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Ohlone - the big winner in the MI location problem

Original post made by Bill, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 5, 2007

It looks like the staff recommends to expand Ohlone to accept the MI program in Fall 2007. This would expand size of Ohlone to over 450 and would place three new portables on site.

I assume this means that folks on the waiting list for Ohlone will either feel just as good about putting their kids in the MI program (MI and Ohlone programs completely interchangable) or they will not have the opportunity to use that space for expansion of the much sought after Ohlone program (to serve the needs of folks on the waiting list..)

Looks like Ohlone Site Personnel are all on board and ready to go with this..

Ohlone Parents or prospective parents, any thoughts?

You might consider coming to the meeting on 1/9 to discuss your thoughts with the community...

Comments (164)

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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 5, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Just thought that I would add that this validates that Palo Verde kids will now be excluded from their neighborhood school. In essence, not allowing Ohlone to expand its existing program means that there will be more local students wanting to get into Palo Verde and since we are going to be inundated with new students from the new housing it will only mean that the local kids will have to go across Oregon to the new Garland site when and if re-opened.

This proves the point that MI will displace neighborhood kids.


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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 5, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Just thought that I would add that this validates that Palo Verde kids will now be excluded from their neighborhood school. In essence, not allowing Ohlone to expand its existing program means that there will be more local students wanting to get into Palo Verde and since we are going to be inundated with new students from the new housing it will only mean that the local kids will have to go across Oregon to the new Garland site when and if re-opened.

This proves the point that MI will displace neighborhood kids.


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Posted by opa
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 5, 2007 at 5:01 pm

It is good that the recommendation insists that MI shares Ohlone philosophy. This should help in integrating the two choice options.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 5, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Wow, I guess it wasn't that important after all that the program be no smaller than 1 1/2 strands for the "good of the children"..

I guess that waiting list of families for Ohlone, one of the waiting lists that proves our Choice programs are so popular and has been used to justify adding more, .... well, I guess those parents' wishes to expand a program already in place are less important than other parents' wishes..

I guess that the time taken from the Community for the AAAG process, where they were given the charge to decide where to place MI IF it was approved, well..I guess that was a waste of time, too, since they were clear in their recommendations that MI shouldn't go into any current school.

I guess it is a given that we will open Garland school to house the supposedly "minimum required 1 1/2 strands" in a few years without looking at other less expensive, more flexible programmatic chsnges..I guess MI will drive that decision, too..

I guess that the families at Garland who would have gone to that school will never know any different, so the rest of us don't care..it isn't our problem

I guess all that blather about the Strategic Cycle being up for renewal this year and how that would be a good time to make decisions on Immersion vs. FLES vs. other priorities was just..blather. Once this program is instituted, why talk about it? It is done. Unless, of course, there is any value to talking about the NEXT program that will come up. Community involvement in the next Strategic Planning Cycle, whenever that is, anyone?

I guess the reality is that this program, like a bad marriage choice, can't wait to see if it can stand the test of time before making a commitment..not only is there no engagement period, it will be pregnant with many kids in just a few months, kids who will anchor the program because once they are in, they will be held hostage against us "going back"

I guess that my cynicism is unjustified....I have been told multiple times that the BOARD makes these decisions, and that each person on the Board has kept an open mind.

I remain optimistic that our Board will still do the right thing. Maybe they will question the recommendation of an embattled Superintendant (nothing personal..but she has had a very difficult year), and wonder if this is another symptom of why she is embattled.

Maybe they will wonder if they should accept the recommendation of someone who is on her way out and won't be around for any fall-out that may happen. Maybe they will think about what kind of Superintendant they want to attract, and wonder if this recommendation, which shows a complete disregard for the principals' votes, the lack of endorsement from any teacher's group, PTA, or PiE, is the kind of new Superintendant they want to attract? Or do they want one who will respect her/his staff and community, and the processes set forth by the Board that have been pushed aside, such as the Strategic Planning Cycle and the recommendations of AAAG?

I have hope that our Board is considering all the information they have learned and heard.






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Posted by another parent
a resident of Barron Park School
on Jan 5, 2007 at 6:13 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Was opposed, now satisfied
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 5, 2007 at 6:17 pm

Don't take it too hard, Pauline, the world hasn't come to an end.

I'm satisfied with the decision.

And there's still hope for the strategic planning to include FLES - why so cynical?

You've made a name for yourself. How about running for school board?


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Posted by back to basics
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Oh, this is fantastic! The board has really finessed this one - the objection I had was introducing MI whilst not addressing the current demand for existing programs. They've handled this by significantly increasing the number of children that can enroll in the Ohlone program.
Hopefully they'll make it easy to transfer between Ohlone classic & Ohlone MI.


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Posted by Tulley
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jan 5, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Does anyone know whether MI at Ohlone would adhere to the Ohlone model, or would it exist as a separate Mandarin school on the campus? The study seems to suggest that the placement at Ohlone was discussed with it's staff, etc. Anyone out there privy to those discussions who can answer my question?


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Posted by back to basics
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2007 at 8:02 pm

The recommendation is that Ohlone MI adopts the Ohlone philosophy/model. See the new "recommendations" section in the study - 10 (X) at: Web Link


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Tulley - Take a look at the new PAUSD report that's out - on Pg 25 your question is answered in #3 (in short, follows the Ohlone model).

URL is: Web Link

"Recommendations of the Superintendent:

Recommendation #1: Develop an implementation plan for a FLES program (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) in PAUSD elementary schools to include an analysis of time required at each grade level, curriculum recommendations, overall time available in the school day, staffing needs, negotiations implications, administrative time required, total cost estimates, community support, and funding sources. The resulting detailed information would be provided for consideration during the Strategic Planning process in 2007-2008.

Recommendation #2: In summer 2007, reinstate a summer school language immersion program in PAUSD in Mandarin for middle school students provided there is sufficient enrollment.

Recommendation #3: Develop an implementation plan for a three-year single strand pilot of a dual Mandarin Chinese Immersion Program (MCIP) using the 80:20 model. This single strand pilot could begin in the fall of 2007 with two K/1 classes at Ohlone School (eliminating the inflexibility of a traditional single strand) and would follow the instructional model and philosophy of Ohlone. The program would be reviewed yearly, and during the third year of implementation, the final size and location of the program would be determined."




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Posted by Decent Compromise
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2007 at 11:30 pm

While I still think there are 1,000 excellent reasons to not implement MI at all, I think the solution proposed by the superintendent is the best possible one if the board is going to ram this down our throats.

I think of it this way: the Ohlone program gets to expand to 4 strands, as they've been requesting for a while. Families who want the Ohlone program can apply for either or both lotteries: Ohlone-English and/or Ohlone-MCIP (one is allowed to apply for as many lotteries as one desires, as witnessed by the surprisingly large number of families who apply for both Hoover and Ohlone -- now there's an argument for eliminating all choice programs).

If pick-your-favorite-language immersion were offered at each neighborhood school, as an option for just that neighborhood, I'm willing to bet many families, probably around half, would pick the immersion classrooms. If every neighborhood school were two strands English two strands some language immersion supported by that neighborhood community, and everyone who wanted language got it, I think we'd all feel more comfortable about language being offered to some not all, because then it really would be a choice.

Requiring MI to be part of the Ohlone program means less work for the principal and the existence of a cohesive learning philosophy that unites the children. Folks wanting MI will have to buy into the Ohlone philosophy first (at least, I sure hope they make that clear!). I'm betting that the Ohlone philosophy will scare away a few families that might be considering leaving their private MI program for a publicly funded Chinese education. (Do you think this was done on purpose?)

But most importantly, putting MI at Ohlone doesn't increase the number of choice locations and doesn't drive more neighborhood kids out of their school. (Clearly the mere existence of Ohlone and Hoover mean that neighborhood kids aren't attending their neighborhood schools, but since the board doesn't seem to be anywhere near eliminating all our choice programs, at least we aren't losing more neighborhood schools by splitting one choice program into two parts.)

If you believe the PACE data (which, as a former statistician, I can say is far too small a sample size to draw any conclusions), there is a tendency for families who want MI to come from the Duveneck, Palo Verde, and Fairmeadow neighborhoods (they claim 52% from these three neighborhoods). So in this instance, adding MI to Ohlone also makes geographic sense. By increasing the size of Ohlone by 60 spots (40 this fall), this should also help alleviate some of the pressure from Duveneck and Palo Verde, which are both close enough to Ohlone to attract families who want a neighborhood school. If all the other choice programs are any indicator, about 15-20% of the 60 new spots will be taken by neighborhood kids (those living in what would be the Ohlone draw area if it were a neighborhood school). If the PACE data is even remotely correct, then over half of the spots will be filled by kids who otherwise would have attended the most over-capacity sites.

So, yes, 95% of our kids will still lose because they will be denied academic enrichment offered to a few lottery winners, but at least they won't lose their school in the process. (And maybe, as the Superintendent suggests, the Ohlone staff will be able to "[find] ways to share immersion program curriculum knowledge to integrate some FLES program structures within the school" and maybe it will be a happy world....)


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Posted by candide
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 6:58 am

And everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:25 am

To the anonymous one who accused me of Sour Grapes.

No, not sour grapes. Sour grapes would be more like "Well, this is what I wanted anyway." I am saying the opposite.

My post was about my disappointment in the realization that this, in the minds of Dr. Cook and Dr. Callan, was never about

**whether or not it is the function of a public school is to create a few specialty experts before providing nothing to the rest.

** whether the direction of this District should or should not move closer to being a District of specialty programs won by lottery.

** whether or not we should be a District moving toward improving what we already have for all, and developing programs good for all, and listening to what the people want as done through professional surveys and votes and Strategic planning sessions.

** whether or not we should move closer to a one for all and all for one mentality.

This was about them already having the belief that more specialty programs for a few are good..period...and it was really just a matter for them of trying to figure out how to get more specialty programs into this District. Which, if you fundamentally share that belief, is a good thing.

Dr. Cook told me months ago that she loves developing these programs and she loves having people from other districts come admire them and ask her how she does them. She said it was the simplest thing to do, just hire a couple kindergarten teachers for a new program, and off it goes. That we have to educate the kids anyway, so whether we hire teachers who speak Mandarin or not is equal.

I should have realized then that we do what we love in our jobs, at all levels of jobs. That our basic beliefs influence our jobs. This is a natural human inclination, and I understand that. Nothing personal there, I suspect we are all influenced toward putting energy toward what we love and believe in our jobs. We aren't robots.

My post was more about thinking out loud about my disappointment with this basic belief influencing, in fact overshadowing, so many aspects of this subject in this report. Which, if you agree with that basic belief about what is good for a district and the function of a public school district, isn't a bad thing.

And my thinking out loud led me to remember that we do, in fact, have a Board for a reason, and this is it. Our Board is supposed to set the policies and direction of our District. So, we will see what they decide. They are the policy makers.

If they vote this in, then we know this Board wants to run our District in this way.

A yes vote by the Board would mean that

***they have decided it is a good policy to accept private anonymous donations to drive District studies for new programs

*** they think it is good education policy to develop new programs aimed at only 5% ( now, if one strand..2-3%) of all qualified kids in our District.

***they like the idea of having more lottery programs in our District...with all that means about neighborhood spots, traffic, expansion of current choice programs ( or not) etc

*** they like the idea of a public school starting a specialty subject for a few lottery winners to learn to expert level before the rest of the kids have any access at all to that subject.

*** they think lottery is a good way of choosing kids for a public education ( hmmm..I hope that doesn't mean that, with the constant cries for money, our district ends up deciding that only 1/2 our kids get an education by lottery, being better to give great to half than good to all)

*** they think it is a good idea to start new projects before we have completed our priorities as voted in and "surveyed" last year, diverting resources from these priorities

*** they think it is a good idea to first delay the major process we use, usually every 3 years, to choose our priorities and goals in this District ( the Strategic Planning Cycle), then make major decisions about the direction of our District at the end of the current Strategic Planning cycle and in the middle of a major transition of the highest management team.

So, that is what that "sour grapes" post was all about. Maybe I made a mistake in letting my emotions show through, and should have known somebody out there would dump on me for it. Oh well, it has happened so much that the good news from all this is I have grown quite a thick skin!




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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 9:18 am

Thanks Pauline for your well-articulated comments about the numerous concerns many of us share about MI in this district.

If MI is approved, I agree that it should share the philosophy of the school where it will be placed, apparently Ohlone. This should be required.


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Jan 6, 2007 at 10:38 am

Isn't there already a Chinese (and French) Immersion school in Palo Alto - the International School of the Peninsula? It appears to offer immersion for nursery school through 8th grade. Web Link

I don't know why this is not an option, except for the fact that it is private and not inexpensive.


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Posted by another voice
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2007 at 11:19 am

Pauline - you're great and spot on about the sour grapes.

I've been in classrooms where the principal came in to observe and evaluate teachers teaching and students learning. It was done carefully and professionally; they listened, commented, asked questions of the children, reviewed the lesson plan etc. How will this happen at Ohlone during one of the Madarin parts of the day? Who will know that effective teaching is happening? How can teachers improve if there is no qualified professional evaluating them in the language?

Although this is a decent compromise (and I am showing my NIMBYness here), I still object to not having the strategic plan goals, the restoration of pre-measure A positions, and more inclusive programs for all addressed before implementing a brand new program that wasn't even brought up as a concern in the Bregman survey.

We all told our kids as they grew up to eat their proteins, vegetables, fiber and to drink lots of water. Then, we might provide some dessert if we were sure their other needs were met. MI gives us cake for some kids while others still can't get to the healthiest parts of the meal.

I hope the board, if they go ahead with MI, really struggles to get other kids out of the achievement gap, healthy, and on track for success and happiness.


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Posted by clarification please
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 6, 2007 at 11:44 am

I find the Superintendent's recommendation confusing.

If Ohlone parents want to expand the program to meet the huge demand for the existing program, which is currently at 3 1/2 strands, and opening MI as one strand is a bad idea, how does the proposed solution work?

From what she proposes, it seems that either MI will open as 2 strands at Ohlone (thus cutting down the number of spaces in the existing program) or only open one strand of MI there (still cutting out that half class) despite the many factors that the feasibility study lists that cut against opening a one strand program. Will Ohlone parents get to choose between MI or English for their kids once they get off the main Ohlone waitlist, or will there be 2 separate entrance lotteries?

She seems to say that we should implement it now, then figure out in the next round how it fits in with the District's priorities (or make priorities to include it maybe? not a bad idea, but I thought the last round of priorities came from a survey, which did not indicate this was a pressing concern, priority or need. If everyone really wants it in the next round, we'e got the groundwork, and should be able -- according to Marilyn Cook -- to slap together a MI programeasily -- just hire a couple of bilingual kinder teachers and away we go.)

I am also still confused about the funding. PACE parents say they will put in extra money, and that's great. The new and imroved feasibility study says that it is cost neutral, but at the same time reports that these programs have received grants. No grant awarded here, yet. So are we assuming that the parents will put in all the extra money needed, whatever that turns out to be?

Also, I never did see any new data supporting the conclusory statement that MI will address the achievement gap because all students will have equal access to the lottery. Either it addresses it, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, let's not pretend it does. SI was supposed to. If it does, let's get some data on that and see how that fits in with MI.

And, as someone else pointed out, the Superintendent indicated that something like 800 people support MI, while only 200 wrote in opposing it -- this just isn't even true, given the petition of over 500 names that I understand currently exists in opposition to the program. Let's be accurate at least about the support and opposition.

I am still monumentally troubled by the cavalier attitude of the senior staff about public concerns. At least *address* them when you make recommendations, don't just ignore them!


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 6, 2007 at 12:31 pm

My reading of the recommendations is that MI is planned to stay at Ohlone only for 2-3 years. After that... time will tell.

If Garland opens and MI indeed proves itself to be successful, it will transfer to Garland and probably sever/reduce the Ohlone philosophy tilt. This will also help to populate Garland quickly, as the program will immediately provide 6-8 classrooms of students.

If MI does not prove itself a success in 2-3 years, who needs it anyway, independent of Garland opening.

If MI is a success in 2-3 years but Garland does not open... there lies the rub. OTOH if it is a success by then, much of the current bickering will die out, and the decision where to place it will hopefully take place in a more rational way.

Overall looks like a very good compromise.

Kudos to MFC, Marilyn, and Becky for smart thinking!
(Yes, I know. This district is clueless; incompetent; not trustworthy; full of liars; arrogant; yada yada yada.[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff])


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm

I am in agreement with "second voice" -- although I support MI, I think the current pushing of it is really putting the cart before the horse. I don't see how expanding infrastructure at Ohlone -- to open MI on this fast track -- is cost neutral. Seems to me, we could have FLES (foreign language instruction for all elementary students) without ANY expansion of infrastructure.

The other problem I see here is that FLES and MI appeal to many of the same families; if you offer MI first and leave the implementation of FLES so grey, many families who value early language instruction (clearly there are many in this district) will go with choice programs as their only option when they might have chosen FLES instead. If we implement FLES anyway in the future, as MI advocates claim MI won't endanger FLES, the district could end up spending more money simply because of the order we choose to implement the two programs.

I think we need to implement FLES and THEN MI. If MI is such a great asset for the district (I believe it will be), there should be no problem implementing FLES first. In the grand scheme of things, FLES is a far greater educational asset for the whole district. (I don't see how this could be objectionable unless that timetable conflicts with the personal schedules of people who have pushed MI for their own benefit.)

I don't like pitting FLES against MI because I think we should try to have both (!!), but I strongly feel that pushing MI first before implementing FLES demonstrates seriously misplaced priorities under our district's present educational and financial circumstances.

Why is it sooo important to push MI first on this timetable? I know some people will surely write in with reasonable excuses (or perhaps attack me personally), but I think it comes down to efforts made primarily because of the personal interests of a small number of people, and that is the wrong reason to do anything this major on a timetable like this in a public school district.

All the kids at Ohlone -- and districtwide -- should have access to some early language instruction (FLES) first, and WE SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST SOME AMOUNT OF TIME TO EVALUATE HOW THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE OF FLES IMPACTS THE IMPLEMENTATION AND COST OF ANOTHER IMMERSION PROGRAM BEFORE WE ADD ONE. I don't see how you could accurately predict that up front.

If we do that, I will be a much more vociferous and unqualified supporter of MI. As it is now, I feel like this timetable means I have to oppose it for the good of our district.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Uhhh. How is MI consistent with Ohlone philosphy? By nature an 80/20 language immersion program (80% of day taught in Mandarin) creates barriers for cross participation cross polination with rest of the student population. Other than perhaps during 'gardening' time.

What exactly do they mean when they claim it will be consistent with Ohlone philosophy. Can anyone explain that in more detail?


By the way, any Ohlone parent, or someone with contact with an )Ohlone parent that can just elaborate on whether this was a development that took place with wide Ohlone parent involvement, or whether this was some backroom deals between staff and Ohlone's principal? If without Ohlone parent knowledge, that must sting...


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 6, 2007 at 2:24 pm

The above poster "Huh?" makes another great point about "cross pollination" between school populations at Ohlone.

If ALL students at Ohlone had access to some language instruction first (perhaps Mandarin among them?), wouldn't that create a more realistic foundation for positive community and "cross pollination" if an MI strand were added to the campus?!


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 6, 2007 at 2:55 pm






I hope people read the amended document and then provide their thoughts. No point in re-hashing certain matters, there is a specific, published approach that will put on the table for the BoE to consider, and if I were on the BoE, here is what I would be asking:

1. Should world language instruction in the PAUSD elementary schools become a priority for this district? (Yes or no)

2. What types of instructional methods should the PAUSD have at the elementary schools going forward if world language instruction will be a priority going forward (FLES, Spanish Immersion, Mandarin Immersion, others?)

3. Given our own experience with Spanish Immersion, what the studies from outside our school district tell us about world language instruction, and our recent and earlier analysis about language instruction and Mandarin Immersion, is introducing world language instructional methods:
--feasible financially and pedagogically;
--consistent with PAUSD's mission, policies;
--providing educational value to the students of this community;
--helping meet a need that the community can support?

(Not a black and white "yes or no" on this, but, the scales will tip one way or another in each board member's answer.)

4. What still needs to be done before new world language instruction can be successfully implemented in this district? (Separate answers needed for programs in question, including FLES and MI.)

5. How will the district go about addressing the issues around implementing a world language policy before it is rolled out? (At a high level, this is addressed in the document in Section X, Superintendent's Recommendation, but there may be other things that need to be identified. This is developing a game plan stuff, not executing the game plan.)

6. What metrics and measures must be developed and applied to assure that this new policy is implemented effectively and we have the information necessary in order to monitor how it is working? (Also in recent document, but more drill down needed)

7. How will unintended consequences, anticipated and unanticipated, be managed to assure this new policy does not unduly compromise other programs and priorities in PAUSD?
(Will we as a Board be able to hold the school administration accountable for making sure that this new policy "raises the bar" overall and does not end up setting the District back relative to where it is at present?)

8. What should a task force that can address these current issues and help guide this policy for the next few years look like, and how can we attract people to participate on such a task force?

9. Do I vote in favor of this proposal, in light of how the preceding questions have been answered? (Yes or no?)

I suspect there are many people involved in this discussion who in their working or personal lives have heard the phrase "progress, not perfection." It typically is used when trying to deal with an important matter that is complicated, will never be done in a way that completely satisfies everybody, but requires decision and action in order to move forward.

