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Diversity in Palo Alto Schools: Merit and Demerits

Original post made by John on Jun 25, 2007

I have started this thread as an outgrowth of the discussion on starting a 13th elementary school in Palo Alto.

I think diversity, for the sake of diversity, is a wrong notion. It does not prevent separations later on, such as on our college campuses. Japan is a very non-diverse nation, yet it does quite well in the global economy.

OK, I started it off. Let's hear from you, if you are honest enough to express your true feelings.

Comments (137)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Diversity was an artifact to substitute for the plainly illegal and illogical busing and "affirmative action" quotas that wasted so much opportunity through the years. The needs of minorities are far better served by increasing the content of their education and facilitating their acculturization than by feeding their victim status. Never tell someone they are a subject of pity unless you want to emasculate them. The pandering feeds the arrogance of the liberals and makes their low expectations easier for them to accept.


Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 2:08 pm


Well, you would have to define diversity. From what I know, in high school in Palo Alto, students spontaneously segregate themselves into racial/ethnic cliques. Asians together, Hispanics together, Caucasians together... etc... and the cliques don't interact much. I know there are exceptions to this, but it seems to be the case of the majority of students.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:00 pm

There is a vast difference between the voluntary grouping or cliqing of ethnic groups. These groups are choosing in their spare time to group with like minded friends whether it be by ethnic or pastime pursuits. This is natural, it is what adults do in the real world in their free time. However, keeping them apart in their schools, classrooms, sports teams, etc is what is wrong. They may have their cliques, but they are still learning side by side with others outside their cliques, they are still experiencing the diversity.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:03 pm

I feel strongly about this, having a very diverse family and being in a couple very diverse schools.

I don't think diversity is about forcing people to be together who would not naturally be together through a commonality. Diversity is about people with common goals/values coming together regardless of color, nationality, religion, values, abilities etc.

So, for me, it is about each person deciding "I want to live here, and go to school and church there" and nobody stopping you on the basis of anything irrelevant like color etc. As a result, the natural outgrowth, for example, at our elementary school is that people/families of all types and abilities mingle in classes, on the playground and at functions. A class picture shows that 1/2 the kids are "white", and for those in the know, some of those white kids are from Israel, Germany, France, Russia...diversity of a different type.

The result of THAT is that kids learn that all kinds of people from the most able to the least, from one color to another etc have commonalities of emotions, needs and desires that define us as human beings, not necessarily into our little subcategories.

I don't think anything funded by tax dollars should force any kind of segregation, but I also don't think anything should force "integration" beyond the natural chosen living boundaries on the basis of any of the above. This allows people of common values to come together with the least interference from "outside".

Of course, birds of a feather flock together, and kids as they grow are going to gravitate toward other kids with similarities in values and living conditions etc. That is a natural segregation of choice and comfort for the kids. This would probably tend to result in some color segregations, or economic segregations..but my eldest has "segregated" him/herself into a group that is not based on color or nationality at all, but is based on academic values and a common sense of humor. There are kids from all over the world in this "group", who bring geopolitical/religious/sociological perspectives to my teen that wouldn't otherwise happen.

I am delighted that we live in an area where his high school is so diverse. I hope that we keep our tax funded schools as "neighborhood" as possible to give another generation of kids this opportunity.


Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:29 pm

Beautifully put, Resident. Thank you.
In the thread starter John wrote, "Japan is a very non-diverse nation, yet it does quite well in the global economy."
The value of diversity to me is how it enriches my head and my heart, not my wallet.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:42 pm

"The value of diversity to me is how it enriches my head and my heart, not my wallet."

Yet another parent,

I admire your feelings, honestly stated. At least we can dispense with the idea that diversity is necessary for the wallet.

Now we can talk about "head" and "heart". Endless subject, but very interesting. Let us continue....


Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2007 at 4:00 pm

There is a saying - Beauty is in the eyes of a beholder...so is diversity. Cultural diversity is the way you choose to accept it. Palo Alto is a town where when you say 'Henna' about 90% people know its the Indian temporary tatoo. When you say 'sushi' - people don't look at your strangely, but are willing to tell you good sushi places around the town (and mind you, not all these people are Japanese)

My child knows the significance of the red color during the Chinese new year, she knows the Chinese years (year of the dragon, dog etc ). She has Australian friends, she has Chinese friends, she has friends from Spain, Africa and a whole bunch of other countries.

Our neighbors do not look at us as "that Indian family" - we are a family in the neighborhood first, "Indian" just happens to be our ethinicity. This is what diversity is about ..


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2007 at 4:12 pm

"Our neighbors do not look at us as "that Indian family" - we are a family in the neighborhood first, "Indian" just happens to be our ethinicity. This is what diversity is about .. "

IndianParent,

Well said. Now, just to keep it going, do your children go to their neighborhood school? If so, great, you are part of the natural diversity that comes when neighbors decide to be neighbors.Assuming that you do, what school is it?


Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:30 pm

Yes, our children go to the neighborhood elementary school .. we have had a great experience with the school/staff/kids/parents ..

The dynamics of our school is just another example of how a diverse community can work very well together. We volunteer for different cultural celebrations - just to get to know the culture.

As I said earlier, in our neighborhood we have people from various different backgrounds .. economic, educational, cultural, ethnic - we discuss Mandarin immersion without any hard feelings; we discussed the eruv without passing judgement (I had no idea what eruv meant).

Diversity does not mean putting together a bunch of people from different nationalities, ethinicity .. it means an exchange of ideas, an open mind towards the other cultures, an attitude to accept good things from the other culture !


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 7:15 am

"Diversity does not mean putting together a bunch of people from different nationalities, ethinicity .. it means an exchange of ideas, an open mind towards the other cultures, an attitude to accept good things from the other culture !"

IndianParent,

If that is what the PAUSD meant by diversity, there would be very little controversy. In fact, PAUSD spends a lot of effort trying to achieve racial/ethnic balance, or preventing racial/ethnic imbalance. That is why racial groupings are quantified. If PAUSD were to take your definition of diversity, there would be no more racial classifications going on. I think that would be a good thing. It would save money, too, because we would not be wasting administravtive time on this stuff.


Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2007 at 9:58 am

Diversity is what makes the United States so special. Sure, diversity simply "for the sake of diversity" is a little strange, but I think diversity naturally happens. It isn't some forced thing. Personally, I'm thankful daily that I've had the benefit of growing up, working and living in such a diverse area. I've had the opporunity to learn about the African-American community, the Latino community, the Jewish community, and on and on.

Learning more about each other as human beings can only broaden our respect for one another's cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. Diversity is how humanity survives.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2007 at 10:14 am

Diversity is extremely important. To show what the opposite is, I gave my experiences growing up in a different thread. When you grow up without any diversity you turn into a very unbalanced individual who still has a lot of growing up to do when they reach the real world. I think I turned out alright. I am still in touch with old school friends who live in the same area and have not had much of an opportunity to broaden their outlook. These friends, although they are very nice people, are still narrow minded and inexperienced when it comes to the real issues for life. It can be argued that they are lucky not to have to deal with some of the problems that diversity can produce, but even they in their still sheltered existence must come across some aspects, gay culture, women's rights, etc. but they still choose to sit on the fence and pretend it isn't going on.

This world is full of people who are different from us, the more we mix with them and learn from them the better. This is something that should start at an early age, therefore it makes sense to start in the schools. Of course we all make our closest friends from people like ourselves, whether it be from ethnicity, religion, sports, etc. it doesn't matter. But, we don't just have best friends, we have many acquaintances at various levels of intimacy, and that is where the real diversity should occur. We have to learn about each other to live in harmony. We have to know what is an appropriate way to act with people who are different and I don't mean act in the drama way. We need to treat others as we would like them to treat us.

Not only from my upbringing, but also more recently, I lived in an area where (unlike Indian parent) I was pointed at as that couple from _____ and everywhere I opened my mouth, I was asked where I came from and did I like living here. Now most people thought they were just being friendly, but when you were asked that literally a dozen times a day everywhere you went, it got tiring. I felt like putting a sign around my neck answering those questions.

So, please give my kids the best kind of diversity you can. And for the schools which are not doing such a good job, please look at the consquences of what you are doing. They are missing out on so much.


Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2007 at 12:00 pm

If PAUSD is spending staff time trying to achieve a racial/ethnic balance - whats so wrong about it? (Sorry - am I missing your point here, John?).


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 12:58 pm

IndianParent,

My point is that it is a forced diversity. By its very nature it involves racial discimination. For instance, when overflow transfers are made from one neighborhood school to another, the race of the children is central to the decision of where to assign the kids. In fact, there might not have been any reason to re-assign kids in the first place, if the schools had not felt forced to 'diversify' their campuses.

There is increasing diversity in most neighborhoods in Palo Alto. It happens as a natural outcome of people moving in and out, people dying, babies being born. Neighborhood schools, if allowed to be neighborhood schools, will reflect this diversity without any forcing.

What is wrong with that? From your previous post, it seemed to me that you would support what I just said.

Parent,

Whould you feel better if the Palo Alto kids were exposed to fundamentalist Christianity in order to expand their horizons? How about intellectual diversity, such as the need to build nuclear power plants in order to avoid greenhouses gases? Certainly our children will need to mix with such people once they get out of Palo Alto. Should we assign kids to various schools based on who their parents happen to be?

My major point is that racial diversity is only one of many possible diversities. Race, itself, is an artifical construct (ask any serious biologist), yet there is an almost irrational focus on it. If diversity is to continue to be the mantra of some, then why not open it up to true diversity?

"So, please give my kids the best kind of diversity you can"

Could you really stand it, if we did, Parent?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Diversity is achieved by not opposing it. Shotgun marriages are seldom good public policy.


Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2007 at 1:24 pm

John,

Lets take this as an example - the kindergarten class (any regular school; not lottery school ) - total class size 60 children. These 60 children are admitted from the neighborhood - assuming - the parent's get their act together and register the child during the appropriate registration time.

PAUSD claims that they assign the school depending on which group you are in - I vaguely recall them telling me that there is a first and second group and that if you apply within the registration deadline, you are in the first group.

Now - those who are in the first group, get assigned their neighborhood school. The kindergarten composition will reflect the composition of the neighborhood.

