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Is Mandarin losing its status as flavor of the month language?

Original post made by Parent on Aug 16, 2007

Trade with China is one of the arguments as to why Mandarin should be taught (or immersed) in our schools. I remember Russian and Japanese being given similar weight in past years. Now that there seems to be an ever increasing list of consumer recalls on products that are manufactured in China (pet food, toothpaste, Mattel children's toys, baby bibs, etc.) is the trade argument soom to become defunct? The fact that Mandarin is flavor of the month is possibly tied to these type of problems being overcome. The coming toy buying season may show a shift in what American consumers are prepared to buy and this in turn may show a shift in whether Mandarin remains to be a useful language for our children to learn.

Comments (134)

Posted by cynical parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Too late. Palo Alto will be teaching Mandarin for years to come, cutting edge community that we are.


Posted by reading the news, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Well, it goes well beyond that. The news is full of all kinds of practices in China that we should be fighting against: human rights violations, freedom of speech persecution, wanton environmental destruction (take a look at a few news articles on the off the charts level of air pollution in Bejing which is a HUGE concern approaching the 08 Olypmics, the poisoned water system, widespread desertification due to destructive farming practices, use of dangerous chemicals and pathogens in the food supplies they are selling (to us), etc.

Why is Palo Alto of all places agreeing to go along sheepishly with Bush administration and the Chinese government on their little scheme to spread Mandarin? If they want Mandarin spread (on our local school district's dime) why shouldn't we demand to see changes first? We have something they want - A good school system and smart kids. Why are we just handing it over like a bunch of sheep? Why are we as a community failing to stand up and use what minor leverage we have to instigate change? Palo Alto on the cutting edge? please. A bunch of fad following sheep as far as I can tell.


Posted by reading the news, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2007 at 8:54 pm

For example:
Web Link

"China Cracks Down on AIDS Groups Ahead of the Olympics"

Huh? Can someone (perhaps from the HRC) explain how PAUSD is breathlessly and enthusiastically taking free trips from the Chinese government, to learn how to bring Mandarin education to Palo Alto? Why are we just blindly going along with the program? Shouldn't we be pushing back instead of just blindly following the leader?


Posted by GiveMeABreak, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Using the kind of contorted logic put forth above, we shouldn't be teaching French because, after all, they're just a bunch of socialist weenies, right :)


Posted by All Tainted, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2007 at 11:31 pm

We'll have to cut out teaching English, too, given what Britain did in India.



Posted by Busted Logic, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:08 am

With the same logic we should stop teaching "American" to our future generation, given what we did to Iraq.

Oh... BTW we are doing just that. We are teaching nothing compared to what India and China are doing to their next generation.

Is "American" - "Science and Math" ? Go figure...



Posted by Give me a break, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:11 am

Yes, CLEARLY in the world of relativist ethics, there is no difference between dictatorships like Iraq and China which and democracies like France and America...they are all evil.

Lucky for people who think like that, they have more places where they wouldn't mind living, since we are all equally awful.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 9:20 am

Well, first of all, Give me a Break your logic is faulty. I didn't say anything about form of government. Is socialism a crime? Like intentionally poisoning the world's food supply with anti-freeze, poisoning the world's children with lead tained toys, dumping factory loads of toxic chemicals into the nations (China's) drinking water? No, I said nothing about communism or socialism, I said the Chinese government is corrupt, and we shouldn't go along with what they want until they change their corrupt practices that are HARMING THE US. (note: this is not a cultural statement about the people of China - I'm sure they are as distraught as we are about the corruption, pollution, human rights violations, etc).

Yep, we can come up with all sort of ugly corrupt practices across the world including alot perpetrated by our own Bush Administration, that we should protest. And including many in our own history such toxic dumping (which we as a people have put our foot down against, and our media with freedom of speech helps us find and root this out.)

The thing we as a school district are uniquely facing right now happens to be China and the US Government flirting with our very own school district to turn (eventually) a whole school over to Mandarin Language education. This is timely, this is now, and this is here in our own home town. And I'm asking why we are going along with it?

Sure, there are alot of human rights, environmental, social, economic crimes being perpetrated all over the world - do we protest them all at once? How? Well, we should do what we can. But to do that you have to find leverage - what matters to the perpetrators? With Bush - the thing we could do as a nation is get off our dependence on OIL (that would really hit him and his cronies where it hurts), and we can vote, and we can withhold our sons and daughters from the military.

Does withholding our US educational resources from Chinese government's plans to prothelitize Mandarin affect change? Yes, because its somehting they ~want~ right ~now~.

I would say that Givemeabreak and All tainted don't understand the concept of negotiating leverage. (And they don't exactly understand logic.)

Nor do they seem to understand the concept of having a social conscience.

By the way, would not teaching English in our schools today change the British occupation of India 200 years ago? Hmmm, let me think about that.


Posted by Global Citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 10:23 am

Parent,

Your point is undermined by problematic assumptions:

1. China is corrupt, so we should do the opposite of what they want. (Nonsequitur. See failed French foreign policy under NON.)

2. China wants PAUSD to adopt MI. (False. China, deeply pragmatic, wants to promote Chinese where it is welcome.)

3. If someone who speaks language X does something immoral, we should refuse to study their language. (Nonsequitur.)

4. PAUSD can exert leverage over China by rejecting MI. (Perhaps in your distant, possible world you can push around 1.3 billion people by refusing to educate your children. Cannot happen in this actual world.)

Your fear of China is another reason to study Chinese.




Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 10:35 am

As the "Parent" who started this thread, I was talking about the trade issues with a country, any country, whereby the standards of what they produce is questionable. It is interesting to see the political issues coming through. We have trade with many countries but do not teach their language in schools. One of the strongest arguments about Mandarin was that trade with this country was about to take off in a big way. My thoughts were really wondering if this was going to happen considering all the shoddy goods we have been importing. It was not a case of whether the government should stop the imports, but more would consumers continue to buy from China, being suspicious of what dangerous products would next be discovered. I don't think American consumers look at the politics of this, much rather the record of safety of the products that are already arriving from this country.


Posted by To Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 10:54 am

Parent,

The MI people cited many reasons to study Mandarin, not just trade.

In any case, despite recent problems with product safety, China will remain an economic force.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:14 am

1. China is corrupt so we should protest their practices - yes.
2. China want PAUSD to adopt Mandarin Immersion. Hmmm. Well since we didn't see any of the secret donor information, but we DO know that PAUSD is ONE of the school districts that is getting offers of bountiful help from Chinese and US Government toward their MI program, then it is a logical conclusion that PAUSD is ONE of the school districts that Chinese Government would like to see teaching Mandarin.
3. I didn't say we should refuse to learn their language. I said we should refuse their program as a matter of policy. Mandarin can be taught and learned on other terms.
4. It takes a village. You may say that you have no power as an individual consumer or an individual voter. But if you band together you may have power as a block of consumers or as a block of voters. It starts somewhere, and that somewhere is in each indivuals own backyard. Does Cindy Sheehan have the power as an indivual alone? No. Her power is in her voice, and her voice creates momentum which gathers a crowd, which gets on board. Can Palo Alto have a voice? Perhaps the Chinese government doesn't give a rats ass, but can our voice change the minds of our local politicians? Our state politicians? Schartzenegger? Eventually Bush? Yes it can. Its called leadership.

Responsibility for changing the world lies within each one of us individually. You must not have gone to school in PAUSD if you didn't learn that lesson.

Wow, taking a stand = refusing to educate kids. Amazing logic there.



Posted by Peninsula Dweller, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Peninsula Dweller is a registered user.

Dismissing the importance of China in the world economy as just a passing fad stems from wishful thinking more than reality. China is already the world's second largest economy (on a PPP-adjusted basis). Look at what countries like Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, etc. have accomplished in the last few decades and it's mind-boggling to consider how China might grow if it is anywhere near as successful at embracing economic reform. And how it's grown in the past 20 years is already mind-boggling.

China is a country of over a billion people that was screwed up by crappy government, war, and imperialism for over 100 years. Only around 1980 did the country really begin to enter the real world. A few toy recalls and poor environmental and industrial policies, etc. are unfortunate--even reprehensible, but there is no way that this is going to derail the economic growth path China is on. Think back to the U.S. during the days of robber barons and before child labor laws, and you'll realize that things were far from perfect in our own country not so long ago.

Even as one who spent many years studying Chinese and has a decent level of proficiency in the language (I'm Chinese but born and raised in the US), I'm still not sure about the MI issue. It would be great to have such a program available, but I do appreciate the arguments that it might not be the fairest thing to have so many resources devoted to a program that only a few can enjoy.

But my own experience does give me another perspective on this. To get to a level of fluency in Mandarin where you can be of any use in a business setting is extremely difficult. And then don't even consider the cultural issues involved in functioning in an all-Chinese environment when you've been raised in the States. Plus, the young people in China can show a level of ambition and hunger rare among Americans, who grow up relatively pampered. These young Chinese are increasingly speaking very good English, getting fancy degrees from the best US schools, plus they are 100% culturally Chinese, 100% fluent in Mandarin, and are willing to work for much less pay than Americans. Try competing against that if you're from the US.


Posted by PA Dweller, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Dweller,

I think it's worth mentioning the Achilles' heel of China's educational system. Chinese students work very hard at memorizing and then achieving high scores on exams, but the system does not value creativity or deep understanding. This is something that is increasingly recognized in China itself, and educators there are looking to the U.S. for ways to foster creativity.

Our creativity is what they have to compete against.



Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

No one is dismissing the importance of China or its economic growth as a passing fad. (However, the false rush to learn Mandarin just because China is economically important IS a fad though).

Although as china emerges in the world economy so will their production and labor costs rise, and their economic advantage will be reduced - Great example is what's happening now. As they 'emerge' their labor force is becoming wealthier, and more educated and their standards of living will increase (ie: salaries will increase). Additionally, they will be required to apply more quality control, and high standards on materials, and more government regulation to meet worldwide safety and quality standards. All increasing costs of productino. Furthermore, they will continue to deplete their natural resources (at alarming rates) they will start having to be importers, they will eventually be required to get on board with monetary policy which will erode their price advantage, etc.

Likening China's problems to growing pains in the US economic history is valid -but the Chinese government is different than the US, will they necessarily navigate smoothly or in fits and starts? Will the government make mistakes, hinder growth, create angst (Everyone knows that consumer confidence is a critical factor in economic growth.) Will they deal with change as rapidly and efficiently as capitalists or will it be messy?

So their explosive growth is undeniable but their cycle, their longevity, some sort of massive, forever and ever, locked in, economic super advantage I would say is not a given.

And the REAL question anyway for us - do we really need our children to speak Mandarin in order to play on the world stage with China? Or will the world economy be transacted still in English?

But the argument I've posed about protest isn't about protesting to prove or impact whether or not China is growing or has econnomic power in the long run.

What I'm saying is - here and now - do we support and agree with their human rights, economic, environmental practices? Shouldn't we - as global citizens, protest and try to be catalysts of change in that growing economy. Just as the Olympics is a catalyst for change in that economy. Do we have any leverage points? I think we do. Do we have a responsibility to take a stand?

Oh, and to further point 2 - we DO have a copy of a letter from the Chinese Consulate General directly to PAUSD encouraging the MI program (see original PACE MI proposal). Coupled with free trips last year and more free trips this year, pletiful offers of free help, materials, etc., I think its safe to say someone somewhere in the Chinese government knows who we are, and is paying attention to what's going on here with this MI program.

If the San Jose Mercury, and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal noticed us, I think we can assume we can make a difference.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Interesting thread.

My sense is that Mandarin is the flavor of the month, and probably will stay popular for a while (as the original poster said). But, over time, the "flavor" will change, as flavors do. I hesitate to say this (since I know it is unpopular), but I believe that foreign language instruction is a nice-to-have feature of the schools, like art and music - very important to a few, but just adding to "well-rounded-ness" for the rest. At the end of the day, in my view, it doesn't matter very much for us or our kids what we do with foreign language instruction; let's just not over-invest or get over-wrought about it.

My two cents,
Fred


Posted by long timer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Mandarin looks as though it's HERE to stay. You can beat them, or join them. I'd just like to be better able to communicate with them.

Web Link


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2007 at 12:33 am

Too bad Mandarin is here to stay for just a few kids in an expensive, exclusive, and difficult to change program, and not as language instruction for the district that can be changed over time for all kids.


Posted by Who are you people?, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2007 at 3:22 pm

"Mandarin is HERE to stay."

No other language fad has lasted in our schools. Even languages required for university majors change (French or German was required for my math major).

It may be that MI is here for now, or to stay, but why would Mandarin, which seems to have no worldwide heritage, be HERE to stay?

The only motivations I see for it here are:


Posted by Who are you people?, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2007 at 3:28 pm

(That was not Freudian slip or snide comment; I was attempting to start a list of tabbed lines after a carriage return...)

- Parents who want their kids to communicate with grandparents
- Training for spys or diplomats (hence US government funding)
- Very limited China-specific business activities

I suppose you could argue it will help filter kids who can really handle heavy study loads, and serves a purpose that way (because those kids can in fact learn differently than those who cannot handle such a load of teacher-initiated activity).

None of these, nor all combined, seem strong enough to warrant the statement that Mandarin is HERE to stay.

There is far more high-tech activity here done by Indians. Why don't we support that? It's not as if everyone in China speaks Mandarin.


Posted by Language Booster, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2007 at 9:52 pm

Who,

You're hypnotized by the word fad. Things change, foreign language requirements included. Relax. That doesn't make them worthless or bad choices.

Thank you for citing some of the motivations for studying Mandarin (although you went off the rails with the heavy study load stuff). If you examine the issue closely, you'll find many other motivations.

Is Mandarin here to stay? Better to ask: will it still be popular in 10 years? No one can say for sure, but there are many reasons to think it will. 20 years? Could be. 30? Entirely possible.

You seem to lament the lack of support for a movement in favor of an unspecified Indian language. Who is behind that movement? Which language? What is their agenda? Or perhaps you meant you wanted to support the Indians here working in high tech? In my experience, they are excellent English speakers, even if they don't have your accent, so I'm not sure they need your assistance.


Posted by SharpObserver, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Yep, MI in Palo Alto schools IS a communist plot that must be cruched immediately.

Also, we need to get rid of the fluoride in the water - another communist plot at work!

Finally, city worker unions - those darn commies at work once again. Lets bust 'em up!


Posted by who, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2007 at 6:56 am

Language Booster -

Fair enough.

BTW, ever learned Chinese characters? I have. It's a very heavy study load, no matter how you slice it.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Who,

I'm curious, do you think you could learn to read and write Mandarin without homework at the elementary-school level? I honestly can't figure out how a native English speaker would learn Mandarin without a fair amount of rote memorization. And I don't understand how you can teach Ohlone-style with piles of homework and rote memorization. I'm assuming that the difficulties adults have with learning a tonal language are less of an issue for kids, but the written stuff, is there really a way around the drilling issue?


Posted by who, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2007 at 12:08 am

I'm not an expert on it; there might be some kind of "writing immersion" that could be applied here, but my kid has to learn his alphabets, they don't just get absorbed via immersion like speaking does.

