent of the University of California.

Ted Lempert is the President of Children Now, a national research and advocacy organization based in Oakland, California. Previously, Mr. Lempert was the founding CEO and co-founder of EdVoice, a California grassroots organization advocating for education reform and support for public education. He also serves on the San Mateo County Board of Education. Mr. Lempert was a California State Assemblymember representing San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties from 1996 to 2000 and 1988 to 1992. He served as chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and the Select Committees on Education Technology and Coastal Protection, and co-chair of the Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education.

"If the World is Flat, What are the Implications for Public Education?"
Background: Professor Eastin will talk about why the global economy has made education more important than ever before, even as many policymakers seem ignorant of just how stale our educational approach has become. In a world where information is doubling every two years, children must learn to think critically, to analyze, to work in groups, to find defects and to communicate across borders and language barriers. The failure of America to fully commit to the education of all of our children from preschool through grad school is not only unfortunate, it is dangerous.

Who will carry the democratic values we hold dear into the future? Historically, America has been a beacon of democracy but can it continue to do so when it fails to challenge all of its children to adequately master the full panoply of academic subjects that our competitor nations are providing to their children? Why aren't all children being steeped in the sciences and in the arts? Why are we failing to provide healthy lunches and physical education, up-to-date technology and multiple languages? Why are we making college harder to get into and more expensive to attend, even as the countries of Asia and Europe, copying an American model, are making higher education more accessible to more students?

Silicon Valley has been a haven for progressive education. It can and should be more of a role model to surrounding areas to encourage them to enliven their educational offerings.

"Reforming California's Public School System"
Background: During 2005-06, Children Now, the California School Boards Association, the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and the California State Parent Teachers Association conducted nearly 70 interviews with key opinion and political leaders in California on school finance reform. The interviewees included key members of the Education Coalition and other education leaders, the major statewide and regional business organizations, prominent business leaders, major statewide ethnic, faith based and community based organizations and leading policy makers and opinion leaders in California ranging across the ideological spectrum. The goal of these interviews was to begin identifying common ground for the development of a comprehensive package of both reform and investment relative to California 's public school system. Mr. Lempert will provide an overview of the project and highlight lessons learned and implications for the future.

When: Mon. Nov. 27, 2006 from 7:00-9:00 P.M.

Where: Palo Alto High School, Haymarket Theater
50 Embarcadero Road

Admission: Free to the public

For More
Information: PACEforKids@yahoo.com 650-493-6360

Sponsored by: PACE – Palo Alto Chinese Education

Co-Sponsors: Santa Clara County Office of Education, League of Women Voters of Santa Clara County, Mountain View - Whisman Elementary School District, Herbert Hoover Elementary School PTA (Palo Alto), Jordan Middle School PTA (Palo Alto), PAMP - The Parents' Club of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, SIPAPA - Spanish Immersion Parents Association of Palo Alto

Media
Sponsors: Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online



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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2006 at 12:28 pm

I see no mention of PAUSD as a sponsor, yet today's PA Daily has a headline saying: District begins global education talks. Is PACE/Grace Mah now the official spokesman for PAUSD? Or is it now PACE Unified School District? Maybe I should be posting this comment on the thread titled "Will the MI decision be unbiased". And maybe the local papers have been doing shoddy reporting on this issue all along, because they don't seem to know who the players are or who they represent.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2006 at 4:39 pm

so, Andrea, are you going to boycott the event because the headline was misleading?

seems spiteful since the talks are timely and the topics clearly of concern with the community.

both Delaine and Ted are really good speakers. I hope you don't miss it.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 27, 2006 at 6:18 pm

See you there! I can't wait. I'm even looking forward to the introductions.


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Posted by Past and Future Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2006 at 9:14 pm

The sort of language competency learned by immersion is just not the key issue in education for the purpose of competing in the global economy.

Is China winning worldwide marketshare because the Chinese in China speak English so well? No. Does anyone think the Japanese took the auto and semiconductor businesses because of their English speaking capability (the sort learned by immersion)? It is because they took the effort to understand American culture and buying habits, took advantage of their marketing opportunities, and learned how to make better cars and chips with the resources available to them.

There are those in Japan who are able to puzzle out the detailed meaning of a technical paper written in English, and yet can not order a cup of coffee to save their life. And these are the ones who are capable of making decisions that allow them to compete in the world economy.

