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International Baccalaureate Charter Proposal

Original post made by Asher Waldfogel on May 29, 2007

The MI debate has gotten seriously sidetracked. Our challenge over the next few days is to find a compromise that's acceptable to the community.

The published top five list of community priorities puts more emphasis on

Mathematics
Sciences
English (writing/composition/essays)
English (reading comprehension/literary analysis)
Social studies (history/government/economics)

Tradeoffs on immersion vs FLES have nothing to do with the published priorities and are just two ways of doing something that was not previously in the top five.

My suggestion: let's organize a charter petition for an International Baccalaureate program. It's a globally recognized, academically rigorous program. It will deliver our top five priorities as well as language instruction.

Why do this now? Because we have no control over what charters other people petition or propose, and we have no control over how District Staff respond to charter threats. We can only control our own ability to request programs that meet different segments of community priorities and conform to state law.

Comments (30)

Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown North
on May 29, 2007 at 4:14 pm

An IB charter would work well. It would be great it PA schools offered an IB option and would, no doubt, be extremely popular.


Posted by Property Owner, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2007 at 4:47 pm

As a property owner I am appalled that the people of Palo Alto think Charters are a fabulous investment for our community. Take a look around at the surrounding communities that use a charter school model, forsaking consistent, high quality neighborhood schools.

What exactly to people think our property values are built on??? Nice weather? Big trees?

Its amazingly short sited to build charter schools around the fad of the day, which only ~some~ but not all Palo Alto residents can rely on, leaving our neighborhood schools to the sloppy seconds.

I'm just amazed that tax payers and property owners in this city aren't standing up to protect the assets of Palo Alto.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Property Owner

I think you will find that residents all over Palo Alto are standing up to protect their assets in Palo Alto, albeit through the asset of neighborhood schools rather than looking at it as property values. But your point holds water. It is the schools that keep property values rising and anything that affects the schools in a negative way will ultimately affect the property value of every homeowner in Palo Alto, regardless of whether they have children in the schools.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2007 at 5:01 pm

As a reminder - Charter school are intended to "Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving." in under performing school districts.

IB might be a great choice for a small alternative HS.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown North
on May 29, 2007 at 5:10 pm

I don't think I've ever heard IB referred to as a "fad of the day" before.


Posted by Asher Waldfogel, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 29, 2007 at 6:18 pm

I don't want to start another thread about the fairness of charters or the quality of PA neighborhood schools. The odds of state charter law changes to exclude basic aid districts are remote.

The point is that the current system can't be all things to all people, and as a community we're spending way too much time telling each other what we should want.

If there's serious positive response to this post, I'll get an email list started off-line.

For anyone who wonders about charter applicability, here's a Web Link to direct you to section 47601 of the state education code. Bottom line: charters have lots of goals including innovation and competition.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Asher,

Setup a website with a web form or a mailing list. I'll sign up. IB programs are usually wonderful schools besides being intellectually challenging.

P.S. Never put an email address of these forums unless you love SPAM.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2007 at 7:45 am

Why would an IB program need to be a charter? It seems to be a MUCH better new choice program than MI and would benefit so many more students. It would have the side benefit of making our high schools smaller. There has been a lot of talk of a small, alternative high school.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2007 at 8:39 am

Well, looking at the pain, divisions in the community and cost that MI choice has created, dealing with PAUSD directly hasn't been very successful. Just considering the latest talk, MI choice looks like it will cost PAUSD their proposed new bond measures! Do you really want to be in the middle of all that?

This can all be avoided by IB going the charter route from the get go. It also allows parents & the charter school to set the size limits and minimize the "luck" aspect of any lottery.

Asher, if you are serious, put together the website as suggested.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 10:58 am

The value of high quality consistent Palo Alto neighborhood schools is sacraficed for elite fringe experimental schools that are a gamble to get in to, and not realistic or accessible to many families. These are schools that belong in the private sector - this is a philosophical statement - not a statement of the law. Broken laws don't make it right and just.

Anyone fighting for charter schools in PAUSD, is fighting against property values in Palo Alto. I would be willing to bet that those defending charters in Palo Alto are non-residents, or non-property owners, or folks that have one leg out and won't be sticking it out for the long run.

The thing about charter schools - go start them somewhere else, for all the same benefits and access that you could have if start them here, and no skin off your nose, not even a hair, but A LOT of skin off the noses of everyone who values neighborhood schools in Palo Alto if you persist.

Unfortunately, the only way to 'win' this battle is to get laws changed - so people if you value what you have, look carefully at the election choices you make. Stand up.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Apparently IB is now not only a fad but experimental as well.

I also own a house in Palo Alto (and have for over 10 years) and have a child in pre-K, who wouldn't benefit from this charter for quite some years. I guess you lose that bet.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 30, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Why would an IB program need to be a charter? Seems like that one would be possible to offer in a high school.

But re: property values and charters. Yet another reason to try to place an MI charter in a district that would benefit from it.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm

International Baccalaureate (IB) --I'm all for it ! It's a well known high quality curriculum in international schools around the world and is well recognized/respected by elite Universities in England, France, Spain, as well as U.S. including Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, etc.

I understand that in addition to highschool. The IB has versions of its curriculum for elementary and middle schools that helps prepare students for the type of rigorous critical thinking required to attain an IB diploma in high school.

It's high time we have IB in our Palo Alto schools.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 30, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I understand it's a more integrated curriculum than the AP mishmash we're getting. One of the problems is that our schools have gotten very competitive, but in a superficial way. There needs to be more learning and less cramming


Posted by Asher Waldfogel, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Why a charter? A charter process runs on a timetable we can control, and a charter school has a cleaner firewall between the IB program and the district.