It seems to me it requires tremendous amounts of memorization (unless some other simplified writing system is used, which would be, I think, cheating the students from what they should expect).

However, it's much easier for elementary school kids to memorize; and easier to hide the memorization in games, songs, stories, etc. In practice I think the reasonable limit is 100-200 characters/year.

Look at Cupertino to see the learning styles of students that succeed in this environment.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2007 at 12:29 am

Hi Who,

Thanks for getting back to me. I know immersion can work well in grade school. However, the Ohlone Way, which is how MI's supposed to be taught at Ohlone, is student-led, no assigned homework. Cupertino and every other elementary immersion program I've heard of used more traditional educational methods.

I could see the Ohlone methodology working with an alphabet-based language, but I just don't see it integrating all that readily with a character-based written language. But I don't know firsthand, so when someone with some first-hand knowledge shows up, I ask.

(I asked an educator who oversees a project-based curriculum at another school how something like this would work. "I have no idea," was the reply. So I don't think there's a secret body of knowledge known only to educators there, either.)


Posted by Favors languages, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:59 am

If the Ohlone methodology succeeds in teaching the alphabet, I don't see why you can't use it to teach characters. You just have to repeat steps for each character. In other words, in terms of learning characters, it might be in some ways similar to learning the alphabet again and again.

The teachers can devise all kinds of interesting games and stories to help with the characters. Also, there is an almost one-to-one correspondence between characters and phonemes (which is not the case in English), so in some ways it is easier to learn to read.

My children, who had no Mandarin at home, learned to read Mandarin before English in their school.


Posted by guessing, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2007 at 9:21 am

It would seem, I'm not a educator, that when English is taught without phonetics as with whole word memorization, it's not that different from memorizing Chinese characters.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 20, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Guessing,

Reading is not taught with whole-word memorization at Ohlone. It's much more a whole language approach with kids sounding out unknown words--particularly with writing. Even English that's taught by whole word recognition is taught with some phonetics involved. It's disingenuous to claim otherwise.

Most PA kids come into kindegarten with early English literacy skills--they recognize letters and know many of the sounds. Sounding out comes in a natural sequence and can be done independently--which fits wells with student-led learning. What is the equivalent process in Mandarin?

Favors,

Just what instructional method was used to teach your kids to read Mandarin?


Posted by Northward Bound, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:26 am

With the record number of people migrating from the US to Canada we should be teaching Canadian to all of our kids.


Posted by English speaker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 11:36 am

The only Canadian I know is X Y Zed. Is there more?


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 21, 2007 at 12:00 pm

First of all, who says Russian and Japanese aren't important anymore? They're highly important!
Russia's on the rise, for one thing. The next Olympics are in Sochi, and that's not an anomaly. Russia's steadily figuring out the new world order. If we want to keep Russia from going over to the criminal oligarchs, if we want to keep control in the Middle East and central Asia, then for God's sakes let's teach the kids Russian!
And Japanese? Palo Alto's still teaching Japanese, and for good reason. Japan's over its 90s slump, and we can look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.
However important it is that we teach Russian and Japanese, it's crucial that we teach Mandarin. China's a dictatorship, OK. China's got environmental troubles, yes, though perhaps Palo Alto residents have trouble understanding how tough it is to keep clean when your GDP's $1,700 per capita. For those precise reasons it's crucial that we keep contact with the Chinese people.
The Chinese dictators are finding it increasingly hard to keep their people from talking to our people. There's a massive, growing middle class in China, and to keep them productive, the Chinese government has to let them make contact with the world at large. One of the best things we can do to keep them in the dark is refuse to reach out to them. If we don't learn their language, they have a harder time talking to us, and the Chinese government has an easier time controlling them.
China presents problems to the world, but those problems must be faced. It's no good to refuse to trade with China, or refuse to speak their language, and imagine the problems will go away. Those of us who care about making an open, democratic world need to humble ourselves and learn the world's languages.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm

But China is teaching its children to speak English - in huge numbers, and the greater the economic growth, the greater the growth in English speakers in China... While only about 50% of people in China speak Mandarin.

I don't buy your argument that I need to speak Mandarin to stay in contact with, do business with, the Chinese. I also don't believe I need to speak Mandarin to empathize with the Chinese human condition.

That sounds like the chinese government's argument.

Certainly, we can and should humble ourselves to learn languages, but for most who plan to live and work here, its purely an academic pursuit, like art, music, poetry - for the sake of beauty or erudition. And perhaps education in languages helps one be a better 'learner' in other subjects. To this extent, then all our children deserve a crack at language education, don't they? But Mandarin is no more critical or practical for us here or on the worldwide stage, than Japanese, Chinese, French, Latin, Hebrew, German, etc.


Posted by Citizen, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:23 pm

The Chinese are learning English. Fair enough, but shouldn't we return the favor? Even if it's not strictly necessary, don't we gain favor with the Chinese if we've taken the time to learn their language? "Only" half of China's population speaks Mandarin, but it's the standard language of Chinese business and administration, and Mandarin education would include an education in Chinese writing. If it's no better than those other languages, it's certainly no worse. There's no reason to call it a "flavor of the month".


Posted by Nit picker, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

Just wondering. Since all Chinese do not speak Mandarin, presumably they are able to understand it to some extent. The languages are not totally different. Since so many Chinese are learning English, which variety are they speaking, British or American? These two are also supposedly common, but in fact have differences which can be confusing to either race.


Posted by Peninsula Dweller, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Peninsula Dweller is a registered user.

Regarding some of the points made above:

-It might be true that only half of the total population in China speaks Mandarin, but it's more like 99% among people in the business, academic, and cultural spheres who Americans (at least those not going to China specifically to work in poor rural communities) would typically deal with.

-China's not a democracy by any means, but it's an over-simplification to just write the government off as a bunch of communist dictators. Things are much more open in China politically, socially, and economically than they were, say, 10-20 years ago, and don't even try to compare the present to the utter political and economic repression that occurred in the days of Mao.

China's leaders aren't stupidly waving around little red books and memorizing Das Kapital. They know that further liberalization is the way forward for China. They'd just like to hold onto their cozy one-party system as long as they can. It's not American democracy, but it's not "1984" either.

-Rote memorization is inevitable if you want to learn Chinese characters. There are some occasional patterns linking certain pronunciations to certain "half-characters", but these can be quite inconsistent, with tons of exceptions. On the other hand, memorization isn't so awful: if you spend an hour, you'll get an hour worth of memorization done. It's not something like physics where you can spend an hour trying to understand something and still not make any progress.



Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2007 at 3:12 pm

I can't see any sensible argument that we should NOT teach Mandarin - so long as there are enough kids / families who want to learn. Why not?

The original post asked whether Mandarin is "flavor of the month" and will become less popular; that seems likely to me, though hard to say if its popularity has peaked (wider experience with how dang hard it is might impact that).

Is Mandarin "important" (or even "crucial" as one poster put it)? Gosh I hope not, since the # of kids who will actually achieve any kind of fluency will be very small indeed.

Fred



Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:30 pm

I agree with Fred that fluency should not be expected. Doesn't it take 3 years of high school foreign language instruction to receive credit for just one year at a UC? Two years of FL in middle school counts for one year of high school FL. So it's wishful thinking to expect elementary kids to be fluent in Mandarin by 5th grade, unless they speak Mandarin outside of school.

I think that the main value of foreign language instruction at the elem. level is in cognitive development -- same as music/art/reasoning/movement (remember "crossing the midline" for preschoolers?). Any foreign language gives insight into the structure of one's native language. So *any* foreign language instruction would be great. Mandarin is allegedly superior because of the "tones."

I think dual immersion is implemented backwards in PA. Since English fluency should be the only fluency goal in elem. school, if immersion is such a great teaching technique, then it makes more sense to immerse the foreign-language speakers in English, rather than starting with dribs and drabs. But I suppose it wouldn't attract English-speaking families to Immersion if it started out at 90% English/10% foreign language.

For me, the main negative of Grace's MI proposal is the racial quota. Requiring "native Mandarin speakers" in excess of their percentage in the district doesn't seem legal, even for a luck program, rather than a neighborhood school. Mandarin-speaking kids have a far greater chance of getting in than all other kids. There can't be an argument that MI is somehow remedial, like Spanish Immersion.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2007 at 8:08 am

Fred said: "I can't see any sensible argument that we should NOT teach Mandarin - so long as there are enough kids / families who want to learn. Why not?"

Sure! And we do! Anyone who want's can take Mandarin through PAUSD at the secondary level, just like they can for several other languages. Mandarin receives no more or no less attention than any other language today in PAUSD. Some might say, a little more, because its in a ramp up phase where more and more classes and levels (ie: AP Mandarin) have been added in the last several years!

But do you see any compelling reason why we should turn over a whole (or half) an elementary school to the devotion of Mandarin in Elementary school? When we do no language at elementary level for the other 95% of the kids?

"why not" is not a very compelling justification.


Posted by old timer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2007 at 8:30 am

[Post removed by Palo alto Online.]


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 22, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Parent, of course you are right about lack of a compelling reason for the current MI choice program, given in the context of the overall PAUSD space issues and strategic priorities. I was not an MI Choice School supporter over the last year.

But in the abstract, though, we should generally err on the side of giving people what they want (with some process hurdles to make sure they really want it). MI didn't make the cut in my book, at this time anyway, but not because it was Mandarin instead of something else.

Fred


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 25, 2007 at 8:51 pm

Peninsula Dweller,

Thanks for answering my question about rote memorization. That was my impression. Since Ohlone does not require homework (though kids take home work they've not figured), I just don't see much synergy between the requirements of Mandarin and the Ohlone educational philosophy. Mandarin seems more of a natural for direct instruction.

Fred,

Of course, it all comes down to resources. Mandarin is learning intensive--and immersion requires focused space and time. Thinking it over, I think the real language push should have been for Spanish FLES across the district, just because the percentage of native Spanish speakers in the state is huge at this point.

Mandarin is valuable, but only to a small number of Americans, frankly. Most people, even in Palo Alto, will never go to China. Thus, it's an advantage, a perk--and one that's available nearby and for a reasonable cost in the private sector.

So, in my book, it was partly because it was Mandarin and Mandarin's not projected to be a widely spoken language in our country, or state, in our lifetime or that of our kids.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2007 at 10:12 pm

If we took a poll of PAUSD parents and asked them what language they would like their child to learn (or that their child wanted to learn) - out of the 10,000 kids, how many parents would choose Mandarin?


Posted by Bay Area Parent, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:20 am

Nancy said: "fluency should not be expected. Doesn't it take 3 years of high school foreign language instruction to receive credit for just one year at a UC? Two years of FL in middle school counts for one year of high school FL. So it's wishful thinking to expect elementary kids to be fluent in Mandarin by 5th grade, unless they speak Mandarin outside of school."

You are, in part, right about this. Kids with FLES will not be fluent by fifth grade. But the story is different with immersion. The kids do, in fact, become fluent in immersion programs, which is one of the reasons some parents prefer immersion to FLES.

"But I suppose it wouldn't attract English-speaking families to Immersion if it started out at 90% English/10% foreign language."

The issue is not one of popularity but of pedagogy. The language of the community here is English, so kids are exposed all the time to it outside the classroom. One could experiment with such a mix, I suppose, but I know of no school where this is done. I'd guess the result would be very little fluency in the foreign language. There is a standard model of immersion that has been researched extensively. It seems best to follow that proven model.

Are you concerned about native Mandarin speakers not learning English? In Cupertino, they emerge with better English scores than their native English-speaking peers in Cupertino.

"For me, the main negative of Grace's MI proposal is the racial quota."

Correction: there is no racial quota, and the suggested mix of native speakers to non derives from the standard model. This is no different from the targets set by other immersion programs locally and around the state (and world).


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2007 at 12:57 pm

My understanding is that spoken fluency in Mandarin can be obtained in an elementary immersion setting, but not literacy--i.e. reading and writing. Sounds like it's not even being promised.

One of my issues with Mandarin as a FLES program for the main Ohlone strands is that it's pretty damn useless as a FLES language for that reason. FLES Mandarin won't even teach my kid to read a menu or even understand a Hong Kong action flick--since those are in Cantonese.

The native speaker requirement does, in fact, result in a racial quota system--let's not be disingenuous. I think, in fact, that that's going to be a real challenge for the program. Of the kids I know with native-Chinese speaking parents, one is a native Chinese speaker. And she speaks Cantonese.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 4:17 pm

bay Area parent - interesting that the onl students that have 'emerged' from the Cupertino program so far is the first class which was a class of six. I'd imagine most kids would do better than their peers in a class of six.

Ohlone Parent - I'm not sure why you think written fluency is not even promised. The feasibility study, the grant, the original proposal all promise "bilingual and biliterate" - this means reading, writing (literature analysis, etc), at grade level in both languages. At least that's what the board was lead to believe the program was promising, and that's what the board approved.

Bay Area Parent - 'other' programs are not PAUSD - and 'other' communities aren't Palo Alto. For example, if a community is
60% Chinese, a program that reserve 50% of its spots isn't demographically out of whack. I notice you're response to this issue isn't that it won't occur, but rather that its excusable because other programs like this exist elsewhere.

The real proof on how these programs work within the communities they serve would be: name of school district, name of MI program, demographic of the district, demographic of the MI program. This would allow us all to see how these 'model' programs fit within the communities they serve. Lets start with an easy one - the Cupertino program! This is one we KNOW you have lots of information on.

By the way, none of this info was in the feasibility study. But there were anecdotal (UNsupported with DATA) statements from Cook and Cohn Vargas that demographic balance in the model program is just super, great, fine, no problem.

Lets see the supporting data, we're tired of the empty claims.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I notice an incomplete sentence in the above post which needs to be corrected.

Where it says: "For example, if a community is 60% Chinese, a program that reserve 50% of its spots isn't demographically out of whack"

it should have said:

"For example, if a community is 60% Chinese, a program that reserves 50% of its spots for native Mandarin speakers isn't demographically imbalanced relative to demographic makeup of that community." The issue is demographic representation relative to the community, whatever demographic makeup exists there.


Posted by Bay Area Parent, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Dear Ohlonepar,

No, they learn to read and write in standard programs, not just speak. Not sure what you mean by "not even being promised." Did your district say this would be spoken immersion with no written element? Never heard of such a program.

Seems like a great language for FLES to me. Menu-reading doesn't really bear on literacy. Seems like story books and chapter books would be a more appropriate goal. The chop-socky comment seems obtuse. FLES Mandarin won't teach your kid to understand French movies either. So what? There are movies for your kid to see in Mandarin (even action flicks), if he's interested. (Realistically, though, I don't think that FLES in any language is going to prepare the kids to follow a movie. If that's your goal, you'd better aim for immersion.)

Dear Parent,

"interesting that the onl students that have 'emerged' from the Cupertino program so far is the first class which was a class of six. I'd imagine most kids would do better than their peers in a class of six."

You're off by a factor of 10. There were like 60 kids who finished fifth grade in June. But you can see the fluency well before fifth....

You say that only in Palo Alto is the quota for native speakers "demographically out of whack," but this is wrong. There are programs in various languages in all sorts of communities. If you disagree, please cite your data.