Even if we focus on understanding people who live in other countries, why is there an obsession with the most effective way to teach the language? Cultural understanding matters so much more.

Everything taught or learned has an opportunity cost. A foreign language that requires learning thousands of characters to read a paper involves a high opportunity cost.

It's probably more helpful to our economy to go for the history and culture of foreign lands than their language. And far easier to teach and learn.



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Posted by More money for schools
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 28, 2006 at 7:16 am

Two federal initiatives:

Web Link

American Competitiveness Initiative

Excerpts from President Bush's letter:

The American Competitiveness Initiative commits $5.9 billion in FY 2007 to increase investments in research and development, strengthen education, and encourage entrepreneurship.

The bedrock of America's competitiveness is a well-educated and skilled workforce. Education has always been a fundamental part of achieving the American Dream, and the No Child Left Behind Act is helping to ensure that every student receives a high-quality education. Accountability and high standards are producing positive results in the classroom, and we can do more to provide American students and workers with the skills and training needed to compete with the best and brightest around the world. Building on our successes, the American Competitiveness Initiative funds increased professional development for teachers, attracts new teachers to the classroom, develops research-based curricula, and provides access to flexible resources for worker training.


Web Link

National Security Language Initiative

Excerpts:

President Bush today launched the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), a plan to further strengthen national security and prosperity in the 21st century through education, especially in developing foreign language skills. The NSLI will dramatically increase the number of Americans learning critical need foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Farsi, and others through new and expanded programs from kindergarten through university and into the workforce. The President will request $114 million in FY07 to fund this effort.

An essential component of U.S. national security in the post-9/11 world is the ability to engage foreign governments and peoples, especially in critical regions, to encourage reform, promote understanding, convey respect for other cultures and provide an opportunity to learn more about our country and its citizens. To do this, we must be able to communicate in other languages, a challenge for which we are unprepared.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 28, 2006 at 9:44 am

061128 Education leaders call for reform - Pair discusses ways to make U.S. schools more competitive

PADaily article, Nov 28, 2006

Web Link


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Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 28, 2006 at 9:57 am

I do agree that from the point of view of marketing, it is culture that is more important than language.

For example, MacDonalds made some big mistakes when opening up its first stores in England and supposedly there is no language barrier. Firstly, it tried hard to promote root beer. No one in England likes root beer. There is a very popular brand of toothpaste that tastes like root beer and no one wanted to drink something that tasted just like toothpaste. As much as they tried, they eventually had to take root beer out of their menus. Secondly, they noticed that people always took their burgers apart to liberally douse their burgers with salt and pepper. So as a response, MacDonalds put more salt and pepper in their patties. It didn't stop the English putting salt and pepper in their burgers. They put more salt and pepper in their patties, but still the English put salt and pepper in their burgers and then complained that they didn't like the burgers because they were too salty. The reason is that we English always like to put salt and pepper on our foods. It isn't the taste, its the action. Its what you do when you sit down at a table to eat food and its what our parents teach us to do. So it was nothing about the burgers, it was just the way we eat. Once MacDonalds realised this they changed back the patties to the original recipe and the English continued to add their own salt and pepper. Everyone was happy.

These examples show that as Americans enter the global market, it isn't language but culture that matters most. The assumptions by most Americans that the world wants to copy everything America does in the same way is the first hurdle that must be overcome. Yes, American goods do have appeal. But that is all it is, initial appeal. Understanding how these goods fit into the existing culture is a natural follow up. It can't be assumed that the global market is all potential american tastes waiting to happen. My parents still go into a fast food store and ask for knives and forks to eat their food with and my mother will never drink anything out of a bottle, let alone a can, and will always ask for a straw or paper cup or else not buy. Old habits die hard and for any American company to succeed abroad, it is more than speaking the language that is necessary.


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Posted by Businessman
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2006 at 10:06 am

I contend that more business deals are sealed over the dinner table than in the boardroom. You have to build that rapport, cultural understanding, and comfort with your client, parter, and competitor. Learning their language increases your effective understanding of their culture. You don't have to be like a native speaker, but more than just a hello/good-bye/thank you/please tourist.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Triple El
on Nov 28, 2006 at 11:10 am

The language vs culture is a false choice when thinking about the economy.

