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If Mandarin Immersion is adopted fluent Mandarin speaking children should be excluded

Original post made by David on Dec 27, 2006

I am not necessarily against a Mandarin immersion program but if one is adopted children who already speak Chinese (any dialect) should be excluded.

If fluent Chinese speakers are included it will be impossible for teachers to create a coherent program. Either the program will be geared to the non-Chinese speaking students and the Chinese speakers will be bored or the program will be geared to the Chinese speakers and the non-Chinese speakers will be lost.

If the non-Chinese speaking students drop out they will be replaced by Chinese speaking students and we will end up with a private Chinese school funded by the public school system as opponents of MI fear.

The reason why speakers of Chinese dialects other than Mandarin should be excluded is because the written language is common to all dialects and Cantonese speaking friends assure me that the differences between spoken Cantonese and Mandarin are not all that great.

Comments (169)

Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 27, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Makes me wonder what other brilliant ideas the unbiased and talented people of Palo Alto will come up with, to justify something they don't like.

And while at it, please raise this particular idea with our teachers so they will stop their clearly impossible effort -- as you so convincingly laid out -- of trying to teach in heterogeneous classrooms. Surely you are right that "it will be impossible for teachers to create a coherent program. Either the program will be geared to the non-math-proficient students and the math proficient will be bored or the program will be geared to the math proficient and the non-math-proficient will be lost."

I replaced "Chinese speakers" with "math-proficient" above, but the same argument surely ought to be made also for "fluent readers" and for "science-proficient." Why don't we start tracking in our schools from kindergarten?

On a more serious note, this has no rhyme or reason. Most young children barely know the language -- any language -- when they start kindergarten. The mix idea works with SI, and no reason it should not work with MI.


Posted by Eagle, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2006 at 7:51 pm

"Most young children barely know the language - any language - when they start Kindergarten." Hmmm. Well, most kinders I've seen actually do come in to the K classroom understanding one or two basic words - colors, letters, numbers, instructions, rules, names, places. Shucks one or two can even string a few words together and make an itty bitty sentence or two.

Wolf, come on. Even you must have seen how ??? that statement was as you were writing it. English speakers are at least conversationally adequate in English by Kindergarten. Most can write the Alphabet. Some are already reading. They can understand probably 99% of all Kinder level instruction they receive. On the other hand, English speakers will understand zero amount of the Mandarin language written or spoken.

The recent article in the Chronicle on SF's new MI classroom explained EXACTLY what David described. It described that the English speaking kids were spending their days learning rudimentary Mandarin words, colors, letters, nursery rhyme songs. That's not the definition of 'normal' kinder level material in PAUSD. So David's exactly right, native speakers will probably NOT be interested in wasting their children away in this rudimentary classroom by choice. I assume that's why the Chron article also said that the SF program had managed to sign up ZERO mandarin speakers (all English speakers).

The smart bet for the Mandarin speakers will be to go to an English speaking classroom K-2, continue saturday or afterschool Mandarin programs, wait for the mass exodus (you remember "Second Grade Panic", which Grace so helpfully pointed out is a known fact in MI programs everywhere??? - by the way, where was that discussion in the feasibility study?) and then have their Mandaring/English proficient kids join up in second or third grade, at which time the whole thing will stabilize at an appropriate grade level.

Actually this IS a concern in normal classrooms, having teachers juggling too many divergent learning needs and levels at once. You've heard of the district's priority of solving the achivement gap? (Maybe you haven't because you've too busy with your head buried in your MI priority.) That's exactly what they have to deal with today - by requirement, not by choice.

So why would we create more of this bad situation by choice?

Wolf - now it sounds like your being argumentative just for the sake of being argumentative. You're hardly making sense any more.

Or did that suggestion hit a little too close to home? Perhaps the constituency that would be paying the bill for the incremental costs of the MI program, wouldn't be too happy with this idea and the funding source would dry up? Or maybe that would dry up the majority of the prospective sign-ups and result in not enough kids to run the program?? I'm sure the bulk of your petition signers would flip out if this happened.

Fun idea to think about David, thanks for the suggestion.


Posted by achievement gap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2006 at 7:09 am

Wolf, as a matter of fact my kids were completely left behind at their dear PAUSD school, which spent all efforts on the lowest achievers and behavioral issues to the complete detriment of kids who needed high-end differentiation and a modicum of encouragement. Moreover, GATE is a joke in this district, so we don't have to worry about that either. Math differentiation -- well, has the distict come out with that robust program of differentiated materials it was promising a couple of years ago? (I don't know the answer -- pulled my kid after only a couple of units were delivered the first year). They are in private school which we could not afford -- took out all sorts of loans to make it happen -- because it was a family priority to have our kids in a school where they could thrive academically and emotionally. Also, scholarships do exist for private schools.

It would be great if the feasibility addressed the issue of 2nd grade panic in a thoughful, instead of ignoring or dismissive way. It should have covered all the pros and cons in a reasoned way. It would give opponents and proponents alike a realistic view of what lies ahead if the program is put in place. No one can make an educated decision based on the study in its current form.

I don't know that I agree with David's suggestion, but I do know that it brings up yet another point that was not addressed. Butwhenever an opponent brings up a rational issue that should have been addressed, Wolf et al. jump in with all sorts of charges instead f saying, yes, let's do an addendum to the report that looks at this issue so that we can put your minds to rest. Every time one of these discussion cycles comes up, it gives the distinct impression that the MI supporters (or at least Wolf) want us to shut up and let the program go forward and iron out any foreseeable problems after we've committed.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 28, 2006 at 8:26 am

David, I am glad you are not a priori against a Mandarin immersion program, but everything you said about immersion was wrong.

There is a lot of literature about immersion programs, so please read up on that. Immersion programs take as their premise that you have both native speakers and non-speakers (for both languages). There are many immersion programs running around the country and throughout the world, yielding ample data for the success of this approach.

So, if that was your only objection, I welcome you to the fold of MI supporters!

(BTW, as for dialects, many or most are mutually unintelligible: morphology is different; grammar is different. Some are as different as Italian is from Danish. There is no standard way to represent most Chinese dialects in written formâ€"Cantonese is somewhat an exception.)


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2006 at 8:59 am

David, Here is a link to much rich information on immersion research.
Web Link
In a nutshell, two-way immersion the best teaching methodology. Two-way immersion means that you need native speakers of BOTH languages. The ideal ratio of native Mandarin speakers to non-native is 50/50. At the school board meeting on 12/12 Dr. Cook and Ms. Cohn-Vargas were asked about the "best ratio." They said that PAUSD's Spanish immersion program, in practice, is actually at 1/3 native speakers and is still very effective. The presence of the native speakers helps immensely to create the bi-lingual environment that is necessary to gain all the cognitive benefits of the immersion teaching methodology.

Achievement gap, As far as "2nd grade panic" goes, I think it is addressed in the feasibility study. In every single school that the authors visited, they said attrition was not an issue. Maybe the "2nd grade panic" is more anecdotal that statistical. I am not sure how else you would want the authors to research it. If you ask the school if it is an issue, and they so no attrition, what would you suggest the authors should follow up with? (I want to be clear that I am asking this in earnest, not sarcastically, I know tone and intent can be hard to gauge on a blog.)


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 28, 2006 at 9:53 am

Thanks, Nico, for a very informative website. I thought David's idea was off the mark, but now I'm sure of it.


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2006 at 10:58 am

061226 Granite will offer immersion classes
Salt Lake Tribune article, Dec 26, 2006
Web Link


Posted by achievement gap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2006 at 11:54 am

Hi, Nico. Thanks for your response. Based on your posting, I went back and read the portion of the feasibility study that addresses attrition etc. It does not actually address the issue in the way you say it does. It simply states that the positions of children who drop out will be filled, beyond 1st grade, with Mandarin proficient students. It further states that although attrition was greater at the beginning of some of these programs, they generally have low attrition a few years after they are established and that attrition is not a concern.

You ask "If you ask the school if it is an issue, and they so no attrition, what would you suggest the authors should follow up with?" Well, hard data. Ask for the actual numbers. If reports of "2nd grade panic", unsubstantiated by data, are to be thrown out as "anecdotal," it seems reasonable to apply the same standard to the anecdotal evidence provided and relied upon in the report. In the interest of being thorough and complete, what is the downside to obtaining actual attrition and diversity and other statistics from those MI programs, and while we're at it, conducting a thorough review of our existing SI program? The report contains other assertions that are equally unfounded. Or, they may be founded but the report does not provide objective evidence for that.

Mind you, I'm not opposed to MI. I don't care one way or another. I am all about holding professionals accountable for the quality and thoroughness of their work, because not to do that just paves the way for sloppiness and inefficiency. Heaven knows, we have had enough of that in this district already.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 28, 2006 at 2:04 pm

I spent several hours reading postings on the web site for which Nico was kind enough to provide a link.

I found a lot of cheerleading, some rather cursory stuff that would get a D- in a sophomore statistics class and, finally, some really interesting papers. Most of the latter come from Canada and I would suggest that both supporters and opponents of MI read them.

One of the Canadian papers indicates that dropout rates before the 4th year are 50 percent. This was a study of one particular district and there was no indication of how that compares to national norms. But for proponents to say that dropouts are not an issue seems to me ingenuous.

And if dropouts prove to be a problem and the dropouts are replaced with already fluent Mandarin speakers we will have what is essentially a private Chinese school within the public school system. I don't think anybody would be well served by that.

Like "achievement gap" I don't care that strongly one way or the other. To use a current colloquialism I have no "skin in the game" since my children graduated ages ago.

BTW, I am not exactly naive on this subject. My son-in-law taught in the Davis Spanish immersion school and I was sent, at the age of 5 to a yeshiva where instruction was in Hebrew. THAT was a disaster but I will assume that methods have improved in the intervening years.


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 28, 2006 at 2:45 pm

David, if you could please provide the URL for the Canadian school (district?) which had the 50% dropout rate, I'd be interested in reading it.

Here's a PBS Teacher resource article which touches on pros and cons:

The Issues: Language Immersion Programs: The Benefits of Learning in Two Languages

PBS Teacher Resource article
Web Link



Posted by achievement gap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2006 at 4:48 pm

Just have to make the point, for what feels like the hundredth time, that the great information provided by Grace and other MI proponents is wonderful and informative but, unfortunately, the people who were paid to conduct the feasibility study and draft the report were not nearly as careful to include statistics and facts as Grace is. What a shame. It was a lot of money to spend for a half-baked product.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 28, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Grace,

the following is from an article from Arnett and Fortune regarding dropout rates in Canada:

"While research strongly indicates that immersion programs can achieve their stated goals of academic achievement and high levels of proficiency and literacy in English and the immersion language, there is also evidence that many students enrolled in these programs struggle and eventually leave the program. After a review of the literature on studies investigating the topic of transfer, Stern (1991) approximates transfer rates from French immersion to non-immersion programs for Canadian K-6 students at between 40-50%."

The total article can be found at:

Web Link

Notice that it refers to a paper by Stern which I saw on the carla web site but for some reason cannot find now.

I will keep looking.

Regards, David


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2006 at 5:02 pm

Achievement gap,
The only hard data I have in hand is the enrollment data for PAUSD's Spanish Immersion program for this year. SI has a LARGER than PAUSD average class size for every year other than 5th grade.
Grade level, PAUSD AVERAGE, (# in SI)
Kindergarten, 18.8,(20)
1st Grade, AVG=19.7, (SI=21)
2nd Grade, AVG=19.7, (SI=20)
3rd Grade, AVG=19.7, (SI=20)
4th Grade, AVG=20.6, (SI=21)
5th Grade, AVG=21.1, (SI=19)

I hope to have time to re-read the feasibility report tonight and will respond to your claim that I mis-interpreted. That is possible, I'll get back to you.

David, I would also like to read about the Canadian program with high drop-out rates, if you can post the URL. I have heard (sorry, it's anecdotal) that the Mandarin Immersion program in the Cupertino public school system had atrition issues following moving the program from one campus to another. Now that the location is stable I think that issue has gone away (again sorry, it's anecdotal).


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2006 at 5:05 pm

David, sorry I must have been writing while you were posting. I'll read the article tonight, thank-you for the link.


Posted by achievement gap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2006 at 5:31 pm

Hi Nico -- thanks for your reasoned response. The PAUSD stats, as I read them, don't say how many out, how many in. Which means that we know how many there were for that 11th day or whatever it was, but not what kind of turnaround there was. I don't think people are saying that MI will be under-enrolled, but rather that as people drop out (and the study doesn't provide stats on that) they will be replaced with native or near-native speakers and thus the population will be skewed, thus resulting in the private Chinese school funded by public funds situation. I really have no idea whether this would happen as suggested by others. I am just saying that the kind of information that would support the MI program, such as a low-turnover rate as shown by actual, factual numbers is missing. I am all for language immersion. I learned one language at home and another via immersion and I think it's a wonderful gift to give our children. What I don't agree with is moving forward on the basis of a half-thought out product that doesn't answer many questions that the public has been asking. Yes, the public can go out and inform itself. But still, why weren't those answers put into the feasibility study report? It gets back to my general irritation with the shoddy way 25 Churchill has been doing things. And, just to cross over to the subject of a different thread, I hope that the investigation is continuing and that there will be some accountability for quality of job performance. I do appreciate the tone I have seen in this forum.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2006 at 9:55 pm

Hi Achievement gap,
I did get a chance to go over the feasibility study again. On page 15 they have the actual calculation you refer to (I think) in terms of students in/students out for 2004 to 2005, and 2005 to 2006. The attrition rate for returning students from 2004-2005 was 3.4% (the PAUSD average is 8-9%). This corresponds to 5 students (out of 146 in K-4) that were enrolled in 2004 not returning in 2005. There were 4 students in 2006 that did not return.
I am actually not sure I understand this statement "(students who leave) ....replaced with native or near-native speakers and thus the population will be skewed, thus resulting in the private Chinese school funded by public funds situation." The vacant slots can be filled in many ways. Families could move to Palo Alto from one of the many places that have Mandarin immersion programs in their public schools (Cupertino, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Burlingame (in 2008)), etc. There are over 100 language immersion programs in public schools in California alone (this includes Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, Korean etc.). Students could also come from one of the private Mandarin immersion programs (there is one in San Francisco, one in Palo Alto, one in Mountain View) although they would have to reside in PAUSD boundaries (maybe this what you are opposed to?). Families who move to Palo Alto from other countries, such as China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Singapore, etc, could also fill the open slots. It would be interesting to find out where Cupertino, Portland, etc. get the kids to fill open slots.
I hope that your comment isn't suggesting a racial bias. As the parent of 2 Caucasian kids who are fluent in Mandarin I know there are many of us of all colors who are passionate about the immersion methodology for our kids. (Again this is probably the issue with not being about to read intent or tone on a blog and maybe you mean something else all together). If you are concerned about diversity among people interested in the program, I have tons of data on that that I would be happy to share if it might ease your concerns.
David,
I have tried repeatedly to open that darn link. I guess without knowing what the issue they discuss in Canada is, I still feel pretty confident about MI here. If the attrition rate in Palo Alto for Spanish immersion is around 3% (and in fact less than half the district average), then I think MI would also have low attrition. This is also supported by what the feasibility study authors found at the 8 schools they visited. On another note, based on your not-so-great experience at the yeshiva, any words of advice on what not to do in an immersion program?


Posted by achievement gap, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2006 at 10:52 pm

Nico -- I appreciate your patient efforts to educate those of us who are concerned that all potential pitfalls are being considered and addressed, as they must be.

My thought was originally that if you had a non-native speaker admitted in k-1 and a native speaker replaced that child in 2-5, the population would be skewed because the district does try to maintain an ethnic (and other, I guess) balance in each school. But upon reflection, I suppose that either way the child would be replaced by another child who can demonstrate fluency. Therefore, as you point out, the child could come from a private school (assuming PAUSD residency), speak fluently with a non-asian but fluent family member (or, for that matter, caretaker), etc. Great points and well taken.

This is making for an interesting discussion, and I do wish that at the December 12 meeting those authors of hte Feasibilty study had responded as articulately and with as much substantiation as many MI propoents on these threads.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 28, 2006 at 11:26 pm

Nico,

The link to the article on Canadian drop-out rates works for me. I tried it on a Mac using Safari and a PC using Firefox.

The only thing I can suggest is that you place your mouse over the link. You should then see the url on the bottom (status) line of your browser. Then write it down, bring up a new browser window and copy the address into the address field.

It is a pdf document so you must have the adobe plug-in installed.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 28, 2006 at 11:41 pm

Nico, it's great that you have kids who are bilingual in Mandarin. It's a powerful ability. But I just simply can't support a program in our public schools that will benefit only your kids and about 40 others/year. Not only will my kids never have this opportunity, but 95% of the rest of the school kids won't either. Why should the community at large be jumping for joy over a program that has great benefit to 5% of our school kids and does absolutely nothing for the other 95%. 5% get immersion and 95% get no language, no nothin'. Even tho this program is "cost neutral" there is limited time and energy for teachers, principals, and administrators to do their jobs. Every minute they spend on MI is one less minute spent on making the schools better for every child. I think common sense dictates that a complicated new program will take time away from improving the achievement gap, reinstituting GATE, etc.
I believe EVERY kid in this district deserves the best possible education. Do you understand why I'm not happy that my kids aren't getting the benefit of early language exposure also? (And I don't believe for a minute it's going to happen - didn't after SI was implemented and they had 10 years to get it going) I'm passionate about my kids too and I'm also passionate about what is fair and just and for a huge program to be implemented that creates a special education for 40 kids/year is just not right for a public school. Shouldn't everyone in theory at a PUBLIC school graduate with a superior education where everyone who participates has the same exposure to knowledge and the same potential to succeed?




Posted by Another, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:31 am

Nico, quoting the SI attrition rate is not of value for this discussion. As we know (as has been stated as fact by PAUSD in the grant study) Mandarin is 3-4X more difficult than Spanish. Cupertino's MI program continues every year (not just in start up phase) to have 7-8% attrition rate - which equates to graduating about 60-65% of original Kinder entrants by 5th/6th grade. And now we have the Canadian study above which supports this. Along with PAUSD average, I think we have enough evidence to suggest the more appropriate attrition rate should be considered at the 7-8% range. If you have evidence from other Mandarin programs, please provide. The feasibility studiers should have provided this since they made some vague unsubstantiated claims to this effect.

With this attrition rate level, and considering the known difficulty of Mandarin language for English speakers, we can assume the attrition will come more heavily from English speakers.

If you fill those positions with native speakers, then about 75-90% of students graduating from this program will be Chinese. I'm sorry to bring it up, but yes, it is a disproportionate beneift to a single ethnic group that is not fair and representative to the community.

On the other hand, if you feel that families not currently in PAUSD will be filling the program, then you are creating enrollment growth, even over and above the enrollment growth projections we already have. Now, I know you will be quick to say we are a great district and isn't enrollment growth just grand? Should we revert to being losers just because we don't want enrollment growth? No, that is not what we're saying. The fact is that we are a basic aid district and enrollment growth cuts in to our per pupil spending. When you go out of your way to create it you harm the ability to serve the rest of the students. We already have a significant growth trajectory to contend with, A very significant financial issue. This would be an optional additional growth population. So this needs to be accounted for (financially) and ensured that we can cover the financial impact. Now, the feasibilty study stated for fact that this would occur but made no attempt to quantify. This is another hole in the study. For every student you add, unless they come with about $10,000 in new revenue, they cut in. So how many new students are we attracting? At what new revenue rate? All this should be part of the feasibility study and the cost neutral discussion. And it hasn't been. Negligent.

And back on the topic of Cupertino's program... You stated they had some initial difficulty. Well actually, they continue to have high attrition rate even through today.

But even so, where was the discussion of the pitfalls, challenges that Cupertino's program experienced in start up? Completely avoiding the topic again points to an attempt to whitewash the reality.

I've been told by Mandy that they had two challenges;

1) they moved the program around to different schools in the beginning which destabilized the program. Well, isn't that exactly what you and others are suggesting for PAUSD program? Place it temporarily in the first couple years until Garland opens? What impact will that have? Why no discussion in the study?

2) they had trouble when they chose the dialect. Mandy asked some questions about this in the 12/12 meeting - what is PAUSD going to use, and Marilyn and Becky came back with very vague answers about not spending much time on that, no decisions, but probably... Very cursory, 'seat of the pants' answers to this question. Mandy was asking about this because she knows darn well this was a major stumbling block for Cupertino. And still, no discussion of this in the feasibiliyt study, and hardly even time of day from staff who put this report together.