In any case, the point is not that it's "excusable" but well accepted: there is no problem with "out-of-whack" demographics, either legally or ethically.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Sorry, I was thinking of the prior year, where they indeed only graduated 6 of the original class.

By the way, of those 60 who graduated this year, how many entered as Kindergarteners in this program? Now, be careful with your answer.. make sure you take a good look at the attrition and repopulation of the program that occured in about 2nd and 3rd grade... So tell us, how many of those that graduated this past year were already Mandarin proficient when they entered?

The data on Palo Alto's demographic comes from the census bureu website and from PAUSD reports to the state. It doesn not support a 50% Native Speaking population. Your comment on 'various languages in all sort of communities' is an attempt to dodge the question. The question I asked is how YOU can defend the example MI programs that YOU cited, for not creating demographic imbalance, when in fact you have not (can not?) provide any data to support that position. In fact if you have no data, how were able to make that statement. If you DO have data, why aren't you sharing it? Something to hide?

I asked YOU to provide your data for YOUR statements. Now you are asking ME to provide data for (or against) YOUR statements. Rich (and its happened every time we've asked you this question.)

There is in fact an ethical and legal problem with discrimination. If you create an program with intent to reserve spots for a single demographic population, with entrance criteria administered to ensure they meet a standard which defacto ensures you achieve that ethnic population you have a biased and unethical program. If PAUSD were reserving elementary school spots for English speakers, you would be the first to lawyer up.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:19 pm

BAP,

What's not promised is full biliteracy--the ability to read and write Mandarin fluently. Why? Because the written language requires a tremendous amount of memorization. Or, as a Chinese studies grad student once told me, in China there are levels of literacy--the symbols, themselves, are multilayered with meaning.

From what I've read of the proposals, it's not at all clear whether true written Chinese will be taught or the simplified Kanji. Take a look at the language actually used--it's not total biliteracy by any means, it's some degree of biliteracy.

My point about Mandarin FLES is that my child could use the same time to learn a language that is easier AND more useful. Because the little bits of Mandarin have so little practical application, the retention will be poor. Menu-reading would at least be a practical skill--it's pretty much the first thing I learn in any language. If you're not going to be fluent, then what is it you need to know to communicate in a language or get by in a country that speaks that language. Food, directions, reading street signs. Basic stuff.

"Chop-socky"? What do you mean by that, precisely? My reference to Hong Kong movies is again about real-life exposure. When I was in immersion French, yes, I watched a lot of French films. Even now, I pick up nuances in French films that I don't in less familiar languages. In other words, I can't even augment my child's retention of dribs and drabs of Mandarin with most Chinese movies.

In other words, I don't want Mandarin FLES in exchange for overcrowding Ohlone. I'd rather have a language where a small amount has some practical application--or is easy enough to learn that there's some fluency.

This isn't to say that Mandarin isn't valuable for the people who want MI--but it's a bad choice for FLES in California. It's a bad choice for people who have no personal reason to have their kids learn Mandarin. Spanish requires 720 hours of instruction, Mandarin 2400 for fluency.

And, let's face it, I bet *you* can't come up with a scenario where my kid is going to *need* 100 words of Mandarin in California.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:32 pm

What's even more important is whether PAUSD staff has these statistics. PAUSD has Choice program policy that says that their choice programs should be demographically representative of the community. (And by the way, that is also consistent with Califorina State Charter policy.)

And so I'm wondering how PAUSD was able to approve this program given that this was one of their guidelines. They supposedly studied model programs for the feasibility study - so what were their findings on this matter? Did Cohn Vargas and Cook just peek in to a few classrooms and take a stab at demographics?(!) Or did they gather actual data? (Answer: They either don't have the data (or they aren't sharing it.)) I wonder why...


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:36 pm

What the heck is 'chop-sokey'? Bay Area Parent used this term, I don't see it used previously. Can anybody explain?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm

According to PAEE's position paper, the number of fifth graders who began as Kinders and graduated from Cupertino MI was nowhere near 60--more like 34. Current attrition levels are at least 35 percent over the six-year period. In some years, you see 25 percent drops. It's obvious that Cupertino adds in kids (the kids in a given grade go up the following year), but, frankly, Cupertino's a lot better situated demographically to pull that off.

Frankly, if Ohlone had these kind of numbers for its own program--or Hoover--the program would be tossed out the window. Which just goes to show you how much political stuff is at work.


Posted by bay Area Parent, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 8:58 pm

Dear Ohlonepar,

"What's not promised is full biliteracy--the ability to read and write Mandarin fluently. Why? Because the written language requires a tremendous amount of memorization."

Well, of course that is true, but keep in mind that even in China and Taiwan "learning to read" in that sense continues through high school and even college. Fifth graders in China are also unable to read and write fluent Mandarin, as you put it. So your objection seems to amount to complaining that MI kids won't be able to read and write as fluently as adults in China. Perhaps I missed something.

Think also of how our kids learn to read and write English. In your turn of phrase, they lack full English bi-literacy in fifth grade.

I see that you don't value Mandarin for you child, and I can understand that, but you are misinformed about how hard it is to learn spoken Mandarin. Despite the numbers you quote, which I would guess relate to adults learning to read and write, it is as easy to teach a small native English-speaking child to communicate in Mandarin as in French.

I see you have your own strategy for learning a language, but that wouldn't really be appropriate for teaching a child.

"In other words, I can't even augment my child's retention of dribs and drabs of Mandarin with most Chinese movies." Er, most Cantonese kids movies have been dubbed in Mandarin, and China now turns out lots of movies in Mandarin. So supplementing is not a problem. Oodles of stuff.

"And, let's face it, I bet *you* can't come up with a scenario where my kid is going to *need* 100 words of Mandarin in California." You're right, but that just reflects who you choose to associate with and the places you like to frequent. I can come up with plenty of scenarios where MY kid is going to need 100 words of Mandarin.

Dear Parent,

"By the way, of those 60 who graduated this year, how many entered as Kindergarteners in this program?"

Don't know. Attrition was an issue in the early years but no longer.

"The question I asked is how YOU can defend the example MI programs that YOU cited"

Er, you were the one who made the claim. To wit: other communities with immersion do not have quotas that are out of whack with their demographics. So if that is true, dig up the evidence. Get back to us with 10 programs that are in whack.

I think if you take the time to walk through the steps, it will become apparent how silly this kind of objection is. Question for you: why does it matter if the demographics are out of whack? Suppose they are out of whack. Why is that a bad thing?

"There is in fact an ethical and legal problem with discrimination." Well, no, discrimination happens all the time and no one finds it objectionable. However, there are ethical and legal problems with racial discrimination. Fortunately, a language quota is not a racial one, so there is no problem in this case.

Also, I looked at your district's website, and there is no requirement that "choice programs" have to be demographically representative. It would be an absurd requirement when you think about it. Are any of your elementary schools representative of your entire district? Probably not.

P.S. Chop-socky is a genre term encompassing martial arts films from Asian, mainly from Hong Kong.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2007 at 9:00 pm

parent,

According to wikipedia, it was an Australian comedy team. I don't think that's what's meant here. I think BAP may be playing some sort of race card because I don't think Mandarin FLES is useful for my kid. (Though maybe if it comes with free trips to China . . . )


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2007 at 10:00 pm

No, you said it was OK that PAUSD was doing it, because you said its done in lots of other programs. I said, just because its done in other program doesn't mean its OK for PAUSD. PAUSD is not those other communities.

If its OK with those other communities that have this practice, then we'd have to know how those other communities compare to PAUSD. I guess (because I don't even know what other communities you refer to) that immesion programs basically serve the demographic of that community.

I don't even know who or where these other communities are - YOU are the one who claims to know about these other communities with these perfectly wonderful example MI programs. So lets have some details about these programs... Or are you just making it all up?

Federal Equal Education Opportunities Act says that discrimination based on language is illegal. See point F (If testing for language proficiency isn't a barrier to entry, what is?)

TITLE 20 - EDUCATION
CHAPTER 39 - EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
SUBCHAPTER I - EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
Part 2 - Unlawful Practices


1703. Denial of equal educational opportunity prohibited
No State shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, by -


(a) the deliberate segregation by an educational agency of students on the basis of race, color, or national origin among or within schools;

(b) the failure of an educational agency which has formerly practiced such deliberate segregation to take affirmative steps, consistent with part 4 of this subchapter, to remove the vestiges of a dual school system;

(c) the assignment by an educational agency of a student to a school, other than the one closest to his or her place of residence within the school district in which he or she resides, if the assignment results in a greater degree of segregation of students on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin among the schools of such agency than would result if such student were assigned to the school closest to his or her place of residence within the school district of such agency providing the appropriate grade level and type of education for such student;

(d) discrimination by an educational agency on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the employment, employment conditions, or assignment to schools of its faculty or staff, except to fulfill the purposes of subsection (f) below;

(e) the transfer by an educational agency, whether voluntary or otherwise, of a student from one school to another if the purpose and effect of such transfer is to increase segregation of students on the basis of race, color, or national origin among the schools of such agency; or

(f) the failure by an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs

Web Link



Posted by JustWondering, a resident of another community
on Aug 26, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Don't any of you folks have a life or is MI it????


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 1:04 am

bAP,

Yes, even in China and Taiwan . . . exactly. Given the challenges of the written language, Mandarin's a poor choice for FLES. And hunting down Mandarin dubs is kind of goofy.

When I was in fifth grade, I did read at an adult level in English. I had an adult level of literacy. Again, how the languages are formed make a difference--and has a great deal to do with why Mandarin won't become a fallback language like English.

I'm not denying that you might want Mandarin for your child. My point is that my kid, because of the Ohlone mash-up is going to get some sort of feeble Mandarin FLES instead of a thought-out FLES program in the district where my kid has a chance of obtaining some reasonable fluency in a second language.

I NEVER said spoken fluency wasn't possible. Young kids learn spoken languages much more easily than we do. True bi-literacy is another story. One article on MI said that fluency in Chinese meant knowing 10,000 characters. Another poster who'd studied Chinese said that learning a couple of hundred characters a year was realistic to expect of kids.

In other words, even in an immersion program, these kids are going to know, at most, 10 percent of the characters they to know for biliteracy.

In contrast, a bright seven

-year-old can read adult books in English.

Also, if you look at the numbers in Cupertino, attrition is still a problem, more so than it appears just because Cupertino adds kids to the program.

By the way, here's an interesting link--even in New York and with a highly successful MI program, there are tensions and a problem with self-segregation. I'd say an 80 percent Asian student body isn't really reflective of NYC's demographics, would you?

www.reclaimingeducation.org/nyt1.pdf

Web Link

So just where IS MI going to go in three years?


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2007 at 8:06 am

Opar,

"According to PAEE's position paper"

Yeah, because numbers from paee are really trustworthy. Seriously.

CLIP attrition is four percent a year. So over the five years of elementary, you lose 18 of 100. Less attrition than PAUSD. I guess you'll agree we should convert the entire district to MI based on that!

"Mandarin's a poor choice for FLES." You're just repeated an uninformed position.

"When I was in fifth grade, I did read at an adult level in English." Well, flip you a fish. Literacy in fifth grade in the United States today is somewhat lower than adult. Has nothing to do with the way languages are formed.

"One article on MI said that fluency in Chinese meant knowing 10,000 characters."

No. An average adult is fine with about 2,500. Maybe 4,000 for those in college. Kids in MI, like kids in China or Taiwan, are well on their way to literacy. (The MI kids may lag a bit, just as the kids lag for a while in English.) It takes more time to learn how to read.

"a bright seven-year-old can read adult books in English." Your point is that MI cannot teach kids to read Chinese as quickly as schools teach native English speakers to read. Duh. The answer to the question you should have asked is: Yes, MI can teach kids to read and write at the same level as kids in China.


Posted by whats the alternative?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 9:47 am

OPs experience in English language fluency (adult level by 5th grade) isn't extraordinary. Its common, and probably 'normal' for PAUSD (What good does it do us here in PAUSD to compare to the national average - Would the national average be good enough for you???)

I wonder if the MI prospective parents ever ponder this... Is the value of Mandarin worth the distraction? Are these parents going to be satisfied with results comparable to national averages? Your MI program promises you your kids will do as well as average (as well as their peers - ever ask how the 'peers' are defined?)

But you're in PAUSD - your kids could be in the 99th percentile. But you say what the heck (I guess you have stars in your eyes or something) and go ahead and divert them into a massive MI undertaking. Which slows down their English language skills, (hope and pray that they make up the difference around 5th grade), but they obtain a very slow (but basically average level) Mandarin skill (that is of questionable value). Well, if you and your kids are going to live/work in China, then you probably will value Mandarin quite a bit. If not, and you plan to stay here, and compete for jobs here, and compete for colleges here, and compete for spots in AP classes here - is diversion into Mandarin (away from English) really serving your kids the best education when your OPTION is PAUSD.

Sure, if your OPTION is 'the national average' (usually overcrowded, underfunded inner city schools where they offer immersion programs to serve ELL students to close achievement gap, where charter schools are far and away better run and better funded than the public schools, then a specialty immersion program has a lot of appeal. But you are not there, you are here. And your option is a guaranteed great education in PAUSD.



Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 9:50 am

By the way PAEE got its Cupertino MI (CLIP) enrollment information from Grace Mah's posting of the CLIP enrollment on Palo Alto online. They then got an update on 2006 11th day enrollment from Mary Jew the CLIP program manager.

Here's some more detail from that data (Please judge for yourselves).

The class that started as Kinders in 2000 started with 28 Kinders. As of 11th day enrollement in 2006 (when that strand was in 6th grade) they had 24. Sound pretty good huh? Well, what you also need to know is that that same class strand grew to 39 kids in 2003 when they were 3rd graders. So they actually lost 15 kids from their high point. That's a 38% decline in size of class.

And how many of those 24 kids that were six graders in 2006 were part of the original kinder class? (No one knows, CLIP won't tell us). In other words, did CLIP teach the kids Mandarin, or did Mandarin speakers come in in third grade and finish out the program?

In 2001 the entering class started with 25 Kinders. That class strand grew to 40 in first grade. By 5th grade (2006 11th day enrollment) they ended with 31. That's a 22% reduction in size of that class.

And the next year, the class that entered as Kinders in 2002 started with 64 kids. By 2006 11th day enrollment (as 4th graders) they were down to 47. That's a 26% reduction in size of that class.

The class that entered as Kinders in 2003 started with 64, grew to 67 in first grade. They were down to 59 by 3rd grade (2006 11th day enrollment). That's a 12% reduction in size of that class (but these guys were only entering 3rd graders at this point. Lets give them a few more years and see how they end up.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 10:43 am

PA Parent said: "Your point is that MI cannot teach kids to read Chinese as quickly as schools teach native English speakers to read. Duh."

No, I believe you have missed the point. The point actually is that Mandarin is far more difficult to learn and to use, and therefore FAR less practical than English.

Therefore it will never displace English as the language of the world economy for very practical reasons (as some of the MI arguers would imply with their 'flat world' arguments.) A capitalist system will (by very definition) ensure that efficiency wins out. And spending time on it is low return for the effort.

Unless you plan to live/work in China in the future, its really of no practical use to most non-native speakers here. Certainly is not worth the diversion of your children from a VERY high level of English language proficiency (which they could otherwise gain from a PAUSD education) to substitute a low level of Mandarin proficiency (which is apparently an average youth level of Mandarin in China.)