If you've done business in Japan or China, you know that anyone who speaks fluently, reads and writes is way ahead of those who don't. A real understanding of the culture isn't going to happen without speaking the language. Businesspeople have been reading books and taking courses for years so they can "understand the Japanese," but we're still bad at selling there because we haven't learned to speak.

Clearly, immersion will not be for every family or kid. But the kind of fluency it produces will be economically crucial to us as a nation.

Last, talking about language education for children in terms of "opportunity costs" misunderstands education entirely. Ask a teacher. A good curriculum is not a set of discreet inputs that you select independently and budget by time.

For instance, biliteracy makes kids better at English, not just the target language. The notion of a time budget is not useful here. It is even less useful in the case of immersion, since much of the learning takes place in the target language: the kids learn about California history, say, in Chinese. (In other words, they are not forgoing the "opportunity" to learn algebra to study Chinese, they are switching some of their learning into Chinese.)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2006 at 1:12 pm

"Lempert stressed the need for more financial transparency and accountability" (from the PA Daily article "Education Leaders Call for Reform...", link noted above in post by Grace.

Grace, where did the $140,000 donation to PAUSD for the Feasibility study come from? Who were the donors by dollar amount and what city are they from? This is a very standard, very simple question. I don't understand why its being avoided, especially in light of your sponsored meeting last night on education reform.

Also, I wonder why that article says that PACE is about to release their feasibility study on MI? I was under the misguided impression that this was going to be an unbaised study performed by PAUSD district staff experts, including Marilyn Cook, Becky Cohn Vargas, Norm Masuda, Irv Rollins, funded by PACE. Grace?

Thanks for your insights.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 28, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Just to clarify the misstated PACE funding for the feasibility study:

1. $66K was collected by PACE and donated to PAUSD to fund the feasibility study.

2. The donors wish to remain anonymous, and I respect their wishes. Nico and I disclose that we donated, and we're both Palo Alto residents.

3. For full disclosure, could the real Lisa Steinbeck please stand up?

Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Better Way, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
What About Closing the Achievement Gap?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Another Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Looking for Public Disclosure, a member of the Gunn High School community
Not buying, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

And Andrea, Lisa, and Faith: Did you enjoy the speakers last night?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2006 at 2:34 pm

Grace, the residency of the donors should be public information. Why is it not being disclosed? I don't care about names and haven't asked for names.

The issue is how much support this has from PAUSD constituency - voters, residents and others from communities and neighborhoods that belong to PAUSD school district, and that will be directly impacted by PAUSD long term decisions.

So where is the financial support coming from?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2006 at 2:37 pm

And you don't have to report that here either. That should be reported to the board as part of the feasibility study. Annonymity can be preserved to the extent the board needs that information to make a proper and fully informed decision. I don't blame you for hiding this information.

I blame the board for not requiring transparency in government.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 28, 2006 at 2:53 pm

Hi Lisa,

Yes, it would be better to ask the board your questions about what's fully disclosed to the board since I'm not compelled to break my donors' request for anonymity.

Do you know if the board hasn't asked for funding disclosure and verification of the 900 signatures on our petition? Asking me doesn't matter.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2006 at 3:35 pm

My name is not Lisa. Is your name Wolf, Al, Bill, or Get a Grip? Grace, I guess you'd be surpised to know there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in PAUSD that do not favor MI. If we wanted to know the truth about the current level of community support for sure, perhaps the board would be willing to do some real analysis on the level of community support for this program?? I mean, what's the big rush anyway, shouldn't they take the time to make the right decision on this? (Afterall the new school campus they've been reserving for MI through the AARG process - Garland - won't be ready for a couple years. I guess that'll be enough time for the board to finish the study properly..)

Yes, I have asked the board as have several others, and so far they're saying they haven't asked for confirmation on the $ or confirmation on the 900 signatures. And this is EXACTLY my point - a breakdown in fiduciary responsibility on the board's part so far. One of the very first questions that comes to people mind. But who knows with a little more community pressure, perhaps they will see the need to find out who supports this and why, and why so many non-Palo Altans seem to feel the intense need to carve out their own private little piece of heaven from one of PAUSD's schools.

(BTW, the pledge was for $140K, it matters not a wit how much spent so far, there will be further incremental start up costs that will dip into that 140K when and if the board approves.)

You're right, its not your problem to evaluate the merits of your own proposal. Its the board's. So lets see how well they do...