On point after point the feasibility study was arrogant in its ommissions of fact, of balanced discussion, of pros and cons. And the studiers have done a huge disservice by now expecting each individual in the community to go to 25 web links and research this one at a time, and yet they continue to point to the study as 'factual proof' that the program is 'feasible'. The only thing the feasibiliyt study really proves is that we still have a 'trust and respect' problem in this district.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:49 am

I agree with you "palo alto mom." Being bilingual is a powerful ability. Becoming bilingual is effortless for children who are immersed in a language. That is why I am so passionate about this. When I heard that PAUSD was considering a program that would give this same gift of bilingualism in Mandarin to its students I had to become involved. I can't tell you how amazing it is to see my sons speaking Mandarin. I also think that their overall vocabulary in both languages, as well as their creativity and problem solving are greatly enhanced because they have been immersed in Mandarin for 10-20 hours a week. (Sorry, I hope I don't sound too much like a bragging mom) If PAUSD approves this program then other monolingual families like ours will share this amazing experience. In fact, thanks to the Spanish immersion program, parents in PAUSD already are.
I am listening to your concerns (many of them are also discussed in the "choice" vs. "luck" thread and the "compromise" thread among others, if you are interested in yet more debate.) I just have arrived at a totally different idea about what would be great for PAUSD and it's kids than you have. I don't even think one of us is "wrong" or "right," we just have different conclusions and have reached a point in the discussion that is more gut than fact. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we think it will be up to the school board on January 30.
Here is my take on some of your points.
- benefits a small number of kids.
o In Palo Alto there are many people who are in the "neighborhood school" camp and many in the "choice school" camp. Choice schools are currently limited in size. They are still highly valued by many Palo Alto parents, every choice program in PAUSD (Hoover, Ohlone, Spanish Immersion) has a waiting list. Some of these lists have close to 100 people on them. We could benefit more kids if we made these programs larger, would that make you feel better or worse about that solution?
o All choice programs are open to every PAUSD resident, so all who want it have the opportunity, even your kids (if they are entering K in 2007 or later).
o I also think (and here I am getting way into un-quanitifiable) that programs that foster cross-cultural experiences do benefit all of Palo Alto (and the world) and not just the 240 students ultimately in the program.
- Staff time is a "zero sum game" (every minute spent on MI could be spent on something else). I actually feel like this is the weakest of your arguments. MI will not take much staff time and I feel like the benefits would strongly outweigh the small amount of lost time for "something else that must be more important than MI." I also think that the people and staff at PAUSD work their butts off and I believe that they can do MI and FLES and the rest of their jobs.
- MI will mean that Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) will not happen. I think that MI and FLES are complimentary. Also, as Dr. Marilyn Cook pointed out in the 12/12/06 school board meeting, when SI was started in 1996 (?) 2 FLES pilot programs were also started. So, with SI there was overall foreign languages momentum. 11 years later, we still have a popular SI program but unfortunately both FLES pilot programs were shut down. This was probably due to funding, FLES is much more expensive than immersion and much more complicated. I think if we re-open the FLES discussion, it could be very successful now. I would love to be on the task force for that, if one is opened. I also think that the historical precedent seems to be immersion programs actually give momentum to FLES. Another logistical issue with the "FLES is somehow connected to MI" argument, is that MI will be voted on January 30, it can be run completely independently of FLES. They are different programs with different timelines. They are complimentary but separate.
- MI somehow goes against a "same education for all" approach. All choice programs, SI, Ohlone and Hoover deliver the identical curriculum to all of PAUSD. The way in which it is delivered is the only difference. Immersion is another "content delivery" methodology. Researchers believe (see link in earlier post) that being immersed in a bilingual environment is a whole different way to learn the same thing. For example, math will be taught in Mandarin instead of English. The same math content but in a different language. There are many cognitive benefits to being surrounded by a foreign language (creativity, vocabulary and problem solving among them). It is also, like Ohlone and Hoover, not for everybody. Lots of people in Palo Alto probably don't want their kids to learn math, California history, science, etc. in Mandarin. That is why it should be a choice program.
Thanks Palo Alto mom. I do really take your points to heart and think about them. I have found the town square to be very enlightening and I enjoy and learn from the debate. I think the big picture is that we both passionately want what we feel is best for our kids and our community. We just have different visions of what that is. Although, maybe with more debate we can find the common ground.


Posted by back to basics, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:24 am

Nico, you state: "In Palo Alto there are many people who are in the “neighborhood school” camp and many in the “choice school” camp. Choice schools are currently limited in size. They are still highly valued by many Palo Alto parents, every choice program in PAUSD (Hoover, Ohlone, Spanish Immersion) has a waiting list. Some of these lists have close to 100 people on them. We could benefit more kids if we made these programs larger, would that make you feel better or worse about that solution?"

Possibly, but this hasn't even been discussed. It's like the BoE is only considering MI or nothing. It is this blinkered approach that most people are objecting to. If MI was a bad idea then we wouldn't be considering it.
I think that the problem is that MI is a good idea but that alone isn't sufficient to justify doing it. Specifically since, for example, "we could benefit more kids if we made [existing choice] programs larger".
Why is the BoE considering MI rather than providing strategic direction on what we should be doing with choice programs overall? Once this has been thrashed out they could then justify any decision they make.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:35 am

Why the push to learn Mandarin or any form of Chinese? In China, everyone who is in business is furiously trying to learn English. In Germany they're requiring English in order to graduate high school. They're doing this because English is the language of commerce worldwide. What kind of jobs will require Mandarin or Cantonese in the future? If we're deciding to inflict Chinese on our children for some other reason than making a living, what is it? Why would be trying to learn the languages of a country where 51 percent of the people live on farms? Where those who practice certain religions are arrested and imprisoned? Where children are put to work in sweatshops? Where the illiteracy rate of women is five times that of men? Where the state forces abortions on parents who have already had a child?

Have we gone mad?


Posted by James, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:50 am

....and to be fair:

If French Immersion is adopted fluent French speaking children should be excluded
If German Immersion is adopted fluent German speaking children should be excluded
If Spanish Immersion is adopted fluent Spanish speaking children should be excluded
If English Immersion is adopted fluent English speaking children should be excluded


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:55 am

Another,
I would really love to have your source for Cupertino's attrition data. I have only been able to get anecdotal information, so if you would share your source for the 7-8% (and the 60%) figures I would appreciate it. Even at 8% a MI program would then be even with PAUSD as a whole, so I guess I am not seeing the cause for major alarm? Also, if MI can't keep its enrollment up or classes full for whatever reason, it will be shut down. So there is a "plan B" for this worse case scenario.
I am not sure how to counter the "Mandarin is so hard that English speakers (code for whites?) will flee". I actually think the fact that my kids are Caucasian and speaking Mandarin has made me that much more fanatical about keeping it up. Learning Mandarin has been effortless for them, I don't know that Spanish would have been easier or harder. I can only speak from my experience, not data on this point.
My point about people moving here being able to fill spots, was countering backfilling of open spaces left by attrition. The scenario is a family with a kid in a Mandarin Immersion program in Chicago has a job transfer to the bay area. They would probably choose Palo Alto if they could keep up their bilingual kid's education. So, in the fact that they choose Palo Alto over Menlo Park, there could be an extra family here. As far as people moving into the district for MI at the Kindergarten level, I think one good thing about a lottery is that it is risky to uproot your family for a chance at a spot. Once a family hears that there is a waiting list and their chance to get in is limited they usually re-think the move. I have heard moving to the district doesn't happen for the (really popular) SI program, so I doubt it would happen for MI. It would also be hard to predict? There also are a limited number of available houses and apartments in PAUSD. We are already pretty full as a town, so where would the people live and are we sure they would displace a family with no kids? The 3rd scenario, which you don't mention but I will address, is people that live within PAUSD that may leave ISTP or Yew Cheung for PAUSD, causing enrollment growth. I have heard (anecdotally) that ISTP is less than 10% Palo Alto residents, Yew Cheung in Mountain View is even less Palo Altans. So, if ISTP has 25 preschoolers this year, then 3 of them may be eligible for the K lottery next year. Probably not all of them will get in, and if they do I guess I feel like they pay taxes in Palo Alto and if there is a MI program they should be able to go.
To your (and Mandy's) points:
1. moving the program de-stabilized it. I think starting a program with a plan to move it, is very different than what happened in Cupertino. If the families that sign up for MI know that in 3 years they will move it won't cause any attrition. I do think that we can learn from Cupertino that having a plan, communicating it to families and sticking to it is important.
2. The "dialect issue". It actually isn't a dialect that is being discussed. There is not debate about the spoken form of Mandarin. What is "controversial" to some is how to teach kids to read. I would like to start this by saying I am in no way an expert and I hope I get this mostly right. There is a system used in Taiwan called Zhuyin Fuhao that is sort of like phonics. It takes the sounds of the language and represents it with 37 characters. So, in order to read something in Zhuyin Fuhao you only need to memorize those 37 characters. But, in order to actually read a newspaper, or a book that isn't in Zhuyin then you also need to know the "real characters" for words. So, in this system the kids learn Zhuyin and memorize the "real characters" in parallel. Zhuyin is completely phased out by 2nd grade and books for adults/teens aren't printed in Zhuyin. In mainland China they dive straight into characters. They don't bother with Zhuyin at all. So kids read independently later, but they don't invest time in a system that is thrown out in 2nd grade anyway. As an outsider to this debate, I have to say there is a bit of political Taiwan vs. Mainland China about it. I guess you prefer to want your kids to learn the way you did. It is also far from a deal breaker. I think again what we can learn from Cupertino is that you need to pick a system, have a plan and stick to it. When you make a big change to curriculum (like how to learn to read) it is hard for teachers and parents and it ticks people off and they may leave. You also need to buy all new books. I think most people (even Chinese and Taiwanese) are in the same camp as me, kids learn to read in either system so pick one and support it. I also think it is OK that Mandy, Becki and Dr. Cook defer to an expert on this point. It is pretty esoteric and I think Mr. Masuda (or somebody else with Mandarin curriculum experience) should be the one heading up which one to pick. I also think that very few people would decide to enter/not enter the program based on how the Zhuyin/character decision is made.

I am actually going to be off the computer for the rest of the day, so happy debating. I'll check in tomorrow.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:59 am

Another,

In trying to guess the eventual attrition rate, it's really impossible to say whether SI in Palo Alto or MI in Cupertino gives a better gauge. In any case, your numbers for Cupertino are way off. This year's CLIP attrition was 4 percent (257 kids enrolled first through fifth; 268 had enrolled in K-fourth the previous year). Thus by the end of elementary, 100 kids would be reduced, on average, to 82. Clearly, far better than the averages in Palo Alto schools.

As for what percentage of those graduating from the program would be racially Chinese: that will depend on who enrolls. Typically, dual immersion programs require a minimum of 1/3 native speakers for each language. Most native speakers of Mandarin will be Chinese (though as Nico has pointed out there will be exceptions).

However, every kid will have an equal shot at getting a slot in MI. If Chinese-Americans have a greater interest, they will be over-represented. This equal chance makes it fair.

Your fixation on the race of those who would enroll is troubling.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2006 at 12:07 pm

back to basics,
Here is a post I made to the "compromise" thread that addresses your question:
PACE and Grace Mah have been working on starting a Mandarin Immersion program based on the Spanish Immersion program for the past 5 years. "...the process for adding choice programs is, and always has been, very grass roots and parent driven not necessarily "strategic and board driven".... Spanish Immersion was championed by parents, I think that Hoover and Ohlone were started the same way (in the 1970's). In fact the process that PACE has followed is clearly spelled out in the "Guidelines for Developing, Implementing, and Expanding/Replicating Large-Scale Alternative Programs" see link:


www.pausd.palo-alto.ca.us/parents/programs/downloads/guidelinesdevlargescalealtprograms.pdf


Posted by Another, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 12:51 pm

How do you figure equal chance for all if Mandarin proficiency is required after first grade? And not only that, the study point blank states that the program will be open to all with the express exception that participants MUST be either English or Mandarin proficient. Sor how is this equal chance for all? That's what's troubling to me.

It is not impossible to say - its actually logical to say Mandarin programs are a better model for Mandarin programs. And since the feasibility study team has (theoretically) used several Mandarin program's as examples for their prounouncements - they should have no problem whatsoever in providing the DATA to show us the experience of Mandarni programs.

Nico, the cause for alarm is that our supposed professionals have not discussed any of these points and left the rest of us to rely on internet trolls to guess what's right, what's real, what fact, and what fiction.

My source for Cupertino's attrition data was Grace Mah. It was posted on Palo Alto Online in a very early string, she gave the 11th day enrollment data for 2000 - 2006 by class. I'll go take a look back through and see if I can find it.. I copied the data to my PC so I'll post that next. And Bill, the data is only incorrect in so far as Grace provided bad data. The average since inception of the program is definitely in the 7-8% range.

The Alternative/Choice guidelines provide nothing more than an outline of the questions that must be answered for an evaluation of the program. Simply the answering of those questions DO NOT imply the program is valid, responsible, risk free, or within district or community priorities. In fact the completion of those steps has not occured because the feasibility study step is so grossly inadequate, so lacking in balanced presentation, and so clearly a biased and one sided sales presentation for the original proposal, that it could not even be used by a hen to justify laying an egg.

Nico, why do we need to have you (who are you, and what are your qualifications???) telling us all about the Cupertino issues - why didn't the feasibility studiers present this up front? Why do we have to catch them in the act of willful ommission on this stuff before some random private citizen comes forth with some opinion based description of the issues? Again, the staff that should have been doing a feasibility study has completely failed this district.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 29, 2006 at 1:01 pm

Here's an idea -- the two most powerful arguments that I can see for language immersion are that it helps non-english speakers learn English and that it gives English-only speakers a head start in learning a new language. My understanding is that these were also the two most important reasons behind the District's support of SI in Palo Alto. So if MI is adopted, how about we make it available only to two groups: children who speak only Mandarin (and no English) and children who speak English (and no Mandarin)? i.e. we make it a rule that any child who speaks both english and mandarin can't get in. That way we offer the huge benefits of the program to those who need them most. I don't think anyone could doubt that children speaking only Mandarin need as much help as they can learning english. And if Mandarin is such an important language for us to have our children learn, then we should logically look to maximise the number learning it. Children who have both Mandarin and English before entering school already have the advantage that MI is designed to give them, so they don't need the benefit as much as the many others in the district who are being left out of language education at the elementary school level. To my mind running the admissions process in this way still wouldn't make it right to go ahead with MI right now (see the 'luck or choice' thread and the 'compromise' thread for plenty of reasons why), but it's an interesting exercise that might tease out the reasons why PAUSD might want to go ahead with such a project. Would PACE, Nico, Bill, Wolf etc. support this model of immersion? If not this model, why not? Nico, this would, for example disallow your own children from entering the lottery for a place in MI. Would you be okay with that if it benefitted others who need it more?


Posted by CLIP Parent, a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2006 at 1:01 pm

For Cupertino's attrition problem, I can tell you that moving to 5 different sites is worse than just moving once, as might happen at PAUSD. Haven't all of your choice programs moved at least once? And SI seems fine and dandy.

For our moving around, we have a much larger geography to cover. CUSD covers a 26-square mile area that includes the city of Cupertino and portions of San Jose, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Santa Clara, and Los Altos.

When we moved the program, it moved from one end of the city to another to another to another. That caused a lot of attrition.

As to the curriculum problem. It wasn't a dialect problem, it was the basic Mandarin/English exposure that changed. For the first year, it was only 10% (more like a FLES program), then it went to 50/50 for about 3 years, then it was 70/30 for about 3 years. The administration's wavering on the percentage was cause for much heartache and diviciveness.

Despite these problems, we have had waitlists for every kinder class in the last 3 years, when we stopped accepting out-of-district transfers.

Our director had a long talk with PAUSD administration and I'm sure discussed all of this.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 29, 2006 at 1:04 pm

I'm posting this again so it's an easier read.

Here's an idea -- the two most powerful arguments that I can see for language immersion are that it helps non-english speakers learn English and that it gives English-only speakers a head start in learning a new language.

My understanding is that these were also the two most important reasons behind the District's support of SI in Palo Alto.

So if MI is adopted, how about we make it available only to two groups: children who speak only Mandarin (and no English) and children who speak English (and no Mandarin)? i.e. we make it a rule that any child who speaks both english and mandarin can't get in.

That way we offer the huge benefits of the program to those who need them most.

I don't think anyone could doubt that children speaking only Mandarin need as much help as they can learning english. And if Mandarin is such an important language for us to have our children learn, then we should logically look to maximise the number learning it.

Children who have both Mandarin and English before entering school already have the advantage that MI is designed to give them, so they don't need the benefit as much as the many others in the district who are being left out of language education at the elementary school level.

To my mind running the admissions process in this way still wouldn't make it right to go ahead with MI right now (see the 'luck or choice' thread and the 'compromise' thread for plenty of reasons why), but it's an interesting exercise that might tease out the reasons why PAUSD might want to go ahead with such a project. Would PACE, Nico, Bill, Wolf etc. support this model of immersion? If not this model, why not?

Nico, this would, for example disallow your own children from entering the lottery for a place in MI. Would you be okay with that if it benefitted others who need it more?


Posted by Another, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 1:31 pm

You can find the Cupertino MI enrollment 11th day enrollment table in the string called "Why all this Controversy over Mandarin Immersion" in posting about half way through, on August 8th, by Grace Mah.

The 2006 enrollment given at that time was 'projected'.

However I confirmed the 2006 actuals with Jeremy Nishamara as follows: (which are almost identical, I believe 1 less than the projected..)

Kindergarten: 60
First Grade: 59
Second Grade: 58
Third Grade: 59
Fourth Grade: 47
Fifth Grade: 31
Sixth Grade: 24
Seventh Grade: 21
Eighth Grade: 6


By the way - this gives you best case scenario, because the total enrollment can disguise some of the attrition. Maybe even TONS of attrition. (How do we know? Did we have our knowledgable feasibility studiers clear this up for us??? In other words you can lose 5 and repopulate the next year with 5, and show year over year net zero change. This disguises some of the potential turn over, and no one seems to be able to look at their class rosters, or participant names to give us the full story. Not even our own SI. So again, I believe the appropriately conservative way to look at this would be to use the PAUSD average or average of other MANDARIN programs.

And why does it matter?

Try this. Take 40 per year 20 English speakers and 20 Native Mandarin speakers. Replace 8% every year with Native Mandarin speakers. How many native Mandarin speakers do you have by end of the program? How many Hindi speakers, German Speakers, Spanish Speakers, French Speakers did you serve? How many English speakers?

Why does this matter?
Because our PAUSD published Alternative/Choice program guidelines state that the programs will reach an racial, ethnic, and socioeconimical enrollment representative of the community. They SEPARATELY discuss a fair enrollment process. So the point on reaching a balanced represention - was the board acting racist when they put that in there? No. Its to protect diversity and opportunity across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the community. Trying to maintain and protect fairness and access to all is not racist. Trying to ignore this as an issue is, and barrell through a program that you know DARN WELL will be racial biased IS racist.

If you are an advertiser and you are said to be reaching your target audience, it means you are attracting customers, bringing in new business - it doesn't mean you are just opening your doors and hoping for the best. Reach means to actually attract and take hold of. When the board wrote that section of the guidelines they were clearly making a statement about expectation that programs must maintain a balance. Therefore Bills lame comments about open the doors and if only one group shows up - its still fair. The fact that this is language based, by default creates an exclusionary situation - its self selecting. And wrong. Try taking a look at some US history from the sixties people.

And by the way - the feasibility study says' they'll 'reach' families during Kindergarten information nights? When are those? I have had two kinders start in PAUSD, and I have NEVER heard of a Kindergarten information session. Has anybody else ever heard of these? When/where was the one for 2006/2007 school year?

Perhaps this isn't an issue in SI - if there are a diversity of people life that speak spanish, then a diversity of population can participate. And that might be more likely for Spanish since Spanish is so widely spoken in California and such an integral part of daily life. I don't know.

And when the feasibility study glibly and unsubstantiatedly claim that some people (somewhere) claimed that attrition wasn't a problem - what does that mean?? How much? Do they have attrition but have no problem filling it in their community because they have tons of ELL students in that community of the target language? There is not context or data given for these statements.

Where's the beef?

The people who have presented this feasibility study have done a dangerous disservice to this community. And the fact that we're allsupposed to be going out and doing our own research on this, and talking to staff and board one on one to get the straight story - realy tells that the public has been done and injustic. I hope the board is reading and hearing this.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 2:11 pm

Oh good we have a CLIP parent. CLIP parent, they must have program contact lists or program or a PTA type directory for the program? Clearly we don't need to see the names and I wouldn't suggest such a thing. Can you just tell us if such participant lists exist?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 29, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Using Another's 2006 actual enrollment figures (thanks), the year-on-year drop for CLIP elementary was 5 percent (again a figure well below PA averages), not 8 percent. Sounds to me like they are doing a great job of keeping their kids. We should aim to repeat their success.

Also, as Nico explained, backfilled kids could be native English speakers or native Mandarin speakers, so no one knows the final racial mix, even assuming that DNA dictates language as you seem to want to do.

The PAUSD choice guidelines do not state that programs must reach an enrollment representative of any racial or ethnic mix, so Another's argument is a non-starter.

It's also racist.

It's no coincidence that Another is not worried about Hispanics being over-represented but is eager to stir up fear of Chinese and Chinese-Americans. The relevant history is not the sixtiesâ€"as Another suggestsâ€"but the late 1800's: yellow peril. Shame.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 29, 2006 at 3:26 pm

Hey Bill,

Wait a second. It is generally accepted that under achieving racially segregated schools are a bad thing. Ever hear of Brown vs. Board of Ed?

I don't think that over achieving racially segregated schools are any better. I think that they do not serve the included race, the excluded race or the general population.

After they graduate, those kids are going to find themselves in a racially heterogeneous society. The sooner they get used to that idea, the better.

If you want to call me a racist for holding those beliefs, be my guest. It is just brainless namecalling.


Posted by Another, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 6:04 pm

Yes, the choice programs do state that in fact. And no, I'm not saying DNA dictates language. All we need is the demographic data Bill from Palo Alto, from model programs, etc., to back up your argument that there is no correlation between native language and ethnicity. So where is the data? I'll be happy to take that DATA when someone decides to do an actual factual study.

I am more than willing to shut down any program currently running into the same problem. Again, lets see the data..


Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 29, 2006 at 6:09 pm

I watched the discussion on MI last night aired on Cable, and I am struck by the wonderful wealth of concern, intelligence, and diplomacy among Palo Alto parents on all sides of this issue. I would love to see something good come out of all of this effort.

