http://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2008/01/31/mandarin-program-sparks-parents-hopes


Town Square

Mandarin program sparks parents' hopes

Original post made on Jan 31, 2008

Hundreds of parents packed a room at Ohlone Elementary School Wednesday night to learn more about the Mandarin-immersion program many said could bring their families closer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 31, 2008, 11:26 AM

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2008 at 11:52 am

I don't think we should be teaching Mandarin just to enable children to speak to their non English speaking grandparents, or to teach culture to those who have chosen to live in a country different from their own culture or even so that their Saturday mornings will be free for other activities.

Since prospective Ohlone parents have to write an essay, I trust that this sort of reasoning will not be the ones that are chosen for this program.

Oh, and to get it right, I think all elementary schools in Palo Alto do not have children sitting in straight rows behind desks in kindergarten, 1st grade or other lower grades in elementary school. And as for culture, my kids all know about Chinese New Year, playing with dreidels and Channukah candles and putting their shoes outside for St. Nick on 6th December, as well as many more cultural activities from around the world and they do not go to Ohlone.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Well, I'm not surprised at all by the for-the-sake-of-the-grandparents rationale. Of course, that's a big reason--always was. I know enough MIers to know that the heritage-language aspect was pretty much the number one reason for the push. It's a perfectly good reason to study a language, though not, in my opinion, to crowd out other public-school programs. Particularly when other options are available.

Zhang's comment interests me. The issue in dual-immersion programs has always been the recruitment of the ESL speakers. They have that issue in Cupertino. I don't see how they won't have it here. I suspect Hoover will continue to the option of choice for many of the more recent immigrant families.

Though what are the desk arrangments at Hoover . . .


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Posted by lm
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 31, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Was there any discussion at the meeting about having a public lottery? A number of us have asked for this as a way to ensure that the lottery is truly random and impartial.


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Posted by qualified lottery
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2008 at 11:10 am

lm, the Ohlone lottery has never been random or impartial. The Ohlone lottery simply orders the applicants. The Principal, behind closed doors, then discards the "winners" that she deems "unsuitable" for Ohlone style education.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm

It will be interesting to see how the Ohlone lottery works with MI. I've heard Susan Charles explicitly say that stating on your Ohlone application that you are also applying for Hoover, for example, is reason enough for her to discard your form, even if you 'won' a place in the lottery.

Will that also be true for people applying for MI at Ohlone? If not, what's changed to make things different? Would the best thing be for parents applying for both to simply lie? If they do that, though, what happens if they are 'found out?'

Personally, I think it absurd for Charles to have this kind of veto power. I can think of several perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to apply for both Hoover and Ohlone (MI or not) -- because you want a school where parents have actively chosen to be there, for example, or because you live very near one but prefer the philosophy of the other. The differences in pedagogical style aren't *that* extreme, after all. All Palo Alto elementary schools teach the same curriculum (with the huge exception of the immersion programs) and they are all expected to teach to the whole child in a differentiated manner.

Still, I think the veto power that the principal wields in the lotteries is pernicious and invites cynicism, resentment and a (from what I can tell, justified) perception of unfairness. I would love to see both Ohlone lotteries held in a very public fashion.



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Posted by Never-picked
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 1, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I don't know, unequivocally, that the Ohlone lottery is unfair. I can't substantiate any of PA Dad's claims or ql's claims.

But I do know that Ohlone does not do a wait list. And I do know that Ohlone requires an essay, which I have questions about in a public school. And we all know that the lottery is done behind closed doors, though who is present and how it occurs, I'm not sure that any of us can say.

And I also know that PADad is rght that the way the lottery at Ohlone has been handled in the past has lead to questions and speculations that the school district -- and especially MI -- probably doesn't need at this time. It's hard for people to speculate and wonder and develop hard feelings and justify not supporting the district (through PiE or bond measures or the like) when difficult situations are managed with total transparency.

I cannot think of any reasons that all of the lotteries are not held in a public place, even if that place is on the picnic tables at the site school. There is also no reason that Ohlone cannot do a wait list (all of the other choice programs manage to employ a wait list without any form of chaos ensuing), both for regular Ohlone and MI. That alone would go a long way toward ending speculation about who gets in.

It would be nice if the Ohlone community were to demand this -- and it should be in keeping with the "Ohlone way". But short of their intervention, what is the best way to be heard by Dr. Skelly and members of the School Board? Are those parties still checking in regularly at the Forum?


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Posted by right & fair
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Susan Charles has a job to do, which is to run her school well. Since part of Ohlone's MI approach *does* involve belief in MI, yes, the attitude of the parents matter. It is only right and fair that Ms. Charles should bias selection towards those wishing to make Ohlone MI a success.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Right and fair -- fine, but then you've got a selection process with bias, as you say, and not a lottery. That's not what we are told we have.

It's also a process that's impossible to be sure is being fairly implemented, since it takes place solely in Susan Charles' mind. As I said before, that invites resentment and suspicion -- feelings that are both unproductive and easy to avoid.

All you need on the form, after all, is a statement saying something like 'in applying for the lottery I understand what Ohlone School is and how it works.' That way, every lottery application could be same and there'd be no need for Charles to have to decide who is biased in the 'wrong' way against 'her' school.

Besides, this being a public school system, I'd argue, she should be a good enough principal to make her school a success with whatever parent population she is dealt. That's what the neighborhood principals have to do, after all -- and do with great success.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm

I'm all for an open applications system on this. That said, I don't see how there's not going to be resentment. There's going to be too many applicants for the English-speaking slots and possibly not enough for the Mandarin-to-English slots. Too many people have too much invested to accept not getting in gracefully.

And, frankly, given the expectations here, Charles is going to want to screen--there are applicants who are going to want something much more similar to Hoover than what's at Ohlone and leave if they feel their kid's not being challenged enough in a way they understand.

For those of you who support the program, keep in mind that if there's a large drop-out rate because of parents who wanted MI, but have issues with the Ohlone Way, the board will have an excuse to close the program after its trial run.

Don't assume you'll get a second chance at doing it a different way if there's a big drop-out rate at Ohlone. MI has exactly one strong supporter on the board. The others won't fight for it if it doesn't work out. They've got much bigger issues--the bond, for one.

Long-term, I think we're all better off working toward a strong FLES program--MI's just not going to serve everyone who wants it. Not unless we get a big influx of native speakers--and I don't think there's enough RE turnover for that.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I totally disagree that there should be even a sliver of subjective judgement applied here. You might like it when its Susan Charles making the calls - what if its ??? making the calls? It leave way too much room for abuse.

We need a completely transparent, completely random lottery. Period. All programs. They need to be doing a better job of communicating the down and dirty details and the pros and cons - they're white washing it. The parent meeting was a complete gloss over of the difficulty of the program. (That research proves is true - is there a single MI supporter out there who's claiming its a cake walk? No way.

They get what they deserve if they aren't being completely 100% honest with the parents. High drop out rate is guaranteed if they're out there like used car salesmen hawking lemons.

Has anyone taken a look at the 'info' posted in the link above. Do you see any warning? Any balanced pros/cons? Any FAQs? Nope. Looks like a glossy sales brochure to me.

And furthermore, a PUBLIC school system is by law supposed to be open to all. Subjective admission judgement is for private schools. The choice program policy says random lottery. Even Charter school laws say random lottery.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2008 at 7:28 pm

The posted MI info document reads like a synopsis of the pathetic one-sided 'feasibilty study' (aka sales pitch). Boy they went all out for that thing - didn't they?

If I were actually interested in this program I'd be asking - where's the beef? They're asking for quite a leap of faith aren't they?

What has this staff done to deserve that kind of faith?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Hey Parent,

I'm not saying that the lottery shouldn't be open and transparent, just the reasons why Susan Charles and the educational powers that be might prefer it not be. If it's truly random, my guess is that the odds for success will be lowered.

I do notice that there doesn't seem to be an essay requirement, so it might be more random than the Ohlone lottery. It does ask that parents visit the Ohlone classrooms, which they request for the normal Ohlone lottery as well.

I agree that the brochure is very one-sided, but can you imagine the squawks if it did put forth the risks and uncertainties? How that would be construed as anti-MI bias?

It's all very political--however, the program's either going to work or not. Frankly, the less screened the entry process, the higher the odds that kids with parents who have unrealistic expectations will be admitted.

No matter how the process works, there will be a lot of disgruntled parents. The odds just aren't even enough for it to be otherwise and the crossover between Ohlone wannabes and MI wannabes is small. (Though I now know of two cases instead of just one.)

Well, it will be amusing to watch.


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Posted by Ohlone Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Having had children at Ohlone for years I've been considering the lottery question for a long time. On the one hand in order to have success with the Ohlone program Charles has used the essays as a way to find out whether a family understands what they are getting into and to ensure that once in the school they won't suddenly try and change the whole thing - demand grades, for instance, or try to convert the school to a more traditional style of teaching. This kind of parent can tie up the schools resources to the detriment of all. I'm afraid the MI program has done just that and will as long as the people who forced on the community continue to force their agenda. This is a great example of the ideal of tolerance, which is practiced at Ohlone, has been used to take advantage of a community in its efforts to be gracious and inclusive.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2008 at 1:08 am

Ohlone Parent,

A couple of you have posted tonight--and you both sound sad. I know there's a lot of concern about the Ohlone Way getting trampled, but we need to stand firm and believe in it. This didn't happen because we were tolerant, it happened because a small group were "uncivil" in the strict sense of the word.

The community at Ohlone is a strong one and I do believe that Susan Charles will expect that the MI families will abide by the school's philosophy--or leave. Perhaps that's why the emphasis was so very strongly on what Ohlone is at the intro. meeting.

I think most of us were taken unawares by the MI/Ohlone mash-up as well as the ruthlessness of PACE. It's a different situation now.
I think the best thing we can do is support a FLES program. If we'd had that, I think we'd have less of an issue with special-interest boutique programs.


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Posted by special ed/ELL
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 2, 2008 at 7:07 am

I can't wait to see how the special ed kids/ELL (non-Mandarin) kids are included in the MI classrooms like they are in the rest of the classrooms. Either they will be and unable to understand a single thing, or they won't be and the MI kids will lose out on that enriching, multi-cultural, diversifying experience.

The biggest losers will be the MI kids. Luckily there is still the rest of Ohlone and district.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Special ed/ELL,

Of course, the other issue with immersion programs is how do you know if there's a learning difficulty with kids in such a program?

Susan Charles has said she would want another Special Ed/ELL program if MI grows to a full strand at Ohlone--I would guess they're going to try to work something in, but how? It's an interesting question.

Can you have whole child learning when the parents are obsessed with a single subject? Charles has two very strong teachers working on program development, but I think there's very little match between school expectations and parental expectations.

Too bad Hoover didn't have room, it would be a much easier fit there.


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2008 at 5:07 pm

I think the Ohlone/MI mash up was a perfect example of irony...the majority of parents who got involved initially were parents who could see the future of the district at all the schools, or believed their schools would be most affected..soon it grew into many people whose kids would not be affected at all, but who saw that it was a wrong direction for the District..the "slippery slope" thinkers.

Several schools were conspicuously absent from the discussion, one of them being Ohlone.. believing MI wouldn't affect "their kids" or "their school" .....

So now MI is at their school.

The lesson is..involve yourself in anything that affects any school, because what can happen at one school, can happen at any.

Think DISTRICT, not, MY SCHOOL.


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Posted by Gunn student and Ohlone alum
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 2, 2008 at 6:40 pm

my goodness, all of this "lost heritage" talk is kind of ridiculous. if you make an effort to learn about your own heritage, you wont need to rely on your kids getting into MI to learn about it. If you havent gained fluency from attending chinese school (weekend lessons), than you probably just didnt care that much or tried hard enough. and yes, it will cut into "valuable free time," but you need to make sacrifices . You cant have everything. Plus, it's not like going to chinese school is a waste of time. it's far better than teenagers spending their time on the internet or on facebook.

in order to speak fluently in a language, you need to make an effort to maintain what you have learned. when these MI kids graduate from Ohlone, they need to keep using their language. these prospective MI parents think that MI will solve all of their cultural woes, but it really will not, unless their make an effort after their kids graduate. ive been attending chinese school for 11 years now, and a lot of my classmates and i are fluent. in fact, when i was taking the shuttle this week, i was mistaken as student studying abroad by this old couple because i spoke to them in chinese. besides mandarin, my grandparents also speak certain dialects. ive tried to pick up a few lines here and there to try and learn the dialect. So far, i know some basic phrases that i can talk to them with. MI isnt the only answer to keeping your culture. the parents who are concerned about their "lost heritage" hope that MI will get them more in touch with their culture, but if they really want to know more about their own culture, go check out a book on chinese culture, go watch the chinese new year parade, watch some chinese tv shows, go talk with people who share the same culture, go visit your ancestral country...

my point is, MI wasnt around back when i was at Ohlone, and i speak mandarin fluently. its not like MI is the only way. there are probably more chinese schools in the bay area than the dutch/french/hebrew/spanish... schools combined. there are plenty of successful afterschool/weekend chinese schools and there is also the International School of the Peninsula. if they are so concerned about their "lost heritage," why cant these MI people just go to these schools or start their own chinese school (w/o needing to threaten PAUSD)? they could start their own version of Kehillah Jewish High School or something. when MI first came out i didnt feel as strongly as i do now, but this whole threatening PAUSD with the charter school thing is just really low.

leave ohlone alone.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2008 at 11:52 pm

Perspective,

Your point is valid, but I think you're being a little hard on Ohlone families. The issue snaked around so long that it didn't look like a live deal. And then when the Ohlone proposal was made, we Ohlone parents had less than two days to react. A lot of us did show up at the board meeting. While Barron Park was talked about, the Ohlone deal was out of left field.

There were Ohlone parents--I'm thinking of one in particular--who were active in opposing MI quite early.

Ohlone parents do, as a group, tend to be a bit more trusting, I think. And, yes, it is because we were relatively protected. I know one said to me that the district wouldn't go for it because it didn't have the money. Ohlone tends to be all about fair play, so, yes, I don't think people were really prepared for the actions of PACE. My own situation was a little different because I knew a great deal about some of the PACE people.

Gunn student,

Thank you. I think you understand something that some parents don't want to get--you can't force your kids to embrace their heritage. Nor can you or should you isolate them from kids from different backgrounds. It's not necessary and it does more harm than good.

In a number of cases, it's first-gen parents who didn't learn or no longer speak Chinese who are trying to prove through their kids that they're still Chinese by pushing for MI. Your family, it sounds like, tried to give you the best of both--the multi-culti Ohlone experience and ways of retaining your family's cultural heritage through Chinese school and family activities.

And the great thing is, you don't resent it or hate it, so you'll keep it.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2008 at 12:41 am

Why not ask Susan Charles to vet the applications BEFORE they are chosen at random? That way, we can all have what we want: Susan Charles can leave out anyone who won't be able to handle the Ohlone Way, and the community can have an above-board public lottery. Sound fair?

And at least this way, it will be public just how many of those applications are never considered. If it's not many, then the public will be reassured. If it is a large percentage, then it becomes an issue that should be before the public, so that the following year(s), parents either do a better job at selecting choice programs in advance, or at least know more about how they would be disqualified.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2008 at 12:52 am

Mom,

You know, I'm not sure that it doesn't, in fact, work that way. Given the speed with which the lottery is drawn, I think it almost has to be. We got called the morning of the drawing and a friend of mine was called the following Monday when somebody turned down a spot.

I think it is relatively few--the applying to both Hoover and Ohlone has been a no-go, though I'd think that wouldn't be the same issue with Hoover and MI.

There doesn't seem to be an essay for MI--just signing a pledge that you understnad and support the Ohlone Way.

I don't think the essay plays a big part, honestly. You're just supposed to parrot what the booklet says. In other words, you have to actively not pay attention.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 3, 2008 at 11:22 am

OP -- you're 'not sure' it works that way. You don't 'think' the essay plays that big a role. The point is, who knows? None of us. The process takes place in secret.

We do know one thing for sure, though. Ohlone's principal clearly allows herself room for selection and that means that anyone not offered a place at Ohlone can't be sure they lost out simply thanks to bad luck (as it would be in a true lottery). It could just as easily be a case of bias in favor of someone else (a well-connected parent, perhaps, taking a place out of the available pool for the lottery--has that never happened? who knows?). Or it could be positive discrimination against your application (because you applied to Hoover for a perfectly legitimate reason, say). Even without the 'essay' on the MI form, the secrecy of the selection process means that parents who fail to get a place can't ever be sure it was just thanks to bad luck. The district is on record as having filed SI places in the past to relieve pressure on certain neighborhood schools, for example. That may be rational from the district's point of view, but it means families who would have been offered a place based on a true lottery weren't offered that place.

The way this all works may be easier to downplay (as you seem to) if you're a 'winner' and got what you wanted for your child. But it's just an extra kick in the teeth to the now thousands of district children who have been denied the educational 'choice' they were supposed to have a fair shot at. And the resentment it breeds is simply not good for the health of the district. Witness the way that this topic keeps resurfacing here.

Now, here's an interesting tactical question. Say I want to get into the regular Ohlone stream but know that the chances are pretty bad. Can I figure that my chances would be better as a non-mandarin speaking family applying to the non-mandarin speaking group of Ohlone's MI program? So say I do that and, thanks to thte better odds, get a place. Then a few weeks into the year I bail on MI -- would it be safe to assume that I'll get to stay at Ohlone? Anyone know the district's policy on this -- where does your child go if you 'try out' MI at Ohlone but you decide you prefer Ohlone without the langauge?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm

PA Dad,

I agree with you that the lottery process isn't transparent--for any of the lottery schools. I'm just pointing out a practical thing--it makes more sense to screen ahead than after the lottery selection, given the time constraints.

You raise an interesting question--what happens with MI drop-outs? It's particularly interesting because a lot of families on the Ohlone waitlist get in at first grade. Will those families get bumped by kids dropping out of the MI program?

It may be a bit of a nonissue since one of the big reasons for potential drop-outs may be the desire for a more traditional education--i.e. neighborhood school or DI at Hoover--but, yes, it ought to be addressed.

I don't think the odds will be better for getting into the English-to-Mi side than they are for the Ohlone lottery. This year, it will be 10 to 12 K spots and 10 to 12 first-grade spots. Regular Ohlone will have between 19 and 35 spots.

You might double enter lotteries to up your odds . . . though part of the problem with the Ohlone/MI mash-up is that there isn't a lot of crossover of interest between the two programs.

I think the whole lottery issue isn't easily resolved. Screening gives the principal a chance to make sure that the school is a good fit with parental expectations. A no-essay lottery may be more random, but will it actually give the most desirable results? There are parents who enter lotteries just because the lottery itself makes them think the program must be desirable. Then they don't like the program and pull their kid from it--leaving Ohlone a spot that needs to be filled.

At which point, some other parent who's been waitlisted has to make the decision whether to pull their kid from another school.

I think there are valid reasons for wanting to minimize that. Which isn't to say your comments aren't completely valid--they are. Competing interests, essentially.

As for what I know of the lottery--well, I do hear things and I do know of one blacklisting because of a parent being difficult (going in and yelling at Charles), though that family got in eventually (three years later). That said, Charles and the staff truly seem open to any child--they don't ask and they don't screen for learning disabilities. (Which is an interesting question in terms of MI--immersion programs tend to not be ideal for kids with certain learning disabilities--so do you screen for that or not?)

Other factors are bigger--balancing the boy/girl thing--it's easier to get in a girl because more parents of boys apply; slight neighborhood preference, though I don't think anything as blatant as the second strand of SI where people in the Escondido draw area got letters saying they would NOT get into the second SI class, only kids from north PA would. (That sucked big time, by the way)


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm

On the subject of the SI lottery - funny how both Steve Young's and Harris Barton's kids got in...

The regular kinder lottery (for oversubscribed schools) was held last year at the district, I believe the principals really did picked names "out of a hat".


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2008 at 4:46 pm

palo alto mom,

Was there a girl hat and a boy hat, I wonder?

But as far as the "choice" programs go, I think the more competitive the lottery, the more of an issue all of this becomes. SI tends to have almost no open spots--to have opened a second class and then restricted to kids from only some schools I think was really problematic.

I think it does go back to an issue of whether we should have lottery programs where the odds of getting in are so dismal--and in the case of MI and SI, entry after first grade is no longer doable for most kids.

As another parent pointed out, Ohlone was okayed for a half-strand expansion--MI's taking that allocated space.

The worse the odds, the more opportunity for unfairness and, at the very least, the appearance of unfairness. I suspect the only reason this hasn't been more of an issue is the general excellence of the neighborhood schools.

If the board had had any brains they would have figured out a district-wide language plan some time ago. I think Escondido neighborhood parents get a particularly raw deal given that their kids get no second-language instruction--I really think it should have been a quid pro quo perk for them in return for housing Escondido. Or at least give them some sort of strong optional program--exchange time with the SI classes, perhaps.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Feb 4, 2008 at 9:13 am

I have no idea if this is how it will work with MI, but we had a swap of an SI dropout with a Palo Verde student and they took each other's places. The SI student does live in the PV neighborhood, and the SI replacement was told that they were next on the wait list, but the new arrangement suited both families equally. I would imagine that a system like this would work also for MI, that the dropout student would take the place of the student next on the wait list, wherever that may be unless of course there was space in their neighborhood school.


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Posted by profit
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 4, 2008 at 9:54 am

PV Parent,
Are you thinking of putting your place on EBay! ;)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 10:38 am

Interesting risk that this could introduce for families considering MI.

If they take the risk that

1) they trust the district staff in the development of MI (the parent meeting was disturbingly light on details, not a confidence booster, alot of open questions remaining)

2) They trust the MI method in general will suit their child, their child will not only 'make it' but will be happy and will thrive. and They trust they won't clash with strong willed Charles or the other strong willed parents that will be there exerting their will over the program.

3) they trust the never-before-tested "ohlone way" philosphy makes sense for an MI program, and it makes sense for their own personal preferance for educational style

And they get selected to join MI...

then they basically give up their spot at their neighborhood school.

If anything goes haywire, they'll ultimately get sent - goodness knows where - for school. Pretty much any overflow school, or to the school of the kid next on the MI waiting list. A total crapshoot - very little liklihood that they'll find space back at their "North" neighborhood school if that's where they would ahve gone.

As for Dad's tactical question - great question - a very reasonable question that the MI prospective (and Ohlone waiting listers) should defintely understand. If anyone gets a response from the board or from Charles -please share with us.

I don't see how they could just be moved over to regular Ohlone - the Regular Ohlone program has its own waiting list, own lottery, and will be absolutely full. There will be no open spaces in the regular Ohlone classrooms - and the MI brochure even says the regular Ohlone and MI Ohlone lotteries are total separate. I can't imagine how Charles would justify the MI people would get to line jump into the regular Ohlone program if they drop out of MI.

That's a bummer. Oh well, I guess you gotta pay if you wanna play.

(I think of a few very idealistic folks (like Nico) here - all sounds well and fine, until you get there and = oh woops = not quite all its cracked up to be? oh well. You just volunteered yourself to vacate your neighborhood school... But that's OK - I'm sure the district is loving your voluntary transfer out of your impacted North school anyway.


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Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2008 at 11:28 am

If the North schools are overcrowded, is it possible that preference in MI will be given to North students, as was done in SI last year?


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Posted by lotteries
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm

No, preference will be given to PACE parents. That's why there's a closed lottery.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Lotteries, I don't get the connection. You would think that if the district wanted to restore trust in its senior management, it would take steps to ensure a transparent lottery process.

While it's nice in theory to say that preference should not be given to PACE parents, the district already took money from PACE, the original source of which has never been revealed, to fund a feasibility study on the very program that they were asking for.

You can see why many of us are skeptical that the lottery will not be rigged in their favor in some way. Given that 1-2 slots per classroom must be allocated to Voluntary Transfer Program students, and that Susan Charles seems to want to balance the number of boys and girls, there are precious few slots available that any one child is even eligible for.

The situation is ripe for attempts at manipulation. Think PACE parents wouldn't stoop so low? Read the board meeting minutes for the past couple years and think again.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Interesting questions. Just goes to show how much this is all being winged. Thinking of some idealists there's also the question of anyone already at Ohlone entering the first grade MI lottery. If it doesn't work out, does the kid lose their original spot at Ohlone and get bumped to a neighborhood school? Probably.

Ohlone, itself, is supposed to give some priority to kids who would be from its draw area if it were a neighborhood school. So are we going to have one choice program that does and one that doesn't. This is rough on the PV parents since the school's full and there's a set of townhouses going up. (And, of course, MI is taking the space and spots of what was scheduled to be an expansion of Ohlone to four strands.)

And, yeah, I don't know if all PACEr kids will get in, but I will be shocked if a couple of specific ones aren't on the list--after all, this has always been about greasing the squeakiest wheels. Unfortunately, the characteristics that gave 'em the oomph to push through MI in the face of the community is exactly what will make them poor candidates for the Ohlone Way. I mean they sort of personify difficult parents who put their ambitions for their kids above the common good. The program would probably work better if only non-PACE kids were let in, but I don't expect that to happen.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Here We Go Again,

Oh, yeah, VTP, there's another wrinkle. Do you think Charles is actively recruiting for the one EPA kid who speaks Mandarin? Okay, so 10-11 open spots for English speakers per class for kids from Palo Alto.

How many 5,6 and 7 year-olds are there in Palo Alto, anyway, who are native Mandarin speakers? Even when a parent is a native speaker, I've noticed the kids seldom are. And we can't import from EPA the way we can Spanish speakers.


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Posted by lotteries
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Hwga, you might have missed the ",". I doubt I need to draw a line between a closed lottery system and affording PACE parents a preference.
I did find the following link amusing. I wonder if any investigations happen into Palo Alto school lotteries and by whom: Web Link


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:39 pm

You're right, lotteries, the comma makes all the difference in the meaning of your previous post. Maybe I need new glasses.

Sorry for the misunderstanding, and I loved the link about lottery abuse.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Awesome link!

Imagine - a school administrator standing for the integrity of his school!

Now we're getting somewhere. The fact is that PAUSD has a written published policy that says their choice program lotteries are to be random.

Now - lets see... So many options, so little time. I think the first thing is to copy this link to the board and to Skelly and ask them how they plan to ensure random lottery and hence the integrity of our choice programs.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Feb 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Sorry, my Palo Verde space is not up for sale.

I got in many years ago when you needed to stand in line at Churchill on a Saturday morning to guarantee a space in your neighborhood school. I got there at 6.00 a.m. to get a number, but I know that there were some camping out overnight. My first child is in College now, but I have been a PV Parent continually since then.

I don't think any of us want to go back to that system.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2008 at 5:28 pm

What an interesting thread. I just had a vision of the PACE parents in Charle's office twisting her arm. I'll be paying attention to whose children get in to MI. Also, speaking of policies, I'm wondering about the legal aspects of a program like MI. Don't all children have the right to equal education under the law? Is it possible that the non Mandarin children in the district are entitled to be taught how to communicate with their grandparents also? Anyone know about this? I do feel my children's rights are being violated. Just wondering if that's the case under the law.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 8:22 pm

So, you say you're deeply concerned about the integrity of the lottery system. But you've never spoken up about this worry until now. The timing is odd. Oh, yes, MI is coming. Yet another wacky anti-MI argument in which you pretend to be concerned about principle.

And you say you're really, really worried about the over-crowding at PV. But again, you've never spoken up to offer to do away with your school, Ohlone, which would do much more to relieve the over-crowding. Odd timing. Oh, wait, it's not concern about PV at all. Just more whining about MI.

These arguments--hypocritical, insincere and self-contradictory--are why it was so difficult to take the anti-MI arguments seriously. There is no there there.

The district ought to give the PACE people preference in the lottery after all their selfless work on behalf of us all. Hope they do--it's been done in other districts and it seems only fair.



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Posted by Wow
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 4, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Wow, Parent/Another - that would in fact be Alice through the looking glass - their "selfless" work (that was resisted by the board and the majority, and acquised to under threat only) rewarded indeed! They are saving a desk for you at Orwell's Minitry of Truth.


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Posted by actual participant
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Just as a point of clarification, I went to get the paperwork to enter the lottery for MI at Ohlone, and I am expected to read the Ohlone Code and write an essay. I think it is the same process as "regular" Ohlone.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Oh looks like the MI Troll is back with its usual confusion about its identity. And attempting to be Parent/Another at that, very tacky.

Troll, dear, I've actually commented on these things before. In fact, I said ages ago that I'd be shocked if Grace Mah's kid didn't get in--or Nico's. Nico said she hadn't done anything irregeular and I said I didn't think she had, merely that it would be way too convenient to have her at Ohlone for her not to have gotten in.

And, yes, the kid got in.

Anyway, I've been quite consistent on the lottery issue--I see some benefits to screening, but agree that it can be misused and that there should be more transparency.

Actual participant,

So they do require the essay for MI as well. Interesting. Thanks for the info.


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Posted by Cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2008 at 11:46 pm

I did find the following link amusing. I wonder if any investigations happen into Palo Alto school lotteries and by whom: Web Link
Not very likely. The only people referring to our programs as 'lotteries' are parents. PAUSD refers to them as 'choice' schools....implying that they get to 'choose' who gets in.


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Posted by embarrassed yet?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 5, 2008 at 8:19 am

Parent/Another,

"So, you say you're deeply concerned about the integrity of the lottery system. But you've never spoken up about this worry until now. The timing is odd. Oh, yes, MI is coming. Yet another wacky anti-MI argument in which you pretend to be concerned about principle."

You really are late to the forums and this discussion. This came up as far back as January, 2007 - Web Link

You might try doing some research before posting next time.


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Posted by How Bout Choo?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:20 am

Embarrassed,

Your point being that the same tired non-arguments against MI are being recycled. Thanks.

We're still hearing a drone from a small group that prefers complaining about MI to positive action. Meantime, those with getup and go have brought vigor and a fantastic new educational program to our district.

The immersion program starts in the fall; within a few years we'll have a successful program running at full steam; in 10 years perhaps we'll have expanded MI in elementary and added a middle-school strand and a small high-school program; in 2020 the first proud MI kids will graduate.

By then, all of your vituperation will be forgotten and forgiven.


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Posted by highly amused
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:37 am

haha! The point being that your post failed at so many levels and you were caught out!


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 5, 2008 at 11:46 am

Parent in Another PA neighborhood:
"The district ought to give the PACE people preference in the lottery after all their selfless work on behalf of us all. Hope they do--it's been done in other districts and it seems only fair."

We apparently have very different takes on the phrase "selfless work on behalf of us all." The people who fall into that category in my mind are the volunteers who literally hold our district together. I'm thinking of PTA and PiE leaders as well as parents who work in the classroom, organize fundraisers and social events, sit on Site Councils and so on and so on to the tune of 200,000 hours a year.

Does that mean that everyone who works selflessly on behalf of the district should get special perks and benefits for their children? Most people would say no. The fact that you think so further illustrates the un-selflessness of PACE members.