You're also right that asking you doesn't matter because - you refuse to answer, and - you don't really seem to care what the PAUSD community thinks anyway. You seem to be very interested in pushing your own agenda at any cost. I've heard not even a peep from you about evaluating strategies for language education for all, or evaluating language versus other needs of PAUSD such as improved science, technology, math, or other programs. (refer to your own sponsored talk last night by D.Eastin, which makes it completely UNCLEAR that language is the most needed priority in our schools to make our children successful in the global economy).

NP, the unbiased (ha ha ha) feasibility study will come out in a few weeks so we can stop poking around in the complete dark (as well the public should be kept, right?) and start asking questions based on the features of the program.

You're right again that the most interesting thing at this point is not what you have to say, but what the board members who supposedly represent this (entire) community have to say, and the types and depth of questions they ask when the time comes.

I wonder if we'll get any analysis from the district staff via the feasibility study on what the pros and cons would be of this program opening up as a charter school. That's the best idea I think I've heard yet.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2006 at 4:22 pm

Sorry Grace, I missed the speakers last night. From what the newspapers said, there was a GREAT turnout, with lots of MI supporters and opposers. How did you ever manage to pick out three faces in that huge crowd? But I heard that most of the attendees were from Mt View, which makes sense since they were the biggest sponsors. I guess they couldn't provide a venue closer to home.
I'll try to view the video. I'm genuinely interested in what the speakers had to say about improving education. From reading the paper, I was happy to see that some big issues were universal preschool (as in closing the achievement gap?), transparency in finances, valuing teachers and paying them well, language education (is that equal access to language education for every student?). Have you made the video available yet?


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Posted by Lorraine Sparaco
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2006 at 6:24 pm

Grace, in the interest of disclosure, I was in attendance at Eastin's talk last night. Sorry, we're not all Lisa, as hard as it is for you to believe that there are actually many voices speaking in opposition. However, Lisa is very sharp and I would be flattered to be mistaken for her.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 28, 2006 at 11:29 pm

Anonymity is often requested by donors for variety of reasons. In general it is not, and should not, be a reason to accept or reject the cause that is supported -- the cause should stand or fall on its own merits. Political money is the regulated exception and is not the case here.

Further, there is nothing wrong with money given by someone who doesn't live here. I am aware of a family in Germany that continues to contribute to Gunn choir, even though they have left Palo Alto number of years ago. Should their contribution be rejected by Gunn choir?

Finally, PIE has anonymous contributors on its donor list. Four anonymous corporate or community organizations, and 320(!) individual anonymous donors in the 2005-2006 report. Should PIE funds be rejected by our schools? According to "Parent's" wrong-headed thinking they should be.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2006 at 11:12 am

Well, if PIE was attempting to fund or advocate only one particular programs, that certainly would be problematic. And I'd say yes they should not be allowed to make secret donations to the program of their choice. However, PIE funds are distributed on an equitable per student basis.

If PACE were donating large sums of money to the district through PIE, or to further general programs for equitable distribution we'd be having a different conversation.

Donations from outsiders don't need to be rejected. But they should be dislosed. The public has the right and the responsibility to know who is driving their public institutions. There is also an issue of materiality. $140,000 is equivalent to about 5X a yearly PTA revenue for a single school for many of our schools. That's a huge sum of money for a school district. That level of contribution should be disclosed.

ESPECIALLY since the situation we're talking about here is a situation where that group is attempting to 'talk the board in to' starting up their program. This clearly cross a line.

Its not an issue of what's regulated by law - its an issue of what is the right thing to do, and what our community fundamentally has the right to understand.

I would like to know why it is such a problem or what there is to hide.

The school board could very easily stand up to this by declining to consider this program without full disclosure. I hope that they grow some jingle bells and do just that.


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Posted by another
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2006 at 2:06 pm

If there is an individual (or a business interest, or a government interest) in Germany or elsewhere that wants to donate to PAUSD district programs, I see no problem - supporting PAUSD would be their perogative - and I also see no reason why they should object to disclosing their donation.

(Someone might be curious about why that would be rational economically for that organization, but that's not necessarily an issue for PAUSD.)

But when and if that individual expects influence in PAUSD business, (or expects to garner a reservation for 1/2 of a school (forever)), or other PAUSD resources, because they donated money, that's a problem. When they expect to induce change to the district, to suit their special interest needs, by virtue of $, that's a problem.