Lets just say that in a given year, 65 kids apply. 5 children have to be overflowed to another neighborhood. Aren't there any rules for where the children can be overflowed - for example, just because the school that is 2 miles down the line has more kids of ethnicity "A" and the kid #61 happens to be of ethnicity's "A" - the kid #61 gets moved to a school 5 miles away - just because that school has less ethnicity "A" - is this what you are saying? (Any documentation/example to support this?).



Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 2:11 pm

IndianParent,

Basically, yes. But it is not so simple.

Several years ago I had a heart-to-heart talk with a PA principal that I knew, somewhat, through mutual friends. She/he has now moved on. I got a real insight as to what the real 'game' is.

This principal was very frustrated with the pressure exerted on her/him. The pressure was not about the day-to-day struggles at the school, of which there are always some. It was about racial/ethnic balancing acts. Overflow issues, like you mentioned (yes, in some cases the longer distance solution was demanded over the shorter one); the 'laning' issue: Everybody knew that lanes existed, even if it was prohibited...the question was about how to racially balance them (BIG issue); priorities given to racial minorities in enrollment vs. racial majorities; discipline problems (much bigger issue with minorities, yet an inconsistent approach was demanded); parents who want to know why their child is forced to share his/her homework with an "underprivileged" child (answer: Cooperative learning). It went on and on like this. This principal was quite frank about the intimidation factor that prevented any honest discussion of the issue. He/she quit the following year, out of frustration.

If you are looking for documentation, don't hold your breath. Would PAUSD be so obtuse as to actually publish the real thing?

To me, it is a very simple: Eliminate racial/ethnic diversity as a goal in Palo Alto schools. It will happen on its own. No need to stress about it. Instead, celebrate diversity of ideas.


Posted by mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Hi John - does you vision include choice programs? And do the VTPs then get to choose their schools? Not criticism, just curiosity...


Posted by Alyssa, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

The real problem for some of us is not diversity. America has integrated fully into its society and culture groups that were disdained in the extreme when they arrived (think Jews, Irish, Italians around the turn of the century.) The real issue for many of us is that diversity now occurs in an atmosphere of stifling multiculturalism, which is anti-assimilation and sometimes seems bent on emphasizing what we have that is different rather than what we have in common.

As the melting pot ideal is replaced by the celebration of difference, we lose our societal cohesiveness and depart from our professed national ideals.


Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2007 at 3:53 pm

I am not too sure where the direction of this discussion is going - it started out as an very interesting topic - moderated very well by John and his comments .. but the last few comments makes me wonder if we are going towards yet another Lottery School / immersion program discussion.

A different view point - should we put the entire blame on the PAUSD and the way it operates. This is a classic case of a big organization - decisions are made by taking into consideration some constraints. Not all the people are going to agree with these decisions and those who disagree - are going to find every single thing wrong with the organization.

You have mentioned discipline problems and you say that these are much more dominant in the minorities. Now, if the PAUSD wants to split the kids to even out these problems - why would you object? ( No, I do not work for PAUSD .. I have no connection to them other than the fact that my children are in the school district )


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm

mom,

VTP: Fill up the neighborhood schools with neighborhood kids. If there is any room left, then invite VTP.

Allyssa,

Multiculturalism: I agree, at least to a degree. I was raised in a very mixed cultural environment. There are good and bad things about it. I do think that 'multiculturalism', which is more of a political ideology than a true mix of cultures, is a driving force in the current Palo Alto diversity program. However, we do not need to change the big picture in order to fix the local issue. Neighborhood schools allow a slow and natural mix, with several different cultures becoming one (an American one, and with various flavors, as usual).

IndianParent,

You raise some very good issues. I will not attempt to respond to every one (perhaps others might want to join in?). However, I am willing to pick up on the more controversial ones, becasue they are almost never discussed, in polite company, in PA.

"You have mentioned discipline problems and you say that these are much more dominant in the minorities. Now, if the PAUSD wants to split the kids to even out these problems - why would you object? "

The discipline issue is always hinted at, or spoken of in hushed tones at cocktail parties. It is real. If you don't believe it, get one of your local teacher pink on chardonnay in a safe enviroment and ask him/her. If, as a kid, I was coming from another neightborhood into a new neighborhood, I might feel some 'us vs them' stuff, too. I might want to disrupt things, especially if the other side was rich and I was poor. Beyond that level, there is the issue of different 'cultural' norms with respect to discipline; some cultures are, on average, more strict than others (e.g trust fund babies vs blue collar in Palo Alto). My answer to all this is the same as for other school issues: Reinforce the neighborhood schools, because they will be populated with a similar (but not identical) cultural norm. It will be much easier to educate all of our kids in PA.




Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2007 at 5:40 pm

"Reinforce the neighborhood schools, because they will be populated with a similar (but not identical) cultural norm. It will be much easier to educate all of our kids in PA. "
Ah, see that's what I call anti-diversity.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 5:53 pm

"Ah, see that's what I call anti-diversity."

MixedMarriage,

Why?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm

John,

Yes, diversity for its own sake matters. Why? Because we're not Japan, we're not close to a culturally and ethnically homogenous nation. Japan, by the way, may be a successful economy, but its historic xenophobia has created lots of problems over the years--the little problem with WWII for instance . . .

As Americans, particularly in a place like the Bay Area, it's a bit of a multicultural pressure cooker. If you stick with "your own kind", you're cutting yourself off from the majority of people (there is no majority here) and, in some sense, you're limiting your potential for understanding other people.

I went through the integration/busing situation--and, no, it wasn't always fun dealing with the hostility between groups of kids of different ethnicities--and more critically--of different socioeconomic classes and expectations. That said, I learned early how to not make assumptions and how to build a rapport with people who didn't share my background. The state's a lot more mixed than it was when I grew up and while I didn't always enjoy the lessons, as an adult I am very grateful for the social flexibility I developed. It is normal for me to have friends who don't share my ethnicity. For me, it's always been normal. It's not about being colorblind, by the way, which strikes me as having a slight blame-the-victim aspect for any notice of racism.

Like Alyssa, I think assimilation is getting somewhat undervalued these days. Because we're sort of a made-up nationality, we have to make a conscience effort to find a common ground--we need to share "American" values--or at least be part of the debate as to what they are. i think there's been a bit of "have your cake and eat it too" thing--i.e. you come to America and make money while trying not to become American or, more to the point, have your kids become American. Doesn't really work--American culture seems to be weirdly infectuous.

I think there's a reality that we, in all our defined racial identities, don't always see--which is that in this country, people do intermarry. Your grandkids may not look like you; they may not share your religion; they may be seen as being of another "race."

So, yes, diversity for its own sake in a nation of "others" turning into a big "us". It's just the reality of the beast, so why not learn how to deal with it as kids?

Re: forced diversity. No, I'm not for bussing kids all over the place. I prefer encouragement to force. I've said elsewhere that I think Hoover could benefit from some outreach to broaden its applicant pool.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 6:19 pm

OhlonePar,

Other than the fact that your are, in fact, for a 'forcing' of diversity, I tend to agree with some of your arguments. It would be interesting, at least to me, to understand how your think I disagree with your basic notions. My suspicion is that you have some stereotypical notions, but I don't know for sure. Let me know.

Then tell me why neighborhood schools do not achieve an American ideal of the melting pot.

BTW, your little snipe at Japan (homogenous, WWII), could also be applied to Britain in WWII...well, except that England fought fascism and Japan was part of it. Your point is...?

Should be interesting...which is why I started this thread in the first place.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2007 at 6:26 pm

I can't close this without reminding folk that Earl Warren, darling of the liberals, lived in the Washington elementary, Sutter Junior High and Sacramento high school districts but bused [actually limousined] his kids across town to the upscale William Land Park schools to avoid "problems" if they attended school with Mexicans.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Walter,

That is just another probelm with the forced diversity mindset. In a previous thread I mentioned the Kennedys and Clintons - same thing as Warren. Same thing for black teachers in the D.C. public school system sending their own kids to private schools. The hypocracy is never ending.

What's new?


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Although its off topic - could it be that the Clinton's and the Kennedy's sent their kids to private schools in part because of security issues? I know VC's, CEO's and a movie star or two who send their kids to Castileja, Crystal Springs and Nueva for exactly that reason.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Tired,

No not security. The Kennedys and Clintons had all kinds of security. Remember, Carter sent his daughter to a public school in D.C. If you think private schools offer any real security, I can only say that you are very naive. Any serious thugs (or terrorists) can accomplish their mission....

It is not about security. It is basic selfishness, and there is nothing wrong with that, IMO. However, if they wanted to avoid the "selfish" label, they would have sent their kids to neighborhood schools.


Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 26, 2007 at 10:27 pm

I'm sorry if this thread is intended not to discuss the luck/lottery programs, but it is odd to me that the choice schools have become legal escapes from diversity (or integration). I ask whether there are many (or any) of PAUSD's low-income Latino parents who are eager to apply for the MI lottery. I doubt it. These schools that have partly self-selecting populations -- luck/lottery, private, and Bullis Charter where my kids go -- are ethnically "diverse," but somehow less diverse in many ways than "regular" school and they siphon kids out of the neighborhood schools. (in the case of Bullis Charter, there was no neighborhood school).

My kids have been at 4 elementary schools, of which I consider only Briones socio-economically diverse. As valuable as attending Briones was, with its day-to-day lessons in appreciation for the ethnic mix, compassion for the OH kids, etc., I still feel that all kids would be better off if PAUSD's priority were on having kids go to school in their neighborhoods. The groundedness, security, sense of belonging to a community, abundance of nearby friends, necessity of learning how to get along with kids you're stuck with, etc. are way more important for young kids. Unfortunately, few neighborhoods are socio-economically diverse. PAUSD's middle schools seem to bridge that gap, though.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2007 at 10:51 pm

John,

Sniping at Japan? No, more pointing out that judging the merits of homogeneity v. diversity should take in more than how a country's economy is doing.

Britain and Japan have very different histories. For better or worse, the Entlish were sailing all over the world and staking claim to large chunks of it. Japan had a closed-door policy for centuries. Britain is not homogenous--it was invaded numerous times and even now the Welsh differ themselves from the English and the Scots.

As for Japan, in many way it reads to me as a culture in shock--it was so hierarchical, so insular, so rigid and then, wham! The shock and awe and devestation of the 20th century.

I'm not against neighborhood schools--however, I think I have a first-hand understanding of what "forced diversity" was actually like, good and bad. I'm not for forcing it because the anger it engenders is counterproductive, however, having survived it, I can see what was valuable about it.