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Posted by speaking for MYself
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Parent's comments that PACE should get some preference, is Parent's comment. They are not speaking for PACE, and they may not even be in PACE? Taking that comment as an illustration and reflecton on (how selfish)the people who championed MI are, is not exactly accurate.
I think all MI supporters want the program to be a success. I realize that part of that success rests on trying to overcome the perception of "unfairness" that all choice schools have. I think the process for the MI lottery was made very clear at the meeting on January 30. There are no PACE preferences and in MY opinion that is how it should be. MI will be a great addition to PAUSD, and opportunity for the students who want it.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Speaking for MYself -- You say MI will be an "opportunity for the students who want it."

Not quite. It will be an opportunity for the students who luck out and get a place. Just like SI. Other students who want language education as part of their elementary education, meanwhile, get nothing. (And, given the BOE's lukewarm reception of the FLES taskforce's recommendations, look like they will continue to get nothing).

That's always been one of the biggest complaints about instituting another elite choice program before offering the same curricular enrichment (i.e. access to some sort of lanuage education) to all. For the unlucky 'losers' in our lotteries there is no 'choice.' For them, your celebration that we're offering an "opportunity for the students who want it" rings utterly hollow.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

Gosh, I'm sorry, but I love the posturing of the MI troll--the moral high ground stuff is just priceless.

Seriously, I just want to say I'm with PA Dad on this one. There's no way that the MI program is going to do anything but create further inequities in our school system. It's not like SI in Mountain View, where they can expand to meet demand. MI's limited both by size and, more critically, a huge imbalance within the district between English speakers and native Mandarin speakers.

It's really frustrating that this was so much about MI or nothing. It points, once again, to a passivity on the part of the board, which should have really, really looked at what it could do in terms of language education in the district instead of doing as little as possible until pressed into a bad decision by a self-absorbed and narrowly focused group of parents.

Again, if the board had put in a reasonable language program throughout the district--preferably with some choice because of the district's diversity--we wouldn't be dealing with the extreme limitations of the Ohlone/MI mash-up.

And, for that matter, I'll bet there would be less of problem with openings in the SI program.

This district doesn't actually *need* immersion programs because we don't have the main group that benefit the most from them--ESL speakers. We have problems difficulties recruiting enough ESL speakers for SI and I'll bet we'll have that problem with MI.

So why are we doing this? Because we had an airhead as board president with no practical sense.

And now the board is back to its old tricks--which is to hide under the blanket until pressure forces them out.


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Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Here,

Well, I'd wager the Pace people are involved in exactly those activities. Actually, I was referring to the many hours the Pace members must have spent bringing this program to our district. That kind of dedication and expansive vision and generosity are vital to keeping our community vibrant. I realize you do not see it that way because you are not interested in putting your child in the program, but this is about opportunities for the wider community not just for your family. Change can be difficult.

Given the huge turnout for the orientation, it's clear this program meets a deep educational need within our community.

Dad,

All the choice programs are over-subscribed, so it's contradictory that you complain only about SI and MI. To be consistent, you really ought to be complaining about Ohlone and Hoover. But consistency is not your strong suit. All the choice programs enrich our district; it's a shame they cannot accommodate all who want to get in; the district should consider expanding those that are most heavily over-subscribed.

As for FLES, I do agree that we should have a district-wide program, but that has nada to do with choice programs, amigo. If you really believe in FLES, you ought to organize for change. Merely complaining on PAOnline won't have an effect. Put your time where your mouth is: Mobilize support (it's not obvious that most PA parents want FLES, so convince them), find funding, improve the district.





 +   Like this comment
Posted by just say no
a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

I think the MI person just gets a kick out of jerking chains..why don't we all just stop giving him/her something to jerk on?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Voice

Given the quotes of those at the orientation whereby some feel that this program gives their kids an ability to speak with grandparents, or that it will make them less stressed as they will have time to do other things on Saturday mornings, does not sound like an educational need to me. This sounds like a selfish want.

A need describes a lacking in what others have. A desire to have something selfish is not a need.

There is no need in this article. If you know of a need for your child's education, then share it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Voice of Reason -

"it's a shame they cannot accommodate all who want to get in; the district should consider expanding those that are most heavily over-subscribed." The district intended to expand the most widely over-subscribed program - Ohlone. Unfortunately, those spots have now gone to the group with the biggest stick (aka a charter threat...)


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Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Palo Alto Mom,

No, the district had no specific plan for expanding Ohlone, so there were never any "spots" to disappear.

Parent,

You've conflated need, desire, equality and sameness. Various families have various educational needs, regardless of "what the others have." A need is a need, whether others share the need or not.

Thanks for trotting out the heritage argument, my favorite racist position. Invoking "heritage" is a covert way to bring race into the argument. It is a way to devalue the views of the non-white majority on the basis of race, and a way to rally racist sentiment. Broken down, the argument goes: Ignore the needs of the Chinese because they are Chinese. Wonderful. Race really has no place in this debate.

BTW, I have no doubt the editors will erase my remarks about this racism. They object to pointing out racism though not to the racism itself, either through complicity or stupidity. That's OK. We know it's out there. The Daily saw it. The San Jose Mercury News saw it. The New York friggin Times saw it. And our board members complained publicly about the racist emails and phone calls they had received from the anti-MI gang. But the weekly didn't see it so we shouldn't mention it.






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Posted by agree with Voice
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Voice of Reason,
I would even go further and point out that the Weekly reporter is the one that brought the "heritage" thing up. The "angle" to the story was now kids can talk to their grandparents? Granted, it was a quote from somebody at the information night but they could have found 200 other great reasons why people there were interested in Mandarin. They went with "heritage?" And then provide no other point of view? It is stirring up the pot here on townsquare though.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 4:33 pm

As I said in my post, I was quoting what was stated in the Weekly article. I was not at the meeting. I did not see who was there. I read the newspaper (online) and garnered my information from there. I would be equally disturbed if we were teaching russian to speak to russian grandparents, or arabic to speak to arabic grandparents, or french, italian, welsh, or hindu. This is not a racist remark. This is response to information.

I also think that the Chinese school around here is on Friday evenings, so my remark about Saturday mornings being kept free can't be racist since as far as I know there is no Saturday morning Chinese school.

Race is not the question. The language is not the question. The reason for language immersion has nothing to do with heritage. If someone wants to learn their heritage language, that is fine by me. Just don't expect an immersion program in PAUSD to do it.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Voice of Reason:
"No, the district had no specific plan for expanding Ohlone, so there were never any "spots" to disappear."

You are wrong. After MI was first turned down a year ago, the board approved plans to expand Ohlone by 1/2 a strand and ordered the construction of the portables needed for the expansion. When the board decided to revisit the issue, those plans were put on hold. When MI at Ohlone was approved in June, those plans were shelved.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Yes, indeedy - I'd like to see the administration of this program attempt to give some sort of back door preferences to certain 'tireless' people as perks for having 'worked so hard'.

That would be great fodder for a whole bunch of interesting potential sanctions.

And I sort of dont follow 'voice of reason' "reasoning". The truth is that some people spoke in favor of MI for the purpose of; preserving heritage language, talking to their grandparents, simplifying their after school time, freeing up their Saturdays, and in the past we've heard saving money as a biggie (ie: saving the cost of private school tuition), and ...PACE people should get preference, etc.. Those are good honest responses from alot of people on why they favor MI.

Hey, those are things the MI supporters said - how is that now to be construed as racism? I think actually what we've got here is desparation from you, as you can no longer control the MI bandwagon with the 'party line'. When it was just the core PACE 7, you could get everyone spouting just the right politically correct talking points. Now that the cat is out of the bag - you can't keep all the people from just talking from their gut. So the truth is out. And you can't CYA fast enough. Isn't that more like it?

Oh, and the fact that PACE fed the papers a big line of crap about people being against MI due to racism, not the opponents fault. In fact the only racist comments I saw (and I've read every post from the beginning) were from MI supporters.

Its really rich that you are FAULTING the papers now for picking up stuff that paints you in an unfavorable light, when earlier you couldn't suck that stuff up and capitalize on it fast enough. IN fact your hand at MANUFACTURING those false perceptions of the opponent is now coming back to bite you. What comes around goes around. So enjoy.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Morph little troll, morph, morph, morph,
Morph little troll, morph, morph, morph.

"Voice of Reason"--ah, yet, again--moral high-grounding. You have a real weakness for those kind of grandiose abstractions--sort of like Fox News' *Fair and Balanced*.

If you look at the most active PACE members, you'll find that they are or were linked to the International School--their activism was selfish--i.e. they don't want to pay private school tuition. They want *us* to pay for it. What's a few school meetings and a charter threat of a threat--they didn't actually have to fill out the form--if it saves you $20K a year, per child?

Hoover and Ohlone, of course, aren't nearly as oversubscribed as SI. Ohlone and Hoover will have, literally, five times the number of open spots as will SI. But, yes, of course, Ohlone should have been expanded to accommodate the demand for its program. Glad to see you agree. I've been saying this for more than year.

Specific plan--gee, three modulars were okayed at Ohlone. Sounds "pretty specific" to me. MI wasn't even suggested at the time the modulars were approved. MI bullied itself into them. As you've admitted--or are you going to disown that mutation?

Just Say No,

Oh, I think the chain-yanking's going the other way. You can tell by how the troll kind of melts down and starts blithering ("Via con Dios" indeed). As I said elsewhere, I find it kind of useful--I think there are ongoing issues with MI since it's with us on a trial basis--so, I welcome the chance to comment on them and correct the MI troll's mutating fallacies.

Admittedly, I do have a somewhat twisted and dark sense of humor. Always did.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Ah, now that's the Parent/Another we know and love.

As it happens, I know some of the people quoted--and personally like them. I don't think wanting your kids to be able to talk to their grandparents is a bad reason for having them learn a language. I don't, think, however it's a good reason to force an immersion program in that language on the public schools.

As Parent points out, PACE was small and could be made to adhere to PC talking points. But, fact is, big sweeping notions about global trade don't tend to affect people's choices about their kids. It was always a red herring.

VOC has the weird idea that there's no exchange between the two camps. As an Ohlone parent, I have to say I'd rather have more honest if non-PC MI parents than the hardline PACE crowd.

Of course, the strategic thing for the district to do is *split* the PACE-associated applicants. At which point, you can play 'em off one another later on. Pick the most cooperative and meek for the rest.


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Posted by More Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Parent,

Apart from what the weekly article said, your point is that we should deny kids the chance to study a language based on their race. That is racism. It is even more disturbing that you would do the same to other ethnic groups (arabs, etc.). Race has no place here.

People have a variety of reasons for wanting their kids to study a language, and it is not your business to deny them or judge their reasons, particularly when it is based on race.

Here you go,

No, the district looked at putting the portables in while still considering a proposal to site MI at Ohlone. The portables were not promised to any particular program. There was a hiccup in getting MI approved, yes, and no doubt vanilla Ohlone could have been expanded to fill those portables. But MI was luckily approved.

Parent,

You don't seem familiar with the concept of racism, for you got this backwards. There's nothing racist with wanting your kids to study what for you is a "heritage" language. But it is racist to suggest that other people's kids should not be allowed to study a language because of their race. Do you see the difference?

I can see you are uncomfortable with the fact that racism played a big role here, but don't take my word for it. It's in many newspaper reports. I think Agree's point was that there are many people out there with a wide variety of reasons for wanting their kids to study Mandarin. Reporting on this particular reason was bound to stir up the anti-MI trolls--and it did.

As for the rest of what you said, I think your point was something cover your ass something something cat is out of the bag something conspiracy, but for the life of me I can't make any more sense of it. Sorry.



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Posted by Extra Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:01 pm

To My Pixie,

Darling, a poem for me. I imagine you capering around a guttering candle as you chant it. But seriously, sweetie, you seem, well, more than a little distraught. But it was amusing.

Your theories about how PACE activism was purely selfish are just weird. The Pace people obviously believe they are bringing a valuable program to the district, and it is a lottery program so none of them has a guarantee that their kids will get in. I'm not sure what you mean about your paying for it--MI will bring funds into the district not take them away.

Glad you agree with me that we should expand choice programs, where practical, to meet demand. You say SI is the most over-subscribed, so it would make sense to expand that first. Of course, in the meantime, MI might become the most over-subscribed, in which case, they'd be next.



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Posted by Parental responsibility anyone?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:10 pm

I remain dumbfounded at the rationale given for MI...where on earth is parental responsibility? If you wish a child to be fluent in a second language, speak that language to them exclusively at home, enroll them in after-school language programs, or pay tuition for a private international school. Yes, it will cut into "valuable free time" on Saturdays, but if becoming fluent in another language is a true priority for a family, that argument is absurd. In fact, there are so many absurdities that they can barely be listed in one posting:

1. Public education is not about boutique-like schools for parents who want free second language education at the expense of all of the other students.

2. MI proponents strong armed this program into being, with overt threats of a charter school, with absolutely no concern for the school district as a whole. They literally bullied the school board into creating the program, with no shame.

3. The entire MI program as proposed is completely flawed; a true immersion program would start with all students who don't speak the language, then immersing them in a new language. With immersion comes the necessary and unavoidable delay in teaching academics, as students must learn the language before being EFFECTIVELY taught in it. At a private school, this is completely about choice. At a public school, it is inexcusable to use tax dollars to teach a language at the expense of the existing academic curriculum, and to divert those funds from supporting education for all into language skills for a select few.

4. The lack of a true lottery system, and the introduction of any subjectivity, is completely contrary to the spirit of public education. I'm disgusted that Susan Charles thinks that she is above a fair and impartial lottery, and think it is unacceptable that students will be cherry-picked into the program at her discretion. If this were truly an honest, well-intentioned program, there would be no need to resort to behind closed doors selection. I propose that since the MI proponents and Ms. Charles refuse to even give the appearance of impartiality, a statistician step forward and conduct a Chi Square analysis of the final enrollment. Perhaps this will safeguard against the "coincidental" acceptance of all of the children of the MI proponents who signed the charter school threat letter. With all due respect, does anyone really think that Grace Mah's child/children won't be one of the 40 chosen?

5. To reiterate, if parents want their children to be fluent in a language, TEACH IT TO THEM. Or wait until language programs in middle and high school are offered as electives. How sad that one of the parents quoted in the article has allowed the situation to develop that her own child cannot communicate with his/her own grandparents. It is not the public school's job to rectify parents' personal choices and options.

Finally, to answer some of the angry responses I anticipate:

-Yes, I am bilingual.
-No, I didn't get that way by using public school time, money and funds.
-No, I am not racist. This kind of program would seem unfair to me no matter WHICH second language was being considered. Period.




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Posted by Parental responsibility anyone?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 9:55 pm

To "Voice," who posted while I was composing my previous post.

Webster's dictionary defines racism the following way:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

No one is suggesting that those of Chinese heritage, or those who speak Mandarin, are inferior to others. Far from it. I have nothing but immense respect for the Gunn student who has studied Mandarin for 11 years and is fluent; he or she is a credit to the community, and to his or her parents, who have raised someone with a work ethic, a high respect for one's own culture, and personal responsibility for becoming bilingual. Tremendous credit due. How is that racist?

Secondly, your post intimates that every Russian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, French, Japanese, Haitian, Belgian (etc etc) family in Palo Alto is being discriminated against because an immersion program does not exist for them. I assume all of these families are rallying behind you in solidarity?

In short, "Voice," you had better be 100% behind me or anyone else who goes before the school board next year with overt threats of starting a charter school, to the financial detriment of the district as a whole, in order to secure a Hebrew, Gaelic, or русский язык (that's Russian, but you would know that, given you aren't racist) immersion program.

Walk the talk, "Voice." This is not about being anti Chinese or anti Mandarin, that's insulting. Don't stoop to that level to try to make a point in an honest debate. It's about FAIR ALLOCATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDS, that's it.

Oh, and when I went to China last year for vacation, it was a fantastic trip. Gorgeous, epic country, diverse and exciting, with an amazing cultural and historical legacy. I had a wonderful time and came away with nothing but respect for the country and culture. Oooops, I suppose I shouldn't say that, it's not very consistent with being a racist, is it?


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Parental,

"How is that racist?" Er, you forgot the second half of your definition "racial prejudice or discrimination." Arguing against an educational program because of the race of those you think would benefit is discrimination and ipso facto racist.

"Secondly, your post intimates that every Russian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, French, Japanese, Haitian, Belgian (etc etc) family in Palo Alto is being discriminated against." No. I'm simply pointing out that if you agitate to deny a program to people based on their race, you are being racist. If you tell me that we shouldn't teach Arabic in the schools because you don't want kids of Arabic descent to benefit, that would be racist.

"In short, "Voice," you had better be 100% behind me or anyone else" Again, you missed the point. It's not racist to oppose a language program--there might be many non-racist reasons in any given case, but it is racist to oppose a language program for racist reasons. Ask yourself why anyone has a reason to mention "heritage"? The only reason is to covertly insert race into the discussion.

"It's about FAIR ALLOCATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDS" Yikes, I see you haven't followed the issue. The MI program will actually bring funds into the district. Is it fair that because of MI other kids will have more resources? I guess you'd argue it's not.




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Posted by mightier than thou my a$$
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 5, 2008 at 10:43 pm

"The MI program will actually bring funds into the district. Is it fair that because of MI other kids will have more resources?"
Who are you trying to kid, almighty Voice Of Reason? You know that the MI grant can only be used for Mandarin. I haven't heard a word from any PACE or pro-MI people about any earnest attempts to distribute that money to those who aren't in your precious MI program.

Having that kind of grant money go to a cost-neutral program (which frees up a comparatively small amount for others) doesn't sound like a "FAIR ALLOCATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDS". Who does your books?


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 5, 2008 at 10:53 pm

More Voice of Reason, you said:
"No, the district looked at putting the portables in while still considering a proposal to site MI at Ohlone. The portables were not promised to any particular program. There was a hiccup in getting MI approved, yes, and no doubt vanilla Ohlone could have been expanded to fill those portables. But MI was luckily approved."

Is it really necessary to go back to the actual board minutes to show how wrong you are? I guess it is.

Here is the link showing the plan for adding four portables district-wide, on p. 65 of Web Link, which says

"With current District policy on school and classroom size, we are better able to plan for the 2007–2008 school year, and the development and implementation of the District's long-range facilities master plan. Four additional classroom buildings will be required, one at each of the following elementary schools: Barron Park, Briones, Ohlone, and Fairmeadow.

In planning for the 2007-2008 school year, it has been determined that we must bid this project and place our orders for classrooms at this time to ensure their availability when school begins in August. The timeline for these projects is as follows…"

Note that the date of this board meeting is 2/13/2007, two weeks after MI was voted down on 1/30/07. Note also that the plans discussed were for the current school year, 2007-2008.

The discussion and vote on this proposal can be found starting on p. 61 of
Web Link

On page 62 it says, "Tom observed that Ohlone appeared to be an exception because it was a choice school, then asked if a K/1 class would be added. Bowers said this was the case. Tom asked if this would change the lottery. Bowers said this would allow the school to admit 80 kindergarteners and another 10 first graders."

But the Ohlone portable wasn't built, because the board caved to the MI threat. So please don't keep saying that no spots at Ohlone were taken by MI. They were. Somewhere out there are 20 students who would have attended Ohlone this school year, if it had not been for MI starting next year.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2008 at 11:48 pm

And the MI troll posts copiously.

Hmmm, so you think there should be racial preferences, essentially? Wow. So, any attempt to end racial preferences is, thus, racist?

So the Civil Rights Act is, by your, er, reasoning, racist?

You know if you were a real Internet troll you'd know you were just chain-yanking, but you're just earnest enough to sincerely offer us that bit of tangled illogic.

And, of course, you're dead wrong on the Ohlone portable situation as HWGA pointed out.

But, again, thanks for continuing to demonstrate the arrogance and sense of entitlement manifested by the PACE crowd.

Funny, you squawked loud and long when I suggested the FLAP grant be used, in part, to fund FLES programs.



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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:28 am

Here,

Those details all support what I said, so thanks. District mulled where to put portables while still considering MI. They came up with a plan to put them at Ohlone--for MI with expansion of Ohlone as backup. During the hiccup phase, they thought of plan B. But MI was luckily approved. So it's more correct to say spots were almost taken from MI.

Pixie,

What a surprise to see you defending racism! You go! Racial preferences? Civil Rights Act? You're just not following the discussion. Maybe you were tired.

I can't decide if you're sincere and confused, or just so deeply ... well, you decide.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 9:08 am

So much being said while I have been away doing other things, like getting a good night's sleep and my kids off to school.

Now, let's get this right.

You think I am racist because I don't want kids of any heritage to learn their heritage language but it is all right if they decide they want to learn a language different from their heritage?

Wrong. I didn't say anything of the sort.

I think that everyone should learn a language other than English and it makes sense that when choosing a language to learn it could be a heritage language as it would give that individual a headstart if they could get help from home and they can use it for communicating with other family members who don't speak English. This is what I am agreeing with. I have no objections to it. In fact I would promote this and if it is the language that they can learn in a FLES or secondary school program, so much the better. It is the language that makes sense for them to learn.

If a family is so Americanised that they do not have or care about a heritage language, or if they choose to learn a different language, that is great too. Learn a language that PAUSD is teaching and do well in it. Great.

However, we cannot possibly teach all the heritage languages that abound in Palo Alto. We certainly cannot possibly have an immersion program for them all. To choose which language should be taught has nothing to do with racism, just common sense.

I am against increasing immersion programs in PAUSD. I am for teaching languages as part of the curriculum. This does not make me racist.

If someone thinks that their children should learn a language for reasons that are beneficial to their particular family through an immersion program that our cosmopolitan school district provides and other families don't have the chance of anything, that sounds selfish to me.

If we bend over backwards to help any one particular ethnic group, that sounds like reverse racism. In other words promoting every other group to the detriment of the blue eyed blond anglos, then we actually have a situation which is just as diversive.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:12 am

I haven't seen a single post from anyone saying anyone should be denied the right to learn their heritage language, nor anyone saying learning a heritage language is not of value. VOR is just blatantly making stuff up to suck you into the 'racism' conversation.

I've found that whenever the MI proponents lose their footing on their talking points (in other words when their value proposition is dealt a blow and can't be supported) they revert to the "R" argument, and name calling. Its happened over and over again on these threads -

So (Real) Parent and OP and others - I would suggest you simply stop engaging on the 'R' argument, and just go on to the actual meat of the issues with regard to MI. There are PLENTY of REAL issues at hand.

The issues of non-transparency in the lotteries is fascinating. The link above to the school across the country who fired employees for 'rigging' their lottery was informative. I wonder what the penalties for 'rigging' lotteries in PAUSD would be?

I'm also curious about why the MI program is apparently pounding the pavement for lottery signups at this late date? I just saw a JLS (that's middle school!) newsletter go out where the ONLY item in the newsletter was a pitch for signing up for the MI lottery (not an ad for PAUSD Kinder registration deadlines, not a pitch for choice programs - JUST a pitch for MI lottery signups - and NO OTHER JLS BUSINESS.

I thought there were 300 people pounding down the doors at the MI Parent Information parent night? What happened? Where'd they go?

You'd hardly think it would be a good strategy to load up the lottery with hundreds and hundreds of people for just 20 spots - it would create alot of resentment, wouldn't it? No, its way more likely that they're sitting way short.

(And are there Really going to be alot of parents of middle schoolers with entering kinders? That's not a high percentage match as far as I can figure - much more likely that parents of kinders will have elementary kids, rather than 11,12,13 year olds.. Obviously there ARE some, but it seems like a rather desperate effort - to advertise at a middle school for a kinder lottery...

So, the plot thickens....

Are we having fun yet?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:35 am

I agree with Parent above about the JLS email.

Is it possible that they are doing this just for our information, in case we don't know about it?

Or, as sounds more likely to me, they need more sign ups in a certain category to make the lottery viable across the different demographics.

I don't know if any other school will follow suit, but this sounds like panic advertising to me.

It is interesting that JLS is where the Chinese school meets on Friday evenings and there may be some supposition of crossover. JLS parents may know through being neighbors of incoming kinders, but I suspect they are hoping that the Chinese connection may be there real goal.

Friday sounds like to deadline to enter the lottery. I feel sure that if there are people out there who are registering for kindergarten but know nothing of MI, they are few and far between.

Sounds like panic tactics to me.


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Posted by Cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

"The issues of non-transparency in the lotteries is fascinating. The link above to the school across the country who fired employees for 'rigging' their lottery was informative. I wonder what the penalties for 'rigging' lotteries in PAUSD would be?"
None. PAUSD refers to these boutique programs as "Choice" programs, not "Lotteries". Parents get to choose if they want to vie for a limited spot, and principals get to choose who they accept...under a thinly-veiled and undocumented process that doesn't entirely portray a fair lottery.

If I were a parent trying to get my child in to MI, SI, Ohlone, Hoover or Young Fives, I'd be demanding that the district *document* each entrance process (call it a lottery if you'd like), and allow the public to observe the lottery in action.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:36 am

And - you'd think that logic (and pretty simple math) would say that the more they they attract into the lottery, the worse the chances are for those hardworking tireless few to get in. So, its not really in the supporters best interest to load up the lottery - is it?

Particularly since 200 to 300 already interested would seem like pretty bad odds for those looking for a scarce few seats. Why the advertising if odds are already so slim?

The only way it makes sense is if the spots for those 'tireless few' are already secured. (In which case the other regular folks are probably hopping mad that they're going out of their way to load up the lottery.)

Or the other way it makes sense is if they're throwing the party but no one is showing up. In which case we're being misled to believe that 200-300 people at the parent info night means 200-300 interested in signing up for MI?

(Woops - where are all the party goers? Could it be that pesky little proof of Palo Alto residency requirement? Or that little nagging concern about whether kids need to be in English speaking classrooms to build English proficiency first? Or that teeny weeny little issue of MI prospective parents disliking the "Ohlone Way" philosophy? Or just not enough Palo Alto parents interested enough in Mandarin Extreme?

You know, all it takes is a little doubt to really throw a monkey wrench into the whole works. If you have just a little doubt that you're this might not doing the BEST thing for your kids education... I mean, their kids education is probably an area of extremely low risk tolerance for most parents. Isn't that why most people have bought in to Palo Alto - they were willing to PAY a HUGE premium to get into a school district that would give them the highest probability for a great education. Its really an educational risk equation at play in Palo Alto. So are these the parents who are willing to take this much risk on the MI program?

Lets see, wonder how we find out what the lottery turn out is?


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Posted by Cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

"Lets see, wonder how we find out what the lottery turn out is?"
The district attendance office has those numbers and I believe the information is open to the public. What's interesting is that they don't retain the numbers past mid-September. You would think these are the sort of records that are important to keep. Why would they destroy them?


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Posted by not too late, apparently
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2008 at 11:51 am

OK, looks like MI needs some help. Here's the full text of the email doing the rounds if anyone's interested in the mail (or in applying):


PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD!

Many incoming Kinder parents don't receive eNews. If you know someone who might be interested in Mandarin Immersion, please let them know about this unique opportunity. THANKS!

MANDARIN IMMERSION ("MI").If you have a child now in Kindergarten or starting Kindergarten in 2008, it's NOT too late to apply for PAUSD's *NEW* dual-immersion program at Ohlone School, for kids who speak only English AND for native speakers of Mandarin!

Details:Web Link then select "Mandarin Chinese Dual Immersion".
(1) If your child is new to PAUSD, you must REGISTER him/her with Central Attendance by Fri Feb 8.
(2) CALL Ohlone, 856-1726, to sign up for a visit.(You MUST do this in order to apply for MI.)

Then VISIT Ohlone on a Tuesday or Thursday, to observe its developmental education model in action.
Web Link)

BROCHURES & APPLICATION FORMS(in English & Mandarin) are available at Ohlone.(4) To ENTER the Admissions Lottery, fill out the Application Form and submit it at Ohlone.****DEADLINES ****

(5a) If you say your child is fluent in Mandarin, please submit your application by *Thursday* Feb 14.Your child will receive a brief Mandarin fluency screening test on Tue Feb 19. Those who are not fluent will be put in with the English-speaking applications.
(5b) Applications for English-speaking children will be accepted until Tue Feb 19.Questions: 856-1726, or scharles@pausd.org General info: Web Link and Web Link


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Parent,

Hold it, did they extend the deadline?

Interesting that there's an attempt to get-out-the-lottery-application. I still think getting enough native Mandarin speakers is a huge issue.

Isn't JLS where the heaviest concentration of Chinese families live--near heavily Asian Hoover and half-Asian Fairmeadow? Of course, part of the reason the area *is* heavily Asian is that Hoover and Gunn are big draws.

If you're a Chinese immigrant who wants the best for your kids, are you going to pick MI over Hoover? Particularly when there is afterschool and weekend Chinese available in the area? Particularly when you're more worried about your kid being fluent in *English*?

There's sort of a generational gap here--immigrants often *want* their kids to fit in enough to succeed. They *know* poor English is a hindrance. It's later on, when the assimilation has occurred that everyone starts worrying about lost heritage.

I think you'd almost need a situation where the immigrants assume that at some point they and their kids will be moving back and their kids will need fluency in Mandarin. But while there's been some return of emigres, I don't think it's a big draw--and that's because American universities are both better and more accessible than the ones in China. One of the reasons you emigrate here is to get your kid into an American university.

But, wow, wouldn't that be ironic? Our PACErs are a bunch of sentimental Americans who overestimated the level of interest in Mandarin Extreme (love that.)




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Yes, I vote we rename it ME in stead of MI.

(works on so many levels)

Not too late: The real question is - why do they need help??? they told the board last year they had people pounding down the doors. (so why the advertising all of a sudden? What - they can't find all those Kinders they promised???) And the papers just told us they were standing room only at the Ohlone parent info night. It COULDN't be that they loaded the auditorium for sake of 'show', could it? I wouldn't have looked very good if all of 6 people showed up - of course they had to ensure a good showing...

Cynic - PAUSD may not have a written policy on random lotteries for choice programs but they can't diverge from California ed code, and I believe California Ed code has something to say about admission processes to alternative programs. AND, I still think it might be up for debate as to whether PAUSD has their OWN documented policy - because they DO have documented policy on voluntary interdistrict transfers - which if you look at their 11th day enrollment documentation - choice programs are always stated in the voluntary/interdistrict transfer column. But in any case - the district policy document is positively dripping with references to random lottery for admissions in all situations where schools are impacted - so all in all, a grand jury might just see this otherwise.


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Posted by clarification
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 6, 2008 at 2:21 pm

The MI deadline has not changed, and is the same cut-off as the Ohlone "regular" deadline. The over 200 people at the information meeting indicates a strong desire for this program in Palo Alto. I would be very surprised if they can't get the people they need in all of the various "Categories."


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Posted by more clarification please
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 6, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Clarification, can you clarify why there is this last minute advertising campaign for MI?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Great, someone who wants to bring facts, not speculation to the table: Clarification can you let us know how many they have for the MI lottery so far:

K English speakers:
K Mandarni Proficient:
1st English speakers:
1st Mandarin Proficient:


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Posted by Never-picked
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm

The question of how many people are registered for the lottery is not that interesting to me, but if it were, it seems that a phone call either to Churchill or Ohlone should be able to answer those questions. At least with a ballpark number.