Transparency really becomes an issue in government when the donors begin to have expectations for getting something special in return. Since that's a grey line, and not always visible to the general public, the public generally expects transparency up front - to avoid any potential perceptions of inpropriety.

If that foreign organization, individual or business has a suggestion for change (we'd probably ask first, what is their interest, motivation, etc., and that would be a natural and rational part of the decision making process.) (If someone showed up with 200,000 asking for a military training program, we'd probably ask why and who.) But even more importantly, we would validate whether the idea had merit to the PAUSD consituency. That is really the only reason worth change. Value to the community served. Any and all change needs to support the needs of the community that owns this district.

(Yes, this community owns PAUSD, its a public entity, funded by tax payer dollars. The elected officials work for the tax payers. PAUSD resources are not there for the dispensing at the pleasure of the board.)

A 'secret' donation becomes suspicious if its comes with the expectation of driving through change that is especially beneficial to a very narrow special interest, and not being vetted and approved through the broader community.

What IS going to be the School Board's method for measuring Palo Alto community support for the MI program? What will be the professional and unbiased mechansims that they will use to gauge community support? How will the Board defend this program against community priorities? (Or for those board members out there who think they don't need to represent the interests of the broader community, how will they explain their behavior?)

If you don't see the board asking to validate community support, then assume the board cares nothing about community support. And then ask yourself why.

Cash from one or two secret donors doesn't help, and in fact even throws a veil of suspicion on the ~whole~ process.

I would think the board would want to clear this up. What's the worst thing that could happen?


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 29, 2006 at 4:42 pm

I am glad to observe the creativity that some posters show finding contorted reasons for taking the anonymous PIE money, while insisting that PACE money is somehow tainted by the anonymity. If that was the only reason to their opposition to MI, I am quite sure that PACE would find some way to convince their donors to come forward. Since, however, it is clear to me -- and presumably to anyone from PACE reading this -- that for the opposition to MI the anonymity argument is just another red herring, I conclude that PACE is correct not to bother their donors and ask them to come forward.

To conclude, I believe that the MI proposal should stand or fall based on its own educational merits and PAUSD logistical constraints, and not on the dark and ugly insinuations that MI opposition choose to throw at PACE.


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Posted by bystander
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 29, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Regarding the identity of the anonymous donors, it seems to me that if the donors didn't want their names disclosed because, for example, they didn't want or need recognition for their charitable contribution, the Board could still be privy to their names for purposes of evaluating the community support for the program. Similarly, I'm sure the PIE people know who donated the funds to their organization anonymously, and if there came to be an issue that required the Board to look into who donated, they would be able to get access to that information.

I don't care if *I* know who the donors are, but I would like the Board to look at that issue and discover how broad the financial support is. Why would someone want to have their donation subject to absolute secrecy, including from the privately investigating Board members? That seems just strange to me. The Board could then report to the community that there was -- or was not -- a borad base of financial supporters.

Why is this generating such resistance?


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Triple El
on Nov 29, 2006 at 5:41 pm

I agree with you, Wolf. This is a red herring. It just doesn't matter where the money comes from, and influence is not an issue, despite the loose, silly talk above.

The money, as far as I know, goes to fund a feasibility study and start a library. It is not a slush fund that would persuade the board to take on a program it doesn't believe in. It merely gets the program off the ground.

But MI opponents obviously fear that the board will make a decision based on just an evaluation of MI's merits, etc.


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Posted by listener
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2006 at 1:38 pm

And start a library? Tell us more about that please. That's news. Is that public information? Where are the details of that? When was that made public?


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Posted by l2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2006 at 2:39 pm

Bill, Grace. Yes, please tell us more about the library donation.

If PACE has so much $ to spread around, why aren't they setting up a private school? If the program is so fabulous, and so cheap and easy to run, with nothing more than a fleeting whisper of overhead (although money is apparently no object for PACE), what purpose does PAUSD serve in all this?

Is PAUSD starting an auction or something?


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 30, 2006 at 5:16 pm

To Another Parent, Another and Bystander: Thanks for the clear explanation of why the anonymity of this particular donation bugs you. Now I understand. I WAS on the side of thinking that folks have the right to give anonymously, but you make complete sense. This is different from anonymous donations to PiE which are then disbursed throughout the district, and are not driving a specialized program for just a few kids, like a lottery math program at one school. Your reasons are in the same vein that drove the campaign disclosure laws originally.