I would love to see foreign language instruction available to all kids in elementary schools in Palo Alto, and it sounds like interest is high across the district for this. I think it would be wonderful if we could then also have an MI program (provided a location is found and it truly is cost neutral). Advocates of an MI program seem very passionate. If we truly were providing opportunities for language instruction to all, it seems like there would be far less opposition to adding an MI program. (MI advocates would have done well to think of that and use some energy up front to simultaneously advance FLES.)

This is a community filled with resourceful, intelligent, caring people. Doesn't anyone have ideas for how we could come up with an alternative plan so that we get both FLES and MI, raising the money some other way? (Doesn't anyone know any local billionaires who might want to leave a legacy like this for Palo Alto children? :-) )

In answer to the original post, the concerns about creating a separate Chinese school for already fluent Mandarin speakers are legitimate, but excluding anyone fluent in other Chinese dialects doesn't make sense. Many Chinese speakers in this country are second or third (or fourth...) generation and don't speak Mandarin. The various Chinese dialects are not that similar -- Shanghainese for example isn't anything like either Mandarin or Cantonese. Cantonese is NOT similar enough to Mandarin as you claim, either -- Cantonese is very different tonally, for one -- there are many Cantonese-like dialects that aren't even similar enough to each other that speakers can communicate easily. It's true that Asian languages have commonalities in syntax and words the way Romance and Germanic languages do. I have sat with Korean friends and compared words that were almost the same as Cantonese, and found dozens and dozens (comparing the sounds only, obviously Cantonese is tonal and Korean is not)-- but it doesn't mean I can understand a word of conversational Korean. Written Cantonese and Mandarin are not exactly the same, either. The written language that represents the way most people speak Cantonese is actually very different -- almost like a different language -- than the formal Cantonese that is written with the characters that more readily convert to Mandarin in writing. In other words, if I wrote: "She said that, 'she said I was right'"" in Cantonese, the written characters for the two "she said"s would be different -- and if I were reading the phrase, the pronunciation of the two "she said"s would also be different -- Mandarin speakers would be familiar with the first but not the second. I know many people who speak Cantonese very well who are essentially illiterate in Chinese written language. They would benefit as much as anyone else from an immersion program in Mandarin.


Posted by Wanted to know, a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Dec 29, 2006 at 6:22 pm

So, how do you classify those children who are biracial? If they are considered Caucasian, couldn't biracial kids who are fluent in Mandarin help keep the ethinic balance when backfilling the upper grades?

As to race, I contend that everyone is racist. By the way you were raised, by looking in the mirror every morning at the same colored face. It's subliminal, unconcious, and denied by many. But you have deep rooted biases, nonetheless.

I really recommend the movie CRASH (the Palo Alto library has it):

Web Link

Tagline: You think you know who you are. You have no idea.

Plot Synopsis: For two days in Los Angeles, a racially and economically diverse group of people pursue lives that collide with one another in unexpected ways. These interactions are always interesting, and sometimes quite unsettling. The film explores and challenges your ability to judge books by their covers.



Posted by Another Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2006 at 7:15 pm

Bill could really shut this argument down quite easily. The study states that Mandarin speakers make up the largest number of non english speakers in PAUSD, and they give a specific number (927 if I recall?) Which means they counted. Which means they collected data.

So Bill, just let us know the numbers of Mandarin speakers for each of the common ethnic categories used by the California Schools, making up this 927 total. (By the way, why does the state of California count this stuff? Is it because of racism? No, it is to protect against racism and unequal access to public education.. In fact, the state and federal government both count this information and have concerns about the correlation between race and achivement gap. Everyone who wishes to discuss this is not a racist. Racist by the way according to the dictionary is someone who believes in racial superiority or wishes to discriminate or favor based on race. Simply the act of discussing race issues for the purpose of concern about a program that may be drawing racial lines is not racism. Its prudent.

I think the demographic categories are something like: African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian (I think those are the largest in terms of PAUSD population, but we could look up the others.)

So Bill, maybe you could give us a live demonstration of how native Mandarin speakers actually come from a widely diverse ethnic background - so when PAUSD goes to repopulate the attrition from this program, there will be no justifiable concern that we will be creating a racially segregated program.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2006 at 8:32 pm

Simon,

Just a short comment regarding your questions.

What you tried to define is a program that is intentionally unattractive to many current proponents of MI, while retaining some semblance of "logic." Interesting exercise, yet consider how would it look if we tried to apply the same principle to other programs that also need support from the community. How big would the PTA budget be, if PTA parents' children were prohibited from benefiting from it? How much volunteering would happen if parents were proscribed from volunteering at their own children's school site? How many parents would support the neighborhood school concept if it applied to all kids except their own? How much funding would PIE get if the prerequisite to contribution was that you DO NOT have a child in the district? Disingenuous.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 29, 2006 at 9:09 pm

Wolf -- I don't buy your analogy. It's not the contributions that disqualify your child in my proposal, it's lack of need. Given that MI would distribute a very scare resource (language education at elementary level) to a lucky few children, it seems like need is a very good way to decide who gets it. So all those supporters of MI (even the ones who wrote the biggest checks, whoever they are) with children who speak only Mandarin or no Mandarin get to join the lottery for a place in MI. Any with children already speaking both get the satisfaction of seeing the benefits of bilingualism (which they rightly strongly tout) spread to others in the community. What's wrong with that?

If this is about 'support from the community,' (rather than a sense of entitlement on the part of the people backing MI with their own money) I'd guess running MI admissions this way might increase MI's support.



Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:09 pm

Here is a weblink with some demographic statistics at the Chinese American International School in San Francisco, a private Mandarin Immersion K-8 School.

Web Link

Keep in mind that Cantonese is the dominant dialect in San Francisco and that some Asian-Americans can speak Mandarin but not read characters.

Disclaimer: I do not represent the Chinese American International School in any way.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:09 pm

Simon,

You treat language as if it was necessarily beneficial and scarce resource that needs to be allocated to the most needy. It is not. It is beneficial as much as many other things are beneficial, but not particularly more so. Had it been so, indeed it would be the role of the district to necessarily provide it to all children. That is why it is proposed as a choice program, and not everyone wants it or needs it. For example, computer animation was mentioned somewhere as a choice someone would prefer to language.

Maybe it is proper to state here something that really should have no bearings on this discussion. My kids are beyond elementary and will never benefit from any of this.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:45 pm

Wolf -- I do believe that language is necessarily beneficial and that it is the district's role to offer it to all children. It's only a scarce resource at the elementary level because the district has chosen to make it so.

I think everyone needs skill in languages in the same way that everyone needs mathematics, science and strong English writing skills. I certainly don't believe that the District should provide languages only to some at the elementary level. But if the District insists on doing just that I think need is a great way to allocate it, don't you? I'm not saying we should force languages on those who don't want them. I'm saying give the precious few opportunities the District seems intent on providing to those who need them most. What's wrong with that?


Posted by Angie, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Dec 29, 2006 at 10:58 pm

Simon,

I LOVE your MI admissions approach. What a gift from the PAUSD to give opportunities to our children that can't get these opportunites from their parents.

It could be used to give top priority. Then if we still need more children we could open it up to children that speak both languages.

Great Idea!!!


Posted by wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2006 at 11:25 pm

Simon,

I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the importance of second language in elementary. Nothing wrong with that.

But I do find you words inconsistent. If one accepts your position that "everyone needs skill in languages in the same way that everyone needs mathematics, science and strong English writing skills", then we SHOULD insist on everyone taking it. We do not allow parents to excuse their children from math or science because they thing these are unimportant. Yet you also say that you are "not saying we should force languages on those who don't want them." Why not? I find this hard to reconcile.

If the community feels that elementary language is essential, then we should indeed provide FLES to everyone. This has beens stated many times already and no sense repeating it, but it has nothing to do with immersion. Unless you believe that everyone must have immersion, but then please tell me in which language. And get the community agree to it.

So I feel we are back where we started. Seems to me your proposal was intended to undermine MI by showing that its supporters are not "altruistic enough" for you. Well, most of them possibly are not, same as most PTA volunteers are not, as Ohlone and Hoover supporters are not, as most parents are not -- they all want something extra that they think *their* kids need. I see nothing wrong with that, as long as it is not harmful to the kids, and as long as it doesn't take away from others. It's called choice.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:41 am

Hi, David,

You're against a choice programâ€"open to allâ€"because you fear people of one race would sign their children up in disproportionate numbers. You object that people of one ethnicity would voluntarily sign up for it. But, you're not against the same scenario if a different race/ethnic group (Latino-Americans) signs up for similar benefits.

Still, you don't call this racism. OK.

Another Parent, you ask me to placate you with data that show Chinese and Chinese-Americans won't be over-represented. Why would I pander to a racist agenda?

(Also, you keep claiming that the district requires that choice programs must reach an enrollment representative our mix of races. Instead of repeating your claim, please back it up.)

I'm concerned only that the lottery be fair, that is color-blind. Even if it turns out that only Chinese and Chinese-Americans sign up, that's still fair. It just doesn't matter what race/ethnicity signs up.

You have such energy to spend on trying to thwart the educational aspirations of some people! Why not work to create something of value rather than try to tear things down?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:51 am

Hi, Simon,

It's a curious idea, but I think it raises the following issues:

1. What are the main benefits to dual immersion? You say two: helps non-English speakers learn English and non-Mandarin speakers learn Mandarin. But I'd guess there are many reasons people value this kind of program. Two benefits that immediately strike me are literacy in Chinese and in English. Kids who already speak both languages stand to benefit, too, because they cannot read or write either language.

2. Who would be ruled out? In other words, how much English counts as English? And why?

3. I would guess that finding Mandarin-speaking kids who know no English at all will be difficult or impossible. Even a kid who comes from Beijing in January will have picked up some English by September (the surrounding culture can serve as an “immersion environment" if the parents seek out chances).

4. How do we pick kids who “need" dual immersion most? For instance, does a child, adopted from China into a Caucasian family, need it more than her Caucasian sibling?

5. Even assuming we could resolve all these issues, why would we set out a new criterion for educational programs? For instance, couldn't the least wealthy in the district use your principle to make the argument that their kids could benefit most from music instruction? Don't we owe it to high-school kids who are doing least well in math to dump AP math and concentrate resources on them? And I guess we would no longer spend resources on teaching science to kids whose parents are scientists, right? Isn't that the direction your suggestion takes us?

I think we don't need Marx to help us run the district or an ad hoc screen for MI.

I'm not sure where you were going with this, but since this thread seems driven by what race might benefit from the program, I'll give my best guesses: the program will end up with 1/3 native Mandarin speakers (mainly or exclusively) ethnically Chinese. Many of these kids will have some English language competency. The remaining 2/3 will be kids with little or no Mandarin; the racial make-up there is anybody's guess.

I should add that I, too, have no skin in the game, since my children are too old. Also, I am not privy to data gathered for the feasibility study or the thinking of PACE.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 30, 2006 at 8:23 am

Wolf -- You're right in calling me on inconsistency. I'd be very happy, in fact, for FLES to be compulsory for all at elementary -- as it is in many peer districts. Immersion, though, I think should not be, if we have FLES. I've said before that I'm very happy to have immersion in the district if we have FLES because I do see them as on a continuum.

As for the altruism point -- weren't the changes in PiE made to address just that point: that the schools with richer parents were gaining at the expense of those with less wealthy parents? So everyone pays into the pot and then the funds are given out based on need. I like that model. We're still being selfish in that we are benefiting only our district, but it's an improvement, I'd argue.

Bill -- I think the other benefits you tout for immersion aren't enough to justify benefiting some kids over others. My model would certainly be hard to implement (like deciding how much English is enough, and making sure people were honest about the languages their children speak) but not impossible.

Yes, there are other ways to determine access to programs—and a lot of them are bad ideas. But this one seems pretty straight forward – if you already have the languages this program is set to deliver (English to non-English speakers, Mandarin to non-Mandarin speakers) then you don't need the program as much as others who don't have those languages. I'm only suggesting it because the model as suggested is deliberately delivering a precious skill to a lucky few.

If what my idea is bringing out is that most of the likely participants in MI would already be bi-lingual to some extent, then that seems important information to me. The whole MI proposal then becomes of far less value to the district, I'd argue, since the net gain of languages to children is smaller even than 40 a year. Does that concern you?

As for where I was going with this I was trying to address the equity question without regard to race. For me it's about the benefits of language education. The screen would be race-blind but not language blind.

Yes, choice is good. As has been said plenty of times before, a lottery system isn't a choice to the many, many people it denies.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 30, 2006 at 8:28 am

Simon,
Hi, Nico here I'm back online. You asked if the program "benefited others who need it more" and my kids couldn't participate it in, if I would still support it. Actually, I would still support it. (I already have the pessimistic view that since it's a blind lottery, we won't get in).
I am not claiming that my motives are 100% altruistic, or even that my motives for volunteering should matter. And there are over 200 families in PACE, so there are probably over 200 different motivations. My point of view and the message I love to spread is that supporting your kids in learning Mandarin (or any other foreign language at a young age) is incredibly rewarding and probably requires less effort than people think. It also just seems so obvious to me that PAUSD has a really successful Spanish Immersion program, so doesn't a Mandarin Immersion make a huge amount of sense?
Another,
In your post yesterday you wrote "why do we need to have you (Nico, who are you, and what are your qualifications???) telling us all about the Cupertino issues" Actually, you brought up the Cupertino issues, I didn't. After you brought them up, I tried to address them with the things I have learned being involved in PACE for the last few months. Since I didn't bring it up, can I ask you what your qualifications are? Also, maybe if you used your real name you wouldn't be so prone to going negative. Want to give it a try?
Another Parent, (are you the same person as "Another" or different, I can't tell?)
Do you really care about the race issue? If you do, then maybe we can figure out a way to research it. You suggestion, actually harsh demand, to Bill to look into the Mandarin speakers in PAUSD won't be accurate for a couple reasons. First is that would assume that all Mandarin speakers want to be in an immersion program, which isn't true. Second, for kids to test in to the program in the higher grades they will have to be not just fluent in speaking but also able to read and write characters, so many of these people may not be eligible. With that said, if you truly care about race and feel like, boy I would really support the MI program if only I could be sure it would be ethnically diverse, well then I will spend some time looking into it with you.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 30, 2006 at 10:17 am

Anonymous asks: "Why the push to learn Mandarin or any form of Chinese?" Excellent question. Could someone please provide some SPECIFIC examples of why Mandarin is so essential to our kids' futures? And if it really IS so essential, then EVERY kid should take it.

To be "global citizens" our children need world history, geography, political science. They don't need to speak Mandarin to do that. Recent studies show that kids can't locate Iraq or Iran on a map, never heard of Viet Nam and don't know what guarantees are in our Bill of Rights. They need that more than they need to learn Chinese culture.

To get a job in industry or government, employers look first for essential skills, e.g., engineering, biology, political science. Employees who work overseas are not chosen for their language ability, but for essential business skills and knowledge. The language of business and government is English.

While Mandarin might benefit someone who becomes an engineer or scientist or diplomat, what of the student who goes through MI and chooses to be say a mechanic, cosmetologist or veterinarian?

According to an article in the LA Times, there are lots of Mandarin-speaking college graduates in China who can't get jobs:

China's college graduates find getting degree is no guarantee
In spring, 5 million new job seekers will try to crack tough market

- Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
Friday, December 29, 2006

Full article at:
Web Link

Excerpts: Next spring, Chinese colleges and universities expect a record 4.95 million graduates, up 820,000 from this year.
According to estimates, more than a million of them will wind up jobless.

In Guangzhou recently, 286 graduates and post-graduates competed for 11 positions as street cleaners, according to the official New China News Agency. The city hired one candidate with a doctorate, four with master's degrees and six with bachelor's degrees.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2006 at 11:32 am

Sorry Nico, but just because, anecdotally, SI is a success, it does not follow that MI makes a huge amount of sense.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 30, 2006 at 11:36 am

Simon,

I can see now that this is designed to address equity, but I think my other questions point to thorny problems in defining equity. I think literacy is a tremendous benefit, but you rank it lower. You value introducing language to mono-lingual speakers, but I also value refining language skills for competent and semi-competent speakers. Etc. So measuring who “needs" MI more takes us to diverse opinions.

And if we are going to apply this notion of “need" to MI, it would make sense to apply it to the district, right? Who “needs" extra math the most? Music? Science?

So no, it would not concern me if most of the participants were already bi-lingual because I don't think it's possible to define your notion of equity much less achieve it. I don't think MI needs a screen, any more than AP math, Ohlone or music do.

That said, I do not think “most of the likely participants would already be bi-lingual." My guess is that 1/3 will be Mandarin speakers who will, variously, speak English poorly, semi-competently, competently, or well. Some of these last two groups might be defined as bi-lingual.

Two thirds of the program would be native English speakers (again, my guess). None of these will speak Mandarin. If, as I predict, many Chinese Americans sign up, then many of these kids may know their father's mother as nainai and their father's father as yeye. They may like to eat jiaozi when they go to a restaurant. But they won't be bi-lingual by any stretch of the word.

Fair for you may not be fair for all.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 30, 2006 at 11:42 am

Pat,

I don't think you'll find anyone who disagrees. No one has argued that Mandarin is essential, otherwise we'd push for it for every kid.

Many people think it is tremendously valuable, however, which is why they want a choice program. This way, those who agree with your idea that Mandarin is unimportant would not see their kids forced to study it.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Thanks to Nico's posting of the link to the Carla web site I have been educating myself on the types of immersion programs (should have done that BEFORE posting? Yes. But there would be no internet if knowing what you are talking about were a requirement for participation)

Apparently there are two types of immersion programs, single stream where nobody is a speaker of the target language, and dual stream where half the class speaks the target language and half the class does not.

But in both cases the children are essentially monolingual.

In my initial posting at the top I proposed that it be a single stream program where everybody was fluent in English and had no knowledge of Mandarin.

Simon Firth proposed a dual stream program where bilingual (english and mandarin) speakers were excluded.

What the current proponents of a Palo Alto program are proposing is something for which I could find no information in Carla: a hybrid program where half the children are monolingual English speakers and half (or slightly less) are bilingual English/Mandarin speakers.

So is there evidence that such programs have been succesful elsewhere? Does it make sense pedagogically?

Furthermore, if we assume that the basis of sound public policy is "the greatest good for the greatest number" and that learning a second language is a good thing (with which I agree) then there is less "good" in teaching Mandarin to students who are already somewhat fluent in the language than there is in teaching it to a monlingual English speaker.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:08 pm

Simon,

If you want FLES as much as you do, go and work on making it happen. That what traditionally was done by supporters of any new idea.

But then why do you feel that MI has anything to do with it? And if you do, why don't you start by trying to dismantle SI first?

You are right that PIE was supposed to reduce the direct link between parent donation and their children benefits. It will be interesting to see how much the total donations to PIE and PTA now compare with old PTA and PAFE, after adjusting for inflation. Independently, there is the question of whether having two strong bodies (PAUSD and PIE) is better than PAUSD having to collaborate with many semi-strong site PTAs. I can guess what PAUSD thinks, but I really don't know the answer. Anyway, this is beyond the scope of this forum.

Finally, you say you like choice, but then go on to say that lottery is not really a choice to the many that lose it. You are right in the absolute sense (like with all other choice programs in PAUSD), yet clearly there is even less choice involved if MI becomes "language-needs" based. And -- yet again -- you should insist on immediate application of the same "language-needs" based approach to SI. So your support of choice seems not very consistent.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:25 pm

David,

Maybe I should repeat what I already wrote somewhere, namely that the language skills of ANY kid that enters kindergarten are very limited. With very few exceptions, they have some rudimentary level of spoken language, little or no concept of reading, no writing skills, no grammar, and very limited vocabulary. If this wasn't true, why would schools need to have 5-8 years of core language development in school?

Given that, your distinction makes limited sense, and much of this whole thread anyway is more academic than practical. Very very few kids entering K-1 grades are fluent in spoken English or Mandarin, and even less in both. And essentially none has any fluency in reading and writing in either language.


Posted by david, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 30, 2006 at 12:47 pm

Wolf,

I have a 3 year old in the house right now. He is so verbal he is exhausting me. We have lengthy conversations in grammatically correct english.

A typical 5 year old English speaker has a vocabulary of four to five thousand words (not counting plurals, verb conjugations, etc.).

The idea that kids enter kindergarten as a tabula rasa ready to learn their first language is pretty silly.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 30, 2006 at 1:53 pm

David,

Your child's verbal ability is in the upper half (or third, or quarter) of the typical kinder classroom, in my non-expert opinion. I volunteered at Hoover in my kinder's class, also gradually getting to know the other kinders. There's quite a span of abilities.

I tend to believe Wolf's comments on kinders generally being limited in verbal and reading skills, but would be interested in a reference for your 5000-word vocabulary for 5-yr olds.

The think most MI opponents are missing the biliterate skills in commenting on the "fluency" of children.

The ideal dual immersion class composition would have:

1/3 (mostly Mandarin, some English-speaking kids) and
1/3 (fully bilingual Mandarin and English-speaking kids) and
1/3 (monolingual English kids) and (mostly English-speaking with mediocre Mandarin kids)

All the kids will learn both English and Mandarin, but more Mandarin in the early years (80/20 model, for instance).

Most of the kids will be learning Chinese characters, even those Mandarin-speaking kids. The character system is not generally taught to little kids although they may be verbally fluent. Just like many kids may know their ABC's (but not all of them), but not how to read or write.

All the kids in MI will be learning a lot. The oral and verbal fluency will not be a clear advantage for any of the kids in either language.