The issue for me is, as always, the transparency of the lottery -- and the ill feelings that occur when people aren't chosen, and the way the "losers" then feel about the choice program they didn't get into, the neighborhood school they're "stuck" in, their attitude toward the district in general, and their willingness to participate in a district they feel treated unfairly. Especially the way those ill feelings are acted on when it comes to bonds and measures and PiE.

I guess I may be the only one who hopes that MI winds up with exactly as many applicants as spaces. But, despite the "last minute" ad (which may have been scheduled to go out weeks ago, for all we know, but perhaps there was an error so it went out now), I think there actually will be hundreds of applicants -- with a few key people being pulled out against all odds -- and hundreds of disappointed people, who may then feel disenfranchised with the district and attend their neighborhood school with a chip on their shoulder and use the fact that they are being "forced" to pay for a language school as an excuse not to support the district financially, ultimately hurting the entire community.

What a mess.

I hope I am wrong. But I don't think so. Perhaps I should change my signature to Cynic 2.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

NP

You actually think you will get an answer from Ohlone or Churchill?

I think that if it is oversubscribed, they would play it down in case you are an interested parent and wouldn't want you to feel that you had no chance. If it is undersubscribed or just low, they wouldn't want us to know how unpopular it actually is.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Thanks, parent, I would like to know those numbers as well. But there are more categories than you listed. At the information meeting, Susan Charles indicated that they would be choosing equal numbers of boys and girls in each part of the program. And don't forget about the 1-2 spots for Tinsley kids. So the categories for lotteries, to expand on your initial list, are as follows:

K English speaker girls:
K English speaker boys:
K Mandarin proficient girls:
K Mandarin proficient boys:
K Tinsley:

1 English speaker girls:
1 English speaker boys:
1 Mandarin proficient girls:
1 Mandarin proficient boys:
1 Tinsley:


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:38 pm

To further the question, presumably the 1 Tinsley in each room could be either girl/boy or English/Mandarin speaker - in other words the the Tinsley will be either a girl or boy (easy) and English/Mandarin speaking (harder). Also, does the 1st grader need to be at Ohlone already or will they come from all over the district? If they come from Ohlone, will their Ohlone space be filled from the regular wait list or the MI wait list?


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Parent,

"However, we cannot possibly teach all the heritage languages that abound in Palo Alto. We certainly cannot possibly have an immersion program for them all. To choose which language should be taught has nothing to do with racism, just common sense." All true.

"I am against increasing immersion programs in PAUSD. I am for teaching languages as part of the curriculum. This does not make me racist." True again.

The point is that race has no business in this discussion. When you talk about "heritage languages," when you argue against teaching Mandarin because Chinese people speak it, that is racism.

Other parent,

The anti-Mi gang raised race many times during the MI discussion to argue against MI. Don't take my word for it--many newspapers reported on this aspect of the discussion and there are many posts here on PAOnline substantiating it.

The most recent occasion was in this thread, when the Pixie brought it up right near the top and it's been repeated a number of times. "Heritage" is a way to insert race covertly into the discussion.


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Posted by jmd
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Help me out here, but I didn't know that Chinese was a race.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 6, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Jmd,

Don't worry about VOR, it's just trying to divert attention

Current Ohlone kids don't have priority for the first-grade spots.

Never-picked,

I think there will be lots of applicants for the English-speaker spots. I don't think there will be for the Mandarin native speaker spots. In fact, I think they're going to have an especially tough time filling those first-grade native Mandarin speaker spots. You're talking about finding parents who are willing to pull their kids from a first-grade program where they're already learning English in what is, for them, an immersion setting.

How many Hoover parents (the school with the largest Asian population) are going to want to transfer their kids to an untried program?

So, a surplus of applicants for some spots--particularly those 10 English-speaking kinder spots. Probably a lesser surplus for the first-grade spots. A struggle to get those Mandarin kinders and a shortage of the first-grade Mandarin speakers.

I see there's also a test to screen for proficiency for the native-Mandarin speakers Wonder how stringent the exam will be if there's a shortage of Mandarin speakers?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2008 at 9:25 pm

VOR

What term would you use when speaking of the language spoken by your ancestors? Heritage sounds fine to me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 1:34 am

Sheesh, I picked up the term "heritage" from the Web sites of the various Chinese language schools around here.

You know, I think the MI troll used to be semi-serious. Now it just seems to want attention very badly.

I mean there's dumb, which I expect of it, and then there's idiotic beyond belief. This latest stuff falls in that category. I was amused a couple of days ago, but now I'm just sort of skimming it.







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Posted by PAUSD Frustrated Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:19 am

Well They did it again. They have come up with a program which was designed for students who will be sucessful in the district whatever path they choose to take. Although small, Many African-American males struggle in this system for some reason which are obvious to many but ignored by the distrct. Many have been frustrated by letting the buck slip when it comes to these students. The districk and the palo alto community have a hard time remembering February is Black History Month. The Dr. and Mrs. King dedication was beatiful. But as I have said year after year The Kings are not the only history African-Americans have. If the year of the rat is important, so should be African-American History month. Well the MI program is starting next fall. What special programs are starting for the achievement gap students other than Special Ed.? MI is wrong at this time. The PAUSD School Board should be ashamed of themselves.Oh I forgot there is no African- American repersentation there either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PAUSD Frustrated Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:19 am

Well They did it again. They have come up with a program which was designed for students who will be sucessful in the district whatever path they choose to take. Although small, Many African-American males struggle in this system for some reason which are obvious to many but ignored by the distrct. Many have been frustrated by letting the buck slip when it comes to these students. The districk and the palo alto community have a hard time remembering February is Black History Month. The Dr. and Mrs. King dedication was beatiful. But as I have said year after year The Kings are not the only history African-Americans have. If the year of the rat is important, so should be African-American History month. Well the MI program is starting next fall. What special programs are starting for the achievement gap students other than Special Ed.? MI is wrong at this time. The PAUSD School Board should be ashamed of themselves.Oh I forgot there is no African- American repersentation there either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PAUSD Frustrated Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:21 am

Well They did it again. They have come up with a program which was designed for students who will be sucessful in the district whatever path they choose to take. Although small, Many African-American males struggle in this system for some reason which are obvious to many but ignored by the distrct. Many have been frustrated by letting the buck slip when it comes to these students. The districk and the palo alto community have a hard time remembering February is Black History Month. The Dr. and Mrs. King dedication was beatiful. But as I have said year after year The Kings are not the only history African-Americans have. If the year of the rat is important, so should be African-American History month. Well the MI program is starting next fall. What special programs are starting for the achievement gap students other than Special Ed.? MI is wrong at this time. The PAUSD School Board should be ashamed of themselves.Oh I forgot there is no African- American repersentation there either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PAUSD Frustrated Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:21 am

Well They did it again. They have come up with a program which was designed for students who will be sucessful in the district whatever path they choose to take. Although small, Many African-American males struggle in this system for some reason which are obvious to many but ignored by the distrct. Many have been frustrated by letting the buck slip when it comes to these students. The districk and the palo alto community have a hard time remembering February is Black History Month. The Dr. and Mrs. King dedication was beatiful. But as I have said year after year The Kings are not the only history African-Americans have. If the year of the rat is important, so should be African-American History month. Well the MI program is starting next fall. What special programs are starting for the achievement gap students other than Special Ed.? MI is wrong at this time. The PAUSD School Board should be ashamed of themselves.Oh I forgot there is no African- American repersentation there either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 6:40 am

Parent,

"Heritage sounds fine to me." Sure, it's a descriptive term. Question is: why do you want to use a term that refers to race? In this context? Pixie and others wanted to inject race into this discussion for a reason. Ask yourself why. Pretty obvious, despite the demurrals.




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Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 7:13 am

"...the board caved to the MI threat" that says it all.

What a way to operate. What a lack of ethics and civic responsibility to all in this public school district.

Try thinking for the general good of the district once in awhile and not your selfish needs that can easily be met in the private sector.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 7:24 am

Excellent comments, PAUSD frustrated parent. If you can manage it, I would like to suggest that you attend board meetings to speak in public forum, and say exactly what you've said above. Bring as many friends as you can, and have them say the same thing. You need to make your voice heard over and over and over again.

You are absolutely right that there are so many unmet needs in our district, and the board put a "want" by a small group of parents ahead of those needs.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:26 am

VOR

As Ohlonepar said above, the term was not mine to start with, I just used what others had been using.

As for your name, there is nothing reasonable in your post, just reason for trolling.


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Posted by Parental responsibility anyone?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:35 am

"VOR" or whatever you term yourself to be,

No, I didn't forget the second part, because it isn't relevant! I am NOT advocating against the educational program because of RACE, please take two seconds and read all of my post. I WOULD ARGUE AGAINST THIS PROGRAM NO MATTER WHO IT BENEFITED, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT IS NOT FAIR TO THE WHOLE, DIVERSE POPULATION OF THE DISTRICT. Calling that racist is a pathetic, wimpy cop-out because the rest of your argument doesn't hold water. I am arguing against an educational program because it is taking away money from the general population (regardless of what RACE they are, by the way!!!) and I do not believe that that is fair. Period. If this program were available to blonde, blue-eyed anglos only, I would just as equally object to it. Boutique programs are not FAIR, get that through your stubborn head. I am not racist, I am against ANY selfish, bullying group who has to resort to blackmail to push through an inequitable program. I would be front and center protesting this kind of program if it preferentially benefited ANY group. Including any group to which I may belong, by virtue of heritage or DNA or whatever criteria you throw around. I don't give a flying crap what nationality, heritage, or background that group has. Grow up. "Ipso facto racist" you say.

Take a course in logic and get back to me when you accurately master the concept of if-then statements and logic fallacies. I disagree with the program because I think it is wrong, not because the race of whatever group may be advocating for it. By your own statements, you assume that only Chinese (I assume, given you are painting me racist) students will be enrolled in this program. WRONG. Silly me. I thought this MI program was available to anyone who wanted to learn Mandarin, regardless of their race. I missed the section where only one RACE was going to benefit. I thought the 40 students were picked based on Mandarin proficiency track, and non-Mandarin proficiency track. I didn't realize that you expect only those of Chinese ancestry to qualify for the program.

Pathetic, Voice, pathetic. If you actually believe I'm racist, I am more than willing to meet with you face to face over coffee and hash this one out. Honestly. Name the time and date. I'll be there.

You simply cannot reduce this one to race, unless you are stirring the pot and trying to hide the fact that boutique programs are unfair and preferential to a small group of parents (I won't even say students, given no students are ever quoted, only parents who readily admit that their children object to extracurricular language study and see it as taking up "valuable weekend time").

If you and your children want to learn a second or third language, hats off to you, admirable. Welcome to the club, my child has been read books in two different languages since infancy. If I want (read that, WANT) more intensive education in a second or third language, I'll pay for it via tutoring or private school. Feel free to do so yourself. Or wait until middle school or high school like everyone else, if you insist on the school district paying for it. Or how about you teach a second language to your children via immersion at home?

You just want the school district to pay for specialized education that you are unwilling to underwrite yourself. That's why I think this whole issue is about parental responsibility. If you want your children to learn a new language or skill, take responsibility for it and give them the opportunities for it. Don't bully the school district into a boutique program because you are too selfish and arrogant to think you are above having to take any time, effort, or money on your own part to help your child become bilingual. If you really wanted that, you'd enroll them in a private school that would meet your WANTS beautifully.

I mean it about the coffee. No press, no posturing, just you and me. Let me know. I would love the opportunity to have an adult, logical, civilized discussion, and if you are going to resort to calling me racist, do it to my face and look me in the eyes. If you have the courage of your convictions, engage with me on an adult level. If not, if you still wish to throw accusations of racism at me, at least have the courtesy to insult me to my face.

I'm equally partial to Peet's, Starbucks, or any other local establishment. I'll even buy the first round. Let me know what time works for you, Voice. I'll be there.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:42 am

Who is the pixie?

I see no postings signed with that name.


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Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:54 am

Parent,

It's not a question of who invented the term but how it's used.

You and I might have a reasonable conversation about the difficulty of maintaining heritage languages and ask questions about whether that difficulty differs across racial/ethnic groups. Nothing wrong there--race is relevant. You might target heritage families for your language-learning software. Nothing wrong there--culture is relevant.

Now, Pixie complained about heritage families pursuing MI. So, he or she is complaining about people of Chinese ancestry pursuing MI. Race is relevant to Pixie. Why? Pixie's remarks are racist.

Think of it this way. What if I complained about Jews in AP classes? I might have all kinds of objections to AP, but if I complained about Jews in AP classes, I would be making a racist statement.

Parent, there's nothing wrong with talking about race. But when you complain about people based on their race, well ... I think you get it.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

Did any of you actually read this article - the term 'heritage' was used by the MI supportive parent in the context of why they are interested in the MI program. Maybe they didn't get the memo on code language do's and don'ts (aka talking points from PACE)

By the way, I'm pretty sure, judging by their lack of reasoning, name calling, lack of any of their own points that hold water - that VOR is a teenager. I don't think you can win a shouting match with a teenager, unless you have the power to take away their car.


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Posted by editorial behavior
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 7, 2008 at 9:15 am

>Who is the pixie?
>I see no postings signed with that name.

The editors use [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.], [Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] or remove the post in it's entirety. I think they used the last option on Pixie's post.
There are some obvious reasons for their editorial behavior that are covered under the TERMS OF USE. Some are just weird.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 1:06 pm

VOR - You and I might also have a reasonable conversation (even a debate) about whether it is the US tax payers' responsibility to maintain each and every American's 'heritage language' or whether that is each individuals right AND responsibility. And we might also debate whether its "American" to provide that service to a few, but not all.

And that would NOT (at least not on my side of the conversation) be a race conversation. That would be a conversation of tax payers rights and obligations, and of the role of public education in America, and a discussion about the rights and obligations of all Americans (and imigrants) to take personal responsibility.

editorial behavior - yes sometimes is weird - but in this case it seems more like we have a figment of VOR's imagination that's been invented to help VOR trollify the debate.

But just an observation… "pixie" is another word for fairy: a mythical being of folklore and romance usually having diminutive human form and magic powers. Coincidence? I think we have a mythical being created by VOR to invoke the magical powers of trolling to kick up a diversionary fuss over a non-issue, in her attempt to divert attention from the real issues at hand which can't be explained away and which harm her cause.

Lets recap the Actual issues raised on this thread:

1. Not enough interest in program, as indicated by mysterious late advertising (if 200-300 interested as this article says, where ARE they all? Why do they need MORE for the lottery? Is it in the best interest of the MI prospective parents to pump the lottery to highest possible number; 200? 300? 600? The more in the lottery, the more disgruntled lottery losers in the end.
2. Not enough integrity in PAUSD to hold transparent lotteries. Do the originators of the MI plan have a special preference to get in? Who's decision? Is that fair? Is PAUSD policy being violated by lack of a random lottery?
3. Not enough value proposition in the program itself to ensure native mandarin speakers (or English speakers for that matter) obtain appropriate English fluency in the K-2 years. How? when classes taught in 80% Mandarin?
4. Will the Ohlone way (ie student directed with little to no homework) actually be adhered to for MI? Will it work for MI or will it create misery for MI parents? Will Charles abandon her belief system to change the "Ohlone Way' philosophy to bend to the demands of MI?
5. Not enough assurances that once they get there that Ohlone MI program is fully baked – the parent info night was too light on details.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I've been thinking about the so-called English-speaking spots for the MI program. I remember a previous discussion about whether it was possible for children with limited English skills to enroll in this program, and I was assured that it was open to any kinder or 1st grader in the district, regardless of native language. Even the feasibility study says:

"It is feasible to provide support for students with limited English, GATE, and special education needs."

If the students are expected to come into the program speaking either fluent English or fluent Mandarin, right off the bat you've excluded a certain percentage of the population.

This is just another of many issues having to do with the lottery system for choice programs. Has anyone had their email questions about lotteries answered by 25 Churchill? Let us know!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Pixie isn't a poster. "Pixie" is poor VOR's attempt to counter my calling it the MI Troll. What it doesn't seem to understand is that I named it the "MI Troll" because it likes to change its signature whenever it gets cornered (which is often). Since I use the same signature consistently, the off-the-wall nickname just puzzles people. "Troll" has a specific online meaning, "pixie" doesn't.

I don't think it's a teen-ager, actually. The teen-agers who post here are a) not that persistent--there are other places they like to play and b) usually somewhat sensible. They get upset, but they don't tune things out the way the MI Troll (VOR, Via Con Dios, etc., etc.) does. I think they're less inclined to just blatantly lie and distort other people's views. Gunn Student and Ohlone Alum came in, said its piece and checked out, probably to do other things, like study.

But bravo Parental Responsibility. I do get the feeling the troll's not about to come out from under its cyberbridge to meet you, however.

Anyway, I see that, once again, MI Troll/VOR is backing off its accusation the the term "heritage language" is racist. Now it's only racist because it was used by people who don't agree with it--"Racist" becomes a convenient slur for it. As I pointed out ages and ages ago, the MIers have used the epithet as a way of diverting attention from whatever argument they are, once again, losing. The most egregious and subtle example of this strategy was of course when Grace Mah was interviewed in the New York Times.

So, it's pretty funny to think that the real issue might be recruiting enough kids who already speak the heritage language in question.

And "Chinese" isn't even an ethnicity, per se, since there are numerous ethnic groups within China who are referred to as Chinese in English. It's a nationality, though members of the Han ethnicity do tend to view themselves as "Chinese"--i.e. an ethnicity.

But, anyway, race in this context should also include people of Japanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnames, Korean, Indonesian and Philippino ancestry (just for a start) and Mandarin is not a heritage language for those groups.


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Posted by Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Parental,

You've stumbled into a discussion that you haven't followed carefully.

As I've mentioned, one might have all sorts of valid reasons for opposing MI or an immersion program. (I've heard these arguments and disagree with them, but that is a separate issue.)

But then there are arguments that rely, if implicitly, on race and are racist. If you agitate against MI (or AI, BI, CI or DI) while invoking a racial group ("heritage speakers," "native speakers," etc.), you are relying on race. Those arguments are beyond the pale, and those making them deserve to be called on them.

This is what Pixie (thanks, Ohlonepar, for outing yourself) did above. Ask yourself, in all honesty, why it doesn't bother you that race is being injected into a debate where it doesn't belong. You seem very sincere but also tone-deaf to the societal changes of the last 40 years. Nowadays, you can expect to be called out for making racist arguments.

You'll notice Pixie has stopped posting substantive remarks and limits herself or himself to ad hominem attacks. That's because he or she really has no grounds for bringing race into the discussion and has lost the debate. I called Pixie on her remarks, and she can only squirm toward the exit, yelping about the race card--an argument that, in denying the possibility of racism, is itself racist. Plus ça change. Pixie has made racist remarks before, and other anti-MI people have, too. Don't take my word for it: Local and national newspapers saw it, and so did the board, whose members publically complained about the racist emails and phone calls they got.

You also touch on a variety of arguments against MI--these have been rehashed to death on these boards. Suffice to say, I just don't think they hold water.




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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Parent, I'd like to talk about your point #4 above:
"4. Will the Ohlone way (ie student directed with little to no homework) actually be adhered to for MI? Will it work for MI or will it create misery for MI parents? Will Charles abandon her belief system to change the "Ohlone Way' philosophy to bend to the demands of MI?"

Does anyone know if the homework issue came up at any of the information meetings, and how it was addressed? I believe that the original FLAP grant proposal called for ipods for the MI kids to take home to reinforce the sounds of the language. Whether or not that is the current plan, I don't know, but if it's true, would that be considered homework?

In terms of Susan Charles and the Ohlone Way, I question how long she will actually be at the helm of Ohlone. Marilyn Cook retires at the end of this school year, and why wouldn't Susan Charles, who recently got her Ph.D., want to apply for that position? I could see her being an excellent administrator, and she's certainly qualified. And there are of course, fringe benefits of raising your salary as high as possible before retirement.

Does the Ohlone Way exist without Charles? Does MI at Ohlone exist without her? Can anyone else pull it off?





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Posted by Libertarian Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I find VOR's cries of "racism" to be unfounded and distasteful. It's very ironic that VOR cries racism when VOR is advocating what will in effect be a very segregated classroom. Minimizing segregation was a big push of the Civil Rights movement - and segregation and racism often go hand-in-hand. What will be the demographic mix of an MI classroom? I can't imagine it would look anything like the demographics of the district aside from maybe the number of boys and girls.

And for the record, I'd rather see the district focus on language options for the many rather than a boutique program for the few.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

If a family whose parents danced in the San Jose ballet wanted PAUSD to teach ballet so that their child could have free evenings and weekends, would that be fair?

If a chess champion wanted chess taught for the same reason, would it be fair? If a skater wanted ice skating lessons at school, would it be fair? Or should anyone with any particular interest, call it a need, and expect it taught in school?

I think the answer here is of course not. But the problem arises because we are talking about languages and generally speaking one language is more popular to people of that heritage. I haven't heard of say French speaking people wanting to get into German classes raising an issue.

So, when we talk about languages, it is about languages that we are talking about. If we were talking about ballet, it wouldn't be a race thing at all.

Languages will appeal to people who speak that language. Ballet will appeal to those who enjoy it.

I don't want immersion language classes taught to anyone to the detriment of my child. I don't want ballet taught to those who feel it is a need when my child doesn't get pe.

Get it?


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Let's continue to talk about the important, interesting issues on this thread while voice of -- whatever, certainly not reason, continues to gnash its teeth over its own version of truthiness.

The racism discussion just isn't relevant here, and the majority of people posting on and reading this thread know it. If I see a post by VOR, I just skip it and go to the next one, hoping it will be more accurate and articulate. Why take the bait?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:43 pm

OK - WHAT? Marilyn Cook is retiring a the end of the year? How did you hear that?


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Posted by Parental responsibility anyone?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Voice,

Sorry to keep rehashing my tired old arguments, so to speak, but I'm only reiterating them because you seem to have such a challenge in understanding why someone would be against an immersion program that benefits only a select few. So, I'll stop trying to explain, it clearly isn't helping you.

I completely agree, if you complain about Jews in an AP class, you are being racist. If you complain about the very existence of AP classes, you are discussing a more broad issue of whether or not you agree with the concept of AP classes.

I am not complaining about WHO is or might be or would be in the program, but rather have major, real issues (sorry, I'm giving substantive reasons again, how annoying to you) with the concept of a boutique program.

I assume you conspicuous silence about meeting and talking about this face to face means the offer is rejected. That alone says volumes about your motives. You're stirring up the pot, refusing to meet face to face like a grown up, and clearly aren't worth any more time and energy. So, take care, enjoy whatever you are getting from crying "racism!" and hope that sometime you'll find a better way to get your emotional needs met.

Bait officially ignored from now on.


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Posted by Still the Voice of Reason
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Parental,

If you're not complaining about WHO might be in the program, then I have no issue with you. If that's the case, of course, you have no need to mention "heritage."

I'll just ignore the extensive ad hominem. You seem to think that anyone who disagrees with you hasn't understood or heard you. I have, but I don't agree with your (other) reasons for opposing MI.

Parent,

If you object to ballet in the schools because you think ballet is inappropriate in the schools, I think you have a reasoned argument. If you object because the children of ballet dancers would benefit, then you have a problem with ballet dancers.

If you object to language X for reasons unrelated to race, Teddy and I say bully for you. If you object because people X would benefit, then Teddy and I say you are a racist bully. If you are merely talking about languages--and not about the ethnic/racial groups that speak them--then you have no need to mention those people.

Yet you repeatedly bring those people into the debate. So you choose: racist bully or not.

Get it?



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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 7, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Parent, I've heard from a couple different people that I consider reliable that this is Cook's last year. I didn't think it was being kept under wraps or anything...


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 7, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Hmmm, Marilyn Cook's on her way out? That's interesting. Would Susan Charles replace her? Also interesting. Charles isn't far from retirement, so yeah, there might be a financial advantage in moving upward. This makes more sense than her trying to become a high-school principal.

And, yes, I'd worry about Ohlone without her under the current circumstances. There's no way there won't be community factions at the school. I don't know much about the other principals, but Charles seems to be viewed as the politically savvy one by them as well.

So, Voice of Unreason,

If I object to whites-only classes because they benefit only whites, I'm being racist?

If I point out a district line has been drawn so that only whites are in a district, I'm being racist?

One of your big problems with your play at victimhood is that Chinese-Americans in Palo Alto are not a disadvantaged group--they are a highly privileged one. The *only* rationale for creating a public education program geared toward one ethnic group in particular has been that the group is disadvantaged. Here we're getting privilege on top of privilege.

I think part of the reason your attacks ring so hollow is that everybody knows this. We're not talking about the kids of sharecroppers here.

Would you *please* go read a history of the Civil Rights Movement? I recommend Taylor Branch.



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Posted by Voice of Revealed Truth
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 7:21 am

Pixie,

Your comments just indicate how out of touch you are and unwittingly reveal how great your animosity toward Chinese is. Now we see what is driving all your venom. At least we know where you stand: All your talk has nothing to do with MI and everything to do with race.

MI does not benefit only Chinese. It is open to all. Your paranoid assumption that only Chinese will be allowed in is racist.

Your idea that Chinese-Americans and Chinese are highly privileged within Palo Alto springs from a worldview in which all Chinese are rich. Again, racist.

Your notion that only the children of sharecroppers can be the victims of racism is ignorant and racist. You need to read up on racism. You also need to read up on racism directed against Chinese in this country, in this state. I guess you don't know about the pogroms and mass evictions.

But thanks for finally showing your true colors: You have a problem with Chinese.



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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 8, 2008 at 7:56 am

May I suggest to the posters in this thread that involvement in something bigger than a rehashed debate would be more useful for this energy of yours. I would suggest some presidential politics or perhaps environmental issues. Trench warfare over pet peeves merely divides without conquering, creates heat without light, and worsens the feel of the community.


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Posted by Parent with a real question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 8:33 am

Susan Charles is pretty insistent that MI at Ohlone will be nothing more or nothing less than the Ohlone program just taught in Mandarin. She's said this multiple times. She's publicly adamant about that.

So that means a pretty limited homework expectation.

So, I have a basic question.

If the Ohlone way classroom is 80% taught in Mandarin, and there is only student directed homework (ie: mostly zero homework I presume), then when do children learn English spelling, puncuation, vocabulary, grammar (verbs, adjective, nouns), sentence structure, penmanship, and other things like contractions, antonyms/hominyms, et et etc. There's a lot more to PAUSD level English language fluency besides reading.

I just want to know when exactly they do this? This is something Susan Charles should be able to tell the parents right now. How do they get equivalent English fluency exposure?

Our regular classrooms spend way more time on this than 20% (1 day per week). And I wonder if that 20% will be 100% dedicated to English? Or will that necessarily be split with math and other basics the children need to pick up. (so realistically, something less than 20% time spent on English fluency.)

In reguarl PAUSD Variations on reading/writing/spelling/comprehension/composition is closer to 80% of time spent (when you count how English lessons permeate all subjects throughout the regular PAUSD day.

Something just doesn't add up. Are they suggesting that kids will be learning English in Mandarin langauge?? Or will they mostly be waiting until the older grades to start the English part of their education? Or are the parents expected to do the English part of their kids education on their own time? I don't understand.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 9:29 am

Now we have Teddy.

Who is Teddy? Who is Pixie?


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Posted by chuckle
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2008 at 9:33 am

"Or are the parents expected to do the English part of their kids education on their own time?"
That's pretty funny. They save money by not paying for second language instruction, but they may have to pay for English lessons instead.


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Posted by chuckle
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2008 at 9:37 am

Teddy is a sock puppet, just like Voice Of Reason, et al. Pixie is her sparing partner. Unlike VOR, Pixie goes by only one name.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 10:49 am

Parent with a real question.

The MI proponents will claim that, yes, somehow kids in immersion magically become proficient in English.

On the other hand, if you look at immersion education Web sites, they'll say, yes, expect to supplement your kid's English at home.

So, no, they're not getting straight answers here.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 10:51 am

Voice of Reason,

So you're saying those of Chinese descent are the poor of Palo Alto?

You're funny.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 10:52 am

Perspective,

I've been doing the environment thing in the climate-change thread. I'd rather do this. The environmental stuff is depressing.


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Posted by What about English?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 11:17 am

In terms of answer from the district..

If I ask my teacher, or my principal or the district staff how grammar will be taught to my child (or composition, or vocabulary or spelling...) in my regular PAUSD classroom,

And I got the answer:

"Studies show children meet or exceed peer standards by 5th grade, using new methods we plan to use on your kid next year. But as an aside, we can tell you that we will give no homework and we will spend 20% or less of class time on all aspects of English language fluency."

Period. No details. No showing of textbooks, or worksheets, no discussion of homework practices, no discussion of methods, no access to kids and families who have gone through it before. No documentation on the methods used elsewhere, or copies of the studies they're using as supporting evidence, no nothing. Just the statement above.

Would that be a good answer? All is fine and dandy so - you seem to have everything under control - so here's my kid 5 days a week. Good luck with those English lessons.

Prospective MI parents - Is that OK with you? Are you really that trusting?

How can this be OK with anybody??? Its like the twighlight zone! People DO realize we're talking about actual children here, right?


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Posted by Enter MI 2009
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 8, 2008 at 11:41 am

"Prospective MI parents - Is that OK with you?" Yes. "Are you really that trusting?" You imply anyone applying is naive or foolish. But this is not trust. My sister's kids are doing immersion, they are having great success in all areas. I have read a lot about immersion method. I met a few prospective families at the meeting, and they seemed well informed except for one family.

It's a great opportunity. I liked what I heard about the Ohlone method. If you stick with it, the one possible downside is this is a new program.




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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2008 at 11:49 am

Enter MI 2009 – I'm glad you are so confident. But don't draw your confidence from your sister's experience. What is being proposed is nothing like any other immersion program ever run anywhere else. Or rather, who knows what is being proposed? That's the scandal here.

What about English -- that the BOE voted to allow a last-minute, totally unplanned and unresearched Ohlone/Immersion mash-up was, in my opinion perhaps the worst part of their behavior in this whole MI mess.

It was simply educationally irresponsible. They are supposed to be a board of EDUCATION. Why one earth couldn't they have said, 'okay if the only way MI can work is, we now realize, is by putting it at Ohlone, let's now go away and work out what that would actually mean?' The obviousness of their need to do that would have been the same whether they chose, Mandarin, Japanese, Arabic, Farsi or anything else.

If I was on the BOE and I cared about my reputation as a guardian of education as opposed to my political standing -- hope you are reading this Melissa, Dana, Barbara -- I'd put a great big hold on the program right now for at least one more year. I'd let the people planning the program go ahead and come up with an actual plan. Imagine! Then I'd review it in the fall and only then, if it looked like a solid, responsible, workable plan – if someone had, in other words, actually spelled out what immersion education 'done the Ohlone way' actually meant – would I then vote to let it run. How could a responsible educator do anything else?

Right now we're asking parents to enter their children into a program that is the educational equivalent of vaporware. It's just a hope.

'What about English,' is right that it's asking a lot of parents to go into this so utterly blind. And it's arguably irresponsible of them as parents to opt to do it.

But for educational 'leaders' to offer programs that are made up on the fly is a shameful abdication of their responsibility. Dr. Skelly – how do you defend this?