For progress to be made, it requires that those that did not favor the chosen approach when it was being debated feel that their point of view has been heard, it has had some impact on the decision that is made, and they will not do things to undermine the decision--they will either do their best to help make it a success, or stay out of the way if they cannot in good conscience join in the effort to help constructively with the next steps.

I proudly wear on my sleeve my long standing support for language instruction at elementary schools in PAUSD, as I have since I first got involved during the Spanish Immersion effort in the early 1990's. But, I think a fair-minded person, whatever their position on this question, should ask him or herself if the proposal the Board is now going to consider is progress (not perfection!) In my mind, it is progress, and to turn the proposal down is not progress.

Nor is it progress for people to withhold their financial support of PIE, threaten elected school board members based on how they vote on one particular matter, to complain that the strategic policy making process in PAUSD is not following text book methodologies, or use feelings about where things are with other programs that the district must also address stand in the way of the District moving forward on matters where it is able to do so.

At this point, the greatest progress will be made when the BoE approves this proposal and the implementation and planning around world language instruction begins. Then the Board begins in earnest the search for the new district superintendent, addresses the communications issues between Churchill Avenue administration and school site leadership, it undertakes the 2007-08 Strategic plan, "immerses" itself in what is needed to get below level students to achieve at higher levels, determines if another elementary school needs to be opened, and (important to me as a member of the City Parks and Recreation Commission) helps us figure out how to get JLS Middle School playing fields turfed and lighted!


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Posted by On-line petition
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Those who wish to register their oppostion to MI can do so at Web Link

It is important that the Board hear from as many members of the community as possible.


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Posted by guess who
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Wolf - so to hell with all the folks on the Ohlone waiting list? I wonder if they think its a great compromise? I wonder how many of those folks feel like an 80% day in Mandarin is seamless interchangable with the Ohlone program...

And did AAAG come back with a recommendation to add 4 portables to the Ohlone site (without MI?) In other words, those added portables are just for the sake of MI - thats incremental cost FOR MI.

And PAUSD will open Garland but we'll need help populating it? Uh, so we're opening as a solution for MI. If we open it, it will have to be for enrollment needs, not open and remain half full. Garland area students will be displaced from neighborhood schools when MI moves in.

Therefore - this is not a nice little compromise (wow text book condescending - as this whole process has unfolded...)

In fact, this location solution is a failure.


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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Looking at the online petition opposing MI, I don't see a rousing set of signers.

And having looked at the 200 forms sent in, I see that there's a number of people who checked only certain boxes for their reasons to oppose MI and all choice programs and inequities in educating our kids and unfair use of public funding.

Now that the feasibility study specifically addresses the funding, recommendation to study world languages, and the reasoning for balancing choice and neighborhood schools,

I wonder how many of those 200 people would remove their forms? Do they still want to go on record as disagreeing with all the claims on the form?


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Posted by Lynn
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 6, 2007 at 6:16 pm

I have a question: What are the costs associated with leasing or purchasing three modular classrooms, preparing the area where they are to be situated, and heating/air conditioning them for three years? (Well, they are air conditioned, right? Unlike regular classrooms...)


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Board Observer - What about the 500+ signers of the hard copy petition opposing MI? Apparently these were left out of the updated study - no mention of them whatsoever. I was at the BoE meeting when these were given to the board. What's with that?


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Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 6, 2007 at 6:54 pm

But what I really want to know is why there are ONLY TEN recent discussion threads about MI!


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Posted by pediRN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 7:27 pm

I don't understand what the board is thinking by testing out the MI at Ohlone....it's one thing to share district space, which all sites could potentially do. It's quite another to say that all the MI parents will agree to "the Ohlone philosophy."

That shows a distinct misunderstanding of what the Ohlone philosophy is in the first place. You don't just "agree to the philosophy". It is something that permeates everything that is done there, from the fact that bells don't ring, to the facts that students call teachers by their first names, to the buddy classrooms across the strands, to multiple age classrooms and an integrated curriculum.

My kids attended Ohlone and had a wonderful experience there, and are both successful, self-responsible (thanks to Ohlone) high school students. And for those of you worrying about the fact that Ohlone doesn't have homework (unless kids don't finish their work at school), I have NEVER had to check my kid's homework or encourage them to do it, either at Jordan or Paly; school is their deal, and they are responsible for it. That was a huge life lesson they learned at Ohlone.

One other HUGE problem that I see with mixing these two programs is the teaching staff. Where in the world are they going to find teachers for the MI program that know how to teach a developmentally appropriate, student-centered program?? It's difficult enough to find teachers who can teach in that way at Ohlone in the first place, let alone trying to find ones who can also teach MI.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Board observer and blah blah blah -maybe instead of questioning why MI opposition had less signatures - maybe you'd like to explain why of the 900 MI signature, they only mustered 49 PAUSD students actually qualified and interestd in the program...

Or why MI Opposition gathered over 715 signatures in about 6 months (with only a few people gathering signatures), and MI gathered 900 (of which questionable numbers are even PAUSD residents), in OVER FIVE YEARS. Shall we keep the signature gathering going for opposition for another five years and see who wins? Is that the right way to force programs down the PAUSD community's throat? Sorry for our ignorance of the 'right' way to run a school district.


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Posted by Trust, trust, trust
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 6, 2007 at 7:56 pm

Wolf, your comparison does not make sense. For some, or maybe many, urging this be rammed through despite the opposition (500+ petition not mentioned in the Superintendent's report)and despite the slapdash and conclusory nature of the feasibility study and the large number of unanswered questions would be just a continuation of the high-handed attitude the adminstration has taken on so many occasions. And for the Board to push it through even though it has not been thought out would be, well, one in a series of actions taken (or not taken) that don't mesh with community priorities (remember those? The ones they had a professional survey taker put together? How about the huge public demand for an expedited investigation into the trust issues?) As the trust investigation continues (and some of the primary authors of the feasibility "study" report are under a cloud in that as well), some people feel that letting a program that wasn't even on the radar in terms of community priorities "cut" in line and get pushed through would further undermine our trust in the leaders who came and begged and pleaded their way into a parcel tex. MI is not "the" issue, it's just the latest issue.


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Posted by Finally catching on..
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:01 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

The MI pilot is a PERFECT fit for Ohlone, or rather Ohlone is a perfect host. Because Ohlone doesn't give homework or give tests or have any accountability for anyone. They don't actually require the kids to ~learn~ anything at all - or at least they don't require any PROOF that the kids are learning anything.

Which is absolutely brilliantly perfect for MI - because the whole idea of accountability for results would be a really big problem. The fact of the matter is, if we measure the results in three years, we'll see a whole heck of a lot of struggling kids, well behind grade level in most subject including English, and this is PERFECT for them, because they'll come the board come time for the pilot review and present alot of anecdotal, hearsay, and irrelevent opinion statements about why they've been a roaring success.

I wouldn't even be surprised if they point to SI again to defend their ongoing existence after pilot.

Smart - and you see, that's where' we've underestimatd the sneaky underhanded selfish motives and tactics of the MI clan. I get it - its all about strategy. Good One!

Hey Board - anyone paying attention here?


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Posted by another anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:04 pm

Of much more interest in this rushed process is whether the BOARD will in the end, be receptive to PACE. It appears that money talks, which is disheartening.

This a unified district consumed by so many major challenges in this day and age, for the Board to give rapt attention to a narrow proposal benefiting so few seems odd given the existing workload.

I also think it is funny to think that MI might be placed at Ohlone, within the Ohlone philosophy. No way will that ever happen (the latter, and possibly not the former). My prediction is that some excuse will be found to avoid using the Ohlone philosophy.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:08 pm

pediRN,
I think that the merging of Ohlone's philosophy with Mandarin is an amazing opportunity. To my knowledge there is nothing like it anywhere else. That is one of the reasons I think it was a brilliant selection for a location. I sincerely hope and think it will be a huge success.
All of these things that you describe do not require an "English only" environment to accomplish, "...the fact that bells don't ring, to the facts that students call teachers by their first names, to the buddy classrooms across the strands, to multiple age classrooms and an integrated curriculum." Since you have more experience with Ohlone than I do, what is inherent to the teacher speaking Mandarin that precludes "Ohlone-ism"?

Also, there is already a teacher at Ohlone (who has been there for over 5 years?) who is a native Mandarin speaker and has a BCLAD in Mandarin. If she doesn't teach in the MI program, she will still be an amazing asset to whomever they hire. So, I think finding teachers may not be as challenging as you predict.


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Posted by pediRN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Dear Finally catching on....

Ohlone certainly will be a wonderful host (it it a wonderful community), if MI passes. But accountability and personal responsibility are hallmarks of the Ohlone philosophy. Spend some time there, you might begin to understand it.

(Oh, and for the record, I'm not "for" MI) I just find the combination of the two programs rather interestingly mismatched.


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Posted by another pedi RN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:18 pm

How much is MI going to cost?

Although I am not against language immersion per se, I do feel that there are other things our PAUSD schools need...like hot water in the kid's bathrooms. Despite all of the recent improvements and bond measures... there is no hot running water in Ohlone bathrooms. Even prisons have hot water.. Let's get the basics taken care of first. Our children have almost daily opportunities to speak
Spanish to someone. Spanish immersion makes sense. It would seem a MI program is more of a luxury and not a necessity.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:27 pm

In my opinion (and according to the feasibility study), MI costs the same to run as any other classroom in PAUSD. A teacher who is bilingual English/Mandarin makes the same salary as one who is monolingual English. There is a start-up cost for each new classroom, for materials mostly. This cost is between $10,000-$20,000 per classroom. This can and will be raised by fundraising. In fact there is $15,000 already raised for this, I think.
Are other opinions about cost though, you can look at the "duped by Measure A thread" if you are interested.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Pedi RN: You can be a great resource to help this thread understand more about Ohlone. Can you explain how accountability works in Ohlone, both for the kids performance and the schools and teachers performance? this will help us understand how to formulate better thinking and expectations on how MI will fit Ohlone's accoutability structure.

Also, can you please describe parent participation component at Ohlone?

Last questions (and its in earnest) do you feel that the principal of Ohlone negotiated this out in the open for Ohlone parents, any Ohlone wide discussion on this?

Thanks very much.


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Posted by pediRN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Dear Jamie --
Accountability is an integral part of everything the kids do at Ohlone - I think one of the biggest things children learn at Ohlone is their accountability to themselves, their teachers, their school work, the community, and the world at large.

These kids have adults (the teachers at Ohlone) who care deeply about WHO they are, and WHAT they think, and HOW they interact with their peers. Go visit a classroom. Watch how the lesson may be about history, but the kids are doing math (calculating how much food they'll need on a field trip or cooking a recipe from that era) and working together in small groups to solve problems. It's all together. Because the focus is on working together, kids' social development is deemed just as important as their academic development. So, in a nutshell, kids learn to work together and get things done. What a concept, since that's what the majority of adults have to do everyday at work!

The teachers and the school have exactly the same set of California Standards to meet as every other elementary school, they just go about it differently. They do STAR tests just like everyone else. And, yes, the 4-5's give "tests" in spelling, math, etc. to prepare kids for middle school. It is in no way a free for all, as one other poster suggested.

The parent participation component at Ohlone is tapered as your child gets older. In the K-1's and 2-3's parents can work in the classrooms weekly, as well as serve any number of volunteer positions in the school. In the 4-5's the kids have much more responsibility for the daily functioning of the classroom, so parent help is needed more infrequently in that strand, but is definitely still used for field trips, etc.

I have no opinion or knowlege about the Ohlone principal's role in the MI deal -- I'm not a parent there anymore since both my kids are at Paly.

Lastly, Nico I didn't mean to insinuate that speaking Mandarin somehow precluded an Ohlone philosophy. I know the Ohlone community will welcome MI with open arms if that is what's decided. I just know how difficult it is to explain what it is that we do at Ohlone (hence the earlier question from Jamie) -- as long as the MI parents actually know what the philosophy is, I suppose it could work.

I hope that helps!!


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Posted by Finally Catching On
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Yes it does. You have basically confirmed the suspicions of Finally Catching On's earlier post. Grades K-3 MI (the period of the pilot) can basically expect to get away 'scott free' from any testing or reporting on student outcomes that would result in any hard evidence of for their results. (according to what you just said) With the exception of star testing, which they'll only have to report at the 'school' level, following Escondido's very poor reporting on SI.

The Board at that time will be expected to approve MI for permanent status based on the hearsay of the principal. Which we can clearly see is "under the influence" of Margracille and friends. Afterall, she does her share during the first three years, and she recommends with the same bunch of platitudes we're hearing now, MI leaves her alone before her "Ohlone" results are impacted, and her reward is the extra classroom space she would not otherwise have gotten.

Its a nice little scheme. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2007 at 10:14 pm

Finally cathing on,
I actually like conspiracy theories as much as the next guy. But I am sorry that I don't follow yours. Who would benefit from a cover-up of poor student achievement? Certainly not the students, the parents, the school, the principal or the district. So why would anybody benefit or want to do it? I don't get it.


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Posted by pediRN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2007 at 10:47 pm

Finally catching on....

Of course grades K-3 don't get away with not testing or reporting on student outcomes... all schools/grades have to report on student outcomes. Either you don't have any children in school or you just don't get what is accomplished when children are respected and valued.

It appears that you really have a problem with the district leadership, and that has nothing to do with the information I was asked to share. I'm not commenting on that at all; in fact I really dislike the politics that go on....I'd much prefer that they would concentrate on educating ALL children in foreign language, not just a few.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2007 at 11:02 pm

"guess who" asked:
> And did AAAG come back with a recommendation to add 4 portables to the Ohlone site (without MI?)

The answer is: The AAAG did recommend that 3 modulars be added to Ohlone. Because of its location it attracts many families from the nearby overenrolled sites. (Of the PAUSD students enrolled at Ohlone: 31% are in the Palo Verde draw area, 14% Fairmeadow, 13% El Carmelo, and 10% Duveneck). We were told that Ohlone has been asking to be increased from 3.5 to 4 strands. Since increasing the capacity of Ohlone is desirable, feasible (Jerry Matranga's report to us stated that 3 "Level 1" modulars can easily be added to the site), and should help alleviate overcrowding at the nearby neighborhood schools, the AAAG did recommend in its statements to the superintendent on 12/11 to increase Ohlone from 3.5 to 4 strands. (Note that this would require Ohlone to get an exemption like Duveneck, Hays, and Escondido have done in order to be 4 strands, since currently board policy limits schools to about 3-2/3 strands.)

Lynn asked:
> What are the costs associated with leasing or purchasing three modular classrooms, preparing the area where they are to be situated, and heating/air conditioning them for three years? (Well, they are air conditioned, right? Unlike regular classrooms...)

As I understand it, there are two types of buildings: modulars, which are built permanent fixtures on the campus (such as are seen on nearly every elementary campus right now), and portables, which are short-term leased buildings such as were placed at Jordan when it was undergoing its B4E work. According to the data that Jerry Matranga gave the AAAG, the cost to add a modular is $250,000 (site prep, foundation work, the actual building. Ongoing costs are not included, as then they fall under regular campus maintenance). Because of enrollment growth, the district *will* be adding modulars to some campuses this summer anyway – regardless of whether MI is implemented or not. So, for example, in a "for discussion only" memo about what new modulars to place to account for enrollment growth, one scenario was given as placing modulars at Barron Park (to house a new 4th grade), Briones (to house a new 2nd grade), Fairmeadow (to house a new K), Hays (to house a new 3rd grade), and Ohlone (to house a new K/1). So one could imagine that another potential scenario would be to put two modulars at Ohlone this summer and forego the Fairmeadow modular (just for example … I am *not* saying that any of these are even officially proposed … they were simply discussion points to help the AAAG understand how growth could be accommodated by adding modulars to existing campuses. It won't be until much closer to summer before the district decides how many modulars are needed and where they should be placed.)

Hope that helps.


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Posted by Who do you think benefits?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2007 at 3:00 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] The MI supporters would benefit of course because by not having to produce any year 1-3 actual results, they will have a much cleaner get away with having the program permanently instituted.

And since they care not a whip about getting their eyeballs on actual evidence of test scores, attrition rates, performance success for different type of students (ELL, special needs, english speakers, mandarni speakers, etc.) they are all blindly going along with the idea that by 5th grade all these kids are going to fabulous successes (in fact you know very well that year 1-3 results will be dismal in terms of grade level performance
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2007 at 3:01 pm

AAAG Rep,

I appreciate your straightforward responses. You seem to stick with the facts, as you know them.

Some questions:

1. Does the ultimate MI program envision about 240 students, when fully implemented? If not, what is the actual number?

2. If about 10-12 new classrooms are required at the chosen school site, wouldn'd it be a huge hit on that school (similar to Escondido, with SI)?

3. If a particular school takes such a hit, where would the nighborhood kids go? Or are you just saying that they can still go to the same school, but that school will be much more crowded (and much more traffic)?

4. Taking just the first year into consideration, how would the costs be neutral? The target school will require two new classrooms (assuming that all else remain static). This means two new teachers, too. If all the MI kids come from throughout the district, that would mean an average of about four (4) fewer kids per school in the non-impacted schools. This reduction in attendance will not be sufficient to reduce the number of classroom (and teachers) at those schools. Do you agree? If so, the net effect will be two MORE teachers hired, along with two MORE classrooms.

5. If my assumptions are correct, it will mean that two new classrooms will be required (in year one) at the cost of approx. $500K. The two new teachers will cost at least $100K, probably quite a bit more. As each new year arrives, the situation will be the same. In the end there will be about 10-12 new, and otherwise unnecessary, classrooms and teachers. The final bill will be approx. $3M. Please tell me where I am wrong.

6. Another way of looking at my analysis is to dismantle the SI program at Escondido. This would result in about four more kids in each strand at all the other schools in the district. This is not enough to add any more classrooms, although it might require an increase of about two kids per classroom. Escondido would be reduced by about 240 kids, resulting in a return to the original condition at Escondido, before SI. Ten or twelve teachers could be eliminated.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Since I am new to this blog thing, this will be my third attempt at posting a response. It definately won't be as eloquent as my previous two but who has the time to write something only to have it forever lost in cyberspace!

I just wanted to address some of pediRN's(Mary?) concerns. As Nico mentioned there is at least one if not more teachers at Ohlone who are already qualified to teach this program. It came as a surprise to me to see that Monica Lynch was involved in the feasibility study.

MI and the Ohlone philosophy are already coexisting at YC (a private school in MV). Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to send my child there (Property tax or private school? I didn't have much choice.) but even if I could I would have had a hard time putting my desire for a Mandarin education over my daughter's desire for local friendships (something that is essential to her happiness) and on which I am in agreement with neighborhood school proponents. With MI in the public school I wouldn't have had to choose.

It pains me quite a bit to hear the anti-MI folks say that all choice programs were/are mistakes and that we shouldn't make another one. The district set up guidelines by which choice programs are started and maintained and one of those is that the program must be cost neutral. One could argue that because Ohlone has the farm (even though it supports itself through mainly parent funded donations) it still has a potential cost to the district. This isn't a valid argument against not having Ohlone because its not cost neutral. But folks who wanted to do away with choice programs could make the argument nevertheless.

To hear an Ohlone parent say that SI is worthwhile, but MI is not bothers me even more. In this area, we have just as much opportunity to speak Mandarin as Spanish and globally there are so many more Mandarin speakers than those who speak Spanish. In fact, statistics show that right here in PA more households speak Mandarin than Spanish.

The arguments against MI (or any other choice program) are as follows:

1) Choice programs are inherently unfair because the students are chosen by a lottery and there are "winners" and "losers". I personally feel that all of PA's schools offer a quality education and therefore there are no real losers whether one attends a neighborhood program or a choice program.

2) Choice programs deteriorate our community (or at least neighborhoods). I like to take a more global approach and think that all of the folks in PA are my neighbors and are worth getting to know and therefore appreciate that choice programs draw families from throughout PA.

3) Choice programs create traffic. It is my opinion that my choice program has less traffic problems than my neighborhood school. The statistics collected once per year by the traffic safety committee may not support this, but I believe that there is more to analyzing "traffic problems" than how many children travelled to school by car one day per year. Most important are the school location, the nearby arterials and how many other people are using those arterials at both drop off and pick up times.

After several years at Ohlone, I find it difficult to explain what is so different about it than most other PA schools, save for the combined age classes. I surely do hope that other schools are using a collaborative model, at least some of the time. I find it hard to believe it would be otherwise.

The one thing that I have noticed at Ohlone is a strong sense of global community. I have heard comments from some folks (not at Ohlone) that are akin to "Why should we spend money on a reading specialist that would only benefit a few students, why not spend it on a math or science specialist that could benefit all children in the school. If a small number of families desire something that can not be accomplished through the education provided to all of our children, then they should send their child to a tutor or an after school program." While this may seem selfish, they do have a point. Spending money for a few does not have a direct benefit for all.

I'm very proud that the Ohlone community decided to spend its PIE money on these support specialists. Understanding that while providing something to a small group of children may not have a direct benefit for all, it does have an indirect benefit for the community, ie lower crime rate, a higher quality work force, a stronger sense of community. Perhaps the former attitude is why we still have an achievement gap here in PA.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Ok so AAAG has made a recommendation? Where is that published?