Hoover's not a neighborhood school, so I don't see a problem with increased outreach so that it's seen as a school where any child would be welcome. I'm not saying that this isn't the case, but I think there's a perception issue that could be addressed.

How do I disagree with you? Very simply--you said you thought diversity for the sake of diversity was wrong. I disagree. I think diversity in and of itself is valuable--particularly, given the kind of country that we are. So I gave you a bit of my own experience.

Walter,

Some of us liberals associate Warren with the internment camps. He was, of course, an Eisenhower Republican. I'm not sure why trying to send your child to the best available school is inherently anti-liberal. After all, we like supporting schools and we're big on education.

I mean, basically, you're saying that providing your own child with a good education is hypocritical if you support public education, but don't use it because you live in an area with poor schools. I'd say it was only hypocritical if your policies were responsible for those poor schools. In the case of both Clinton and Carter, their kids attended public schools in their state. They had had no chance to do anything for or against the DC schools, but somehow, because they support public education, they're hypocrites because they didn't want to send their kids to some of the worst schools in the country?

Amy Carter, by the way, transferred to a private school. As I recall, security risks were indeed an issue.



Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2007 at 5:04 am

It is illegal for the government to determine the treatment they give somone based on race. Once you "get around" that the sky's the limit.


Posted by Some Non-Diversity is fun too......, a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jun 27, 2007 at 5:16 am

Diversity may have its benefits - but I am surprised that nobody sees at least some virtues of non-diversity. Is seems non-diversity is position that is not-PC and being PaloAltans we are good
at keeping cover!!!!!!!!!!

I see this particularly true in Indian communities. Indians (or may I say Indian-Americans) usually spend weekends at all-Indian parties. A non-Indian only party is a rarity.

These are very descent parties - a heaven for parents to discuss everything from jobs, schools, colleges, technology, VC monies, trends, fashion, internships/jobs for children, resume passing - oh... you name it. These are fabulous social gathering with GREAT food.

I know we need diversity. But in non-diversity I get SOOOOOOOOOOOO much.

Where can I find so much... in non-diversity !!!!!!!





Posted by IndianParent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2007 at 8:28 am

John,

trust fund babies vs blue collar in Palo Alto

Why do you say this is related to ethnic diversity?


Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:19 am

Diversity as an end in itself as promulgated by the politically correct (PC) collectivists is a false concept. For diversity's sake, is it good to have a mixture of freedom and slavery, or health and sickness, or law-abiding citizens and mass murders? We don't need a "proper mixture" for these. What the PC are foisting on us is to get rid of all standards.

The collectivists believe that being a member of a group (race, gender, economic "class") determines how and what one thinks. (An old Marxist idea.) They sacrifice individual rights to get diversity in these areas.


Posted by John R, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:36 am

In today's Philadelphia Daily News (27 June) Howard Lurie, an emeritus prof of law, writes:

>>>
Four years ago, in Grutter v. Bollinger (the University of Michigan law school affirmative-action case), the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, held that the government (in the form of a state school) could use an explicit racial classification system if it had a good motive for doing so.

That decision can be seen as standing for the proposition that government need not treat its citizens as individuals but rather as components of a racial, religious, sexual or ethnic class.

And as long as at least five justices of the Supreme Court are satisfied that the government's motive constitutes a "compelling state interest," the individual's interest can be subordinated to that of the state.
....
If government-mandated racial diversity justifies student assignment to schools, it may at some later time justify restrictions on the sale of homes to achieve a government-mandated racial mix in neighborhoods, or restrictions on employment to achieve a government-mandated racial mix in the workplace.

It is but a short leap from the benefits of racial diversity in the schools to the benefits of racial diversity in neighborhoods and places of employment.
<<<

The question, I think, is not whether or not "diversity" is a good thing. The question is whether we want government to regulate the racial and ethnic market to produce a desired mix. I would say, not because that can't be done without abandoning the appealing American principle that every individual should be treated "without regard to race, creed, or color."

(By the way, I am a former, not current, Stanford student/resident)


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:36 am

John: Reinforce the neighborhood schools, because they will be populated with a similar (but not identical) cultural norm. It will be much easier to educate all of our kids in PA.
MixedMarriage: Ah, see that's what I call anti-diversity.
John: Why?
Because neighborhoods tend to attract similar people. People generally tend to settle with like people. Look at the recent expansion of the Indian and Asian communities in Cupertino. As more immigration occurs, people settle down near people they know. It's only natural. But it doesn't necessarily lead to diversity.

What do you mean by "It will be much easier to educate all of our kids in PA"? Is it easier when we get rid of the riff-raff? Don't want those Los Altos Hills types mixing with our El Carmelo kids. Keep those VTP kids separate from our Walter Hays kids. And please don't make our North kids get bussed South when their schools overflow. It's too difficult when they get mixed like this. It'd be easier if they all just stayed put in their lily-white or Latino or Asian neighborhood schools, staying with "their own kind".

Excuse my edginess, it's well-intentioned. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to get to the bottom of this by presenting an extreme position.

Diversity goes beyond ethnicity. Palo Alto tends toward homogeneous in several areas. For example, there's a limited amount of wealth-diversity. It's safe to say that home ownership in Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills (PAUSD) is primarily for the wealthy. The lifestyles of the extremely wealthy vs. just-making-do is enormously different, especially in the eyes of a child -- and their parents'.

You don't see as much diversity of careers here. Silicon Valley has an overabundance of engineers and technology support people (this includes marketing, sales, HR, CEOs, etc.) Go to some other parts of the country and our lunch conversations would sound foreign. Political diversity is nearly non-existent here, too. Paly, for example, is largely anti-Republican.

Back to schools. What if I value good schools AND a diverse community (not just ethnically diverse) for my children? Is it a trade-off? The best schools are usually not available for those who can't afford to live within those neighborhoods. Shall we tell them, "so what? If you can't afford it then you don't deserve it?" Since VTP keeps coming up in the conversation, let me say that I LIKE that these children are my children's classmates. They bring perspectives that aren't readily available in most Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills neighborhoods.

It's when we're exposed to diverse ideas, values and perspectives that we do our growing, either by defending and confirming our own ways or by questioning them. As educators, it's important and correct that PAUSD consider diversity as an element of a quality school experience.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:39 am

Walter,

That's not what the law says. You can't "discriminate", "treatment" and "discrimination" aren't identical concepts.

But what has this to do with someone sending their kids to a private school instead of a bad public one?

R Wray--the "collectivists"? Are you guys ever going to realize the 60s ended nearly 40 years ago?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:54 am

John R.,

You're making a slippery slope argument. We've used quotas before for college admissions and no one passed a law controlling who purchased what houses. Oh, well, except that laws did pass that ended restrictions. The original deed to my house, for example, discriminated against Jews and blacks.

Part of the role a public university is to help create a better society. In that sense, outreach to kids from historically disadvantaged groups may help provide future leaders for those groups. I mean doesn't it seem just a little off to you that we've got a huge Latino population in this state, but the percentage of Latinos at Berkeley has actually dropped? That says to me, frankly, that educational opportunities are so unequal in this state that public education isn't doing its job.

And, also, i don't know that an admissions process is "fair" when money makes such a huge difference in educational opportunities and qualities. Whose really the better student--the kid tutored into an A, or the kid holding down a job, looking after younger siblings, studying on her own and getting a B?

MixedMarriage--bravo1


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2007 at 9:56 am

The KKK believed it was a benefit to blacks to have their own town, and their own bathrooms and their own drinking fountain. One man's benefit is another man's cage. Government action must be color blind, or it will find a way to discriminate, sometimes to benefit, sometimes to harm.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 27, 2007 at 10:21 am

We're new to the PA Schools, and I'm curious how "VTP" works. When we lived in San Carlos, I was surprised at how many kids from EPA and East Menlo were at my child's school and found it was due to the Tinsley Act...I can't remember the details but it seemed that kids from these neighborhoods (without their own schools?) could go to any elementary school in San Mateo County that had space.

I was surprised to find out in my child's Palo Alto school that there was an African American child from EPA who had a full-time aid to help her. She does not have any disability as far as I could tell...my child just said this child is "not too smart". It seems like an expensive proposition for PAUSD to provide this level of support...I suspect it's because PAUSD is so worried about their test scores. Why don't EPA and East Menlo have their own schools (didn't there used to be Ravenswood but it got closed down...I don't know the history)? I think it's got to be very difficult on these kids being scattered around the county and trying to fit in...I know two of the kids from EPA in my child's class both have behavorial issues...and you've got to wonder if bussing them in is helping them or hurting them. I'm definitely in favor of kids going to their respective neighborhood school.


Posted by interested, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jun 27, 2007 at 10:30 am

I have repeatedly heard from the middle school teachers and the high school teachers that the children coming from Juana Briones are the most willing to work in any group setting that they are assigned to. These children have a broad base of friends from all cultural and economic levels. They do not all become lasting friends but they do learn what it is about the character of the person that they like or dislike. They do not base this decision on the color of their skin or the car that they ride in. I have seen great friendships continue through high school with children who would never have tried to get to know one another had they not had the exposure to other cultures. I have heard of many people not wanting to send their children to Briones because of the diversity and it is their child's loss. I have to wonder if the parent would keep their prejudices to themselves whether their children would grow up with less prejudice?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 11:34 am

IndianParent,

"trust fund babies vs blue collar in Palo Alto "

I used it as an example of cultural differences with respect to discipline. I didn't claim that it is ethnically based, especially in Palo Alto. There is a running joke about TFBs having a letter from their therapist in their backpack to pull out if a teachers raises his/her voice to them. The blue collar kids are easier to control - just yell at them and take away recess (used to be able to just whack them with a paddle).

MixedMarriage,

Neighborhoods change all the time in this area. Yes, birds of a feather can (sometimes do) flock together. That would be their choice, but other birds will also fly in and stir up the pot (I know, bad metaphors and an even worse mix of them}.

Neighborhood schools, with neighborhood kids, do indeed provide a cultural atmosphere that is more conducive to academic learning. When my older kids had various issues with other kids in school, I found it easy to talk to the parents, because they were my neighbors. We shared a fairly common sense of values about discipline and solutions (wasn't always easy, but we did not have to redefine terms). When my younger kids went through the same school (Escondido), SI was dumped on us, and it was a different place. The neighborhood parents were much less eager to volunteer for projects, the SI parents were activists that wanted it their way (they got it), the VTP kids were a bigger discipline problem, there was less cohesion....