Its really a very practical issue. Its about bang for the buck. The elementary school experience is six short years. You can make the most of it, or you can really screw it up, divert them, confuse them, frustrate them. They can come out highly proficient and competitive in ultimately the most useful language in the world, or they can come out 'average' in English language skills with a beginnerish level of non-useful Mandarin.

The way I think about it is that the Mandarin language is a worthy pursuit for artistic and cultural reasons, much like the protection of a historical monument (or the study of art history). Its teaches you something about your past, it preserves a cultural heritage, and its got a 'neato' factor to it. You might make money off it, but for the most part most people won't - they are a 'lover' of art, but for recreational purposes.

I certainly wouldn't place it as a priority over my children's basic education (not if I care about competitive advantage), and I certainly wouldn't risk allowing it to slow down my child's English language education.

By the way, I spent a lot of time at San Jose State which was predominantly Asian in the business school. I was surrounded by many VERY smart people, but I ran circles around them, mostly because I could read textbooks very efficiently and I could write excellently. Even in the mathematical, statistics, investment, accounting classes, where it was math based (and I was far outclassed), I excelled because of my English Language skills.

Don't forget - college is all about 'the curve'. The kids are competing against each other. Your communication skills differentiate you from the guy sitting next to you who can also 'do the math'. Afterall, math is math and its either right or wrong. Its what you say in writing about the math that makes the difference between As and Bs.

The ability to communicate excellently in English is THE most critical success factor for college in the US. You ~might~ get an advantage on your application because you can put a novelty second language down, but once you're in and the rubber meets the road, you'll need the highest level of English language proficiency possible to compete.

Why in the world would your measuring stick be whether your childs classroom can teach your kid Mandarin at a level equivalent to Mandarin taught in China. What possible good is that to your child who is up against English speakers in the US education system? Duh.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 12:33 pm

pa parent

Parent and what's the alternative say it well, so just a couple of comments.

You say literacy is 2,400 words, the 10,000 character comment came from the head of an MI school. Obviously, no easy agreement and even by your lowball number, kids aren't anywhere near fluency by the end of fifth grade.

You dismiss my comments about Mandarin being a poor FLES choice without actually disputing my points: Mandarin is far more difficult for English speakers than Spanish. Spanish is widely spoken in California; Mandarin is not. As parent puts it, it is a question of the best bang for the buck. Immersion Mandarin might be worth something because of the advantages that early exposure has for learning tonal languages, but as a FLES language, where exposure is limited and fluency unlikely, it's an impractical choice. My child simply won't learn enough to make limited exposure useful.

Parent's also right that Mandarin won't become a global second language the way English is. It is far too hard for many adults to learn. The symbol system is a huge hindrance. Remember, India, that other big up and comer has been using English for centuries. (Which may have something to do with Indians outperforming other immigrant groups.)

Literacy in fifth grade has everything to do with how languages are formed. I was reading several thousand words at that point and, thanks to English being the kind of language it is, it was easy to figure out new ones--without rote memorization.

C'mon, this isn't news.

Your 18 percent is pathetically dishonest, given that the first class that went through ended up with six kids and as parent points out, there's obvious supplementing. Even with the supplementing, you get an overall drop.

Oh, PAUSD--check it out sometime, the drops are tiny--and, of course, kids can come into the class without having to speak Mandarin.
You don't have the empty seat problem.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Countrymen,

Ah, I see the problem. You are unaware of the facts. I can see how you might draw your conclusions in the absence of information. You think education is a zero-sum situation: if you add Mandarin you have to subtract some thing else. That's not the way it works.

As a simple example, reading is additive. Learning to read Mandarin helps you to learn to read English.

You need to look at the research, which compares immersion kids to their peers in district (not to national averages). The research shows the immersion kids out-perform non-immersion in-district kids in English. So, we should expect the MI kids to be better at English than their mono-lingual peers here in Palo Alto. (Not, as you incorrectly assumed, just in comparison to some national average.)

You also seem to believe you cannot have both high achievement and immersion, that immersion kids will not compete well for spots in AP classes, slots at elite colleges or good jobs. It's a comforting thought if your kid is not in immersion, but I think you'll see a statistically greater number of MI kids in AP classes and in top colleges. It's not an either or choice. Immersion does no harm; it does good.

I'm surprised by these ignorant claims. I hope no one goes around making educational decisions for their children like that.

As for CLIP attrition, you can rejigger the numbers all you want: CLIP has no attrition problem. Ask them.

"Therefore it will never displace English as the language of the world economy" You're completely lost here, wandering far from the discussion. Who claimed Mandarin would displace English? Yikes! I can see that Mandarin would not be of "practical use" to those who are very insular. Others will find it useful.

"Why in the world would your measuring stick be whether your childs classroom can teach your kid Mandarin at a level equivalent to Mandarin taught in China." That's the only relevant yardstick. (But again, you've conflated good Mandarin skills with poor English skills, so I can see how you got lost.)

"kids aren't anywhere near fluency by the end of fifth grade." Er, you're making that weird comparison again between children and adults. MI kids are at about grade level. Why would you expect a fifth grader in PA to acquire the skills that only university students in China have? Kooky.

"Mandarin is far more difficult for English speakers than Spanish." True, but only for adults, whom you rarely find as students in first grade.

"Spanish is widely spoken in California; Mandarin is not." So what? You have your reasons and idiosyncratic context for wanting Spanish, others favor other languages.

The real question here is why you want to push your personal choices onto the rest of the community. Try some tolerance.


Posted by pa mom, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Wow, MI kids are more successful than their monolingual counterparts? You mean, if my kids enroll in MI they'll have a superior education, be more successful in AP classes, have a better chance of getting into the most elite colleges in the country, and will get the best jobs? So, how do I sign my kids up? Oh that's right, it's a lottery and only 5% (or less once sibling priority is given) of the kids in this district have a chance at this fabulous program. Oh well, I guess it's Chico state for my kids...


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 3:37 pm

How about this scenario?

Students from families with the kind of push/push mentality that means they have tutors for everything, no extra curricula activities (except music because that is meant to help math) and no social life, are the ones who are most likely to sign up their children for MI. These students are bound to do well whatever the program they are in and could quite likely outperform their peers regardless. It is not the program that helps them at all, it is the other things that give them the edge.

To follow this scenario, I can think of two Stanford families who each have a daughter who either lied about getting into Stanford or couldn't face the pressures of Stanford life and ended up committing suicide. That may be what happens when you push/push.

Extreme? Possibly.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:18 pm

PA Parent,

Hmmm, only for adults? Prove it. Seriously. Look, it's harder for native Chinese speakers in China to become fully literate in Mandarin than it is for native Spanish speakers to become literate in Spanish.

Ooh, and I've not seen the canard about MI kids outperform their English-only peers in a while. Sorry, no support for that one. You're extrapolating research done on Spanish-speaking kids in SI to ESL. There's one limited bit of research on MI covering one year. No one knows what happens when these kids hit college age.

Actually, kids in MI seem to have somewhat lower scores than their peers in English. Thus, the lower APIs at Meyerholtz (and Escondido, for that matter.)relative to their districts. There's also been some anecdotal evidence on this board, from veteran immersion parents, that writing skills in English suffer. Thus, the recommendation by one of the language educator groups that immersion families supplement their kids English skills off-hours. (On top of all that Mandarin rote memorization--whee!)

Of course, the real proof is that bilingual kids from immigrant families don't do better on tests of English proficiency than monolingual English speakers.

Writing English (or any other language) takes practice writing in that language. Studying piano may teach me about music, but it won't teach me the french horn.

By your mangled reasoning, my child will learn Mandarin by studying English.

And, yes, if the goal is fluency, I'd expect fluency similar to what my child would have in English at the same age--particularly given the trade-off in English fluency. That you're saying that's not possible is, at least, honest. It also points to the big problem with Mandarin as a global second language.

These are also reasons why Mandarin, despite the large population that speaks it in China, will be an educational fad.

Insularity has nothing to do with my preferences. The Mandarin-speaking population in the U.S. is small and not projected to expand by more than a percentage point or two. The Spanish-speaking population is expanding rapidly.

Who's really being insular here? Me, who thinks my kids should speak a language spoken by one in three Californians? Or, you, who wants my kid to have FLES in a language by few Americans? (And, oh, don't I get a whiff of snobbery here--after all, Spanish speakers in California aren't a particularly elite group, are they? No cachet in Spanish.)

I'm not actually pushing my kid to learn Spanish, by the way. I think for nonpersonal reasons, it's an obvious second-language choice in a California public school. Nothing idiosyncratic about it--my personal language preference is French, but I think the arguments for Spanish as a standard FLES choice are stronger.

Now, I know you don't really give a damn what second language my kid learns. But, fact is, a bad FLES choice at Ohlone is a direct fall-out from PACE's Mandarin-or-else tactics.

YOU pushed YOUR choices on ME. YOU are interfering with MY child's education. So, no, tolerance is not an option.

Of course, I'm speaking as an Ohlone parent. Other schools are getting no second languages. It's a mess that should have been avoided by the board--and probably would have been if it hadn't been for dingy Camille Townsend and what was obviously a personal agenda.

But as is typical of the pro-MI group, you can't face the easily forseeable consequences of your actions.


Posted by Al, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:26 pm

I have stayed out of this debate for some time, because I believe that ALL choice schools, within normal PAUSD schools should be eliminated. I favor NEIGHBORHOOD schools, without exception, for the normal curriculum. However I am in FAVOR of immersion programs and Direct Instruction and Cooperative Learning models, IF they are offered as charter schools or private schools or voucher schools (private, with public funds).

So much of this acrimonious debate could be avoided, if REAL chhoice programs were allowed, which did not rely upon a lottery, and which did not interfere with neighborhood schools. The power structure in PAUSD (to include the teachers' union)will not allow real choice. Thus, we have this current train wreck. When future bond issues go down in flames, there might be a little recognition of reality.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Lets apply some of the critical thinking skills we learned in school - shall we?

Immersion schools are often set up as charter schools or choice programs.

These schools are often set up in underperfomring districts. They are often set up specifically to address achievement gap and other shortcomings in the local public school district. Charter schools are shut down if they underperform. Charter schools and choice programs often enjoy superior funding and higher parent participation than the school district they come from. Charter schools and specialty schools employ some entrance criteria -which means they front end load with 'performers'.

And in higher performing districts, they are often geared toward high end achievers - self selecting out lower achievers and kids with learning disabilities and challenges. (Parents want the best possible school for their kids, but they want a good fit - they don't want to put their kids in schools where they will automatically fail or be grossly underqualified - parents either know better, or they try anyway, and are driven out by the difficulties faced by their lower performing kids struggling to keep up.)

So to say an MI school outperforms its peers...due to dual immersion method? Or due to the advantages it enjoys as a charter or choice program? It would be more comparable to ask whether MI programs outperform their charter school peers, rather than their district peers.

And by the way, school districts don't close down when things go bad, they keep going and have to work through it. The kids of all ability levels show up every year. In fact the more specialty schools siphon off the high performers, the greater the concentration of achievement gap kids left in the district. (So the peformance results get even more pronounced.

But meanwhile, underperforming choice and charter schools go away. Do any of the studies include the failing and underperforming immersion programs? (For example, did we see PAUSD study or talk much abuot the issue in the Fremont Mandarin program?) Or do the studies tell us how WELL PERFORMING immersion programs perform?

Additionally, most often you find immersion programs in communities that have a signficant english language learner population (such as Spanish immersion programs in Central California) with a large achievement gap. Lindholm Leary's conclusions on the studies of these dual immersion programs is that ELL students do better in dual immersion program than their peers in English only classrooms (their peers being ELL students struggling in English only classrooms.) Hardly a surprise.

And on the issue of testing and attrition, interesting that you would test for proficiency for entrance, load your empty seats in 2nd and 3rd grade with fluent bilingual kids, and then use your test results in 5th grade as a measuring stick of how well you do against the district. It seems you have loaded your test outcomes with proficient 'ringers', and you certainly SHOULD be overperforming the district at that point.

In the end, PA Mom - you're right, there's not enough data. Hmmm wonder how the PAUSD Staff was able to make appropriate conclusions?

By the way, the CLIP numbers were not 'rejiggered'. The enrollment data came straight from Cupertino School district. Math is Math, anyone can look at those enrollment numbers and do that math. The math doesn't fit your version of reality? So what's been 'rejiggered'?


Posted by waiting to hear, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 5:17 pm

anyone heard whose kids "got in" to the new MI program? I speak only of parents who are public figures.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm

So much false information, it's hard to know where to start.

Extensive research, based on data collected on Chinese immersion programs, shows:

--Chinese immersion (both Cantonese and Mandarin) kids outperform English-only peers from their district.
--Bilingual kids from immigrant families do better on tests of English proficiency than monolingual English speakers in district.
--Chinese immersion kids have higher scores than their peers in English.

This is not surprising to language researchers because it derives from a well-known effect, the additive nature of reading and writing. It is in keeping with research about immersion programs with other languages.

You can go off into a dark room and think up all sorts of reasons why this shouldn't be so, but these are just facts. I'm sorry it's counter-intuitive for you.

"And, yes, if the goal is fluency, I'd expect fluency similar to what my child would have in English at the same age--particularly given the trade-off in English fluency."

Again, untangling this messy thought: spoken fluency is achieved at grade level; "written fluency" is achieved at grade level; there is no trade-off in English fluency. I can't speak to "what you'd expect" because it derives from your lack of knowledge.

"Thus, the recommendation by one of the language educator groups that immersion families supplement their kids English skills off-hours." Again, false. (Although all schools would like you to read to your child, of course.)

"Students from families with the kind of push/push mentality that means they have tutors for everything, no extra curricula activities (except music because that is meant to help math) and no social life, are the ones who are most likely to sign up their children for MI." Please show us your data for this contentious (and possibly racist) claim.

Your mindset is narrow and insular. Why do you want to push your FLES choices on the rest of us? Why just one choice? But you're right about one thing: tolerance is not an option for you, as is clear from your posts.





Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 6:52 pm

PA Par

I give a hypothetical scenario garnered from what I see, no data, just hypothesis, and you call the "r" word. I made no mention of race. Tch Tch.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 7:16 pm

No one said the results you mentioned shouldn't be so - I said there are reasons that explain those outcomes, other than the wild benefits of the MI model itself (Mandarin or Immersion). The three bullet points you outline above are just as likely explainable by the fact that immersion programs:
occur most often as charter schools within disadvantaged districts - which means they enjoy higher funding and parent particpation than their public district
and/or they select for high performers based on performance criteria for admission
and/or they self (parent)-select for performance factors by creating a tougher bar for success (and ruling out learning challenged kids),
and/or the 'peer' groups within the districts that house these programs are higher in achievement gap populations, and therefore lower measuring sticks.
and/or the studies are not studying failing programs, only successful programs, and measuring those programs against TOTAL (suceeding and failing) district wide performance results.