In the upper grades (past 1st grade), literacy will also be the tough qualification for entry. Unless the older kids are competent in English *and* Mandarin, they won't get into the program. MI is not a defacto-ELL program.

I've heard that some kids from one of the local private Chinese schools were not allowed to enter Cupertino's CLIP program because their literacy skills weren't good enough. Those kids had full verbal fluency, but not the reading and writing.

If the attrition is high in the upper grades, combination classes have been used to balance classroom resources.


Posted by David, a resident of Professorville
on Dec 30, 2006 at 3:01 pm

reference for 5,000 word vocabulary for 5 year olds:

From VOCABULARY SIZE, TEXT COVERAGE AND WORD LISTS

Paul Nation and Robert Waring

"At present the best conservative rule of thumb that we have is that up to a vocabulary size of around 20,000 word families, we should expect that native speakers will add roughly 1000 word families a year to their vocabulary size. That means that a five year old beginning school will have a vocabulary of around 4000 to 5000 word families. A university graduate will have a vocabulary of around 20,000 word families (Goulden, Nation and Read, 1990). These figures are very rough and there is likely to be very large variation between individuals. These figures exclude proper names, compound words, abbreviations, and foreign words. A word family is taken to include a base word, its inflected forms, and a small number of reasonably regular derived forms (Bauer and Nation, 1993). Some researchers suggest vocabulary sizes larger than these (see Nagy, this volume), but in the well conducted studies (for example, D'Anna, Zechmeister nad Hall, 1991) the differences are mainly the result of differences in what items are included in the count and how a word family is defined."


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Here's what's actually wrong with Wolf's argument. Proponents claim this program will have wide appeal across all demographics, no ethinic or language boundaries will define the participation in this program. No self-selection will apply. Speakers of all types will equally come and equally find this of value. -

So for Wolf to claim Simon is trying to develop

"a program that is intentionally unattractive to many current proponents of MI" which will thereby dry up the funding for the program.

she is telling us that by excluding mandarin speakers we will be excluding the biggest customer base, the most likely participants and therefore fatally weakening financial support. Pure HOGWASH if you believe the feasibiliyt study. According to the feasibility study there should be no reason why all mandarin speakers couldn't be excluded, and the program would still flourish. Right Wolfe?

Wolf is the one who is using poor logic.

Taken another way, Wolf just admitted that we should expect this program to be primarily supported by the Chinese community and barely supported by anyone else! Huh?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Triple El
on Dec 30, 2006 at 8:10 pm

parent,

You said, "According to the feasibility study there should be no reason why all mandarin speakers couldn't be excluded...."

Actually, the study is for a program that REQUIRES Mandarin speakers.


Posted by parent of teens, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 30, 2006 at 9:00 pm

To me, the district feasibility study appeared awfully vague, very un-businesslike. To me, I would MUCH rather see PAUSD focus on district-wide concerns rather than cater to a narrowly-focused early elementary level program proposal. In a unified district like this, I would think there would be many other priorities. If this thing is initiated, I assume there will be checks and reviews as it goes along to ensure racial balances and other district equity issues (funding, resources, curriculum, location) are addressed or else that the program is abandoned. As a parent of teens, I have a broader perspective, and I hope I am taking the needs/interests of all students in this district into account when I express my general concerns here.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2006 at 11:29 am

According to the feasibility study - on the issue of who should benefit from this program and who should find this program attractive. It is true that the concept of dual immersion requires mix of mandarin speakers - at least one third.

But the point being made here is the same - that wolf suggested that the main customer base is excluded by Simon's proposal. Not true of the main customer base is completely diverse as the feasibility suggests.

So excluding mandarin speakers should be no problem in terms of financial support for the program.

(It would be a problem if we are rigid on the expectation that mandarin speakers have to be included - but why should that be the case automatically? Can't we run a program like SF Star King Mi program with zero mandarin speakers???)

The fact is - the feasibility study is lying about the broadly diverse reach this program should expect. Wolf is right that excluding Mandarin speakers will exclude the main customer base for this program - right?


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Reposting for clarity

In response to Bill's last comment:

According to the feasibility study - on the issue of who should benefit from this program and who should find this program attractive - the reach should be completely diverse.

It IS true that the concept of dual immersion used in THIS proposal requires mix of mandarin speakers - at least one third. But there is no magic reason why that should be a mandate. (See SF Chron article about their new MI program where they started their program this year with NO Mandarin speakers.)

The point being still holds - that wolf suggested that the main customer base is excluded by Simon's proposal. This is entirely not true of the main customer base is completely diverse as the feasibility suggests.

So who is lying through their teetch - Wolf or the feasibiliyt study?

Excluding mandarin speakers should be no problem in terms of financial support for the program, given support will from from anywhere an everywhere.

(It would only be a problem if we are rigid on the expectation that mandarin speakers have to be included in a particular ratio - but why should that be the case automatically? Can't we run a program like SF Star King Mi program with zero mandarin speakers???)

(By the way, if a mix of english/mandarin is a requirement - what will be the minimal % makeup? And what consequence if that mix fails to materialize?)

The fact is - the feasibility study is lying about the broadly diverse reach this program will attract and retain. Wolf is right that excluding Mandarin speakers will exclude the main customer base for this program.




Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 1:08 pm

parent,

Right, there is no magic reason to pick a particular mix, but the literature I've read suggests a good statistical reason dictating an optimal mix. The benefits tail off as you deviate from the model. Thus, an ideal mix would be one to one, but the program will still be effective if it shifts to two to one or one to two. I would guess that MI in PAUSD will end up with 2 native English speakers for each native Mandarin speaker.

So you're right: if you are not concerned about getting the best result, you could go for all native English speakers. Excluding Mandarin speakers is possible, but throws up problems: it tremendously weakens the immersion program, it's unjustified, it's clearly aimed at thwarting educational choices for a particular race (lawsuit?), it creates a new test for all elements of PAUSD (no science for the children of scientists, etc.).

It's hard to make sense of your bitter comments about lying. The customer base, as you put it, is the entire district. Every K kid. Hence, it is maximally diverse. Only some of the district families will want to take part. There is nothing wrong with this self selection: it is the whole point of choice programs: families can choose.


Posted by Pauline, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Dec 31, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I think the function of a public school is to give EVERY kid the opportunity to "self select"..not a few. That is the inherent problem with this proposal.

Thus, is we decide foreign language is important enough for some, it should be important enough for all. Then the kids who are inclined toward developing this aspect of themselves will gravitate toward it, as is true for all of our other subjects. This is the reason we offer art, music, drama etc to ALL elementary school kids, not a few.

We are running a public school, where everyone contributes money in some form or another. All kids in the district should have the same opportunities.

Except for SI, as far as I can determine, we have no other elementary school programs in the district which are closed to any portion of the rest of the school, or even the district. Every subject I can think of that my kids had access to, every kid had access to.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 3:13 pm

Parent,
I agree with Bill that all the research I have read on immersion models recommends a mix of native and non-native speakers. The ideal is, as Bill states, 50/50 but 1/3 native speakers is still OK. Starr King actually wants to be a dual-immersion program. So I don't think we should hold up the fact that they are one-way immersion as a validation of a one-way immersion approach. See quote below.
"The program was meant to be a dual-immersion program, with about half the students speaking Mandarin and learning English and the other half speaking English and learning Mandarin. Each group was to help teach the other. That's still the goal for the program in future years, Rosenberg said. "
Starr King would rather be a more traditional mix of native speakers in both languages. Starr King campus has problems recruiting students (of any language group) due to their location. The neighborhood is way beyond "rough," the students are 72% free lunch kids. The largest percentage free lunch campus in Palo Alto is 27%, the second is 13% and the rest are all below 10%. I don't think we would have a similar recruitment problem in Palo Alto.
Starr King article:
Web Link
Starr King campus information:
Web Link


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 3:43 pm

Pauline,
You state that "Thus, I(f) we decide foreign language is important enough for some, it should be important enough for all." On that note, I really encourage you to put your energies into making foreign language available to all, instead of putting your energies into denying an immersion program for anybody. FLES has some momentum now, please take that ball and run with it Pauline. Maybe we will end up being friends after working on a FLES task force together.
As far as your point "Every subject I can think of that my kids had access to, every kid had access to."
All students in PAUSD who are interested in Mandarin Immersion or Spanish Immersion have access to it. It is a free and open lottery. Why do you think that not everybody has access to it? It is much more "accessable" than say AP Physics or the football team (an entire gender doesn't have access to this one). My apologies to football players and budding physicists.
Another point that I have made before is that immersion education is a teaching methodology. All the schools in PAUSD offer the same curriculum. MI would be no different. The only practical difference is that if your Kindergartener is learning to add in English, a Mandarin Immersion kid may be learning to add in Mandarin. Like Ohlone's "open education approach" or Hoover's "more structured approach" or Spanish Immersion, it is the same content in a different way. One rationale behind immersion being that you will get cognitive benefits from being immersed in a bilingual environment.
Thanks, and I look forward to our task force work.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 31, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Pauline,

Your comment takes a pretty arrogant stand:

Thus, if we decide foreign language is important enough
for some, it should be important enough for all.

Who is "we"? You? The board? The community?

YOU clearly do not think foreign language is important for some, and not important enough for all, since you haven't volunteered to work on the FLES task force. You're more determined to kill MI.

THE BOARD is not determining that foreign language is important for some. The board is recognizing that foreign language is a desired choice for some parts of the community. By supporting MI, the board is adhering to its alternative programs policy:

Web Link

The Board of Education supports alternative ("choice") programs that are educationally sound and consistent with the PAUSD mission of addressing diverse educational needs of children.



If the board and staff go ahead with the world languages task force, they will be deciding that foreign language is important for some and maybe all kids.

I don't think you should speak for the community. Do you speak for PAEE?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Bill - I'm pointing out that WOLF made the comments about excluding Mandarin speakers would be damaging the financial base of the program. And that could not be true if you believe the feasibility study. So which is to be believed?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2006 at 6:02 pm

Nico- I'm pointing out the one-way immersion exists, and is a "feasible" possibility. As "feasibility" as the PACE proposed version for PAUSD. Evidence Star King.

If there is a right way that must include 1/3 2/3 mix at least, then what does PAUSD plan to do when that 'bottom line' mix is violated. Anything? Or do we plan to run a subpar program, no matter what?


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 6:54 pm

Parent,
I am confused about "the PACE proposed version for PAUSD." What version is that? It seems to me that the immersion model proposed came out of the feasibility team's site visits. To my knowledge (and I would probably know), PACE had nothing to do with those and didn't propose any model. Also, the model seems pretty similar to Spanish Immersion, so I would imagine that the people in the district knowlegable about that program had advice and direction. And I am not sure what "evidence Starr King" means either, if you can elaborate.
Just to clarify, is your last point that if PAUSD doesn't get the optimal mix, 50/50 or 33/33/33 they shouldn't do the program? Or are you saying to proceed with a feasible "one-way immersion" model?
I guess we wait to see if the BoE approves the program, then who applies to see what the exact percentage mix will be. I think we are getting way in to the level of implementation details, and ones that are dependant on who enters the lottery.
According to a survey PACE did, there is a diverse mix of people interested in the program and a diverse level of fluency in Mandarin. I really don't think getting fluent Mandarin speakers will be a deal breaker and I know getting English speakers won't. I may be able to track down the data tomorrow if you let me know more specifically what you want to know?
Thanks and Happy New Year!


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 10:43 pm

Pauline,

Well, you're right that no programs are "closed" to certain kids in the district. But the choice programs (off the top of my head: Ohlone, Hoover, SI, young fives) are all over-subscribed and so in that sense are "closed." I'm guessing MI would be exactly the same: open to the entire district but over-subscribed.

In an ideal world, every kid in the district would have the option of entering every choice program. In this world, with its financial constraints, that isn't possible. The lotteries, which are endorsed by the district, are an attempt to bridge that gap: provide equal chances (chances not outcomes) of education alternatives to all kids. You're right that we could do away with all choice programs. Do you really think it is fairer to have no choice rather than some choice?

Parent,

It sounded to me as if Wolf was saying that he believed many backers of MI are probably Mandarin speakers. I don't know if this is true, but it's none of my business or yours. In any case, this belief does not conflict with the fact that the program will open to all. What contradiction are you referring to? Are you saying non-Chinese will not be admitted?

As for the ratios etc., I agree with Nico. We'll just have to wait until the board approves this and the district makes its choices.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 31, 2006 at 11:24 pm

David,
I finally was able to get to the article that has the attrition statistic. I think it was interesting. They really just mention the attrition statistic and move on to learning disabilities though. I would like to know more about where the figure comes from. If you find the Stern research, let me know. The Keep dissertation also sounds relevant.
The 40%-50% may be a misleading figure, and they don't really explain it at all, except to cite Stern. It includes Kindergarten and 6th grade (families leave at those 2 particular grades for complicated reasons I won't go into here). It would be better to look at 1st through 5th grades though. Also, there would be kids in the study that left the program because over the 7 years, they left the area. What you want to find are the "disgruntled" parents and study them. It is dissappointing that the sample sizes in all of the studies are so small. It was interesting that some of the studies date back to the 1970's.
The article was really targeted to showing teachers how to help kids that have learning disabilities be successful in an immersion environment. I think it could be very useful to the teachers in Spanish Immersion, or the future teachers of Mandarin Immersion.
here is the link again, so you don't have to search for it:
Web Link


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 1, 2007 at 11:16 am

Digging into the French immersion attrition rates, I found the following article by Jim Cummins, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. From his website,


"Dr. James Cummins is a leader in second language learning and literacy development research. This website is an expanding resource for educators the world over."


His paper with no references more current than 1997, is here:

Web Link


From the paper, he quotes the high French immersion attrition rates:


" An additional problem that has characterized early French immersion since its inception is the relatively high rate of student drop-out from the program due to academic or behavioral problems. Keep (1993), for example, reported that in the province of Alberta between 1983-84 and 1990-91, attrition rates from immersion ranged from 43% to 68% by grade 6, 58% to 83% by grade 9, and 88% to 97% by grade 12. Clearly, not all drop-out from the program reflects academic difficulties, although Keep's review of the research suggests that academic and behavioral difficulties constitute major factors predicting transfer to the regular English program."


The key thing to note is that the Canadian French immersion programs are one-way, and are populated by English-only students. Students with French ability are separated from the English-only kids.

In one-way French immersion, only the teacher speaks in French, and all the kids learn from that one-way directed instruction. The kids do not benefit from modeling of the language from other kids.

In fact, this is also cited in the article in this way:


"...Observation of teacher-student interaction in early French immersion suggests that many of these classrooms have tended to be highly teacher-centred or "transmission-oriented" (Cummins, 1996). In other words, teachers have focused on transmitting the curriculum in such a way that students have had minimal opportunities to use oral or written French for creative or problem-solving activities (Harley et al., 1991; Wilson & Connock, 1982). Pedagogy in these programs may have changed since these research studies were carried out but up to the 1980s there appears to have been considerably less cooperative learning and project-based work than was characteristic of regular English language programs. In addition, students in immersion programs seemed to engage in less creative writing in French and less reading of authentic French children's literature than students in the regular program did in English (Cummins, 1987, 1995)."


The rest of the article is very informative about French immersion education, as researched over 30 years by the Canadians. Cummins and Genesee are the two pioneers in immersion education research. Genesee is a world-renown expert on the immersion education.

Web Link


From my research, dual language programs do not have the same high attrition rates as quoted in David's article. I was not able to find any newer attrition rates about French immersion, either, and believe that attrition has dropped from those reported in 1991. Hopefully, 15 years later, the pedagogy was improved in Canadian French immersion schools, and the paucity of articles on this reflects a dimished problem. No news is good news.


Happy New Year!


Posted by JLS Mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 1, 2007 at 11:57 am

Bill says: "The lotteries, which are endorsed by the district, are an attempt to bridge that gap: provide equal chances (chances not outcomes) of education alternatives to all kids."

However, this would not be entirely true of MI, would it? I understand that only native English or native Mandarin speakers would be eligible.

I know the district collects home language information when it registers students, so somewhere the data exists to answer the question: What percent of incoming Kinder students could enter the MI lottery if they wanted to?

And I know that this applies to Spanish Immersion as well, so the question I have is, would the addition of a second immersion program where English is one of the native language prerequisites confer an unfair advantage in terms of language education to the district's English speaking students?


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

What about the impact of preferential admissions to MI for siblings? How will this impact the fairness of the "lottery" and the distribution of English/Mandarin speakers in the program?


Posted by Question?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2007 at 12:07 pm

When we speak about attrition rates here, we really need to know what kind of attrition we are talking about.

1 There is the type of attrition where parents take their child out of the program because for any reason they wish to return to a regular program.

2 There is the type of attrition where parents take their child out of the school (or the District) because they are moving out of the area.

In the first scenario the attrition is much more important to any study because to a large extent it signifies that the parents are not happy with their child's progress and wish to get their child into a regular program as they feel it might benefit the child.

In the second scenario, the parents are presumably satisfied with the program and are taking their child out of the program due to probably unforeseen circumstanes, e.g. family situation, employment changes, etc.

The second scenario will happen regardless of whether the child is in a choice program or not. The first scenario is due to the way the program is educating the child and it is the attrition figures we need. I don't suppose there are these figures for SI or other immersion programs elsewhere, but I am sure that someone somewhere could do the digging. I also don't suppose there is much attrition from Hoover or Ohlone where the child returns to a neighborhood school, but there might be if transport has proved difficult to the family. The figures for SI would be much more interesting if a child moved out of SI and into the regular program either at the same site or elsewhere.

The attrition rates for moving out of the District should be roughly the same for SI as Hoover, Ohlone, or any other school. In fact, at the regular programs the rates should be slightly higher as those people who know they will only be here for a couple of years probably do not elect for a choice program.

Without this sort of information, attrition rates are not helpful.


Posted by another parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 1, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Hi JLS Mom,

No, it's David's proposal (original post at the top) that suggests having only English and only Mandarin speakers in the MI program.

The district's feasibility study recommends having bilingual kids in the program, as does the large body of research on 2-way immersion programs.

Happy New Year


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 1, 2007 at 12:32 pm

OK, I'm on a roll. Just an interesting view of the bilingual education experts battling it out:

Web Link

So, those of you who think there's not enough information in the feasibility study (which doesn't contain all the research that the district did), feel satisfied that even with tons of research, there's still some lively debate among the researchers.

That's why we get to rely on the judgment of our superintendent and board on making the final recommendation and final decision.


Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 1, 2007 at 1:31 pm

When I was in school, if I wanted to bring something special for someone else, like a cupcake, I had to bring enough to share with everyone. Otherwise, if I wanted to give that cupcake to just one person, I had to do it outside of school. Fairness is a very important underpinning of order in school. If I had the money to buy just one cupcake and it was harder to buy for everyone was beside the point. If Johnny and Suzy had gotten away with bringing a single cupcake for someone else in the past, that was also beside the point.

This is a very fundamental barrier that MI advocates face, and in my opinion, they are sadly not taking it seriously enough. It is the single most significant reason that MI could fail.

I think all the handwaving about FLES being more difficult and expensive is disingenuous. These are people who want the issue of FLES to go away and be handled by other people so they can get back to their own little cupcake. According to the reports, FLES is not costly, and does not have to be difficult if we focus our attention to it.

More to the point, MI advocates should seriously consider that putting energy into FLES AND MI at the same time could be energy better spent, because it could bring about two great assets for the PAUSD. Energy spent on the positive rather than adversarial.

But that brings us back to the cupcakes again. We need to restore core programs with Measure A funds. Why is this so difficult, and why should anyone be opposed to putting some energy into that up front, as a priority? It doesn't have to kill FLES or MI, but arguing about it and doing nothing will. Again, it makes something positive, and clears the way for FLES and MI. If we want our little cupcake with the chocolate sprinkles IN SCHOOL, I'm sorry, we've got to put some energy into bringing them for everyone.


Posted by Pauline, a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jan 1, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Bill, looks like I wasn't clear about what I meant by open access to all programs.

By keeping all programs open to all kids, I mean that, except for SI, so far we offer all program curricula to all kids.

In other words, whether the child is in Ohlone or Hoover or Young Fives or Special Ed or GATE or AP etc, all kids ( except for SI kids so far) have access to all the curricular programs that the other kids have, such as music, art, math, science, etc. This means that all qualified kids, regardless of program, ( except SI) are exposed to and have the opportunity to discover their strengths in the same subjects as all the other kids have access to, from young fives onward.

Granted, each school chooses to use its resources to enhance offerings in some areas more than others, but nonetheless every elementary school has all these subjects to at least a minimal district standard.

This is probably, for me, the single most overiding objection I have ( though, to be honest, I have several others that come very close ) to the whole "immersion for a few" idea in our district.

But, in any case, we are straying off the path of the original premise of this thread, so I will sign off.

Though, maybe I should say, at the risk of really irritating whoever David is, but in the interest of honesty on my part, ...David, your entire premise shows a lack of understanding of how the Immersion programs are modelled. An immersion program HAS to have native speakers of the "foreign" language for the other children to be "immersed" in the language. In fact, the less English the "foreign language" kids speak, the better for the English language kids so that they are forced to manage in the foreign langauge on the playground and classroom.

Also, a major selling point of the Spanish Immersion programs is that the children who come from Spanish speaking homes in the Southwest and West tend to come from homes with little to no education, and speak poor Spanish. If you teach those kids GOOD Spanish, then their English, when learned, is much better because of transfering the language skills over to English.

Therefore, a selling point of SI has been as a method of addressing a high risk population of students to help bring them more fully into our society..and a great side benefit has been the education of English speaking kids in Spanish, with all the benefits learning a foreign language brings to the development of thinking skills.