And they've recommended ~permanent~ modulars at all these schools AND opening Garland?


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 7, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Well, as I understand it from the meeting I went to on the AAAG presentation to the Board last month, they talked about the pros and cons of doing nothing, putting up portables ( only they were called modulars) and opening Garland.

I don't remember a specific recommendation, I thought we were still in the pros and cons phase, and I thought that there was another meeting in a couple weeks for the rest of the AAAG report and maybe actual recommendations. And then the Board is supposed to vote on AAAG stuff AFTER the MI vote ..in February sometime.

I also remember some disappointment expressed by Gail and ..another member?..sorry, don't remember.. that only facilities options were considered, and a request that the AAAG also look at program changes to address enrollment issues..like year round schools which would relieve 25% of the students at any given time off campuses, and/or am/pm kindergartens, which would halve the number of K classrooms in use..stuff like that. These options MAY be less expensive and more flexible, since it is easier to change calendars than buildings.

That is my take on it, but hopefully the AAAG rep who wrote in will correct this.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 7, 2007 at 6:55 pm

Oops, sorry. Tired. I just re-read the post by the AAAG person who said that AAAG actually RECOMMENDED putting modulars at Ohlone regardless, I guess, if anything else happens in order to decrease the waiting list at Ohlone and at Ohlone's request.

Sorry, I am not tracking. Wouldn't that rec have been for the benefit of the folks who want to go into the Ohlone program? Or does this placement mean that the point will be that those who want the Ohlone method AND MI will want to go to this program, and that will automatically take care of that waiting list because there is such an overlap between the two groups of folks?. But, doesn't that mean that the program needs to stay there permanently? If it leaves, can it carry the philosophy elsewhere into an environment that doesn't have the Ohlone philosophy?

I quit. Too much for me. The Ohlone folks will understand this the best.

By the way, I did notice someone saying that the anti-MI folks think all choice programs were/are a mistake. I am one of the major anti-MI program folks...and I DON'T think any program up till now was a mistake. Nor do I think that a new Choice program can't be fashioned in a way that addresses all the concerns that we have been raising. There are actually ways that a new choice program could come into the District that would have almost none of the concerns we have, and would work out well. This just isn't it.

That is a discussion for a way later date than now, though. You can read through the probably thousands of posts that have been written on this over the last few months and learn more than you ever wanted to know, probably.

Thanks


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 7, 2007 at 7:51 pm

Pauline,

Are you able to summarize, without regard to any other content, what you believe are the ways a new choice program could come into the Ditrict without almost none of the concerns that you and perhaps other have?

It becomes difficult, for me at least, to get a clear picture of that in reading all the various postings around the current world language policy questions theDistrict is facing. I would find it helpful to see your concise description.

Thanking you in advance... (when you aren't tired)


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Posted by Lynn
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2007 at 8:02 pm

There's something else I don't understand. Ohlone has 3 1/2 strands, or 7 classes each of mixed grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. It has room for 3 modular classrooms, or an additional 1/2 a strand. Dr. Callan's proposal for MI is for a single strand 3-year pilot, proposing to start with two K-1 classrooms.

In year one, the first two K-1 classrooms would take up two of the three modulars, with 20 kids in each grade. In year two, the first graders become second graders and move into modular #3, and you get a new crop of 20 kindergartners. Then what happens in year three? You'll need a 4th classroom so you have room for two K-1 classes and two 2-3 classes.

I don't see how you can have a full strand of an MI pilot for more than two years at Ohlone. What am I missing? Could someone who understands this please explain it to me? Thanks.

(Oh, and I have a suggestion for jah and others who have lost their posts: First type what you want to say into whatever word processor you use, and save it. Then copy and paste it into the Palo Alto Online window, and send it off. If your post gets lost for whatever reason, you can repost it from your saved file. This method has saved me a lot of headaches.)


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Posted by Neal
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 7, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Paul,

I think you are asking for a straight answer. I assume you are asking that of all parties, including yourself.

Here is a straight answer: New programs will cost significant amounts of money and cause signficiant disruption of neighborhood schools. Maybe they are worth it, but why dance around the real costs? Any honest discussion of the MI issue could and should refer to past history in our district. Escondido was heavily impacted by SI. Traffic has increased a lot, and Escondido is no longer a neighborhood school, as it used to be. We, at Fairmeadow, got SI kicked out of here, to Escondido. Escondido was not strong enough to resist SI. Escondido used to have general support by College Terrace, but no more. I think you will see that fewer and fewer adults will support future tax measures for schools, because the nighborhood concept is being eroded.

In order to have a healthy public education system in Palo Alto, SI
should be abandoned at Escondido, and Ohlone and Hoover should be converted back to the norm. Parents who want their kids to have a different educational experience should form charter schools. Or they can send their kids to private schools.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 7, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Neal,

It is apparent from what I have read that there was in the minds of a number of people with ties to Escondido that having SI there created some pretty serious concerns. I did not have any first hand exposure to those or to what transpired at Fairmeadow, but I do think it is important to learn from those experiences and I would certainly expect plans going forward take these into account and address them as fully as possible.

You appear to have a point of view around the choice programs in the district, which basically is that they are excessively disruptive of the neighborhood school concept, and they all should be abolished, and the district should confine itself exclusively to a neighborhood school model. That's a pretty clear point of view, I am not sure that is what we are discussing in this thread--it is a much bigger issue than MI at Ohlone, it is getting at changing a long standing part of the district's mission, philosophy and history. Perfectly fine for it to be a topic, but it brings on a host of other issues separate and apart from world language policy questions.

Since I have made a couple of comments on this strand and another over the weekend, I am not entirely clear which of my comments specifically gave rise to your observations. So I will leave it at that, and hope to see you Tuesday night


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Posted by Almost gridlocked
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 7, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Don't dismiss neighborhood school and traffic issues too quickly either. Take a look at the traffic mess in the area of Middlefield, Charleston, East Meadow when school days are beginning and ending. Cars lined up on Middlefield road to enter the Challenger lot. Cars parking in Mitchell Park and at the library to trot across the park to Hoover. Cars backed up to get into Fairmeadow and JLS to drop off kids. Car after car turning into the other Challenger driveway on Charleston. Cars, cars and more cars. And it seems that there's trouble in the Addison school area as well, from what I read in the newspapers, as parents take over the parking lot of the mortuary next door for dropping off kids, to the point where the mortuary said no more and rescinded permission to use the lot. Students living a stone's throw from JLS are given the option of going to Terman at will, it seems. So they're driven across town too. Back and forth, around and about they all go, to the school of their choice. Hopefully the BOE will become sensitive to the impact on the whole community and start thinking about making the neighborhood school the ONLY option instead of devising ways to make so many boutique campuses, catering to the latest and greatest whim and fad. Maybe the City Council has some clout to say enough already until you do some environmental impact and traffic studies to justify these decisions.


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Posted by Neil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 7, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Paul,

The PAUSD can have it's cake and eat it, too! The answer is charter schools. What is wrong with that? It would leave the neighborhood schools intact, as well as allow speicialty programs.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Neil,
Have you asked the PAUSD BoE if they would rather have charter schools than choice programs? I would suspect that the answer would be no. I also suspect that if you asked the choice programs if they would rather be charter schools, they would probably say no too.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 7, 2007 at 9:36 pm

jah,

You missed probably the biggest objection to MI, and that is the current lack of any foreign language instruction available to students in Palo Alto elementary schools. Many of us (who are in favor of eventually having an MI program) feel that it is inherently unfair and the wrong priorities in a public school district to push through another immersion program (and all that entails) when language instruction is not available first to all in the district.

We should have foreign language instruction available to all elementary students FIRST, THEN we will know the full implications of a separate MI program that requires separate facilities. (Please see my post above.) Many people who want Mandarin instruction but would prefer a neighborhood school would probably then not sign up for MI if FLES was available first and they could take Mandarin at their neighborhood school -- the only way to know for sure how the implementation of MI would be affected is to actually implement FLES and THEN MI.

I am saying this as someone who could potentially benefit from MI being implemented next fall as recommended. I just think it's wrong to implement MI first. I think some of the people pushing for this timetable are not being forthcoming about their own interests.

I am really concerned that pushing through MI this way, on this timetable, is creating most of the opposition. Read Pauline's last post. We could be doing this in a far more intelligent way that brings in broad support across the district, not the current opposition.

I think it's tragic, because if MI fails now and we want to try again, no one is going to remember that the opposition was mostly because people thought the district needed to take care of other priorities like FLES first (doable priorities) and then do MI. I have logged onto the petitions against MI and sat there wondering -- do I sign this and make it seem like I don't ever want MI and let people misuse this opposition in the future (I do support MI, just not now), or do I not sign it and fail to add my voice to the opposition to MI as it is currently being pushed through (I think implementing it before FLES is a bad idea and unfair). Thus far, I have not signed. But I am against implementing MI before elective foreign language instruction to all elementary students in the district.


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Posted by Grace Mah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 7, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Having done some research on charter schools, I'd like to point out some reasons that PAUSD would not want to create or encourage creation of a charter school:

1. A charter school under PAUSD would require PAUSD to supply a location that was comparable to other schools. Can't give the charter a warehouse. (Denying a charter in PAUSD could get expensive with appeals to the county school board, paying lawyers to duke it out, and the Santa Clara County Board of Education has had a history of approving charters in the district, and forcing the district to cough up the location.) For an example of how contentious a charter school can be, look at our neighbors in Los Altos's Bullis Charter School and Redwood City's Summit Preparatory High School.

2. Charter schools are legally required to be open to any Calif resident, so the influx of non-Palo Alto residents would hurt the district financially, since we are basic aid.

3. Administratively, charter schools are much more hassle and work than another choice program. There's tons of paperwork, separate accounting, financial grindings, legal regulations, etc.

For more than you would ever want to know about charter schools, you can research these websites:
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California Dept of Education Charter Schools Division
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Supports, promotes, and authorizes high quality charter schools that improve achievement and choice for California public schools and families.
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Web Link
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Frequently Asked Questions About Charter School Fundamentals
Web Link
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Charter School Development Center
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Our goal is to help public education make the leap from a highly-regulated, process-based system to one that allows and encourages schools to be more creative, performance-based centers of effective teaching and learning. We aim to achieve this by providing technical assistance to the charter school reform movement in California and nationally.
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Web Link
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Charter Schools Development Corporation
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Non-profit corporation and emerging national leader in promoting excellence, innovation and parental choice in public education by assisting public charter schools with the acquisition and financing of educational facilities and related capital improvements.
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Web Link




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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2007 at 10:35 pm

AJ and others who want FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) implemented before MI.

First of all please realize FLES was tried before (2 pilot programs started at the same time as Spanish Immersion) but they died from lack of interest/care and costs (don't forget FLEX costs a lot more than Immersion). See the Superintendent's recommendation- page 26 for details.

Your arguments imply Immersion is just more FLES. You believe immersion kids just get a double-extra portion of something good in their curriculum. I think if you read up on this you will find that this is not how researchers or teachers see it. As you increase the amount of time devoted to the target language, a threshold is crossed and something different happens: the curriculum is delivered in the target language. They learn history in the language. They learn math in the language. Most parents who want their children to enter Immersion would not be satisfied with FLES and most parents that support FLES would not want their children in Immersion.

I fully support finding ways to make Foreign Language a more important part of curriculum here in Palo Alto. Lets not hold MI (or any other program that enriches the district) hostage by saying that FLES should be a prerequisite.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Jack,
You asked a lot of good questions. Some of them are out of the scope of what the AAAG was to consider, but I'll take a stab anyway. My answers got a little long, so I'll break your questions up into separate posts.

1. Does the ultimate MI program envision about 240 students, when fully implemented? If not, what is the actual number?

This is outside the purview of the AAAG. But according to the MI feasibility study, yes, this is what they envision: a full 2-strand program: 20 students per classroom, 2 classrooms per grade, K-5 = 20 * 2 * 6 = 240.


2. If about 10-12 new classrooms are required at the chosen school site, wouldn't it be a huge hit on that school (similar to Escondido, with SI)?

Yes! This is why the AAAG was unable to come up with a feasible location for MI. There is no way to place MI at any of the 9 existing neighborhood schools or Escondido (part neighborhood, part choice) without overflowing significant numbers of neighborhood children out of their school.

Note that the situation was markedly different when SI was placed at Escondido – Escondido was operating far below capacity and putting SI there meant that it could operate closer to capacity. Even now Escondido is still the smallest draw area and one of the largest school facilities. If it were converted back to a pure neighborhood school it would be operating well under capacity. There are currently 293 K-5 PAUSD children in the Escondido draw area. Even if *all* of them chose their neighborhood school, it would still be the school with the lowest enrollment in the district. Because SI is there and is now expanding to two strands, Escondido is starting to experience overflow (primarily because the 226 children who are not in "choice" programs don't come in neat packages of 20 each – so if there are 43 third graders in the Escondido draw area, 3 are going to be overflowed out because the school can only house 40 of them (or it could add a third grade and house all 43 and take in up to 17 overflow kids from other schools).

In its presentation to the board on 12/5, the AAAG basically concluded what we've already heard before: MI should not displace neighborhood children; it should not draw children from across the district into already impacted neighborhood schools; and it should allow for 9-12 classrooms for permanent placement, or 6 if done "Ohlone style" (2 each combined K/1, 2/3, 4/5). (See page 53 of Web Link -- although pagination will change again once they add the minutes from the 12/11 meeting – don't know why they're not up yet.) The next page has the "thoughts" on MI placement. These are fairly lame, I admit, because, like I said, we couldn't come up with a location that didn't displace neighborhood kids unless Garland were re-opened. There you'll see the idea to pilot it at Ohlone or put it at Garland. It was pretty clear that since it's primarily Palo Verde, Fairmeadow, and Duveneck that are over capacity, that any new capacity should be added near those schools. Neither Palo Verde nor Duveneck have room for more modulars. Fairmeadow could take three, as could Ohlone. Not formally presented, but discussed, were ideas to combine the choice programs – e.g., Merge or co-locate the language choice programs with a philosophy choice program (such as has been proposed by the superintendent).

In its presentation to the Superintendent on 12/11, the five working groups (each time we met we were randomly divided into some number of working groups), were unanimous in their "summary statement for recommended next steps for choice programs." Each group re-stated unequivocally that neighborhood children should not be displaced for a new choice program. Four of the groups stated that MI should be placed at Garland if/when it opens and not before, as that is the only way to ensure neighborhood students are not displaced. (Turns out that's not quite the case if you're willing to trade one choice program for another or combine two choice programs into one, as has been proposed at least for the pilot phase of MI). Minutes from this meeting aren't up yet.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 7, 2007 at 11:57 pm

3. If a particular school takes such a hit, where would the neighborhood kids go? Or are you just saying that they can still go to the same school, but that school will be much more crowded (and much more traffic)?

First, it takes board approval to take any school above 450 students. (Approval has been granted for Escondido, Duveneck, and Hays). Second, each site has a physical capacity as determined by the facilities folks. This number changed fairly dramatically from the first time it was presented to us to the second, so I don't know how "hard" these numbers really are. (For example, we were originally told that Hoover could house five additional modulars. Then we were told it could only house three "Level 3" modulars – "Level 3" being the lowest priority only after all "Level 2" modulars have been added across the district.)

So the answer to your question is most likely: if a neighborhood school were forced to house a new choice program, the neighborhood kids would be overflowed out wherever there is room, and in most cases, that wouldn't be the next nearest school.

Overflow out is already happening today, though on a much smaller scale than it would be if MI were placed at a neighborhood school. Overflow happens because the district purposely leaves no slack in the system for grades one through five. So in any given neighborhood, if the kids don't come in a neat multiple of 20 for that grade level (or multiples of 22 in 4th and 5th grade), then either some kids are overflowed out or some kids are overflowed in.

No neighborhood site has the capacity for 240, 180, or even 120 non-neighborhood kids, which is why it is impossible to find a neighborhood school at which to house MI.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:15 am

4. Taking just the first year into consideration, how would the costs be neutral? The target school will require two new classrooms (assuming that all else remain static). This means two new teachers, too. If all the MI kids come from throughout the district, that would mean an average of about four (4) fewer kids per school in the non-impacted schools. This reduction in attendance will not be sufficient to reduce the number of classroom (and teachers) at those schools. Do you agree? If so, the net effect will be two MORE teachers hired, along with two MORE classrooms.

Ignoring MI and all its cost issues for a moment, let's just talk about housing the current PAUSD kids in classrooms. Consider the case of next year's Kindergarten class. MI or no MI (and pretend no new students will be attracted to the district because of MI), there will be about 850 new Kindergarteners to the district next year. (2006 11th day number was 816 Kindergarteners. 2005 11th day number was 736). 850 Kindergarteners requires a minimum of 43 classrooms, but the district always provides slack for Kindergarten, because the numbers change so dramatically. (February estimates are always much higher than September actuals because most families considering private school register for public school anyway, but many don't bother telling the district that they're not coming until August – or not at all – so the district always has to plan for them coming.) In 2005 the district offered 40 Kindergarten classrooms (for a theoretical capacity of 800 kids, so there ended up being slack for 64 extra kids). In 2006 the district offered 43.5 Kindergarten classrooms (for a theoretical capacity of 870 kids, so there ended up being slack for 54 kids.)

If next year we have 850 Kindergarteners, it probably means that February registrations indicated something closer to 890 Kindergarteners, so the district will likely plan for 44.5 Kindergarten classrooms – enough room for 890 Kindergarteners just in case they all show up.

Now take a look at the classrooms that are being freed up by this year's graduating 5th graders: There are 38 classrooms of 5th graders in the district right now. (Actually 37 and two halves because SI is still 1.5 strands in 5th grade and Ohlone has 7 4/5 combo classes). So with 44.5 classrooms of Kindergarteners coming into the system, and 38 classrooms worth of 5th graders leaving the system, somewhere 7 classrooms need to be found somewhere in the district. (The extra 1/2 that is needed is an artifact of SI going from 1.5 strands to 2. Next year there will be 1.5 strands of 3rd grade SI students who will require two full classrooms – I don't know whether or not they will try to find 10 bilingual kids to fill these spots.) Currently Hays has one available classroom, but by all current indications, this will be used as a third grade classroom next year since district-wide our second grade is 6 students over capacity (or perhaps they will figure out how to put the six extra third graders into the 10 available third grade SI slots). Briones, Escondido, and Fairmeadow each have computer or science labs that could be converted into classrooms if space is needed at those sites. But this still leaves a minimum of 4 modulars that have to go somewhere, and likely as many as 7. The question is, where will they go?

Going back to the incoming Kindergarten class, in theory, what they do is first fill the lotteries – so they pull kids for the 3.5 Kindergarten classes at Ohlone, the 2 Kindergarten classrooms of SI, and the 3 Kindergarten classrooms at Hoover. That takes 170 kids out of the pot and fills 8.5 of the 44.5 classrooms. Then they look at where the remaining kids live and what capacity is available at those schools to figure out where to put the remaining 36 classrooms. If there is no MI, then they'll come up with one answer (perhaps put the modulars at Fairmeadow, Nixon, Barron Park, and Briones). If they do implement MI, then there will be a different solution (clearly two of the modulars will go to Ohlone, and others to other sites).

So therefore, if we assume MI brings no additional students to the district, just a re-apportionment of the current incoming Kindergarten class, then no, adding MI won't result in a net effect of two additional modulars and two additional teachers.

Here's a very, very simplified example: Assume Duveneck has 90 kids who want to be in Kindergarten at Duveneck next year. Assume Palo Verde has 70. Clearly a total of 160 kindergarteners will require a total of 8 classrooms and 8 teachers. (Whether or not those classrooms and teachers exist today is immaterial.) You could put four classrooms at each school and send the extra 10 Duveneck kids to Palo Verde. Or you could put 5 classrooms at Duveneck and 3 at Palo Verde and send the extra 10 Palo Verde kids to Duveneck. Now assume that the district implements MI at one of those two sites. Let's say they open up the lottery, and by luck of the draw, 10 of the Duveneck kids get in and 10 of the Palo Verde kids get in. Now we have 80 kids in 4 classrooms at Duveneck, 60 kids in 3 classrooms at Palo Verde, and 20 kids in 1 classroom at whichever of those sites was selected to host MI. Still 8 classrooms, still 8 teachers.