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Posted by Libertarian Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 12:07 pm

VOR/VORT really sounds like he/she suffers from delusions of persecution. Nowhere has OhlonePar/"Pixie" said that they have problems with Chinese people. That's just ridiculous.

I would like to hear an answer to my demographics question about the MI classroom. VOR says that MI is "open to all" - as an earlier poster mentioned MI is only for English or Mandarin speakers - so that rules out many ESL kids right there. But the real question is "who is actually going to apply for and enroll in MI"? I suspect virtually ALL of the children applying - including the English speakers - will have at least one parent or grandparent who speaks Mandarin. So at the end of the day you will have a classroom comprised almost exclusively of Chinese American children. That sounds like segregation to me. Take a look at the Tinsley Agreement - its purpose was to fight segregation. The district has got to be nervous if this is the outcome.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Enter MI: You have the benefit of something not many people have - family members in a Mandarin Immersion program. (It is a mandarin program? or other language?)

So please share more... How much homework and more generally speaking time at home do your sister's kids spend on their school work? What subject (or subjects) are generally the take home work?

At what ages did those kids start in the immersion program? Were they on the English fluent side? or the Mandarin fluent side? Do they have family at home that can help them with their Mandarin?

Thanks for your offer of REAL info sharing for those that are interested in this program.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Enter MI - I think I used the word trusting. I can think of a few other adjectives that could describe people who answered yes to that question... Optimistic, Risk tolerant, stubborn, defiant, confident, etc. Or how about Mandarin/English biliterate highly educated and wealthy (so that you know that whatever the PAUSD classroom delivers - you have the tools and resources to ensure your kid succeeds.)

Since you have studied them, you know that not all immersion programs are created equal. Some succeed. Some fail. Its more than just the method that determines that. Its a combination of implementation roll out (program management/staffing/competence/turnover, etc), political factors, community expectations, funding, etc.

The question was not whether you believe MI programs in general can be successful, but whether you've heard enough from PAUSD administration to believe that PAUSD has a handle on what it means to invent a whole new way of doing it in the 'ohlone way'. Have they given you confidence in what PAUSD is rolling out?

What other MI programs do (or how they do) is pretty irrelevent. PAUSD has seen fit to go where no man has gone before.

But we've established that you're on board for the ride, no matter what they might feel like dishing up. So that's fair. If you feel like labeling that something more harsher (or more descriptive) than trusting - well that's up to you. I'll call it trusting, and leave it at that.


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Posted by parent groups
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 8, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I had an interesting converstation with an SI parent recently. We were talking about how over-subscribed SI was and how few non-sibling places there were available each year. She then added a comment that there is some conflict between the principal and parent group about that.

The SI parent group want a lot of people applying so they can show how popular it is and won't give the board any reason to sunset it. Whilst the principal is trying to put people off applying because of all the hassle dealing with those that really have no chance of getting in.

Seeing the above comment on MI emails, it most likely is the MI parents group trying to ensure they can apply the same sort of board pressure as the Spanish parents. They know that there is little chance of the parent getting their child in but, by simply having them apply, it gives them leverage with the board.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Feb 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

parent groups,
Your explanation is the first one to make sense. It also underscores the suspicion that will continue to surround the lottery process until the School Board Members, Dr. Skelly and Marilyn Cook take action. They should demand transparency. The lotteries should be documented, and they should be held open to the public. I can think of no *good* reason why the district would not want to have the lotteries be documented and transparent.

Until they create a transparent application process, there will be feelings of distrust toward the lottery process and the programs themselves. It's a no-win for both sides of the MI/SI/boutique program debate.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Dear PA Dad, I agree it would have been prudent to put off starting the MI program until more planning was done - unfortunately PACE put the BOE in the position of starting next year with their threat of starting a charter (which I personally think would have resulted in a better program). 2008-2009 is important because of the age of the PACE members children.

To What about English - don't know if the textbooks and worksheets are purchased yet, there was not discussion of homework practices because there isn't "homework" at Ohlone, there are not kids or families who have done Mandarin in the Ohlone teaching method.

The idea is to teach the PAUSD curriculum, using the Ohlone teaching method, just in another language.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2008 at 4:09 pm

PA Mom - right. You've basically just summarized EVERYTHING that is known about PAUSD's MI program at this time.

Your summary of the ~idea~ is correct. I also realize the actual textbooks, worksheets haven't been purchsed. and that there is no homework at Ohlone. (Which is really the point - the questions of how that reconciles with what is known about the needs and demands of normal MI programs in actual practice elsewhere have not been answered.)

Its a long way between idea and implementation. IN fact, your summary is about ALL they've said about it.

When asked last year - the staff said 'its the easiest thing in the world to open up a kindergarten classroom' (when some of the implementation issues were questioned.) That sounded a little bit flippant for parents who have real Kinders and first graders that actually need to get the most out of their brief time as 5 and 6 year olds.

Given parents need to sign up for the lottery now, but hinge their hopes on an 'idea' - its quite a leap of faith between where they are now, and what they're promising to parents.

One issue for parents wondering just how baked this whole thing really is - When parents get in this MI lottery and win a spot - don't they give up their neighborhood school spot? And when that's gone, poof, its gone (like if you are an Addison or a Duveneck parent)

I'd say its a pretty high stakes, high risk proposition.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm

I don't have a horse in this race since my children are older but I am observant. Divisive programs for the few like MI don't seem right to me in a unified school district.

On February 6, OhlonePar posted about (paraphrased here): ...you'd almost think some immigrants are thinking about moving back to China...
Well guess what that is the sense I get from some people currently living here in Palo Alto (one person has explicitly told me this is her hope, she is semi-planning to do that)! These are people who have lived in the US for many years.
I feel this could indicate an unusual allegiance to one's "old country" from people who are citizens here.
Some of us come from another country, became naturalized US citizens, but we certainly don't ever intend to move back. Some in our local community - perhaps those who promote MI for their children -, however, keep close connections, business, personal, news and entertainment media and are enthralled with the stunning changes in China and it's rapid ascendancy on the world scene. To some degree, this is understandable. I'm not sure it is in the best interest of our school district to spend taxpayer money on their special interests, however.


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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2008 at 8:07 pm

PA Mom -- sure, maybe it was the charter threat that got us to the point of recruiting children into a program that has yet to be actually planned out.

But that's no reason why a new BOE -- with a majority elected on a platform of fairness and educational sanity -- can't now make a more educationally responsible decision. What if they were to say next week, "hold on, this is crazy to start a program that we haven't even planned fully yet. So let's put a hold on this for one year while we actually work out what we are doing here."

PACE can threaten a charter all they want but the PAUSD would have a perfectly good reason to reject that charter -- they can point to the planning that would still be going on to create an MI immersion program at Ohlone. The PACE charter would be duplicating an need that's already being addressed. So the threat won't work.

For those who say let's not reopen that can of worms, I say it's wide open right now and will remain so until for another three years at least. In fact, giving MI a real chance of success instead of having it be the hastily-created train wreck it is looking like right now, would actually add to the chances of finally putting a lid on that can.

Furthermore, I'm with Dr. Skelly in believing that the district shouldn't be swayed by charter threats when it comes to the educational excellence of the district's programs (he said this at the meet-the-community event last fall). It's more important to do right by the kids entering MI than it is to fear a Charter. If the BOE says that, Skelly will back them up.

Really the question is not what possible reason is there for delaying it but what good reason is there for not delaying?


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

"Really the question is not what possible reason is there for delaying it but what good reason is there for not delaying?" Hilarious.

But seriously, they blew the all clear and you guys can come out of your bunkers.

The district has no concerns about the MI pedagogy. The board will not delay MI. Ohlone has already received sufficient applications for both the English and Mandarin slots from reasonable parents who do not share your "concerns." More come in every day. The MI people are not hatching a long-term plot to create pressure (can't make this stuff up). No one has a preference in the lottery. The lottery has no racial quotas, so any result is possible--including one in which all the kids are at least part Chinese. That's not a problem.

It's coming. Cue X-files theme.



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Posted by PA Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2008 at 8:14 am

Citizen -- I guess we can all be Pollyannas about this. And I'm glad that you have no concerns. Maybe it will all work out. My point is simply that school disctricts shouldn't be in the business of placing children in programs that they haven't thought through and that it is irresponible of BOEs to green light programs on the basis of 'don't-worry-we'll-work-out-how-to-do-it-over-the-summer.'

If the district doesn't have concerns about MI pedagogy, they should. And once again, what's the rush? The BOE moved to push MI through against their better judgement, and the votes that tipped the balance in that vote were made explicitly in response to a perceived threat of a charter. I'm saying that threat has no power if the BOE were to do the educationally responsible thing and pause for a year to let Ohlone work out what MI at Ohlone would actually mean, then present it to the BOE and parents to decide upon.

It's not just that making it up as we go along means parents have no idea what they are letting their kids in for. It is setting the program up to remain a site of dispute for years to come.

Maybe that's fine for parents willing to take the risk to have their child learn some Mandarin on the District's dime. But is it worth it for the well being of the District as a whole? That's what the BOE needs to ask itself.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2008 at 10:16 am

My thoughts are simply to watch what happens at Score in midtown and the other place over the street. These places are already teeming with elementary kids having to learn to get ahead of their grade by overachieving parents, and soon they will be full of the immersion kids who need to tone up their english skills which they are not getting from school. It is easier to get english tutoring after school than mandarin and the mi crowd obviously are willing to pay what it costs although not for private elementary education.

This is just a prediction.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

Again - district might not have concerns about the MI pedagogy - but do parents have concerns about the districts ability to execute? They should.

and do the parents considering signing up have concerns about the districts ability to invent a totally new and untested (and logic defying) version of MI on the fly?
They should.

Citizen - you go right ahead and keep repeating your unsubstatiated version of the truth to yourself, but as for the rest of us - we'll wait for proof. I'll just take ONE of your statements "No one has a preference in the lottery". When the district shows us a transparent lottery - that means the names drawn from ALL applications in an open meeting room at 25 Churchill, and announced live and in public as drawn - then (and only then) will that be a truth.


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Posted by Too Late
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2008 at 11:21 am

It is too late to scare-monger and spread disinformation. You should have organized earlier.

Families have already signed up. And by this time next year, they'll have happy testimonials from participants.


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Posted by Cynic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2008 at 11:28 am

"No one has a preference in the lottery."
Citizen, is this something you know for a fact? PAUSD has demonstrated year after year that this is not true. Why should they suddenly operate above board with MI?


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Posted by Right
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Well, I don't know about 'too late'. I can see from the article at the top of this thread that at least a few parents are still putting on their thinking caps and thinking it through for themselves. Good sign - not everyone has drunk the koolaid yet.

Yes, I do believe they'll have happy testimonials next year. I'm sure those scripts are already written, and probably being rehearsed in studios right now. Perish the thought that the PACE propoganda machine would forget the 'happy testimonials' part of the campaign. Yes. we get it. Its a well oiled machine.

Parents thinking of signing up - are you comforted yet? Are you with em? All the way? Cause its their way or the highway. So you better get on board and fasten your seatbelts.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2008 at 1:32 pm

I don't think anyone has satisfactorily answered the inquiry by "parent with a real question" about the balance of language in the Dual Immersion model of instruction. The initial balance is 80% (new language) and 20% English. The ratio of English increases each year until it is approximately 50-50 by the upper elementary grades.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Just as an added bit of information, here's the link to the PAUSD Job Posting for the teachers in the MI Program Web Link


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Posted by Parent with a real question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Jerry - I'm not sure if you were attempting to answer my question, but what you provided is a summary available in the literature - that's not really addressing the question. I understand the in-classroom ratio of time spent on English vs Mandarin...

The question really is - how do they obtain enough english language exposure in only 20% of time spent K-1? 20% on English is no where near the time spent in a regular PAUSD classroom when you consider all the miriad of things that constitute English fluency (vocabulary, spelling, puncuation, sentence structure, etc).

I've read that homework is a significant component of other MI programs. Dedication at home - a critical success factor. I assume alot of the catchup on English language proficiency happens at home (or through afterschool supplementally) in the early years when the English language component in the classroom is so minimal.

How will the MI in the Ohlone Way (very little homework) get kids the English langauge exposure (the building block subjects that build fluency - grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc) - if not through homework?

Has there ever been an MI program with a little or no homework philosophy?

I was hoping Enter MI2009 would respond and tell us more about how much time his sister kids spend on homework. (Whether they were English or Mandarin proficient to start with, how old were they when they entered etc.)

Honestly, just trying to reconcile the english fluency concern - sorry I'm not confident enough in the PAUSD staff to take their word for it. (They just do, studies say, etc etc etc -not a satisfactory answer. The question is how.)


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Parent with a Real Question:

Sorry. I thought you didn't have the information, not that you didn't trust that the standard dual immersion model for implementing the curriculum would work. I understand now that you are already aware of the studies that indicate the model has worked with other languages in other settings.

I don't think anyone's certain how this will work with Mandarin and English using "The Ohlone Way"--that's why it's such a significant pilot project. Everyone has his/her own hypothesis about how it will turn out, but it's really an empirical matter--willing educators and willing parents will do their best to make the program succeed and we'll see the results as the program goes forward. They are certainly as aware of the challenges of doing this well as any of us observers. Good luck to them.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm

To add to the discussion on homework, I feel that almost any interaction I do with my kids at home is part of their education. For example, I cook dinner, they ask questions about the food and the preparation which I answer and I get them to help me with small tasks such as table setting and cutting vegetables. They learn a lot from this. If a family does this in English, it improves their English skills (vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, etc.) and also their cooking skills. If a family does this in Mandarin, the same could also happen. If a family is involved in an immersion program at school using language A and speaks language B at home, where does the child get the opportunity to learn language C (English)? 20% of the time at school is very little when perhaps they do not speak English at home.

Consequently, I feel that for those entering MI and do not speak English at home, their English will suffer. Further, for those entering MI and speak Mandarin at home, I feel that their English will suffer.

You may ask where are the studies to prove this? Answer, I don't know. But, it makes sense to me. I have many friends who speak different languages and have successfully brought up their children bilingual. They succeed very well but have done so by not only speaking the language at home, but teaching them to read and write in the language with tutors of various types and by taking them for extended trips to the places they can speak this language during vacations.

Learning a language will only happen with effort. Even for us who speak English since birth, we have had to work hard at it. If a child is not spoken to as a baby, they will not learn any language, so it is important for parents to talk, read, sing, and interact with their child using language.

So next time you read your child a bedtime story or talk about the vegetables in the produce aisle, think of it as a language lesson and remember that when deciding whether to enroll your child in an immersion program.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Just to add a little information about the Ohlone Way. Textbooks were mentioned. Ohlone K/1 classes don't use textbooks.

Jerry,

Yes, it is a "pilot project"--and we're testing it on kids with very little information. We're not teaching MI in this way because we think it's the best way to teach Mandarin to English speakers. We're doing it to solve a political thorn in the board's side.

Citizen,

The board has no concern about the MI/Ohlone padagogy, eh? How do you KNOW?

Has it occurred to you that on some level they may not really care what happens to the MI kids? None of *their* kids will be in the program.


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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Just curious if there were any comments from the meeting attendees about Ohlone's parent volunteer requirements?


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2008 at 7:33 pm


On the English acquisition, the studies seem to show that immersion in ROMANCE languages such as Spanish and French improve English. Are there studies that students who are in Asian language immersion programs do better in English than others who do not do immersion (all other things being equal, which seems hard to do)?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2008 at 8:34 pm

Mom,

The studies on English/Mandarin seem to be few in number. Thers'a short-term (one year)on Cupertino's MI by Kathleen Lindholm-Leary.
My recollection of it is that the kid's don't fall behind in English, but it's short-term and relies on standardized tests--so you can't compare writing samples, say.

It's been a year since I've looked at the reports on it, so I don't know if she's added anything new. Might be worth looking up.


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Ohlonepar,

Wow, so you don't like the Chinese. Now you complain that they are rich. Do you have any other racial stereotypes you'd like to toss out there? Let's see, there have been times in history where people have singled out a race they don't like and try to incite hate by claiming they are rich. When was that?

Duveneck parent,

So, the Chinese and Chinese among us owe a racial debt to China. Sounds like you're angling to play Hitler to her Goebbels.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 8:18 am

VOR - do you have any comment on the homework component of a usual MI program, versus the homework policy of the "ohlone way". Are those practices compatible? How will the Ohlone/MI program - the administrators, teachers, parents, kids reconcile the difference?

what impact do you think the 'ohlone way' philosphies will have for MI? Do you think people coming from out of the area for PAUSD MI or who are considering private programs as their alternative will be confused by the "Ohlone Way". Any issues there that you see? And if any, how do you see those getting resolved?


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Posted by back to the discussion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 10:17 am

"Voice of Reason" is such a misnomer. Any credibility VOR tries to gain by her self-appointed name is lost in her race-baiting posts. I hope the editors do their little snip-snipping of that last snipe. Please! Can we get back to the discussion about MI's implementation?


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 11:22 am

Parent,

I think your question about homework is slightly askew and vague.

I would break it down into pieces. How will the homework policy affect: learning to read and write English; learning to read and write Chinese; learning to understand English (non-natives); learning to understand Chinese (non-natives).

Learning to understand Chinese--non-natives. No affect. This happens in the classroom.

Learning to understand English--non-natives. No affect. Some of this happens in the classroom, and a lot happens in the environment (playground, outside school, extended family, etc.)

Learning to read and write English--I don't think there will be much of an effect. You can pound away at homework in the early years and force little kids to learn this even earlier, but there is no proven lasting positive effect. I think the Ohlone way will motivate kids to read and write, and that will more than make up for what kids in other immersion programs get done in homework. It's not possible to overstate the value of good teaching.

Learning to read and write Chinese--I think writing is likely to take a hit, though not reading. So kids will be slower to acquire the ability to write characters. (This may matter less in the future because so much writing is done on computers, at which point it is reading skills that matter.)

So, I think the real issue is not immersion but the learning of Chinese characters. Traditionally, this took a lot of brute memorization--hence, the high value attached to it in China, Korea, and Japan.

But I am not an educator, and teachers may have developed child-friendly ways of teaching characters that make the learning fun and interesting. That is right up Ohlone's alley.

No, I just don't see issues around any of that. Ohlone has a strong, time-tested philosophy about how to teach, and it principal and teachers believe in it, so that bedrock is not going to change. On the other hand, it seems inevitable that Mandarin Ohlone and vanilla Ohlone will learn from each other.






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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck School
on Feb 11, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I'll say it again, I really want to see how MI can be implemented in the Ohlone Way. It just doesn't seem possible. I hope people are being straight with us about this. Or is it about the fact that Ohlone was the only place with immediate space that the MI people demanded?

These things seem diametrically opposed. I had some knowledge of the start up of the Cupertino MI program and it was nothing like the Ohlone philosophy...


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2008 at 2:30 pm

MI is not going to implemented in the Ohlone way - the Ohlone way and the PAUSD curriculum are going to be taught in Mandarin.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 11, 2008 at 2:35 pm

I'm amazed by the fact that the district website, the MI brochure and the job description for the two teachers that need to be hired all refer to this as a K-5th grade program. I don't see any mention in any of these documents that this is a three-year PILOT program.

This is critical information, both for parents of children who are contemplating enrolling them in the program, as well as for the prospective teachers who are not eligible for tenure after two years teaching in a pilot program.

I think the district is continuing to be incredibly disingenuous in all of its MI literature. Where is the transparency we were promised?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm

The ohlone way is not taught. Its a method of teaching. Mandarin and english will be taught using an immersion approach under the Ohlone way philosophy. So I'd say Palo Alto mom you have a misunderstanding of what the 'ohlone way' means. Probably a common misperception many people who might be interested in MI will have.


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Posted by Not convinced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

VOR - in the section of your reply

Learning to read and write English.. you use honest qualifying terms such as "I don't think" and "I think" (You think the Ohlone way will motivate kids to write <enough so - that it will makes up for the level and type of homework that is standard practice in all other normal MI programs>

In the section Learning to read and write Mandarin... same "I think"s

And in summary for you it seems to come down to trust in good teachers.

My point exactly. This boils down to what a bunch of people guess and speculate about about what they 'think', and what they 'feel'. Your belief in the program comes fully down to trust in the ability of PAUSD to execute a never before done thing. And your 'belief' that the concept (which in fact they've never fully described) SHOULD in theory reconcile itself out.

This is why there are people out there saying they don't believe it. The guy in this article is basically saying - he can't afford to take chances with his child's English education. I don't blame him.

You do realize its real five and six year old children we're experimenting on here. Right?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm

I find it interesting that both of those MI positions are still open. It sounds like Monica Lynch, though she's one of the two teachers designing the curriculum (and was a proponent), isn't planning to teach it. Or maybe she'll pick up the 2/3 class, since that's the segment she teaches at Ohlone.

Odds are low that they can find teachers who are both qualified to teach Mandarin *and* familiar with student-based learning. As I recall, the original idea was to get those teachers in the year before so that they could be trained as Ohlone teachers.

So, what's going on with that job posting?

In fact, I'd just love some real numbers--how many teachers in this area are qualified to teach immersion Mandarin v. the number of positions? Is there a teaching shortage issue here or not? I'd think there wouldn't be, but I am wondering why the positions haven't been filled yet.

I think Charles said there are two in the district, but I had the impression that included both elementary and secondary.

Also, how many four, five and six-year-old native Mandarin speakers are there in the district? I've never seen any number besides the total of Chinese speakers in Palo Alto--1,000, but that would include other Chinese languages besides Mandarin and I'd guess the number skews old.

The district reports that 9 percent of its kids are English learners. But I don't know what the breakdown is for first languages. I mean a simple division by 13 for each year yields 88 ESL learners--but presumably there are more ESL speakers in the younger grades. Hoover, which has the highest percentage of Asian (and therefore, presumably, native Mandarin speakers) has 12 percent ESL students. Escondido has 15 percent, presumably in its Spanish program.

In other words, just in case anyone wanted proof that MI was a boutique program created to serve the already-entitled, the number of kids who need Mandarin-to-English instruction is never mentioned. In most immersion situations there's a population that needs to learn English.

Do we actually have that population in this case?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Dear Parent - I actually understood, just used the wrong terminology. I assume that MI at Ohlone will be the same as non-MI, just taught in Mandarin.


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Not convinced,

Well, yes, there are no guarantees about MI at Ohlone. Then again, there are no guarantees about vanilla ohlone at Ohlone. There are no guarantees about the education offered at any of the elementary schools in PA or anywhere else.

You overestimate what is known about pedagogy. Education is not an exact science, and even the basics are hotly debated. So, when it comes down to it, you're just going with what you 'feel' and think about non-immersion. You do realize that all the kids are taking part in an experiment here. Right?

You assess the risk as high, but clearly many parents disagree. That is why the number of applications is so high.

Ohlonepar,

Your continued obsession with Chinese as a race is icky.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm

VOR - I don't find Ohlonepar obsessed with Chinese, just being pragmatic. Most people who are fluent in Mandarin and therefore eligible for that portion of the lottery will be Chinese. If this was a Farsi immersion program, most of the fluent speakers would be Iranian, etc.


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Posted by heavy sigh, roll of eyes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 8:32 pm

VOR, your fishing expeditions are getting tiresome.


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Palo Alto Mom,

"Most people who are fluent in Mandarin and therefore eligible for that portion of the lottery will be Chinese." True.

The real question is: Why is Ohlonepar obsessed with the Chinese race, which she described as "already-entitled" and rich? Why that race? Why their supposed wealth?



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Posted by jmd
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2008 at 9:34 pm

So, please help me out -- since when is Chinese a race?


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

OhlonePar,
I had heard that Monica Lynch didn't want to teach kindergarten, but that there was another Mandarin BCLAD certified teacher who would take one of the positions and that they would hire one new teacher. Obviously they are hiring two teachers -- I'm not sure what happened there.

Funds from the FLAP grant were to be used to hire teachers in the spring so they could receive training in the Ohlone Way, but I see from the posting that this is not a requirement.

I was told that these are not tenure-track positions, and that is not mentioned in the posting. I imagine some prospective teachers might be discouraged from applying when they learn that.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2008 at 11:38 pm

It's funny, you read the thread and a lot of interesting issues come up that are discussed in a reasonable manner. And then you get that one voice just begging and begging for attention. But when VOR/MI Troll responded on-topic to Parent, it had nothing substantive to say.

It's clear it neither understands nor cares about the Ohlone Way or whether the program is actually going to work. No wonder it's so vituperative. It's counting on a lot of things going just right.

It's all just whistling in the dark. Not only do we not know if the teachers will be good, we don't even know who those teachers will be. Clearly, they won't be current members of the PAUSD teaching staff.

Which is interesting . . . because if the pilot program doesn't cut muster then you don't have teachers with any seniority . . . will they even have tenure? You also don't lose a teacher who's well-respected and liked at Ohlone if the program flounders. Even though Monica Lynch is designing the curriculum with another teacher (who doesn't speak Mandarin), she's not being put on the line. Ohlone's protecting its own here.

The more I look at it, the more it seems to me that the district has no strong interest in seeing the program succeed. Callan left under disgrace. Cook is said to be leaving. Townsend's the only one on the board who's a die-hard supporter--and she barely squeaked last election--and she came in behind the candidate who was targeted by pro-MIers.

Susan Charles and the Ohlone staff have some pride about making it work, but they know better than anyone that the program is widely opposed at Ohlone. Charles' job will be a lot easier without it. Given that the program was forced on her and she simply negotiated terms, if the program fails it won't be on her head.

In other words, a failure of the program will be blamed on people who are leaving, have lost political clout (like Townsend) or who are already viewed with disfavor (the PACE crowd). So no one's going to stick out their neck for it if it flounders except the PACErs.

But the irony of it is that the program's biggest weakness may well be its inability to recruit native Mandarin speakers. If *that's* the issue, PACE is in a very bad position since they've been arguing community need and demand.





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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2008 at 8:37 am

Just because a job is posted doesn't mean an internal candidate can't apply and get the job.


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:24 am

Ohlonepar,

I have no doubt that racist comment is considered a "reasonable manner," as you say, among your friends, but you should expect to be called on such comments in today's world. If you can't take the criticism, then don't make repugnant comments.

The rest of your post is vague worry-mongering with nothing substantive to say about MI or Ohlone or the district. You've said it many, many, many ways and we get it: You don't like Chinese so you don't like MI at Ohlone.

However, the rest of us have moved on, and the district shows every sign of making the program a success. Parents are applying their kids in droves, the curriculum is coming together, Ohlone School has gotten behind the change, and teachers are being lined up. I look forward to the proud day in 2020 when our first bi-lingual, bi-cultural MI graduates finish high school! What a great district.




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Posted by back to the discussion
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:53 am

Voice of Reason, from your very first post you came out swinging the race card. You claim that "the rest of us have moved on," but YOU haven't. You are still hung up on mud-slinging OhlonePar and others, twisting their every comment. Can't you move on? We're talking about MI.
"I have no doubt that racist comment is considered a "reasonable manner," as you say, among your friends, but you should expect to be called on such comments in today's world. If you can't take the criticism, then don't make repugnant comments."
You're guilty of some rather offensive, racist comments, yourself. Derogatorily calling someone (PA Dad of College Terrace/Escondido) 'amigo' is right up there on the 'repugnant comments' list. Is this how you talk with your friends? Your obsession on race and your slips of tongue are very telling.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 10:10 am

VOR - in fact the risk associated with joining the regular Ohlone program is well understood because we have a plentiful history and lots of data to look at as parents. As parents, we have proof that there is a high liklihood that regular Ohlone does what it says it can, and we can also go take a very close look at their methods (and teachers) in action. We can talk to others who have experienced it. The risk of entering regular PAUSD is well understood, because we have plentiful history, and lots of data - and all of the above. We have proof. We have results. Its not a gamble. (In fact Palo Alto property owners call it just the opposite as they pay a premium for the recognized value in PAUSD schools.

Where can we see some sort of history of mandarin being taught in an 'ohlone' student-based learning approach? As a parent of an incoming kinder- I can't afford to risk (while the school district rolls out an experiment). The concept of MI Ohlone Way is a an unknown. A gamble.

Ohlone parent - interesting comments about the teacher situation. Just adds fuel to the point - extreme high level of RISK involved here for parents considering this program: VOR states above: It's not possible to overstate the value of good teaching. Exactly. The teachers (and how well they understand and support the Ohlone Way concept) is another huge unknown.

Especially considering (as VOR states) the methods and quality IN THE CLASSROOM in the program are expected to be so highly effective that it (magically?) will eliminate the need for the homework loads normally associated with normal MI programs.

VOR - I object to the use of your term 'Vanilla' in reference to the standard Ohlone program. Its time for you to get used to the fact that MI at Ohlone will be the same as the English spoken Ohlone program - just in Mandarin. Or so says Susan Charles. I can see by your comments you are already setting up for a show down between MI and Ohlone Way. Secondly, the term "vanilla" is a term used in industry to connote 'out of the box', not customized, and lacking in bells and whistles, not customer oriented. (My Ohlone is better than your Ohlone?) You are in fact proving that you are the source of division as you use the term "vanilla" to describe the 'vanilla' Ohlone that is not your MI program. Its insulting.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2008 at 10:47 am

all this fighting is just stirring the tempest in the tea pot.

on one side, the anti-MI are bringing up the risk of a new program.

on the other side, the pro-MI are bringing up the reward of a new program.

risk/reward is the middle name of silicon valley. everyone has their level of risk-taking.

obviously there's lots of interest in Ohlone MI specifically BECAUSE it is OHLONE MI.

there's people at Ohlone who are very happy that it's going to be at Ohlone, along with those who are not happy. I don't feel OhlonePar has the average temperature reading over the whole community, which they express as negative.

those of you dissing the program are clearly not going to enter the lottery for Ohlone MI, so your words are just attempting to "educate the masses" who don't understand all the risks - sewing fear, undercetainty, and doubt (FUD).

please respect people enough to make their own judgments and take the risks that they perceive are worth the reward.


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Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 12, 2008 at 11:18 am

I would like to strongly suggest that speculating on a public forum how specific individuals (Monica Lynch and Susan Charles, for instance) think and what they are planning (as professional individuals, not curriculum/program designers) with regards to MI employment and their own careers is inappropriate at best.

I am a current Ohlone parent and have not discussed with either of them their personal career goals with regard to MI. If I had, I still feel it would be inappropriate to take it upon myself to post here.


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 11:42 am

Back,

Scroll up farther and you'll see that I did not raise race. Once it was raised, though, I did call out those who made vile comments and those who remain obsessed by it. You yourself are not eager to get past race--you're eager to dismiss the possibility of racism. Ask yourself why?

Repugnant? Um, compadre, do you know what amigo means? I'm sure you can find a Spanish to English dictionary online.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm


anon, I actually expected that there would be more division over MI at Ohlone than there is. I've been surprised by how widespread and quietly consistent the anger about the program is. I think it's telling that we don't get an Ohlone parent who speaks in favor of the program. We got one poster who tried to make it sound as if it were an Ohlone parent, but was not. It's a somewhat hard thing to fake since you actually have to know about the workings of the school.

We do have one parent at Ohlone who is, of course, a strong proponent of Ohlone/MI and I'm sure there are others. But, by and large, the community is what I'd term concerned about what will happen to their school.