From all the data, trying to manage in our society is not something we are concerned about when we talk about the Mandarin speaking population, so this is not argument in support of MI.

Also, it still isn't clear from the data if Spanish speaking kids in SI programs do better because of the program, or because of the self-selection by type of parents who choose SI for their kids. So, the jury is out for this reasoning.

The part you said that is true, though, is that replacing kids who leave the program tends to make the program more and more skewed, because the kids coming in later have to already be proficient at that grade level in the foreign language. Or, if they aren't replaced and the classes just shrink, it is still true that the class becomes skewed, since it is primarily attrition from the English speakers that happens.

In any case, Happy New Year everyone..


Posted by JLS Mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 1, 2007 at 2:07 pm

To another parent: "No, it's David's proposal (original post at the top) that suggests having only English and only Mandarin speakers in the MI program. The district's feasibility study recommends having bilingual kids in the program, as does the large body of research on 2-way immersion programs."

What I meant was that the MI lottery would be closed to students who don't speak either English or Mandarin. So what I want to know is what percentage of our roughly 800 kindergartners would be eligible to participate in MI? This is in response to Bill's comments that the lottery would be open to all K students, which is not the case.

And to Grace: "That's why we get to rely on the judgment of our superintendent and board on making the final recommendation and final decision." You're a very smart woman, surely you realize that one of the reasons this issue is being so hotly debated among the general citizenry of Palo Alto is that there is very little trust in the superintendent and school board to make the right decisions for the district overall.

In fact, two out of four members of the district's senior management and two of five board members are lame ducks; time will tell whether Marilyn Cook will survive the "trust" investigation and Camille a reelection bid, so those numbers may even be higher.

I actually find it incredibly troubling that a decision as critical as implementation of a new immersion program will be made by people who won't have to live with the consequences.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 2:13 pm

JLS mom, you ask "What percent of incoming Kinder students could enter the MI lottery if they wanted to?" I thought that was a really interesting question.
I have actually heard anecdotally that the Spanish Immersion program in PAUSD has admitted students that were neither native Spanish nor native English speakers. I think ironically they were native Mandarin speakers. I heard that they did great. I think it would require a lot of commitment on the part of the family and teacher to support the student though. So, if in practice they work with kids of any language background, then 100% of the incoming Kinders who are interested are eligible.
If you want to look at the scenario where kids who are English language learners (ELL) are "not eligible" you can still get an (incredibly rough) estimate for this. The recent PiE study states that a little over 12% of PAUSD students are ELL. Since Mandarin is the language most spoken at home, then about half of these would still be eligible for the program as native Mandarin speakers (this is a wild assumption, based on the data from the feasibility study on native Mandarin and native Spanish speakers with an "other language" category factored in and rounding to make the math easier). That leaves 6% of ELL students who speak a language other than Mandarin, who might not be eligible. For an entering Kindergarten class (using the 856 enrollment figure for 2006-2007) , this corresponds to 51 kids that might not be eligible and 805 kids that would definitely be eligible. I think that of these 51 ELL kids I am not sure how many would want to enter the lottery, and if they really did want to, there have been exceptions made in the past.
After all this work, I reviewed the feasibility study and they mention on page 15 that they would support ELL kids (non-Mandarin) in the program. This would be done with site-based resources. So, I am back to my original estimate, 100% of incoming Kinders are eligible.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Cupcakes.
The cupcake analogy for me is, some people like chocolate cupcakes (neighborhood schools), some like vanilla (Hoover), some like ones made with organic flour (Ohlone), some like spicy cupcakes (Spanish Immersion). We now have a recipe for green tea cupcakes (Mandarin Immersion), should we make them? I think so. Do they cost more than chocolate, no. Is PAUSD able to bake all of them, yes.
Not only do we all get cupcakes, but we all get our favorite cupcakes.


Posted by anon, an AAAG rep, a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm

AJL,

The cupcake analogy doesn't fly since not all the kids, not a majority, not a significant number of kids all want MI. The total number of interested applicants for next year's MI kinder class is 20, according to PACE's data at an earlier AAAG meeting. Even if that's doubled or tripled, it's not a ton of interested participants.

I think the opponents who make fallacious claims of overwhelming interest and demand for Mandarin immersion are making mountains out of molehills. But don't turn my last comment around to say, "oh, not many people really want it, don't do it." That's just talking out of two sides of your mouth.

With respect to the interest in FLES, the interest is apparent, but not overwhelming, either.

There's not a big run on cupcakes at the market. There's not a big run on cookies and ice cream, either.

Have you looked at the 1994 task force studies on FLES? Although you don't think FLES is complicated and expensive, there's some strong information against your idea. Can you find support or references for how easy and cheap FLES is?

With your interest, how about providing some of that support for FLES and MI? The MI people have put in a lot. Where is the contribution and interest in FLES? Hot air?

If you really want to restore programs, cough up more money, on the order of restoring the administrative staff (14 FTEs, I believe) and the programs will be back. MI is a blip in the Measure A restoration claim. Another molehill.

See you at Safeway, or maybe Prolific Oven!




Posted by Used cars, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jan 1, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Pauline,

Who's been selling SI to you?



"Also, a major selling point of the Spanish Immersion programs is that the children who come from Spanish speaking homes in the Southwest and West tend to come from homes with little to no education, and speak poor Spanish. If you teach those kids GOOD Spanish, then their English, when learned, is much better because of transfering the language skills over to English.

Therefore, a selling point of SI has been as a method of addressing a high risk population of students to help bring them more fully into our society..and a great side benefit has been the education of English speaking kids in Spanish, with all the benefits learning a foreign language brings to the development of thinking skills."


Both of your selling points are not promoted by SI, SIPAPA, PAUSD, nor the 1994 task forces? Do you know how many South and West reduced lunch kids choose to go to SI? How many of the reduced lunch kids come from Spanish-speaking families? How many families who are uneducated speak poor Spanish?

Besides being unsubstantiated, it's ridiculous, the assumptions you're making.


Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Nico, for me, therein lies the problem: we aren't all getting our favorite cupcakes, just a very vocal few, and potentially at others expense, and thus the obvious divisiveness in this issue.

If there's one thing all these various MI strings have in common is how strongly people disagree on how, when, where and even if MI should happen. The board should take a step back and take it's sweet time to make any decisions. Cook even admitted that staring in 2007 would be a stretch. I say the only reasonable compromise is starting it at Garland in 2010. That provides the necessary time to resolve issues on how to implement MI as discussed in the previous posts, and displaces the least number of neighborhood kids. Don't start it at another school first and then move it. This comment is based on Cook's own statement about how incredibly important it is for MI to not cause disruption to the school where it starts - this being critical for it's acceptance by parents in the district.

Good luck to the board!

















Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Pauline,
You say that "all kids ( except for SI kids so far) have access to all the curricular programs that the other kids have, such as music, art, math, science, etc."
I think I am starting to understand part of our mis-communication. I do not think of immersion as "curricular." It is a method for teaching the same curriculum that is available to all of PAUSD. Taking Mandarin (or Spanish) as a class, like you would art or math in the context of a non-immersion school environment is totally different then immersion. So the analogy is comparing a student at Fairmeadow in a 2nd grade math class and a student next door at Hoover in a 2nd grade math class. Both are learning 2nd grade math, but the classroom and approach to teaching math are different in the 2 schools approaches. In MI the class will be taught in Mandarin. It is not that the student in that class is getting an extra dose of Mandarin lessons, they are actually in a different teaching environment, a bilingual one. Do you get the distinction (you don't necessarily have to agree with it)?


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 5:36 pm

PA resident,
Hi neighbor. I believe that the Mandarin Immersion program is not at somebody else's expense. There are at least 3 threads already devoted to that, so I will just leave it at that. I think if you a have a favorite cupcake and you aren't getting it, it's your responsibility to try and make it. Other people might be excited about it too. PACE started this process 5 years ago and a lot of people are excited about the cupcakes. There are not just a "vocal few" interested in it. I think very few people argue that this program would have any problems filling up with interested families. And if it PACE and the feasibility study are wrong, then the program gets cancelled. It really is that simple.
Also, I am sorry to say that it is my perspective that the people that are making this divisive are not the supporters. I can't think of any example, especially when it comes to our public schools, where there wasn't lots of opinions and disagreement. For those that remember, I hear that the MI "debate" pales in comparison to the PTA/PiE scandal of 2001.
As far as taking time to make this decision, the community doesn't need to spend more months on PAOnline debating this. It is never a perfect time for anything. The site argument is getting to the level of implementation. The board will either vote for MI or against MI. If they are for it, then PAUSD can make it work. They have tons of information and are already running a successful immersion program. What else do we need to know that is not solvable if the idea is sound? It is either a good idea to do now and in 3 years, or it is not a good idea now or in 3 years. I think it's time for a decision.
I agree with your good luck to the board!


Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm

I think my cupcake analogy -- which was about fairness -- got turned into a "my piece of the pie" analogy. That was not my intent.

I read the lengthy report about FLES and MI, that's where I read over and over again that FLES is not expensive. In fact, the way it was suggested, it is so cheap relative to my expectations, I was stunned! There were great ideas in that report about how to implement FLES district-wide for minimal expense. I think the biggest pedagogical barrier when it comes to FLES is the introduction of elective (as opposed mandatory subjects) to the elementary school curriculum. But, it's been done before many other places, we aren't breaking any new ground.

A significant barrier to the acceptance of MI is the present lack of any foreign language instruction for elementary school students district-wide. In fact, I see three camps: one with blinders on for anything except MI, one that thinks MI is unfair until we get FLES first (I am in that camp), and one that thinks we have other priorities in the district above both MI and FLES (I find arguments from people in this camp to be very earnest and persuasive).

We can either use our energy arguing with each other and accomplish nothing for all of our effort, or we can ask the people in the third camp, what would it take in concrete terms for you to be okay with FLES and MI? We can ask the people in the first camp, are you willing to roll up your sleeves to get together with the people in the third camp so that those district-wide goals can be met so that FLES and MI can go forward without significant opposition? What happens if we all do this? -- our energies go to making better PA schools for years to come.

People who want to stay stuck in their camps, are in my opinion the ones who would rather no one got the cupcake than do anything except get to bring their own little cupcake to class without sharing with others. We have all seen kids do that. We are grownups -- and I might add, well-educated, well-meaning, intelligent, and intensely interested in the betterment of our schools -- we can find a way to work together for the greater good AND get what we want. An all or nothing ultimatum about MI is not helpful.

Has anyone in the MI camp bothered to talk earnestly with Pauline about what she (and others with her on this issue) would like to see for our district and why she is against MI in the way it is being pushed through now? (Why are people in the MI camp so afraid of FLES as a priority over MI, when having FLES would remove significant opposition to MI?) I know for a fact that Pauline is not just knee-jerk genetically biased against MI, she has very legitimate and specific concerns, and that there are conditions under which she would no longer oppose it. If MI is worth working for, I don't see why working with Pauline and for the betterment of the district in order to get MI should be such a problem.

Those of us who would like to see this district get FLES and MI are going to have to be willing to think about the overarching issue of fairness and priorities. We have to put some effort into making those cupcakes for everyone if we want to bring our own to school. Otherwise, we are free to enjoy ours at home.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2007 at 6:48 pm

People have very legitimate concerns about choice programs being run for the benefit of a few. The Young 5's Program seems to be run at the pleasure of the director and not for the benefit of kids who most need it. The program is completely full before school starts by overprotective self-referrals months before it would be obvious who most needs it, so teachers are unable to refer students to it who obviously truly need the program when school starts.

So instead of benefitting the community as a resource for the district, it serves a few people as just another specialty school and fills months before the real need can even be properly assessed in most kids. I think this is wrong, a misuse of resources so that a few people, including the director, can have their own insulated little environment. I think it is a legitimate concern that MI could end up the same, something that exists to serve just the interests of the little club lucky enough to get in.


Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Nico, and I respectfully disagree with you once again with your statement that opponents are causing the problems. Opponents really do have some valid concerns and I think it's a bit disingenuous to find fault that they exist. Personally I'm not totally against MI or for it, but I would hope the board could find the least divisive way, if they agree to implement MI, to get it into our schools. Waiting until Garland is open displaces the least number of neighborhood kids, and even the Feasibility study states this is of critical importance to the success of MI. I would hate to think that you feel MI should just inject itself into a school regardless of it's affect on that school's community.
Perhaps the community doesn't need to spend more months debating this, and I for one won't have time once work starts up and all my other responsibilities with my 3 kids kicks in at the start of the school year in two days. However, it's probably not up to you or me as to when this debate should end - even though I doubt anyone has changed anyone's mind in the process.
So again, I really hope the board considers minimizing the displacement of neighborhood kids by waiting until Garland opens to implement MI. Perhaps this would negatively impact your ability to get your kids into MI, I don't know, but this doesn't concern me in the least. It's really about what's best for our entire district and to consider the opinions of all the parents pro and con who work so tirelessly to help create the fine district we have.





Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 1, 2007 at 9:31 pm

To address the comments made by Anonymous on this thread although by rights it may need a thread of its own, I am not sure what the exact "need" for the Young Fives criteria may be. My daughter has a November birthday and I was offered a place for her which I declined because I knew she was ready for kindergarten and I have not regretted that decision. However, on speaking to others who have used the program, I am amazed at their decisions. I have heard it all, from wanting their child to be the first in their grade to get their drivers' license to being bigger in the grade level which would give them an advantage in school sports. I agree that 12 months is a long time in a child's life and sometimes those with a late birthday may benefit from waiting a year, particularly as kindergarten is now much more academic than previously, but sometimes the rationale seems to be nothing to do with what it should be. I agree that there should be some space left for those with later birthdays who do try kindergarten and are found to be just not yet ready. The present system seems skewed and I think many in the program should really join their peers and leave those places for the few who may be found to be in need of it.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 10:54 pm

PA Resident,
I don't think all (most or even many) people opposed to MI are divisive, and I didn't say that. I also think that many people on this thread and others have brought up great points that have changed how I think about the MI program. I found the research and discussion on fluency mix and attrition research really interesting and positive, even when I disagreed with the person posting.
I am not sure why people claim that there is something about MI that is "divisive." It is one of my pet peeves. My perspective is that this would be a great new program, available to anybody who is interested, so at a basic level it is hard to feel like anybody is divided from anybody else.
With that said, I do think that a minority of MI opponents and some arguments can be divisive. Some of the arguments about fairness and equity I think are in fact designed to make people who are not interested in MI feel bad and left out. Another example is that in much of PAEE's communications, as well as in your post, they say that neighborhood kids will be barred from their schools if MI is approved. The people looking for a location (AAAG), Dr. Marilyn Cook and most supporters of MI feel very strongly that their #1 priority is to not displace any neighborhood kids. I think that PAEE knows this, they are smart and informed, but they continue with the "displacing neighborhood kids" argument. That is a divisive and false argument. Sorry, it just is. Telling parents that they will not be able to attend their local school is going to divide the community. And it isn't even true. Here is a link to the AAAG meeting minutes. The NUMBER ONE criteria for location is "Avoid displacement of neighborhood kids." See page 55 (among others).
Web Link
Which gets to your Garland point… if it turns out that Garland campus is the only way to have an MI program that doesn't displace neighborhood kids, then we should do it there in 3 years. But again we are talking about a matter of implementation. I tend to think that there will be other options available earlier, but if not, then MI in 3 years it is.
I guess I would say that your statement "Perhaps this would negatively impact your ability to get your kids into MI, I don't know, but this doesn't concern me in the least" also falls into the fairly negative camp.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 1, 2007 at 11:12 pm

A.J.
For more than you ever wanted to read about FLES and MI and why they are/are not in any way connected please read the "choice vs. luck" thread. I don't think there is one thing I could say that wasn't already said there.
Web Link
Also, I would like to talk to Pauline. I have met with MI opponents twice before and it has been very interesting and I was happy I did it. My email is PAOnline_nico@yahoo.com if you want to forward to her. I will even pay for the coffee.


Posted by Aaron, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:58 am

The whole MI "debate" is really sad to watch. MI supporters don't care at all about issues of equity and diversity for ALL students in our PUBLIC school system.

Their aims are 100% self-serving. They want something "special" for THEIR kids that is designed to exclude 95%. The program would erode the diversity of neighborhood schools.

MI makes sense for PRIVATE but not PUBLIC school. Don't be fooled - implementing MI itself CREATES inequities. The "open" lottery will be fair ONLY in the sense that a small group of selfish parents will jump at the chance to "gain an advantage" by removing their kids from the general population.

Yes, this group of selfish parents will all have an "equal chance" of getting their kids selected. The rest of us, however, would pass quietly on the glorious chance to have our kids abandon our neighborhood schools.

Let's see "gain advantage by removing kids from the general population"...sounds like THE selling point for private education. What's that? If we jam this down the throats of PAUSD, we can get this for FREE - what could be better?

MI supporters will not like being called selfish and will likely attack this post. Just to be clear - I am not opposed to "being selfish" - selfish behavior drives innovation and makes America great; it just has no place in the PUBLIC school system.

The Board needs to kill MI and get back to dealing with issues that serve all 100% of our kids. This is a no brainer.



Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 2, 2007 at 1:12 am

I have the position I have about FLES-first after reading all the discussions; this isn't the opinion I began with, it's the one I arrived at after a lot of thought and considering other opinions. I am for MI, but if MI advocates insist that FLES isn't important or necessary to offer first, I will oppose MI over fairness.

I don't have Pauline's email address offhand, but at some point she will probably read your post and write to you. It probably would be a constructive thing for both of you two to meet, because you both have really good intentions and a lot of energy and determination. You are both on totally opposite ends of the discussion, each for very good reasons. I would love if you two could figure out a way to see to fruition what both of you want for the district (rather than neither) because our district would be better for it.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 8:40 am

Nico, how can you say with a straight face that MI does not contain a curricular advantage over standard PAUSD curriculum for the very few children that will luck in to the program?

Of course it does! - they will graduate as bilingual when no other children in PAUSD do.

You yourself say how valuable being bilingual is.

To say "why keep it from a few just because we can't offer it to all"... Hello? You can't go around arbitrarily handing out vastly unequitable educational opportunities in a public school system. We have to fight to give every kid the same opportunities and the same resources.

Nico - its only a matter of time until YOUR kid is on the short end of the stick. Who do you think will be crying the loudest when that happens? Today you LIKE the idea of inequality. Tommorrow (when it won't benefit you, on somehting you won't be so inclined to love love love) maybe not so much? Be careful what you wish for.

Frankly, if language education can't be done 'right' for everyone, then it shouldn't be done at all. It is not a top priority for our school district. Its an optional subject, and belongs in private school setting.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:02 am

Lisa,

For some people, MI may be an advantage, for some people, it may be a disadvantage. If you think it's so great, are you on the list of interested participants?

No! All the inequity talk is blowing smoke to make people think lots of people will get an advantage and lots of people who want the advantage won't get it even though they want it. It doesn't need to be offered to all because not everyone wants it.

Hello! There's only a small amount of people who want this choice. There's tons of people who don't want this choice. This isn't a huge inequity because there's not huge interest in MI by everyone.

And AJL, there's plenty of MI supporters who want FLES. It's in the district's plan to do the task force. I'm guessing that Grace Mah will be a great contributor.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:09 am

Grace, perhaps since you've done extensive research on bilingual programs attrition rates you can share the DATA for the programs that were visited and used as examples by PAUSD in the feasibility study??? Particularly we need to see Mandarin Immersion examples. This would be enrollment tables similar to the one we saw for Cupertino's MI program. If not available, can you please explain why, and how the feasibility study was able to make claims without it?

By the way Bill, at 5% attrition per year (which you've arrived at by excluding the grades above 5th), the program would STILL shift in mix dramatically to serve a very high concentration of native speakers (and/or transferrees from outside PAUSD from other private programs). At 5% attrition per year: There would be 30 Native Mandarin/10 Native English by 5th grade.

Note that the average attrition rate for Cupertino's program for all grades across all years of its existence is the higher 7-8%.

Now, given that PAUSD has relied heavily on SI as its model of success, then we also know that extension into middleschool will be on the agenda in about 4-5 years. So Bill, why are you randomly excluding the attrition after 5th grade?

There is a very high liklihood that this program is skewed in its ability to reach a diverse population even with 5% attrition.

Bill: to answer your previous question - the alternative/choice guidelines have the following statement on p4, under Student Selection:
"What steps will be taken to reach students representative of the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the community?"

The feasibility study has failed to address this question, and the program certainly fails to meet this requirement.

Note that this is a SEPARATE question from the selection process. It is not a question about how the selection process will be fair, unbaised, and color blind. It is a question about how PAUSD programs will meet their lawful requirements for remaining ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. Also note that 'reach' does not stop at opening the doors. 'Reach' also means to grasp, take hold, to attract and retain.

The act of advertising the program at 'Kindergarten Information Nights' is just that - an act of advertising, but no assurance of the programs ability to appeal to, attract, and retain a diverse student population. By the way, what are Kindergarten Information Sessions? I have two kids in PAUSD since Kinder, and one more on the way, have been a 40+ year resident of Palo Alto, and have never heard of Kinder Information Open Houses, Information Sessions, or any such thing. When and where was the one held for the 2006/2007 school year? How was that publicized?

Nico/Grace: Since you have offered data, also please let us know the makeup of native language/English language/Other language speakers in each program, and the number of English language learners (ELL students) in each of the model programs and also in the school districts of each program. This will be useful to see if the programs are addressing a large ELL need in that community and/or addressing a representative populuation for that community.

Also please let us know the demographic makeup of each of the programs and its school district.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:16 am

Bill - you make some prediction above about the mix being 1/3, 2/3. The feasibility study states it will be 50/50.