Or a more complex example assuming our hypothetical next year where we have 850 incoming Kindergarteners and have already assigned 170 of them to Ohlone, Hoover, and SI: (PLEASE NOTE: THESE ARE ALL MADE UP NUMBERS JUST FOR EXAMPLE)
Addison: 69 kids (pretend 1 "wins" an MI lottery spot if MI exists)
Duveneck: 85 (6 would go to MI if it exists)
Hays: 79 (2 would go to MI)
El Carmelo: 63 (3 would go to MI)
Fairmeadow: 68 (3 would go to MI)
Palo Verde: 71 (4 would go to MI)
Barron Park: 67 (1 would go to MI)
Briones: 59 (0 would go to MI)
Escondido: 60 (0 go to MI)
Nixon: 65 (0 go to MI)

Without MI, the district *might* distribute the 36 regular program classrooms as follows:
Addison 69 kids, 4 classrooms, could take up to 11 overflows
Duveneck 85 kids, 4 classrooms, must overflow out 5
Hays 79 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 1 overflow
El Carmelo 63 kids, 3 classrooms, must overflow out 3
Fairmeadow 68 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 12 overflows
Palo Verde 71 kids, 3 classrooms, must overflow out 11
Barron Park 62 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 18 overflows
Briones 59 kids, 3 classrooms, could take 1 overflow
Escondido 60 kids, 3 classrooms, no overflow in/out
Nixon 64 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 16 overflows

With MI, the district now puts one of the Kindergarten classrooms at Ohlone (actually, two halves of two classrooms – let's ignore the first graders for this exercise). So now there are 20 fewer neighborhood Kindergarteners (the ones in my example who chose MI) and 1 fewer regular program classrooms to distribute. So one outcome might be:
Addison 68 kids, 4 classrooms, could take up to 12 overflows
Duveneck 79 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 1 overflow
Hays 77 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 3 overflows
El Carmelo 60 kids, 3 classrooms, no overflow in/out
Fairmeadow 65 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 15 overflows
Palo Verde 66 kids, 3 classrooms, must overflow out 6
Barron Park 61 kids, 3 classrooms, must overflow out 1
Briones 59 kids, 3 classrooms, could take 1 overflow
Escondido 60 kids, 3 classrooms, no overflow in/out
Nixon 64 kids, 4 classrooms, could take 16 overflows

In other words, in this *EXAMPLE ONLY* instead of adding a modular at Barron Park, the district would add it at Ohlone.


5. If my assumptions are correct, it will mean that two new classrooms will be required (in year one) at the cost of approx. $500K. The two new teachers will cost at least $100K, probably quite a bit more. As each new year arrives, the situation will be the same. In the end there will be about 10-12 new, and otherwise unnecessary, classrooms and teachers. The final bill will be approx. $3M. Please tell me where I am wrong.

I think where you are making your mistake is that you are adding classrooms instead of shifting them from one campus to another. In each year this will repeat itself -- instead of adding modulars at one campus, they will add them at another. This happens anyway as enrollment patterns shift. Concerns about MI adding students to the district are very valid and should be explored. But if you assume no new students are added, then no new teachers will be hired or classrooms added beyond what normally would have been added to accomodate growth anyway. Primarily because we've gone to a zero-slack system and have accepted (not me, but "the district") that our students will be housed *somewhere* in the district, but not necessarily at their home school. Therefore, we only need to provide enough classrooms and teachers for the number of kids in that grade districtwide, not by site. Therefore it doesn't matter so much where the students live and where they want to be, the number of classrooms & teachers is a simple calculation based on the number of kids.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:27 am

(last answer to Jack's questions. Sorry the formatting on the previous post got messed up).

6. Another way of looking at my analysis is to dismantle the SI program at Escondido. This would result in about four more kids in each strand at all the other schools in the district. This is not enough to add any more classrooms, although it might require an increase of about two kids per classroom. Escondido would be reduced by about 240 kids, resulting in a return to the original condition at Escondido, before SI. Ten or twelve teachers could be eliminated.


We could do a hypothetical on that one. The neighborhood population in the SI program is currently distributed as follows:

Addison 10%
Duveneck 5%
Hays 7%
El Carmelo 5%
Fairmeadow 8%
Palo Verde 7%
Barron Park 9%
Briones 5%
Escondido 20%
Nixon 13%
Ravenswood 10%

Let's pretend the 40 kids in this year's first grade class follow that distribution (I don't have the specific data by class). If we wanted to return the kids to their home schools, here's what we'd send back:

Addison 4
Duveneck 2
Hays 3
El Carmelo 2
Fairmeadow 3
Palo Verde 3
Barron Park 4
Briones 2
Escondido 8
Nixon 5
Ravenswood 4 (These kids couldn't go back to Ravenswood – they would have to go to classrooms somewhere in PAUSD because of the VTP rules – we'll put them where there's room later)

If we look at the 11th day enrollment data for each of these schools, we can see that there is room in first grade for the following:

Addison 1 (Can take back 1 of the 4 SI kids, still need a home for 3)
Duveneck 3 (Can take back both of its SI kids, has room for one more)
Hays 2 (Can take back 2 of its 3 SI kids)
El Carmelo 1 (Can take back 1 of its 2 SI kids)
Fairmeadow 0 (Can't take back any of its 3 SI kids)
Palo Verde 0 (Can't take back any of its 3 SI kids)
Barron Park 0 (Can't take back any of its 4 SI kids)
Briones 0 (Can't take back any of its 2 SI kids)
Escondido 7 (Can take back 7 of its 8 SI kids)
Nixon 0 (Can't take back any of its 5 SI kids)

So as you can see, we still need to find a home for 23 PAUSD SI kids plus the 4 VTP kids. That's 27 kids, one of whom could go to the free spot at Duveneck. 26 kids requires 2 classrooms, since we are capped in first grade at 20 kids per class. So somewhere in the district you will have to add two first grade classrooms if you take two away from SI.

The problem is, there is very little slack in the system. In first grade on the 11th day of school there were only 14 free seats in the district. (Technically 13 – for some reason one of the first grade SI classes had 21 kids on the first day even though they are capped at 20.) So you can move those seats around however you want, but that's all that's free. (I believe there are even fewer free first grade seats today. In second grade on the 11th day there were 4 free seats across the district, now we are over by 6 kids and from what I understand, losing state funding because of it.)

This is not an immersion or choice program issue, it's a district-wide decision to have no slack in the system. The whole "overflow problem" that caused the AAAG to begin meeting in the first place is purely a result of no slack in the system. If there are 66 kids in first grade in a neighborhood, you can either open three classrooms and overflow out 6 kids, or open 4 classrooms and have room for everyone. In grades 1-5 our district has chosen to open enough classrooms to meet the district demand, not the neighborhood demand. As long as this is policy and kids continue not to come in neat packages of multiples of 20, we will always have an overflow problem.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:49 am

Shan,

This argument that FLES was tried before at the same time as SI is only further proof that immersion and FLES should not be attempted at the same time or in this order again. It argues for the importance of doing FLES first.

My comments in no way suggest anything about what immersion is or isn't. I neither said nor implied any of the things you brought up. I am a supporter of immersion instruction for the reasons others have brought up quite eloquently on other discussions. I am only saying that parents who are interested in language usually have lots of priorities for their children and may opt for FLES instead of MI -- even though they are not the same thing -- simply because they then also get the things about their neighborhood school that they want for their child as well.

We won't know how those trade offs will work unless we try FLES FIRST!! That whole argument about FLES failing before is only strong evidence that it should have been tried BEFORE SI. If it had, we might now have both. (We might not, but then, we don't know, do we, because SI advocates pushed through their own agenda first.)

FLES may on the whole be more expensive than MI (though since FLES requires NO ADDED INFRASTRUCTURE, I'm finding that argument a little suspect -- I don't think we should keep repeating that without questioning the underlying assumptions). The board's report says many times that FLES would not be expensive to implement -- and more importantly PER STUDENT FLES would be cheaper. It certainly would be more equitable for a public school system.

If you think FLES is no threat to MI, why are you threatened by those of us who think it should be implemented first? Because while I support MI, I DO think implementing MI first is a threat to FLES. I think implementing FLES first, however, is not a threat to MI, it is only a threat to those who want MI NOW for their own selfish reasons. It is the right thing to do in a public school system. I think it is the most likely way to get us BOTH FLES AND MI.

And let's face it. We do have a fundamental disagreement. If it came down to choosing, I would choose FLES over MI because it is more fair and accessible for the majority of students in a public school district. Period. This has nothing to do with comparing the type of instruction or how I feel about immersion. I would love for Palo Alto to have both. But we should have FLES first.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 1:08 am

Once again: All the kids at Ohlone -- and districtwide -- should have access to some early language instruction (FLES) first, and WE SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST SOME AMOUNT OF TIME TO EVALUATE HOW THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE OF FLES IMPACTS THE IMPLEMENTATION AND COST OF ANOTHER IMMERSION PROGRAM BEFORE WE ADD ONE. I don't see how you could accurately predict that up front. We already have one data point that adding them at the same time might be a bad idea.

We have 200 new tightly packed monster homes going up in our neighborhood at the old Rickey's Hyatt site. I personally think that's another big reason to pay attention to restoring Measure A priority items first, FLES second, then MI.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:04 am

A.J., you ask, "why are you threatened by those of us who think (FLES) should be implemented first? " I am a supporter of MI now, FLES ASAP. On other threads I have gone into more detail about why. In a nutshell, they are in no way connected, very different to set up and run, FLES is probably at best 2 years out, so why should they be connected? On Town Square alone it has been argued that MI should not happen until:
1. FLES is implemented
2. Any program ever cancelled at any school before Measure A was passed should be re-instated
3. We should wait for the new superintendent to be recruited and hired
4. Wait until Garland is opened
5. Ohlone should have hot water (I actually totally agree that Ohlone should have hot water right away, that is crazy! Just not really related to MI)
6. Every person who is going to move into Palo Alto in the next 3 years gets settled in so we can know what the exact (not estimated) enrollment impact is
7. We should wait to see what happens with Los Altos Hills
8. etc...

I don't feel threatened, as much as feel like "what is the real issue?" Some people that make these arguments just don't want MI no matter what; so stalling is increasing the chance it will not happen.
It seems to me , that nobody really cared about FLES until MI came around so the motivation is "why should somebody else's kid get something mine didn't, but I don't really want to/can't enter the lottery for immersion, so I want language classes for my kids at my school first.." If you really wanted language classes for your kids why didn't you pick up FLES last year? If you really want language classes for your kids, what have you done to make that happen? There is something you can do now, there is momentum for FLES so work on it (maybe we'll end up working on it together).


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Posted by Lynn
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:35 am

I think this is a really great discussion, and I especially appreciate that the Barron Park AAAG rep. took the time to go into detail about the problems with school capacity and overflow in this district. It certainly is a complex issue.

However, no one has answered my question from above, so I'll repost/rephrase it: How can you have a full strand of an MI pilot for more than two years at Ohlone?

Ohlone's campus has room for 3 modular classrooms. Dr. Callan's proposal for MI is for a single strand 3-year pilot, starting with two K-1 classrooms. In year one, you have 40 kids, in year two you have 60. What do you do in year three, when you need space for 80 kids?

Garland can't be reopened in less than three years, so it seems like the pilot proposal is mathematically impossible. If I'm missing something please tell me.


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Posted by PA resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:42 am

Nico -

"It seems to me , that nobody really cared about FLES until MI came around"

Were you an active parent in the school district when SI was implemented? I doubt it. People asked and worked for FLES then - never happened. It's not that MI has created this interest, it's that FLES people are saying, here we go again, and immersion program and no FLES.

""so the motivation is "why should somebody else's kid get something mine didn't, but I don't really want to/can't enter the lottery for immersion, so I want language classes for my kids at my school first..""

Hello? Yes.

"If you really wanted language classes for your kids why didn't you pick up FLES last year? If you really want language classes for your kids, what have you done to make that happen? There is something you can do now, there is momentum for FLES so work on it (maybe we'll end up working on it together)."

Give me another break - do you know how hard we parents work for this district? Some of us not only have children in this district and have spent years volunteering and helping out, but time-consuming jobs we have a responsibility towards also - Oh yeah, we work so we can live in PA so ALL our kids benefit from a great education. We try our best, but frankly it would be impossible for me to personally devote a lot of time to FLES - we depend on our BoE to do the right thing, NOT the easiest thing for a few kids (MI).

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]




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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:59 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online]


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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:01 am

In regard to the fact that there was a FLES program implemented at the same time as SI at Escondido and failed, I would like to make a couple of comments.

I have been a PAUSD parent for many years and heard nothing of this pilot program when it started. It certainly was not mentioned at Palo Verde and I was certainly never given the opportunity of getting a child involved in the program. In other words, it was exclusive for one neighborhood school not the whole district.

Escondido has a very large percentage of the "neighborhood" students from transitory Stanford families who are sometimes in the school for less than one year and more often than not, no more than two years. This means that any program there piloted for the neighborhood students will suffer because of the continual flow of children entering and leaving the school. This is pretty unique for Palo Alto as the majority of other elementary schools do not have this problem. At the other schools, we have a core group of families who are very involved in the school and its programs and a pilot at any other elementary school would most likely have had a very different outcome.

Lastly, what happens at one school does not necessarily mean the results would be the same elsewhere. As it is, the different neighborhood elementary schools spend their discretionary money differently as each school decides for itself what is most important. So, for this reason, a Pilot FLES scheme in one school would be very unfair to the students in any of the other elementary schools.

I wonder if anyone has any figures to say how the kids who were in the pilot FLES program did when it came to languages in middle school. What options were there for them when it came to language options? For example, did they forego the first year or semester of that language and go straight into a more advanced course, or were they forced to start at beginner level with students who had no language experience. Without this kind of information we can't truthfully say the Pilot was a failure. The fact that it was expensive and there was not enough interest does not mean that it was a failure for the individual students themselves. If they could go onto secondary schools with enough credit to get ahead in whichever language they chose and perhaps ended up doing an AP language class and succeeding in that, doesn't that mean that it was a success for them?

I for one would certainly like to know the answers to these questions as I suspect that it would surprise us how "successful" this program may actually have been.

There is also the point that starting language at an early age, before vocal chords are matured and English grammar rules are fixed in their minds, is always an asset to a student of foreign language. Just the realisation that one letter or combination of letters makes a different sound in a different language, plus word placement and other grammar rules are different in various languages, is an asset to anyone, particularly a stressed teenager, when it comes to the primary rudiments of a language. Many high schoolers (mine included) has huge obstacles to overcome when starting a new language if he hasn't had to put his tongue round strange sounds and new ways of putting words into sentences. Even a very basic start in elementary school would have been a great help. And, please don't say that the latin part of 6th grade wheel does this, it is too little, too short and too late. It is a great idea, but like all wheel subjects, it really only scratches the surface and whets the appetite for what is to come. For this reason I think wheel is great for many subjects, but language is not served well in this program.



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Posted by Jack
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:33 am

AAAG Rep,

Thank you for your detailed and extensive explanations.

I surmise, from your answers, that MI will cause significant overflow issues, resulting in denial of students attending their neighborhood school.

"There is no way to place MI at any of the 9 existing neighborhood schools or Escondido (part neighborhood, part choice) without overflowing significant numbers of neighborhood children out of their school. "

Are there any pro-MI posters that want to challenge this assessment?

AAAG Rep, if possible, could please address the overflow situation where there are 16-18 kids per class (in a given strand) in several schools. According to your explanations, one of these classes would be shut down entirely at one of the schools, and the kids dispersed across the other schools. Correct?


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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 10:23 am

Board Observer

I think your tone is not correct- please lets all keep this from becoming personal. Personal attacks undermine your credibility.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 10:35 am

A.J.,

I think Shan's point was that since immersion and FLES are, educationally speaking, such different creatures, there is no reason to link them in terms of implementation.

If I follow your response, you feel that setting up MI first threatens FLES. This is because many families who support MI now might be content with FLES. Is this what you're saying? That immersion (SI or MI) siphons demand for FLES so low that it lowers the chances of starting it up?

But even if you're right--that many people will sign up for MI only because they don't get FLES at their neighborhood school--I don't see how this small choice program would make a dent in district-wide support. Let's say for argument's sake that every family that signs up for MI is there only because they can't get FLES. If the community is truly behind FLES and ready to commit to spending the extra money, how does the fact that those 240 families are in MI have an impact? In short, why do you say that SI killed FLES in the previous attempt?

I also think you'll find that families interested in language immersion are convinced by that model and won't be satisfied with FLES, so I'd guess that very few of the 240 families fall into your category of those who really want FLES (given their other priorities).

A further problem with linking MI and FLES is that it's not clear how broad support is for FLES, a question which I think will be crucial to implementing an expensive (or at least not cost-neutral) program that will affect every child in the district. If support is lacking, FLES will never come into being, and your approach would take MI down with it.

I think all of these are good reasons not to link MI and FLES, none of them selfish. There's no need to throw that charge around. I don't think anyone, pro or anti, is advocating a course that they believe will benefit their child but be bad for the district as a whole.


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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 10:35 am

Palo Verde Parent (and other FLES supporters)

The two pilots for FLES were held at Addison and Duveneck- not Escondido. See page 26 of the newest Feasibility Study Web Link

While one may quibble with methodology, FLES was tried before. Further, one of the Superintendent's recommendations on the table is to look into FLES again based on the strong desire for FLES revealed during the MI debate. I encourage all supports of FLES to put your efforts into supporting FLES, not sidelining MI. They are NOT at odds with each other.


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Posted by Shan Phillips
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 10:44 am

Jack

The "pros" section of the Superintendent's recommendation clearly states that MI "does not displace neighborhood students". I think one of the reasons why the Superintendent's recommendation to put MI at Ohlone is so elegant is that it already is a choice school. If anything, it might alleviate neighborhood displacement by drawing in students who would instead go to an overcrowded neighborhood school.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:06 am

Nico, If MI were implemented as recommended, my child would be eligible for the lottery. I would personally benefit from this present timetable. My name (and those of others I encouraged to sign it) is on the earliest petitions to start MI and as yet it is not on the petitions opposed to MI. Yet I see the unfairness in starting MI before offering foreign language to all.

Naive as it is, I personally had absolutely no idea that our prized Palo Alto elementary schools had no language instruction available to elementary students until this year. To me, it's just too unbelievable, I would never have assumed it. Not only that, the only public effort was to get MI -- had FLES been the primary effort, I would have done everything in my power to help.

And yes, it is important to make sure everyone has access to something like foreign language instruction BEFORE we add another immersion program. To say they are unrelated is just wrong and presumptuous for so many reasons. Making up a long "kitchen sink" list of things to do before MI is negative and uncharacteristic of the positive person you have been to this point in this discussion. (Some of those things we absolutely should do and some you've obviously added only to make it seem hopeless that we should do anything at all before MI). The real list of priorities we should do as a public school district before a program like MI is short, logical, fair, and doable.

We don't need to do MI on this timetable, if it is such a great idea for Palo Alto (I think it is), it can wait for FLES FIRST. And yes, it can wait for a few other more basic priorities -- though if people are sufficiently motivated, doing them doesn't have to take years.

I say this even though this is not necessarily in my own selfish interests. We need to agree on a specific plan of what should be done and use our energy and focus to JUST DO IT, not dissolve into fist fights. If you read Pauline's comments, you know that she would be supportive of MI under certain conditions, too. Why not do things in a way that is best for the district and optimizes broad support? If some of the MI supporters were more honest about their own interests, they would admit they have something to benefit by this timetable. (I noticed several supporters on the aired meeting get up and say they wouldn't benefit when I know they would.)

This is why I am so upset about this timetable -- people who should be working together for a common goal are attacking each other. It's creating a lot of opposition to MI that wouldn't exist if we did things in a more equitable way, i.e, implemented FLES FIRST.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:15 am

And just to answer the arguments above:

I know far more parents who would sign up for the MI lottery because it is the only public Chinese language option available to their elementary school children, who would compromise with FLES if it were available and stay in their neighborhood schools, than I know parents who would only do MI but not choose not to participate in FLES if it were available before MI.

Having FLES before MI gives district parents better choices. I'm still supportive of doing MI!! Just not until we do FLES, there are very good reasons, financial, logistical, and for fairness in a public school, to do FLES first.


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Posted by Ohlone alum
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

Has anyone considered placing this program at Hoover? It seems like a more logical place. The "Ohlone Way" is so unique, I'm wondering how it would be intergrated into this program?


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Posted by anon, an AAAG rep
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:58 am

Hoover doesn't have the space to expand, even for a pilot.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:38 pm

AJ

I have noticed you have said this sort of thing several times. I admire your guts. And thanks for seeing through all the hyperbole and seeing that most folks, at least I believe this is true, who are opposing MI now would not oppose it under different circumstances. In other words, we are opposing it from the classic liberal notions of fairness with public tax monies, a sort of "one for all and all for one" mentality, which means we want to make sure all the kids have "enough" first, ( which is a different discussion on how to define this, but even at its minimal definition, something for a few and none for the rest is NOT "enough for all first"), before a few have "a lot".

I also admire that, in many ways, you are speaking against your own immediate, and others' immediate, interests. I hope you don't take too much flak for this.

Are you going to stand up tomorrow and read what you just wrote? Or send someone to do it for you if you can't come? It would mean, of course, not being anonymous, and I think anyone could understand if you didn't feel comfortable doing this. But, coming from you, it would be very powerful.

Just asking for a one year delay in the decision of MI alone would do so much good.

It would assure we roll down the track in the right order ( in my opinion) on this issue, and many issues.

We could make decisions on enrollment growth with the whole district in mind next month, not with a program that was already approved and already promised part of the solution in the form of a few modulars.

Then, bring in the new management team, and do the Strategic Planning cycle in concert with the new team. Through this overdue process, w e could then get our priorities and goals in order in a thoughtful way, decide which ones we want to work on, and if FL is now one to work on, decide the strategy to make progress on it in a way that reflects what we are working toward in this next 3 year cycle.