You may delight in everything about diversity, and I agree with some of it, but I do not think the benefits outweigh the costs. In fact, I think the emphasis on racial/ethnic diversity, alone, contributes to the separations that develop down the road (high school, college), because it emphasizes racial/ethnic identity.

You mention the anti-Republican block on diversity. Yep. But the same people who are singing the praises of racial/ethnic diversity want nothing to do with political diversity. They also tend to be adamant about not saying the Pledge of Allegiance (required by the state education code).

It is going to be pretty interesting to see how the diversity of MI and Ohlone will improve that school. Even OhlonePar can see that not all diversity is a good thing.

My bottom line statement about neighborhhod schools being better for PA education is a real bottom line statement: Bond issues will not pass, going forward, if we do not defend our neighborhood schools.


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 11:38 am

There are many kinds of disabilities, unless you are qualified to diagnosis them, please do not judge this child. PAUSD does not assign full-time aides lightly. Where this child is from and her race is irrelevant to her needs. Perhaps you should consider what your child can learn from this student (compassion, tolerance?) and how the aide helps the whole class.

Info on the Voluntary Transfer Program is on the PAUSD site at Web Link
Ravenswood has their own schools. If you go to the Ravenswood school stats and read about the lack of credentialed teachers, the fewer years of teaching experience, the ELL, the socio-economical level of the students, you can see why parents make a commitment to the VTP (and it is a commitment as a family to send your child to school in another city). I have found the VTP students to be no more or less disruptive than the other students although they use the Resource services to a greater extent. In general, they are delightful kids who add to our schools.

Regarding testing - particularly at the elementary level, I have found teachers and administration to be relaxed about STAR tests, spending time teaching the kids how to read the test, fill in the bubbles, etc., but expecting that the normal excellent teaching and solid curriculum would be sufficient to provide our consistently good scores.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Tired,

"I have found the VTP students to be no more or less disruptive than the other students "

Sorry, only those with blinders on could make such a statement. The VTPs and TFBs cause real discipline issues, above the norm. It takes lots of time ($$) to deal with it. At least let us have an honest discussion.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:28 pm

"The VTPs and TFBs cause real discipline issues, above the norm. It takes lots of time ($$) to deal with it."

John, I beg to differ. Barron Park, for example, has plenty of kids from the trialer park and low income housing. Ironically, when I would hear parents talking pointedly about "those VTP" problem kids, they were inevitably referring to Hispanic kids who were not in fact VTP. Too bad, because VTP parents have to care about their kids' education in order to get their kids into the program in the first place.

I wish more of the upper-middle-class parents I met who looked down on the alleged "VTP" kids had paid attention to their own children's behavior and academics and less time demanding special favors for their children and judging other people's kids. It would have improved everyone's experience.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:36 pm

"My bottom line statement about neighborhhod schools being better for PA education is a real bottom line statement: Bond issues will not pass, going forward, if we do not defend our neighborhood schools."
John, It looks like you have a hidden agenda behind this thread on diversity.

FWIW, our family did an intra-district transfer from one of the north cluster schools to one of the west cluster schools. Why? Because of the diversity. Our neighborhood school test scores are higher and the funds going into extras was greater (I don't how PIE changed things – I haven't bothered to keep track). That wasn't enough to attract us. Being a biracial family and valuing the types of diversity I mentioned above (not just ethnic diversity), we felt we had more in common with the west cluster school than the north.

Our neighborhood doesn't define us. Our values go beyond who happens to live next door. When we made an offer on our house, we didn't interview and screen the neighbors. Heck, we didn't even know who they were. We simply liked the house and its location.

We like our neighbors and get along well with them. We can see that our marriage is troubling to some of the older neighbors – they can relate only to the one of us who is most like them. Ah, well. That's their problem. But by being in their midst and eventually becoming neighborly friends, I like to think that we've loosen them up from a bunch of stereotypes they may have held. What do you know, we're really just like anyone else.

Unless children are exposed to this "what do you know" experience, they risk growing up with views similar to these older neighbors I was referring to.


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:40 pm

My kids, elementary and high school, have been in PAUSD schools since kindergarten. In those years, I can think of 2 VTP kids in their classes who were "behavior issues". One was a special ed kid. I can think of a dozen or so non-VTP kids who required a ton of attention, were bullies, misbehaved, talked back to teachers and had parents who just couldn't believe that their perfect child was a behavior problem.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:43 pm

tired of bickering: Ain't it the truth.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Tired,

You're right that I don't have enough information to diagnose this particular child's disability...although I think there's rampant over-diagnosing of "learning" disabilities nowadays. My child knows plenty about "compassion and tolerance"...but she's not learning from this particular child who starts fights with other kids, constantly gets in trouble and disrupts the class. The aide does help the whole class...because apparently the child doesn't really need full-time help. I think it's an unnecessary stigma to the child to call out that she has her own aide...the aide could still be there for her but you could call her the "classroom aide" who helps anyone who needs it (and focuses on those who need it most). Also if a child really needs a full-time aide to function in the class, perhaps a special needs class would be more appropriate.

Thanks for the link to the VTP website. I found it interesting that only "minority students living in the Ravenswood School District" were eligible for the program. I guess if you're poor and white and live in EPA you're out of luck going to PAUSD schools. Also, what is the definition of "minority". Are Hispanics minorities when they're almost half the state population? I don't know what ELL is, and I don't understand your point about VTP parents wanting to avoid the socio-economic level of Ravenswood students. Are you saying they don't want their kids to hang out with other poor kids? Also, if the Ravenswood teachers are less credentialed or experienced than average, then effort should be spent there rather than assuming the answer is that kids should be bussed out.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 12:54 pm

"John, I beg to differ. Barron Park, for example, has plenty of kids from the trialer park and low income housing. Ironically, when I would hear parents talking pointedly about "those VTP" problem kids, they were inevitably referring to Hispanic kids who were not in fact VTP. Too bad, because VTP parents have to care about their kids' education in order to get their kids into the program in the first place. "

Natasha,

This might surprise you, but I agree with part of your argument. The trailer park kids (mostly Latinos) ARE neighborhood kids. They have every right to be in the neighborhood school. I would hate to think that they would be bussed to other schools in order to achieve racial/ethnic balance. However, if you are hearing from other Barron Park parents about those "problem kids", you should listen, because it expresses a real issue. A neighborhood school is as strong as the neighborhood that supports it. Barron Park SHOULD demand high standards, especially the parents in the trailer park, because they don't have the option of sending their kids to expensive private schools.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 1:22 pm

John, I'm glad you do agree. However, the comments I heard were not based on the reality that I saw while volunteering hour upon hour in the classroom. I agree that a school should demand high standards of acceptable behavior, respect for other people and adults, right to learn in a safe and stimulating environment, and accountability for behavior that detracts from those values. But what I saw was not caused or exacerbated by VTP or race. In my experience, plenty of white, well-off parents pointed the finger at supposedly VTP Hispanics and other children while demanding special favors for their own kids, completely overlooking their own children's substantial behavioral issues, and taking offense at any suggestion that their little darlings were less than brilliant. When a parent whose child bullies, disrupts and carries on makes disparaging comments about "those" other kids, nobody is served.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

John -- I also don't quite understand your comment. That the kids in the neighborhood who are troublemakers have the right to be there but the VTP kids who are not troublemakers are the problem? Huh? Because previously you said the problem kids were all VTP and that was not at all my experience.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Natasha,

"Because previously you said the problem kids were all VTP and that was not at all my experience."

No, I said the kids that I encountered at Escondido, that were above the norm, in terms of discipline problems, were VTPs and TFBs (there is not a trailer park with low income Latinos within the Escondido neighborhood boundries). There seemed to be a 'hands off' policy with both of these groups of kids. The rest of us were just expected to take a deep breath, and put up with it.

The Latinos from the trailer park should be expected to adhere to the same behavioral standards as the "white" (your word) kids. And vice versa. You didn't identify if the white kids were TFBs or not - I have found that it makes a big difference (brats are brats).

I also spent many volunteer hours in the classrooms. How could we see it so differently? I suspect that you are idealizng the situation in order to avoid the reality. Have you ever actually talked, with an open mind, to those "white" parents who are complaining about the 'brown' kids? How about the 'yellow' kids? note: I am using literal colors, because you do.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 27, 2007 at 1:56 pm

What's TFB?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2007 at 1:58 pm

How about devision along political lines? Have democrat, republican, Libertarian and Green schools. I must admit this topic has been instructional, teaching me many ways to rationalize lawbreaking.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:01 pm

TFB = Trust Fund Baby. It is a common colloquial term in Palo Alto, but nothing official. Ask any therapist...they will know what it means.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:09 pm

I know what a trust fund baby is...just never seen an acronym used for it!


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Hispanics and Blacks have dropped at UC Berkeley since the "loss" of Affirmative Action, but overall Hispanic and Black Graduation from college rate has gone up since the "gain" of the loss of Affirmative Action.

Read Ward Connely's work, the major drive beyond dropping affirmative action. The problem with Aff Action is that it was intended to choose based on color/gender IF APPLICANTS WERE EQUAL IN ALL OTHER WAYS. Once it became a lessening of standards in order to achieve the racial/gender quotas, drop outs increased because it siphoned off people who would have been successful at another college, and put them in an environment where they were not prepared to succeed.

This is when striving for diversity at all costs actually hurts the very ones intended to benefit.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Hi there John --

You original post did not mention Escondido, so I responded about the VTP part from my own experience. It took me until now to figure out what a TFB is. And I do agree that some of them cost a bundle. I don't agree that the VTPs do, across the board.

I see many parents (of all nationalities) with an entitlement complex, who cannot accept that their children have average intelligence, and cannot accept the idea that their children might misbehave or be disruptive. It's always someone else's fault -- the teacher is not stimulating, the subject is not interesting, the other kid did something to set off the darling one, blah blah blah. This makes it hard for other parents, myself included, who try to teach their children that certain behaviors are acceptable and others are not. Kids learn quickly when their parents won't back up the school, and so their behavior continues -- to everyone's detriment. Many of those kids were not bona fide TFBs, but without question children of high-achieving, financially comfortable, reasonably well-educated parents.

What I was referring to in my earlier post was TFB parents pointing at Hispanic kids and saying "if only we didn't have VTP" when the kids they are pointing to are, in fact, neighborhood kids. I have found that sometimes, and for some people, "VTP" is "code" for minority. I find that offensive and inaccurate, fort he reason I just stated: people make assumptions about who the VTP kids are and often get it wrong.