Why the change in assumption? Are we to believe the feasibility study?

Also, above when describing the Mandarin speakers in the 1/3 Mandarin Speakers category, you define some minimal levels of Mandarin speaking ability. Do those really qualify as Mandarin Speakers for the purposes you claim they are needed? If they are not fluent conversationally, then what value to they add to the dual-immersion classroom experience as Mandarin Speakers? If we only need kids who have a word or two here or there, then perhaps we really don't need the Mandarin speaking component? Or do we?

Does PAUSD have ENOUGH conversationally fluent Mandarin speakers for this program? How many by grade level? This again is where Grace can put out some data..


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:45 am

For those interested in the Spanish Immersion program, there will be an information night next week. I hope this isn't too off-topic, I am actually looking for the kindergarten information info for "Parent" and found this.
ESCONDIDO SPANISH IMMERSION PROGRAM
Parent Information Meeting
For 2007-2008 enrollment in
Kindergarten and Grades 1-5

How does my child learn English and Spanish?
What is two-way immersion all about?
Why is immersion education successful?

Wednesday, January 10th , 2007
7:00 - 8:15 p.m.
Escondido School, Library (in English)
Escuela Escondido, Aula 4 (en espaĂ'ol)
(Corner of Stanford Avenue and Escondido Road, Palo Alto)

Information: 650-856-1337
Web Link


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:58 am

Nico, where did you find that SI info?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:01 am

Nico - sorry, nevermind. I see the link you provided.
Which is what I thought. One would have to know to go looking for this, in order to find it. How is SI 'reaching' the community? By posting on a website? Perfect example of one way SI is NOT meeting the choice program guidelines.


Posted by SI for all, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:18 am

And, if you want your child to join SI but miss out on the luck draw - you should petition the BoE to add in another strand. This already happens when too many children can't get into the neighborhood school. If enough parents start pushing, hopefully we can get these programs expanded.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:25 am

Parent,
Ethnic diversity:
You quote the guidelines in asking "What steps will be taken to reach students representative of the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the community?"
In the feasibility study on page 14 they do address this in 2 very concrete ways. First MI will provide slots for 1-2 VTP kids per year. These by definition have to be members of an ethnic minority. They also will work with the "Parents of Color Network to involve students of diverse ethnic backgrounds."
The fluency mix of the program:
The feasibility study does have a 50% Mandarin, 50% English ratio as the ideal. At the BoE meeting on 12/12/06 Ms. Cohn-Vargas pointed out that in practice the Spanish Immersion program is 1/3 Spanish, 1/3 bilingual, 1/3 English. She felt that this ratio is acceptable too.
Data I do have:
As far as fluency of interested families, we did collect some information on this. 53 families who have signed petitions in the past supporting a MI program, who had kids entering Kindergarten in 2007 or later, participated. One of the questions we asked them about was their fluency in Mandarin. For Parent #1 34% of respondents were native Mandarin speakers, Parent #2 had 19% native Mandarin speakers, and 30%of families had a native Mandarin speaking caretaker (grandparent or babysitter). I will point out that this data is not additive, for example some families have 2 native mandarin speaking parents and a mandarin caretaker. But, you can tell from the 34% for parent #1, that the absolute minimum would be 1/3 native mandarin speaking. I am sure from this that we will have no issues with recruiting an optimal fluency mix.
Data I don't have:
Parent, you ask "Nico/Grace: Since you have offered data, also please let us know the makeup of native language/English language/Other language speakers in each program, and the number of English language learners (ELL students) in each of the model programs and also in the school districts of each program."
I never offered that particular data because I don't have it. Can you distill what you are most interested in and I will see if I can find it for you? Again, PACE had nothing to do with these site visits or the feasibility study school research, so I would have to cold call all 8 model schools and ask for this information. If you can clarify what you are interested in, I will do it. Or collect contact information online for you to do it.
We actually agree on something!
So, I have to say that I completely agree with you that this Kindergarten information night is elusive if not non-existent. I think it is actually happening on a campus by campus level. I have a kid entering K next year, so I have to go to PAUSD's Website, use the school locator to find my local school then go to their Website to find out about their information night. Not very user friendly, and what if I didn't have a computer? Have you seen community ads in the daily or weekly?


Posted by Seer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:31 am

Yes, I've been thinking that maybe waiting lists for current choice programs are simply that - interest in the current choice programs.

Its a bit of a leap in logic to assume that parents on the list for SI (hoover or Ohlone) would just as easily sign up for MI - as if the two languages are interchangable in their application, their complexity, the learning experience for the child, etc.

In fact, I spoke to a very happy SI parent who said they would not have signed up for Mandarin - due to the extreme overburden it would place on the child due to the difficulty of the language. Way too intense.

I wonder if Marilyn Cook or Becky Cohn Vargas have gone to the parents on the waiting lists for our existing choice programs and just asked if they would opt for MI rather than the program they are on the waiting list for. That would have been another useful piece of DATA the staff COULD have easily provided, but chose to neglect.

They apparently prefer unsubstantiated statements of opinion. good work guys.


Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:44 am

From the PAUSD SI website: "Quien habla dos idiomas vale por dos" - One who speaks two languages is worth two people

How do you reconcile this statement with the comment that MI does not contain a curricular advantage over standard PAUSD curriculum?


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:47 am

Seer,
Even if you rule out the long wait list for SI as an indicator of demand for MI, there are many other indicators pointing to MI being popular. The Cupertino Mandarin Immersion program has a long waiting list. The private Mandarin Immersion school in Palo Alto (ISTP) has a long wait list. PACE presented a list of (I think 90+?) families in PAUSD who were committed to enter a lottery for MI if it were offered to the BoE. I think this was presented back when the MI proposal was voted on last year. (It was before I became involved in PACE so I am not sure of the details or exact number).


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:11 am

No I haven't seen ads on anything like a Kinder info night. Ever.

But Nico, also 1-2 slot reserved for VTP kids also is not 'reaching' the students - the program has to appeal to those parents, has to have value to those students, has to be feasible for those parents in terms of difficulty of the program, ability to pay the extra $, ability to get extra help, etc.) has to actually sign up those students, and has to retain those students over time in order to 'reach' them.

It also isn't addressing reaching a mix of diversity that is represenative of the PAUSD community overall.

I'm not sure what you were saying when you said "parent #1... parent #2... How many children were mandarin proficient conversationally? That is the main question in terms of qualifying as the native mandarin speaking contingent of this program, right? (In order to add the value you claim is contributed by having mandarin speakers in the classroom - you need kids who are speaking it in their everyday conversation amoungst their peers.)

So I think (if I am interpreting what you've said above) there were 19% native mandarin speaking children in this survey? 53 x 19% = 10. That would only equate to 25% of the 40 students needed for one year. BUT you said 2007 and beyond, so not all of these are in Kindergarten in the same year.. So, it seems that there WOULD be difficulty in even finding the 1/3 2/3 mix, let alone the optimal 50/50 mix.

And retaining the mix over time is another issue, not at all addressed. What is the ability of PAUSD to find qualified students at higher grade levels? (This is a demographic question that should be answered with data.)

I understood that Grace has been an instrumental part of the feasibility study, as she was with the writing of the Grant. So if anyone has accesss to the staff's data it would be Grace. But never the less, the DATA that would be relevent for the comparative schools would be:

What are the demographics of those comparator communities compared to the demographics of their immersion program. To see what the makeup of the populuation being served is.

For example, a community with many spanish speakers, and for instance a high need for solutions for English Language Learners (ELL) students who speak Spanish as their first language, a dual immersion Spanish approach would likely be very successful and very appropriate. (In fact THIS is what the studies that were referenced in Appendix A were all about.)

We also need to see the actual enrollment tables for each program to see the attrition rates for the model programs, rather than anectodal unsubstantiated claims that 'attrition isn't a problem' We particularly need to see Mandarin program examples.



We also need to see the demographic makeup of the community relative to the demographic makeup of the immersion program. Again, presumption being that a district heavy in a particular demographic (Japaneese for example) would likely land on a Japaneese Immersion program as a good way to serve the community. It would be helpful to see how the immersion programs correlate to the demographic makeup of the communities they serve. A community like this would also enjoy the beneift of having more likely 'customers' available to backfill attrition.

We also need to see test scores (with demographics) of the school districts, and test scores of their MI programs.

Nico, the study states there are 927 (if I recall) of Native Mandarin speakers in PAUSD. Are those children? or Parents and children? What is the demographic makeup of that population? Age and ethnicity? By stating that number, the study implies we have a large population to serve - we need more info to support this claim.

I don't think I need to point out to you that the studies that are referenced in appendix A are actually about how ELL students taught in their native language perform better (and like school more) than their ELL peers who are taught in English only classrooms. So the main reason and main benefits for these programs (based on the studies referenced) are actually for situations where ELL driven achivement gap is a big issue.

That isn't Palo Alto. And I'm guessing most of the model programs will demonstrate they are in fact serving their ELL Achivement gap issues through their programs, or serving a much broader community need than what Palo Alto is able to demonstrate. Which is why we need the data.

If this data is not there, then the feasibility study is opinion, not fact.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:36 am

Parent,

I see Nico did a great job of answering most of your questions.

A couple of points to add:

1. You claim that at 5 percent attrition rate, "There would be 30 Native Mandarin/10 Native English by 5th grade." Well, you've made lots of assumptions to get those figures. I could make other assumptions and get 30 native English speakers and 10 native Mandarin speakers. You're just fiddling with numbers. And yes, as has been pointed out, CLIP had attrition early on, but the present 5 percent is better than PA averages. Also, Parent, you know as well as I that the MI proposal is for K-5 and that attrition data for grade 6 is meaningless for our purposes. Regardless of how happy families may be with a program K-5, they may mainstream in middle school for a variety of reasons.

2. If you carefully read your quote from the guidelines, it is quite clear that there is absolutely no legal or district requirement that any choice program reflect the ethnic or racial make-up of the community. Just not there.

3. Re levels of speaking ability, you've mixed up two lines of discussion. Mandarin speaker means native (or near native) speaker, not just minimal levels.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:41 am

Nico, PA Resident also refreshes another important point. I don't understand how you can claim there is no curricular advantage for kids in MI over normal PAUSD programming.

Also annonymous - you say there are a tiny number of people who want this choice, and tons of people who don't want this choice?! Are you for or against MI? The public school system is not a place to permanently reserve and tie up resources (including district overhead, site space, complexity, incremental costs and special funding needs, mangament time, BOE time, etc.) for a tiny populuation of special interest.. The public school system isn't an appropriate place for this.

The fewer that get the benefit, the greater the inequity. Many parents would like a language opportunity but are not willing to go as drastic as a Mandarin Immersion program - which is risky and difficult for the kids. So for them, not willing to go to a drastic all or nothing program - its inappropriate to say they don't want this choice. Perhaps they want equity, but this is not a prudent option for them. That's not to say they don't want this choice, many just disagree with it as an appropriate and viable option.

And that's great that there are plenty of MI supporters that support
FLEX. So lets get that done first and see where MI and SI fit in to the world language strategy.

The opposite of acting strategically is acting reactively. (Ever heard the old saying "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail")

Putting big programs in place without strategy is completely reactive, and that is expensive, sets stage for mistakes and misteps, and not likely to serve the long term best interests of the district.

Like you said, I'm sure Grace, being the alltruistic benevolent community supporter that she is, will be very supportive of doing the right thing and helping design a fair and 'feasible' language strategy proposal for all, first.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Bill, not fiddling with numbers:

Starting at 50/50 which the feasibility study states will be the case (Theer is no himming and hawing in the feasibility study about the mix, despite your ability to partake in theorizing on that mix)

5%(40) = 2. 2 per year attrition. -2 Non-native speakers, +2 Native Speakers each year first through 5th. (will require testing to fill attrition.)

Assuming the kids having more difficulty will be the non-native mandarin speakers (The feasibility study quoted studies which say that native speakers do better when taught in dual immersion programs in their own language - see appendix A materials - or is this blowing smoke as well?)

So take 2 away each year from the Native English side, and add two to the Native Speakers side, and you'll end up with 30Mand/10 Engl by 5th grade.

Try it with 8% attrition, it gets to about 90%/10%.

Its not playing with numbers. Its following the logical progression of the the program as put forth by the study. It's looking out at the consequence of this program beyond year one. Something the proponents and the feasibility study team have obviously failed to do. (Or hope no one else will do)

You can claim its a future state, not knowable - but its a highly likely scenario. Just as the AARG is relying on reasonable forecasts and scenarios - so should have the MI feasibility study attempted to play this out to some logical scenarios.

Its YET ANOTHER deficiency in the feasibility study, and more evidence that they had no interest in attempting to present a well reasoned and unbaised view.

By the way, as soon as a school district publicly states a policy - it becomes legally binding. If you don't believe it, please take a look at the results of Santa Clara County Grand Jury investigation of Cupertino's Mandarin Immersion program. The outcome states that Cupertino was not in violiation of law with regard to ~their~ inequitable funding policies, because they hadn't stated any - and the Grand Jury specifically contrasted it to PAUSD which had publicly stated policies. Once policies are stated, they are binding by law.

Is the school board willing to rashly gamble that they HAVEN'T made a statement of policy with this clearly spelled out statement in their choice policy guidelines document??? How imprudent and reckless are Camille, Mandy, Dana and Barb willing to be?


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Parent,
This will be brief since I am heading out the door and won't be back online until tomorrow.
I would love to hear some ideas from you about how to reach all ethnicities and retain them. Do you have suggestions? I think this is something that is very important to me and PAUSD and many of the MI supporters. You have been really critical of PAUSD's ideas, so what do you suggest?
As far as fluency, the 53 families we surveyed represented kids entering Kindergarten from 2007 on. I can pretty confidently guage my 5 year old's fluency, but my 2.5 year old is another matter. So, I looked at the parent data. So, a minimum of 34% of families I am assuming will have fluent kids (with the presence of at least one native speaking parent and a strong enough interest in supporting Mandarin to be entering a lottery for MI). So 34% of 40 would be 13-14.
I assumed that if at least one parent is a native speaker then the child could also attain native or near-native fluency. I will concede that this is an assumption, but I am not sure of a better way to look at it. Another flaw in my survey is that we did not reach the ELL families. I would love to find them and talk to them (I would need a translator to communicate with them) but I ran the survey, and I only speak English. Also, in practice (at least in SI) the person who tests for fluency is the classroom teacher. So, we can't really ask them what their criteria will be, since they haven't been hired yet. Again, any suggestions of a different way to get this data or to look at the data I already have?
Also, I am not ignoring the "curricular advantage" question. Although I think "anonymous from Fairmeadow" already did a good job of addressing it. I want to talk about it also, but I don't have time right now because I would really actually like to spend time diving into it. It is an interesting question and I have an opinion on it.
FLES and MI have been so incredibly over debated already on "choice vs luck" that I am not going to start up that debate again here. I will say again though, that I am a huge supporter of FLES, I think it is totally separate from MI, and I hope that I can be involved in FLES in some way (after January 30.)
I'll check in tomorrow, thanks.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Question - you are right - there DOES need to be some root cause analysis done on attrition rates! We've been asking Marilyn Cook and Becky Cohn Vargas for this information for MI and SI since early June! Nada.

Also, net change in the total numbers year over year probably UNDERSTATES attrition rates, because some leaving and some entering can mask each other out. The underlying attrition needs to be reported on its own.

Underlying attrition and root cause should be something easily doable by program managers who have student lists (by name) each year. It could have easily been obtained by SI or any of the model programs if someone of authority would have asked.

However, what you can know from attrition rates without any info on root cause is how many students you'll repopulate the program with who will be native speakers.

Therefore, with attrition rates as high as 5-8% as has been seen in Cupertino - you eventually end up running a Mandarin school for Mandarin speakers - not a school that fulfills the promise to create bilingual, biliterate, bicultural kids from a diverse mix of students.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Nico - in repsonse to a previous post...

No. ELL kids are English Language Learners, not non-Mandarin kids.

The study says they will support English Language Learners, but will only take English speakers or Mandarin speakers. So the study is actually circular, saying they will support Mandarin speakers. Duh.

Even if they are claiming they will support non-English speakers that speak some other language other than Mandarin - what an empty promise! How likely would it be that a parent with a child struggling to learn english (native speaker to some other language) introduce a third and very complicated mandarin language.

The feasibility study crossed over into ludicrous in this particular section.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Parent,
Attrition from K can be filled by kids with no exposure to Mandarin (or English). You can still enter the program in 1st grade as a monolingual. The slots left open by atrition from from 2-5 will have to be filled by kids that are bilingual (see feasiblity study page 14). They are tested in both English and Mandarin. They are tested for speaking fluency as well as reading and writing in both languages. They are not filled by native speakers, they will be filled by bilingual and biliterate students. Many native speakers are ineligable due to the reading and writing criteria. Here is what I wrote earlier in this thread on this:
The vacant slots can be filled in many ways. Families could move to Palo Alto from one of the many places that have Mandarin immersion programs in their public schools (Cupertino, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Burlingame (in 2008)), etc. There are over 100 language immersion programs in public schools in California alone (this includes Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, Korean etc.). Students could also come from one of the private Mandarin immersion programs (there is one in San Francisco, one in Palo Alto, one in Mountain View) although they would have to reside in PAUSD boundaries. Families who move to Palo Alto from other countries, such as China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Singapore, etc, could also fill the open slots. (Assuming their English verbal and written is strong enough)


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Parent,

Your mistake in calculating attrition effects is your assumption that the attrition will hit only English speakers. The two students per year can be both English speakers, both Mandarin speakers, or one each. Same is true for their replacement in K-1 for sure, and even in 2-5 as Nico has explained. You compound this error by assuming that both Mandarin-speakers and English-speakers are necessarily "native" in some racial sense.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Nico - And I wrote earlier in response to the idea that you can bring speakers in from all over the place - that assuming you will be bringing kids in from non-PAUSD sources is EVEN MORE detrimental a scenario to PAUSD and a direct negative impact to all other students, because of the financial implications. This represents enrollment growth that we would not otherwise have had which represents cut in per pupil spending for all - all for the sake of a questionable MI program.

The assumption that you will bring already Mandarin fluent PAUSD students in to fill these spots is the MOST favorable assumption you can make for position.

(And you're right - it is very likely that you will harm this district with unheard of enrollment spike.)

To annonymous - you said; "If you think MI is so great are you on the list...". No, I said that Nico says being bilingual is such an advantage.

I would never sign up for Mandarin Immersion as the primary education for my child - I think it would be a distinct disadvantage, an impediment to their normal progress. Mandarin is a very difficult language and I see no good reason to place an innocent Kindergartener/first grader in this kind of a stress situation unneccesarily, potentially wasting an entire 1-2 years of critical early learning - if not stunting progress thereforth.

I am utterly unconvinced that Mandarin language education has any value whatsoever unless you intend to go live/work in China some day.

I would place all bets for my children on English language literacy, writing, math, science, problem solving, physical health and wellbeing, study skills, music, art and public speaking. I rank language education very low on the list of priorities, there would be several other things I'd insert before Mandarin - even cooking and camping.

And I'm not Lisa. If you know anything about Lisa - you'll know Lisa cares very much about language education. And we're on the same side! Imagine that. More than one person who objects to MI.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Wolf - no, I assume the attrition will come primarily from the english speakers for two reasons

1. Well documented proof (see Grant application, see posts from Grace Mah with regard to 'second grade panic', etc.) that Mandarin is extremely difficult language to learn. The assumption is fair that fluent speakers of mandarin will have less difficulty than the English speakers. The teachers will be able to keep Mandarin fluent speakers on pace at grade level. The english speakers are likely to be the ones struggling with the language or not keeping up to grade level performance. If you have better attrition root cause analysis perhaps you can share? Otherwise we are forced to make assumptions aren't we? Why did the staff leave us so utterly high and dry on this issue?

2. I'm not talking about racial issues here. In fact, the well stated purpose of this program is to teach a diverse population of English and Mandarin speakers to be bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. At this high attrition rate, this program does no such thing, does it!

It will in fact mostly be delivering California/PAUSD curriculum to bilingual kids who received their bilingual fluency elsewhere. In other words an end run to the expressly stated purpose of the program.

This is also important context for looking at the test scores. Big surprise that test scores start to jump up in second/third grade. Its because the program has turned over with a fresh batch of kids who are already bilingual at grade level.

If I were a parent considering this program, I'd be very interested in looking at the attrition and the root cause in other Mandarin Immersion model programs.

Where's the balanced discussion on this from our staff? Both the opponents to MI and the prospective parents who might actually want to hear the reality on this issue have been given the shaft. A huge disservice by Feasibility studiers.



Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Hi, Parent,

As I said, each of your numbers is a guess or fiddle. You guess 50/50 initial mix, but the district said other mixes will work. You guess kids who leave will be English speakers (no mention of this in Appendix A). You guess that backfill will be exclusively Mandarin speakers. All of these are purest guesswork on your part, untainted by evidence or rationale.

Your argument on policy begs the question. A publicly stated policy ought to be binding, but the district does not have a stated policy on the racial mix that choice programs have to achieve. Thus there is nothing to bind.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Parent,

There is nothing fair or reasonable with assuming that attrition will happen solely, or mostly, from English speakers. It is purely speculative. With small attrition numbers the difficulty clearly is not the problem, but family mobility always is.

On another subject, you write that you "would never sign up for Mandarin Immersion as the primary education for my child - I think it would be a distinct disadvantage, an impediment to their normal progress. ... I am utterly unconvinced that Mandarin language education has any value whatsoever unless you intend to go live/work in China some day."