JSD,

I disagree. Public schools are a public trust. I am discussing both individuals in their public capacity. I think it would be inappropriate to discuss their private lives, their families, etc.

Certainly, I'm not revealing the personal information I have about either woman that I possess as a member of the Ohlone community.

I think speculation here is on-topic simply because I think it's indicative of how committed the district is to the project.

Here we go,
It's interesting that the positions may not be tenure-track. If you were BCLAD Mandarin, why would you apply here when you had the possibility of applying for a tenure-track position in a district with an established and less controversial program? The lack of tenure track--if that's true, that could be a real deterrant past a certain level of experience.

Palo Alto mom, I'm sure there could be internal applicants, but why are both positions still open then?

I just am not getting the feeling the district's giving its all right now to make Ohlone/MI work. Seriously, I *did* think Monica Lynch would teach the program--Susan Charles used her qualifications as one of the selling points for the MI/Ohlone mash-up when spoke before the board.

But then, Skelly made it quietly clear that he would never have pushed the program the way Callan did.

Again, who's going to fight hard within the PAUSD bureaucracy to keep Ohlone/MI afloat past the trial stage?

The speculation here has been that the MIers would gun for moving the program to Garland when it reopens, but if the program can't pull enough native Mandarin speakers then the other possibility is that the program folds, the kids in the program are swapped into the new Ohlone half-strand.

I just wonder how much the results of the last election are playing into all of this. There's a limited political pay-off to making this work.

PACE may regret giving up that charter--their program may have been more dependent on pulling out-of-district kids than was realized.


Off-topic MI Troll section:

Regarding VOR backpedal version 87.3--you probably should just avoid any Spanish if you're going to try to appear enlightened on the multi-culti stuff. I'm afraid I've been around far too long, VOR--I remember when "PC" was a term liberals used about other liberals (I first heard it from a Berkeley lesbian, in fact) to find your strategems anything but transparent attempts to get away from the issues and try to silence me.

But, I mean if people can't even figure out about whom you're talking then the whole racist accusation thing just ain't working.

But a belated Gung Hay Fat Choy!



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Posted by Libertarian Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 2:54 pm

I'm still waiting for someone to answer my question about what the demographic mix of the MI classroom will be. The district must know the demographic mix of the current applicant pool - but is probably not saying anything yet. I know the program is "open to everyone" - but who is actually signing up for MI? I suspect even the English speakers in the applicant pool have at least one Mandarin speaking parent or grandparent - and I don't know very many Hispanics, African Americans or Caucasians who speak Mandarin. Will the outcome of MI be a totally segregated classroom of Chinese Americans? Segregation in the public schools puts us back to the 1940's.


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Posted by Interesting...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 3:28 pm

I wasn't around here during Ohlone's inception, so I wonder how many people had concerns about the risk of the program and its "newness" when Ohlone itself started years ago. How can you teach kids without homework? Kids having a say in what and how they're learning ... Ha! they will just play games. I bet there were people saying it was too unproven and risky to put their kids in such a trial experiment. The only way to answer these fears is to have a track record ... no amount of "studies" or theoretical training/preparation replaces this. Wouldn't it have been a shame if Ohlone had never been allowed to get off the ground?
Even today there IS a lottery to get into Ohlone, Spanish Immersion and other choice programs within PAUSD. So it seems suspect to me that some people frame their objection to MI in terms of fairness to the general district population. The MI program is not any less "fair" than the other choice programs (Ohlone included). I seem to recall being told that the "Ohlone way" started out as a trial in just a couple classrooms for the first few years. So if you are voicing support for eliminating all choice programs in PAUSD then that is a principled stand for public education which I dont share, but can understand. If you are for Ohlone, SI, or other limited enrollment programs paid for by taxes, but against MI, then it looks just like rationalization of your opposition to immersion language programs in general or probably MI specifically.
For my family personally, we'll probably opt for private after-school + weekend/summer programs to teach foreign language proficiency (yes, in Mandarin). Traditional foreign language classes in public schools with only a few hours per week of classsroom time will allow very few to become fluent speakers of any foreign language (even if you start in elementary school). Short of providing immersion programs which CAN produce fluency, I'd prefer that the public schools concentrate on traditional basics.
I believe we should give the MI program a chance rather than spending effort trying to deconstruct and tear it down before it even gets started. Given that the program has been approved, its really in everyone's best interest to see it successful unless you are more interested in just wanting to be there to say "I told you so...".If you are afraid the risk is too high for a new program like this, you don't enter the MI lottery for your children. Suppose the program isn't particularly successful ... it won't doom the children in the initial MI classes to work menial jobs the rest of their lives.

At the very least, recognize the inherent self-interest we each bring to the discussion of MI.


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 12, 2008 at 4:00 pm

OP,
I heard from a board member last fall that teachers hired for pilot programs are not tenure-track. Otherwise, if the program is unsuccessful after two or three years, you're basically stuck with tenured teachers that you don't need.

Jmd,
You think it's wrong to speculate on a person's motives or possible career moves in a public forum, but so much about the inception of this program has been shrouded in secrecy, mis-information, lack of information and mis-direction (i.e., desperate, frantic and at times frankly hilarious attempts at recasting the opposition as racist).

Why then shouldn't we use this forum to try to bring some of the back room dealing into the open?

Personally, I would love to see Charles succeed Cook. She has all the qualities that we need in that position. I would be very angry if she applied for the job but was told, no, you need to make MI/Ohlone work. Wouldn't you?


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Is ANYONE on the BoE noting the widespread concerns voiced about MI?

I hope this pilot program is not on a special status when there are ongoing concerns regarding our school district's funds from the state?

I think we need to look to the benefit of the district at large, rather than a small, special interest group's demands for, really, a segregated k-12 program.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Libertarian Mom,

We don't know who's trying to get into Ohlone MI until the lottery deadline. Lots of visitors at the school, but that's required for appliants of both lottery programs. I didn't work in the classroom today, so I don't have a feel for who came by.

But wayyy back when, PACE said that the interest in MI was about 80 percent Asian, 20 percent white. Charles is trying for 50 percent native Mandarin speakers (who are very likely to be Asian).

So, yes, there's no way you're going to have a classroom that reflects the actual demographics of the district or what would be the Ohlone draw area. (This is part of the reason the MI Troll gets so agitated about the ethnicity issue--the program does cater to a particular group and everybody, including the MI Troll, knows it. That this group isn't underprivileged is also dicey--thus, the MI Troll's agitation in this area as well.)

Here we go,

I suspect Skelly will use the Cook opening to shore up his position--that's what I'd do in his position. Charles is savvy, so it may be a question of how well they get along. But under the circumstances, I don't think she has to make Ohlone/MI work.

Interesting . . .

The situation under which Ohlone and Hoover arose were very different than now. Specifically, Palo Alto was losing enrollment in a big way. Palo Alto had schools to spare and, thus, literally room for experimentation. Much of the anger about MI is that it's being foisted upon a school that's already at its stated maximum capacity.

At the same time, immersion programs have a particular problem--you can't switch kids into them after the first couple of years, so attrition creates a basic inefficiency. This wouldn't be a big deal except the district is facing serious overenrollment problems and needs to be able to fill empty chairs.

Thus, Escondido, which houses the SI program has bumped neighborhood kids from its school while expanding SI to take in kids from the overcrowded north cluster. At the same time, the upper SI grades don't have full classes and there's a continuing issue with recruiting enough native Spanish speakers.

I don't oppose all immersion programs in theory, but this was not a good time for the district to start one. Ohlone's own waitlist is sizable--it gets more lottery applicants than any other program. The Ohlone expansion was approved for another half Ohlone strand. The MI program basically cut in line with the charter-school threat.

MI would have been better slated a couple of years down the line--when either the JCC vacates its half of Greendell--a good, though small commuter school site--in 2010; or after Garland reopens *if* it turns out that the neighborhood kids don't need all the spaces.

Ohlone as a program has had its ups and downs. It hasn't always been a strong program. The weakness with constructivist learning is that it takes a high level of skill to teach (and even more) to manage. This is a big reason that I have a solid respect for Susan Charles. She pulled Ohlone together.

So, yeah, I expect a serious MI/Ohlone learning curve and I wouldn't count on an automatic transfer of results from Ohlone main to Ohlone MI. Not the least reason being that the potential MI crowd has shown little interest in Ohlone methods and, bluntly, Ohlone methods are counter to the educational methods used in Asia (a concern for the native Mandarin speaker applicant pool.)

Also, Ohlone's educational techniques had precedents going decades back. Even Ohlone/MI's strongest proponents admit fusing student-led learning with immersion is an experiment. No one seems to have come up with a precedent.

I know the pro-MI crowd would like to believe my doubts are fake--that I'm just doing this to upset them. That's not the case. I honestly don't see how it's going to work and haven't had anybody who could tell me how it will.

It doesn't mean that there's no possible way, but this is a high-risk educational strategy in many ways. The solutions aren't obvious and, frankly, that increases the chance that there will be mistakes.

Just like there were at Ohlone. For years.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 6:40 pm

There are presumably a great number of differences between the Spanish speaking students in SI and and presumed Mandarin speaking students in MI.

1. The Spanish native speakers are probably speaking Spanish at home with parents whose English is limited, income is lower and educational background basic. They probably speak Spanish not only because of their own parents, but because of interaction with extended family and friends, and possibly their ability to speak English outside school is limited.

2,The Mandarin speakers are presumably probably speaking Mandarin at home with parents whose English is also limited (at least by one parent) and possibly grandparents whose English is almost non existent, the parents' income is probably higher and their educational background very high. They may have had preschool in Mandarin or English and possibly have had other extra curricular activities in English which means that their English is probably more attractive to the kids as they want to interact with English speaking friends and join in with American culture through tv, etc.

3. Following from the above reasons, the Mandarin speakers will probably get exposure to English, not necessarily from the playground at Ohlone as they will probably become a clique, but from other after school activities and classes and very likely through English language programs at places like Score which will help them with spelling, grammar, etc.

4. It follows again that the results from SI and MI will be very different for these very reasons.

You may say that this is pure speculation, which I agree it is. You may even say that I have taken the liberty with too much stereotyping, with which I also concur. However, this is my prediction for what it is worth and as I do not like saying "I told you so", I will say, "Watch this space".

And, I will close by saying that this is not to run down either Spanish or Mandarin speaking people, just using the wisdom and experience of having had my children in PAUSD for many years.


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:32 pm

I would recommend that all of you endlessly spinning messages into the ether of anonymous posting get off of your collective duffs and make your positions known:
(1) In person,
(2) By name,

or, collectively quit deluding yourself that you have any effect.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Parent,

The parents of native-Chinese speakers I've met actually do speak English. They've actively worked to make Chinese a first language.

The availabiity of afterschool programs is one reason why I think there will be a recruitment problem with native Mandarin speakers. The parents know that there are plenty of affordable afterschool and weekend Chinese programs to keep up their kid's first language. Since most of them expect their kids to go to American colleges, they'll go for the programs that they think will position their child to succeed in school in the U.S.

I mean why bother sending your kid to SCORE for English if you can just put them in a solid English-language school program? Then send 'em to Chinese school. That way you're not counting on afterschool tutoring for a critical academic skill in the U.S.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Perspective,

And you would be?


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Someone not searching for a white whale.....


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Posted by VOR
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2008 at 9:49 pm

"Is ANYONE on the BoE noting the widespread concerns voiced about MI?" A couple of wankers on PaloaltoOnline pushing conspiracy theories doesn't make it widespread....

Despite a couple obsessed trolls beating the bushes, you guys can't come up with any substantive criticism of the program, so you endlessly repeat these weird theories. I suppose you think it will scare off MI families. Kinda doubt it.

MI is a great approach, and shows every sign of having a great launch in the fall in PAUSD. It's widely supported. I know change is hard, but for your own sake, why not move on? The district has.

Pixie,

Wow, so you talked with a Berkeley lesbian--you're out there! I'm sure given your other comments you would have drawn the line at a Chinese lesbian, though.

It follows that someone with your racist views is also non-PC, not sure why you think that's a feather in your cap--though I'm sure those friends of yours who think racist commentary is "reasonable" would see eye to eye with you.

Sorry, but your continuing attempts to tart up you obsession (with the Chinese race and their "wealth") are still just icky.

You keep complaining about being called out on your racist views, though you keep on making racist statements.



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Posted by Yet another parent
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2008 at 8:43 am

I'm wondering whether the many hours being spent by district staff, namely Susan Charles, Otak Jump, etc on MI are being paid for by the funds promised by the group that foisted MI on the district. Both of these individuals are highly skilled and have had to spend their time preparing for MI, at times Jump has a substitute teacher in his classroom while he attends 'meetings' on MI. Is this being paid for by the district? By Ohlone? Anyone? MI Troll?


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Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

editor: the term wanker - addressed to me by someone above - in case you don't realize, is an extremely offensive term in England, I request this be edited out.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 10:00 am

K

Voice of Reason being totally unreasonable again, when getting into a tight corner, using obscenity to push their point across.

I am not sure that VOR is one person only. At first s/he tried to sound like a parent. That seems to have vanished and I now feel that a second person has taken up the argument and this sounds to me to be a teenager with nothing better to do than pick an argument.

Very childish style on the whole.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

Perspective,

I really enjoyed Moby Dick except for the dippy chapter on whale as fish. Don't see the analogy though.

Yet Another,

Good question. More than one class at Ohlone has needed subs because of the MI thing. Is that development time being paid for by the FLAP grant?

Resident,

I pretty much skim VOR's stuff. Some people after they get backed into a corner repeatedly, sort of degenerate--they'd rather be trolls than admit that they lose the arguments over and over. (Notice that it no longer argues, it just sort of accuses. On some level, its feelings are hurt, so it's lashing out.)

I don't think VOR is more than one person. I think VOR has posted under several names, always looking for a persona that will give it an edge.

I mean I think it sincerely wishes that I wouldn't post--that I would move away. It hasn't figured out that it should probably just get off the Forum and do something a little healthier for it.


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Posted by funny
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 12:17 pm

OP - Perspective sort of misses the irony - she admonishes for anonymous postings, while posting annonymously (and apparently doesn't get that you were pointing that out by asking for her identity.) Funny.

(But, not searching for white whales? Like Narwhals? Or Belugas? I don't get it.) Anywho, now back to our regularly scheduled programming...


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:43 pm

looks like we have another "Perspective" here who has lost his/her...perspective


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:49 pm

DNFTT

If you get in the mud to wrestle with pigs you just get dirty


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Posted by I don't understand
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:09 am

PAUSD's advertisement for the MI lottery (which they posted in JLS's enews last week) states:

"for kids who speak only English AND for native speakers of Mandarin!"

(complete with exclamation point).

This sounds like a program that gives preferential access based on language spoken.

If PAUSD posted a sign that said access to Hoover or Ohlone was restricted to kids who only speak English - we'd have people screaming bloody murder (and probably lawsuits up to our eyeballs).

Why is it OK to add Mandarin native speakers to the list, and exclude everyone else? This is the most culturally insensitive thing I've ever seen from PAUSD.

I can understand a private school.. but how does a public school district get away with this? Is it legal? Is it moral?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:14 am

Not that I'm a fan of MI - but for a dual immersion program to work, there must be a percentage of students who are fluent in the immersion language. My guess is they may be receive lots of applications for the English speakers but few for the native Mandarin speakers.

How we are able to restrict ESL kids from the English speaking side is a different question.


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Posted by hope you understand now
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:20 am

>Why is it OK to add Mandarin native speakers to the list, and exclude everyone else? This is the most culturally insensitive thing I've ever seen from PAUSD.

did you read your own sentence?

"for kids who speak only English AND for native speakers of Mandarin!"

It says absolutely nothing about excluding "everyone else". Its just pointing out that native Mandarin speakers are also welcome in the program. This is a perfectly valid thing to stress because for a standard language class, say French class in high school, it wouldn't be appropriate or useful for a native French speaker, but for an early immersion language program it is preferable and necessary to have some percentage of native speakers.

hope this explanation helps you understand...


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:44 am

Hope

No, you don't get it.

This speaks about Mandarin speakers being welcome, and not only that but necessary.

It also speaks about English only speakers being welcome.

What is implied is that someone who does not speak English or Mandarin as their first language are not expected to apply.

This means that if someone speaks Russian, or Japanese or Hindu or Hebrew, or French or Spanish, are not being catered for in this program.

Hope this explanation helps you understand.....


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:54 am

No, as a matter of fact, your answer is not satisfactory. For some reason you are back pedaling for the district who's stepping in it again...

(like when the staff report said language education most effective starting in 3rd grade.. - oh no, that's not what they MEANT to say, they really MEANT to say....)

The ad clearly says MI program is for English only speakers and for Mandarin speakers. Which excludes a whole bunch of kids. What about ESL kids who's first language is not Mandarin?

The advertisment CLEARLY doesn't say for kids of all languages, including native mandarin speakers.

It says for kids who speak ENGLISH, and kids who speak MANDARIN. That's about as specific and as crystal clear as can be.


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Posted by no, you have it wrong
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:59 am

I'm a parent of an incoming Kinder, I'm looking for the best, highest quality education I can get. I see that PAUSD offers some children the chance to graduate as bi-literate, bi-lingual, bi-cultural. Which is a clear advantage over an single language education. Children graduating with this education will have clear competitive advantage over their mono-lingual peers.

Now why should it be implied anywhere that I would be expected NOT to apply?

Do you need to know the language I speak with my children at home in order to answer that question?

Then you are discriminating against me.

Try putting yourself in someone else's shoes.


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Posted by hope you understand now
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:14 am

I wouldn't read it with your interpretation.... "speak only English" in clear conjuction with (stressed AND!) "AND for native speakers of Mandarin!" leads to an obvious interpretation of "speak only English" means generic "not speaking Mandarin", a much more general statement than your infered "no other languages besides English/Mandarin". I do agree that it would probably be difficult to successfully accomodate more than 2 different languages in a single immersion class. If I had an ESL kid (not Mandarin, not Spanish), I'd really think twice and thrice about putting them in a non-native language AND non-english class (i.e. MI or SI program).
I guess I'm not as sensitive as you on this issue... if you have interest in the program and ESL applies to your case, you should seek clarification from the district.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:25 am

Parent,

The quoted text says that kids who only speak English and also those who speak Mandarin are welcome. It does not exclude anyone. It does not say that anyone is unwelcome. Your interpretation is based on your misreading of the text. Please go back and read it a little more carefully.

No,

I agree with you that immersion programs offer a clear advantage over a single-language education, but keep in mind that many parents in this district would disagree and are not interested in immersion.

Immersion programs allow entry for kids who speak a third language at home, and your kinder would be warmly welcomed in MI! Please apply for the program--it looks like it's going to be popular and a big success.

However, before doing so, you should do some research on immersion programs and the additional challenges they pose for kids who speak a third language at home. Think hard about whether this would suit your particular kinder.

Good luck!




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Posted by no, hope, you don't understand
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:29 am

Nope, Hope You Understand Now, dual English-Target language immersion programs are definitively programmed for ENGLISH speakers and NATIVE TARGET LANGUAGE speakers..not for non-English, non-Target language speakers. This is what the sentence says in the referenced material, and this is what it means.

However, let's pretend for a moment that a child who speaks only..say.. German..wants to come into the program. In this age of constant accusations that our institutions are institutionally biased, how can anyone think that any dual immersion ( English-Target language) program is all welcoming, let alone appropriate, for anyone other than English or Target language speakers?

I would say even this would be fine, if it were in an area where ALL children were either/and English/Target language speakers. But, in any area where in any given classroom there are at least 5 DIFFERENT native languages, I think a public dual immersion program is appalling on the grounds of segregation alone. Not to mention a lottery-based one where not all who choose it can get it.

Yes, it is done, it is here, I have accepted it, but I cannot let your failure of analysis to pass unnoted.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:35 am

"kids who speak only English and for native speakers of Mandarin" Says only English speakers and Mandarin speakers to me, whatever way you read it.


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Posted by hope you understand now
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Oh ... I thought the original "I don't understand" poster was sincerely interested in one of the immersion programs in PAUSD, rather than making a point that an immersion program can't be all things to all people. I agree on that point.

As for competitive advantage ... I hope we haven't reached a point where everyone is thinking about competitive advantage in kindergarten. Maybe we parents could at least wait until first grade before thinking about competition.

P.S. We're not applying for the immersion programs.Our children will be bi-lingual without PAUSD help.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm

No,

I am not sure what you mean by "definitively programmed," but it's true that immersion programs were originally conceived for largely mono-lingual communities with a smaller population of non-native speakers.

Also, I don't know what you mean when you say immersion programs are not "welcoming" to or "appropriate" for kids with a third language. I've visited a number of programs, and they ALL had kids whose mother tongue was neither English nor the target language. Those kids face an additional challenge, and I would guess their parents thought carefully before putting them into those programs. That seems prudent.

Are you trying to say that the district has sent the message that some kids won't be welcomed? That would be outrageous.

Parent,

I'm afraid you are parsing the sentence in question incorrectly. The "only" modifies "English," not the preposition "for." The point is that program includes kids who speak English and those who speak Mandarin--I assume this is a clarification for parents unfamiliar with immersion programs who might otherwise think that English speakers are not included or Mandarin speakers are not included.

(It does not say that the program is "only for" a particular group. I think this is where your grammatical misunderstanding lies.)


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 2:15 pm

While I'm sure PAUSD did not mean to exclude other languages, the MI brochure does say that there will be separate lotteries for English and Mandarin-speaking students - it does not say Mandarin and non-Mandarin speaking.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Fact is, when you study any of the research on dual-immersion, the programs work best for kids who are fluent in one of the two languages. Take a look at the immersion educator sites. They will emphasize that the families are expected to essentially make up the lack of English instruction the kids will get in an immersion program.

It may not be what the pro-MI types want to admit, but the research is clear on this. The MI program is not for kids whose first languages are neither English nor Mandarin.

In fact, if you're native English speakers, but semi-literate, MI is *also* a bad idea. The families need strong language skills in order for the programs to work well.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Funny,

I really didn't think the joke/irony had to be spelled out, but apparently it did. Wow.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Yes, immersion does work best for kids who speak the local language or target language fluently, though there are exceptions. It really depends on the kid and the family. It is correct that parents ought to think twice before putting a non-English speaking, non-Mandarin-speaking kid into MI.

However, immersion programs do not expect families to make up for any "lack of English instruction." That is taken care of by the school and the environment. Of course, all kids--whether immersion or not--should be encouraged to read outside school!

It's may true that kids from families with strong language skills do better in school, whether immersion or not, than other kids, though it's a vague claim and I know of no research to back it up.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Looking Good,

Oh really? Then why does one of the main educator sites say exactly the opposite?

Just when will the school be taking care of the lack of English instruction? Particularly one with a no-homework policy? Do you know? Has anyone asked? Does anyone know?

Or is it just a matter of faith?


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Ohlonepar:

I can see how the success of these programs would seem like magic if you haven't read up on immersion or don't have experience with such a program, but these effects are well studied.

Visiting one of these programs can be eye-opening.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Looking Good,

Not only have I read up on these programs, I've also experienced immersion at the college-level first-hand (and, yes, there was a lot of homework.)

I am, also, familiar with Ohlone's approach. Fusing student-led education with Mandarin immersion is an unknown and untried hybrid. There *is* no program to visit.

And the point remains, the education experts in immersion say it works best with kids whose families are highly fluent in English if they're coming in on the native-English side.

Also, since I have read up on this stuff, there are numerous research gaps. When you hear about the benefits of immersion, they're largely based on ESL kids in dual-immersion programs--they're able to learn subjects in their native language and this benefits them.

I think immersion techniques do teach second languages. I don't think they're miraculous. And it's pretty clear to me that Ohlone is winging it on the MI and hoping it will work.

Which is why I wouldn't be surprised if there's a problem recruiting native-Mandarin speakers.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:33 am

Ohlonepar,

Actually, you can't compare college-level with elementary immersion programs. Apples and oranges.

I fear the gaps you mention are not in the research but in your knowledge of the research, which is not the same thing. Despite your impressions, most of the studies are not based on ESL kids. There is ample research on the many benefits to local-language speakers and target-language speakers.

There are numerous immersion programs, a few even in this area. If you are truly interested in informing yourself, I'd suggest visiting one or two or even talking to parents who have kids in such programs. This would give you more relevant information.


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Posted by Looking for Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:20 am

Looking Good - can you provide us with the names and locations of a few of the programs that teach MI in the student-lead approach (ie: Ohlone's method)? I WOULD like to get more information on how they do that with no homework.

Thanks for being so helpful.


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Posted by Reality Checker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

Web Link

" Having homework in the second language is important to the immersion experience"


This one is interesting..
Web Link

While it discusses how a special needs child (dislexic) can actually function in an immersion setting, it throws in a lot of insight into how an immersion classroom actually works:

-small class sizes - extra specialized attention
-After school private tutoring
-Formalized English reading - starting in 3rd grade "The social worker pointed out that because this was an immersion classroom and English instruction was just beginning, it was normal to be reading below grade level."
-Emphasis on homework and supplemental work in English at home:

"we recognize that learning a second language may seem much easier for young children, but is not easy. Be patient with homework and be willing to spend extra time letting your child listen to tapes and explain homework in English as needed."

"Families recognize that time spent learning the second language may indeed be time away from English and supplementing with instruction at home or with a tutor may be necessary."

The comments in this summary about delays in English language aquisition (for all immersion students, not just for dyslexic students) are undeniably true. And that's in programs where homework is a critical component of the program (unlike in the Ohlone philosophy).

From Cupertino's MI website: (if this isn't a disclaimer on delays in achievement, I don't know what is...)

"You can't accurately or adequately compare your child's performance against children in a regular program. Children in this program are on a very different schedule as to what will be taught and when. Over time they will receive the same curriculum as other students within the district. There is evidence that children who study more than one language score higher on certain tests. Remember that the goal of this program IS NOT ELEVATED ACHIEVEMENT SCORES."

Web Link

Parents of this program MUST be going in with eye's WIDE OPEN. Its a complete disservice for Looking Good (who apparently can only look at her reality through rose colored glasses), VOR, and others to omit, deny or white wash the WHOLE reality.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Hi, Reality,

Hm, that first quote is taken out of context. The site was allaying fears of parents who fear not being able to help their kids with homework in another language. It clearly is not making the case that homework is more important to immersion than to non-immersion programs. Nice try, though.

The second webpage details the success of a dyslexic kid in an immersion program, so that was interesting to read, though the points you make about a particular kid with a particular disability in a particular school are of limited relevance here.

It is true that there is a reading delay in English--that is well documented. It's also true that the immersion children overtake and surpass the mono-lingual kids, and the lesson there is: Don't start the program if you're uncomfortable with the delay and do stick it out.

The quote from the Cupertino program (they do not focus on achievement scores) was the best--it shows a better fit with Ohlone's approach than I would have imagined. (Yet I got the sense you took that to mean that the Cupertino kids don't do well on such tests--a false impression. They do rather well, if I recall correctly.)

You seem to be casting around for negative aspects to these tried-and-true immersion programs, though I'm not sure why. If you feel in your gut that it would not fit your child, you'd do better not to apply. Immersion programs are not for all children, it's true, but then one could say the same of Ohlone or Hoover.

Good luck in your choice.



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Posted by Still Looking...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Looking Good - so can you provide us with the names and locations of MI programs that use the Student Directed method (Ohlone method) of teaching??

And...
Those ARE different contexts but all giving a pretty realistic expectation of what parents should expect. In the interest of being realistic and balanced, those links provide a lot of favorable spin on an immersion approach. And they shed light on some of the realities of an immersion program. Like - A lot of at home work. Not at all like what the "Ohlone way" positioning has implied.

1 - within the context of discussing parent fears of not being able to help kids wit htheir homework - and discussing how to help with homework, it in facts states that homework is an important success factor in an immersion program model. (hmmm, must be a common fear - was this discussed at the parent info night for Ohlone MI?)

2 - in the context of discussing needs of a dyslexic child in an immersion program, it states alot of facts about the reality of an immersion model for ~all~ children. - in other words, the program is slow enough and specialized enough (and at home work loaded enough) that even a child with special needs can keep up. (perhaps a different twist than what highly competitive parents in PAUSD might think they are hearing from the propoganda...)

3 - in the context of Q&A for the cupertino program - in fact discussing that performance delays do occur, and that standard testing can not be comparable. In fact a disclaimer. So parents, you should expect your children not to come home with test scores that prove what they're learning. (You trust the teachers and the district to validate that.) Cupertino kids may or may not test better than average - and that may or may not be for many reasons (such as only highly motivated families join the program, or lower class sizes, or that struggling kids are moved out of the program and backfilled with proficient tested kids, etc etc etc. The fact is, the cupertino program itself is NOT making the same kinds of claims about performance that some of the MI proponents for the PAUSD program keep making.

I am not looking for negatives. I'm looking for the whole truth. And frankly, I'm wondering when the proponents are going to start being honest with themselves and with the public on the pros AND cons of this program. (And why they refuse the balanced view)


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Posted by looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I did look through the sites, but I couldn't find that statement ("immersion requires more homework than non-immersion" or "immersion cannot work without homework" or some such). I have never run across a reputable claim that homework is required for a successful immersion program.

I think you are right that parents who do not speak the target language are often fearful because they cannot help their child directly.

However, I don't share your reading about the dyslexic child. Nowhere does it say: The children learn so slowly that even a dyslexic child could keep up. Rather, it discussed the challenges one dyslexic child faced. In fact, it mentioned that the dyslexic child was at level by the end of fifth grade.

As to Cupertino, they do make very specific claims about their program and the test scores the kids achieve. The point of that statement is that those Mandarin immersion kids experience a TEMPORARY delay compared with other kids but not a permanent deficit. They do not say that the kids "will not come home with test scores."

The MI folks and the district have been quite up-front and balanced about the cons of immersion. They've pointed out that it is not for every kid, that it requires a strong family commitment, that kids experience a temporary delay in reading, that this is a non-standard approach to education, that the combination with Ohlone is unique, etc.

But by balance, you seem to mean that they should accept as fact the man and various unsupported claims on this forum. Those claims are worries based on lack of knowledge. I'll be happy to acknowledge any of them, if we see some supporting evidence. But simply accepting such claims is not balance in my book.




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Posted by depends what you call homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 4:16 pm

OhlonePar and Still Looking...

Whilst all your comments are true, there may not necessarily be a mis-match between Ohlone style education and language immersion. If you interview at ISTP or GAIS and you do not speak the target language at home, they will tell you that you need to do extra work to ensure your child's exposure to the target language outside of school. This can be playdates/DVDs/activities/help with nanny/au-pair/tutor/... that are all immersion in the target language.

Whilst these schools do indeed provide a lot of homework (as do most private schools) you can easily see these sorts of activities could become the "homework" expected from Ohlone MI children without it being explicitly given or timetabled. ie: The parents will not be able to expect the school to do it all. It should always be up to the parent to ensure that their child is successful and much more so than it would be in a traditional education philosophy & single language school.


p.s Don't get hung up on the nanny/au-pair/tutor bit. It was their for full-disclosure and is not a requirement to be successful. However, if the parent is unable to be involved in helping with the language immersion after school through these activities, then they should consider these alternatives.