All those are just as likely to be the reasons for the results of these programs (if not more likely) than claims that memorization of Mandarin characters is going to help them with their English Language skills (by osmosis I guess.) Your willful oversimplification on this issue of 'leverage' from ANY foreign language to English learning is misleading at best. If this were true there would be no such thing as an achievement gap issues for English Language Learners and our own recent history says ELL services are a BIG issue in our schools.

(Having said that, I see definite overlap and carry over skills between Enlgish and Spanish, and many of the studies are actually on Spanish Immersion programs.)

And yes, there is a tradeoff - its called time. Time spent in English vs not. Time is a fixed commodity. Time spent learning Mandarin that could be better spent elsewhere. Its a diversion of time. If kid has 2 hours of homework per night (excessive) then you'd have to spend some amount of that time on Mandarin - or focus that same time block on subjects without the distraction of Mandarin. You don't teach English in Mandarin to English speakers. You might teach Math, you might teach history, you might teach Mandarin (all of which would be more of a struggle than it would have been in English.) But you most certainly don't teach English in Mandarin. (I guess that's what your 20% is for, and then... 20% for the most important subject?)

Luckily, I think parents that are going to be considering MI will be very discerning and informed, and WILL use their better judgement on these issues. If I were a prospective parent, I think the first thing I'd want to know is how many kids that GRADUATED from the CLIP program actually started in the CLIP program. That information alone would speak volumes.


Posted by MI Discussion, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Elections and other political pressure, such as organized messages or money pressure will impact MI. These "arguments" on these threads probably won't, and may drain energy through frustration that might have been used for effective action. MIers are organized; their opponents are not.




Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Agreed MI disc., but it was this forum that strongly helped the petition and got people to wear green.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Well, someone did deny the results but it was not you.

Look, making a passel of assumptions, you've come up with several theories that you think could explain the results of immersion programs. You then declare that these theories are just as likely to be correct as the theory that educators and researchers have put together.

You do this in the absence of knowledge of the research or these programs.

I just cannot take this seriously.

Let's just take one of your assumptions: educational time is a "fixed commodity." It's intuitive but wrong. Immersion teachers can tell you this, immersion researchers can tell you this. Even non-immersion teachers can tell you this about their regular classrooms. (It is one of the great nutty ideas underpinning no child left behind: the prescription for failing schools is to dumb down the curriculum and focus solely on phonics texts that are empty of content. It turns out that sounding out words--and doing it more than other kids do--doesn't translate into comprehension. They need texts that have content. Counter-intuitively, teaching kids content also teaches them to read better.) As I explained, learning is not zero sum.

There are similar, mistaken assumptions running through these posts. It is baffling that you would go off and concoct theories--even if they seem reasonable to you--in the absence of data or a basic knowledge of your subject.

I realize this will not convince you, but hope it will prod interested parents to look into the research and think for themselves.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 27, 2007 at 10:53 pm

PA PArent:

you said

"Who claimed Mandarin would displace English? Yikes!"

I am not sure when you joined the MI discussion bandwagon, but this was indeed one of the major points of the MI crowd -- Mandarin would unquestionably displace English as the global language of business within the next few dacades; not learning Mandarin would create a generation of children unable to compete professionally in the business world because they could not speak Mandarin fluently; PAUSD, as a district that purported to care about the future of this generation of children, owed it to them to create an MI program that would guarantee (a few children) total fluency because the children would learn to speak in an immersion setting from early childhood; such biligual children would set the business world on fire, unlike their pathetic, non-Mandarin speaking counterparts; therefore the MI program was a necessity and depriving this poor generation of pre-business professionals of this critical skill was unthinkable. QED.

I don't want to debate the issue of whether MI should have been implemented, because it is a fait accompli and I believe energy would be better spent discussing what the next step will be. But do be aware of just how comprehensive the argument about Mandarin's universal appeal and necessity was promoted throughout the debates.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 11:36 pm

PA Parent,

Hmmm, more assertions and nothing to actually back it up. Meyerholtz isn't even in the top half of Cupertino schools. So how are those kids outperforming their English-only peers? Oh, they're not.

Parent, of course, is right, lots and lots of playing games with statistics to make the programs look good.

But in fact, the head of immersion programs ADMIT that the kids' scores are lower than that of their peers in second/third grade. They then catch up, but don't surpass those of their English-only peers in English.

Again, bilingual kids DON'T outscore their monolingual peers (i.e. same class, educational advantages) in English. Composition skills haven't been examined and there's no longitudinal data on MI on the subject.

Thus, the need for remedial English at UC Berkeley that has risen as more and more freshmen come from homes where English is the second language. And, yes, mostly Asian kids, not Hispanic, so we're talking about Mandarin and Cantonese among other languages.

You can't back up what you claim. This stuff has come up before here, which is why I ended up doing some research on it.

If it sounds too good to be true (i.e. you can study Chinese and somehow learn to write better in English than kids writing in English), it probably is.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 27, 2007 at 11:41 pm

PA Parent,

Your last post doesn't follow. Time is a zero-sum game. The benefits of content and reading have nothign to do with time limitations. Or the time one needs to practice writing English in English. Languages aren't identical.

And I *did* look into the research and think for myself. That's when I realized that there was this little research hole regarding the effects of immersion on English composition skills.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:19 am

I have kids in school (for many years) and I went to school (for many years), and I do spend my days on planet earth, so a daresay I have knowledge of the concept of a fixed amount of time available, (with which to get your work done) and tradeoffs.

I also understand the studies and research that say that there is a link between higher parent participation, higher funding and higher results at school. I've also read Lindolm Leary's studies on dual immersion and have a basic understanding of those, and saw alot (MOSTLY) discussion of spanish immersion and analysis on results for ELL speakers. I am not an expert, but I wouldn't agree that i don't have a basic understanding.

I don't recall anyone advocating 'dumbing down' anything, or advocating a phonics only curriculum. I suggested Mandarin is a waste of time. So you make the leap to 'an education with Mandarin Immersion is a dumbed down education'. So who's nuts now?

And finally, you might notice that I actually agreed - non-Englihsh as a first language speakers taught in their native language do better at learning English and other subjectes than they their ELL peers that are taught in English only classrooms. So What? Mandarin Immersion programs are doing a great job of teaching curriculum to Mandarin speakers in Mandarin. You can't prove, never have proven, that they teach English only speakers to speak, read or write Mandarin in any significant way - we can see with our own eyes the enrollment data that they are loading up their classrooms in 2nd and 3rd grade with pre-tested Mandarin speakers.

If you'd like to prove this wrong, please provide some details about the graduates of the CLIP program - how many started CLIP as kinders? How many are Mandarin language speakers at home vs English only speakers at home? etc Very simple, lets just see some stats on CLIP.


Posted by Parent of a prek, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:20 am

correction: "an education without Mandarin..."


Posted by MI Supporter, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:21 am

False claim that Mandarin will take over English. Supporters never said that. Such exaggeration!

There is data from 10 years of San Francisco's Cantonese immersion program that Cantonese immersion students do test above the district average in English. That's been shown before at a board meeting, early in the discussion (before last year).

Too bad the opponents have to paint such scary pictures with no facts.




Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:26 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

A few corrections to the above:

"Meyerholtz isn't even in the top half of Cupertino schools." Meyerholtz is not CLIP. You need to look at the data for CLIP, which gives the results I indicated.

"So how are those kids outperforming their English-only peers? Oh, they're not." They are. You need to look at the DATA for immersion.

"But in fact, the head of immersion programs ADMIT that the kids' scores are lower than that of their peers in second/third grade. They then catch up, but don't surpass those of their English-only peers in English." Actually, the DATA show they do surpass.

"Again, bilingual kids DON'T outscore their monolingual peers (i.e. same class, educational advantages) in English." Again, the DATA shows they do.

"Thus, the need for remedial English at UC Berkeley that has risen as more and more freshmen come from homes where English is the second language." You've lost the plot entirely here. This has nothing to do with IMMERSION.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


I believe most thinking parents do not approach the education of their children in this half-baked way. I hope this information will prod interested parents to examine the studies and think for themselves. Immersion is not for every kid, but the programs do wonderful things for the kids.



Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:40 am

Parent,

Ah, gone over to the dark side, eh?

"I suggested Mandarin is a waste of time. So you make the leap to 'an education with Mandarin Immersion is a dumbed down education'.""

Er, no, you missed the point. You suggested Mandarin is a waste of time, and I pointed out that this belief stems from a misunderstanding of what happens in the classroom and how kids learn. In particular, it derives from the mistaken assumption that learning is zero sum. This is mistaken in immersion, and it is mistaken in regular classrooms.

"And finally, you might notice that I actually agreed - non-Englihsh as a first language speakers taught in their native language do better at learning English and other subjectes than they their ELL peers that are taught in English only classrooms."

Of course this is true. It is also true that native English speakers and native Mandarin speakers do better at learning English than English-only, native speaking peers in district.

"You can't prove, never have proven, that they teach English only speakers to speak, read or write Mandarin in any significant way" Er, you need to visit a classroom and talk to parents. You're just out of touch.

"we can see with our own eyes the enrollment data that they are loading up their classrooms in 2nd and 3rd grade with pre-tested Mandarin speakers." Those numbers were cooked by some group that opposes MI.





Posted by Info hiding?, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 28, 2007 at 9:51 am

Isn't it a matter of public record who entered and left CLIP at various years (yearbooks, class pictures, etc.)? Why is this such a secret?

Showing the long term impacts of CLIP would go a long way toward justifying the exitement over this program.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 9:59 am

The fact that this sort of relevant information is either hidden or being withheld speaks volumes. It is a well known practice to hide suspect data in a flurry of other data, often irrelevant, to hide problem areas. Politicians do it all the time. Big business does it too. We should not be surprised that anything showing problems or information that is not liked or is detremental to the program, is being hidden in a wealth of cosmeticized good data.

Statisticians I know are the first to claim that data is only as good as the manner of interpretation and can always be manipulated to show whatever you want it to show.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2007 at 11:25 am

PA Parent,

I'd LOVE it if Cupertino actually separated out its CLIP data. It doesn't. Believe me, if it did and it supported your claim, you'd spout the numbers nonstop.

The Cantonese immersion scores mentioned by MI Supporter are a nonstarter simply because of the diversity of the SF school population--if you have a lot of poor ELL kids in the system, it's not that hard to pull ahead of the district average. It's a matter of self-selection--parents who choose a heavy academic load for their kids are more likely to be committed.

But are MI kids going to outscore Hoover kids, say? I doubt it. Will there be a bump up in Ohlone's scores from the middle-of-the-pack position it usually occupies? Well, let's check out San Francisco--hmmm, some nice scores at Alice Fong Yu, but it ranks 7 on the comparable schools listing. The other two Chinese immersion programs have APIs well below PAUSD's average. West Portal scores 898--comparable school score of 7. The one MI program, at Starr King, does worse--751 with a lowly 5 on the comparable schools ranking.

Let's check Mayerholz--good API scores--but, whoa, a comparable schools rank of--3?! This is in a district which has three 10/10 schools--you know, schools with English-only instruction. So what about that outperforming their peers?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

But, seriously, let me explain to you what's really going on. The bulk of SF's Chinese immigrant population are native Cantonese speakers. At the Cantonese immersion programs, we're seeing the ELL effect--native Cantonese speakers learning subjects in their mother tongue or English speakers who have families that can speak Cantonese and provide outside support. (And, yes, the two Cantonese schools are heavily Asian. Starr King is not--which may also indicate something none too positive about MI for kids from English-speaking households. Even in a case where there's intensive instruction and extra resources, these kids would be doing better in an English-only environment.)

Actually, what I'd love to check out next is a score comparison between immersion programs and schools with FLES.

Thus, you see better absolute and comparable scores at the Cantonese immersion schools than the Mandarin schools.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Parent,

I think we're seeing a real problem with research bias here. The people who study immersion programs are pro foreign language instruction. There's a lot of political heft behind the pro-immersion movement.

But why aren't CLIP-only stats released, both score break-out and student turnover? Why isn't the effect on English skills really examined?

I mean, is there a comparison between FLES kids and immersion kids for English speakers?

Over and over I've seen this odd lack of scrutiny of what we're buying into.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Several facts from above:

--Chinese immersion (both Cantonese and Mandarin) kids outperform English-only peers from their district.

--Bilingual kids from immigrant families do better on tests of English proficiency than monolingual English speakers in district.

--Chinese immersion kids have higher scores than their peers in English.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

All of this information is easily verifiable from multiple sources, including Lindholm Leary (mentioned above by a nay-sayer), who has published her research in peer-reviewed academic journals.

From a presentation titled PAUSD_ChinImmMar2006.pdf, which contains graphs, etc.:

On the CAT6 reading achievement test in third grade, "Chinese immersion students, both native Chinese speakers & English speakers: scored well above grade level; scored higher than district & state averages." "Cupertino students scored similar to PAUSD district average for English only students."

By the grade 5 CST English language arts exam, "students in Chinese [two way immersion] outperform English speakers in English only classes." Also, "Cupertino TWI students slightly surpass achievement of English speakers in PAUSD."

The same holds true for math results. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

For those guided by reason and data, it seems quite clear that Mandarin immersion offers tremendous academic benefits. Not only do the children learn to speak, read and write Chinese, they also learn English and math better than their peers.




Posted by curious, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 3:51 pm

OhlonePar,

As someone who claims to have real data, why have you ignored the request on the "Six candidates..." thread for the Wynn Hauser guest opinion that you said existed in Palo Alto Online?

If you're going to promote Wynn as anti-MI, please provide the link.

Thanks.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 4:08 pm

PA Parent

Please understand that you are not comparing like with like.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 6:24 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by enough already, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Please read the link on Town Square that was recently posted about a 7th grader who is unable to take Spanish because there is no room in the class. He WANTS to take it, he is QUALIFIED to take it, but hey, better luck next time buddy. It's completely unfair that some kids get language as early as kindergarten and there are middle schoolers with none.

This is all so messed up. It goes back to the idea of not letting the MIers jump the line when there were other more pressing language education needs (eg middle school) to be addressed. Now a whole year is wasted. While the community yammers on about theoretical issues, some kids are missing out. For the district, there is a constant strem of kids. For the kids, they get only one seventh grade year of language. Or not.

I hope the Board and Superintendent do something immediately to fix this problem. Maybe researching additional language grants for middle school language is something Becky Cohn-Vargas and Marilyn Cook are employed to do (didn't they spend work time on the MI grant proposal?).

I am reminded of Molly's beaming face as she repeatedly extolled the many benefits she received from her language education. I'm sure all those kids who get set back a year or two for lack of space won't be at all bitter about their loss, as they watch the SI and MI kids who can get 5s on their language and literature APs.

Shame on the district for getting so deeply out of whack.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 28, 2007 at 8:02 pm

I am sorry for the student who didn't get into the Spanish class - but one of the great things about PAUSD middle schools is there are many wonderful electives besides foreign language. Art, music, web design, video production, journalism, drama, cooking, forensic, etc.


Posted by paying attention?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 8:07 pm


"From a presentation titled PAUSD_ChinImmMar2006.pdf, which contains graphs, etc.:"

Woops - here's your first problem. Your quoting PAUSD staff report on MI topic, from 2006. Is it really necessary to elaborate (again) on how biased, one sided and incomplete the Staff reporting was on this issue. If needed we can start a new thread or refer you back to yards of discussion on this exact issue. Bad idea to start your 'position' with a reference to PAUSD 2006 Staff material.