I think you have every right to hold this position... for your child. In fact, I agree with much of it (except the "innocent" student part :-) That is why MI should never become a mandatory program for every child, and that is why I find all this talk of "racial balance", "unfairly divided precious language resource", and all this "fairness" discussion, are nothing but red herrings intended to find yet another bogus "reason" to undermine the program.

I said it in the past, and I say it again. The board should approve or disapprove of MI based on its educational value FOR THOSE THAT WANT IT, and AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT UNFAIRLY DISCRIMINATE against the rest of PAUSD students (cost, enrollment process, etc.) This should be the principle behind any and every choice program, and MI is a choice program.

All the rest is nothing but whining from people that want to DENY OTHERS a chance for something different, even if they themselves don't want it. I expect my board to ignore such people and such reasons.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2007 at 5:04 pm

Wolf, let's pretend just for a moment that you needed to come up with just one challenge, risk, or negative for implementing MI in PAUSD. If you could come up with one, what would it be? Try to come up with just one if you can.


Posted by anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Andrea,
I think that "Parent" has that one covered. She doesn't need Wolf's help.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Yes, its clear that you and Bill would like very much for YOUR board to ignore most of the valid reasons for objection to MI. That has clearly been your tact on these boards.

(Funny, now that the BOARD belongs to you. Could that be an outcome of presidency? I thought the BOARD represented the entire community. We'll soon see whether that's true or not.)

Bill - Appendix A references independent studies that say dual immersion programs confer most benefit on English language learners (in this case would be native Mandarin speakers) from immersion in their native language. The FLAP Grant application references additional government studies that support the fact that Mandarin is 3-4 times harder to reach conversational proficiency.

This is where you break down on your understanding of logic (or vocabulary) - I back my my statements with evidence and rationale - which in fact came from YOUR camp, whereas your statements are pure opinion/wishful thinking.

Again, on the issue of public policy - when they say 'representative of the community', we could actually come up with hard numbers and percentages representative of the PAUSD district wide - by looking at demographic data published in the yearly Accountability Reports published for state of California. Again - the question is how much Wolf and other board members wish to gamble that they have NOT made a statement of policy in the Choice guidelines. My bet is, they have. We know where you blind passion places your bet. Now lets see where they place theirs.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Andrea,

Here is an off the cuff list of the risks.
- Low enrollment
- Hiring bad teachers
- Unexpected high attrition
- Unexpected significantly higher cost of running the program

All these risks already exist in every regular and choice program in our district. When any of them actually materializes, the district administration takes care of them -- replaces or trains the teachers, closes and opens classrooms as needed, dips into special funds (site-based or district-wide) to cover minor and temporary overruns. With choice programs the attention is a bit tighter, and that is why each needs its own support group to quickly extend help.

And if any of these problems becomes longer term or locally unmanageable, we make more drastic changes like opening and closing schools, or opening and closing programs.

What I am saying is that the district is perfectly capable of evaluating and running such program -- it does this type of things all the time. Sometimes a program fails, and then it is either reorganized or closed. All the discussion here seems no more that bunch of people assuming that the district is incompetent, or worrying that something good may happen to someone else.


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Wolf, I appreciate your answer, and your solutions for the risks were also enlightening. Were you disappointed that the feasibility study didn't try to address or even provide data regarding the "unexpected" risks and suggest ways to mitigate? Also, from what I've been reading, the question of hiring any qualified teachers is a biggie and I'd be surprised if PAUSD would find it acceptable to take that risk for our students. As to low enrollment or high attrition, many opponents share your concern.
I would not expect the BOE to use precious resources to proceed with the attitude of "let's give it a try and we can always abandon ship if it starts to sink". Wouldn't you agree that we are not afloat in a sea of financial abundance right now?
And you really raise some red flags if you are suggesting that we proceed with MI under the premise that we can always dip into special funds if there are cost overruns, close or open classrooms and schools, retrain or replace teachers, and so on--this is starting to sound expensive and not cost-neurtal. I hope BOE will be a little more cautious in this matter. I don't feel a sense of urgency to implement MI at this time.


Posted by Ellen, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 2, 2007 at 7:27 pm

In response to the original posting about excluding Mandarin-speaking children from a Mandarin Immersion language program: it seems to me it is not an "immersion" in a language if those who speak the language aren't included.


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Andrea,

PACE did all the groundwork for many years. The study -- in my personal opinion -- was to convince the district itself about things that they still didn't feel comfortable with *after* PACE already did what it did. It was never intended -- in my mind -- as comprehensive study to "convince" anyone but themselves. That is why I wrote in some other thread that I was actually impressed that Marilyn did change her mind, as it seemed clear to me she was highly skeptical and reluctant early on.

All the study really tells me that the district is confident now that the program doesn't pose to them any MAJOR unexpected risks. Small risks and small problems? Sure. They exist in any program and any school, choice or not, every day, and the district deals with them every day. I don't need to run the program or to worry about every third level "risk" -- the district does, and if it is satisfied, so am I.

That is why I say that now the board can -- and should -- deal with the educational value of the program. If it finds it valuable, it should approve it, as the staff effectively already said it can handle it.

You pick up -- as I knew you will -- on the "risks" I mentioned. I did not mention anything that any half-competent administrator doesn't know, or doesn't know how to handle. They may seem problematic to lay people like us, or some of us may pretend that they are so problematic as to make them seem bigger than they are. They are not.

The program showed sufficient and sustained demand for many (5-6) years; the program addressed all curricular issues; the administration is now satisfied it can do it (and they are the ones on the hook to do it, not the whiners here); the administration already spent much of the extra time needed to create such program. Why not make the decision now?

I don't expect to convince any of the opponents on this list. In truth, long ago I lost any trust that they actually care about the success of the program; most simply want to kill any choice in the district for variety of reasons, and MI just happens to be the choice under consideration. Much (all?) of my writing here is intended so that a casual reader will not walk away under the impression the the program was ill considered, that the district and PACE are incompetent or have secret motives, or that anyone is acting with undue haste.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Thanks Wolf. I really appreciate your last post to Andrea.


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:17 pm

070102 A new language of cooperation - S.F. elementary's Mandarin program strengthens a school

SFrancisco Chronicle article, Jan 2, 2007

Web Link


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 12:00 am

Thanks, Parent, for sometimes crediting me with vast knowledge, but I'm really just a regular old parent who has a passion about immersion education and has enjoyed digging into the available information about programs. I'm studious, by no means a professional expert in this field.

So, I'm flattered by references to my "2nd grade panic" comments which are for all language immersion programs, not just Mandarin. It's not a well-documented problem, but one that I first heard about at the Spanish immersion kinder information night 5 years ago. I've heard repeated antecdotal comments about it at CABE conferences, but no research *proving* it's existance and to what extent it might actually occur.

The panic occurs for all languages, not just Mandarin.

The panic has nothing to do with the difficulty of Mandarin.

Most of the references about Mandarin being multiply more difficult to learn than other Latin-based languages are from the Monterey Language Institute about *adults* learning Mandarin compared to Spanish.

There are inherent differences in how children learn languages and how adults learn languages. There's significant differences in learning a language immersed from the start (when you might *first* learn nursery rhymes in Mandarin - about monkeys or tigers, before learning Mother Goose rhymes in English) and the basics are effortlessly taught in Mandarin, when compared to adults with their preconceived vocabulary and mindsets try to *translate* everything from English to Mandarin to learn.

The demographic and attrition DATA as you request is only available from the administrators who visited the schools. I did not make any visits with them, and haven't been to many of the schools they visited. Of the schools I've visited, attrition data was not tracked to your satisfaction. I didn't want to put any undue burden on them by insisting they go thru their enrollment lists to check on retention. But you can be quite insistent, go ask them.

I contributed to the FLAP grant since I have a reasonable understanding of what's out there. I had value to add in writing the grant application and was listed as a Community Liaison on the list of program participants. I have not contributed to the feasibility study in more than the initial FLAP grant information. The district staff collected their data and distilled it to put into the feasibility study. I don't know all the background information which was collected, but I'm sure there was a lot. Maybe you can make an appointment with Marilyn Cook to review the data that was collected. I'm not sure that it's worth publishing all of it, or if it's in a publishable format. But you could request a viewing. I haven't seen it.

With respect to FLES, sure I'd volunteer to help. I also volunteered to donate money towards it. I feel it's a completely separate item from MI, but I'm glad that bringing up MI has stirred more interest in FLES. Someone's earlier post said they'd given up in the last few years on the board's ability to do things. I don't give up. I'd be willing to work with others to investigate FLES and see if it could be done. I suspect the financials, class time constraints, and curriculum development will be the big challenges, but they can be worked out if there's really enough interest on behalf of the *whole* community to make it happen. FLES is bigger than MI, so will take more work. I won't drive it, but I'll help.

Happy New Year,
Grace


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 8:16 am

Thursday, January 4, 7pm at Palo Verde Elementary School
3450 Louis Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303



Monday, January 8, 7pm at Walter Hays Elementary School
1525 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, California 94301



There is also a flier at the Central Attendance Office at 25 Churchill Ave, Palo Alto, 94306



The information nights are open to the public, so some of you with pre-preK kids can scope out the kinder readiness talk, and the descriptions of the choice programs in PAUSD: Young 5's, Spanish Immersion at Escondido, Connections at Ohlone, and Direct Instruction at Hoover.



If you're interested in the possible Mandarin Immersion program this fall, please attend the meetings and ask the district staff about the process for application.



I'll also be at the meetings to answer questions about MI after the meeting, and to collect names and contact info if you want to be notified if and when a MI lottery is taking applications.



See you,

Grace


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2007 at 11:43 am

Wolf - what's interesting in your response on the risks, is that in fact there are some! And since the risks exists, they will be handled by the district, as they district always does for all other programs.

In other words the district resources will 'cover' the program to the extent of staffing difficulties, too low (or too high enrollment, which you didn't mention as a risk), unexpected program costs, etc etc etc.

This then cuts in to the district resources. Period.

The community is behind the current programs, and accepts the financial responsibility for 'covering' those programs.

But the community is not, and will not be behind the district financially if (when) the program starts sapping resources.

I see no tolerance whatsoever for - "Oh we realize now we need a TOSA, or a Mandarin Curriculum Director, a program manager, or we need more IS time, or we need a Mandarin Speaking secretary, the bargain basement materials are substandard we need more money to rewrite them, or we need more money for Mandarin assessment, or teacher training, etc. etc etc. Or the parent donations are short, Or woops, we just increased the total district enrollment by 240 with this program alone (which would be a $2.4M per year revenue shortfall).

There is no wiggle room for this. There is no justification for this. This is a program with such small appeal and such small reach, and such questionable benefit, that it can not be justified to take even one dollar from the overall district general needs.

Its unreasonable to expect such a thing.

Perhaps this would be a good time to ask someone (Nico, Wolf, Bill, Grace) to answer the long asked, never answered question:

How does the District benefit from this program? Not the 40 students per year that win the lottery, and not the parents of those students who will not have to pay private school tuition,

- I mean, how will 98% of the rest of the district benefit from this program that we should be willing to open the checkbook for all the program costs and risks that have NOT been outlined in the feasibility study.




Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2007 at 1:07 pm

Let me try to answer your question, Parent. I think the district as a whole benefits from MI in being able to offer all parents of Kindergarteners the SLIM CHANCE that their children might be able to learn (or improve their existing) Mandarin for free in elementary school.

Furthermore, I think MI proponents believe, it adds this quasi-choice at essentially no cost.

I guess the District also benefits from the kudos it might receive for graduating 20 or so more newly fluent Mandarin speakers (i.e. the 50% of students who enter MI with no Mandarin) every year than it might have done. And it can point to a program that fosters cultural sensitivity. The District, though, could (and does) do both teach fluency and sensitivity in other ways, so these seem to me to weak rationales from the District's perspective.

My feeling, however, is that being able to offer such a 'choice' to so very few does come at a considerable cost.

The following seem to me to be some of real costs already accountable if the program goes into effect this fall:

- The cost of the resources and staff time (both start-up and on-going) that the feasibility study doesn't account for (see many comments above and in other threads such as the 'measure A' thread for details)
- The price paid in goodwill foregone on the part of many important supporters of the district (see the 'compromise' thread) at MI's apparent end run around PiE principals.
- The cost of the opportunity forgone to open other immersion strands or open other magnet-type schools -- or to first have a discussion about what the District really wants by way of choice in the future.
- The cost to the principal of equity in the distribution of public school resources (SI has this cost currently, too, but having one unfair program isn't a reason to have two, in my book).
- The cost to the city in terms of added traffic from more school commuting
- The cost to students and parents who live near whichever school hosts MI in terms of their lost opportunity to attend a walkable, neighborhood school
- The cost to those who don't get accepted into the program. It's not really a choice for them, since they are being denied what they have chosen

Then there are the risks, that carry with them the potential for further costs:
- The risk that MI's incremental costs will actually be far higher than the feasibility study suggests (see Parent above)
- The risk that MI will be populated by some number of children who would otherwise not be entered in Palo Alto schools, lowering the available per-pupil dollars for all.
- The risk that having instituted MI, the Board will feel it's done enough in offering languages at the elementary level and will loose interest in FLES (as happened after SI) and forgo a solution to the equity objection
- That the district will be sued by people arguing that MI does not serve a representative and diverse population.

I'd say these costs, and risks, are considerable and far outweigh the small benefit that the district stands to gain from MI as it is now being proposed.

I do believe that the District could change this calculus, though.

It could run a decent policy debate about what choice schools we want and how we should offer languages for all. It could come up with a far more detailed feasibility study that answers the many questions raised about the first version of the study. It could offer language education to all at the elementary level. It could increase the availability of immersion stands to accommodate demand.

In those circumstances, I think, the costs and benefits equation would be much better balanced and MI would have a very strong chance of being widely supported.

Wolf suggests starting up MI and then shutting it down if the downside risks come to pass.

My suggestion is that if the Board asks the hard questions (of itself and of the community) first, a lot of the risks could be mitigated and the true costs of the program would become a lot more clear. Why can't we do that first?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Hi, Parent,

Wow, all gloom and doom today, huh? I chortled when you said MI would create a "$2.4M per year revenue shortfall." Good one. Maybe you don't expect a serious discussion of your objections any more, yet I'll respond seriously.

Again you make an assertion--target language speakers derive the "most benefit" from dual immersion--with zero evidence. Even if that were true, it would not lead inexorably to the conclusion that English speakers will be the ones to drop out--at least not using the logic the rest of us are using. It is purely a non-sequitur guess by you. So all your assumptions about the race of enrolled kids are pure guesses based on ... well, only you can say where these dark fears spring from.

As to policy, the guidelines ask, "What steps will be taken to reach students representative of the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the community?"

The intent here is clearly to make sure that choice programs do not remain a "best kept secret" or exclusive club for insiders. The district is requiring choice programs to reach out to all racial/ethnic groups, make sure eveyone knows about them and stay open to all. But it is not asking the choice program to dragoon unwilling participants of any race. Parse it how you will, this sentence does not require programs to enroll classes that are representative of the district's racial make-up. If that was the district's intent, it could easily have said just that.

So, sure, maybe there's a public policy, but the policy is one of outreach, not race fixing.

In the end, all your arguments based on racial fears do the community no good.


Posted by Nico, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Simon and "Parent,"
There is some risk to any action. If you want to do what is safest you do nothing. Palo Alto prides itself on innovating, and striving for excellence, not on staying home and doing nothing.
You both seem to think that MI is incredibly risky. It will draw 240 kids to the district, it will lead to lawsuits, …. boy that is some creative negative thinking. Can you figure out a way to claim it will cause earthquakes or maybe some kind of plague?
I don't think MI is risky. PAUSD has successfully operated the Spanish immersion program for 11 years. (Without lawsuits or plague) I think they know how to run an immersion program well and how much it does or does not cost to do it. On top of that, PAUSD spent months on a feasibility study that looked into any unforeseen issues and found very few. There has been a lot of effort to mitigate risk.
I don't think this is a "stay home and do nothing" community of parents. And I hope it isn't a "do nothing" school board.


Posted by back to basics, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2007 at 2:31 pm

I'm with you on this one, Nico. I also hope it isn't a "do nothing" school board, I hope it is a "do the right thing" school board. Even if it is possible to implement MI that doesn't automatically mean we should! There are a lot of other options available with existing choice programs before introducing new ones.
From these forum threads, it seems that the only reason the board "should" introduce MI is that PACE has paid $60,000 for it. Now there's a lawsuit waiting to happen.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2007 at 2:43 pm

No, I said a 240 student increase in enrollment creates a $2.4M shortfall in revenue (omitted - if we wish to maintain a $10,000 per pupil spend. We actually spend more than 10,000 today, so we need more than 10K per pupil to maintain.)

How much of an enrollment increase will MI create? 1? 10? 25? 40? 240? I don't know. Its open field for guesswork because the feasibility studiers were too arrogant to try to give us some forecast scenarios on this costly risk.

They said they were paying the demographers as part of the AAAG study to do some demographic work for MI. (see agenda of Aug 29th study session.) Where are the results of the demographers work and have they put forth some estimates on this?

I think you are responding to multiple posts, but in the last one, I asked what the benefit to the greater PAUSD was - not for the 40 that will get in. I am saying that the benefit sits squarely and solely with the few that get in, and nowhere else. (I didn't see any references to race there, are you seeing things and hearing things too now? Or perhaps you are unable to respond on logic, so you need to resort to name calling?)

For the 'evidence' about the particular benefits for target language ELL speakers, you can go to the Kathryn Lindholm Leary website which is the source of the Appendix A material in our own PAUSD Feasibility Study. (The link was was also provided on earlier posts from Grace) and look at the conclusion pages of many of the several studies shown there. If you read those studies, particuarly the conclusions, you will see that most of her research is about how well Spanish, ELL and low income students do in a dual immersion setting. Now, I do admit, the 'evidence' is flimsy - just as flimsy as APPENDIX A IN THE FEASIBILITY STUDY, because it has nothing to to with MANDARIN programs, and it has nothing to do with high achieving school districts with similar demographics to PAUSD. So using Lindholhm Leary to back up (or refute) the PAUSD MI proposal is definitely WEAK.

I'm sorry Bill, we're not suggesting an ELL programs to close the achivement gap here, to my knowledge. Are we? Also, I see alot of Lindholm Leary work on Spanish - any on available studies on the success of Mandarin programs?

(It would have been great if the district would have included some supporting data as part of their feasibility study so we wouldn't have to have inane circular conversations with bill.)


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 3:10 pm

Here we go again, round N+1 in sowing FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) by MI opponents.

Simon writes (prefixed with a dash):

- The cost of the resources and staff time (both start-up and on-going) that the feasibility study doesn't account for.

No. All *major* and expected costs are already accounted for. What I was referring to were minor unexpected costs, which happen in ANY program all the time.

- The price paid in goodwill foregone on the part of many important supporters of the district.

What about the good will of PACE? At least with them, we know we are talking about people who not only talk the talk on this forum, but actually walk the walk. For many years.

- The cost of the opportunity forgone to open other immersion strands or open other magnet-type schools -- or to first have a discussion about what the District really wants by way of choice in the future.

What programs? Who stands behind them except few talkers on this forum? There was no real effort for any other choice program in PAUSD for almost a decade. How easy is to talk the talk. Only PACE did the walk though.

- The cost to the principal of equity in the distribution of public school resources.

I see no impact to the principle of equity. Unless you also expect to remove gardening from Ohlone, science and math clubs from various elementaries, AP courses from high schools, etc. And what about those other "immersion strands" and "magnet schools" you just waved above? I guess they were there just tease us, right? FUD.

- The cost to the city in terms of added traffic from more school commuting

Traded off by less commuting when choice programs relieve enrollment pressures at neighborhood schools.

- The cost to students and parents who live near whichever school hosts MI in terms of their lost opportunity to attend a walkable, neighborhood school

Traded off by more chances to attend your neighborhood school if you want, since choice students voluntarily gave up their spots there.

- The cost to those who don't get accepted into the program. It's not really a choice for them, since they are being denied what they have chosen.

Some people believe that no choice is better than imperfect choice. I suggest they relocate to Cuba or China. Or Utopia.

- The risk that MI's incremental costs will actually be far higher than the feasibility study suggests (see Parent above)

Major costs are all accounted for, so the probability for "far higher" costs is nil. FUD.

- The risk that MI will be populated by some number of children who would otherwise not be entered in Palo Alto schools, lowering the available per-pupil dollars for all.

Children living in PAUSD area DESERVE to attend our schools. Their families pay taxes like all of us, and we should be interested that all our children attend our public schools. But clearly not MI opponents. FUD.

- The risk that having instituted MI, the Board will feel it's done enough in offering languages at the elementary level and will loose interest in FLES (as happened after SI) and forgo a solution to the equity objection.

The district did not lose interest in FLES - the parent population did. This is a wonderful advice for procrastinators -- don't do good today, because maybe tomorrow you can do better. FUD.

- That the district will be sued by people arguing that MI does not serve a representative and diverse population.

Obvious FUD.

-----------------------------

Finally, Simon misinterprets me when he says that "Wolf suggests starting up MI and then shutting it down if the downside risks come to pass." That is not what I "suggest." I do not expect MI to fail, since the work has been carefully done, and the support group is there. But if the *unexpected* happens, whatever it may be, then there is always the choice to cancel a program. ANY program. Be it MI or FLES, if and when they will happen.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm

parent, you said, "If you read those studies, particuarly the conclusions, you will see that most of her research is about how well Spanish, ELL and low income students do in a dual immersion setting.... It has nothing to to with MANDARIN programs, and it has nothing to do with high achieving school districts with similar demographics to PAUSD."