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Posted by looking
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Good Look - don't twist - no one is trying to compare homework in an mI program to homework in a non-MI program. The contention is that homework in a regular MI program is far differnet than an Ohlone MI approach will be. I know that you know what the issue is here - the fact that you're twisting out of it says volumes.

(The quote you can't find is in the first link, and the relevent quote is copied above, but I'll copy it here again:

"" Having homework in the second language is important to the immersion experience"

So, I'll ask again - can you give us a name and location of a particular MI program that operates in a homework philosophy that matches the "ohlone way". We'd be very happy to get the actual scoop on how that works by talkign to them directly.

Now you want to add your spin to the 'point' of the statement of the CLIP program, but the wording speaks for itself.

""You can't accurately or adequately compare your child's performance against children in a regular program. Children in this program are on a very different schedule as to what will be taught and when. Over time they will RECEIVE the same curriculum as other students within the district. There is evidence that children who study more than one language score higher on certain tests. Remember that the goal of this program IS NOT ELEVATED ACHIEVEMENT SCORES."

This is worth repeating:
"study more than one language score higher on certain tests" I'm sorry I don't see any inordinate claims in this statement about the inherent value of immersion process, or even on the overall performance of kids (just "certain" tests)

Depends on what you call homework - really? So you are saying that private schools require high level of homework and afterschool attention, and THEY will tell you this upfront, but that Ohlone won't assign it, isn't talking about it up front, but will expect it? And if not assigned or discussed, how will parents know? Are there like secret hand signals - like in a baseball game? I didn't hear Susan Charles discuss this aspect of the Ohlone Way MI program in her parent ed night session. Did she? Or is this your educated guess on what she meant to say?

Hmmm. It would be most interesting to tell a Hoover parent that their kids homework is a playdate and a DVD and a babysitter. Shoot, someone ought to alert President Bush - he's wasting alot of grief on no child left behind if all it takes is playdates, DVDs and a babysitter.. Whoda thunk.

C'mon depends - really? Lets get serious.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Looking Good,

Actually, you can compare them. The college-level immersion programs came first and the elementary school models were, in fact, inspired and, to some extent, modeled after them. Doesn't mean there aren't key differences between how adults and children learn languages, but the programs are less different than you might think.

As for research gaps--sorry, Looking, I've looked a lot and no one on the MI side has *ever* been able to fill research gaps I've found. But, hey, you can be the exception. Let's see, find one that compares composition skills in English of kids in comparative monolingual English programs to English speakers in another second-language program.

Find an MI program that uses Ohlone's student-led/constructivist philosophy.

By the way, the immersion kids don't overtake their monolingual peers in English--they catch up. Big Difference. Also, these studies don't take into account the attrition rate of immersion programs. Kids who can't hack it DROP OUT. CLIP, which has a motivated student body, still deals with a long-term attrition rate of around 20 percent.

I really dislike the dishonesty of the pro-immersion crowd on this. For some families, some delay in English skills will be worth the swap for a second language. Maybe they don't care if their kids are highly proficient in English composition. BUT it's time to be honest about the trade-offs--or the time commitment outside of school that's required to minimize those trade-offs.

Meyerholz, home of the CLIP program, has some of the lowest scores in Cupertino. Escondido, home of SI, has some of the lowest scores in Palo Alto. The schools are mixed communities, but there's no concrete proof that immersion kids become testing stars by any means.

Long-term--those kids haven't been tracked. In fact, the only study I've found on the CLIP program (by PACE favorite Lindholm-Leary) is short-term--one year.

You've written several posts making claims and supported none of them. In fact, you don't even offer the information that would allow people to check it up.

The research PACE used to back-up its proposal was pretty minimal and was by people (Lindholm-Leary) who were active in pushing the program.

And it is funny that I do seem to be the only poster who learned a language via immersion. I've argued its merits at various points. But I also have a good idea of its limitations. I'm a parent at Ohlone, I work in the classroom. I think it's a wonderful program--but the limitations, here, too, are clear. I think the DI format at Hoover is a better one for a memory-intensive subject such as Mandarin.

Do you have any comparable first-hand experience with either type of instruction? Just curious.

In a worst case scenario, we could end up kids who are neither fully literate in English or Mandarin--I think there's no issue with the spoken language--but written--hell, there's problem with literacy *in* China.

Somewhat more likely, we'll get kids who speak English and Mandarin, are grade level, but behind their PAUSD peers in English and have minimal reading skills in Pinyin (and no written skills except for what can be punched out on a keyboard).

And for some families this will be worth it, but you're doing none of the prospective MI kids with this wishful thinking.




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Posted by Depends on what you call homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Looking,

I would hope that parents who were serious about MI would have scheduled an appropriate interview with the school. I have no idea as to how Ohlone will be handling this but would expect them to have thought about it and the parents to have asked. I may be naive on both counts.

As to whether you consider these activities "homework", we're talking about kindergarten children here. In immersion programs, for the first few years, the objective is for them to gain the language. The "homework" are these activities.

What is the difference between being told to go home and write about dinosaurs and having your parents take you to a natural history museum? Just because the school insisted on the first but expected the second, does not make the second less valuable.

Unless you're willing to continue the immersion outside of the school, I'd suggest you didn't apply.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Depends,

Since I'm familiar with what Ohlone calls homework and what people have said was their homework when studying Chinese--sorry, not at all the same thing. Bringing home a small book that your parents read to you is not at all the same thing as a list of words to memorize.

The Chinese culture values rote memorization and literacy in the language requires it. Even Ohlone/English isn't ideal for every kid. It requires a certain maturity and ability to focus from the get-go.

My kid will take what's taught at Ohlone and extend it in various ways at home--that's self-teaching. I don't see the same kind of exploratory learning going on with a language until there's a relatively high level of fluency. And someone who speaks it at home.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Depends,

I agree with you that the Ohlone program will have to be supplemented afterschool--and that should be made clear.

Applicants for both lotteries are required to tour the school. So, it's not interviews, but going in and observing the classrooms. One limit at this point is that there are no MI classrooms, so MI lottery entrants will not be observing their program. Also, the MI teachers don't seem to have been hired yet, so, that, too, is a limitation.

Kindegarten? My kid brought home little books, but wasn't required to read them and sometimes didn't. In the lower grades, no homework really is no homework.


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Feb 15, 2008 at 5:46 pm

"By the way, the immersion kids don't overtake their monolingual peers in English--they catch up. Big Difference. Also, these studies don't take into account the attrition rate of immersion programs. Kids who can't hack it DROP OUT. CLIP, which has a motivated student body, still deals with a long-term attrition rate of around 20 percent."
Are there any studies which measure the progress of students who leave the immersion programs? I get the sense that they're a forgotten group. 20 percent is a significant number of children. Do these children eventually catch up? Forever lag behind? Or perform better than their peers from either group? Not likely, but hey, isn't it worth knowing - not speculating?


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Looking,

No twisting--it's just that your claims have been vague. "The contention is that homework in a regular MI program is far differnet than an Ohlone MI approach will be." This is obviously true. However, you seem to want to claim that MI is impossible without homework, which is something that needs to be backed up.

Yes, the wording of the CLIP statement speaks for itself. The program does not imply that kids will not be up to par. In fact, at their orientation meetings for parents, they present the scores showing how well their kids do.


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Posted by depends on what you call homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:53 pm

OhlonePar,

There will, no doubt, be some memorization required. This does not exclude an Ohlone based solution to the problem, which does not require traditional homework to be given.

I'm not sure what point you're really trying to make. I don't believe that Ohlone and language immersion are completely imcompatible. If you did research on learning math in a traditional school, you'd come up with the comment that "homework is a critical part of learning". That doesn't mean you can't teach math the Ohlone way without the homework and be successful.

If you're just trying to say that you're concerned that MI & Ohlone style education is un-tried. Then fine, I have nothing to back it up one way or the other. If you're saying it's destined to failure then I don't see it.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Since PAUSD is inviting children into this program, and making the promises that an experimental approach to MI will deliver a fabulous result - don't you think the burden of proof lies with the district who is offering the experiment and offering the promise? I'd say so.

I have no proof that it works (because it doesn't exist today) and according to our own staff - the approach wasn't even studied before the MI experiment was proposed!

Depends: if you don't know the difference in value between visiting a museum and writing something down (researching it, using definitions (or looking them up in a dictionary), using the correct spelling, using a pencil, forming the letters and words with your own hands, forming the sentences, using the right tenses, using the correct puncuation, adding rich descriptive words, proof reading your own work (and about a million other things that are needed to learn fluency in the English language), then this explains EVERYTHING. My goodness, I'm astounded that a person would actually put that put that ridiculous statement down on paper...

"What is the difference between being told to go home and write about dinosaurs and having your parents take you to a natural history museum? Just because the school insisted on the first but expected the second, does not make the second less valuable."

If your goal is ENGLISH LITERACY then you certainly would understand the difference. Do you even have school age children? You seem to think English literacy is an exceedingly trivial matter.

Look, enjoy your visits to the museum. In fact, maybe you can buy your kids a DVD of the museum and kill two birds with one stone. Good luck with that - you deserve everything you get (and don't get) from this program.

(I finally get why this conversation is going no where.)


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Posted by oh brother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Thanks. You ~finally~ said it:

"If you're just trying to say that you're concerned that MI & Ohlone style education is un-tried. Then fine, I have nothing to back it up one way or the other."

A truthful statement at last.

Next question. Did anyone at the parent information night happen to mention that this is an experimental approach to MI. Has there EVER been any communication to parents that are considering MI that this is an experimental, never been tried approach?

Did the staff put this in their report to the board when the MI/Ohlone mashup was shoved down their throats?

How about if we try this. Lets try a basketball approach to Hoover. Never been tried, but it should be fabulous. Who can question the value of basketball.


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Posted by depends on what you call homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Parent, you seem incredibly bitter. You also appear not to understand what an example is.

Your whole post is a put-down for the entire Ohlone style educational philosophy regardless of language immersion.

If you already don't buy into Ohlone style education, then you're not going to understand that there is more than one way for a child to learn.


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Posted by depends on what you call homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Parent, you do realize this is a pilot program?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2008 at 12:22 am

Depends,

We all know this is a pilot program. We also know it's a pilot program that was launched for political instead of educational reasons. The only reason MI's being done Ohlone-style is that it was the school that had had three modulars approved for its site.

As for the approach--well, all it's ever been is "The Ohlone curriculum, but in Mandarin"--which begs the issue of what the hell that means since the Ohlone curriculum is normally taught in a language the students speak fluently.

Yet Another Parent,

Interesting question--what happens to immersion drop-outs? And why are they drop-outs? I've never seen a study on that--has anyone seen one? I assume that the information's been gathered at various points because you need it to figure out how to make corrections.

Someone compared Mandarin to math. Math is a standard subject and it's not rote. Since younger kids weren't given homework a few decades back, it's pretty well-established that kids can learn math without homework.

Immersion's a different beastie as it essentially swaps out part of the normal school curriculum for the second language. You don't, after all, learn to read in English in Mandarin.

You know, the said thing is when Susan Charles made her statement about Ohlone, but in Mandarin--not one damn member of the board actually grilled her enough to find out what the hell that actually meant. Several parts of the Ohlone curriculum--reading, writing, spelling--are English-dependent. (And what do you do about the subjects, like art, music and PE, where a specialist comes in and teaches in English?

All I can say is that it amazes just how willing MIers are to take all of this on faith. Well, maybe not amazed, I've been watching the indoctrination for a while here, but wow.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2008 at 12:29 am

Depends,

I just reread Parent's post. I don't read it as a put-down of Ohlone's teaching philosophy. I think, perhaps, you don't understand what Ohlone's philosophy is.

Ohlone kids write and check their spelling as do other PAUSD kids. Instruction is differentiated so that different kids work at different levels--but you don't sub museum trips for papers. (Though a trip to a museum will be tied into a project). It's a wonderfully creative approach to learning. I just don't know that it will do the trick of getting kids to memorize hundreds of characters a year.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2008 at 5:40 am

Ohlonepar,

You have it backwards. Elementary school models have been around longer than college programs, and the two are just so different that comparisons are not helpful. (No doubt YOUR first knowledge of immersion was of a college program, but that conflates reality with your experience.) I can see you don't know much about the differences between children and adults in terms of language acquisition.

Again, you claim there is a research gap because you haven't done the research. It is a gap in your knowledge. And seriously, do you think you can statistically measure "composition skills" for third graders? That's simply a poorly conceived "research gap" that you've concocted.

As for the relative merits, the evidence is actually mixed. In some programs, the kids overtake their monolingual peers in English and in others they merely catch up. "Kids who can't hack it DROP OUT" Er, this is just fabricated as is the claim about CLIP attrition--they have tiny attrition.

Again, you fabricate a downside (a lack of proficiency "in English composition") and criticize the immersion proponents for not warning people about this fictional problem. That is truly dishonest.

Data on Meyerholz and Escondido are irrelevant to evaluating the immersion programs housed there. You need to get the data for the actual kids in the actual programs. There is no sense in criticizing SI for low scores among non-SI kids at Escondido. Makes no sense. CLIP presents their broken-out data all the time, and it looks pretty fine.

You have made many unsupported claims about the downsides of immersion based on your limited knowledge, best guesswork, and your earnest hope that things won't work out. I'm at a loss as to why you imagine that this is relevant to the real world of educating children. I'm not sure, but I think this dishonesty is your desperate attempt to scare off parents so that no change will happen at Ohlone.

Since you seem to be into predictions, I'll make my own. Worst case: MI kids are equal to PAUSD at reading (we'll still hear caviling about what drives the numbers, though). Rather more likely: The MI kids will be ahead of their PAUSD peers in English and math, have excellent reading skills in pinyin, be able to read Chinese character-only text (though they'll be behind, say, mainland kids of similar age), and have similar writing skills.

The families who buy the scare tactics will be kicking themselves.


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2008 at 7:34 am

To Looking Good:

Mainland here refers to the country you are currently standing (or sitting) in..So, I presume from context you meant to say China.

I know you don't want to believe that there is a self-selection process at work here concerning performance of MI kids later on in school in various subjects, but most people know that this is the case in type of self-selecting program.

I would love to see results of dual-immersion programs where they exist as a basis of the ENTIRE school district.

Anyone know of any? It would be fun to compare to a similar community's results, in English only.


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2008 at 7:38 am

BTW, Yes, indeed, CLIP did have a 20% attrition rate from kindergarten to 6th grade, with kids who left replaced by, of course, kids who could keep up, which meant kids who were at grade level in Mandarin and English.

If these kids are included in data collected in 8th grade or high school performance, the water is very muddy.

Educational studies are notoriously muddied by poor research set-up.

Pity.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2008 at 11:32 am

Perspective,

You're attributing views to me that I never espoused. Self-selection operates everywhere, including throughout the district itself. Frankly, if we're talking about trying to debunk the stellar scores of MI elsewhere, normalize them down to average, well I'd say the argument has once again been won. I mean, if the worst that you can imagine is that MI kids get English scores similar to other PAUSD kids, then let 'er rip, let's convert an entire elementary.

"Mainland" means just that, mainland. If we were talking about starting Hawaiian creole immersion, then mainland might in that conversation refer to the mainland U.S. Since, however, we are talking about comparing Chinese scores of kids here to kids in a Chinese-speaking part of the world, then 'mainland' refers to China. Your attempt to annex a word to take an exclusively American referent is extremely parochial. It's my hope that the immersion program can teach kids to take a wider worldview.

As to CLIP, they have no problem with attrition. That was a rumor started by some people in Palo Alto during the MI debate.




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Posted by depends what you mean by homework
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2008 at 11:49 am

OhonePar, are you deliberately mis-interpreting [sic]. We were talking about homework. All of my posts focus on what happens outside of school. Parent appears to believe that there is only one type of homework and one way of doing it or that that way is the most beneficial. I'm surprised to see you agreeing with that.

MI at Ohlone may fail, we will find out. Though I think you either deliberately or otherwise are ignoring the fact that the parents, teachers and school are going to do their best to make sure it succeeds. They aren't going to be waiting 3 years and saying "well, that didn't work".

We are talking about very involved parents here. In any educational situation and philosophy, this bodes well for its success.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Looking Good - no actually the attrition is calculatable using CLIP enrollment information that was information posted on Palo Alto online by a key MI proponent during the early part of the debate. No rumors involved. The enrollment history shows that large numbers of students enter the program in the 2nd/3rd grade years allowing the program to show similar numbers from Kinder to 5th. But not that the program was retaining the same. MI proponents like to look at the Kinder to 5th grade change and point to that as proof of limited attrition. It proves nothing. They have never provided (nor has CLIP provided) the numbers or original entrants that actually stick through the program. Although the first year started with a full class and exited with 6.


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Posted by Different Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2008 at 1:26 pm

This debate is not going to go away anytime soon.

For the next three years at least, it will be a hot topic. I hope that those in the program do well, but they are going to be under a magnifying glass. If anyone drops out, they will be expected to answer questions as to why. If anyone is transferred in, they will become fish in an aquarium. The kids will be watched in the playground to see who they play with and what language they speak.

Three years from now we will have a better picture of what is happening. Hopefully in 2 years we will know what will be happening to the program after the three years. During that time, this subject will be discussed by parents, teachers and administrators at every level. The scores of the kids doing STAR tests and others will become public.
Fingers are going to be pointed and local celebrities will be made of the families.

This may be a prediction on my part, but this is not going to be an anonymous group at an anonymous school, because we will all be watching.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Different parent - unfortunately you're right. (An unintended consequence that the staff didn't bother to mention.) But the district administration itself has an opportunity to mitigate this for the participants - not by stepping up the secrecy (which can only incite protest) - but by formalizing some very professional and comprehensive tracking and reporting.

In fact, hopefully PAUSD administration sees this as a very good opportunity for detailed tracking and reporting to debunk the myths and speculation that abounds. A golden opportunity for the district to redeem itself by illuminating the truth.

We certainly know they have the FUNDING through the grant to do some very robust work with testing, tracking and reporting. (including all these questions about tracking original entrants, demographic performance within the program differentiated by languages spoken at home, native language at entrance, amount and type of homework, amount and type and cost of at home supplemental support (tutors, nanny's etc), performance in math, reading writing spelling english versus mandarin, special needs participants, etc etc etc.

The only question is whether Skelly has the guts and forsight to make this happen and do it right.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Looking Good,

Funny, the earliest elementary immersion reference I can find is in Canada in 195. College-age (or rather military) models date back to WWII in Monterey when there was a rush to teach a lot of people Japanese fast.

So, as I've said before, the original immersion programs were short-term and extremely intensive. As are the summer college ones pioneered by Middlebury.

I asked you to answer two basic questions about immersion--research gaps. You didn't answer and are now trying to pass off such basic information as "irrelevant".

This is followed by (yawn) personal attacks on my motives. If you have the goods (in this case, research) you wouldn't resort to the attacks.

And, yes, there has been an attrition issue with CLIP--thus, out of the original 20, six remained by sixth grade--and some of those may have been late additions. Parent was the one who finally ferreted out the information.

So, the fact that the kids only catch up to grade level, despite having motivated parents, failing students drop out, small classes and extra attention, doesn't actually say much for the second-language miracle. While Meyerholz and Escondido's scores aren't broken down, the fact that the schools are both near the bottom in their respective districts doesn't indicate stellar test performances by the immersion kids.

And, of course, the school administrators say as much. They will tell you that there's a drop in scores around the 2/3 level. Of course, the testing doesn't start until then . . .

Which is why I like to compare immersion scores to DI schools like Hoover and Faria--similar self-selection, parental dedication, etc.

Self-selection, of course, doesn't operate everywhere. Kids drop out of the immersion programs into neighborhood schools, not vice-versa. Normal public schools take and keep everybody regardless of performance. They don't get to ease out the kids who pull down scores.

Depends,

From some of the recent info, it sounds like there's less of a push to make MI succeed at Ohlone than I thought there would be. Ohlone's not putting its own tenured staff on the line. They haven't apparently hired or begun to train the two non-tenured teachers who will teach the program.

I think the election results and Skelly's lack of interest in the program means that the parents of the MIers will want it to succeed, but there's not going to be a ton of investment elsewhere.

I was actually sort of surprised, but it began to make sense to me when I thought about it. I mean, Camille Townsend squeaked by as an incumbent--but a big supporter of the MI program is not going to get elected.

Susan Charles might lose a little face if the program fails, but it's easy to blame the mess on Callan and Co.

So, yeah, maybe the program will work perfectly from the get-go. Odds are, though, given its experimental nature, it won't. At which point, the MI crowd will push for a more traditional program at Garland. Will it have the political clout to push it through? It's a good question. MI/Ohlone may well have been a pyrrhic victory.

There are a lot of hurdles--getting enough native speakers; getting enough diversity; convincing families in the program that it's really working; making sure it does work.

Again, the fact that the district's hiring outside for both positions is telling. If I were Susan Charles, I pretty much would have pushed Monica Lynch into the job--she's qualified and an excellent teacher. Heck, she's helping design the curriculum.

But then not to use her in the classroom . . . it only makes sense to me if you plan to limit your investment in the program and you expect it to either disappear or go elsewhere.

I gathered from the meeting that Charles expects to go elsewhere, but I'm beginning to wonder if there is a real possibility of shutting down the program after the pilot. If the native-speaker recruitment's not there, then the district has a perfect excuse.

It will be interesting to watch--Different's right, this will be a watched program.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2008 at 4:03 pm

That should be in Canada in 1965. So intensive training (i.e. immersion) predates this by 20 years--Department of Defense in Monterey.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 16, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Ohlonepar,

Immersion has been going on in Europe since there were schools. There were even German immersion schools in the U.S. in the 1800s. Old idea that the military latched onto, I'm afraid. In any case, what happens in a college immersion course is vastly different from what happens in elementary, as I've explained.

I'm just pointing out the problems with your claims. I'm sorry if that feels like a personal attack. You claimed there were significant research gaps, and the one you mentioned was poorly conceived. If that's the worst you can say about immersion, let's have more immersion!

Despite all the conspiracy theories about "failing students," CLIP has no attrition problem. CLIP says this itself, and there is no data showing otherwise. There WAS a problem in the early years, but that has entirely disappeared. Interesting that you claim that CLIP kids "only catch up to grade level" because that is one of the programs in which they surpass monolingual peers. (I believe I did point out that citing scores by non-immersion kids isn't particularly damning of immersion programs, so I'm just not impressed by your chatter about Meyerholz and Escondido.)

Actually, self-selection is in operation across the district. Do you really think parents pick Palo Alto without regard to schools? Really? Do you really live here? Kids transfer in and out of local schools, choice programs like Ohlone, and immersion programs. It is a fantasy of yours that kids are dropping like flies from immersion programs. We're still waiting for your evidence.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Looking Good,

As you've explained? Uh, no--you've proclaimed, but explained nothing. Nice try. Sane with the claim about European schools. Link please? I'm interested since elementary schools as we know them are a fairly recent invention. (Kindergarten even more so) So what exactly are you claiming here? (Oh, and how do the types of immersion programs differ? Be specific.)

Why are my questions poorly conceived? Either there's an MI program that uses constructivist/student-learning or there isn't. I'd say that my inquiry is quite straightforward. (relatively easy to check to, there aren't that many MI programs.) Is there a model for what Ohlone is doing or not? According to other posters, there is not. The lack of a model would also hold with Ohlone's principal working with Stanford to develop the curriculum.

Do you know differently? If so, support it.

Can you cite a study that measures English composition skills of MI students relative to their peers in traditional programs? Can you find one that measures verbal progress in ways that go further than standardized tests?

Again, this is pretty straightforward--there's not a conceptual problem here.

By the way, when you make a claim that someone else's question is ill-conceived, you'll be more convincing if you can show *how* a question is ill-conceived--i.e the gap in reasoning or factual error. Otherwise, it reads as evasive.

Self-selection matters in that kids in a Palo Alto immersion program need to be compared with their district peers when comparing performance (this is part of the issue with evaluating CLIP--surpassing which peers? The ones at Faria? I don't think so. Surpassing the ones who dropped out of the program but are in a neighborhood school? Quite possibly.) --but my point continues to hold--a kid doing poorly in a neighborhood school will not drop out of that school, whereas a child performing poorly in an immersion program is likely to drop out of the program and into a neighborhood school.

(See, I gave you the step-by-step reasoning here to show you your reasoning error here. I did it without huffing and puffing about where you do or do not live as well.)

Glad to see that you're acknowledging CLIP's attrition problem. Given that the program's quite young, I'd say the issues are still current. What seems to be happening is that CLIP has gooten somewhat better at infilling from a Mandarin-proficient pool.

Hmmm, as to personal attack--let's see you've characterized me as "desperate" and "dishonest" among other things. Those aren't facts, those are personal attacks--value judgments upon me and my motives. (See, once again, I am giving you specifics as to why I judge you to have made personal attacks--facts, not feelings, here.) I suggest you subject yourself to some self-scrutiny. If you can't manage that, I would *love* it if you actually came up with some facts.

After all, you claim a sort of expertise on the subject of immersion, even if you are unable to answer a couple of factual questions--trying to pass off with a sneer that the questions are too ill-conceived to be answered.

In fact, when it comes to one set of facts--the attrition rate at CLIP, you show yourself woefully ignorant. First, there has been no attrition issue with CLIP--that it was a rumor started in Palo Alto. However when faced with the numbers, you're now claiming that attrition issue existed, but no longer does.

If you'd been *anywhere* as knowledgeable as you claim, you'd have known that the attrition issue at CLIP wasn't simply a rumor. That you leapt to an uninformed conclusion on this seveals your bias against those who disagree with you about Ohlone/MI. You assumed they were liars and rumor-mongerors without actually fact-checking first.










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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2008 at 10:22 pm

I believe you are both thinking of "mother land" or something like that.
main·land [meyn-land, -luhnd] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun
1. the principal land of a country, region, etc., as distinguished from adjacent islands or a peninsula: the mainland of Greece.
2. (in Hawaii) the 48 contiguous states of the U.S.
Motherland is a term that may refer to a mother country, i.e. the place of one's birth, the place of origin of an ethnic group or immigrant, or a Metropole in contrast to its colonies. This usage is sometimes seen in English, maybe more often in the social sciences.
Some MI students will not be of Chinese descent, so to them China would not be "motherland", you should say "fluent chinese speakers"


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:02 am

You've painted yourself into a corner and so are becoming evasive.

Let's recap.

You claimed there were research gaps regarding immersion programs but, when asked, could name only one: composition skills. I explained why that was poorly conceived (scroll up if you forgot). You just sort of shouted that it was not poorly conceived. Not a rational argument.

You deprecated CLIP's results, implying that their kids don't compare well with other kids. "Surpassing which peers?" Well, California peers, district monolingual peers. If this is not enough for you, please note that even the native Mandarin-speaking CLIP kids outperform monolingual, native-English-speaking kids in PAUSD in English and math. Yeah, those peers. Like that.

You claimed that CLIP has an attrition problem. It doesn't, as I said before. Now you're changing your claim and saying you meant it HAD a problem. (Of course, that implicitly concedes it has no present problem, so one wonders why you bring it up....) The notion that CLIP has an attrition problem was a rumor spread by those who disagree with Ohlone/MI.

Person attack? No, I pointed out that your argument was dishonest and why. I said nothing about you. If you set out claims on a forum, you should expect that they may be criticized. But you, on the other hand, excel at trying to turn these issues personal. Don't think I'll take the bait.



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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:09 am

Anon,

Thanks. Actually, I was referring to educational levels (not people of any particular ethnicity) in mainland China. Educationally, things are quite different on Taiwan, an island, which I did not want to insert into the discussion.


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Posted by anonymous parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:28 am

Throw any notion of "community" out the window, of self-reliance, of charity, of kindness, of decency and friendliness, of finding one's own way, of working with the world at large with all races, all learning-types including (horrors!) the learning disabled...all that matters to certain parents is their claim that certain young kids supposedly "surpass their monolingual peers.." We are talking about young human beings here, who along with their parents, should develop some CHARACTER and DECENCY. I am disgusted at your self-serving approach. We all live in this world together. This world is bigger than Palo Alto, thank God, seeing your lack of ethics. I hope PAUSD elected officials operate at the district level for the benefit of the district's students at large.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2008 at 9:38 am

I don't think Dr. Skelly is uninterested in MI, but his focus seems to be on bigger issues which affect the district as a whole such as closing the achievement gap and improving our facilities. Based on that, I can't imagine he would hand over Garland to a small special interest group when it is needed to provide flexibility in our district for example using it as a temporary site while a school is being renovated, like when Nixon and Terman used it several years ago. He also strikes me as someone who will not be intimidated by a charter threat.

MI will only succeed if they are able to hire the appropriate teachers (the most important factor) and attract enough native Mandarin speakers.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Looking,

In other words, despite your claims of expertise, you can't come up with the research to support your claims.

I didn't change my claim. Take a look at what I said: "CLIP has had a problem with attrition." You've admitted that this was the case. Since we're not talking 20 years ago, I'd say the 20 percent attrition of a group that's only now in 7th or 8th grade is relevant.

You're now making claims about CLIP that don't factor in the self-selection bias--if one in five kids drop out then, yes, you can expect a higher level of scores on average because presumably the drop-outs are the kids having difficulty in the program. You can also assume that, given the early high attrition, that there's more self-selection going on in the applications.

Which is why I think the relevant comparison is to another program where you have a similar group of parents--that's why I think the comparison to Faria is relevant--similar demographics as well.

And, of course, anonymous parent has it right--the it's-all-about-me attitude does permeate your posts.

Composition skills, as I said, don't seem to be measured and, long-term, we don't know how the CLIP kids will do--the program just hasn't been around long enough. You haven't offered anything that counters that--other than a sort of petulance.

Back in the old PAUSD, here's how I think it would play out. You're an emigre from China. Your Chinese is great, your English less so. You want the best for your kids who also grew up speaking Chinese. You enter the lotteries and you get into MI and Hoover. Which one do you pick?

My guess is Hoover--because Hoover and other DI schools do have the scores with no ifs, ands and buts. The attrition rates are a non-issue. The principals don't tell parents to expect a score drop in the middle years, but the kids will catch up later on (if, of course, they don't drop out of the program.)

I say this as an Ohlone parent who'd never put a kid in Hoover. But I'll also say the program clearly accomplishes its goals.

We've had a couple of CLIP parents come through the Forum, by the way. They all say it's a big commitment and a lot of work. There's no immersion miracle happening--just a lot of hard work by the kids.

Which, by the way, sounds a whole lot like college-level immersion.

Oh, how are the two types of immersion very different and noncomparable again?

You know, if there's one thing I've noticed in the time I've been tangling with the Pro-MIers here it's that they seem to work from the same crib sheet. Move past that and they flounder.

I mean, it's kind of obvious, Looking Good, that you've been told some things and taken them on faith because you *want* to believe. I suspect it hadn't even occurred to you that composition skills--written literacy--was something that wasn't really examined when studying these programs. As a true believer, your response seems to be a sort of outrage that the issue should even be brought up.

Oh, and how, again, were my questions ill-conceived?