For all we know, the decision that would come out of this may be that we grow more lottery programs and MI is the perfect next one. Or it could be we aren't ready for any FL yet because we need to focus on x, y and z. The thing is, we just don't know because we are short circuiting the process. But, at least if we delay the decision and we find ourselves here in a year, ..if this is the place we are after all the careful consideration we would normally take, then so be it. I suspect there would be much less resistance. (At least for myself, following the democratic, careful and respectful process our district has developed over the years would mean I would accept the results).

In other words, just to try to put the District back in the "right order" of decision making...that would be such a great gift to the whole community ( in my opinion).


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Posted by Why the rush?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Ohlone has a waiting list for kids who want the existing program. I don't understand why is it being expanded for MI rather than for those who are already waiting for the existing program? If I were on the Ohlone waiting list, I would be pretty upset by this proposal. If I had my child at Ohlone already, I would wonder why my kid didn't have access to some kind of language instruction at all while all the other kids got immersion.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 8, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Hi Shan:

Thanks for reminding "Board Observer" that we are trying to be civilized people.

I would like to comment on the assertion that MI doesn't displace neighborhood students. I submit that this is a semantics thing going on.It is because Ohlone isn't classified as a neighborhood school, and therefore, by definition, does not displace neighborhood students.

I think the point is more about displacing students who live in the neighborhood of the school. In Ohlone's case, about 20% of the students come from the neighborhood. I don't know the effect of adding up to 240 MI lottery spots to Ohlone, ( I am just going on the old figures with that number, since the new figures for Ohlone are implied, not stated), but it would be nice to have someone would have figured out how many fewer or how many more neighborhood families would choose to enter that part of the lottery ( assuming it is a separate lottery from the Ohlone one..not clarified in the report. Does anyone know if this program would be any more or less desireable to the neighborhood than the English side of Ohlone?

But, even without that question, if I put myself in the shoes of Ohlone waiting list folks who never made it into the school because of lack of spots, I would wonder why another lottery program was coming into a site that is too crowded to take all the people on ITS waiting list, and wonder how much longer that waiting list is going to get as the non-MI side gets less and less space as the MI program grows into maturity. I can't figure out how the numbers work with this latest MI configuration, so maybe it only ends up being a total of 120 kids added to the school by the time 5th grade is done ( assuming 20 new kids coming into the combined k-1 every year). So, this would bring the total kids at Ohlone to about 520 if no spots are taken away from the non-MI side of Ohlone.

How many Ohlone kids are there on the kindergarten waiting list every year?

Is that number even possible there?


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Shan,

The statement you provided:

"The "pros" section of the Superintendent's recommendation clearly states that MI "does not displace neighborhood students". "

does not square with the statement from AAAG Rep:

"There is no way to place MI at any of the 9 existing neighborhood schools or Escondido (part neighborhood, part choice) without overflowing significant numbers of neighborhood children out of their school. "

Shan, are saying that a clever away around this apparent conflict is to put MI at Ohlone?



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Posted by let's be accurate
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 8, 2007 at 1:18 pm

To state this for the umpteenth time: Part of the problem withthe feasibility study and the Superintenden'ts recommendation that we put the MI program at Ohlone is that the Superintendent makes assertions that do not square with the *facts* -- e.g., as stated above re: AAAG statement, and e.g., saying 200 people oppose the program. Either this is slapdash, or it is intentionally disingenuous.

Since Palo Alto still has not reinstated the programs that had been cut and were supposed to reinstated using Measure A dollars, and since Foreign language is 11 out of 11 on the goals to be achieves in the last strategic cycle -- *which is not yet concluded* -- why is MI under this consideration? Why is this discussion and/or implementation not being deferred to the next cycle, to be included in that strategic plan?

I just don't get it. On the other hand, I found over her tenure that manythings th eSuperintendent said were either misleading or inaccurate. But that loops us around to the trust investigation etc. etc. etc.

But putting aside FLES v. MI, why is language a consideration at all? And why is the Superintendent misstating the facts in her recommendations to the Board?


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 8, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Wow, I am beginning to realize even more of the implications from this report. The "3 year pilot" essence of placing MI at Ohlone, and doing the numbers...means that either

1) Ohlone is going to have to lessen the numbers of non-MI students,

2) MI is going to have to cap its growth, ( how? ..not accept a kindergarten class one year?)

3) Ohlone is going to have to add some space OR get rid of a program already there ( special ed?) or

4) MI is going to have to find a new home.

Back to forcing the opening of Garland? And the Board votes on this program before deciding on how to manage our enrollment questions?

Doesn't a yes vote on this "recommendation" pretty much necessitate a yes vote on Garland?

I look forward to hearing all this tomorrow night.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 2:26 pm

"Jack", I think you are using "AAAG reps" quote out of the context of his/her analysis, and using it incorrectly. AAAG Rep did state that "There is no way to place MI at any of the 9 existing neighborhood schools or Escondido (part neighborhood, part choice) without overflowing significant numbers of neighborhood children out of their school. " That is true, but the solution recommended by Superintendent Callan does NOT overflow or displace neighborhood kids.
First, Ohlone is not a neighborhood school, and was one of the campuses identified as easily expandable. It is one of PAUSD's larger campuses. The board will have to be OK with Ohlone becoming a 4 strand instead of a 3.5 strand school. Second, one compromise is for MI is to launch as a single strand pilot instead of 2 strands. With the Ohlone mixed classes that does not compromise the program. There will still be 2 teachers and 2 classrooms (so kids can switch if needed and teachers can collaborate) with a single strand.
"AAAG rep" later states "If there is no MI, then they'll come up with one answer (perhaps put the modulars at Fairmeadow, Nixon, Barron Park, and Briones). If they do implement MI, then there will be a different solution (clearly two of the modulars will go to Ohlone, and others to other sites)." My interpretation of that statement is that because of enrollment growth, at least 120 kids will be in modulars next year. These might be neighborhood (with new larger boundaries maybe) and overflow kids at Barron Park, or MI kids at Ohlone.


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Posted by neither sneaky nor selfish and underhanded
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm

I'd like to voice my support for Superintendent Callan's recommendation to start a 3 yr pilot MI program fall 2007 at Ohlone School. Ohlone is already a choice school, and thus MI would not displace neighborhood students. We happen to live in the neighborhood, and I pledge that if my child gets a coveted spot, we will walk or bike to school! I happen to know that there are many families in the neighborhood who would be thrilled to attend the program.

I'd also like to respond to statements made by the opposition that MI students would be "taking over" their neighborhood schools. I hope they can come to realize that we are in fact their neighbors. We care about traffic safety just as much as they do. We not just speed recklessly to school, drop our children off, and speed away. We will stay and chat with other parents, involve ourselves in the school community, hang out at the park afterschool, and endeavor to share our cultural richness to the host school. We respect their value of neighborhood community, and we share it. I personally have worked to build community in my own neighborhood by bringing a gift and introducing myself to each family that moves in, creating a yahoogroup for the neighborhood, christmas caroling, planning a block party, etc. We are not two-headed aliens, but people just like them, whether we live across the street or across town, and they should not fear us.

Some opponents of Mandarin Immersion have suggested that MI advocates are selfish and don't care about the entire community. I don't belive that is true. I plan to be an active member of the PTA, to donate PiE as well as other worthy causes in our community and in the world. My involvement with MI wouldn't change that. I am merely advocating for my child. Like every other parent, I have dreams for my child's education, and I believe it is every parent's right--in fact, every parent's duty--to advocate for their child. Advocating for my child doesn't make me selfish. When I advocate for MI, I'm crossing my fingers that my child will win the lottery. In effect, I'm advocating for the hundreds and even thousands of students who can, over time, graduate from PAUSD being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural. I hope my child will be one of them, but if not, I hope other children will have this educational opportunity. I believe in choice, but some parents don't. I don't think believing in or advocating for choice makes anyone selfish. I think the topic of choice just shows that we have a diverse community with diverse values. That doesn't make anyone selfish.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Well lets be clear about the thousands that will eventually graduate from MI. The program will be so small and exclusive that it will take no less than 25 years, starting in 2020 to graduate one thousand students that are Mandarin bilingual. So that's year 2045..

The 'everybody's speaking mandarin' fad will be long faded by then. (I give it about 2-3 years, most fads turn over quickly - look at 'pet rocks', 'new math', and 'platform shoes'.)

Who knows, PAUSD might even grow a brain and try teaching science to their elementary students by then.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Parent, Please be nice (on this thread too.)


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 4:44 pm

"neither sneaky nor selfish..."

Advocating for a program that provides language to only a small number of our elementry students when language instruction is currently not available to the rest of the elementary students in the district, on a timetable that will benefit you as you clearly admit, is being selfish. If that's not selfish, then I don't know what is. It's very natural -- don't deny it and then support being selfish in the same breath.

Yes, you are within your rights as a parent to advocate for things in your best interest, we all do -- I'm not blaming you for wanting this program, I want MI, too (my child is often asking to learn Chinese) -- but realize that if you want a public school education, there are lots of other parents and children whose interests have to be served.

Imagine Palo Alto starting a science or math magnet school but not offering ANY science or math instruction to other students across the district!! No matter how much we might be in favor of a science or math magnet school, advocating for one when no one else has any math or science instruction at all is not only selfish, but wrong for public education.

I'm going to say this again, because I am in favor of MI and I am optimistic that our district can do this the right way to get foreign language instruction in elementary school and MI:

We can either fight over this timetable, possibly even killing MI in the future by creating (and putting on record) unnecessary opposition, or we can find a way to compromise, so that everyone's energies go to doing what needs to be done so that foreign language and MI are introduced in a fair, equitable, and well-supported way in this district.

I hear current "opponents" of this MI plan extending olive branches and saying yes, we can do this. The biggest barrier keeping people on the MI side of the aisle from taking them seems to be the selfish interest in getting MI for themselves NOW. I sympathize with that desire -- I am a human being, too -- but it's just not the right way to do things in a public school system under these circumstances.

Especially since we could just decide to do things differently, work together, and make a far better and stronger district as a result. I think Pauline has suggested a course of action that is rational, fair, and would result in a better district and broader support for MI down the road. I think we can have it all -- fixing some of our more basic needs, getting foreign language instruction to elementary students, and MI. The order we do it in IS important, but doing it is neither vague nor impossible. We can do this.


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Posted by OhlonePar.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2007 at 5:43 pm

I understand that an Ohlone/MI deal is politically convenient--less squawking from the neighborhood schools and Susan Charles gets approval for future expansion if she puts up with a trial program.

However, convenient deals aside, you've got to be kidding. I'm an Ohlone parent and I know parents who want MI for their kids. And, with some exceptions, you're talking oil and vinegar. Just to allude to the elephant in the room--there's a reason that Hoover with its direct instruction rather than student-led Ohlone appears to be the school of choice among zero- and first-generation East Asian parents. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

So, basically, if this deals go through we'll have

A)a program that's exclusionary by its nature (most kids outside the program aren't going to speak Mandarin) in a school that promotes inclusiveness and teamwork as a value.

B)A bunch of families at Ohlone who do not support its philosophy, but want their kids to have the competitive edge of Mandarin (and probably wishing Ohlone were more like Hoover).

C) A bunch of parents who *do* support Ohlone's educational philosophy stuck on the waitlist.

Gee, I think everybody loses.


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Posted by Lorraine
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Ohlone parent, I hope you will express this view at the BOE meeting tomorrow night.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 7:11 pm

A.J.,

I think this whole argument about "selfishness" is pretty stupid to begin with, since we do no expect sainthood from PAUSD parents.

Since, however, you were so kind to admonish the poster, let me point out that the MI opposition wants do deny those few to whom immersion is clearly very valuable, on the basis of -- at worst! -- marginal potential "disadvantage" to their own children. If that is not the very definition of selfishness, I don't know what is.

I think I already stated that my kids are beyond elementary and hence will not benefit from MI. Consequently my voice counts for much more than yours, right?


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Posted by not necessarily so
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Wolf, the point really is that trying to shove MI in ahead of all the other, democratically identified priorities, during a cycle in which many other priorities have not been addressed (partly, perhaps, because of the staff's consuming interest in exploring MI) and language was dead last in the list of stated priorities, seems strange and premature. If there is overwhelming community support (or even a reasonable amount of support, such that it make it higher on the district's priority list) for elementary language education during the next cycle, by al means, let's work together to implement it. In 2 years, it sounds as though the Garland site will open up, and that seems to be the popular MI destination. People have many reasons for opposing MI. Mine is that it just was not identified as a priority and I object to District staff spending an exorbitant amount of time (whether compensated by PACE or not) on a non-priority item. You think it has to go in this year, despite its low ranking on the priorities list? Please explain why.


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Posted by Brian Kaplan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

The challenge with "choice" (or luck) in terms of language immersion is that is has no logical end. If it is feasible to have MI why not have Japanese Immersion? or Arabic or French, etc.

The process would seem to be to 1) organize a small group of parents willing to sign a "statement of interest" in a particular language of immersion and 2) pay the Board $50k to be able to visit other fine examples.

If MI is actually cost neutral (which I hardly think is the case), who could argue then with adding additional immersion programs?

HEBREW IMMERSION

I would venture to say that I could find 50 Palo Alto families "interested" in Hebrew immersion and enough Israeli families to populate 1/2 of the starting class with native Hebrew speakers.

FYI, the Palo Alto JCC introduced a very successful Hebrew Immersion program for 4 yr olds just two years ago. See Web Link

Presently there are over 350 Spanish Immersion programs in public schools compared to a handful of Mandarin. But there are zero Hebrew Immersion programs. PAUSD would make incredible press with such an innovation.

This program would be great for me financially; I am currently paying money for my son to learn very basic Hebrew at an after school program.

Learning Hebrew would provide an incredible advantage to my son. Just take a look at how many Silicon Valley start-ups are started by Israeli entrepreneurs? This would be a major advantage during interviews.

HINDI IMMERSION

Think about the Indian population here in Silicon Valley. Hindi is spoken by 790 million people worldwide and the Indian community is also a major driven of high tech, high paying jobs. So it would not be fair to say no to supporters of Hindi Immersion.

If language immersion is the way to go, perhaps we should convert the district to 10 distinct language immersion programs and hold a lottery to have kids go to a remaining non-immersion school.

I realize that we are currently only talking about talking" MI but if you accept the logic being applied to MI, you must accept that all "feasible" proposals for immersion are equally valid.

I personally don't like idea of fractionalizing the district into groupings of those with language advantage and those without.

I suspect that parents opposed to MI are not, as a group, opposed to choice. Its the adding of ANY other language lottery program that creates inequities and further segments our community.

Parents who feel that strongly about Mandarin Immersion ALREADY have a choice. The International School of the Peninsula operates a very successful MI program and states that "every effort possible [is made] to make our educational experience available to all students regardless of financial circumstances. See: Web Link

Presently, however, there is not any choice for full Hebrew Immersion. I guess this means that Hebrew should go ahead of Mandarin. Doing anything else would be…well…selfish.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Whatever necessarily your name is, please go to the various MI threads on this forum and you will find the answer to your questions about PAUSD priorities versus MI, and why they have little to do with each other. Multiple times. Unless you believe that "priority list" is synonymous with "exhaustive list."


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Brian,

Your suggestion for Hebrew and Hindi immersion is wonderful, with two very minor caveats.

(a) Don't "venture" that you can find 50 supportive families and so many "native" speakers. Find them; get them commit in writing to it, including the expectation of lottery and non-neighborhood school; get them to sponsor and fund the background research. Then,

(b) repeat (a) above for 3-4 years to show that the support is truly sustained, not not just a bunch of people that happened to agree with you at one instant in time.

I will be happy to support you then.


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Posted by MI Opponent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:17 pm

So, I wonder if the parents who are putting their children into SI and possibly, MI, HI, HI, AI, or whatever, will actually allow their children to choose their own careers or whether they will also be immersed in the philosophy of global business and communication. May be their children take the opposite view and want to remain in the US and become professional sports (men or women) or teachers, or firefighters, or police officers, or politicians, or, or, or, etc.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:30 pm

As a teacher, firefighter or police officer being fluent in Mandarin in Palo Alto, a community that is over 17% Asian, could be really helpful.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:36 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff]


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:38 pm

So Wolf, you're in favor of private funding to determine public school policy?

Small groups of people push for all sorts of things over extended periods of time--doesn't make it right--though it would have been nice if the Ohlone community had had more than a couple of days to discuss whether *we* want an MI program at our school. Oh, heck, one lousy school meeting might have been nice . . .


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Posted by Ohlone is getting robbed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Can someone PLEASE explain why Ohlone is being asked to dislpace Ohlone program? Its utterly and inconcievably wrong to say Ohlone isn't full so we're put up a few portables and place MI there.

Ohlone has a waiting list. If the space where there, the program would be full.

To put up some building real quick and install squatters before the nails are even in, and claim it as YOURS? is NOT FAIR to Ohlone.

If the board was approving space for Ohlone - ITS SPACE FOR OHLONE! Now not only is MI claiming the Ohlone space is rightfully theirs, they are also claiming the OHLONE WAITING list is theirs too. OUTRAGEOUS!

Why did Ohlone get asked to give up space for their program without so much as a word of discussion?

Why isn't Hoover giving up one of their strands of space? WHY NOT?

This is SO UNBELIEVABLY ARROGANT! I can't believe the board could possibly buy this.

I've never in a million years seen a group of apparently educated and apparently (allegedly) sane people stand up and tell such a blantant group lie to an entire community - IN PUBLIC.

This is such a shameful period in PAUSD's history.

All I can say is - Ohlone parents - I hope you are getting organized and QUICK. You've been punked. Your time is UP to defend yourself. You better start signing petitions, showing up in green tomorrow night, screaming at board members, or whatever it takes. You are officially hosed.

Hey, we're still here, and still fighting to the bitter end, but you need to show up if you give a flying farm.


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Posted by James Taylor
a resident of Ohlone School
on Jan 8, 2007 at 9:55 pm

If the school district thinks it should expand Ohlone, because of increased demand, then making it at least 10 kids per grade level smaller seems an odd way to go about it. Adding Mandarin Immersion to Ohlone would eliminate a regular Ohlone class and replace it with a Chinese Immersion class. This means fewer non-Chinese Immersion places at Ohlone. This is generally considered a reduction, not an expansion.


Also, speaking as someone who has researched Chinese language teaching options pretty thoroughly, the report fails to address the fundamental mismatch between the Ohlone teaching philosophy and standard Chinese teaching styles. All the language classes we have found have a strong base of rote learning, something discouraged (quite rightly) at Ohlone. Summer Camps, after-school programs, tutoring services all conform to a very direct-instruction style. If PAUSD were to develop Chinese Immersion in the Ohlone style, you would have to develop a completely new approach and materials.

The school board's ability to make itself feel good about language instruction, while doing nothing constructive, is breathtaking. To focus on Immersion now, and rush to try to get it done by September, is unseemly when the school district has other issues and many potential programs of more benefit to more students. The deadline can clearly be met only if the school district engages in a show-trial style discussion of the proposal. If real debate was actually intended then no-one would be pretending that September 07 was possible– just look at the timeline. The decision must be made in the next 2 weeks to meet the deadline. No time for debate, no time to resolve new issues, no time to do anything but rubber stamp. Not exactly a thoughtful approach.

It ill becomes the board to spend time, money and energy on a program for so few when the school district has a pitiful foreign language program.


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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 8, 2007 at 10:32 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

Private citizens, with or without funding, do determine our public school policy. They do it through electing their representatives to the board of education, which determines and directs our public school policy. I hope I did not say anything you did not know before.

As public representatives, their role is to listen to what the public wants, and determine their policies based on public wishes and within the constraints of the Education Code.

PAUSD has a policy towards choice programs for exactly such situations. Private citizens can approach the board with any program request. It is the board's function to determine that (a) that there is a true and sustained demand for such program and, (b) the program can be implemented in a revenue-neutral way and, (c) the program is aligned with educational goals of PAUSD.

So to answer your question, yes, any group can request anything they want. The board will decide whether they meet the three major hurdles. Do you see anything wrong with that? Would you rather have officials from Sacramento or DC dictate our programs? Would you rather have the board ignore whoever comes before it? Would you rather have every child get *exactly* the same education, independent of their needs or interests? Where exactly is your problem?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:01 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]
I didn't say "private citizen", I said "private funding". There's a big difference. The feasibility study has a built-in bias because of how it was funded--i.e. tobacco companies never fund the studies that say cigarettes cause lung cancer. Since the PAUSD is publicly funded, it has a duty to avoid that kind of conflict of interest.

As for my "problem"--yeah, I've got a couple, not the least being that we at Ohlone weren't told until today that MI might end up with us--nice job there of curtailing discussion and limiting organized opposition to the program.

I also have a problem with a program that has no connection whatsoever with Ohlone's educational philosophy usurping classes that could be filled by Ohlone's waitlist. Just what is so incredibly important about Mandarin immersion that it should have priority over Ohlone's own waitlist?


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Posted by dont balkanize PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:04 pm

As someone on the fence regarding MI, I wrote several MI threads ago that my biggest concern about MI is it would lead to the balkanization of the Palo Alto school district. Mainly that MI would become it's own enclave within PAUSD with selection process that could be unfairly skewed, so the by the 5th or 6th grade MI is demographically an exclusive Chinese school not concerned with the wider PA school district.