"On the CAT6 reading achievement test in third grade, "Chinese immersion students <which MI programs were tested?>, both native Chinese speakers & English speakers <how many of each? How many had been trained in the same MI program, how many of each spoke Mandarin at home?>: scored well above grade level <California Standard - not impressive>; scored higher than district <What district is the comparison district here - a low performing district>? PAUSD?)& state averages <State Averages, again not impressive> "Cupertino students scored similar <SIMILAR!>to PAUSD district average for English only students." <Don't they do this anyway? - are you atributing a 'success' here to MI program?>

By the grade 5 CST English language arts exam, "students in Chinese [two way immersion] outperform English speakers in English only classes." Also, "Cupertino TWI students slightly surpass achievement of English speakers in PAUSD." <It should be noted here that in this year (march 2006) the tested 5th graders mentioned here were either the enteirng class of 2001 or the entering class of 2000, both of which loaded up on students in their respective 2nd/3rd grade year, in other words enrollment spiked in the 2nd/3rd grade year for these two classes. That means these entering students were tested for proficiency as a conditiono admission - the results of these students are therefore 'spiked' with pre-qualified students and don't tell you ANYTHING about relative performance, as described in earlier posts (other than high performers in 3rd grade, can perform well as 5th graders).

Just point us to the relevent demographically separated performance data for CLIP, and we can all analyze the numbers and use our own tiny little brains to see the truth.


Posted by that's odd, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 8:37 pm

"I am sorry for the student who didn't get into the Spanish class - but one of the great things about PAUSD middle schools is there are many wonderful electives besides foreign language."
Using that reasoning, why did we ever bother listening to the MIers? Too bad if Mandarin Immersion isn't offered in the district - Spanish is a wonderful language, too.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 9:42 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

"I am sorry for the student who didn't get into the Spanish class - but one of the great things about PAUSD middle schools is there are many wonderful electives besides foreign language...."

If only the board would have said the same thing "We are sorry for those few students that won't be attending a turned down Mandarin Immersion program, but the great thing about PAUSD elementary is that all children enjoy many wonderful enrichment opportunities as part of the regular program (music, art, science, technology, differentiated instruction, low student/teacher ratios, high ratio of classroom aids, one of the highest academic achievments in California, etc.)"

(In other words, the program without your favorite elective of choice is just fantastic anyway. So be happy!)

Oh, would that the BOE would have just said this 2 years ago...

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Curious,

I didn't see the request at first and now I can't find the darn thing. I had some computer crashes during the search, so I wanted to give it a second shot before posting I couldn't find the link now.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2007 at 10:47 pm

PA Parent,

It's not a question of immersion kids outperforming kids in their district, it's a question of their outperforming their comparable schools--i.e. kids of similar affluence, educational background of parents, etc. When I looked up specific schools in the Bay Area, I didn't find an immersion miracle--and in the case of Starr King, I found an unusually low comparable school score.

Again, you're being vague--what's the basis of your assertions?

Given the huge number of Spanish-speaking kids in the state system, beating the state average is, frankly, meaningless. Again, the comparable school rating is the key. Otherwise, you're evaluating the kids' backgrounds, not the program.

Please note that you say nothing about composition.

Please note, too, that Lindholm-Leary actively supported MI in PAUSD, so, yes, she has a bias. Note, also, that her study of MI was of short duration examining one program for a short period of time. The other assertions about the wonders of MI are extrapolated from her work on Spanish ELL.

Math is a nonissue, frankly.

You need specific stats to back up your claims. If MI's a educational miracle drug, then CLIP should show it. So should Starr King. So, let's see 'em.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 11:25 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

MI kids (both English and Mandarin native speakers) outperform English-only kids in English and math.

Really interesting that the CLIP kids outperform PA kids.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 29, 2007 at 2:01 am

According to PA Parent,
--Chinese immersion (both Cantonese and Mandarin) kids outperform English-only peers from their district.
--Chinese immersion kids have higher scores than their peers in English.

Your interpretation of the data is misleading. You're selectively extracting a subgroup ("Chinese immersion kids") and implying that because they're in an immersion program they are outperforming their English-only peers. In fact, Asian students at all grades are outperforming their peers – in all subjects. This is true at the state level, for PAUSD, and for Cupertino Union School District, too. Whether they're part of an immersion program is irrelevant.

What would be helpful to know in order to prove your point is whether non-Asian Chinese Immersion students outperform their non-Asian English-instruction-only peers within their district, and whether Asian Chinese Immersion students outperform their Asian English-instruction-only peers. Until you compare apples to apples, the data is largely meaningless.

For those who like to see the raw data for themselves, start here Web Link with the Department of Education's press release on the 2007 STAR test results. It includes tables which show student performance in English-Language Arts by ethnicity. It's statewide, however. For local data, visit Web Link to view specific results from PAUSD and/or Cupertino's school districts. There are over 16 subjects covered in the STAR tests within PAUSD. Asians outperformed their peers in general (and also their White peers) in each and every test, for every grade level.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:23 am

Take an average group of non-immersion kids and look at them. There will be some who are ELL, some who are ADD, some who have difficult home lives, some who are struggling to read/math at grade level, some who are more interested in sport than school, some who spend too much time playing video games rather than homework, and some will be very clever doing well at school. These average group of kids are what are being tested against the very focused immersion kids. There will not be ELL, ADD, strugglers, sports fanatics, video fanatics, etc. etc. in an MI group. There will just be the clever, focused kids, who would do well and perhaps outperform their peers regardless of the method whereby they are taught.

Makes a mockery of data.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:54 am

Not only that - did the language experts study ~failing~ immersion programs in these studies? No. ~Failing~ immersion programs just go away (get their charters revoked, etc), just like failing charter go away all the time. So who are these language experts studying? They study the programs that are working - the success stories.

So they're comparing only the immersion success stories to the average mix up of all levels of public school perfomance (from abject failure to brightest stars which are all required to stay in the mix in the 'average' public school system). And from that lopsided comparison MIers wish are saying WOW, what a success story we have with these immersion programs.

(Lets try studying only the immersion programs that have gone under, making the comparisons to public schools, and telling the tale of how much BETTER the public schools are doing. That would be equally as biased.)

Plus, are those successful immersion programs doing any better than the successful music charters? The successful performing arts charters? The successful Gate charters? The successful Direct Instruction charters?

MIers want desparately to pin alot of great success on Mandarin Immersion and they 'prove' it by comparing apples to oranges.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:20 am

PA Parent,

Where do CLIP kids outperform PA kids? In other words, where's your data that breaks out CLIP kids from Meyerholz? Lindholm-Leary's one year? And what does kids from Palo Alto mean here? Kids from Hoover? Or kids from Barron Park?

Because what I see is that the schools with immersion programs in both Cupetino and Palo Alto don't perform amazingly well in comparison to other schools in the district or state.

Flat comparisons don't work because of the difference in kids' backgrounds.

Yet Another,

Thanks for the links--I am one of those who loves to play with new data--already I can see the classic 2/3 grade drop in English scores at Escondido compared to other PAUSD schools.

The correlation seems much stronger between Asian kids and high scores than between Chinese immersion and high scores. Meyerholz' aren't too bad--until you compare them to other schools in Cupertino. Its STAR scores hover around the district mean.

The one Chinese immersion school that doesn't have a large Asian majority is Starr King in San Franciso. Its English scores are a disaster--by fifth grade, none are advanced, only 25 percent proficicent and 72 percent at basic and below. The stats are similar for the lower grades. And this is with a self-selection bias--families who chose to go the extra mile academically.

Over and over, the schools that seem to perform well on tests are the direct instruction ones. I think there are other issues involved that create problems, but they have clear results. In fact, there's your comparable--similar populations, self-selection bias at work. And, whoosh!, the DI schools leave immersion programs in the dust.

Because of the selection bias issue--some of the things mentioned by Resident, for example--you have to start with comparable school comparisons. And from the ones I've looked up, immersion programs aren't impressive.

I think the best you can say, in fact, is if your kid comes from an environment with a strong education focus, he or she shouldn't be harmed too much by immersion. Particularly, if you supplement your kid's lack of practice in English composition and the immersion language is spoken by family members.

If that's not the case, immersion, particularly in a challenging language like Mandarin, may be a disaster. Unbiased research, of course, is needed.

I still suspect the optimum situation for overall education is education in English supplemented by FLES.






Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:32 am

Whoops,

To be fair to Starr King, their program is still in the early stages--it's clearly an effort to make something of an already failing school. So, we'll see in a couple of years what happens.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:09 am

<i>Already I can see the classic 2/3 grade drop in English scores at Escondido compared to other PAUSD schools.</i>
OhlonePar, be careful how you interpret the Escondido data. Escondido has always performed somewhat lower than the rest of the district especially in English, even before SI's arrival. This is due in part to the children in Escondido Village (children of Stanford grad students), many of whom are not proficient in English. Another factor is the high student turnover at Escondido (again due to the Stanford families it serves), which implies that there's less educational continuity for these students. Continuity affects all new students, regardless of their English proficiency.

I'm unaware of any data that separates Escondido's performance by program – SI vs. standard. It's too bad that the STAR data can't be sorted by Spanish Immersion. Although there's a "Special Program Participation" designation, SI isn't one of the options.

STAR data goes back only as far as 1998, when SI was implemented for grades K-2. Maybe that old report Web Link will be useful to you.

Now that the oldest group of SI students is nearing graduation, it'd be good if PAUSD tracked these students test results. Does anyone know if this is done?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Hi yet another,

I know what you're saying, I was referring though to the drop in top scores that then went up by fifth grade. I wasn't comparing Escondido's overall scores to Duveneck's. The west cluster, outside of Nixon, tends to be lower than other areas.

My point with SI at Escondido is that it doesn't seem to be performing a miracle where kids outperform their peers as a result in English. (The English-speakers, I mean. I think the Spanish-speakers learning English is an entirely different issue.)


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:33 pm

The SIP Reviews presented to the BOE each year (school by school presentations from the Principals) DID separate out the SI results from Escondido results in a very simplistic way. The SI results were basically average to overall Escondido results. For example:

Percent Proficient and Advanced in Grade 3-5
Non SI 2005 Math 79.5%
Non SI 2006 Math 81.3%

SI 2005 Math 86.7%
SI 2006 Math 86.9%

Its about a 15 page report for Escondido alone. There were about 3 more SI related charts, I can't type in right now. I'll try to send more tomorrow...

I believe the SIP reports are not available online (I've never found them) but would have to be requested from the district office. The SIP reviews occur yearly, so another one probably will occur soon (in the winter or spring). Anyone recall? Once could look through the BOE minutes perhaps... The hard copy report has no date on it.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Thanks parent,

I wouldn't expect to see a big difference in math scores. Long division's long division. I'd like to see the reading scores if you have a chance--particularly native-English speakers.

And someday somebody will find a way to assess composition skills, right? . . .


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:36 am

Nope, they don't give you any sepration of SI demographics. You can't tell how many were english speakers, how many spanish speakers, how many entered the program as kinders, how many entered later through attrition spots. But here's the rest of what they had in their SIP report for SI, including English...

(By the way, this was the 2005-2006 SIP report. I think they will report on 2006/07 this year.)

Percent Proficient and Advanced
On CST Math
Grade Non-SI SI
2 100% 81%
3 63% 81%
4 93% 88%
5 92% 91%

Percent Proficient and Advanced
In Grade 3-5

NonSI 2005 ELA 69.7%
NonSI 2006 ELA 77.8%

SI 2005 ELA 67.4%
SI 2006 ELA 79.4%

(Notice that this might suggest what we've been saying is true - that non-English speakers in an Immersion program do better at learning English than their non-English speaking peers in English only programs. Note that Escondido is 17% Hispanic, one of the highest concentrations of hispanic in the district I believe.) The "PEER" group here is heavily loaded with ESL students.

Hard to say this for sure though, because we don't have ANY DEMOGRAPHICALLY cut data to prove this out.

Percent Proficient and Advanced
on CST-ELA
Grade Non-SI SI
2 76% 72%
3 78% 60%
4 88% 93%
5 86% 84%

In the end, the performance results are slighly below average for Escondido on Math and English. And Escondido is a lower performing school, so I certainly would not say that this bears out the claim that immersion students outperform their district wide peers.

And Spanish is a FAR easier language to learn, with FAR more commonality with English, and with a FAR higher concentration of opportunity to be exposed throughout a students normal daily life (Very much Spanish in practical use in this area - street names, school names, common English words of all kinds, spelling and alphabet commonality, etc.)

And will prospective MI parents be satisfied with fair results? Think about it - SI is a commuter program - these kids were pulled out of schools like Hays, Duveneck, etc and ended up with test results more like Escondido's than their neighborhood schools. Would that be acceptable to MI prospective parents? Will they think about the option they are foregoing (for example, MI vs Hoover?)

One more thing, these kids DID get some Spanish learning which is of course why parents would be willing to make this tradeoff. So how much Spanish? The SIP Report said this:

"What Progress Did our Spanish Immersion students demonstrate using the Aprenda standardized test?
The Aprenda, a nationally normed standardized Spanish test, is given to all students in the Spanish Immersion Program beginning at first grade. It is designed to measure individual achievement in Reading, Math, language, and Oral Comprehension. At the fourth and fifth grade levels WE CHOSE NOT TO ADMINISTER the mathematics AND ORAL LANGUAGE portion of the exam.
The Aprenda used last spring was a new version, and based upon the test publisher's recommendation, we cannot compare these results with those of last year. This will be "year 1" for comparison basis."

(How convenient! No comparisons to measure these results by - in a year where MI and SI are being hottly debated. What, no national comparisons either?)

They go on to say:
"Our students have done quite well on this test as noted by the following scores representing each grade level's achievement this past year"

Aprenda Results
Average Percentile by Grade
Reading Math Language Oral Language
Gr
1 94% 96% 95% 93%
2 90% 98% 97% 85%
3 81% 93% 91% 79%
4 83% NA 87% NA
5 89% NA 94% NA

Here's my question about the Aprenda (by the way, asked but never answered by PAUSD Staff):

How much did the Aprenda Assessment cost the district? Did the SI program PAY for the Aprenda Assessment? (If not they owe the district some $ right? To remain cost neutral.)
How much district staff time was spent on the assessment process (including find the tool, administering, reporting results, etc.)

And how much will Mandarin Assessment cost? When will they start (year one I hope - or else how do they plan to evaluate the pilot?) And who will pay for this? Why no mention of these costs in the feasibility study?? Was the feasibility study (GASP) incomplete in its cost assessment?





Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:51 am

One other statement of interest in the Escondido SIP report (05/06):

"What Activities were most helpful to ensure students made at least a year's growth in reading?"

"...An analysis of Spanish Immersion (SI) and non-Spanish Immersion STAR data was done during the 02/03 school year that focused on cohort comparisons over time, grade comparisons, and reading quartile analysis. What we discovered is that SI students continue to perform similarly to non-SI students at Escondido and other students in the District."

Funny, no wild claims here about immersion students out performing their peers in English...