And, heck, couldn't you have at least backed up your statement about immersion programs being introduced in elementary schools in Europe in the 19th century? Or is this an example of something you were told and accepted on faith?

How informed are you, really? Do you even know?


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Ohlonepar,

You're backpedaling on CLIP. Take a look at what you said: CLIP "still deals with" a problematic attrition rate (though now you want to claim you only meant it "has had" a problematic attrition rate). Your claim was simply false. Attrition at CLIP is a non-issue. I'm glad you now agree.

You have fabricated attrition numbers for "seventh or eighth grade," apparently unaware that the core CLIP program runs through fifth grade! It's as though you want to claim PALY has a drop-out problem because some PALY kids drop out of college. But let's be perfectly clear: your numbers are, in any case, just the sum of stitched-together suspicions by people who are eager to see MI fail. They don't correspond to anything in the real world.

Your initial claim (that kids are failing and dropping out of CLIP at a problematic rate) was false as are the claims that flow from it.

As for Anonymous Parent's post, I think he or she was taking a jab at you for your narrow focus on statistics and on what suits your family only. To paraphrase, it's time to move on, to consider the whole child rather than a few test scores, to think of others. I'm all for it.

You also try to fabricate an immersion issue with composition skills. This is not a problem. If this were truly a problem, someone (besides you) somewhere on earth would have mentioned it in the past. Perhaps a parent. Perhaps an academic study. But no, not a single sign of any problem. Nowhere. If this is a problem, please provide data to back it up. Can't do it, huh? Gotcha.

The rest of your post was not substantive, just a bitter run-on, so I'll decline, again, to play that game. It doesn't make your other points look very good, though ....




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Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Actually, Looking Good, CLIP goes through 8th grade (as stated on the CLIP website, towards the bottom of the page):
Web Link


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Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Oops - looks like the link in my previous post just goes to the CLIP homepage. From the About Us/Program Definition page:
"CLIP is made up of a series of sequential grades from K-7 with one, two, or three classes per grade within the larger school communities of Meyerholz Elementary School and Lawson Middle School."

and

"The CUSD School Board and Superintendent have approved the extension of this program into 8th grade at Lawson Middle School for the 2006-2007 school year. Planning starts soon on the extension of the program into high school."


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2008 at 10:53 pm

JSD,

Some of the info on their site is outdated. In 2004, the district added the option of continuing the program into middle school, and the first sixth graders started.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2008 at 12:42 am

Looking Good,

Yep, CLIP still has attrition problems--you see a drop in student numbers around grade 4--even with the numbers bumped up with Mandarin-speaking transfers from the looks of it.

I first heard about the composition issue from parents of immersion kids in this Forum, actually--an SI parent said that composition was where their kids were weak. This was followed by some other anecdotes. I then started looking for any studies on the subject and found a gap.

So, yep, people did come forth. Why on earth did you assume that no one ever had?

Take a look sometime. All of this has been discussed before, extensively. It's why I knew that if I asked you if you knew of any studies that examined English comp. skills and MI immersion that you wouldn't produce them. Your evasiveness and personal attacks were also, alas, predictable.

As for CLIP, you could have looked this up--heck, if you were familiar with the Forum, you'd have known all of this has been talked about.

Or as another poster called "Another" posted a little over a year ago regarding CLIP's enrollment--s/he started with PACE's own CLIP figures and then got more current ones:

_________________________

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.

_______________________________________________________--

Another brings up an interesting point--is there any way to have an MI program that falls in line with the diversity of the community? I remember a discussion about this when the charter threat was active--but missed this topic.

Does MI, can MI--particularly since Charles says Stanford honchos say the program should be 50 percent native speakers--meet the guidelines of the district's choice programs? What if it doesn't in three years?

But, anyway, to get back to the earlier topic, I'm afraid those CLIP classes still exist--and, thus, so does the issue of attrition in the upper grades--it's an ongoing issue, as I said. Not just at CLIP, by the way.

With CLIP, it wasn't the case of one class having extremely high attrition and others having none. The attrition issue continues--and those numbers underestimate the true attrition rate because of transfers into the program.

After all, if we just used the first-year CLIP numbers, the attrition rate's way over 20 percent--less than one-third of the original class remains. I took that into account--thus, 20 percent instead of 70 percent. As I've said, I've had these discussions before.

We see fairly flat enrollment in K-3 and then major attrition in the upper grades--20 percent different between grades 3 and 4. And then, after that, it doesn't appear to stabilize, it appears to continue eroding.

So, as I say, attrition is still an issue in CLIP. With every class fourth grade on up having a total attrition rate of over 20 percent. This rate continues to climb--and the actual rates in most of the upper classes are much higher than 20 percent. I am assuming that the fourth grade has three classes, the fifth from two.

And why with all your claimed expertise did you not know about this?

It's interesting looking back at old Forum threads--at one point there's a discussion of the big drop at the International school around 3rd grade in the Chinese program. Apparently the main reason given is that parents found the program too intensive and time-consuming.

Hmmm, sounds like college-immersion to me, except that college kids get to make a choice.

And, again, a big question remains about how something like this will be done at Ohlone in the Ohlone way. Doesn't sound like anyone's found a way to keep up English literacy and learn Mandarin without a lot of afterschool work.

Just out of curiosity--do you think a trial MI/Ohlone program will survive anywhere near that kind of attrition? For that matter, do you think PAUSD will do what Cupertino did in its first years of CLIP and take intradistrict transfers to stay afloat?

How politically palatable do you think that would be when we're overflowing kids?

So, now it's your turn--well, it's been your turn for a while--to support your claims.

As for anonymous parent's intent--ummm, given that the jab was aimed at parent's who only care about their kids doing better than their "monolingual peers"--kiddo, that was aimed straight at you. You made the claim about the scores.










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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2008 at 10:19 am

So, to support your contention that composition suffers in immersion, you say you heard something from some parent on a forum at some point. Sorry, that's not even a second-hand anecdote--it's sure not evidence. Big difference. If you want to convince anyone composition is a problem, you'll have to do better than that.

Again, CLIP has no attrition problem. You could have saved yourself busywork by calling the program and asking.

The numbers you cite are meaningless for several reasons: 1) untrustworthy source--do you really think I'd trust data from someone committed to finding problems where they don't exist?, 2. these are not year-on-year declines but enrollment for a SINGLE YEAR--hello, that's not attrition, 3. The numbers include grades above 5, which I explained were not part of the core program; so anything happening there is irrelevant, 4. The data from 2006 for upper grades includes classes from the earliest part of the program, which I pointed out did have problems.

So, lots of busy copying and pasting, rumor and speculation, smoke and mirrors, but again no meat! How could you think any of this would convince anyone?

In any case, I'm sure the district expects attrition in the early years of a new program that they hobbled by downsizing it to a silly small number. It's clear you're not concerned about the children in MI, so why are you even raising attrition?

As for parent's intent--don't know, but you're obviously the one focused on narrow scores at the expense of the whole child, and your own situation at the expense of the district....









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Posted by still laughing
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2008 at 12:38 pm

Looking Good: Exactly what reality are you living in? Or is it an English language problem?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Looking,

You need to pay attention. I pointed out that composition skills are not tracked well--given that some parents have complained that their kids' composition skills aren't up to par, I find it interesting that there's a lack of research in the area.

As a matter of fact, while Googling around last night, I found a survey of 30 years of research on elementary immersion. It *specifically* mentioned that there was a shortage of studies on writing skills. It came up with one from 1975--and that was English/French. I also found another study that showed that while there was some transference of writing skills between two similar languages--i.e. French and English or Spanish and English, this transference did not appear to take place when the languages were disparate.

As for the CLIP numbers--those numbers were originally supplied by Grace Mah. Another double-checked them--PACE's were prospective, Another's were actual--since there was a difference of one kid, not a big deal.

But, of course, you could have checked yourself--and didn't. Again, you undermine your claims of knowledge on the subject.

And, yes, it *is* indicative of attrition unless you think that they let in 21 students one year and 47 another. You don't get those numbers unless there was attrition.

And yes, the program *still* has kids from the earliest years and those classes have had attrition problems. They're still part of the program, too.

Here's an interesting article on the attrition issue with one of the early MI programs:

Web Link

It makes me wonder if long-term immersion programs are really a great use of public-school resources--even a small amount of attrition per year is going to result in a small pool of students by the end of the program.

One more interesting thing I came across was a discussion of the high drop-out rates in the French/English immersion programs in Canada. It mentioned that there was a lack of student-directed, project learning in these programs, which deterred students.

Why? Because student-led learning means kids are going to communicate and learn in their first language. This one article figured that the lack of full immersion in this instance was worth it to keep kids from dropping out, but that's just one educator.

Also explains why the Stanford types told Susan Charles she needed to get 50 percent native speakers in the program.

I hadn't thought of this, but, of course, it makes perfect sense--so not only is the no-homework policy an issue, so is the actual instruction method used at Ohlone.

Interesting stuff. But, back to you, as usual, you've given us nothing to support your own position. Though you have shown a willingness to impute unpleasant motives to those who tell you things you don't want to hear.

But, it's okay, I enjoy research and looking up immersion and attrition brings up all sorts of interesting stuff--such as the reasons student-directed learning and immersion haven't gone together. (With MI there's an additional problem of qualified BCLAD teachers tending to be from China and veering toward a very top-down instructional method. Hoover really was the match here in all sorts of ways.)

And, damn, I feel sorry for Susan Charles.





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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm

"And, damn, I feel sorry for Susan Charles. "

OhlonePar,

I have stayed out of this zoo for a while, but I have previously expressed my view that MI will come to dominate Ohlone. I support them, becasue I think they are the wave of the future, since they harken from Confician traditons of hard work, sacrifice, delayed gratification and respect for authority. They are full of creativity, but they don't wear it on their sleeves, like undisciplined American kids do.

I seem to recall that you thought Charles could handle anything thrown her way. Are you now saying something different, or am I just missing your point?

I am looking forward to this experiment.


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Posted by Looking Good
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 18, 2008 at 4:34 pm


Ohlonepar,

You claimed that immersion kids have trouble with composition and now you're backpedaling because you have no evidence.

You claimed CLIP has an ongoing problem with attrition but still cannot furnish any data to support that claim.

Sorry, this nothing more than scare-mongering. The only outstanding question is whether it is conscious on your part or whether you believe what you say.

Thanks for the weblink showing a poorly administered choice program that went wrong. It seems to me this is a lesson in how not to run programs. Unless you meant it to be a general argument against such programs as Ohlone itself? Not sure what your point was.

The "Stanford types" told Susan Charles she needed to get 50 percent native speakers because they've read the standard research showing that to be the ideal mix for language acquisition--not for some conspiracy.

But don't let these facts stand between you and your fantasy. You go ahead and google yourself deep into delusion, while the world marches on.




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Posted by you must be kidding
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Delayed gratification? Like waiting until an appropriate location could be found that could house the program beyond 3rd grade? Or waiting until the staff could study the impact of a student led method on a mandarin immersion approach? All in all, I'm not getting 'delayed gratification' as one of the MI pushers strong suits.

(And respect for authority - would that be where they send a threat letter to the board?)

In fact, as I pick a name for this post, I realize your post must be tongue in cheek. Bravo.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Aaron,

Long time, no see.

No, my point is something else--the MI project has a lot going against it--if the Ohlone way is used in the classroom, then the kids might be engaged, but the MI parents will be dissatisfied with the rate of progress in Mandarin.

It also makes the hiring of the two teachers a lot harder.

As for the wave of the future--no, the more I look at it, the less I see that. Too many difficulties with Mandarin in China--particularly the writing/literacy aspects; the spoken language is too difficult for adults to learn, which will severely hinder its spreading through the rest of the world, when English is relatively easy to learn and is widely spoken.

As for Chinese education--I look at what's in the U.S. and what's in China at the university level and the U.S. has a huge edge.

Meanwhile, back at Ohlone--I think recruitment of native speakers is going to be a real issue. Your own views, I think, demonstrate why Chinese emigres are going to be wary of the Ohlone experiment. Something more traditional and proven--i.e. Hoover or one of the high-scoring neighborhood schools--will be the preference in many cases, I suspect.

Basically, MI doesn't have the Mandarin-speaking childpower to take over a school. And, as the last elections show, it doesn't have the political support either.

Wonder when they'll find the teachers. It's got to be pretty soon.




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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm

OP - great article link. Important reading. Its the first article I've seen that doesn't look like its been written from talking points by kan ban.

I found it fascinating that they used the term 'guinee pigs' and that one of the main issues was that students that were in an immersion format in elementary school were leaving elementary school and entering the secondary level with a variety of spotty levels of proficiency (but were not ready for high school level)- and the school was having difficulty suitably serving them. The very big promise of bi-literacy and classes graduating 'AP Chinese' from of their immersion experiement was not coming to fruition.

I also thought it was interesting that there were issues in midstream with treating the program as a 'school within a school'. Hmmm...

Prospective parents - eyes wide open yet? PAUSD is attempting a never before form of Mandarin Immersion. Are they being honest with us about the impacts of their methods? The pros and cons? Upside and downside? What they know and what they don't know about what they plan to try on your five year old? Their long term plans for your kids education? Or are they just plotting out how to teach your kid nursery rhymes in Mandarin in K and 1? (After all - this is only a Kindergarten/First grade class, right?)

If this article does cast a shadow, I don't know what will.

Apparently Susan Charles didn't have much new to say about Mandarin Immersion at the parent info night, but a whole lot to say about "Ohlone Way". And has said over and over again, this is just the Ohlone program taught in Mandarin. Is that good enough? Are you convinced? Do you trust this district to make good in the long run, or are you one of these parents 5 years from now asking where your child's education went?

These are the relevent questions


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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm

OhlonePar,

Actually I agree with some of your points. It won't be pretty at Ohlone. However, I am betting on the force and determination of the Chinese parents to win the day. They already proved themselves, with the MI victory. I wish them well.

In the end, it will not be about Mandarin, but about educational approach. English will still rule the day, but American education needs a good spanking.

Cheers!


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Posted by Lottery day?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2008 at 11:11 am

Lottery day, isn't it? So what was the finally tally? How many English, Mandarin and Other language speakers showed up for the Kinder and first grade spots? Anyone know?


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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 19, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Today is the deadline for applications. I heard that the actual lottery is Thursday at 9 a.m.


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Posted by wanna watch
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Are they allowing people to observe the lottery?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Aaron,

Okay, so for you--MI equals Chinese-style education.

I think the style is good for some kids and some things and not for others. Gifted kids, for example, do better with a more open student-directed approach.

So, why do you need to think that's there's a right way (Chinese) and wrong ways (everything else). The facts don't back you up, by the way--the highest literacy rates are in Scandanavia; the highest percentage of top universities is in the U.S. As for creativity--well, yes, you're right, the reputation for creativity isn't there yet. And I don't think it's a matter of hiding it--the schooling system works against a key factor associated with later creativity--lots of unstructured time as a child.

Ohlone's approach is a popular one here--more lottery applicants than any other choice program. SI has a longer waiting list, but because it has one-fifth of the open spots.

Yes, the PACE parents had determination, but, frankly, they don't have the political savvy to take over Ohlone. I'm not even sure, at this point, that they'll get Garland. Again, it's a matter of looking at the last elections. Melissa Baten Caswell, who was targeted as an anti-MIer got more votes than Camille Townsend, who was associated with MI, despite Townsend's incumbent advantage.

I mean, you're making the same kind of mistake--it's very us v. them. Do you think that's going to win you friends and influence people?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Looking Good wrote: "Thanks for the weblink showing a poorly administered choice program that went wrong. It seems to me this is a lesson in how not to run programs. Unless you meant it to be a general argument against such programs as Ohlone itself? Not sure what your point was."

Funny - PACE has a reference link to this Potomac Maryland MI program on their website. I might ask - what is the point of PACE putting references on their website to random MI programs that may or may not be worthy examples? Hmmmmm. Maybe a little quality control problem?? Maybe they dutifully lapped up the positive press, but (woops) failed to peel back the onion?

Which might suggest that maybe perhaps PAUSD staff should have been a little more 'independent' and unbiased in their feasibility study.. Tell us again... what was the source of their information? What was the source of the funding for the feasibility study??? How many volunteer hours of PACE resources went in to the PAUSD feasibility study?? Did PAUSD staff put that "study" together independently and at arms length?

And so - the cracks begin to appear.


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Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 19, 2008 at 4:14 pm

OP,

The modern world, going forward, will be about problem solvers, not artists and other fuzzy thinkers. Despite the current Islamic revival, religion, of all kinds, including the secular varieties, are on a down slope. The essential questions will be fresh water, low-cost power, higher living standards, lower CO2 emissions, efficiency, battery technologies, nuclear power, solar power and so forth.

American universities are strong in the problem solving areas (engineering, physics, chemistry, etc.) becasue they are populated with Asian students. It is only a matter of time before Chinese universities and Indian universities overwhelm their American counterparts.It has already happened in the technology business world.

Ohlone will not produce problem solvers, at least not in any discipline that pays its own way. Kids with degrees in glassblowing will end up asking, "Would you like fries with your burger, sir?". Alternatively, they will just be the typical trust fund babies that cash their monthly check, a fairly common thing in PA.

I am betting on the Chinese parents, becasue they refuse to buy into the fuzziness. Good for them. They are our hope for a better future.


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Posted by OP - don't take the bait
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm

OP - beware. I believe what you see above is the amazing morphing VOR (showing true colors here). Attempting to bait you into another "R" conversation in order to throw you off the scent. A repeat performance of the tactic we've seen over and over and over and over again - can't win the debate, can't support claims on fact, woops getting tripped up on the facts, can make any inroads on the issues, so derail the whole conversation into an "R" shouting match. Don't fall for it.

If you want to discuss the merits and success of the Ohlone style by all means do - but PLEASE don't bite on VORAarons blantant R bait.

By the way, I was looking around online for more on the failing Potomac MI program, and I found an interesting legal case there - looks like that district found itself challenged on the legitimacy and transparency of their lottery! Imagine that - they open up a can of worms, then are challenged on the randomness and transparency of their lottery! Wow, PAUSD - a whole lot of learning available to our district on this Potomac situation - anyone paying attention? Looks like we're not barking up the wrong trees after all.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2008 at 8:22 pm

I don't know that Aaron and Looking Good are the same poster--LG sounds like VOR--same kind of hysteria. Aaron sounds a little different, though he's clearly trolling--seems to have not realized that he's an American as are any kids he may have--and people only get more American with passing generations. Guess he thinks he picked the losing team.

But, anyway, OP--don't, it's pretty transparent and right now I think there are more interesting topics, so let's get to those.

Parent, interesting that PACE had the Potomac program listed. I mean, clearly, the attrition issue's been ongoing, so if Cook and co. had done due diligence it should have been apparent. It's not as if Montgomery County has poor schools, either.

I think the fact the kids didn't appear to be ready for advanced Chinese in high school was telling--I mean, what the hell was going on in those Chinese immersion classes that those kids weren't ready for AP Chinese? Did quality control fall apart, perhaps, in an attempt to keep attrition down?

And why is it that we know so little about what happened here or, for that matter, in-depth knowledge of the attrition issues in Cupertino?

Attrition seems to be a touchy issue in the immersion lit. You get some studies saying it's no problem at all and others saying that attrition in the French/English immersion programs in Canada is 40 to 50 percent.

Interesting, too, that there's a lottery lawsuit, OP-don't. Since there's already a diversity requirement in PAUSD's choice literature, how is that going to be accomplished with an open lottery? Interest in the program is very, very skewed to one group and there are going to be so few openings for English speakers.

If the program falls apart, it could get very ugly--in part because that feasibility study is so questionable. At which point, everybody gets mad.

The thing is, the more closely I look at it, the more unanswered questions and obstacles appear. I mean there's really no excuse for putting through a program this poorly conceived. Well, we know why it happened, but yeesh.




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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2008 at 8:57 pm

So when do we hear if our child's card was drawn?


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Posted by yet another parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Feb 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm

According to this Web Link article & discussion, the drawing for the it's-not-a-lottery will take place Thursday morning. "Winners" (or whatever Dr. Skelly's politically correct term for the chosen ones may be) will be notified by a phone call from a district employee. Presumably notification will be immediate since parents applying for Ohlone have only one week to decide.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Mom,

When our kid's name was drawn, we heard about it in a day--only given a weekend to decide, so the week's a new thing. Some people said no immediately, so I knew of people who were called the following Monday. You do, as I recall, have some more time before you commit and sign papers waiving your kid's right to attend the neighborhood school.

It's possible this time that there's more of an extension because there may be more dual acceptances--i.e. Hoover and MI or SI and MI. The year we applied, I didn't come accross too many multiple applications--I knew one SI/Ohlone.


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Posted by Furious Parent
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Feb 21, 2008 at 12:47 am

The MI program has polarized our entire community.

Even before MI, I was bothered to see that elementary school classes had required class projects which emphasized children's differences.
Students were required to give presentations of where they came from, and when did they (or their ancestors) arrive.

My children never cared where or when their friends came to America, All they wanted was a play date.

Because these required programs, my children are now fully aware of their friends differences, and it has had a detrimental effect.

This was not because of me, but because of the school district.

This project backfired.

It embarrassed the new immigrants (legal and possibly illegal), children who were adopted, and African Americans.

It has permanently damaged the innocence of racial differences that my children once had before attending Palo Alto public schools.

They are now fully aware of cultural differences.

Before these programs, they never thought of their friends as being different.

PAUSD gets an A for polarizing our community, and making our elementary school children aware of their differences.

This will make integration harder.
I already see the elementary children separate themselves into ethnically different groups at recess.

The damage has been done.

Thanks PAUSD for the cultural awareness programs.

Thanks for separating our children into choice programs which are not equal to all.

Our community has been polarized.

Where may I send my letter of appreciation, and whose name should I use in my salutation?




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

Furious Parent

I agree entirely with what you are saying as I have witnessed this myself. However, I think this deserves a thread of its own and not included in a discussion concerning MI.

My own child in particular misunderstood the Rosa Parks story when she heard it for the first time in kindergarten and in one very embarrassing situation for me I had to re-educate her in private that she was not to shout to African Americans that they should sit in the back of the bus.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Furious and Parent,

Interesting. After my kid heard about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, I was asked, "Are we white or black?" And then it got really confusing because my kid and I have friends and teachers who are neither white nor black . . . and, when you come right down to it, none of us or actually white or black--just various shades of beiges and browns . . . no wonder my kid couldn't figure it out.

And, yes, my child became aware for the first time that people thought these different skin shades mattered. That there are these labels.

The whole ethnic identity/assimilation issue is a strange one--the categories are treated as static, but what I've seen just in my lifetime is that it's becoming less and less static--"mixed" marriages around here are commonplace so what are we saying to the kids of those marriages--you gotta pick a team? My guess is that they'll end up like "whites" in this country--where a lot of people are multiple European ethnicities--to the point where you lose track after a couple hundred years.

I had a friend in high school who was Japanese, Philippino, Irish, Cherokee and Hawaiian. She married a German. Her mother said they just used to write in "cosmopolitan".



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Posted by soon2bMI
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 22, 2008 at 2:08 am

We got the call today that our son's card was selected in the MI lottery! We couldn't be more thrilled that our little guy will have this wonderful opportunity -- not only to take part in the immersion program but to do so within the context of the Ohlone system. Our hearts go out to those who hoped for such a call but did not get one. Any other future MI parents out there?

For the record, all MI applications did indeed have to include an essay expressing the parents' understanding of the Ohlone culture/system. As with Escondido, the applications were separated by primary language (of the child), and (not sure of the exact ratio) ~1/3 of the slots were allocated to Mandarin speaking kids, and 2/3 to English-speaking kids. Within those two piles, as with the "English" Ohlone lottery, there was a 'boy' hat and a 'girl' hat to ensure an even gender distribution. All the choice schools had their drawings today (Feb 21st) and they all give parents one week (Feb 28th) to provide a final yes/no. Of course, you are encouraged to respond as soon as possible.

Anyway, I understand that there are some negative feelings out there and that we in the fledgling MI community has some work to do to reach out to the community at large. I am committed to doing what I can to help ensure MI's success and also to help heal some of the divide that is expressed here...so this is me reaching out. I'm sorry some people felt alienated by the process, or not properly informed, or that their concerns were dismissed. I sense a lot of worry, frustration, anger, bitterness, in these pages.

For those concerned Ohlone parents, please don't assume that the MI parents don't also embrace the Ohlone educational philosophy. I view immersion as fitting in quite nicely with the core values expressed as part of the Ohlone code. I'm looking forward to meeting becoming a member of the Ohlone family in the fall.

Can we open a new chapter in this saga? One that looks to the future, not only of the 40 little ones starting in the Fall, but of the wonderful community we have here in Palo Alto?

Thanks for listening (I'm up way to late!)


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Duveneck School
on Feb 22, 2008 at 7:49 am

Bravo, Soon2b. That was generous-spirited. The district needs more like you. Also, congratulations.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2008 at 1:58 pm

One can only wonder how long it will take for pictures of Mao Tse Tung and others of the "Grand Revolution" to appear in the rooms of these MI class rooms. Given that those pushing for this seem to be dismissing California's and Palo Alto's right to teach the attendees of the public schools American history and culture--it's difficult to believe that over time they won't be asking for the right to teach their children the same way they would be taught in a Communist Chinese school.

Given how the little the last Board of Education had to say about the need for American values and culture--it's difficult to believe that a future Board will do anything but duck--given how much these people seem to want to avoid controversy.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Just Waiting,

MI's not going to get Mao unless the rest of Ohlone's getting Mao. The MI program is supposed to get Ohlone's curriculum.

Soon2bMI,

I appreciate your sentiments--I think, though, there are no such things as blank slates. The MI program is informed by how it came into being. You can see the numbers--those modular classrooms were meant for Ohlone's expansion and because that expansion will not take place, the odds of a boy getting into Ohlone's normal program are even worse than getting a boy into MI, even though there are more Ohlone spaces.

I'm sorry, but this was wrong and remains wrong. I know you want what's best for your child, but no matter how well meaning you are (and I truly believe you are), this issue remains--at least for me. (That said, please keep in mind, I speak only for myself, not for the Ohlone community.)

That said, if your kid wants to play with my kid, I'm totally cool with that. I *do* believe in keeping this sort of stuff among adults and, in my case, in the Forum.








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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm

> MI's not going to get Mao unless the
> rest of Ohlone's getting Mao.

One of the very first thing the school district did was to send two officials to Beijing. Why the PAUSD needed Beijing's input on teaching Mandarin in Palo Alto has never been explained. However, the trip is on the record--although the reasoning for the trip, and exactly what the PAUSD was looking for is not.

Given that the current Federal law does not permit school districts to demand proof of citizenship of students--then the parents are free to demand just about anything and there is nothing that the school district can do.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm


I think we really need to differentiate between the folks that pushed for MI and the folks that got in. I don't have an issue with either group, but it seems that some are really angry with the PACE folks.

Once the program was approved, you can't judge folks for wanting to take advantage of it. We should hope it works and hope the kids do well.

BTW, we didn't get in. If my child had gotten in, I would be hoping that Grace and her team got in, because then I would have more confidence in the program!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Mom,

Why would having Grace get in give you more confidence in the program? Seriously--she's not an educator and some of the stuff put forward by PACE was just wrong--I mean, I really don't think she knew that the Potomac MI program was having the issues it has. I don't think anyone in the discussions knew that there were specific educational reasons that student-directed learning isn't used in most immersion-language programs.

She is a strong advocate for the MI program, but is she a wise or knowledgeable one? Honestly, I'm not impressed with her depth of knowledge on the issue.

MI's best shot at this point is recruiting two very strong teachers.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:19 pm

> I think we really need to differentiate between the
> folks that pushed for MI and the folks that got in.

That's fair--expect that the PACE organization was SECRET!

They never revealed the membership, nor would they reveal the source of the $66,000 which they raised.

People have every right to be angry with everyone associated with PACE!


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm

JustWaiting,

Noncitizens can't vote. So, yes, the parents can demand anything, but if they can't get their candidates on the board then what they can do is limited.

I think that's the situation right now--actually. We have a program that's lost some of its strongest backers before it's started.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm

PACE's main champion did get voted back on the Board. Not by the huge majority, but by enough to scrape in. I have no idea how many of the MI parents are citizens but it has long been my concern.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:39 pm

> So, yes, the parents can demand anything,

Which some did in this case--over the objection of most of the town.

> but if they can't get their candidates on the
> board then what they can do is limited.

Let's review the bidding .. After the previous Board voted NO, this group of (possibly non-citizens) decided to open a charter school. The previous Board had no experience in this matter--and caved, rather than fight the matter.

So--why would non-citizens really think about putting people on the Board when they can use secret-source money to start charter schools to advance their agendas?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 12:50 am

Look, the key players of PACE are, indeed, citizens. I don't think that was the situation.

Parent, yes, Camille was reelected with a 200-vote margin--she's also a lame-duck. As the only incumbent on the ballot, she had a built-in advantage. Her margin was far smaller this time around than the first time she was elected.

Meanwhile, Callan's gone and Cook is out at the end of the year. Townsend's all that's left and in a weak enough position that it's clear that supporting MI at all costs was not a winning issue.

I think it's clear that Skelly would treat the issue differently than Callan. I mean, the PACE crowd would never have pushed their agenda to the critical point without the help fo Callan and Co.

Also, now that I've researched a bit more I think the program itself will have some major issues.

I still think the board would be better off getting a decent FLES program of some sort and make immersion schools much less of an issue.

It would help, too, if we got some decent revisions of the charter law.


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Posted by move on!
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2008 at 8:43 am

I think that it is really time to stop harping on the start of the program, and accept the outcome. I completely agree, it was horrifically managed and should never have come to pass. It has hamstrung us yet more when the next immersion program comes up ( why can't we have French Immersion? We have Spanish and Mandarin, are the opponents racist against the French?)

But, in any case, it is done. At this point it is starting to sound like people who can't let some of the parts of American history go and move on.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2008 at 9:34 am

> Look, the key players of PACE are, indeed, citizens.
> I don't think that was the situation.

How many people were in the PACE organization? Was it only "Key Players"? Probably not. But the key point here is who provided the money? If some of it came from the Communist Chinese government--how would you, or anyone, know?

> the PACE crowd would never have pushed their agenda
> to the critical point without the help fo Callan and Co.

Yes--this is true. What is unclear, and why this matter should continue to be in public scrutiny is the role of Ward Hansen--Camille Townsend's husband--who is involved with the Chinese Government via some sort of "institute" under the Stanford "envelope".

> now that I've researched a bit more I think the
> program itself will have some major issues

Lots of people believed that this program was ill-considered during the decision cycle. Care to share some of your concerns?

> if we got some decent revisions of the charter law.

Yes, but this issue only obliquely crosses the basic MI issue experienced here.

Charter schools were used as a weapon by PACE to force the MI program into existence. It would have been very interesting watching these people try to start and run a charter school in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 11:30 am

There were lots of folks on the PACE mailing list (I think I may have been at some point). But I doubt many participated in the whole charter idea, which seems to be the thing most are upset about.

But once again, we should move on.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Just,

PACE, itself, was small. There were, what, seven? nine? signatures on its demand letter. The number of donors to the study was small--wasn't it around five? I don't think the group has ever been more than 20.