By the way, when you accuse me of "idealizing the situation in order to avoid the reality", if you knew me you would know how laughable that statement is. Well, except for one thing. I guess I *do* have a closed mind when it comes to parents of bratty kids pointing the finger at everyone but themselves and their kids. As you put it so well and so succinctly, "brats are brats."


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Natasha,

I you were single (don't know), and I was single (not), I would ask you out on a date. We have more in common than not. The 'not' would make for some good fire works.

Regards.


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Mel

I have found that PAUSD actually under diagnoses learning disabilities in many of its schools - not the other way around.

The "child who starts fights with other kids, constantly gets in trouble and disrupts the class" probably needs the aide for that reason. There are many disabilities which have strong behavioral components. Her aide is paid out of a different part of the school budget than a classroom aide. PAUSD tries to mainstream as many kids as possible, usually with great benefit to all.

My comments about the Ravenswood district just reflect the huge issues they have to overcome - less experienced teachers, kids with less resources including many basics such as food, adequate housing, etc. issues in common with many districts. VTP parents are choosing what they feel is a better educational experience for their child. That is not to say that we shouldn't be making efforts to help improve Ravenswood, many corporations and Palo Alto residents contribute to their schools too.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:32 pm

"Political diversity is nearly non-existent here, too. Paly, for example, is largely anti-Republican."

Uh, that is all of PA. I laughed my head off with this statement you wrote, OhlonePar or Mixed Marriage, can't remember who.

I always tell people it is easier to state my sexual preference than my political preference here! One gets me studiously tolerant gazes with gentle smiles, the other brings gasps of horror and shock that someone as "nice" as I am ( megavolunteer etc) could possible be a ....fill in the blank...and voted for Bush! I face the same kind of political bigotry here that I face in sexual orientation back in the South.

A little political diversity, tolerance and open discussion would go a long way here!!


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:34 pm

John -

hahahaha

touche


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Natasha,

Kindred spirits.

Tired,

"I have found that PAUSD actually under diagnoses learning disabilities in many of its schools - not the other way around."

You have just explained why the TFBs have so much power in PAUSD. It is a black hole....






Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 5:49 pm

"To me, it is a very simple: Eliminate racial/ethnic diversity as a goal in Palo Alto schools. It will happen on its own. No need to stress about it. Instead, celebrate diversity of ideas."
Sorry, John, but it doesn't happen on its own, at least not often enough.
How will you achieve your diversity of ideas if most everyone is wealthy, highly educated, not Repulican, and works in, for or with high tech? It seems like that type of diversity will be limited to a narrow 45 degree range of ideas, not a full 180.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 6:29 pm

MixedMarriage,

"How will you achieve your diversity of ideas if most everyone is wealthy, highly educated, not Repulican, and works in, for or with high tech? It seems like that type of diversity will be limited to a narrow 45 degree range of ideas, not a full 180."

I am patient. It doesn't slay me that most people in Palo Alto are Dems. They, or their kids, or their grandkids will eventually grow a brain. I am confident. Why aren't you?





Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Because I'm a registered Democrat. ;-) See, I already believe the people around me have brains - even those who I disagree with. I don't feel threatened by those with differing views. Sometimes it's a very validating experience. ;-)


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2007 at 7:19 pm

"Sometimes it's a very validating experience. ;-)"

Sweet dreams. You might get a little bothered by the likes of me or mine down the road, though. Maybe such a thought causes some discomfort? I suspect it will really bother you when most who want intellectual freedom are the current minorities.

BTW, in case you didn't get the inside meaning of what I said (I thought it was obvious, but I guess not):

"The man who is not a socialist at twenty has no heart, but if he is still a socialist at forty he has no head?" (Aristide Briand). This old statement is often (incorrectly) credited to Winston Churchill, but he was even more succinct:

"A joke is a very serious thing."


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2007 at 10:08 pm

"You might get a little bothered by the likes of me or mine down the road, though. Maybe such a thought causes some discomfort?"
Not really. You seem like a friendly enough person, not someone I'd be bothered by. We can have different political views without feeling bothered. Now the likes of you in DC DO bother me, because their decisions affect my life and many of their decisions are against my values. If Palo Alto is going to lack in political diversity, I'm thankful that the one-sidedness is in my favor.

Let's get back to talking diversity within PAUSD. Are you suggesting we should limit our neighborhood schools to those who are as wealthy, educated, progressive, enlightened, hardworking or fortunate as us? That having those things in common and similar tastes in neighborhood selection is more important than sharing values, ethics, educational philosophies, etc. which can transcend neighborhood boundaries? Does an interest in Eichlers or a preference for living near public transportation define us above all else? What are your views on intra-district transfers?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2007 at 10:13 pm

John,

Do you realize you keep making assumptions about people's views? You assumed because I have different views on diversity then I must be basing them on some stereotypes. Then you made the comment about how "even OhlonePar" sees there are issues with diversity.

You know, that's not about statements I have or have not made, but, it seems to me, about *your* assumptions about people whose politics are more liberal than yours. You assumed that because I think diversity is valuable that I therefore supported the forcing of diversity. You jumped to a conclusion because, frankly, you seem to harbor some stereotypes yourself.

Resident,

Affirmative action, in my view, was a simplistic solution to a complex problem. Pretending though, the way Walter does, that all racial issues will go away if we just pretend they're not there is not, to me, a real solution.

And again, when you say overall rates of graduation among blacks and latinos have gone up, what do you mean? I ask because the latino population as a percentage of the younger U.S. population is huge--so if they're a higher percentage of college grads, well, statistically you'd have to expect that.

According to a 2007 statistical brief from the National Council of la Raza a higher percentage of whites, blacks and hispanics are attending college than they were in 1974, but the gap between white participation and hispanic participation actually increased from 16 percentage points to 26 points. In other words, a greater percentage go to college (though a large chunk of the Latino population actually attends JCs), but the actual education gap has widened.

One last note, Republicans aren't really that rare around here--it goes with the libertarian streak and the very pro-capitalism aspect of Silicon Valley. Most of the ones I know are keeping a much lower profile than they used to because of the debacle in Iraq and evangelical/conservative platform of the current administration. Lots of "independents' waiting for a candidate they can stomach so they can come back out of the closet.

Of course, my own biased view is that a lot of the stereotyping of "liberals" is a sort of justification for remaining Republican when you don't actually agree with Bush. Thus, the occasional outbursts that equate contemporary Democrats with some pretty extreme stuff from the 60s.

In other words, the first person I ever heard use the term "PC" was a Berkeley lesbian. It was actually a term of liberal self-mockery before the right wing grabbed it.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 8:05 am

I would have thought that Prop 209 would have superseded the legality of the Tinsley Program. The Proposition says that the State (which includes School Districts) can not give preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity in the operation of public education. Clearly the Tinsley Program does this as it is only open to "minorities" (the program's own wording) in the Ravenswood School District. But I notice that Prop 209 specifically does not invalidate any court order in effect...so I guess that's why Tinsley was not impacted. I haven't actually found the text of the Tinsley settlement order...but it sounds like it has no end date and school districts are only exempted when they reach 60% "students of color" (an amazingly high bar!)...which is why Redwood City is no longer subject to Tinsley.


Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 28, 2007 at 9:05 am

OhlonePar, many of the 60's collectivists are still around--look at it-takes-a-village Hillary.
Unfortunately many of them went on to become teachers and run schools. Many of their graduates are their clones. True, they gave up explicit communism, but they just switched to other collectivist off-shoots just as multiculturalism, egalitarianism, feminism, environmentalism and "diversity" advocates. (Do I detect a shoe that fits?)


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2007 at 9:42 am

Now that the Supreme Court agrees with my interpretation of the
constitution, perhaps the schools will finally get off the foolishness of racism and get back to equality under the law. A continuation of Tinsley now is illegal, as I believe it always was. No more flouting the law of the land. No more stupid, worthless busing.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 10:08 am

Walter,

I'm with you. Not only is Tinsley an illegal form of preferential treatment based on race & ethnicity...but it's got to be a big drain on the PAUSD coffers. PAUSD only gets 70% of the Ravenswood's per student allotment which amounts to only $3K. The bussing alone would eat up half of that! It's crazy that our crowded school district has to absorb 600 students from another district!

But what would it take to overturn Tinsley? Would the PAUSD or some other group of plaintiffs need to seek an appeal to the settlement order?


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 28, 2007 at 10:25 am

Walter, I am not sure that's actually what the Supreme Court said. If kids in the VTP program are being bused voluntarily, I don't think it is illegal. Read the concurring opinion. I know you want Tinsley cancelled, but I don't think this opinion *requires* that outcome.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 10:59 am

I don't think the issue is bussing (voluntary or not)...but rather the issue is that the Tinsley program gives preferential treatment based on race & ethnicity (only "minority" children from Ravenswood are eligible for the program). As far as I can tell PAUSD is not actually trying to force diversity within its own district population...but rather is forced by court order to accept 60 students (minorities only eligible) from another school district. And the court order was made with the sole purpose of promoting desegregation...which appears to be an illegal motive now.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:04 am

That's 60 new students per year...actually about 600 enrolled in all grades at PAUSD...


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:13 am

I suspect we may have to sue the district to make them stop spending any more money on illegal race based programs. Perhaps criminal sanctions and jail time will wake the fools up.
The EPA problem is now back in the lap of San Mateo County where it never should have left. Let them sweat the 800 returning students and let Palo Alto relax and enjoy the room to spread out.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:39 am

We wouldn't need to worry about the 13th elementary school for a while if we no longer had to accommodate 600 kids from another district!


Posted by Maryanne, a resident of Southgate
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:42 am

It seems pretty clear that today's Supreme Court decisions would outlaw the Tinsley settlement if it were challenged. Maybe someone should write a letter to the school board's lawyer, and see what kind of gobbledy-gook he comes up with to support the decision.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2007 at 12:45 pm

R Wray,

Nope, no shoe fitting--one of the reasons that this is your issue instead of those of us who don't share your views is that your perceptions are so wildly off-base. Both the Clintons have been very pro-business--hardly huge supporters of the workers. It's one of the reasons, that Bill Clinton won moderate supporters and alienated some of the more extreme lefties.

If you mean that we don't all live on individual islands--yep, you're right. Children aren't raised by one person, never have been.