The idea of placing MI at the same site as Ohlone I think would (at a site level) address that some concerns as long as the kids from the two schools interact.

I'm still very much concerned that this seems to benefit most a few who families might otherwise send there kids to a Chinese language private school. Also, if the attrition from kids dropping out of the program has a "native-mandarin" kid replacing a "non-mandarin" kid then by 5th grade that class could have very few non chinese kids in it.

The PAUSD needs to be very stict about a few things IMHO to implement this fairly.
#1) Only parents that keep there kids in the Palo Alto school district can enroll. (Cross-over from the private Chinese language schools should be discouraged.)
#2) This program is open to all the kids "eligible" to attend PAUSD, including the kids from East Palo Alto.
#3) At the higher grade levels attrition of a "non-mandarin" speaking child must be replaced with a "non-mandarin" speaking child. And if that is not possible the the number of stands at the higher level should be reduced.
#4) The selection process must be very carefully monitored, so no favoritism is allowed happen.


I'm still concerned that the MI proposal might not be completely above board, cost-wise/selection criteria-wise and the MI community will make more demands on PAUSD benefiting only themselves in the future.


However, if the above can be met and if the Ohlone parents are fine with this arrangement at their site then I will support MI.


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Posted by an AAAG rep
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:05 pm

Somewhere up there someone asked about waiting lists for Ohlone.

From the 11/20/06 AAAG meeting minutes I found the following (quoted directly from the minutes -- this is information that was orally presented to the AAAG prior to that evening's discussion topic--potential locations for MI):

Lottery statistics from last year's kindergarten class:
* 110 applied to Escondido and 14 were from the Escondido attendance area
* 90 applied to Hoover and 52 were from the Hoover attendance area
* 120 applied to Ohlone and 50 were from the Ohlone attendance area.

[next page]

There is a considerable wait list for each one of the choice programs. Demand has always been higher than capacity. Kindergarten wait list counts currently are 51 at Escondido, 35 at Hoover, and 38 at Ohlone.

[skip down a bit]

Jerry Matranga's capacity report at the October 9, 2006 meeting had listed a possible five additional classrooms for Hoover and one for Ohlone. After facilities staff went to actually review the situation at each site, those numbers were changed to none for Hoover and three for Ohlone. It is physically possible to put more classrooms on a small site than can actually be tolerated. Ohlone is actually interested in becoming a four-strand site because of the number of students that it has to turn away each year after the lottery. It could be recommended to the Board that a capacity waiver be granted in order to enable Ohlone to do this. Theoretically, that could draw capacity from an impacted area to an existing program/site that is currently underutilized.

==========

Comment: After one of the AAAG meetings, one of the board members mentioned that the number of applicants to a choice program is a gross overestimate of interest. A surprising number turn down the spot after it is offered to them (she did not provide a statistic). Additionally, another large group of parents actually applies to *both* Hoover *and* Ohlone. (For the same child??? That makes *no* sense. But does help to illustrate that the number of applicants is an inflated measure of the interest. Waiting lists is probably a better measure.)

Also, FYI, this year there were 40 Kindergarten spots in SI, 60 at Hoover, and 70 at Ohlone.


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Posted by dont balkanize PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Wolf wrote:

"So to answer your question, yes, any group can request anything they want. The board will decide whether they meet the three major hurdles. Do you see anything wrong with that? Would you rather have officials from Sacramento or DC dictate our programs? Would you rather have the board ignore whoever comes before it? Would you rather have every child get *exactly* the same education, independent of their needs or interests? Where exactly is your problem?"

Shouldn't the Ohlone community be given the chance to discuss this proposal? Perhaps this should be taken to a city-wide vote. Do you see anything wrong with that?

Quite frankly I would feel better about this proposal, if I saw a broader cross section of people on this board supporting it. It seems we have a few vocal advocates posting a lot, and many with concerns posting occasionally.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:23 pm

OhlonePar, it is probably up to Susan Charles (Ohlone's principal) to decide when, if and how to discuss this with you. I think you can certainly ask her why you weren't consulted on it. I am pretty sure there was no premeditated plan to "not allow opposition by keeping parents in the dark." Don't take this the wrong way, but there are probably certain big decisions that are just not up to the parents.
The MI program will not usurp any of the current spots from Ohlone. If approved, Ohlone will be increased in size for a strand of Mandarin "in the Ohlone instructional philosophy" to be added.
Do you think it is possible that anybody entering Kindergarten next year could decide, well I was going to enter the Ohlone lottery, but maybe I will also enter the "Ohlone instructional philosophy but in Mandarin" lottery too. That sounds really cool.
I have to say that for me personally Ohlone+Mandarin is my absolute dream for my children. I think a truly great program will come out of this (possibly improbable) marriage.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 8, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Wolf,
Your last comment to me was too full of vitriol and sarcasm -- and almost completely incoherent -- so I can't really respond. When you restrain yourself to civil discourse, you actually make sense and contribute to the discussion. If you would like to reread the posts to which you were responding and make coherent and civil comments, I would be happy to respond.

This is exactly the kind of conflict I think is tainting MI -- because I am an MI supporter -- you're wildly attacking me when I am fundamentally on the same side, just because I think the current timetable creates unnecessary controversy and unfairness.

i just think MI supporters need to stop the tunnel vision in order to do what is right for the district AND get MI. We can do both. The timetable being pushed now is not in the best interest of the district, it is only the best interests of a small group.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:30 am

Nico,

Susan Charles doesn't have to ask the Ohlone parents, but given the school's emphasis on cooperation, consensus and teamwork, it's bad form and counter to the school's philosophy to *not* involve the Ohlone community.

The MI may not usurp any *current* Ohlone spots, but given Ohlone's waitlist, the MI program would preclude any expansion of Ohlone's *own* programs. I just see no compelling reason to give MI families preference over families who are currently on the waitlist.

While you may think the combo of Mandarin and project-based learning is a dream, I don't see a natural fit. Learning Mandarin is an intensive activity for English speakers. I think it would be more compatible with Hoover's direct-instruction, hierarchical format instead of Ohlone's student-led ways.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:42 am

AAAG Rep,

I'm confused. If 90 children applied for Hoover's 60 spots, how is there a waitlist of 35? Or are those 90 children applying only for non-sibling spots?

In which case, the Ohlone situation is more competitive than it appears--at least half of Ohlone's 70 spots go to siblings. I believe last year about 25 spots were open to non-sibs; the year before it was around 20. For Escondido, I've heard as few as five non-sib openings in a year.


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Posted by a concerned parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:23 am

I agree with OhlonePar about Mandarin instruction being more compatible with Hoover's direct-instruction philosophy. From my discussions with Mandarin-speaking parents concerned about their children learning to read and write Mandarin well, I learned that it is necessary to memorize hundreds and eventually thousands of characters. The rigor is a natural part of learning Mandarin. My own experience taking an after-school Mandarin class with my elementary age son also showed me that memorization and rote learning is the traditional way of teaching Mandarin. Sounds like Hoover to me!

I also agree with jah who says FLES should come first, then an immersion program.

I also agree with those who raise other important languages (Arabic among them) as critical skills to expose our children to. Global literacy, which is extolled in the feasibility study is important. I studied Arabic for many years both here and in the Middle East, and though I cannot say I am proficient in it, it definitely helps me understand and appreciate the culture of Arabic speakers whom we all seem to need to communicate with better these days.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:56 am

You're right A.J.; I did not mention the argument that MI should not be implemented until/unless FLES is implemented first. The reason for this is that, as an Ohlone parent, I was concentrating on those points that are used as arguments against all choice programs not just MI (and as I see it SI too, even though most people won't come right out and admit they feel this way.) There definitely are some negative feelings around town regarding SI although unlike Neal, most folks won't come right out and say it was a mistake to implement it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but two things I've gleaned from your posts regarding your personal feelings on the subject of MI and FLES is that you blame the failure of the previous pilot of FLES on SI and that you believe that starting an MI program before FLES means that FLES will not happen. The thing I'm missing is the rationale behind this thinking.

To me, arguing FLES over immersion is like arguing that apples are preferable to oranges. We should try apples (FLES) first and then perhaps we could try oranges (MI), if some people aren't satisfied with apples. You seem to feel that if folks get to try apples first, that most of them will be satisfied with that and won't want to try oranges, so we may not need them after all. I don't think apples are anything like oranges (well they do both involve fruit.) The fact that I had an orange first would not make me not want to have the option to try an apple too. But if I really had my heart set on an orange then an apple wouldn't satisfy me.

The reason for having oranges now is that they are ripe and ready to go, the apples are not. There are some folks who have worked very hard to cultivate those oranges, so I can understand why they wouldn't want to have to wait any longer for people to enjoy them. The other thing is that the oranges will not cost anything (they are cost neutral) and the apples will potentially cost quite a bit. Some do point out that we do not have enough oranges for everyone and feel that's not fair (even to those people who definitely know that they don't like oranges.) I'm sorry that we do not have enough oranges for everyone that wants one (I personally wish we did but my townsfolk would not allow any more orange groves), but does that mean that no one should have any oranges ever or at least until the apples are ready? By the time that happens, the oranges will most likely have gone to waste. I know that is what some people who like apples are hoping will happen, but I'm an equal opportunist and would like to let people have both apples and oranges, that is, if they are ripe and don't cost an arm and a leg!

A.J., I do applaud your noble position that you would have your child forgo an orange until every child can have an apple, but I see this as unnecessary since the oranges will go to waste if no one eats them, especially in light of the fact that other children in PAUSD have many other wonderful things on their plates already. And I surely don't begrudge all those orange eaters over at Escondido just because I wasn't lucky enough to win one. I hope they enjoy them!

All this talk about apples and oranges reminds me of a near daily conversation I have with my toddler. It goes something like this. He points to an apple and says "Apple", and then he points to an orange and says "Apple". I point to the apple and say "This is an apple" then I point to the orange and say "This is an orange." He once again points to the apple and says "Apple" and then points to the orange and says "Apple" and I once again point to the orange and say "no, honey that's an orange." I realize that it is somewhat futile to try to convince someone with a toddler's intellect that an apple is an apple and an orange is an orange, but I am also hopeful that one day he will grow to know the difference, so every once in a while I point it out to him. Even though he's an intelligent boy, I also realize that there is the possibility that he may never recognize the difference between the two and while he may not appear to others as the brightest bulb in the pack when discussing fruit, I trust that people will still be willing to be his friends.

Getting off the topic of fruit, another way I like to look at the immersion/FLES discussion is by turning the tables somewhat and looking at the two programs from a non-English as a first language perspective. I see immersion as the mainstream classroom where the teacher is teaching all subjects in English and the students learn English simply by hearing it in the context of their daily lessons. FLES is more akin to ESL where the objective is to teach the student another language. Would one argue that it costs less to teach ESL than to teach a mainstream classroom? I don't think so. It may seem like a leap of faith to some to place children who know no English and come from non-English speaking households into a mainstream American classroom, but we know that it happens all the time and many children succeed in this model. The failure of some has more to with socio-economics than with methodology.

Another way I look at immersion v. FLES is by comparing them to the means that parents use to help their children acquire a second language when they live in a monolingual household. As parents, I'm sure we've all seen programs targeted at teaching the very young a second language. I'm amazed at the amount of money and time (a drive to Campbell from PA at $20/class plus materials and it requires parent participation) that some parents invest in taking their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to a 50 minute language class so that their child can learn to count to ten, learn their colors, and sing a few song by rote. Does anybody really believe you can learn a language like this? Since many parents around here work or just need time off to do personal stuff they need to hire someone to watch their children. The clever ones hire a caregiver who speaks the language that they want their children to learn. Do these parents pay anything extra for this? No way; in fact some try to pay less because the caregiver's English isn't very good. Which children do you think will become bilingual using these two methods? Which one is cost neutral and which one is not?

A.J., I'm of the understanding that you have not been with this issue from the very beginning and are not as familiar with all the players as some of us are. What you might see as an olive branch, I see as a Trojan horse. I have seen how the anti-MI arguments have changed over the course of time from smacking of racism (I'm Caucasian so this wasn't something I took personally but that offended me deeply nonetheless) to a more politically correct approach. I truly believe that many of the prominent voices just want to stall MI until there's a change in establishment in hopes that it will never happen. Many of the people that I know in the anti-MI camp have children that are too old to benefit from either FLES or MI and with their busy lives I highly doubt that they plan to personally be involved in seeing FLES to fruition. FLES is just a more sympathetic argument than "only Chinese people will benefit from MI so we don't think it's fair and besides it might attract more of those people to come to our town."

Mandy Lowell threw out the gauntlet many, many moons ago imploring someone in the community to step forward and form a new world languages task force. Has anyone stepped forward yet? I haven't heard anything about it.

A.J. you truly seem to have a good heart and good intentions. Would you be the one to take this forward even if MI is approved? If so, I'll be there to support you.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 9, 2007 at 2:21 am

Thanks, jah, for an excellent analysis. From the mouth of babes...


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Posted by Lorraine
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 7:23 am

My question is what part of an elementary student's school day should be given over to FLES. Should it cut into math, science, english, grammar, reading, writing? How about a longer school day to accomodate FLES? My guess is that the Teacher's Union will have a thing or two to say about that. Foreign language in elementary school was not at or near the top of the list of community priorities in the recent survey. How about concentrating on getting the basics to each school first (Science teacher at each school, art teacher at each school, etc)


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Posted by ain't necessarily so
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2007 at 9:03 am

Well, according to one poster, it's wrong to want the District to address the priority list and reinstate cut programs before taking staff time to explore this language issue. Anyone who thinks one day of PE appropriately addresses the issue of physical fitness is just wrong. And there were many other things alreadyin the program, already listed as priorities, that have not been reinstated.

Also to say that the principal and not the parents should have exclusive domain over the decision of where to put a program just strikes me as bizarre. I hear tell the program was very nearly placed at Barron Park until a Council member went to a parent's meeting there and heard strong, vocal opposition to that placement. Why weren't the Ohlone parents afforded the same courtesy?


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 9, 2007 at 9:38 am

Regarding Measure A funds and recovering programs...

This is not an issue that I had followed carefully, but I had a face to face discussion very recently with someone who was involved in the Measure A effort, and is with the group that "audits" use of Measure A funds to make sure that they are applied as stipulated.

My distinct impression, and I probed and pushed since I had pretty limited understanding of just where things are, is that Measure A funds have been used just as they were positioned that they would be used. Like everything else, it is not as clean and neat as that, but bottom line, we are getting what we voted for in Measure A, according to this person with strong background on that matter.

The person I met with actually was a bit surprised when I described some of the commentary posted here on Palo Alto On Line, was not aware of some of the comments (see Duped on Measure A string, for example.)

I hope that this person and others who actually are part of the group tracking Measure A funds and how programs are recovered will provide some knowledgable perspective on this matter. Like a number of comments on various topics that this whole languages policy question, it would appear that many people have developed points of view that may not be drawing from actual facts. I am not suggesting any malicious intent by anyone, but if the facts were in fact other than what they believe them to be, I cannot help but wonder if their point of view would be different as well...

See you all tonight, I plan to speak


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Posted by another anonymous
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 9, 2007 at 9:44 am

As I posted sometime back, MI and the Ohlone philosophy certainly appear incompatible, so why is MFC so eager to push this now (supposedly solving the location controversy by placing MI @ Ohlone)??? Strikes me that there are numerous concerns that have not been fully addressed and the MI decision should be delayed.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 9, 2007 at 10:11 am

Re: Measure A

I think few people are saying any more that Measure A funds have NOT been spent toward Measure A promises. I think we understand that Measure A funds have been spent as promised.

I think the point is that not all of the Measure A promises have been met yet. They are saying that they were asked for more money because otherwise we would never get these programs back, the voters said "ok", and now there is a new program that was on nobody's horizon 1 1/2 years ago....and nobody has explained why MI went to the head of the line of the programs we thought were first.

If the District or the Board had made a complete declaration of which programs were not going to be restored because they were no longer appropriate, as Dr. Callan asserts, then said "and so we have the time to look at what else we want to do, what do you want?", then I think everything would have been different because the whole process would have been done in order.

I think THAT is what people mean, if nobody minds my "interpreting" for them.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 9, 2007 at 10:35 am

JAH:

Let's make a deal. I won't paint all MI supporters with the worst possible interpretation of the most vitriolic anonymous supporter, and you won't do it either.

Bringing up the "race" card was already tried in order to silence discussion, and failed. It won't work now either. Substitute in your accusatory sentences any culture/race/special subject interest and it should remind you that MOST of us are opposed to MI ( Math Immers, Music Imers, French Imm, Hebrew Im, Arabic Im) for the same basic reason that it is wrong for a small minority donating money to drive a program for a few before the most have "enough".

As for the "trojan horse"..maybe you weren't involved in the beginning. I will remind everyone that our FIRST petition, back in May, written by Jenny Kiratli, I think, ( correct me if I am wrong), simply asked for a delay of one year to allow us to have a World Language Task force to study where we are in meeting our other priorities, and decide if Foreign Language has risen nearer to the top from last place in the Community in the Bregman study. If it had, then the Task force would have determined what percent of students in which grades should have access to foreign language, and picked the method that fit with our values and goals.

In other words, proceed in a studied and neutral way.

That has not changed. That has not "morphed" into a Trojan Horse olive branch, as you call it. The difference is only, now, that 8 months have gone by, and now we are pushing up against the end of our 3 Year Cycle for Strategic Planning, and we are facing a new Administration, and we have the issue of Enrollment..so the issue has become enmeshed in a very big picture. And voting this program in now, regardless of where, drives the other issues of enrollment and administration search and strategic planning. It is even more backwards now than it was then.

You are right about one thing. I have said all along that I don't believe even a "large" minority, let alone a simple majority, would support this direction in PAUSD at this time, and I believe that if we put it to the test, taking this direction would fail in the public opinion, the ones who pay for our schools. That is no secret, therefore not a Trojan Horse.

However, I have been completely clear in stating that, if I am wrong and the result is that the public supports this direction for PAUSD after having a chance to learn everything and weigh in, well, so be it. I believe in the way our democracy works, and I believe in the goodwill and intelligence of most people. And, if it turns out that my view is in the minority, then I would just shrug my shoulders and move on.

I am not afraid of the test of time.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 9, 2007 at 11:04 am

I suggest that a new thread be started by people who are deeply familiar with Measure A funding and program recovery, so that there can be some fact-based clarity provided on what Measure A was and was not designed to do.

I think I understand what you said in your explanation, Pauline, but I am not sure that I do. I found myself in the same situation "white boarding" this in a conference room with the Measure A person not long ago. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent individual, but it is very easy to get confused about just what Measure A was all about, let alone how any new program should be regarded in the context of where things are with Measure A recovered programs.

If you already get it, Pauline, my hat is off to you. Guess I need more "exposure" or perhaps be "immersed" in this before I am at that point.

I will suggest to my contact that a new string be started, as this topic has many aspects that are not applicable to the world language policy question.


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Posted by Simon Firth
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2007 at 11:35 am

Isn't our confusion about Measure A another example of the school district's poor communication practices? This is probably a good topic for another thread but it seems to me so much of the trouble that the district finds itself in comes from a failure to provide the public with sufficient information. That goes for keeping silent on the 'trust issue,' to not sharing details justifying the push for MI (like who signed PACE's petition, where their money comes from, the data behind the feasibility study etc., how MI at Ohlone will work), to failing to notify incomming kinder parents more than a few days before that there was a kindergarten information night.

We're all left here fishing in the dark.

As things stand, it's little wonder that people start losing trust, getting paranoid and seeing conspiracy at every turn.






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Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 11:36 am

Pauline,

If I understand correctly, you suggest that we should go ahead with MI, but only if we determine that foreign language is a community priority and if we determine that immersion is the best fit with our values and goals. You favor this because it's "studied," "neutral," and "democratic."

Of course, MI supporters believe that their approach is all three of those things. Take "democratic." We, as a community, have selected the board to make these decisions for us, and that is entirely representative--nothing undemocratic about it. You seem to suggest another survey or popular referendum would be more democratic, but as I see it, one of the benefits of our indirect democracy is that we are protected from the oppression of the majority.

You have a new test for MI to pass--popularity. How many other decisions about education would you insist be submitted to your new test? Are you willing to see AP math disappear in a popular vote? Hoover? Foreign language in high school? I think your new test would lead to poor decisions and create gridlock within the district.

Choice programs are a part of the district's philosophy and policy precisely because they meet the needs of a minority; that is, they are exactly the sort of things that would not be at the top of the list for the majority.

Diversity, as has been said, is good.


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Posted by Ohlone is getting robbed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:02 pm

It is an absolute out and out lie for someone to tell you that new building's added to Ohlone are 'free space', up for grabs.

The pure undeniable facts is that Ohlone has a long waiting list, is a highly valued, well run, and proven successful program, has expresesd interest repeatedly in more space, and would fill it instantly if it were given the space, at ZERO ZERO ZERO incremental cost to the district. No studies, no start up costs, no experimenting on kids, no pilot period, no nothing. Just open the doors.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

(Like standing next to a guy who drops a $20. MI sees it, he sees it. He bends down to pick it up, but MI stomps her foot on it and gets to it first. "Finders keepers losers weepers"? Some might call it taking what is not yours. Quick ethics lesson. Its wrong.)