The point is good also that even if it is JUST the Board who knows, it might help them gather information on how broad the support is..$1 from each of 140,000 people ( or 68,000 or whatever so far)is a lot different from one check by one person or organization, and reveals the amount of broader support.

Hear, hear on the hope that the feasibility study has included a valid method with results for determining the true demand for this program, and the breakdown between English learner demand and Mandarin Learner demand. The District would need to know this in order to assure that the criteria for numbers of students and balance in the classroom would be met, if the program were approved.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 30, 2006 at 5:23 pm

Why is influence not an issue? It just isn't - And we know that how?

Because the folks writing the checks tell us so, and that makes it so?

And now we're to understand they've sweetened the deal by offering to buy a library too? (Shall we have a naming contest? How about the Townsend Mah Library).

Sounds very "Republican Party" to me. And we know where that gets us...

But I do agree with Wolf - the proposal should be evaluated solely on its merits for PAUSD. So it should be looked at from the perspective of how it helps PAUSD, pure and simple. If logic prevails, and it is measured on how it fits our priorities, needs, and gaps, I feel very comfortable that it will not be happening. There is no logical tie in for this program to PAUSD priorities.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Triple El
on Nov 30, 2006 at 6:55 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] (A)s far as I know there is no library being built. (What a tragedy it would be if someone did donate money to build a library!!) One of the start-up issues MI will face is providing Chinese books for the children to read (I'm guessing pausd doesn't have these yet). The MI folks will have to set that up. Thus, library. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] What influence are you talking about? As Wolf said: red herring.


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Posted by Call me Paranoid and Overheated too.
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 30, 2006 at 7:27 pm

At Tuesday night's BOE technology discussion, Townsend is passionate about books, books, books. On Wednesday morning on this thread, up pops the first mention that part of PACE's donation will be for starting a library. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Methinks the hatching was a joint effort.
If MI doesn't happen, perhaps PACE will donate books to all the libraries in the school system. It would be a great way to bring some of the Chinese culture to every student, and if the district develops a World Language strategic plan, we will have a headstart towards supporting it with appropriate books in our school libraries. I'll add my donation to that project.


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Posted by Call Me Paranoid....
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 30, 2006 at 10:33 pm

You're right. I don't think the school libraries could use Chinese books in Chinese. I think the school libraries would be enriched by books telling about the Chinese people, the Chinese culture, the Chinese history, the Chinese lore--in English, so that every child can read them. PACE has professed an interest in preparing kids for the new Global Economy and this may be a good start towards that end. It was meant as a constructive suggestion about a more positive and inclusive direction--not about blowing things up.


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Posted by Get a Grip
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 1, 2006 at 6:15 am

Thanks for a calm response. However, the school libraries already have lots (could always use more) books about Chinese, Middle Eastern, European, and American culture.

Don't go around spending PACE's (not so wealthy) money, please. As the district appreciates it, it is extra money brought into the budget, not used for general education funding. These contributions are in *addition* to PiE donations and PTA donations, not *instead of* them.


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Posted by Another
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 1, 2006 at 9:19 am

So Bills original statement: "money goes to the feasibility study and to start a library" was misleading (perhaps to make the donation sound altruistic?) What that statement should have said for accuracy was: "money goes to the feasibility study and all other MI start up costs. Not quite as altruistic. Thanks for clearing that up.

I don't know what influence, which is the point. We don't know what the potential for influence is until we get some disclosure on source of funding. The public is in the dark.


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Posted by 4 way Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 9:25 am

I am very wary nowadays of spending money on school libraries. As a parent of a college student, high, middle and elementary student, I am beginning to have a very different perspective on books, particularly text books and reference books.

My daughter at college is buying ebooks. These are downloadable onto her laptop, leased for the time she expects to use them, completely up to date and will be updated immediately new material is available. She has less clutter in her dorm room, can always find her book and is able to carry one laptop rather than six text books to classes.

At middle school, my son is using things like dictionary.com and various other websites to take the place of some of the expensive reference books we have bought for our home. Our less than 10year old world atlas is now completely out of date, even our cd encyclopaedia is completely out of date and never used.