As for Tinsley, it wasn't a court order, it was a settlement and it's voluntary. The only thing that might be challenged is the limitation regarding who can enter the program--i.e. white folk in EPA are discriminated against.

However, I thought, though, that the basis of Tinsley was turned over some time ago. It could be dropped if the district wished.

But Walter, you sound, well, sort of silly--I mean, probably the best one was your stating the census was unconstitutional, when, of course, it's mandated in the constitution itself for an obvious reason.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Census and Constitution: I would not be responsing to this topic, in this thread, except that racial classifications are, indeed, part of the issue with neighborhood schools. They shouldn't be, IMO, but they are. The following link gives a short discussion of the census issue. The Constitution only mentions "enumeration", hower various statutes and codes have expanded the role of the census. This might be something that the Supreme Court will need to look at again, in light of toady's ruling against racial balancing schemes in public schools. Imagine if noone really knew the percentage of blacks, whites, browns, yellows, etc. in various areas...decisions would then be forced according to a color-blind approach. Many current bureaucrats would no longer have a purpose to exist. Hmmmm....

Web Link


Posted by check your bias, a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm

What happened to public education being for everyone? Inherent to this conversation is that because you paid more for your house you deserve "something more" from your schools. Firstly, that is not how funding in California works (see Web Link).

Secondly, can someone truly quantify how chidren who are priviledged enough to live in Palo Alto (and that IS a privilege that is the result of hard work as much as luck and society privleging those who are from certain racial and socioeconomic backgrounds)are over the course of their lives, being SO negatively impacted by East Palo Alto students who attend Palo Alto Schools? Does it have to be that in order for someone else to gain that you are inherently losing something? 600 kids is 6% of the DISTRICT, which I may remind you is K-12. Even if Palo Alto has received only 70% of funding for Tinsley students, can you give me a quantifiable impact that this has placed on the schools, particularly in relation to other schools throughout California? Yes, programs have been cut - but that is true of ALL schools in California. Advocating for what you want is one thing, but disregarding others' needs is another. It is not Palo Alto's "fault" that Ravenswood does not serve students well, but it can certainly be a part of a solution to getting kids further along in school. Could the conversation please return to valuing what you have and improving it, rather than trying to force others to "have not"?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 2:14 pm

check you bias,

I think you have defined your side, and I applaud you for that. You think that Palo Alto taxpayers owe it to the society, at large, to fix larger societal problems. Have I described it properly, or not?


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2007 at 2:26 pm

At 600 kids with about 3000 per kid in funding, we spend about 4 million a year on VTP students (estimating here) What if we gave that to Ravenswood instead for a certain period of time? And we provded some other non-monetary support (volunteers for example) Would it better to benefit the whole Ravenswood District instead of only 600 kids?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Tired,

I think you are on to something here. It has always perplexed me as to why EPA should give up its identity and neighborhood schools, just because relatively rich districts and overbearing judges decided that that is best for them. However, I don't think that Palo Alto should pay for it, other than through state taxes. $7-8k per student is plenty to get the job done. The volunteers from PA are (and will continue to be ) a good thing, as long as they are welcomed, and not forced.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Of course it might make the libs happy if Palo Alto were to bus all her kids to Manteca.
Read the decision and tell me again my statement about the census asking race was wrong. The census is required - racial division is prohibited. Tinsley was voluntary but illegal. A volunteer agreement to assign all oriental children to one school would also be wrong.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Walter,

Did you read the link I provided?

Clearly, the earliest statues allowed race and other considerations in the census. I think this should all be reconsidered, but it is part of our history, right from the beginning.

Read the link, Walter.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2007 at 3:48 pm

It's disappointing when these diversity conversations devolve into a Tinsley discussion. There's this big "save the neighborhood schools" movement, but what -- or who -- is it we're trying to save them from? Suppose we moved Tinsley to a separate conversation. Where would that leave us? (Aside from a few vocal people dropping out of the conversation.) Is there still a need to "protect" neighborhood schools?
It seems like diversity is a code word for 'us' (PAUSD) vs. 'them' (VTP). I'm not getting it.

John, I'm still interested in hearing your opinions on the qustions I posed earlier.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 3:57 pm

MixedMarriage,

"Suppose we moved Tinsley to a separate conversation. Where would that leave us? "

If you linked it with the actual elimination of Tinsley, it would leave us with 600 extra seats in Palo Alto schools. That would be about one and one-half schools. In other words, neighborhood schools would not be under the preesure that they currently are.

What am I missing? Your logic is not making sense to me.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Okay, let me try again. What if we refrained from talking about the legitimacy of the Tinsley agreement in this conversation. Would we still have things to discuss about diversity, and about "protecting" neighborhood schools?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 4:27 pm

"Okay, let me try again. What if we refrained from talking about the legitimacy of the Tinsley agreement in this conversation. Would we still have things to discuss about diversity, and about "protecting" neighborhood schools?"

MixedMarriage,

Sure. We would not talk about the legitmacy of Tinsley , but we talk about the effect of in on neighborhoos schools in PA.

I am still having a hard time trying to understand your logic. You seem to have an 'out of sight, out of mind'- (or 'ostrich head in the sand') - approach.

Tinsley exists, period. I takes about 600 seats aways from PA kids. Deal with it, even if you don't want to deal with the underlying legal rationalizations.





Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2007 at 4:51 pm

To which I can only say, Tinsley exists, period. Deal with it. It's not going away by moaning about it on a public forum.
You started the conversation by talking about diversity. I assumed -- apparently incorrectly -- that you were talking about diversity in its broadest meaning. I fell into your trap.

There's much we can do about diversity within the scope of existing PAUSD boundaries and agreements, and little we can do about Tinsley. Shall we have a constructive conversation about things we can actually affect, or shall we b**** about Tinsley? That conversation is tiresome and offensive.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2007 at 5:10 pm

I took a deep breath after writing that last post. The Tinsley discussion is important, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. I wish it started in its own thread. Having it be tied in with diversity cheapens the meaning of diversity. That's what was behind what I wrote. Carry on.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 5:19 pm

MixedMarriage,

Tinsley (VTP) exists and it takes aways 600 seats in PA schools. Glad to see that we can, finally, agree on that one. At least we can now stop moaning about the facts. Facts are facts.

"You started the conversation by talking about diversity. I assumed -- apparently incorrectly -- that you were talking about diversity in its broadest meaning. I fell into your trap."

No, there was no "trap" set. I AM talking about diversity in its larger context. The fact is that the "diversity" you are focused on is RACE. No other way to desribe it. My diversity is about IDEAS.

We, in PA, need our 600 seats back, and EPA needs its own schools. Both EPA and PA need a much expanded diversity of IDEAS!

BTW, after today's Supreme Court ruling, Tinsley may very well go the way of the Dodo bird. If that card is subtracted from your deck, what will you do?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 5:27 pm

"I took a deep breath after writing that last post. The Tinsley discussion is important, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision. I wish it started in its own thread. Having it be tied in with diversity cheapens the meaning of diversity. That's what was behind what I wrote. Carry on."

MixedMarriage,

OK, I hear you. I wrote my response prior to seeing yours. These are VERY important discussions.

I am not here to offend. I want to change ideas, if not minds.

I agree, carry on.





Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2007 at 7:18 pm

During the many years I put it on the line to do away with racial inequality I heard and read a great many erudite defenses of leaving things be. I didn't buy it them, I don't buy it now.
Understand, it is not some unique, inherent value in the black existance that makes segregation wrong, it is that equal justice under the law is the keystone of our whole philosophy of governing. As soon as one person becomes "more equal than others," [or less equal] it all falls apart and becomes mob rule.


Posted by check your bias, a resident of another community
on Jun 28, 2007 at 7:32 pm

John -

I do not think that Palo Alto has any greater obligation than any community on the penninsula has to another. That being said, the NIMBY-esque leanings of the idea that sending the Tinsley kids back to Ravenswood schools, with no concern about the impact of that decision on the greater health of the Bay Area community not to mention those kids' education, is short sighted. If there is demand for and a need for an additional school, as there seems to be, that needs to be argued on its merits. If Tinsley's time is up, then that is somewhat a seperate issue - I don't believe it will be the cure-all it is being portrayed to be. The distribution of Tinsley students and the pockets of growth in PA are not necessarily in line - there is no guarantee that neighborhood scohols are out of the woods without Tinsley, correct? Using Tinsley as a playing chip in a larger argument further marginalizes students who are simply pursuing available avenues to get a better education. As MixedMarriage argued, a separte thread on Tinsley might be fruitful.

I agree with MixedMarriage that the idea of "protecting" neighborhood schools really problemitizes the discussion, though in concept it is an important idea - kids should go to school with kids that live in their "neighborhood". The difficulty that arises is the lack of socio-economic diversity (and the resistence to those who are of the "lower" income brackets) within "neighborhood" boundary lines. What is a neighborhood? Is anyone truly willing to sacrifice preference for the good of the district if the lines don't fall in a politically acceptable way? Look at what happened in Los Altos - a large pocket of students (at the lower range of the district's socioeconomic scale, of course) are going to have to travel twice the distance of their neighbors across El Camino (passing 2-3 schools) because those in Los Altos proper refuse to switch between two proximate schools.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Could somebody please clarify for me if Tinsley is still legally binding to PAUSD or not? OhlonePar suggested that the program is voluntary and that PAUSD could drop the program if they chose. Yes, the program is voluntary to the applicants, but is it voluntary to PAUSD? The PAUSD website on VTP suggests that the program is not voluntary to the district but required by the settlement.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2007 at 7:51 pm

"The fact is that the "diversity" you are focused on is RACE."
I am? Maybe you're distracted by my moniker. If you re-read my posts you'll see that nearly every one of them describes diversity as something more than ethnicity. I asked you several questions along those lines. I'd still enjoy hearing your opinions. The questions were:

What if I value good schools AND a diverse community (not just ethnically diverse) for my children? Is it a trade-off? The best schools are usually not available for those who can't afford to live within those neighborhoods. Shall we tell them, "so what? If you can't afford it then you don't deserve it?"

Are you suggesting we should limit our neighborhood schools to those who are as wealthy, educated, progressive, enlightened, hardworking or fortunate as us? That having those things in common and similar tastes in neighborhood selection is more important than sharing values, ethics, educational philosophies, etc. which can transcend neighborhood boundaries? Does an interest in Eichlers or a preference for living near public transportation define us above all else? What are your views on intra-district transfers?