Your statements are false.

Lindholm Leary's studies examine dual immersion outcomes for English speakers, Mandarin speakers, Spanish speakers, etc.. She looks at Mandarin immersion programs, Spanish immersion programs, and--if memory serves--a Korean immersion program. For instance, she examines outcomes for immersion English speakers and immersion Mandarin speakers in high-achieving Cupertino.

I'm guessing you didn't intend to lie about this but were just misinformed by an opposition manifesto written by someone who didn't take the time to read the studies carefully.

Read it, and you'll see the many benefits. For instance, she shows that immersion kids (both target and dominant language speakers) outperform their district peers in English. There are other benefits: have a read! Maybe you'll send your kid to MI. In any case, you'll be better informed before banging away at the keyboard.


Posted by Inane Arguer, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 3, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Dear Lisa, talking to yourself again?

"In other words the district resources will 'cover' the program to the extent of staffing difficulties, too low (or too high enrollment, which you didn't mention as a risk), unexpected program costs, etc etc etc."

o The district will manage all of those problems; they've been dealt with before: *your antecdotal* scarcity of teachers (SI had more scarcity of SI teachers 11 years ago, PAUSD managed fine), too high or low enrollment (Hoover and Ohlone have long wait lists for too high, combo classes for first SI took care of low enrollment classes), unexpected program costs is part and parcel of the business manager's risk management with huge variances in state funding, property and parcel taxes (MI's possible cost-overruns are mouse nuts)

"This then cuts in to the district resources. Period."

o We're not adding students or teachers to the district. The costs of administering 10000 students and 800(?) teachers is part of the overhead the administration does, as its job. MI's unexpected consequences pale in comparison to what the district already does. I hazard to proclaim that MI doesn't cut into district resources because the resources are just moved around. More hassle with another lottery is balanced by less hassle with overflowing students.

"But the community is not, and will not be behind the district financially if (when) the program starts sapping resources."

o What a benevolent dictator you've become, Lisa. Are you speaking for yourself, for Pauline, for PAEE? I propose that the majority of the community doesn't care about MI. A significant number who care about MI do not forsee major "sapping" of resources, and bunch of people in PAEE don't see funding as being a problem.

"I see no tolerance whatsoever for..."

o I guess you've never changed your mind (which is why you've been stubbornly against MI from the start), never returned a purchase, never learned something new and opened your mind to possibly being wrong. At least some of the staff has been willing to gather data (perhaps not show it all to you) and make changes to previous ideas and judgments. I'm sure every one of your estimates and "research" is rock solid and not open for discussion or constructive contention. I challenge you to think the unthinkable, at least once in a while - it'll open up your mind, which seems to be tightly closed.

"This is a program with such small appeal and such small reach, and such questionable benefit, that it can not be justified to take even one dollar from the overall district general needs."

o How about Biotechnology at Gunn, or Automotive Technology? Drama, Journalism, Symphony Orchestra, Marching Band? These programs are not supposed to have wide appeal (can you imagine a carjack for every high schooler? a tuba, a harp, a leading role, a headline article?), have small reach, and _significant_ benefit to the district, the students, and the community. Each of these don't take dollars away from the general needs of the district because the district has _lots_ of general needs. Sorry, no budget line item, "GENERAL NEEDS, $100M".

MI is not supposed to be a solution for all district students. You know it, so why keep pushing into that pigeon-hole?



Posted by back to basics, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2007 at 3:59 pm

Wolf writes:
"- The cost of the opportunity forgone to open other immersion strands or open other magnet-type schools -- or to first have a discussion about what the District really wants by way of choice in the future.

What programs? Who stands behind them except few talkers on this forum? There was no real effort for any other choice program in PAUSD for almost a decade. How easy is to talk the talk. Only PACE did the walk though."

The parents of the kids that miss out on the "choice" lottery for the existing programs each year! That's who!
Why hasn't the board tried to fix this by extending these programs. When there is sufficient overflow they add additional streams to existing schools as long as there is space. There's obviously a lot wrong when the existing lottery systems are 2 or 3 times oversubscribed.
I'm sorry that PACE has been mislead from the beginning that all they needed to do is "walk the walk" and they would get MI and I can't believe that the board accepted their money but we need to fix the existing program models before introducing new ones.


Posted by Simon Firth, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Fear? Uncertainty? Doubt? Sure. I do doubt the merits of the proposal as presented. I am uncertain that this is the right, or just, move for the District to make. I do fear the consequences of it being put through without more thought.

I'm not, though, raising these objections to MI on a whim—or trying to rouse people to an irrational opposition to MI. I'm raising these concerns because I want a better School District, in particular one that offers all children the same elementary school curriculum.

I'm asking for a decision based on a rational analysis of the costs and benefits to the district. Bill dismisses my assessment of the costs (without offering much by way of benefits that the district would gain beyond the ability to offer parents an 'imperfect choice'). Fine. I hope the board won't be so cavalier.

As for innovation, Nico -- yes, please! Only let's make it smart, make it considered and yes, take account of the risks when we are playing with scare resources. I'll say it again. I think we could have MI down the road when this has all been much better thought through.


Posted by Better 5 years late than never, a resident of Escondido School
on Jan 3, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Those of complaining that the study is not thorough enough for you, and that you've only known about this for 6 months (or less), etc. etc., don't recognize or VALUE the fact that this has been going on for 5 years.

Mandy and Gail have been there from the start, as well as Mary Frances, Marilyn Cook, and other staff. It's not been YOUR jobs to keep on top of it, and some of you have.

Grace and PACE have had more time to be more frustrated after waiting 5 years than your short-tempered frustrations for not being heard enough. If Gail really cared, she'd have rallied the opposition 5 years ago, not tag along now with some curmudgeons who want to kill a good thing for specious reasons.

It's not your job to study this to your satisfaction. It's the board and staff's job to do that. They've been at it longer than you and they're professionals. Don't be so presumptuous as to tell them how long they need to consider this. I think that they think they've been at it long enough.

Get on with it!

Some of you feel "better never than late", although you veil it as being more considered and thorough.


Posted by it's your own fault, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Here's an idea, why not include all interested parties at the beginning of the process - then you might have heard these objections 5 years ago. duh! It's Downtown North traffic calming all over again.


Posted by it's who's fault?, a resident of Duveneck School
on Jan 3, 2007 at 5:34 pm

It's Lisa's fault then. She opposed MI five years ago, and didn't rally more troops until recently. Gail had the opportunity, along with John Barton to include interested parties, as they both voted against MI 5 years ago.

Sorry, the board is supposed to represent all interested parties. PACE certainly cast its net out widely when it created it's website, was featured in numerous newspaper articles, contributed to local cable broadcasts, and was on the board agenda over 10 times in the last 5 years.

Can't invite people who have their heads stuck in the sand.


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Looks like the Paly student community gets it. Grace

061118, Mandarin's widespread use calls for immersion programs
Paly Campanile article, Nov 18, 2005

Web Link


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Better 5 years late: Let me see if I understand what you've said. Grace and PACE and the BOE have every right to have input into this proposal. (The rest of us aren't entitled and should butt out?) It's not our job to study it to our satisfaction, we should let the professionals do it (and a fine example of this professionalism would be the "feasibility study"?) We don't recognize that this has been going on for FIVE years (perhaps it has lingered for years as a bad idea until PACE's mysterious check was waved in front of the board by Grace and suddenly the bad idea turned good?).
You've got to be kidding. Don't be so arrogant as to try to shut me up and out of the process. It's my kid's school district too. And when the emporer has no clothes, I'm glad that there are "curmudgeons" out here with the courage and good sense to speak out. I encourage all curmudgeons out there to lend their voices, for the time is now.


Posted by it's your own fault, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 6:27 pm

"Can't invite people who have their heads stuck in the sand."

Exactly the same argument that the DTNNA used. They put in all the effort only for it to fail when the rubber hit the road.
Wow, you put together a website, well you did your bit then. Now, I wonder why you're getting all this input now?


Posted by Wolf, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Back to basics makes an interesting point in response to my question as to "What programs? ... There was no real effort for any other choice program in PAUSD for almost a decade."

His/her answer, "The parents of the kids that miss out on the "choice" lottery for the existing programs each year! That's who!"

I do agree that the district should strive to match the supply of choice programs with demand. However, one should recognize that casual comments (e.g. on this list, but also on many other occasions) are not necessarily evidence of "hard" demand. It turns out that many parents put their kids down on multiple waiting lists "just in case." So we sometimes have kids on waiting lists for both Hoover and Ohlone, which clearly make little sense. Often parents give up on their choice once they get it, for both good and bad reasons.

That is one reason the district requires indication of real and sustained commitment before even trying to move on such programs, or enlarge them in significant way. I can't say whether the district does the best it can, but I know that, for example, the child-centered group was removed from Jordan soon after it started since there was insufficient demand over time, while the direct instruction was enlarged (and then moved to Terman) after the demand grew.

So I would argue that the district is trying withing logistical constraints. Is it doing a good job? Hard to say, but superficial impressions may be misleading.

In any case this has nothing to do with MI. MI showed strong sustained demand and that is why the board should address it properly.

One last point, which should be obvious but sometimes seems it is not. Choice program by their nature result from "pull" by parents and not from "push" by the district. No "other immersions", nor other "magnet-like" programs will likely spring out on their own and without major effort by parents. So instead of envy towards MI parents, or instead of expecting that the district will magically come up with a program that you dream about, simply organize and show the district what you want. But don't put down people that went along that path for their own dreams.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Wolf apparently still doesn't get it - after five years. No one out here is dreaming of specialty choice programs except a self centered few. The majority of us just want our district to get on with business.

By the way, this was voted down five years ago. So the fact that opposition didn't sit around planning strategy an ammassing troops for five years (to use your analagy) is not surprising at all. How were we to know a very selfish special interest group was sitting around planning next attack on PAUSD community? Any time anyone said "Mandarin Immersion" since then (and up until about Feb 2005), most reasonable logical people with half the sense they were born with, said well obviously that's so frivolous that the district managers and board would never consider this with any seriousness. Little did we know when it was voted down five years ago, PACE got busy with school board campaigns.

Well, touche PACE - ya taught us all a good lesson about civics. Never underestimate the power of a dime in politics.

Well guess what, its time to defend ourselves, sorry you found some opposition.


Posted by Better 5 years late than never, a resident of Escondido School
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Andrea,

I'm sorry that your comprehension isn't as fluid as your vitriolic writing.

You said, "The rest of us aren't entitled and should butt out?"

I said, "Don't be so presumptuous as to tell them [the board] how long they need to consider this."


I did not say you should butt out. You're just as entitled to study and participate as anyone. I said YOU are being presumptuous to tell the board to study for ANOTHER YEAR what they've been contemplating for five years already.


You said, "we should let the professionals do it [study MI]" (with sarcasm).

I said, "It's the board and staff's job to do that. They've been at it longer than you and they're professionals."


I did not say anything to shut you up or shut you out of the process. I gave credit where credit is due to the professional educators who have dedicated work to this feasibility study, not just some random calls to some local Chinese schools and some half-baked Google searches on attrition for immersion programs.

I also do not disparage the board and staff as you and other opponents are wont to doing. That's not making you any points.

This is more a case of the boy crying wolf than the emperor with a full wardrobe.

TTFN!


Posted by Andrea, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Better 5 Years late, I think if we're being honest here, we both know MI is more about "let them eat cake".


Posted by Wrong again, Lisa!, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Wrong again, Lisa!

MI was not voted down 5 years ago. You were there, why are you lying?

MI was not voted on 5 years ago. A motion was put forth to approve it, but the motion was withdrawn. If you're going to be a historian, at least be accurate!


Blllllllllllbp!


Posted by Grace Mah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:47 pm

You can pick up a Registration and Enrollment Guide from Central Attendance for all the information. 25 Churchill Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

Grace


Kinder Info Mtgs
1/4, 7pm at Palo Verde Elementary MP Room
1/8, 7pm at Walter Hays Elementary MP Room



Choice School/Program Info Mtgs
1/9, 8am at Hoover Elementary
1/10, 8:30am at Ohlone Elementary
1/10, 7pm at Escondido Elementary



Elementary Choice School/Programs Lottery Selection
2/9 - Hoover, Ohlone, Escondido, and Young Fives



Middle School General Info Mtgs
2/28, 7pm at each middle school



Middle School Choice Program Info Mtgs
3/5, 7pm at Jordan for Direct Instruction (6th grade only); Spanish Immersion
3/6, 7pm at Terman for DI (3 year program)
3/7, 7pm at JLS for Connections



Middle School Choice Program Applications Due
3/23



Middle School Choice Program Notification
4/13



More info from Central Attendance Office, 650-329-3707


Posted by another curmudgeon, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jan 3, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Location, location, location. No, I'm not trying to sell you real estate, but there is literally nowhere to put an MI program even if the board wants it, and this is acknowledged in the Feasibility Study. This is a major deal-breaker.

All the salvos going back and forth over attrition, ELL, ratio of English speaking to Mandarin speaking to bilingual children, budget-busting vs. cost neutrality, who pays, cupcakes with or without sprinkles and whether or not "Parent" is Lisa (he/she isn't) are all for naught if there's simply no school that can accommodate the program.

Talk of reopening Garland is premature, as additional capacity for elementary students won't be needed until 2011. If Garland (or Fremont Hills or any other existing PAUSD school sites) was reopened just for MI, that would make MI's startup expenses prohibitive indeed. And we still have to address the very real shortfall we will have in terms of space for our middle school students in 2009. This information is available in the minutes from the attendance area advisory group meeting at

Web Link

As Simon suggests, the lame duck superintendent and school board need to spend their remaining time in service to this district providing a high level plan to meet the complex educational needs of all students in this district for the 21st century, not authorizing a new choice program without considering if and how it will address the district's primary strategic goals. And yes, I know the feasibility study says it will, for its students, but the question is, and "Parent" asked a similar question earlier on this thread, "Will this program address an unmet need that will bring the district as a whole closer to its goals?"

There should be no objection to staff and school board devoting their time in this way. It won't delay implementation of MI because for the foreseeable future, there is nowhere for MI to go.


Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Better 5 years late than never -

"Those of complaining that the study is not thorough enough for you, and that you've only known about this for 6 months (or less), etc. etc., don't recognize or VALUE the fact that this has been going on for 5 years."

- I have to say one of the problems in this district is the lack of communication to the community. If you don't go to BoE meetings, you don't always know what's going on. I've been very involved in this district for years, but had only heard peripherally about MI. Same thing happened when the boundaries changed a few years back. I was totally blindsided. Happens more often than it should. Well, now we know this decision is about to be made and many want their voices heard.

"Mandy and Gail have been there from the start, as well as Mary Frances, Marilyn Cook, and other staff. It's not been YOUR jobs to keep on top of it, and some of you have."

-We've got three newer board members and will have a new superintendent who may have an opinion about this program as well.

"Grace and PACE have had more time to be more frustrated after waiting 5 years than your short-tempered frustrations for not being heard enough. If Gail really cared, she'd have rallied the opposition 5 years ago, not tag along now with some curmudgeons who want to kill a good thing for specious reasons."

- Ouch. I think I'll pass on this...

"It's not your job to study this to your satisfaction. It's the board and staff's job to do that. They've been at it longer than you and they're professionals. Don't be so presumptuous as to tell them how long they need to consider this. I think that they think they've been at it long enough."

- Well, maybe if a huge number of parents hadn't spent years volunteering in classrooms & on PTA boards, driving kids on field trips, volunteering to teach math extensions for non-existent GATE programs, walking the precinct for the parcel tax, forgoing work to help with bicycle safety day and work days, and writing big checks to PIE and our school PTA (for years), you get the point, maybe we all wouldn't have such a sense of betrayal of sorts. The district wants and needs our help - without us there are no classroom aids and a whole host of educational programs. I think the board will listen to what we have to say and take it into consideration. That's the right thing to do. In the end, they will make their own decision.

"Some of you feel "better never than late", although you veil it as being more considered and thorough."

- Give me a break.

One last comment: There was an interesting article in the PA Weekly about the Stratford school at the Garland site. Seems Spanish language instruction starts there for every child in the 1st grade. Maybe we should talk to them and find out how THEY manage to fit it into their curriculum before we boot them out of the site.



Posted by anon, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 6:56 am

Lisa, thanks for not slamming Better 5 years late than never.


Posted by whoever are they talking about, a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2007 at 9:00 am

And thank you Grace for not slamming Back to Basics.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2007 at 9:10 am

PA resident

Agreed about Spanish instruction in Stratford School. They seem to be able to do it, so why can't the public schools?


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 4, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Inane Arguer posted awhile back about our PAUSD high school offerings, noting that not all students take symphonic band or auto shop or drama and his/her mentioning this confuses me a bit. Yes, there are some wonderful high school electives here and many high schools have electives. Wish we had Latin.

But what exactly does that have to do with MI - which concerns the elementary school level - an idea to offer a limited program of (initially, at least) Kindergarten language immersion? I don't think high school and elementary school are comparable time periods in life.

Kindergartners are tiny kids (hard for me to remember, mine are almost grown up ;) and don't we want to get them all off on the right foot together with a solid, consistent K program in PAUSD that includes age-appropriate social adjustment instead of splintering little kids into a variety of "electives?" Particularly, when the electives really separate them out from the population. I would think this time in life when our kids are starting school should be consistent for all kids in PAUSD.

Yes, I have heard of SI and will note we didn't live here when our kids were little. But we DID live here in middle school times and in high school it was interesting for our kids to meet kids who had attended the same middle school at the same time but they never knew each other and the explanation given was that they were in SI. Makes you think how we are splintering and separating out kids at elementary and middle school level...


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2007 at 6:00 pm

I just wanted to say I think its still funny that Bill keeps calling everyone Lisa. I think I was the first one he called a couple days ago... And I haven't been online since and its funny to see bill (I imagine smoke puffing out of his ears, and his face getting all bright red) as he's writing.

Anyway, I think since bill likes to assign random names to people he doesn't know it might good to point out that there were over 40 or more people at the 12/12 meeting in 'green', and there were at least double that many watching from home - mostly because people who oppose prefer to remain annonymous (specifically due to irrational and frankly scary behavior of folks like Bill (if in fact that is his real name)

And there were over 500 signatures on the NO on MI petition turned in that night...

So all in all, I think there are probably hundreds and hundreds of names he could randomly choose. But I guess he likes Lisa.

So, I think I'll just start calling everyone who posts in blind support of MI, Grace (or maybe Marilyn? or maybe Camille?) It doesn't much matter - its random anyway.

(By the way, Bill's choice of name is about as random and irrational as the feasibility study. Very appropriate.

(Bill, any thought there might be more than one person posting under "parent"?


Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 7:15 pm

Hey parent, I think I got called Lisa, too, but by anon. Is that Bill? Now I'm really confused. My husband thinks I'm a wimp for not using my real name, but I promise anon I'm not Lisa, and furthermore, I don't change my name to some alter ego when I feel like dissing someone.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 7:34 pm

It's been obvious for sometime that parent's group decided band together and post these unhinged messages under one whack-a-mole name, so it's nice they've come out of the closet. They did it to dupe the community, because they were ashamed of their posts and because they're an insincere group dealing in bad faith with us all.

For them, this has never been about the merits of the program (undisputed by the reasonable) or district priorities (not for their small group to decide) but about about thwarting a group of their fellow citizens.

They claim to be looking out for the welfare of the community but their actions are deeply selfish. For them, it is all about how this might affect their neighborhood school. It is all about taking hostage the passion of others so they can get what they want (FLES, science, math). It's all about a fear that their children will not be able to compete with bilingual Chinese. Thus, they cobble together these weak arguments. They are insincere.

Witness yet another outright lie. Parent says I keep "calling everyone Lisa." False. Not once. Either lying or illiterate, I suppose. What other explanation?

Parent has made the following claims:

-Lindholm-Leary's studies focus on ELL learners and do not touch on Mandarin immersion
-MI will cost 2.4 million dollars
-Mandarin speakers would benefit most from MI
-Bill talks about Lisa
-The district requires choice programs to be racially representative of the district
-All kids who drop from MI will be English speakers
-All kids who backfill will be Mandarin speakers

The first five are demonstrably false and the others are wacky, wild guesses. Lies? Propaganda? Due to illiteracy? Hard to tell. In each case, parent makes the claim, then cannot substantiate it and trots out another ragnarok scenario.

Parent, perhaps I should address you as "parents" now, since you're out of the closet. Or maybe the parent part is a lie, too. Maybe you're not a parent or a resident of PA. It is hard to know where your insincerity ends. Shall I call you "The Insincere Group formerly known as parent"?


Posted by Group formerly known as parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Margracille: (We've taken to using a single name to address everyone on one side, right?)

I will just note your last point which you claim to be due to my illeteracy "All kids who backfill will be Mandarin speakers". is in fact part of the program as outlined in the feasibility 'study'. The 'study' says that participants entering after first grade will be tested for mandarin proficiency at grade level. I think mandarin proficient second graders can in fact speak Mandarin?

And about "Bill" calling everyone "Lisa": Bill, Grace, Marilyn, Wolf, Camille, Better 5 years late, Wrong Again Lisa... Its all the same difference isn't it?

(Oh wait, one more, I can't resist... How selfish! for MI opponents to want stronger math, science, english language litteracy and closing the achivement gap,(and some want FLES) - for all students.) You jokester. The funny stuff in your posts never ends. More smoking ears, beet red face, and this time some bulging eyes when you wrote that last one...


Posted by Bill, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 11:25 pm

I shall stop feeding the multi-headed troll.

(But you did crack me up again with illeteracy.) Must stop.


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