So, switch Spanish (a relative easy language with high similarity to English) to a very difficult laguage like Mandarin with no commonality to English. Good Luck to those poor little kids getting carted off to MI, I feel sorry for them.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 30, 2007 at 11:14 pm

Parent from another neighborhood, Thanks for taking the time to post the SI data – much appreciated! Surprising that the SIP (School Improvement Plan) Reports aren't on the schools' or PAUSD's websites. Or maybe they're there but hard to find? I couldn't find them, either.

As far as interpreting the data, again I think it's easy to jump to false conclusions with this particular set of data. Comparing Spanish Immersion to the district as a whole makes more sense than comparing SI to Escondido, in part because of what you point out that the SI students are coming from throughout the district, and in part because of my earlier point about Escondido having a high student turnover -- SI has some attrition but not much turnover. Also, Escondido has English learners at all grades -- which affects STAR test results -- whereas SI accepts only those who are proficient in English, Spanish or both. Because of Neighborhood Escondido's unique population and the problems it poses, SI has more in common ability-wise with the rest of the district than with Escondido. (That said, I do think it's a good ethnic fit.)

It's difficult to make projections on the success of an MI program based on SI's success. These two groups are so demographically different that I don't think anything but the broadest of assumptions can be made about MI based on SI.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:46 am

I agree and (but) if SI is not performing WELL against Escondido, but only performing average to slightly below Escondido, and while Escondido is performing somewhere below average for the district for all the reasons you mentioned, then mathematically, we know that SI is NOT outperforming the district average and not even at district average. (if its at Escondido's average, and Escondido is below district avg, then SI can not be better than district.)

And you're right! SI and MI are really no comparison at all. Mainly because Spanish is not Mandarin (and Mandarin is 4x harder according to experts). So, I would LOVE for the MI proponents to stop pointing to SI and studies on Spanish language immersion programs to defend MI. The real harm is in selling their program in this way to prospective MI parents without disclosing that they're using SI studies to support their claims.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:05 am

So, let's recap. Someone (me actually, I blush to say, though I promise an unbiased summary) pointed out that data and research show Chinese immersion does a good job of teaching kids English.

OP et al said, "No way Jose. Impossible. Prove it!"

Someone (me again) showed them, giving details from one presentation (among many studies!) proving that CI kids outperform English-only peers from their district in English and that bilingual kids from immigrant families do better in English than monolingual English speakers in district. (Someone also pointed out that the CLIP kids outperform English-only kids from Palo Alto in English--and math.)

Et al backed tracked, took a fallback position. Their newest story: these facts can't possibly (can't possibly!) mean what they obviously mean: Chinese immersion teaches kids English (and math as it turns out) better than non-immersion.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:25 am

PA Parent

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You have recapped only what you wanted to recap.

I will recap what I want to recap.

Someone said (me actually) that the type of students enrolled in MI in Cupertino or probably here in PA, are the type of students who will succeed anywhere, they are in the type of families that are inclined to help their students do well at school, come from a strong gene pool, and will be focused enough to do well in any program they enter. The students that are in an average Cupertino class, like PAUSD, will have ELL students, remedial students, students who don't care about school as much as their video games or their sports, those who have problems at home, etc. etc. These students will not be in MI. Therefore you are not comparing like with like. There will indeed be strong students in non MI classes, but their scores are obviously being diluted by all the students who are low achievers.

In other words, there are bound to be low achievers in the non MI classes as well as high achievers, but for this reason the overall scores will be lower. There will be no low achievers in MI classes therefore their scores will appear higher.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:28 am

In a district as dedicated as PAUSD, MI or any other program will do well. But the question that still remains in many people's minds - and was the topic of this post - is it the best new program to be introducing? Is it the language we should be choosing for an immersion program? Should we be adding a new choice program? Should we instead be concentrating on other issues?


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:39 am

PA Parent, since you're indulging yourself with selective recapping, I'll indulge myself by being repetitive:

"What would be helpful to know in order to prove your point is whether non-Asian Chinese Immersion students outperform their non-Asian English-instruction-only peers within their district, and whether Asian Chinese Immersion students outperform their Asian English-instruction-only peers. Until you compare apples to apples, the data is largely meaningless."

In the big scheme of things, I'm with Palo Alto Mom. I don't dispute the likelihood of MI's success. I joined this conversation reluctantly because false and misinterpreted data bother me, not because I felt MI has to defend its success.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:43 am

Last night Escondido had its back-to-school night where I learned of another factor that affects the continuity of the Neighborhood Escondido students' education. There was a major reshuffling of teachers that occurred last Thursday – FIVE DAYS before school started. A 4th grade teacher is now teaching 3rd grade; the 3rd grade teacher was displaced to 2nd, and a 2nd grade teacher is doing a 1/2 mix. One kindergarten teacher moved to another school this year because she was tired of the rotation to first grade every couple years. This is a long-standing pattern at Escondido.

I am in awe of these teachers who are expected to change their grade & curriculum on a moment's notice. Does this *routinely* occur at other schools (a small amount of shuffling is to be expected – hopefully with a bit more notice), or is this a problem unique to Escondido?

How can teachers be effective (and have job satisfaction) if they're not allowed to teach and perfect at their chosen grade level? Surely this affects the students, too.

Worse, they capped the second grade at 2.5 classes, making one group a first-second grade combined class. The reason? They didn't want this group of students to increase now or in the future because they need the classrooms for the Spanish Immersion expansion from 1.5 strands to 2. This has nothing to do with educational pedagogy. If they're capped at 50 students (20+20+10), this seems to imply that every year (3rd, 4th, 5th grade) this group of students will continue to have jury-rigged combined classes. I can't see how this is an equal education. A combined class isn't popular among these 2nd grade parents, but my guess is that they'll all have their turn "doing time" in the mixed class.

There's far more to Escondido's STAR test results than meets the eye. And there's more to these immersion programs than what's seen on the surface.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:52 am

YAP very informative.

Our neighborhood elementary school has one new teacher and the only reshuffling has been of a new mother job sharing which is probably to suit her rather than the school.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:14 am

YAP

Please post your above post on the overcrowding thread as it probably pertains very well to that subject also.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:37 am

PA Parent since you don't mind recapping, perhaps you can explain exactly where you've 'shown' anything - because what I've seen is alot of you 'saying' stuff and not alot of you 'showing' data.

And - "Et al backtracked...Their newest story" No, that's the original complaint, the complaint being that you are making apples to oranges compares when you take a high performing group of anything (any CHARTER in these districts would have the same over performance vs district Peers results), and compare it to a low performing district. No data related to the performance of CLIP vs Palo Alto has been provided (results from which class year would that be? Would it be the one where they had SIX kids in the class?)

The fault with your points continues to be a real problem with biased data, but a great big willingness to attribute fabulous results to MI.

The problems with your 'evidence':
-classrooms loaded with 'smart kids' [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
-loaded with pretested kids,
-comparing to non-comparable districts,
-Spanish not equal to Mandarin, etc.

And by the way, no one accuses you of 'made up statistics'. What we're saying is that you are quoting statistics that are biased, and/or you are not providing relevent comparable stats (but quoting them anyway), and/or you are drawing false conclusions.

for example, if you are sure that the CLIP data you cite is relevent, (first where is it), second, which class (what grade and what year) was studied in your study, and how many of those kids started in the clip program as original entering kinders? (versus those that were tested in as 2nd and 3rd graders). Were the late entrants removed from the study? Irrelevent to 'test' kids that came in to the program in 2nd and 3rd grade as pre-tested proficient. If you don't have that data, or won't provide it, then you have no case.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Here's a link to a study (by Grace Choi, International Education Administration and Policy, Stanford School of Education), that asked the question – why do people sign up for Mandarin Immersion, and what are their Concerns about the MI program. (Interesting that it was studied in Aug 2006 I wonder why we don't see any of these Concerns in our PAUSD feasibility study, when we KNOW PAUSD staff was using Stanford Education department expertise for that study???)

Web Link

It was a study based on surveying parents that chose two local MI programs. It gives a lot of great reasons why those who want MI think MI is great. But even amongst all the fawning over the reasons why MI is wonderful, a few balanced points come through..

1) Honest researchers know there need to be cautions against biased data. As an illustration, the author of this says (from the researchers own words) (p.36)

"The sample also suffers from selection bias. Families participating in the study were not chosen at random; rather, volunteers were recruited from each school representing only those willing and able to share their experiences. This group may only not include
families less satisfied with the schools or their regretting their choice to enroll their child."

In other words – a lot of families talking about how great MI is, from a selection of families that think MI is great – is biased.


And here are some of the finding of "concerns", which support the issues of concern that we've been talking about on these threads in PA Online.

2) English language development is a concern. It's not a trivial non-issue. This study found that the ethnically Chinese were often more concerned with this and chose to opt to an English language education for this reason: (p.29)

"Parents mentioned that other parents at the school were concerned about English language development, despite the school being a dual language immersion program (thus teaching students in both Chinese and English). The parents mentioned that ethnically Asian parents (speculating that they were more recent immigrants than others)
were more concerned with their student's English language proficiency and performance on standardized exams (such as the SAT, in the future) that require heightened English language abilities. As a result, some parents opted to enroll the student in an English-only program, with the expectation that the student will be able to learn Chinese later on or at home."

3) MI REQUIRES (not optional), significant at home supplement help, and that translates to significant at home resources (time and money): (p29-30)

"Finally, commitment is necessary, and in large doses. A lot of support is required and must be given in order to maintain (and supplement) language learning, which is another concern mentioned by the parents. As mentioned before, many seek outside support
(nannies, day care centers, baby sitters, etc.), and especially parents who are not native Mandarin Chinese speakers. Even when the parents do speak Mandarin, outside help is still sought. Additionally, in order to maintain the learning opportunities of their children, parents have to spend extra hours outside of school to ensure that their children learn adequately and compete well with mainstream students, while still endeavoring to acquire another language. Some parents also help their children by setting up programs on their own and look into China/US exchange programs as well as family trips to China."

So, PA Mom, the program is NOT social-economic level playing field when compared to 'average' public school experience. (i.e.: Apples to Oranges compare). Furthermore one could easily see that ANY students in ANY programs that were devoting this type of supplemental resources after school would easily outperform any public school district norms. It's misleading to suggest that the immersion methodology itself, or the study of Mandarin, is creating higher performance outcomes. Studying and resources are creating higher performance outcomes.

It also shows that this program is not reachable by a socio-economically diverse population. Only parents with time and money are going to be able to sign up for this program. This FAILS a key guideline in the PAUSD choice program guidelines.

4) Administration plays a key role: (p.30)

"The administration plays an important role as well. Administrators at both schools said that they need to be sensitive to issues that may not exist in other schooling environments. They need to be sensitive to the changing nature of the Chinese language much more than other languages since the Chinese government is re-evaluating the structure and use of the language within the nation, and thereby causing concerns among the parents with children in these programs. The schools have made efforts to follow the changing trends (such as the move from traditional to simplified characters) and address
the concerns of the parents as the schools by changing their established curriculum from using phonics to teaching actual characters. Differences in philosophy about how and what to teach students among parents as well as between parents and the administration created tension as all parties continue to desire more information about the most effective methods of teaching for increased educational opportunities for the children."

Funny, that our PAUSD feasibility study completely ignored the cost and EFFORT required by the administration, (in fact staff went as far as to DENY any significant invovlement required by administration.) The feasibility study is a farce. The BOE MUST require that our choice programs meet a bar of 'cost neutral' INCLUDING the resource drain of district administration. And our Superintendent MUSTS insist on adequate reporting to enforce cost neutrality. (Or the program should be declined because PAUSD doesn't have the extra resources for such an undertaking.)

This research paper does a pretty good job of presenting the Truth, both sides of the story, with intellectual honesty.

PA Parent, I'd like to see you start talking about the MI program with some realism and intellectual honesty. I think you are leading MI prospective parents down a rose colored path because YOU want MI to happen (and for that you need 20 kinders and 19 other first graders to show up in 2008.) We need to start seeing some Truth - for the kids, the families, the district, and the tax payers. Lets have the truth.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 31, 2007 at 4:53 pm

That MI opponents were raising legitimate issues that Becky Cohn-Vargas and Marilyn Cook completely ignored and denied is not news; that we now have a tangible LOCAL study that clearly reveals that they reinvented the wheel inadequately and unprofessionally is. Both should have to justify their continuing employment at their current salaries given their quality of work or lack thereof. The Super should take a close look at the performance and quality of work and intergrity issues surrounding 's feasibility study, and indeed the track records of these two individuals in general. PAUSD does not need to be, not should it be, sinecure heaven for ideologues.


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Et and Al,

Got it. You'd like a comparison with kids from "comparable" schools broken down by race, mother tongue, by inclination of the family to help their kids do well, by gene pool!, by how well focused the kids are, by body mass index, and by hair color. (OK, I made up those last two.)

And even then, the numbers wouldn't mean anything because the families are "self-selecting."

So, no data could possibly, on your theory, show that MI does well by its kids.


Oh, and last, you cannot be serious when you cite problems with this other study. The bias in her study does not reflect on entirely different studies. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

She is right that English language development is a concern, in the sense that those parents worry about it. But obviously it is not a concern in the sense that there is no underlying issue. None. As the studies and data prove, CI turns out kids who do better in English (and math) than their English-only peers.

And yes, MI requires commitment (in large doses) from the non-native families (less so the Mandarin speakers) to support their learning of Mandarin. But it is a fallacious leap to conclude you need to be rich to support the kids. MI is entirely appropriate for a socio-economically diverse population. No need to hire nannies as you imply.

Keep in mind: CLIP kids outperform PAUSD kids in English and math!



Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:19 pm

I did not cite problems with the other study. I have no problem with the other study. I COMPLIMENTED the other study for being honest about data bias. Somehow the other study manages to tell both sides of the story! How refreshing!

I didn't IMPLY that nannies need to be hired - it was quoted in the study findings that after school help was absolutely mandatory for success, and that many families accomplish this through hiring help - tutoring, afterschool supplemental programming (and other ways including Mandarin support in the home - which non Mandarin speaking families won't have for the most part unless they hire that help, by the way...$$$). So it wasn't ME who said it, it was the finding of the study.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

And again, how could ANY program that requires this much after school supplemental time and resource investment NOT turn out kids that beat the public school averages. This is not some kind of huge dramatic benefit of taking your education by way of Mandarin - its a factor of resource; extra curricular supplemental programming, and parent and student time spent. ANY program under these circumstances would turn out higher scores. (Soccer Immersion, Basket Weaving Immersion, Cooking Immersion.) But the falsehood you keep promoting is that the program is comparable to the average public school program. And the second falsehood you keep promoting is that somehow the Immersion method in Mandarin is to thank for high scores.

Now, what would be quite instructive would be to hold class in English and class in Mandarin, and limit both to the same resources, same time spent, same supplemental advantages, and same pretesting requirements, and see how THAT goes. They wouldn't stand for it would they?

Now, where is all this CLIP data you are citing? Again, you mean the class of SIX kids in the first class of MI at Cupertino outperformed the PAUSD results? (Oh, no extra benefit there, by operating in a class size of six - right.) And whos results were measured against the PAUSD results that have ALL PAUSD students (ELL, special ed and all?)