If those questions are too stale for you, here's a fresh one. How will you achieve your diversity of IDEAS if you limit the diversity of the people who are thinking them up?


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 8:05 pm

If Tinsley is still legally binding, then it should be challenged in light of the Supreme Court ruling given that it gives preferential treatment based on race & ethnicity(it should have been challenged when prop 209 passed but I guess it was saved by the loophole that legal settlements were exempted.)

If Tinsley is no longer legally binding, but PAUSD has decided to voluntarily continue the program out of the goodness of its heart...then why only 60 students per year? What about the rest of the Ravenswood minority kids who don't make the lottery? What about poor white or Asian kids in EPA? What about poor minority kids in other neighboring towns like Redwood City or Mountain View? What about middle class folks in nearby towns who'd love to get an inter-district transfer to send their kids to PAUSD since "public education is for everyone". What is PAUSD's moral responsibility to other district's kids? I'd like to undertand Check Your Bias and MixedMarriage's opinion on this.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Walter,

How do you establish that there is, indeed, Equal Justice without gathering data on whether groups are being treated equally. You seem to equate gathering information on race (a cultural construct) with racial discrimination.

Mel,

I'm not a lawyer, I was just told once that the basis of the Tinsley lawsuit was later overturned.

Is it really 600 VTP kids, by the way--they're only allowed in the first two years. I'd assume attrition would bring the numbers down as the kids grew.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 8:12 pm

"I do not think that Palo Alto has any greater obligation than any community on the penninsula has to another"

Check your bias,

I agree. I don't think Palo Alto should share Foothills Park with neighboring communities that freely decided to refuse to pay for it. I also don't think PA taxpayers and parents should feel obligated to take care of anyting other than their neighborhood schools.

There is no need to redefine neighborhoods. College Terrace kids go to Escondido. An argument to redefinition is a lost argument.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 8:22 pm

OhlonePar,

The PAUSD website says that there are currently about 600 VTP students enrolled in the district. The program admits 60 Kindergartners, 1st graders or 2nd graders each year. If there's attrition, they admit more the next year (for example the website said they admited 77 in 2002-03 to make up for attrition). But I guess they don't make up for all attrition otherwise there should be 780 (13x60) in the program rather than 600.


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Asian kids are included in the VTP as a minority.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:43 pm

I'm sorry...there was no definition of "minority" given on the PAUSD VTP web page...and the San Mateo County Office of Education that administers the Tinsley Program has zero information on the program on their website. What is "minority" anyway when there is no "majority"...California demographics are currently about 43% white, 36% Hispanic, 12% Asian and 7% African American...whereas Santa Clara demographics are roughly 39% white, 25% Hispanic, 30% Asian and 2% African American. And in a few years, Hispanics will be the largest group in the State. And more and more folks don't fall cleanly into one group...2-3% list two or more races.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2007 at 11:48 pm

Tired of Bickering,

Yeah, one of my issues with Tinsley is that it's not clear to what degree it actually helps disadvantaged kids at this point. You can buy a pretty nice house in EPA and then have your kids attend PA schools. I can think of one case where the parents are doctors--not rich doctors, but still . . . at the same time I know a lot of families who rent for years because they can't afford to buy in PA so their kids can go to PA schools. I think Tinsley, at this point, is having some unintended consequences on its own terms.

I do agree with Check Your Bias, though--the extra school is one issue, Tinsley another. The growth is happening within the district and I think the big issue is the large number of housing units being built in south Palo Alto. There seems to be this notion that families with school kids don't buy townhomes, but that's just not true around here.


Posted by figures, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:10 am

In 2005 there were 257 VTP students in grades K-5. Source: AAAG report.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:14 am

"There is no need to redefine neighborhoods. College Terrace kids go to Escondido."

Now there's an interesting comment.

When I think of my school's community (not to be confused with its neighborhoods), I think of ALL the families it serves. I don't see children who belong and children who don't. I don't distinguish between those who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and those who don't, or those who live in Palo Alto and those who don't. They are all part of the school community. And the school community is not the same as the neighborhood community. It's something bigger, and this is where I believe we differ.

You seem to view neighborhood kids from College Terrace as having more legitimate rights for attending Escondido than others. I can't tell from what you've written, but maybe you extend those priority rights to the children in Escondido Village and Evergreen Park, too.

One possible explanation for our differing views is that you live in College Terrace and know the families (so you can spot who "belongs" and who doesn't) whereas I don't live within the neighborhood boundaries of my school. The students are all just kids to me, whereas to you some of them are neighbors and some of them are "outliers".

In the case of Escondido, unless Tinsley goes away, and unless the district has a strict "no intra-district transfer" policy, and unless the district dismantles SI, and unless the district revokes special privileges to out-of-district teachers and a few select others to admit their children, ALL these children have an EQUAL right to attend Escondido.


Posted by frustrated, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2007 at 6:56 am

As an educator who has worked in both PA and EPA I think it would be valuable for many of the people posting here to visit a classroom in EPA or talk to some of the students. People are posting regarding the quality of education, the socio-economic status, the behavioral trends, etc. without (apparently) much experience or valid justification. Knowing the stories of some of the students in EPA might bring a dose of reality. Basing opinions of students from EPA on one or two students (as some people here have described doing) is inappropriate. PA does not exist in isolation and I think people are forgetting just how good students educated in PA have it. Yes, you may be points of frustration with the district but, overall, students educated in PA are at a great advantage in life and receive strong educations. The PAUSD has had the Tinsley program for what, ten years? Tinsley students are members of the PA school community. You are suggesting kicking kids out of the educational environments they've known. I haven't seen any comments or concerns about where these students would go or what would happen to them.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 7:37 am

"the school community is not the same as the neighborhood community."

That's quite a statement. I can assure you that the Escondido community used to be the neighborhoods it served: College Terrace and Stanford Graduate school parents who lived on campus. Escondido was taken over by SI; Tinsley is minor by camparison to SI, but it also is a factor. Basically, our neighborhood school was stolen from us. All in the name of diversity, of one stripe or another.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2007 at 7:59 am

I want to comment on Mixed Marriage's comment about the need for a strict no intra district transfer policy. How many people understand the perhaps unintended consequences of applying this rule universally? I know of at least three children who have been forbidden intra-district transfers from their elementary school despite being damagingly bullied. The district, on appeal, has refused to let these kids transfer even when their parents made the compelling case for moving. Having had kids who were bullied so badly it took three years and thousands of dollars in psychologist bills to help them recover, I am horrified by that. No child should be trapped in his or her neighborhood school by dint of home location, when it is a question of being tortured daily. This blanket refusal to let children transfer, even to schools that have space, and even in extreme circumstances, is shameful. Do people know about this? Does the Board?


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:07 am

Dear Frustrated -

My thought regarding Tinsley was that perhaps we could benefit more students by supporting the EPA school district instead of just the 60 kids each year. I would never consider kicking out any students, they are a valued part of our school community. But perhaps its time to reconsider how we support the students of Ravenswood.


Posted by MixedMarriage, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:14 am

Natasha, I'm on your side. I'm not arguing to do away with any of those policies. I've personally benefited from intra-district transfers. My point is that these policies DO exist, and therefore the children DO belong, rightfully so. Thank you for sharing a case that supports keeping the policy in place.
John, your NIMBY attitude is beyond words. It's worse than NIMBY. You might as well put a big sign up, "If you're not from my neighborhood, KEEP OUT."


Posted by check your bias, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:18 am

"You are suggesting kicking kids out of the educational environments they've known. I haven't seen any comments or concerns about where these students would go or what would happen to them."

Thank you frustrated for stating what John has been misinterpreting in my postings.

"I don't think Palo Alto should share Foothills Park with neighboring communities that freely decided to refuse to pay for it. I also don't think PA taxpayers and parents should feel obligated to take care of anyting other than their neighborhood schools."

When I wrote "I do not think that Palo Alto has any greater obligation than any community on the penninsula has to another", I don't mean this as a "shore up and don't share" opinion, I mean this as Palo Alto, like every other community on the penninsula, HAS an obligation to those surrounding, every community does. Should Palo Alto depend on East Palo Alto to provide cheaper labor and yet do nothing in return for it as a community beyond gentrify it (which is doing it NO favors)? ALL the communities on the Penninsula need to see their impact on their neighbors. Your implication that your tax dollars feed directly into "YOUR" school is FLAT OUT WRONG. There is not a one-to-one correlation (see my previous email with web link). Like Foothill Park, if you take an "us and them" attitude there is no possibility for coorporation.


Posted by tired of bickering, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:21 am

Dear MixedMarriage

Having 2 school communities at one site (SI and regular Escondido kids) caused a LOT of resentment. It reduced the ability for neighborhood kids to attend the school. But more importantly, the SI kids and parents treated the non-SI kids and parents as second class citizens, excluding them, over-riding them and in the case of the kids, using Spanish as a exclusionary technique.


Posted by new voice, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2007 at 9:35 am

John - I think it might be helpful if you could define your thinking re VTP. If it's ONLY about the # of kids and the room they use (1 whole school), then that's a different conversation than whether or not we're trying to embrace diversity or whether or not we should push for the reversal of Tinsley Decision. Tinsely was about race; ironically, EPA has shifted demographics from a largely African American population to a Latino population and the number of Pacific Islanders has also increased.

On my liberal days I am embarassed that it took a lawsuit for PA to educate a few of our neighbors each year. This isn't an easy job for VTP kids. They get up very early to catch the bus, they have a limited number of neighborhood friends at school, they don't get to decide which school they end up in, they don't often get invited to the birthday parties at the club, and often their parents can't come to extra-curricular activities (class plays, open house etc). Their parents made the decision to get a better education for their children - to try to make a life better than the ones their parents had.

On my more conservative days I have the other conversation: They get bus service? They take up so much space. Their parents don't volunteer in the classroom.

Luckily, my liberal days dominate. Also to the person who wrote about the misbehaving child and the aide. Kids who are identified as either learning disabled or otherwise in need of disability help and have an IEP get federal funds to pay for their aides. Well, the school gets the funds so they don't have to pay out of SSC or PIE funds. The twist comes when the parent refuses to have the kid evaluated - then there is no extra funding (VTP or not).

Tinsley was a de-segregation decision instituted in 1986 and kids go to Portola Valley and Menlo Park schools, too. It gets more complicated with the dollars because EPA and PAUSD are in different counties.