The reference material we can obtain online is vastly superior to any books I have checked out either at the city or school libraries and we don't have to go anywhere to get them. Even the most up to date reference books are out of date within a year or so.

Teaching materials change so quickly and physical text books are dying. I had a notebook for every subject when I was at school (often more) and I was expected to carry them around all the time. Now most homework is done on loose sheets and computers with memory sticks being the most essential item on the school supply list.

So, remember these things when donating money for libraries.

Now I am talking about reference books and text books of course. You can't cuddle up in bed on a cold night with a computer instead of a great novel. Reading to children in bed, or cuddled together on a couch is definitely something that will never go out of style. So books will never be replaced. However, with our limited funds in our schools being spread about so widely, I am really reluctant to put donated funds into books that will appeal to so few and not help the school community at large. Yes lets have books in chinese, spanish, and other languages taught in our schools that our children can read and if they teach a little of the culture and history of these languages, so much the better. But please do not put so much into a complete reference section that will basically sit on shelves in overcrowded school libraries and never opened. We must be realistic.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 1, 2006 at 11:14 am

"Another" writes:

"Bills original statement: "money goes to the feasibility study and to start a library" was misleading (perhaps to make the donation sound altruistic?)"

Perhaps Bill (incorrectly) assumed that he is talking to a group of people reasonably informed on the subject? Anyone who has read the PACE proposal would have not been confused.

I find the amount of ignorance and ill will in these discussions astounding. People vehemently argue about things that they have barely a faint idea about. Supposedly intelligent Palo Altans don't bother to do elementary background reading on a subject before they jump in. And then they proceed to attribute the worst possible meanings to anything they disagree with, or simply misunderstand due to their own ignorance. One would think that the purpose of people -- anyone here! -- is to destroy our schools. Talk about uncharitable Shallow Alto!


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 11:35 am

Right. So since the PACE proposal said they'd need 4K per year for library materials, that would be 20K across 5 years. (hardly "a library" as bill stated). Plus the 65K they say has been used on the feasibility study. That totals 85K in spend, while Marilyn cook stated the start up costs were expected at $140K, which PACE has agreed to fund. So that leaves 65K still to be spent on other start up costs? Some of those other start up costs will include (not limited to)curriculum - either homemade by PAUSD or purchased, textbooks, software or other computer equipment (?), a mandarin program director, special mandarin assessments development, etc., so forth...

Don't assume people aren't reading the details. You'd be surprised.

Misleading statements are misleading statements. When bill said they were donating a library - do you think that was a correct and truthful statement or was that misleading? For what purpose?

However, I think we're in the weeds. I would like to discuss the merits of the MI program for PAUSD since, as you said earlier, that is and SHOULD BE all that the Board will use to make the decision. Can you provide any? I haven't seen any (yes I've read ALL the materials, articles, website references, news articles, etc. I have YET to see any descriptions of what the benefits will be to the other 10,960 PAUSD students per year that will not be lottery winners in this program. Are there any?


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 1, 2006 at 2:40 pm

Parent, [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] I pointed out that donations would be used to, among other things, "start a library." This is truthful and accurate. The meaning was also obvious within this context. The conclusions you and other jumped to are your own. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Yes, I agree, the Board should let MI stand or fall based on its academic merits.That is what the Board has set out to do, so you should be doing a jig.

4wayparent: I sympathize with your desire not to waste funds. But I draw the limit at sending first and second graders home to gaze at computer screens instead of read books.

As for taking the money that would be used to buy readers for MI and using it for the community at large, you'd have to speak directly with Pace. I'm guessing that in exchange, you're volunteering to skim off money off the top of PIE funds to buy all the books MI will need, right?


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Posted by 4 way Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2006 at 2:53 pm

I don't think I said I wanted young 1st and 2nd graders learning to read from computers rather than books. Yes I do want books for reading. What I do see happening though is that the dependence our generation had on text books and reference books is waning considerably. A nice picture book designed for an emerging reader on a given topic will always be a useful tool together with early readers, and all the books we are used to reading with this age. However, once a child starts using books as tools for finding out information on topics for projects, science fairs, geography, history, spelling, etc. they are already using computer screens. Children know about helpful sites such as yahooligans, ajkids and dictionary.com, long before we have to tell them. I recently tried to get my child to use a dictionary, he went straight to the computer rather than a book. This is their world, the times have changed and we should acknowledge it.


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