Its not that NO data would satisfy, its that no RELEVENT, apples to apples data has yet been provided. If you've got it, now would be the time to share. Don't forget to show us the results normalized to remove those students that entered as pretested first second and third graders. (By the way just read the CLIP website again, even kids entering as first graders have a Mandarin langauge entry pre-requisite.)

Or is that you don't ~have~ any apples to apples data with good comparisons of like to like? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Its really very simple, just provide the data you are citing with appropriate background on the demographics, by language and broken out by student that entered at K vs students that entered the program later. Not that much to ask since YOU want to use the data to prove your point.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

(That's weird - I'm pretty certain that CLIP would know which of their students entered their program as Kinders, and which of them come from Mandarin speaking homes. So if they say they don't have the data - hmmmmm.)


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Et,

Data bias in one study does not imply data bias in another study, so it's hard to know what your point there is.

"I didn't IMPLY that nannies need to be hired" Yes, you just did it again. The study actually says families need to support kids, not hire nannies. So you jumped to the conclusion that nannies need to be hired.

"This is not some kind of huge dramatic benefit of taking your education by way of Mandarin - its a factor of resource" Of course not. You say a family commitment to supporting Mandarin translates into automatic high achievement in English? Now, who is making wild claims? I ask you.

"But the falsehood you keep promoting is that the program is comparable to the average public school program." No, I agree with you that the high scores coming out of CI are not comparable with the average public school results. In fact, they're even better than PAUSD results.

Sorry, don't know what you mean by pre-testing. The kids are picked by lottery. This has been covered extensively in these threads. Or do you mean to suggest that someone who is at grade level in reading Mandarin has an edge in English? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

"Now, where is all this CLIP data you are citing?" Scroll up. Although you don't seem to have much use for data.

Don't forget: Bilingual kids from immigrant families do better on tests of English proficiency than monolingual English speakers in district.




Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Parent,

BRAVO! You've done some great research. I'm impressed.

PA Parent,

No, you don't get it. There's lots of comparable data--and what it shows is that MI kids don't outperform their peers in English-only programs. The CLIP school is not a top performer in Cupertino. Meyerholz is not particularly notable when rated next to schools comparable in economic and educational backgrounds. Which, unlike hair color, have been shown to have STRONG correlations to academic performance.

PAUSD is diverse--in part because of Tinsley. Which is fine by me. This means, however, that CLIP compared to PAUSD is apples to oranges. Where the schools are more comparable, PAUSD does just fine. Though of course, no one seems to have actually separated the MI kids from the rest of Mayerholz.

As Parent has shown, however, SI kids do not outperform their peers here--they're close, but not quite up to their Escondido peers (in part because of the 2/3 drop). That, however, leaves them below the district average, below Ohlone and way below Hoover. Both Ohlone and Hoover have a higher comparable score than does Mayerholz or the two CI schools in SF.

As alternative programs go, it's nothing to write home about as far as traditional subjects go. And when I see the supplementary work required at home, then I really have to wonder why the scores aren't better--I mean we're talking about a lowable comparable score than a school that has no assigned homework.

Gotta say after reading parent's summation of Choi's research, now I'm really, really wondering how MI/Ohlone's possibly going to work. Okay, I don't think it's going to, but now I'm wondering if there's any conceivable way something like this could. Certainly not without spending extra money to bring in some pricey education consultants to figure out a real curriculum.

You know, I think this is why Chinese Education was such a breath of fresh air. I didn't agree with her/him, but I at least felt like we were both on Planet Reality.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:55 pm

PA Parent claimed:

Don't forget: Bilingual kids from immigrant families do better on tests of English proficiency than monolingual English speakers in district

Prove it--remember, you've got to have comparables on economic and educational status of the parents.

Or, in other words, if bilingualism is so amazing, why are latinos not doing better economically here?


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:34 pm

OP,

You should be aware that CLIP is not Meyerholz, yet you cite Meyerholz data when making claims about CLIP. By this logic, I can claim that Catalina is attached to N. America by land since California is. Hm. Something doesn't fit. The logic, methinks, the logic.

"PAUSD is diverse .... This means, however, that CLIP compared to PAUSD is apples to oranges." Um, now you're out on a branch. You seem to be suggesting that PAUSD kids are, on balance, disadvantaged compared to Cupertino kids. Creep back to the trunk! PAUSD kids ought, on balance, to outperform CLIP (since their families have less income and because they are more diverse). But they don't. In fact, it turns out MI kids outperform PAUSD kids in both English and math. I'm sorry that the data does not fit your worldview.

"Or, in other words, if bilingualism is so amazing, why are latinos not doing better economically here?" Oh, dear, you jump right in without looking. Latinos are not, for the most part, enrolled in bilingual dual immersion programs. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Don't forget: Data and peer-reviewed research show Chinese immersion kids get higher scores than their peers in English.



Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:44 pm

PA Parent - I scolled up - you mean this? (from your earlier post)

"From a presentation titled PAUSD_ChinImmMar2006.pdf, which contains graphs, etc.:..."

Where's the DATA? (I see you providing a couple of your favorite quotes from a dubious source (PAUSD Staff circa 2006)

OK, so where the study PAUSD is referencing?
Where's the PAUSD pdf you reference
Who did they study? (was it the notorious class of SIX?, how many were pretested for entrance after kindergarten? how many have Mandarin language support at home, etc.
Who did they compare it to?

And again, comparing high performers that are lavished with resources, to average of any public school district is not a like to like compare. Why are you denying this? The quotes you reference are suffering from apples to oranges compares - unless you can show us the sources and how they've normalized out these unfair compares.

You ask how I can say they are pre-tested? Well, now I know you are being deliberately obtuse. You know as well as everone else on this thread that kids as KINDERS are chosen on lottery. But kids that enter after first grade are tested for proficiency. See your beloved CLIP website for confirmation that.

And take a look at the CLIP enrollment since 2000 to see the spikes in enrollment in the 2nd and 3rd grade levels, particularly in between 2001-2003. Now, they tested these same kids as fifth graders and want to tell us all about how great a job the program is doing teaching these smart kids. Well, more than likely, the parents, tutors and nannies at home are doing a great job.

But give me a filet mignon, and I'll make you a great steak.

By the way - again, I didn't invent that they hire help to get the afterschool resources. It was stated in the study.

Truth in advertising my friend - you really need to fill in the MI recruits about the reality of what you're getting them into. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 11:35 pm

Et,

"I see you providing a couple of your favorite quotes from a dubious source (PAUSD Staff circa 2006)" Who said a pausd staff report? If by dubious, you mean an acknowledged authority, well, what can one say? This is a Lindholm-Leary presentation of some of her data.

And again, the comparison is first with in-district peers and second with PAUSD kids (I don't think most would agree with you that PA or Cupertino school districts are the "average of any public school district.) Hence, Galas to Galas, Valencias to Valencias, and yes Mandarins to Mandarins.

"But kids that enter after first grade are tested for proficiency." Er, yeah, for Mandarin. So how does that help them score better on English and math exams? By that logic, you'd find lots of great English speakers by testing Beijing school kids for Mandarin ability. You follow? Or are you saying you buy the idea that bilingual dual immersion improves English scores?

And wow, you imagine that the Cupertino parents all have tutors and nannies. I'm sure they'd be flattered that you need to assume that in order to explain the great test results, but there's a better explanation: immersion works. (By the way, there are many studies on various languages that show this. Go look.)

"By the way - again, I didn't invent that they hire help to get the afterschool resources. It was stated in the study." Actually you said they "need" to hire nannies, but the study does in fact not say that. It is your invention. You seem to be inventing claims and attributing them to research.

It's quite clear that parents here in PA and around the country are reading studies by Lindholm-Leary and others and wish to enroll their children. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:33 am

Oh I see. When you said: "From a presentation titled PAUSD_ChinImmMar2006.pdf, which contains graphs, etc.:..."

You didn't identify the source, so its another Lindholm Leary presentatio. So, where's the study? (Link?)

What I said was the study said that afterschool help was necessary. The study says the participants in the study accomplish that in various ways, many with nannies, tutors or other ways (including mandarin speakers at home, although it said, even those with Mandarin speakers at home usually also seek outside help.)

(By the way, this is entirely consistent with what we've heard in Board meetings right here in PAUSD - ask Shaun and Nico how their kids are getting at home Mandarin support. Nannies. Ask around how many SI kids get at home support. Nannies, babysitters, tutoring, housekeepers. etc. But it is good to have overwhelming anecdotal evidence backup up by a researcher who validates this.)

I also didn't say PAUSD or Cupertino were average, I said any program that devotes this level of resource will outperform ~any~ district average. Meaning any district - even one as good as PAUSD or Cupertino.

So, again, where is the Lindhold Leary study? Link? Id really like to see how Lindholm Leary has adjusted out for students that entered the program after kindergarten (ie: pretested for proficiency), how she adjusts the 'district peer' comparison groups to exclude achievement gap students, special ed, etc., and we'd also like to see which class of CLIP was used for this study (the notorious class of six?).

The first thing you've said I agree with; People can think for themselves and probably will. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Don't worry, I havent forgotten - Immersion programs do a great job of teaching ELL students english. Which is a valid reason to have a immersion program in communities that have a big ELL population achivement gap. (I never disagreed with that.) By the way, do we in PAUSD have a big population of Mandarin speaking kids from immigrant families that need supplemental English support? Funny, Star tests (and others), say the Asian population is the highest performing demographic in Palo Alto. I don't even know if there are more than 5 kids performing below proficient in this group. So, don't forget, (or remind us), Why would we be giving 'bilingual kids from immigrant families' (In this case you'd be referring to Chinese Mandarin speakers), more services, more PAUSD resorces?

Are you suggesting that the PACE MI proposal was put forth to serve immigrant Mandarin speakers? Funny - I didn't see any mention of that in the proposal (because I think even you knew better). So really, again, how relevent to PAUSD is your little tag line?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:58 am

To save you a few clicks of the mouse - here are the Star test results for the Chinese demographic in PAUSD

PAUSD Star Test 2007
CST English Language Arts
Chinese

Grade Total Tested
2 785
3 849
4 805
5 824
6 805

Grade % Below Basic
2 1% (8 kids)
3 2% (17 kids)
4 0%
5 0%
6 0%

Grade % Far Below Basic
2 0%
3 1% (8 kids)
4 0%
5 1% (8 kids)
6 1% (8 kids)

So, are you seriously suggesting that we should be sufficiently impressed enough by MI results for immigrant Mandarin speakers that we should devote an entire choice program to these 8 kids per grade? Now of course, it might also be that those immigrant kids aren't even these 8 - they might already be in the top tiers of test results - which means they need supplement services even LESS.



Posted by PA Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 8:19 am

"What I said was the study said that afterschool help was necessary." Yes, and you implied nannies and tutors were necessary. But your study actually just says that some parents at these private schools use nannies, etc. Reading carefully, it is clear your study actually says nothing about what is necessary for success.

"I said any program that devotes this level of resource will outperform ~any~ district average. " Hm, by "this level of resource" I gather you mean exactly the same level of resource that goes into a standard classroom, since we know CLIP is cost neutral.

I'm not sure why you are focused on pretesting. First, there is very little attrition in CLIP, so very little pretesting. Second, it's unclear why you think testing for Mandarin proficiency selects for English achievement. Do you see the disconnect?

"Don't worry, I havent forgotten - Immersion programs do a great job of teaching ELL students english." That's true, too. But they also do a great job of teaching all their kids English. In Cupertino, for example, both groups of kids in the program outperform PAUSD kids.

"So, are you seriously suggesting that we should be sufficiently impressed enough by MI results for immigrant Mandarin speakers that we should devote an entire choice program to these 8 kids per grade?" Er, no, you seemed confused by the results so I was breaking out one of the points. The studies and data show that CI teaches all its kids--native Chinese speakers and English speakers alike--English better than their English-only peers. Lifts all boats. Good thing.

The fact is that immersion is a well-studied program with clear benefits and no downside in terms of learning English.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2007 at 12:53 pm

PA Parent,

As usual, you didn't address the issues. The MI kids' scores are included within Meyerholz's. They're not separated from land mass of Meyerholz. Beware making bad analogies.

Chinese kids are not the majority of bilingual kids--that they perform well in school is not proof that bilingualism means better performance in English, particularly given that the largest number of bilingual kids in this state (and country) are Hispanic and perform poorly next to their monolingual peers.

Conclusion: bilingualism is not the factor determining high performance. Just to support this, Indian-Americans outperform Chinese-Americans--their families are much more likely to speak just English at home.

And let's discuss the notion of "peers". The Chinese immigrant community is relatively small and well-educated. When comparing it to the general Caucasian population, you're not comparing just families of equal social-economic-status, but a much wider range. This is true even in Palo Alto. Thus, Nixon, which has the wealthy LAH white kids also has a higher API score for its white kids than it does for its Asian kids.

At this point, Cupertino has a sizable Asian majority in its schools--, so, yes, I think it is toploaded with a high-scoring group of kids. Particularly given that Cupertino was not, in its whiter days, a particularly wealthy community. And, once again, Meyerholz isn't a steller performer--and the white kids there are performing well below the district average (and PAUSD's district average).

There is a similar self-selection issue with CLIP, of course. Families who found the program too difficult dropped out, thus artifically boosting the averages. What this tells us isn't that the CLIP program teaches Mandarin and improves the scores of everyone. It tells us that MI is, frankly, such a hassle that the few kids who could hack it are bright and well-supported by their families.

Would those same kids have scored even higher at, say, Faria? Sure looks like it. (By the way, I'm glad to see that Hoover's demos have improved slightly--I hope its admins continue to work for a school where kids from any background will feel welcome.)

In fact, why is that monolingual DI programs consistently outscore their immersion counterparts? (And unlike CLIP, the DI programs don't have student turnover issues?)

Immersion isn't a single program. There are many types of immersions. The one you're supporting, MI, is poorly studied and the one being proposed--the MI/Ohlone mash-up hasn't been studied at all because it doesn't exist or have an existing model.

Spanish immersion is a different kettle of fish--very different learning demands and very different group of native-speakers. They don't, as a group, do well in school.

I really wish you would quit spouting vague talking points. This is your pet program, but you seem to be unable to come up with anything substantive that counters Parent's (or my) points. You also seem unable to acknowledge that there are real, unresolved issues here. I mean, there's a passivity here. You fought for this program, I assume you're going to put your kid in the lottery and, yet, you substitute a sort of faith in place of analysis. That doesn't strike me as a good way to get a program that works.

I'm a choice program parent. As charming as Susan Charles is, she had little to do with my interest in Ohlone. I love the program for my child, but I honestly don't think it's right for every child and I would never claim it was. In fact, when I look at the average STAR scores for white and Asian kids at Ohlone and then look at the overall much lower score, what I see is that there are some kids where Ohlone probably isn't really working--or, possibly, a teacher who's not got a handle on the program. You can see that sort of thing grade-by-grade. One year of kids will consistent perform better than the year following it. That says to me that that grade has some high-fliers who would bring up scores anywhere.

It feels like you're trying so hard to sell your program that you don't really look at what it is and what will really happen. I mean, it shouldn't be parent and me who are asking the hard questions.

It should be you.





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