Do they diversify the classroom? Well, yes. Is it good for them? Ask THEM. Is it good for our kids? Well, it's a liberal day, so yes, it's good for my kids to know that not everybody in the world is white, employed and will get a car for their 16th birthday. It's also good for them to know that some kids act out, some kids don't walk and some kids learn differently - and those lessons are color-blind. Our public school are offering diversity - racial, economic, social, mental, and physical.

I think they are doing the best they know how. More instruction on bullying - recognition and dealing with it effectively is definitely needed - K through 12. Maybe we could give teachers back a training day or two and let them focus on more than academics.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:34 am

Figures--257 at the elementary level, quite a different feeling than 600.

I think this all comes down to, once again, the split situation at Escondido. On these boards, at least, I hear a lot of resentment from non-SI parents at Escondido.

I'm curious, how has the tension there been dealt with? Is there an awareness that the neighborhood kids feel like outsiders at their own neighborhood school?

For better, for worse, I suspect MI at Ohlone will actually go the other way--Ohlone's school culture is very strong and MI is such a nutty fit. The situation because of the Ohlone waitlist means there will be an inherent antagonism between the two groups--in some ways, worse than Escondido.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:42 am

new voice,

You can scroll up to see my various views on VTP. I think Tinsley should be grandfathered out of existence (although it might be impossible, based on the recent Supreme Court decision - maybe it will just need to ended immediately).

VTP is an openly racist program on its face. A poor white kid from EPA does NOT qualify. We are teaching our kids that it is their obligation to support racism, becasue some people think diversity (of race/ethnicity)is a great thing. I think diversity of ideas is much more important, although I also see some merit in racial and ethnic diversity. To boil it down, I would prefer PA schools to focus on intellectual diversity (which is sorely lacking in PA schools), and forget about race. Just take 'em as they come from the neighborhoods (color blind), then challenge them with controversial idea (e.g. the pros and cons of nuclear power to clean up greenhouse gases - something that is almost never mentioned in 'green' issues discussions in PA).


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:58 am

I would like to see economic diversity celebrated. I would be happy to support Tinsley being expanded to include people of a particular economic bracket.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 10:58 am

"If you're not from my neighborhood, KEEP OUT."

MixedMarriage,

I welcome anybody to walk the streets in my neighborhood, and to live here. It is a free world. There are many different ethnic groups and indivuals in College Terrace. The Stanford campus housing also brings in a mix. I have no problem with that whatsover, in fact, I like it. I just want our neighborhood school to actually be a neighborhood school, like it used to be.

The social engineering that you support will not work in the end. It has already disrupted neighborhood schools, and caused lots of frustration and resentment. In fact, the end might be near for VTP, based on the Supreme Court case (actually, I don't know for sure).


Posted by Defending John, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2007 at 11:38 am

When we run out of ways to address concepts and ideas, we call names, like "NIMBY".

John is not being a NIMBY any more than is someone who no longer wants to foot the bill or the hassles for a houseguest who has overstayed his welcome and needs to go. Even if the houseguest can only return to his less than stellar surroundings.

That is not NIMBY. Haven't you ever had a guest like this? I have.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 11:50 am

"Figures--257 at the elementary level, quite a different feeling than 600. "

OhlonePar,

The allowable figure, k-5 is 360. If the figure at one point was 257, PAUSD then ups the intake from 60 to a higher number (77 last year, I believe). The 600 figure is k-12.

360 is a full school. 600 is at least 1.5 schools. It is a real issue.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:18 pm

John,

My understanding is that Tinsley transfers can only happen in the two bottom grades. There are only so many applications in a given year. Sounds like attrition takes care of a lot of it. High schools can absorb a larger number of kids more readily than the smaller grade schools. The reality is that Tinsley isn't overwhelming the district--the program isn't being fully used.

I think Tinsley could use some adjustment. As I've said, I don't think kids should get bumped from their neighborhood schools. But we're really talking about 5 kids per school being admitted in a given year.

You don't like Tinsley--I can understand that. However, I don't like interrupting the education of kids who came into the district through perfectly legal means. And I don't think Palo Alto is an island.

What this really comes down to is the tremendous inequity between school districts. Well-funded Palo Alto is *all* good schools. That's a luxury (for which most of us pay through the nose.). However, I'd be happier about closing Tinsley if I saw some decent schools in EPA. In other words, I think a Tinsley sunset should occur when there's something in East Palo Alto for people who care about their kids' education.

I don't like, by the way, the tendency to tag Tinsley kids as problem children. Some are, some aren't. But public education needs to be about educating everybody, not just the kids who arrived in kindegarten with all the benefits. I've only known a couple of Tinsley kids personally. They aren't stellar students, but both of them were likeable kids and the classroom benefitted from their being in it. The commuter school aspect of Ohlone might make this a little easier because not everyone's expected to be in the neighborhood in the first place.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Well, um, OhlonePar, maybe not *all* good schools. But probably better than schools with almost no library etc.


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:52 pm

"You don't like Tinsley--I can understand that. However, I don't like interrupting the education of kids who came into the district through perfectly legal means. And I don't think Palo Alto is an island."

OhlonePar,

I agree with you about the sudden cutoff. That is why I want to sunset it, with a grandfather clause (not sure if that will be legal or not, following the SC decision).

At the risk of getting off the "diversity" issue too much, my 'solution' for EPA education is to give the resources needed to expand the private academies. There are some good ones. They deserve support, in the form of vouchers. The teachers' unions will need to get out of the way. In the meantime, private philanthropy will need to fill the gap.

I also think that the issue of extraction of motivated parents/students from EPA to PA is rarely discussed. If these same parents were given vouchers to attend private academies, charters, and publics (if it were to be allowed), a critical mass would develop that demanded high standards. As it is now, EPA leans on a self-destructive crutch (provided by well-meaning, but misguided, white liberals from PA and surrounding communities).

EPA has so many possibilities, but it is held back by social engineering schemes like VTP, rent control, prohibition of vouchers, white patronizing attitudes, a victimization attitude, etc. It is ripe for 'pioneers' with fresh ideas and guts to turn it around. If I had the power, I would immediately open up Ravenswood High School as a public PREP school, with selective enrollment, paid for by vouchers and with unquestioned powers to expel students. The same parents who are now sending their kids to PA, via VTP, would RUN that school.


Posted by natasha, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 29, 2007 at 12:55 pm

John, actually I seem to remember that way back when the schools in EPA were being held back by massive bureaucratic corruption in the form of government officials who embezzled most of the money that was supposed to go to the schools. Anyone else remember this?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 29, 2007 at 1:11 pm

"John, actually I seem to remember that way back when the schools in EPA were being held back by massive bureaucratic corruption in the form of government officials who embezzled most of the money that was supposed to go to the schools. Anyone else remember this?"

Natasha,

I remember it the same way, but it was a long time ago. That is why the voucher system, with unquestioned expulsion powers (both students and staff) is the way to go. It will take some tough leaders and even tougher parents, but it CAN and SHOULD happen. It is not rocket science, but it is tough and hard...and right thing to do.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 29, 2007 at 5:14 pm

PAUSD is always given credit for it's "great" schools...when most of the credit is due its "great" demographics...and by that I mean the parents are predominately very well educated, well-to-do and very achievement oriented. "Low performing" schools are given undue blame for the test scores, graduation rates, etc. of its students. If you took any entire Palo Alto School of kids and switched them with an entire EPA School of Kids so that the PA kids went to the EPA schools with uncredentialed and inexperienced teachers, poor facilities, no libraries, etc. and the EPA kids got the full PA School experience including extras like volunteer hours & PIE programs...I think you would see very little changes in the student outcomes.


Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 29, 2007 at 6:56 pm

I agree with Mel. In fact I heard that Gunn has a large percentage of inexperienced teachers. How is that great? I get so tired of hearing LASD brag about having the best API scores in Calif. Essentially, they are bragging about being the best of the worst. I keep asking to see how local API scores compare with those of similarly affluent communities across the country. So far, all I've seen is a comparison with US averages, not similarly affluent. It makes me wonder.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2007 at 12:28 am

John,

What do vouchers have to do with charters? Vouchers allow public funds to be used for private schools. THe amounts involved aren't usually enough to help poor families--it's basically a middle-class benefit. Charters are public schools--no vouchers needed.

Mel, Nancy,

Of course there are good schools and bad schools--schools aren't simply a reflection of their demographics. Thus the relative to similar schools rankings of the API. Now a "10" school in EPA isn't going to have the same API score as a "10" school in Palo Alto because of demographics, but it's going to be a good school in that kids are being taught. By which standards, I think the East Palo Alto Charter is doing a good job--scoring in the 800s, above a couple of schools in Burlingame.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2007 at 7:03 am

I suspect that there is a type of self selection of students with the Charters that are formed in poor performing districts..by that I meant that families/kids have to be motivated enough to do the work it takes to ask for the Charter, then the work it takes to stay in and not be kicked out.


Posted by Mel, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 30, 2007 at 9:05 am

For the API, the demographics is the predominate factor determining the school's state rank. Palo Alto's schools are 10's on the state rank mainly because of the demographics. When we lived in another school district, our neighborhood school went from a state rank of 9 and a similar schools rank of 2 in 2005 to a state rank of 8 and a similar schools rank of 10 in 2006...so was it a "bad" school in 2005 and then a "great" school in 2006? And even within the same state rank, a school's similar school's rank can move all over the place...I noticed that Palo Verde has had a state rank of 10 for the past three years but went from a similar schools rank of 5 in 2004 to 9 in 2005 to 6 in 2006...so did the school go from bad to good to bad?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Resident,

There may be a self-selection bias going, but it's not a self-selection based on demographics.

Mel,

I think if a school is ranking well in both state and similar schools rank--as is East Palo Alto charter then something is going right with that school. If a school has a similar schools rank of 10, but a state rank of 1, then, no, I don't think that's a great school. So both relative and absolute measures should be factored in.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 30, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Mel,

One last note, at the upper levels of the API, I think you have one of those meaurement problems since there are a whole bunch of schools stacked tightly together. A little the way the higher the IQ the more meaningless the exact score.


Posted by nancy, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 30, 2007 at 8:07 pm

An obvious measurement problem occurs whenever it's possible to score 100%, as some PAUSD and Cupertino schools have done. It's possible (likely) that students' actual performance is higher than the test could show. Thus, we get a less accurate assessment of actual achievement.


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