Since when did this community even BEGIN to have a discussion about the tradeoffs between the choice programs? Susan Charles doesn't own Ohlone and the Ohlone Parents don't even own Ohlone. They are taking care of it for us. The Palo Alto community owns Ohlone. Susan Charles is there as an employee of the citizens, and so is the BOARD.

How DARE they?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

As if Ohlone and MI are interchangeable. Not to mention they have not provided a single shred of a hair of a gnat's worth of evidence that the 'philosphy' even works for a Mandarin program. PROOF PLEASE???!!!! By the way - evidence is constitued by statistics from programs that are currently in existence and have proven results for the students: Test Results, Attrition, and Demographics. Otherwise, this is nothing more than a figment of MI proponents desparate imagination.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Jah,
You wrote, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but two things I've gleaned from your posts regarding your personal feelings on the subject of MI and FLES is that you blame the failure of the previous pilot of FLES on SI and that you believe that starting an MI program before FLES means that FLES will not happen. The thing I'm missing is the rationale behind this thinking."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]

In reading my previous posts, I seem to have made an adequate response, you just either choose to not believe what I am saying or you aren't bothering to read before making up what you want so you can go on and on in a response that doesn't really address what I said but does attack me.

FLES and immersion are not completely separate and unrelated. No, they are not the same thing by a long shot. (I think I responded to you about this in better detail before.) I never said they were, never implied it. But they are not unrelated as supporters of MI keep claiming in order to put the cart before the horse.

I never "blame"d the previous "failure" of FLES on anything. No one knows for sure why FLES failed before. However, if we want to be logical and objective about it, we have one data point that says maybe they are more related than we understand completely, maybe if we want to try a district-wide language program that requires attention and resources, perhaps we shouldn't try it again in the same way that it failed before, at the same time as or after another even more focused language program that requires attention and resources. If we want to be logical and objective, we need to stop bandying about the unsupported claim that FLES and MI are completely unrelated.

Perhaps it is impossible for you to put yourself in someone else's shoes, but everyone I know who was admitted to a Spanish immersion program in our community and other nearby communities, who ultimately did not take the spot (and there are many), or who dropped out, did so because they decided immersion was not right for their child. Not that language instruction wasn't right for their child -- they applied for immersion in the first place because they value language -- In Palo Alto, that meant they then had to choose no language at school at all. I know many more people than that who considered Spanish immersion but didn't apply for the same reason. These are also people who would have benefited from the choice of language instruction in their neighborhood schools, something for which there is far more widespread support than MI. (If you don't believe me, this is probably an essential enough issue to put a hold on everything until we are sure with data.)

These are all parents who might have chosen FLES instead of applying for immersion if the option to choose FLES had been available. YOU might not have, but YOU are not the only person in this district. Just because you have one perspective, doesn't mean everyone else does. Just because FLES and MI are different, doesn't mean that people who value language instruction won't weigh them against each other with a lot of other priorities. Again, YOU might not, but your assumption that everyone else is like you is not a reason to make public policy for the Palo Alto school district.

We have no data to tell us how the implementation of FLES would affect MI, but there is enough information to say that it could. I mean, what would be the trade-off for a parent living near Hoover whose kids had access to Mandarin instruction there (not immersion) versus immersion at Ohlone? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] But people in the real world have to take a lot of factors into account when making a decision about their child's education, most are not as single-minded as you. Choosing between one kind of language instruction and another, with other factors alongside, is different than choosing between total immersion and no language instruction at all.

There is one past experience to tell us that implementing an immersion program first or simultaneously might also impact the implementation of FLES. We can't conclude, but we can't rule it out, especially since posters have pointed out that FLES wasn't even implemented district-wide (how much did concentration of energy and resources at the same time on SI affect that?). Since there is no emergency to implement MI, and waiting might accrue benefits such as allowing more time to work out a creative solution to the need for expensive new facilities, and implementing FLES first would then remove a huge barrier of opposition for MI to move forward, we should do this in the order that makes the most sense. It's also the most fair.

Implementation of FLES could have an impact MI and vice versa, in fact I don't see how anyone could claim that they wouldn't impact each other. Since FLES is the more equitable option for a public school district, it should be implemented first. Who knows? Maybe implementing FLES could even increase interest and support for MI (actually, I think it very much would increase support as the large number of us who think FLES should come first would then be able to fully support MI).

As I said before, my name is on the earliest petitions to look into MI for Palo Alto. I have as yet not signed a petition against it because I don't want people to misuse these petitions in the future. I support MI for this district. But only after we implement FLES.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:25 pm

Ohlone is (not) getting robbed,
If you are at Ohlone, then you know Susan Charles. In my opinion, if Susan Charles thinks that she can make Ohlone/MI work I would not doubt her. Her support of the combination of MI and Ohlone is more valuable to me than research. She is a force of nature with a wealth of experience.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Jah,

The apples and oranges analogy doesn't make sense to me. How is the orange (MI) program ready to go at Ohlone? Is there a project-based learning MI program anywhere? How is this supposed to be developed in nine months?

How will the "oranges" go to waste if nobody eats them? Why is instituting an MI program at Ohlone more urgent and a higher priority than getting people off Ohlone's waitlist? Fact is, there's nothing *urgent* for the district as a whole about instituting an MI program. Independent alternatives exist within Palo Alto, public ones outside of it. It's not nice to know Mandarin in the U.S., but it will probably *never* be necessary.

Regarding the "race" card--in some ways, I wish it could be honestly discussed because I think there are underlying issues on *both* sides--but as it is, the card is mostly played as a means of devaluing opposing viewpoints without really dealing with them--i.e. you're a racist, so I can ignore everything you say.


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Posted by aint necessarily so
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Nico, you believe in the force of advocacy. Witness your passionate and vocal support of MI, which is appropriate and sincere. On the other hand, you believe that it is up to the (elected) benign dictators of the District to make a decision like this without asking the parents for input. Not to make it *after getting input.* To make it without getting input. Never mind that parents of other schools (eg Barron Park) were alerted by BoE members that their school would house MI unless someone spoke up. You have said a couple of times now that Ohlone parents should mutely accept a decision that was made without even giving them the same courtesy that was extended to parents in other schools, even though the entire paradign of the school is close parent-administration partnership. Hey, maybe those parents would have said they loved the idea and couldn't wait to mix the two programs. Maybe they would have said they feel having MI there is a valuable and worthwhile tradeoff for the reduction in the "standard" Ohlone strands, which already have a significant waitlist. The point is, they were never even asked. Indeed, they were not even sent an e-mail on Friday, or over the weekend, as one would imagine a thoughtful adminstrator would do when announcing a change of this magnitude. Just Monday, 3 days after the decision was announced (if you happended to know about it).


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Nico,

It sounds like Susan Charles is cutting a deal to get her fourth strand. She's an experienced administrator, but I've never heard she was an expert on language immersion programs. She's hardly a pedagogal deity who can do no wrong. (And it is very counter to Ohlone's philosophy to view her as so).


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Posted by back to basics
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Ohlone is getting robbed,

Well, apart from all the deleted bits (it would be nice if the weekly staff at least stated why they were deleted) you do make an appropriate point about whether the district would benefit from an extended Ohlone classic style or Ohlone MI.
I would hope that the board can justify how having new Ohlone classes teach through MI will be of a greater benefit to the PAUSD as a whole.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:01 pm

aint necessarily so,
I am sorry, but I feel like I am not the right person to respond on how the message was handled, or should be handled. And I do believe in advocacy, so I guess what I would do if I were in your situation is ask for some time with Susan Charles. Ask her how she made the decision and why, and if you don't like her answer advocate for your point of view.
Also your portayal of "parents of other schools (eg Barron Park) were alerted by BoE members that their school would house MI unless someone spoke up " to the best of my knowledge is inaccurate. It was a Barron Park AAAG rep that spearheaded the "we are being considered to house MI" message, not a BoE member. That message was based on analysis of enrollment data, not on any "inside information."


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Posted by aint necessarily so
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Nico, what you heard about the way Barron Park got into the loop is not what I heard from people in the know at Barron Park. I'll leave it at that.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 1:13 pm

OhlonePar,
OhlonePar,
You can always ask her if you feel like there was some deal made. I hear she is pretty forthright.
Although Susan Charles is not an expert on immersion, an Ohlone teacher actually is. Monica Lynch is a native Mandarin speaker, with a BCLAD in Mandarin and has taught in the "Ohlone Way" for many years. She is also very knowledgeable on immersion education. So, Susan Charles has support on this.

aint necessarily so, fair enough, we have different "people in the know" apparently.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 9, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Some clarifications on my previous post.

I did not say that all the folks who are not in favor of MI are racist, but once I have heard an arguement from an individual that sounds racist to me, such as "SI is ok because it serves a population that can benefit from it but MI will not", I am forever doubtful of that individual's motives, even if his or her successive arguments seem more neutral.

I also did not use the term urgent when referring to MI, I merely said that the time was ripe, so it would be a shame to let it go to waste. As is most always the case (especially here in PA), if you don't seize the opportunity when it presents itself, it frequently never comes around again as something else crops up instead or new opponents chime in claiming that it is a new issue and never was discussed with them previously. Round and round it goes!

I did not address in my post the argument regarding MI at Ohlone or non-MI Ohlone, I was merely discussing the MI/FLES argument. I have my own ideas about how we could try to address the issue of MI at Ohlone v. the waiting list folks, but I'm sure that would bring an outcry from someone as well. BTW, as I posted previously, there is a local private MI school that has an Ohlone like philosophy so it is not a novel concept. In addition, what if an Ohlone teacher could teach the children by speaking Mandarin for a majority of the day instead of English, would that be acceptable to you? When we have children at Ohlone for whom English isn't their first language (ie foreign to them) do they not learn it or is there a special ESL class at Ohlone of which I'm not aware?

As for A.J., I'm sorry that you took this as a personal attack, there was no sarcasm intended at the end of my post, but I still think an "apple is an apple" and "an orange is an orange" and that we can agree to disagree on that one.

I do agree with you that many (probably most) folks would prefer to have FLES in their neighborhood school over putting their children in an immersion program, perhaps you are one of them. Just because some folks go into an immersion program and later have regrets does not mean that we should discontinue it for those that are committed to follow it through. SI has been around now for quite a while and does not have a lack of families that are interested in it and when a spot is vacated, for whatever reason, it is filled by someone who can benefit from it.

My support of implementing MI now is not for my personal benefit, in fact, it would be more beneficial for me for it to start at a later date, but after many, many years as a PA resident, I know that if it doesn't go now it probably never will, for the reasons stated above. The MI concept was brought forth five long years ago and has been waiting for the right time and that time is now.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 9, 2007 at 2:34 pm

One point that many people discussing immersion v. FLES don't get is that they catagorize both as language learning and fail to see FLES as language instruction and immersion as a philisophical learning style more like Ohlone's collaborative child centered one or Hoover's direct instruction model. I can guarantee that there are families at Ohlone that leave because they didn't really understand the philosophy behind it, most likely the same at Hoover. Would one argue that Ohlone teachers set aside time each day to directly instruct their children in how to work collaboratively or is it just a by product of the way the teachers go about teaching the core subjects on a day to day basis?


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Ok JAH, now I see where you got the racism thing, when you say

"once I have heard an arguement from an individual that sounds racist to me, such as "SI is ok because it serves a population that can benefit from it but MI will not", I am forever doubtful of that individual's motives, even if his or her successive arguments seem more neutral"

I am at least one of the ones, if not the only one, who has said a difference between SI and MI is that at the time SI was promoted, it was seen as a good way to help address the issue of how to bring children from Spanish speaking homes "up", in that the kids from Spanish speaking homes are higher risk for being at the low end of achievement.

The data at the time showed that the higher risk Spanish speaking kids did much better than their peers by the time they got to High School, for a lot of reasons, than did the kids in regular ed or in the "bilingual" programs we had at the time ( which are now illegal in CA).

I supported SI at the time for this reason, AND was happy because one of the incidental results of the program would be that I may be able to get my own future children into the program also, being trilingual ( of sorts) myself.

Of course, I was a young mom at the time, and didn't realize all the ramifications of the program. I would have to think about it hard if it were a program trying to start today. On the one hand I would want to do whatever we need to do to help high risk kids close that "achievement gap" thing everybody talks about, but on the other hand I would hope to find a solution that doesn't go up against my belief in having an educational program that helps ALL high risk kids, in a way that balances the desires and needs of everyone.

In case it matters, it didn't work out for my kids, through no fault of the program at all.

So, if that is what makes you think there are "racist" overtones in what I say, in that the Mandarin speaking community has no achievement gap issue and therefore this is not a reason for me to support MI, then so be it. If the children of Mandarin speaking families were a high risk group, then this would be a different discussion.

And please, don't anybody now think I am a racist against Spanish speaking families. Though it would be really funny if anyone did.
Just talking about the facts of the "achievement gap".


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 9, 2007 at 5:21 pm

jah,
As I have said before, if MI goes through as planned, I DO stand to benefit personally (although I have probably alienated all the other MI parents and would have to change my name). I come from a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic family; my child has asked to learn Chinese. I value the immersion approach, I know what it is like to struggle all my life with the languages of my family because I was not immersed in them as a child.

But I'm also the kind of person who will go back into the store and pay for something my child was sitting on and no one saw during checkout (has happened), even though I'm in a hurry, or call an airline company because they failed to charge me for a ticket (only time my whole life where someone obviously made a big legitimate mistake in my favor, because they had no way to do anything about it!). And I will bring cupcakes to school for everyone if I want my child to have one there. Fair is fair.

An immersion program for a small number of students in our district is not fair when no other students have access to any language instruction whatsoever in elementary school. Even my poor school district when I was a kid had Spanish. There are real logistical and financial problems to work out for MI -- especially facilities. There are no facilities necessary for FLES, and it's not like anyone would be starting from scratch.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree about Palo Alto. Your timetable ultimatum doesn't fly with my. If MI doesn't go through now and that's enough to kill it, then it wasn't a well-supported idea in the first place and should disappear. I happen to think it's a good enough idea to keep working for IN THE RIGHT WAY, with real, identifyable steps that can be accomplished. No, we do not HAVE to do it now. We should do FLES first. If everyone is motivated, we could implement FLES by next year. I make a promise to you that I will put energy into MI in the future if we do FLES (and other basic priorities like PE as previously discussed) first.

As to the apples and oranges flap, to lighten things up a bit here, I would point out that it has been scientifically proven that apples and oranges really are similar, it just depends on your method of analysis. (I know this researcher personally, he really did do the spectrographic analysis. AIR is Annals of Improbable Research, a humorous science journal.):

"Apples and Oranges: A Comparison," by Scott Sandford.
It is generally understood that apples and oranges cannot be
compared. However, spectrographic analysis of a Granny Smith
apple and a Sunkist navel orange reveals that apples and oranges
are in fact quite similar. [Includes chart of infrared
transmission spectra, and a photograph.]
--see: AIR, vol. 1, no. 3, May/June 1995, pp. 2-3.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Nico,

It sounds like you hear all sorts of things. Obviously, Susan Charles was not forthright about MI at Ohlone. My personal experience with her is that she answers what she wants to answer and is adept at avoiding what she wants to avoid. A this point, however, the decision is not up to her.

Jah,

When did Monica Lynch, or anybody, combine immersion Mandarin with the Ohlone way? Given that 80 percent of the MI classes are supposed to be in a language that has almost no connection to English, no I don't see easy cross-pollination between the MI strand and the rest.

I'm not sure why you construed any preference for SI over MI as inherently racist. There are both demographic and geographic reasons that make Spanish California's de facto second language. Discussion about the relative importance of the two languages here is useful, I think. Perhaps trying to understand a different point of view instead of labeling it would also be useful.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 9, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Jah,

Re: how Ohlone teaches its philosopphy--both by modeling and directly.

AJ, while I'm probably never going to be gung-ho Mandarin Immersion, the whole issue would be much less alienating if more MI proponents showed your concern for the whole community and consensus building. So thank you.


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 6:18 pm

OhlonePar,
OhlonePar,
I am disappointed to read that you feel that "the whole issue would be much less alienating if more MI proponents showed your concern for the whole community and consensus building." And I think I can see based on this thread why you feel that way. In my defense, this has been a very long road, 5 years of a long road, for some of us.
We have actually worked hard to invite conversation and meetings with "opponents" over the entire journey. I have changed the way I look at things based on input from these conversations. I have realized that some things that I initially thought were trivial really are complicated and quite important (like traffic for example.) I also do reflect on what I read here (unfortunately more people post here than are willing to meet with us, so it is my main window to the concerns of the other side.)
With that said, if you sense a lack of consensus building, I think it may be that the road, for better of worse ends in a couple weeks. I can only speak for myself when I say I am ready for to catch my breath for a minute. The board will decide if the feasibility study and the recommendations are good, or not good.
With that said, I think that the next project phase, if MI even passes, is the implementation plan. I think in this phase the consensus building really starts all over again with new energy. And if you are an Ohlone Parent I would really value your time and thoughts (maybe face to face instead of on Townsquare). You know my name, so please contact me, now or later. You can also email me at paonline_nico@yahoo.com
Also, you say that I "hear all sorts of things" I am not exactly sure what that means, but I do ask a lot of questions. You'll see that when/if we meet.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Nico,
I know it's been a long road, and I think few people appreciate how much hard work something like this is, all volunteer.

But why are you going to give up if MI doesn't pass this time?


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Posted by Nico
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Giving up? ....I'm just catching my breath.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 10, 2007 at 12:04 am

Okay, long meeting, but now I know who's who on the school board.

The thing that really struck me is how sort of *romantic* about the immersion program the pro MI folks were. There's this sort of idealism that's not linked to any sort of pragmatism. Or, less attractively, a sort of single-minded focus that makes it difficult to really *hear* other points of view. It came across as "Mandarin Immersion's so wonderful how can you not think so?" I think in some instances online this degenerated into "you don't support MI, so there must be something wrong with you." And worse.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 10, 2007 at 1:02 am

OhlonePar,

Just curious why you "chose" Ohlone if you feel that others' choices for their children make them appear like single-minded idealists? Someone once blazed a similar path for Ohlone which ended with the displacement of neighborhood kids. I'm sure people made similar comments back then too. I guess lucky for you that the "idealists" back then succeeded. There has been at least on discussion here and also in AAAG meetings about turning Ohlone back into a neighborhood school. Better get ready to sound "romantic".


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Posted by Brian Kaplan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 10, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Jah,

I think you are making what, at first glance, looks like a really good point.

Moreover, I can see many many people asking "is it defensible to support a "choice" for some parents and deny another "choice" that some parents want for their kids?"

Allow me share my thoughts. I see the Ohlone and Hoover programs, both which are instrucionally different, as offering value to only some % (less than 100%) of students.

For example, if you took ALL entering kindergartner and then randomly pulled out names and filled the classes at Ohlone and Hoover, my opinion is that the environment would only prove "beneficial" to some of the "forced choice" students.

When I say "beneficial" I mean that their overall educational experience is better at the "forced choice" program than it would have been at their neighborhood school.

I am not going to to deal with how you would test this (obviously nearly impossible) nor what % would derive this "benefit." I am just sharing that IMHO Ohlone and Hoover would not be "better" choices for many of the "forced choice" students.

I now contrast that to Mandarin Immersion. I agree with all the arguments that have been made about the benefits of MI.

So back to my "forced choice" random selection process. I beleive nearly every child randomly selected and placed in MI would benefit (this of course, assumes that the quality of teachers, materials, etc. was held constant compared to their neighborhood school.)

Again, if everything was truly the same and the ONLY difference was instruction in Mandarin, then I think nearly ALL students would benefit.

The actual comparison would be impossible to make. But assume the hypothetical comparison. Assume, I could take every wonderful teacher at Barron Park Elementary, hypnotize them, and have them wake up fluent in Mandarin. All classes would be conducted in Mandarin but everything else would be the same, same teachers, same kids, etc.

My gut tells that most every kid would graduate from BPE with an advantage. And that's why I have an issue with MI. It offers something to a limited number of students that is undeniably an advantage.

To net this complicated thought out. Ohlone and Hoover offer somethig of value (that is ONLY of value) to some % of the students in the district, whereas MI would make avilable something that would be of value to MOST of the students but make it availalbe to just some of the students.

I hope not to stir lots of emotion from people saying my kid wouldn't benefit from learning Mandarin, etc. I am now speaking for myself. I would love my kids to be fluent in Mandarin and it's hard for me to see arguing against the value it would provide.

But for me, I see an equity issue and can not endore a public school system something that would benefit all to just some.

Thanks for listening. Off to class. late :(


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Posted by Brian Kaplan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 10, 2007 at 7:03 pm

OK - must admit that like most people involved in the MI conversation, I am very tired. Just re-read my post.

The last line which says "But for me, I see an equity issue and can not endore a public school system something that would benefit all to just some" should be:

"But for me, I see an equity issue here and can not endorse a public school system offering something that would benefit all but is made available to just some"


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 10, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Jah,

When Ohlone and Hoover began their programs, Palo Alto was facing declining enrollments. PA was actually closing schools at the time. When I came to PA in the mid-80s there was talk of closing Gunn.

If it were still a time of plentiful school funds and declining enrollments, MI would not be nearly the contentious issue that it is.