OhlonePar: appreciate your comment about how an IB curriculum could streamline the the AP programs.

I'll set up the website with twenty more "yes" posts - either "Yes, a charter IB" or "Yes IB, but please no charter"


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Why a charter. All you have to do is 'mention' a charter, I'm sure your IB school will be up and running by fall. Who the heck cares what everyone else in the district needs anyway.


Posted by watching, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 30, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Put the IB charter in a district that can benefit from it... Mountain View... they aren't basic aide and aren't as contrained by per student cost...


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2007 at 10:00 pm

IB is great, not a charter in a basic aid district


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 30, 2007 at 10:19 pm

Mr. Waldfogel

Yes I believe an IB charter would be a great idea. Please post back when you put up a web site with more information.


Posted by what the heck?, a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2007 at 11:41 pm



And what many of us thought would happen to pass with this MI immersion debacle is happening right here under our very eyes:

The list of charter school proposals just opened up. I suspect that there will be several more before all of this ends.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 31, 2007 at 12:49 am

Yes on the IB, no, on a charter. I don't think it's necessary to set up a separate school--if it were at Paly, it might help out the school balance, or Cubberley if it opens.

Not sure MV wants a high-school charter, but if it does, why not IB.

What the heck,

Yep. I don't know why Dana thinks if they cave under pressure to MI that there won't be others.


Posted by get informed, a resident of Downtown North
on May 31, 2007 at 7:22 am

the long line behind MI as a charter is stifling - NOT!

get real, you guys. charters are hard to do, and given the number of serious people who would put the work together to do a charter or another choice program, i don't suggest you hold your breath.

not many people have the true passion to pull it off. lots of good intentions, but no real guts, courage, and tenacity.

the largest red herring here is the fear of the district turning into a bunch of boutique choice programs.

no fear, there's no super-people here to pull it off.


Posted by KS, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2007 at 9:43 am

IB has no chance of getting into existing Palo Alto schools. It would never make it to the top of any priority list.

A choice program would be a possibility but the board has already said it will be "raising the bar" to any future choice program requests (I'd read this as a moratorium on any future choice programs - well, at least until they have their arms twisted again).

Charter is really the only option.

I've never really understood those that want a charter placed outside of Palo Alto. Wouldn't it have to be placed within PAUSD to allow for preference to be given to PAUSD residents?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2007 at 12:45 pm

KS - yes unlike the MI program which was sitting right at the top of the priority list. Or at least about 15th... Oh wait, it wasn't anywhere on the priority list...


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2007 at 12:49 pm

KS - yes unlike the MI program which was sitting right at the top of the priority list. Or at least about 15th... Oh wait, it wasn't anywhere on the priority list... That's odd. I wonder how we find ourselves putting PAUSD resources all over this program?


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on May 31, 2007 at 1:25 pm

"IB has no chance of getting into existing Palo Alto schools. It would never make it to the top of any priority list."

Being on a priority list is optional. All that's required is a teeny, tiny core group of highly dedicated people who can convince the board of their seriousness of pushing the program through - one way or another.

You may think that's a snippety response, but it's not intended to be anything more than an honest observation.

Without putting words in the MI supporters' mouths, I imagine that this type of pitting MI vs. FLES vs. French vs. expanding SI, Ohlone, Hoover or Y5 is off-putting to them. If a group of parents wanted any of those other programs so badly, why didn't they come forward and ram their proposals through the system??

Personally, I don't buy that argument. For me it comes down to carefully selected priorities, a strategic plan, and either a disciplined commitment to those priorities or revisiting the entire strategic plan to see where, objectively, the new proposal fits in.

I don't care for ad hoc additions going to those who shout the loudest, refuse to take their turn, or wield the biggest (charter) stick. Tenacity can be a virtue, but not when it's at the expense of others.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 31, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I think IB is a worthy goal, worthy enough in that it's probably worth trying to do more than get a tiny amount of support for it. How about thoughtful widespread support for a change? Working with the community instead of against it?

And, yes, get the idea out there and see if people want it as a priority when they're informed about it.

In other words, persuasion, yes, knuckle-baring fights, no. And no timelines based on what benefits your kid. And no more threatening the board. Persuasion, reasonable and fair expections are better longterm goals. Heck, we can do things like vote.

Get informed,

I would never underestimate the enterprising bent of people in Silicon Valley.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2007 at 10:17 pm

I would like to get informed. What is IB? what is the goal? what is the curriculum? What is the entrance criteria? It sounds like a high school program, or does it start in earlier grades?

Is it for high academic performers? Or can anyone gain access through random lottery admission process?

Do you have any links to other schools that offer the program so we can read what they are offering, their makeup, their results?

Or are you being faceteous to prove a point about the dangers of what the MI proponents are putting forward, their methods for getting their selfish needs met, the dangers of board response to threat tactics where sound policy and strategic plans should lie instead?


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2007 at 10:36 am

The program can start at any level. It would really be up to the district. The final level is a 2 year programme that ends in the IB diploma and is the most well known.

There isn't any "testing in" required but the final diploma does require that you have learnt at least one second language and will be tested in it. The program can be taught in French, English or Spanish so there is no reason it should be exclusionary.

You can start at the IB org's homepage: Web Link


Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2007 at 8:35 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Sorry if this sounds a little off-topic, there are so many MI forums right now. But the relevant question is: could an IB program be added to a given campus this way?)


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