Key players? All the ones I can name are American citizens--American born. I honestly don't think immigrants would have felt that entitled and been that aggressive about it. The immigrants I know who favored the program weren't involved and pretty diffident about it.

Which isn't to day that I wouldn't like to know who donated the money for the study. I think the board should *never* have accepted the money for a study. I blame Camille Townsend for that and I still would like to know exactly what her husband's involvment with various corporations is--particularly whether there was any financial involvment with a student's company which supplied Mandarin learning materials. That potential conflict-of-interest has never been resolved to my satisfaction.

In other words, I'm not worried about a communist influence as I am plain old greed. Who's benefitting from this and how?

I think Skelly and the new board members are aware that transparency is a concern--so that's why I don't expect a repeat of this.

I've been sharing my concerns in this thread and others--I think that the Canadian studies on long-term attrition have never been taken into account--and what effect that has on scores--if you have half the kids drop out then it's not really surprising the remaining score well. I also think the Ohlone/MI mash-up was so politically convenient that no one really took the time to see why this kind of methodology hasn't been used in immersion programs--i.e. in student-directed learning, where kids collaborate, they'll use their first language, not their second, so it actively interferes with immersion until the kids are fluent.

Mom,

I understand the desire of people to want to move past this--but as I said *how* MI happened affects it. If it weren't for the rough-housing we wouldn't have a half-baked program at Ohlone taking over classrooms that were approved for Ohlone's own expansion. We wouldn't have a lottery where only 10 percent of the boys can get into the Ohlone program.

We have half-baked pedagogy, an overworked Ohlone staff and a huge waitlist because of PACE's and Camille Townsend's actions. These are not things in the past--they affect the now and the future.

There are a lot of would-be MI parents I know and like personally--but there is a very real difference of opinion on this. It's a trial program so what happens in the next three years also matters.

Among the other issues of MI is that the single-mindedness of its leadership meant that someone like Grace Mah didn't work for a FLES program that would have worked for everyone or any sort of compromise that didn't overcrowd a school. If, say, the MI program were put on hold and then started at the part of Greenfell that's being vacated by the JCC in 2010, I'd have some questions, but I wouldn't see MI as an imposition on everyone else. That would have been a reasonable compromise to me--i.e. an interest group gets what it wants without infringing.

Seriosuly, where I should I move on to? I don't think it's okay that the Ohlone program got short shrift on its own campus. I don't think it's okay that if the MI program expands to a full program at Ohlone we're looking at a mega-elementary. I want the possibility of 500 kids at Ohlone off the table. I want the possibility of reducing Ohlone's own strands off the table.

It's not personal--but there are possible consequences that I do not like--and I think ongoing reminders are needed so that they don't happen.

Do you understand why bygones aren't bygones here? Do you think I expect a Grace Mah or a Camille Townsend to not for MI in three years?
Do I have any proof that they'll behave in a way I personally consider socially responsible?

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. It's kind of that simple.









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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:13 pm

> I honestly don't think immigrants would have felt that
> entitled and been that aggressive about it.

Perhaps. But let's not forget the roles that other Chinese immigrants like Johnny Chung, Charley Trie and Norman Hsu have played in Democratic Party politics. They got that money from somewhere ...

> In other words, I'm not worried about a communist
> influence as I am plain old greed.

Chinese Communist influence is insidious--and world wide. One of the groups which the PAUSD claimed that they wanted involved was The Confucius Institute. Ever hear of that group? Well--it's directly funded by the Chinese Government through the Ministry of Education.

---
Confucius Institute:
Web Link

CSIS say: Confucius part of Chinese bid to win over western hearts:
Web Link

A newly declassified intelligence report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says Beijing is out to win the world's hearts and minds, not just its economic markets, as a means of cementing power.
---

The Chinese Communists are the most bloodthirsty government to have emerged in the 20th Century--with over 65M killed under Chairman Mao and "the Gang". It is understandable that they want to obliterate the memories of the horrors they perpetrated on their people--and the South Korean people (the Chinese Army went to war against the UN and joined the North Korean Army to crush the South Koreans and the UN forces during the Korean War). All governments--good and bad--sling untold propaganda at the world day and night. So, it is understandable that the Chinese Communists are involved in trying to re-write the world's memory of their history.

So--why would the PAUSD be so quick to want to have The Confucius Institute involved with teaching Mandarin here in Palo Alto--particularly when this group is obviously involved in distributing propaganda? That point has never been explained.

Since the full inner-workings of the Beijing government is generally not known to the Western Press, it is difficult to know just how much The Confucius Institute is charged with promoting distortions of the truth, or in reporting back to Beijing as spies might well be expected to do.

People who are not concerned about Beijing's being involved in the PAUSD's MI program (or insinuating Chinese Government influence into the school system here) need to do a little more research on The Confucius Institute.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

> PACE, itself, was small. There were, what, seven? nine?
> signatures on its demand letter.

From the PACE web-site (of the time):

Web Link

Mah helped found PACE, or Palo Alto Chinese Education, in 2002. It has since grown to involve more than 100 families with children who want a Mandarin-immersion program implemented locally. In the past three years, the group has worked toward its goal. Parents have met with school-board members, drafted program proposals, pitched their plan, and at one point, even gathered a list of 800 district residents willing to support such a program

> signatures on its demand letter.

Did you see the demand letter?

PACE had a non-informative web-site (see link above) last year. They easily could have posted the names of the people who were in the group--as well as the folks who gave the money. It was clearly a big issue--but they effectively "flipped the bird" to the people of Palo Alto and demonstrated that they had no use for "transparency"--which is so necessary to make American-style democracy work.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 6:37 pm

First, this who fear that communist china is behind MI is ridiculous. It was just a few mothers who felt very strongly about it.

Secondly, Ohlone shouldn't shrink. It shouldn't have the luxury to be small, it should have the same crowd as non-choice programs are. Fair is fair. Duveneck has 4 or 5 strands, depending on the grade.

Finally, instead of complaining about MI, lets use this negative energy to demand FLES for all of our kids, who didn't win any lottery (Ohlone, SI or MI). I think they should spend energy to make the neighborhood schools stronger (including FLES). If we could coordinate like PACE, maybe we could get something accomplished!




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Posted by soon2bMI
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Mom - Thanks for your sentiments & I'm sorry your child didn't get in. I actually agree that it would be most constructive to channel this energy into continuing to advocate for FLES. It would be best (imo) for all children to benefit from early exposure to foreign language instruction, and I would be happy to add my signature/support to any such efforts. No doubt that will also open up questions of *which* language, but any is better than none! :)

I also appreciate the distinction between the early advocates of the program and the actual parents whose children got in. We feel *lucky* to have been drawn, but also feel true regret that the nature of choice programs (Ohlone, Hoover, MI, SI & Young 5's) is that not everyone who wants to be there can. It is a shame and it isn't totally "fair".

OhlonePar - I wasn't actually asking for a "blank slate" but a new chapter. I agree things are indeed informed by how they came about, but going forward I think it's important to work on ensuring a positive, inclusive atmosphere at the school. As MI parents, with this "legacy" of how the program came about, I think it can be on us to reach out to take the first steps in helping ensure that happens. It is *one* school – we'll all be at PTA meetings and other gatherings together (and on campus volunteering). I appreciate your commitment to keep all this "among adults". Let's also keep it positive & cooperative in person so we don't alienate each other or feel personally attacked. (And use this forum as the place to vent frustrations w/o getting personal.)

Anyway, that is where my efforts will be focused.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Soon2bMI,

Thanks for the sentiments, but don't feel sorry. I am actually relieved to "lose" the lottery. The choice programs have strengths, but also weaknesses. I think MI has big challenges ahead of it. I wasn't convinced by the preso. All the preso seemed to do was to flaunt Ohlone's superiority, but lacked any substance about the MI program. Having gone through the lottery process once already, all of us that "lose" the lottery go to good neighborhood schools, our kids can walk to school and walk to friends' houses, our neighbors are in the PTA, and we play in the school yard on weekends and meet up with other neighborhood kids. The only time we ever feel bad about it (if we ever do), is when we listen to the choice "winners" and adminstration talk about how the programs are so much better than the neighborhood schools!

But I do hope the folks who go are happy with it and the program is good for the kids who do go.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2008 at 11:40 pm

Mom,

I agree with you that MI isn't about communist China. I don't buy most conspiracy theories and I don't buy it here.

However, Ohlone isn't small--it's already at its capacity--a full strand of MI puts it over the district's limit for elementary school--more than 500 kids.

Yet Another Parent posted a link to the problems associated with large elementaries--a full strand of MI would put it over the limit.

Since there is a large unmet demand for Ohlone, we're looking at a situation where MI has made it *impossible* for Ohlone to expand to meet the district's demand for its own needs.

I agree that Ohlone should expand--and those modular classrooms were for Ohlone's own expansion. It would have brought the school up to four strands--which is in keeping with north cluster schools and what the site could handle.

Ohlone's on a small residential street with limited access. While the site is one of the larger ones, its access is poor for a super-sized elementary.

Well, anyway, you've always been courteous, so I wish you the best wherever you are--don't rule out the chance that you'll end up in the MI program, by the way--those waiting lists do shift.

Unfortunately, the presentations had to be on Ohlone because it sounds like they don't have the MI teachers yet.

Does anyone know if this is a typical hiring timeline?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 24, 2008 at 11:44 pm

The State Department and many of our top universities studying foreign policy, are aware of China's "Charm Offensive" or sometimes called "Soft Power Take Over" through their worldwide launch (importation) of Mandarin language programs. China has unlimited resources, and has started programs in Africa.
It is a worldwide launch.
The answers may easily be found on Google.

And for all the graduates of MI there is always work here, or in the U. K. if your local noodle house is not accepting applications.

Web Link

Some interesting facts about the numerous Chinese dialects may be found on this site:

Web Link

The security issues regarding hundreds of donations and trips from the Chinese government to school officials, and universities and real, are being studied in Washington, D.C. and at foreign policy "Think Tanks" throughout the U.S, and in other western countries.

To not believe this, is nothing more than denial.
If you want children to be a part of it, you may be ahead of the game, or just part of it.




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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 25, 2008 at 12:08 am

Parent,

I'm not disputing that the Chinese government has been promoting the learning of Mandarin worldwide--simply that PACE was a front for the Chinese government. I know, for example, that Grace Mah's family escaped from the Communists--that's not uncommon among Chinese-Americans, many of whom have parents who emigrated in the 1940s, while another set are basically wealthy families from Hong Kong--very, very pro-capitalist for what it's worth. And it's why there's some controversy within the Chinese-American community about learning Mandarin v. other Chinese languages, such as the Hong Kong dialect.

I guess I'd worry more if the Chinese government had managed to get its own population on the same linguistic page--they haven't.

So, while China may be spending money to get people to speak Mandarin, I think over the long term the project will fail outside of China--it's not widely spoken enough in the United States; attrition rates for immersion programs are high; and it's a very difficult language for adults to learn.

English is more widely spoken by more people and is easier to learn--let's face it, literacy in Mandarin is close to impossible for adults to learn. Literacy in English is a snap if you learn the language at all.

The fact is second languages don't have a history of surviving in the U.S. --if third-generation Hispanics don't speak Spanish despite steady immigration and the large number of Hispanics in this country, then I really don't see it happening with Mandarin. It's this year's educational fad, frankly.

As for China and the West in a competition for remaining resources--definitely--but I think that's a separate issue.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 25, 2008 at 12:24 am

When did what's her name's (on the school board) husband (at Stanford) learn to speak Mandarin?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2008 at 8:06 am

The PAUSD "Job Fair" for teachers is March 8th. I am curious how many applicants they have received for the MI teaching slots - and what they will do if they can't fill them.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 9:37 am

> I agree with you that MI isn't about communist China.
> I don't buy most conspiracy theories and I don't buy it here.

No one has said that MI was about "Communist China".

What has been said is that the influence of the Communist Chinese can not be discounted because of the PAUSD's immediate trip to China to confer with the Communist government of the teaching of one of the many languages of the Chinese people. Mandarin is being pushed by the Beijing government, let us not forget.

The issue on the table is whether or not (today or in the future), the MI program will find itself being influenced by pressure from Beijing for what can only be considered propaganda purposes.

The other issue is why this program involved so much secrecy--particularly once it became clear that it was unpopular with about 90% of the town? The school district could have cleared the air by refusing the money (ie--returning it), or revealing the names of those who contributed. The attitude of the district was that secrecy was more important than transparency.

---
Web Link
Ex-envoy Details Chinese Regime's Overseas Scheme
By Madalina Hubert and Jason Loftus
Epoch Times Toronto Staff
Jun 07, 2007
--
The article above provides more information about China's program of "soft power".

And then there is the issue of Communist Chinese spying via the use of graduate students:

Web Link


It would be a stretch to try to suggest that the current MI program has anything to do with the Communist Chinese espionage network. However, this network and "soft power" are linked via the Chinese Communist leadership at some point. Both work because the host countries have become blasé about national security issues (meaning that individuals become so dismissive of the horrific record of the Communists worldwide that they no longer believe that the Communists are a threat).

The PAUSD has never explained the involvement of The Confuscius Institute, or if they are aware of the National Security concerns about this organization.

The main concerned expressed here is that with "soft power" and "charm"--how long will it be before we find the PAUSD endorsing the Chinese Communists government by involving elements of this government in its MI program?


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 25, 2008 at 9:44 am

Palo Alto mom,

I assume that they'll fill them by hook or by crook--it is a desirable district in which to teach, but since they're non-tenured positions, I'd assume they're going to get relatively inexperienced people.

One of the things I Googled was an essay by an MI mom in Portland. She mentioned that there were issues with teacher recruitment (it was a very upbeat article)-- the teachers came from China and tended to be more strict and traditional than what Americans were used to.

I'd see that as more an issue than simple recruitment. Particularly since project-led immersion programs don't seem to actually exist.

Parent,

I don't know when Ward Hansen learned Chinese--but Stanford profs aren't a good measure of the overall population's ability to learn a language.

To me, the telling facts are the ones from China--only 53 percent of the Chinese can communicate in Mandarin--that's not fluency, that's not literacy--the comprehension is less than 50 percent. "Literacy" in Chinese means the ability to recognize 1,000 characters if you're a farmer, 1,500 if you're a secretary. They don't bother testing the ability to write.

This is inside China where there's been a chance for the Communist government to get everyone speaking the same language for decades. It's a real challenge--the Chinese recognized a need for a national language a 100 years ago and at this point they're behind their earlier estimates.

In contrast, Indonesia adapted one of its dialects as a national language in the forties--*everyone* in Indonesia can speak it. It's an easy language (non-tonal).

So, it's not the intentions of the Chinese government, it's the nature of the languages themselves.

Let me put it this way, I've picked up various bits of Spanish by living around here. I'll bet you have too. I can think of only a couple of Chinese words and phrases I've picked up, but because of the tonalities, I don't actually know if I'd have a chance of being understood in China or what part of China would understand my rendering of "mei-mei". I would need classes and I'd have to listen intently to get it. I don't need to do that with Spanish. I say "hermosa" and the idea gets across. I can also read "hermosa", but I haven't a clue what "mei-mei" looks like. The only Chinese character I know is the one for "man"--though I don't know what the words for "man" are.

So English--nontonal and a language where literacy is a given with spoken fluency v. Mandarin with its tones and disconnect between spoken and written languages.

The one thing Mandarin has going for it is that it's grammatically pretty straightforward and uninflected. But so is English.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 10:21 am

OP

Does this mean that you have given away your gender? I can only assume that when in China one needs to know what bathroom to enter? I have never been there, so the need for me has never arisen, but I do know know in many languages which door to look for.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 10:37 am

> know if I'd have a chance of being
> understood in China or what part of China would
> understand my rendering of "mei-mei".

There are any number of on-line tools that help people translate words and sentences from one language to another these days.
The following one is fairly useful for Mandarin:

Try entering mei mei --

Web Link

The words have sound files associated with them, so you can listen to the correct pronunciation.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 10:41 am

> That's not literacy ..
From the CIA Fact Book--

China:

Languages:
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
----
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.9%
male: 95.1%
female: 86.5% (2000 census)
---
Literacy must be measured within the framework of the language base of the region.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 10:51 am

As I read the article about the problems in the Potomoc MI program, it seemed like there were a couple key issues.

-Goals and defintions of program outcomes seemed unclear. The article seemed to indicate that there were significant differences from administration, to teachers, to parents about what it means to be 'proficient' and what it means to be 'fluent'. Speaking, reading, writing? or all three? to what degree and by what age? How is that defined and tested and measured? How is PAUSD defining this? All three (reading, writing, speaking), at PAUSD standard grade level curriculum (In other words, is a 4th grader expected to be able to research, write and present a California Gold Rush report in Mandarin? And in English? Is a third grader expected to do all of the above for a 'harvested food' report? Or is a third grader having success if he/she can listen to an instruction in Mandarin? Can count? Name off colors? Or can sing a song in Mandarin? Has PAUSD laid out the specific expected outcomes for each grade level? Are incoming MI parents satisfied with the goals and outcomes or is this a moving target (and parents are just crossing their fingers that they'll agree with what eventually rolls out)

-Personnel Turnover and Teacher quality - seemed to cause significant issues with the continuity of the program in Potomac - so much so that it caused like all but three of the kids to finally drop out. Goals and definitions of expected outcomes seemed to be moving target, resulting in parent and student dissatisfication, and major issues with grading. PAUSD already has key personnel turnover (Cook), they apparently don't have teachers identified yet (but OP seems to think they will be non-tenured positions, and therefore potentially lower quality hires). And the pilot is virtually guaranteed to experience a leadership turnover after year 3 if it is approved it would need to move to a new site big enough to accomodate K-5. It will almost assuredly experience a significant educational 'approach' shift if it moves out of Ohlone... Sounds like PAUSD is destined to battle personnel turnover - will the parents and kids be whipped around as personnel (and location) turns over?

Managing the teachers. Managing parent expectations. The weirdest thing in this article I thought was the idea that the administrators sort of weren't in charge of teacher performance, of grading quality, etc. Program personnel turnover could cause such a disruptive change in evaluation/grading and such a gap in perceived performance versus percieved objectives - like - who's in charge? How does a non-mandarin speaking administrator, and non-mandarin speaking parents really even know if the performance criteria are fair, if performance of children is being fairly and reasonably measured, if the performance of TEACHERS is even up to par. How does an English Only speaking administrator even manage the execution of the Mandarin language component of their program? How do they know if things are getting done according to plan? Fast enough? slow enough? If a parents complain that the teacher is too xxxx with their approach to Mandarin - how would the administrators even be able to monitor this? address this? What if the two Ohlone teachers disagree? Diverge? Go at different pace? Seems that the program is subject to a free form spin, and entirely subject to the whims, styles, preferences of the Mandarin speaking teachers.

All these issues seem ripe and entirely real possibilities for PAUSD. What is PAUSD doing to prevent these? Did anyone bother to put the Potomoc MI program on the radar for the 'feasibility' study? If they would have, why weren't any of these unintended consequences ever discussed?


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 11:04 am

> Did anyone bother to put the Potomoc MI program on
> the radar for the 'feasibility' study?

It wasn't mentioned in the Feasibility Study, if memory serves?


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Posted by Just Wondering
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

Just Waiting: What I'M just waiting for is for the 'charter threat' to rear its ugly head again. Another poster on the lottery thread raised an important question that impacts everyone in PAUSD - if the main PACE proponents didn't win the lottery does that mean they're busily preparing their charter application?

(Specifically, a couple of the KEY leaders in particular that were vocal and visible at most board meetings, were forthcoming about having a kinder and a first grader who would be ready to the program in 08, who co-wrote a Pro-MI guest opinion piece for the weekly, who signed the threat letter...)

I think these two people should announce to the community whether they got in to the Ohlone MI program, and if they did not, what their next steps will be. Will they continue to throw their support into the Ohlone MI pilot (even without their kids there). Will they apply for private MI programs? Will they pursue the charter school in PAUSD option?


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 12:39 pm

> does that mean they're busily preparing their charter application?

This is a really good question--and one of the reasons we should NOT "move on".

Starting up a charter school is not easy. It requires that a lot of information become public--which this group has shown no inclination to do. Given that the nominal leader--Grace Mah--was selected as the representative for Mountain View/Palo Alto on the Santa Clara County Board of Education, she has been seen less in public on this matter. No other person seems to have picked up flag and continued the attack on the PAUSD's schools in her absence.

What was learned in this matter was that School Boards generally know very little about education in general--and virtually nothing about the education system in California.

Any one interested in this matter also learned that Charters are not being granted for the purpose of allowing students at "underperforming" schools to "escape" the horrors of the public school system. Charters seem to be available for anyone who asks--and just because they want one seems to be reason enough in some cases.

Certainly there could have been no claim that the PAUSD was underserving Asian children at this time.
We can only wait and see.

Oh, and don't look to this Board of Education for any answers on this matter.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 25, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Parent,

I've never been to China, so no opportunity to use either restroom. I was in the Taiwan airport once though--they had those little international symbols--what happens in those countries where both sexes are wearing sarongs, anyway?

No, I learned the symbol for man as a kid in, I think, an article in Highlights. It stuck with me because it's a bit like a stick figure.

The Potomac stuff is interesting. You'd think with the $60K and the free trips to China, Cook and co. could have done some basic research on programs in the U.S. But again we saw the price of heavily politicizing educational policy.

I also now really wonder why they didn't look at the attrition issues of the immersion programs in Canada--a country where there's a very real advantage to being bilingual (it's required for Civil Service jobs.) I mean, the Canadians have been running these programs for more than 40 years and serious attrition for academic reasons is still a problem.

Why on earth wasn't that in the feasibility studies--particularly in a district where classrooms are at a premium? I just find it beyond irresponsible on Cook's part.

Just Waiting,

Yes, I could find out how to pronounce "mei mei", but it's not something I can simply and readily hear the way I can Spanish. It's simply a more difficult language for non-native speakers.

As for llteracy rates, I'm aware of those figures. What you need to look at is what "literacy" means and how it's assessed. It's what I described--a limited number of symbols--1,000 to 1,500, depending on occupation and no testing of writing ability. China has done a great deal to bolster its literacy figures in an effort to look good, but the reporting of it's problematic. The stats for what we view as literacy in English (ability to read and write) are much lower. Again, it's the difficulty of the language.

If you have a widely spoken language where literacy doesn't have its own issues, then there's no reason for that language to lose its dominance.

On your second note--one of those leaders has a kid in Ohlone regular, don't know if he got into MI and, of course, we don't know about GM's kid.

The board said if they started a charter applicantion, they'll kill the trial MI program. So, that's the deal now. However, if the program's floundering in three years, I don't see a reason why they wouldn't raise it again in an attempt to secure Garland, frankly.

If I were the Board, I'd tell 'em to go file and throw them half of Greenfell. It's a bad site for a neighborhood school, but a good site for a commuter one. They don't need a full site because the native-speaking population's not big enough for a large program.

Well, okay, I'd be inclined to play hardball and place them in south San Jose, but I'm obviously fed up. Greenfell, I think, would be a fair option, though. Let PACE run its own school since they tend to think like private-school parents anyway.


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Posted by Just Waiting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

> It stuck with me because it's a bit like a stick figure.

Yes .. it's meant to resemble a walking man. Korean uses the same character for "man" also (Korean is based on Chinese at some level).

> I just find it beyond irresponsible on Cook's part.

Most people did. But it is very hard to complain effectively about Staff that is not doings its job well.

> Let PACE run its own school since they tend to
> think like private-school parents anyway

This has always been an option to PACE. Rumor had it that they were almost as interested in having this program in the 9430x zip code than having it at all. Since the PAUSD is supposed to be so good, the "street talk" was that once the PAUSD caved, other school districts would follow.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 26, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Just Waiting,

Yep, the resemblance was explained in the article--the fact that I remember this does say something about childhood retention . . . I remember someone saying at a board meeting that Korean was sort of an adaptation of Chinese--a little easier to read--a choice made by the Korean emperor around 1400.

As for Cook--every time I start digging around in the immersion literature, I find more and more issues that were unexamined. Over and over, we've just seen a lack of critical thinking. My impression of Cook is that she thought it was her job to say whatever it was that Callan wanted to hear.

Interesting point about PACE--the interest in zip code was pretty apparent when the board came out against it and it was suggested that PACE open a charter in Mountain View, which was nearby, had a vacant school and, as a general revenue district, wouldn't be adversely affected by a charter. The snarls that ensued were impressive.

I think, though, after the stink raised here over MI that other districts aren't going to find it very attractive. It's one ugly mess and even its biggest board supporter ignored her involvment in it during the last election.

Combine that with the Potomac disaster and anyone opposed to an MI program is going to have a bigger arsenal than we did. (And these threads come right up in Google.) I'm really sorry that the information about the Potomac program didn't come out a year earlier. As it is, the pro-MI crowd was able to pretty much skate over the attrition issue--and how that kind of attrition affects "average" scores.

My take on PACE and its leadership is that they're so single-minded, that they really don't see the forest for the trees. There's certainly no critical thinking going on there either--it's all sort of this single-focused determination to get something without really examining why they have to get it in a particular way. I've always felt that Grace Mah was trying to prove something that's only semi-rational and the rest of us got dragged along for the ride.




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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm

OP. I just went out and followed your lead and googled 'attrition in immersion' and found a wealth of information. The studies on French immersion in Canada are very informative. And teaching french in Canada is not a novelty - its been around for a long time. I have a friend from Canada that says its common practice for french instructions to begin in 3rd grade (much like our FLES recommendations here).

The interesting thing about attrition isn't really that it happens (because it happens in all programs - including regular PAUSD - and it might be happening for many reasons - although if you read some of the material on immersion the common reasons seem to be student difficulties (like learning issues with the language arts side of the program - either English or the target language) OR issues with the program itself - like teachers quality, unclarity in standards or disagreement with goals, etc.

But the really interesting thing that you don't see talked about much is the concept that attrition should change how you evaluate the results. You begin with a program loaded with GATE type performers (or high likelihood of GATE characteristics), which means you a) unload the 'peer' group regular schools from gate performers, AND then the lower performers in the program drop out as time goes by. Then you backfill with high performers - language proficient. All of which then loads your performance results toward the highest of the high performers. The success statistics we generally see say that the end results are fantastic - and that the results when measure agains the 'average' are better. But with no regard truely comparable peer groups, and certainly no regard to the results of the original (Kinder/first) enrollees fates.

I wonder what we'd see if we measured the results of our AP students against 'average' PAUSD. Would anyone be suggesting that would be a good predictor of the AP programs' ability to teach? Or would it be a reflection of smart kids doing well in any program they choose.

And would that be an appropriate sales point for all parents - this AP program works for all kids - look at these great results?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Lack of critical thinking is what really gets me the most. I mean if you google on MI programs - you see powerpoint afer powerpoint after powerpoint from school districts that are jumping on the fad, that read EXACTLY (like a cookie cutter) like our own PAUSD feasibility materials.

I have yet to see a single school hosted presentation that gives parents a single 'food for thought' pro/con list, or potential truthful presentation of unintendended consequences. Like zero. All 100% wine and roses. Any teeny hint of concern is presented as "here's why you don't worry about this" (usually related to not being able to meaninfully help your kid with homework.)


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Posted by Euro Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2008 at 7:06 pm

A lot of this boils down to, not the motivation of the parents, or even the motivation of the school (district), but the motivation of the child.

Growing up in a school where everyone had to learn to other languages in a FLES type scenario, the majority of us students hated having to learn another language. The main exception to this was the few students to whom English was a second language. The idea that they were already struggling or succeeding to improve their English transferred into them having equal motivation in learning other languages. If they were really doing well learning English, then the other languages were equally similarly attempted. If they were struggling with English, they may or may not have done equally well on the other language front, often depending on what their mother tongue was.

For this reason, we have to look at the motivation of the students. If a child comes to live here from outside the US speaking another language, it is obvious that they want to learn English so that they can communicate with others outside the family and make friends, let alone fitting in. If a child is being taught a language at home other than English because it is the language of their parents or grandparents, they may not have very much motivation to learn it. However, if every summer they spend two months in that country whereby they need this language to communicate with everyone they meet, other than their immediate family, then they have stronger motivation.

I feel for a child here who is being put into MI or even SI where the parents have no idea of the language themselves. The motivation for that child could very well be very low and if their personality is such that they find it hard to mix and make friends in an English setting, how on earth are they going to do it when they are being forced to learn a language that is completely alien to them.

Children generally speaking like to fit in with each other. We have another thread about bullying, and I have certainly seen the beginnings of teasing, being mean and yes even bullying at the kindergarten and 1st grade levels. I have seen ELL kids really trying hard to become friends with the English speaking kids at their school, only to be called names in the playground or have snide comments made about them. I heard over the weekend of one child who was taught something by a playground peer and when they proudly went home to use their new words at home they were shocked at the parents reaction to the vulgarity they had been taught.

I hope that the teachers in the immersion programs are ready for what may happen, because like it or not, we are going to have cliques and schisms in the playgrounds.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2008 at 12:55 am

Euro Parent,

Interesting comments--what you say makes sense and also fits with what has happened in the U.S. over the years--the kids of immigrants learn English--to the point of dropping their mother tongue. Attempts to keep heritage languages alive in subsequent generations have been a challenge.

You're right, too, that children aren't always kind about kids who don't speak the way they do. The MI kids will be in a minority at Ohlone--and since the program is supposed to be integrated with the rest of the school, they will be aware that English is the preferred language.

Parent,

Interesting stuff, isn't it? The attrition issue is a double whammy--artificially boosting average scores because the kids not cutting it drop out (and that big Canadian thesis points out the main reason kids dropped out was because they weren't doing well academically) while those same kids then help lower the average score of the non-immersion pool.

To me, the interesting thing is even with the attrition and self-selection effect, the scores aren't that great. Not when compared to a program with a similar self-selection bias such as Hoover.

Because the attrition problem is so severe--I think I'd suspect the so-called results of any study that doesn't factor in the attrition affect. I also wonder to what extend the famous grade 2/3 score drop and grade 4/5 recovery is not simply the function of kid's learning the language but of lower-performing kids dropping out of the program. We saw a big drop-off in the CLIP program's first class right around then.

(Damn, I always knew something was sounding too good to be true and now I think I'm getting at it.)

The Potomac results are kind of shocking in terms of the effort/results equation--you set up an immersion program, kids are in it for years, then it turns out that they're clearly not fluent by high school and out of all those kids, only three prep to take the Mandarin AP exam--which should be the equivalent of one year's worth of college-level Mandarin.

What it makes me wonder is if they dumbed down the Potomac curriculum so that kids wouldn't drop out--only to find that they didn't progress enough to study any sort of advanced Mandarin at high school.

And, yes, because school administrators aren't fluent in Mandarin, there's a certain taking it on faith regarding proficiency. (Which is also the case with many of the parents as well.)

Wonder how long this bubble's going to expand before it bursts? I think we need to insist on very close accounting of the MI program--including numbers on attrition and *reasons* for attrition.

Also, if we're holding back 10 percent of our kinders, how will we know which MI kids should be retained because they're not mastering kinder skills v. Mandarin issues?