But times are different now--enrollment's exploding and expected to continue doing so. We don't need magnet programs to attract students.

I was relieved when my child got into Ohlone--my neighborhood school offered one-in-two odds for getting into kindegarten last year. Given the pressure on neighborhood schools right now, I would be against an Ohlone if it were proposed right now. The district needs to keep its options open.

Circumstances change. At some point, MI may have its day.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 10, 2007 at 11:59 pm

OhlonePar,

Thanks for your honesty. It does seem that you chose Ohlone at least in part as a means to guarantee that your child would remain in a school close to home. It's clear that once a program is established it's harder to dismantle but if the tide is overwhelmingly moving toward neighborhood schools, no choice program is safe.

Despite the declining enrollment you state as the justification for approving Hoover and Ohlone, I did hear Caroline Tucher say that the opposition to Hoover was just as vigorous as the current opposition to MI. I too agree that in time MI may be implemented, but most likely not until the demographics of Palo Alto have shifted significantly.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 11, 2007 at 1:10 am

Brian,

I think I understand your argument in part, but I'm not sure that I agree with it completely. I think parents choose neighborhood schools for their proximity, realizing that there are different instructional styles within the school. All teachers teach differently and if one teacher's style doesn't work for your child you have the ability to change teachers, part of the rationale behind not limiting neighborhood schools to one strand or even two.

I don't know about Hoover, but teachers at Ohlone also have a variety of teaching styles. While Ohlone and Hoover might not be the first choice for many families, I do think that most students in the district would benefit from an education from either one.

I think the critical factor in whether one type of program is more "beneficial" to the children in it is inherently tied to the reason a family chose to go there whether neighborhood or choice.

I don't think that most children would benefit from being in an MI program as you propose it in your scenario, simply because the families have not opted into it, it has been forced upon them. Even though SI is very popular, the majority of families in PA do not opt for it because they do not find it "beneficial" according to your definition of that word.

One speaker last night summed up the sentiment of advocates of FLES over Mandarin Immersion as something to the effect of "Why should the district produce a concert pianist while it fails to provide music instruction to all other students." Not every parent would opt to have their child focus energy at the level of a concert pianist. If some families with children that had that desire were allowed to play on a piano that already existed in the district and didn't require any additional funding to nuture their musical education, why would I begrudge them the potential of becoming the next Rachmaninoff? Simply because every child in the district didn't have the opportunity to learn the recorder? I'm not saying the expense for the recorder lesson is not something we should consider, but why lock the old piano in the closet simply because some people in town are afraid that someone else's child will have an edge over their's. No Rachmaninoff until my child learns the recorder, what an opportunity THE WORLD would miss if we all had this attitude.


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Posted by Brian Kaplan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2007 at 9:09 am

Jah,

Don't get caught up in the hypothetical.

My argument is based on randomly selecting students from the district and offering them the EXACT (repeat EXACT) same experience as they would have AT their neighborhood school WITH THE ONLY VARIABLE CHANGED being that the teacher they would have has MIRACULOUSLY become fluent in Mandarin and instructs using this language. Again, no change in location, no change in curriculum, no change in teacher.

This is not possible, of course. But it helps me clarify why I see an equity issue with MI.

Again, I think you have missed the point of my argument when you say "Even though SI is very popular, the majority of families in PA do not opt for it because they do not find it "beneficial" according to your definition of that word.

I would say the same thing about SI. It's hard to argue that becoming bi-lingual is not a beneficial thing. I think most parents would say that if I could have my neighborhood school (with ALL variables controlled) instruct my kindergartener in Spanish, "Yes, I find that beneficial."

I would love for my kids to be fluent in Spanish. But, like many parents, we chose to send our kids to our neighborhood school, not b/c I don't see value in the SI program but because I see greater value in my kids going to our neighborhood school.

Lastly, I don't want to start any negative feelings about whether Ohlone is better than Hoover or Hoover is better than neighborhood schools.

You statement "I do think that most students in the district would benefit from an education from either one" concerns me. I have no doubt that whatsoever that most students would "benefit" from these programs.

But I am not sure they would "benefit" if you were somehow able to compare their experience to the neighborhood school experience they did not have.

B/c they Ohlone and Hoover offer different instructional methods based on different teaching philosophies, I maintain that they are GREAT programs for SOME of the kids in the district. Thus, they offer something of GREAT value to a limited group of students BUT the "rest" of the students are not "missing" something of value by not going.

I can not say the same for MI. IMHO, it would offer something of GREAT value to a limited group of students BUT the "rest" of the students ARE "missing" something of value by not going.

thanks




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Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2007 at 10:54 am

Brian,

I think your argument goes wrong in two ways.

First, I agree with jah: not all children would benefit from Mandarin immersion. (How many depends on how it is structured.) Sure becoming bilingual in the abstract is beneficial. So is becoming self-directed--a quality Ohlone parents have eloquently described as a benefit of their program. But neither of these qualities magically happen; they are inculcated through the teaching philosophy and teaching method particular to each program. And these differing approaches (Ohlone or MI) will not be a good fit for all children or all families.

So, neither Ohlone nor MI is suited to all kids, even if we think that both confer qualities that all would agree are benefits.

Second, (even if your assumption above had been correct) your point depends on an odd gauge for measuring benefit, one that looks to third parties. You say MI confers benefits that Ohlone does not. The gauge for this is what others want: everyone would want MI but not everyone would want Ohlone. But that's not a measure of fairness or equity, just of envy.

Suppose you sign your kid up for the MI lottery, I sign mine up for Ohlone one, and we both lose. It is equally "unfair" and "iniquitous" for me and for you. In gauging fairness and equity, it wouldn't matter if the entire district wanted to get into MI and my kid was the only one on the Ohlone waiting list.

I do think your model shows that there is greater envy directed at acquiring Mandarin, greater than that directed toward Ohlone, Hoover, or SI. In the case of Ohlone and Hoover, I think this PARTLY stems from confidence by parents who think (rightly or wrongly) "Oh, I can achieve that at home," whereas most parents do not believe they can teach Mandarin at home.

It is an interesting question why so much more envy attaches (for some) to Mandarin than to Spanish.

Envy is a poor basis for planning and decision-making, and it certainly will not yield fairness.


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Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Wow, weird twist. I oppose MI because I envy Mandarin? I oppose MI because its not the mandate of a public school system to cater to the whims and fancies of a few parents to specialize their children in any subject. Specialization belongs in private schools. Generalization belongs in public schools. To the extent that we have the resources and bandwidth to provide 'electives' and enrichment, we should, but the extremes do not belong in the public education.

I believe the offering of pay as you go MI summer school offerings is exactly the type of expectation people should have for 'what they get' from a public school.

In an era and environment of budget constraints and doing more with less, a choice model of specialization, is more complex and more costly, and therefore wrong in a public school system.

(Bill/Wolf - or maybe we should start calling you "Mr. Camille") you were heard in the meeting Tuesday night several times claiming that as an economist you understand that 'choice is good'. Then you also understand the free market economy which requires that people pay the price for choice, and it is the free market mechanism that controls the allocation of resources.

A public school system is a closed market, where everybody is served essentially for free*, and therefore if 'choice' is left unchecked, the costs of the system will run wild. Everyone would prefer to be able to choose everything they want - if its for free.

Wildly specialized programs belong in a private system so that those who CHOOSE them, PAY for them.
*Public school system is funded by the tax payers but the ones in the school system at any one time are served an equal educational opoprtunity free of charge. The participation in a public school system is not related to how much you did (or did not) pay in taxes. Tax payers are really the only ones motivated to control unchecked cost in this sytem.

I oppose MI because it belongs in a private school. You can like MI for any reason you choose, but then you should go ~buy it~ from a private school. If you can't afford it, I'm sure you can get a scholarship or financial aid somewhere. Perhaps PACE's efforts would serve the community well by establishing a scholarship fund.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Taxpayer,

Sounds like that hit a nerve because you're angry. Look inside yourself.

You have a mantra--immersion doesn't belong in public school--but you don't have any reasons to support your idea, so it's not possible to respond.

As to the rest, you're just making wild guesses as to who I am. Come up a few levels if you want to talk seriously.


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Posted by Tax Payer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Well I just gave you a reason based on the ecnomic need to require people to pay for the privilege of choice, which is grounded in the argument that a free market system results in a proper allocation of resources.

do you have a response to that Mr. Camille? Being an economist, I believe you should be able to educate us.

And to answer your 'hit a nerve/envy' suggestion. I think I pity folks who will be tricked into wasting their childrens early elementary years on such a fad. I do not believe that Mandarin will be applicable to the vast majority of people in the 21st century. I do not believe that native English speakers will have a high percentage of success in this program since there there has not been a proven success rate for entering Kinders to succeed through to fifth grade, and come out biliterate in a Mandarin program. If you have some DATA to refute any of this you can point me to it in the feasibility study.

Quite the contrary, you won't see me on ~any~ Choice program waiting lists - I put my bet on good old standard vanilla PAUSD basic education. My kid will see your kid in the flat world 20 years from now, and we'll test this all out.


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Posted by jah
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 11, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Wow Brian, I think your statement " I would love for my kids to be fluent in Spanish. But, like many parents, we chose to send our kids to our neighborhood school, not b/c I don't see value in the SI program but because I see greater value in my kids going to our neighborhood school." sums up the benefit of choice to a tee! Thank you!

Everyone makes trade offs in what they believe is most important for their children and families. Some believe it's neighborhood, some believe it's something else. I tend to think of PA as being my neighborhood and am truly happy that we have schools that bring children from throughout the district together. When I was about to enter third grade my neighborhood school was closed for budgetary reasons and I was bussed across town to a school in a less affluent area. I am so thankful for this because that is where I met my lifelong friend and I never would have met her and had a deeper understanding for the socioeconomic disparities right there in my little town if this had not happened. I believe we live in a global society and that we have to look beyond our own immediate neighborhood be it Barren Park, Palo Alto, California, or the United States of America.

People in this country do not place enough value in second language acquisition. They think "it would be a nice thing to have" but other things are more important and should be given a higher priority.

I once again go back to my own education. I had an excellent public school education where I took many AP classes in all subject areas. I'm hard pressed to say that any of that education now serves me in my daily life. As someone mentioned on another thread, I too never use differential equations, the right had rule, or the periodic table (unless I'm answering questions at home on Jeopardy), but I surely do wish that I were fluent in a second language. Fluency in Spanish or Mandarin would be a something I could use on a daily basis.

My father, an international business man, placed all his efforts into making sure that his children learned english, math and science, but he never encouraged us in the pursuit of a second language. For the past decade (my child is ten), he has not stopped hounding me about my directive as a parent to make sure that my daughter is fluent in Mandarin. "The Wall Street Journal says this, the National News reported on a new MI program in inner Chicago" on and on he goes and then he inevitably asks, "Why don't you have it yet in PA?" "I don't know Dad, people in PA don't think bilinqualism is important enough." Well it took him 65 years to come around, why should he be so surprised?

I think it would be wonderful if every neighborhood school could have an immersion program, as they are cost neutral, but the majority of folks from the neighborhood schools said no way (and not just to Mandarin). Even if we did have immersion in every school, some folks would not be happy because it might not be the language of their choice, that's why FLES is the solution for some. I think FLES is great for those who think you can learn a language by touching on it briefly, it's just been my personal experience that this is not the case and I've had much more intense exposure to foreign language than FLES would every be able to provide given the constraints of the already packed curriculum and the added expense.

SI,MI, Ohlone, and Hoover all have something in their curriculum that would be of benefit for most children, but obviously those benefits are not as important to some as to others. Clearly for a lot of families the benefits of a neighborhood school outweigh any of the benefits from a choice program. Does that mean that we shouldn't offer those benefits to others who feel they are the most beneficial thing for their families, especially if they don't take money away from other areas of the district (they are required to be cost neutral)? I don't believe so.

Bill, if you feel like you're banging your head against a wall, I'm right there with ya! Ouch, it hurts.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 11, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Jah,

I didn't know about how bad the overenrollment problem was until after I entered the lottery. I wanted my child to go to Ohlone because I don't like homework for kinders and I didn't want my child's natural curiosity and love of learning stifled by being pushed to reach various benchmarks. I'm kind of the anti-Hoover parent.

I'm also not an SI parent. I attended the SI open house and realized that while the program clearly worked, I valued other things more--including English immersion . Immersion is the most effective way to learn a second language, but for the Romantic and Germanic tongues, I don't think six years of immersion are actually necessary. Young children, in particular, seem to acquire the basics of a language when immersed (i.e. overseas) for just a few weeks.

The Asian languages, I think, do require more because of the tonal aspects and, in some cases, the used of ideograms for the written language.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2007 at 12:42 pm

The issue of choice versus neighborhood school models as it relates to language instruction and other educational approaches in PAUSD is leading to discussions that are interesting conceptually, but miss out with the reality of what this district actually is all about and where it goes from here.

I do perceive that there are people who would like for PAUSD to be a pure neighborhood school only district, although as a practical matter, I don't believe that is going to happen. It would be a very divisive discussion were it to be seriously advocated, and I don't think that it is in the community's interest to go there.

I perceive that some people think we are "just right" in terms of the 3 choice programs that exist (Ohlone, Hoover, and SI). This is the "tipping point" point of view, that any other choice programs, whatever they are, would be unhealthy for ...choose your reason, there are several offered up.

I perceive there are people who think there is room for addtional choice options when our attendance and school count plans are figured out, if a 13th elementary school is opened up, then some other choice programs can be considered, but let's not put the cart before the pony

I perceive people out there who think we can offer more choice within the existing fabric of the school district, and they say the benefits of doing so outweigh some of the perceived negative consequences of doing so.

What PAUSD does have is a hybrid. Given all the Priuses you see in Palo Alto (including mine) perhaps this is not surprising. To my way of thinking, that is the model that we have, and it really is a matter of what is the balance between choice and neighborhood makes sense going forward. If the community consensus is that there is room for more choice programs that also honor those who place greatest value on neighborhood schools, that needs to be fully understood and supported. If we are at the "just right" number with what we have now, that should be clearly articulated by the BoE, so that we all can move on to things we can do something about.

Assuming that conditions are such that additional choice can be made available (for example, if Garland re-opens) it then becomes a matter of what more or what else the district offers. If we get to that point, some alternatives exist, and points of view about what makes the most sense on whatever criterea one chooses to use become subject for community consensus and ultimate selections made around the choice offerings PAUSD will have.

While I personally support MI, it is clear that it as a specific, new choice program, circumstances in PAUSD are such that now is not the time for it. Since I have been a foreign language instruction advocate in Palo Alto since the early 1990's, the cynic in me asks if the time ever will be right. I actually am very hopeful right now that a World Lanugages policy will be an outcome of the last several months of animated discussion. I have conveyed my interest to the BoE in participating on such a task force.

So, as much as I enjoy the conceptual discussions and the parsing of policy, I have other places where I intend to apply my cycle time for the time being. There will be opportunity for that again at a later date, after some other matters become settled for the District.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Paul,

"I do perceive that there are people who would like for PAUSD to be a pure neighborhood school only district, although as a practical matter, I don't believe that is going to happen. It would be a very divisive discussion were it to be seriously advocated, and I don't think that it is in the community's interest to go there."

Your views did'nt seem to matter when the nighborhood school concept was attacked by the choice folks! Back then, many of us opposed the specialty schools, because we could see the eventual demise of the neighborhhod schools. We were pooh-poohed by the activist choice groups. They said we were being paranoid. Nobody was going to threaten the neighborhood schools (even as they were doing it!).

Yes, it would be a fight to go back to the pure neighborhood model, but so what? Everything in this district is a fight.

Paul, do you support the charter school approach? If not, how about private schools? Please provide your reasons. Please don't resort to "it's too complicated, and it might cause a fight". You already ignored such an admonition when you supported MI.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Wow, I knew our discussion was loud, but I didn't think it was THAT loud! (re: overhearing "Mr. Camille" as one poster put it.)

I was the one he was saying "as an economist I know choice is good" to. I am a little embarrassed if I got so passionate and loud that other "leftover" people overheard, especially since everyone was so tired and emotional, and that is the last thing anyone needed!

So, my apologies to whoever you are. There is a reason I don't "do" politics, I don't have the temperament to stay cucumber cool when I talk about anything I care about. This is why I prefer to write. I can hit the delete button!!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Hybrid's a nice description of the district. And I think it basically works--maybe too well, since a lot of the problems are about the system getting pushed to its limits.

The existing choice programs aren't going to disappear--think about what that reality is--a thousand kids thrown out of their school midstream and redistributed. The school with perfect API scores shut down? Any school board member who votes for that is also voting she or he out of office. The choice programs are *very* popular.

I think there does need to be some equity--I think the prospects for MI would be a lot stronger if, say, the MI proponents used their organization to make second-language instruction available throughout the district.

As insane as I thought the idea of dumping MI at Ohlone next Fall, I think Susan Charles made a couple of interesting points at the board meeting. If there was MI at Ohlone, it would be integrated with the rest of the school--that the MI curriculum would spill over as a sort of FLES program for the rest of the school. I mean, what if Escondido was SI/FLES instead of SI for some and no language instruction for the rest? I suspect that there would be less resentment of the SI program.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 12, 2007 at 2:45 pm

John,

There is a long history of choice schools in this district. And...

Clearly, SI has created some major problems at Escondido, which many who advocate neighborhood schools use as an example of how not to introduce or run a choice program.

Even though I was there at the start when language policy and SI were being decided in the district in the early 1990's, my family chose for our daughter to attend a neighborhood school, because for our family, that was the right thing for us. Tough trade-off for us to make, but that is what we chose to do. I see tremendous value in neighborhood schools, my family and both my kids have benefitted from that model.

I cannot speak for the choice folks that you refer to or to the "attacks" on the neighborhood school concept that you refer to. I don't know who you perceive them to be, or even if such a group exists. Maybe you had an experience some years ago when choice programs were introduced. I was not part of that, so I have no first hand knowledge of that, but I will take you at your word that such a discussion occurred. If you are suggesting that I said anything that "pooh-poohed" neighborhood schools, please tell me what it is I said. I certainly had no intention of doing so, nor do I think that I have.

I will read into your request for my opinion about charter or private schools, and whether I support them or not. I take from the question that your intention meant as regards a school with an language immersion philosopy, or perhaps any instructional method that would vary from a common approach school district wide. This has been suggested by a number of people as the way for people who seek in the immediate case Mandarin Immersion, and by extension Spanish Immersion, directed learning, and open learning (may not have the Hoover and Ohlone philosophies named accurately, but you know what I mean.)

My answer to your question is that I believe that there is room in this district for neighborhood schools and some choice schools. To that end, I believe that the current hybrid model we have in the district is appropriate, and the conversation needs to be around how to deal with the problems it has--how things are at Escondido with SI is an example--and how that model should be adjusted going forward.

I am not in favor of having a pure neighborhood school model in Palo Alto, given where we are today. Nor do I blindly favor choice programs that result in the neighborhood schools being undermined.

I was asked in one string my opinion about where specifically an MI program should be placed. I answered honestly, that I did not know, because there are many aspects to such a question that I did not feel adequately informed about to have an opinion. I will comment that it does appear that the experience at Escondido, which has a combination of neighborhood kids and choice kids, has not worked out as expected. Lots of very upset people, with a valid point of view from their specific experience. There seem to be some reasons why it got to that point, which I only know from what I have read, no direct involvement in that personally. That approach does not look like something that should be extended, and as the whole choice matter (how many, what should they be, how many strands, where should they be) is evaluated, there are some pretty important findings from the Escondido/SI experience that need to be applied to how choice works in the district going forward.

I believe the nieghborhood school concept is alive and well in PAUSD, John. And that is how it should be. Suggestions of its demise, to paraphrase Mark Twain, are "greatly exaggerated."


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 12, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Paul,

You are dancing around the plain fact that your support for MI further erodes neighborhood schools. Just ask any neighborhood school: Who WANTS an immersion program put in their school? You will get an earful. We have already started to hear some complaints from Ohlone parents ( a choice school) - and they are already convinced about the choice concept.

Since you were around during the early days of SI, you must be aware that Fairmeadow wanted that program kicked out of their neighborhood school. They got their way, and it got dumped on Escondido.

I simply cannot fathom why there is this big push to force choice programs into our schools. "Hybrids" are good for cars, but not for schools.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 13, 2007 at 8:40 am

John,

You can interpret my comments however you see fit. It is quite clear from what has transpired around the SI experience at Escondido, and some of the issues raised around MI possibly being placed at Ohlone that there are issues around introduction of a new choice program into an existing school. I don't know how much more plainly I can put it.

There is no question that if a new choice program of any sort is considered for introduction, it has to be determined if there is a place for it that makes sense and that will be supported by the community as a whole. I think where we may be viewing this matter a bit differently is that you are basing your thoughts on the existing school mix we have in PAUSD. My thoughts are taking that into account, but also are conveyed in light of the possibility that what exists today as a mix may be different at another time and in different circumstances.

I am sorry, but I do not know very much about the Fairmeadow or Escondido experience, other than what I have heard and read. The USEFL group dis-banded after the Board passed some polices around language, and the group was not involved in selecting sites for SI or any of the other matters that followed the Board made its
decisions. The way you describe it makes it sound simply awful, and yours is an opinion that others may share and others may not.


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