Guest Opinion: What we can do to reduce risk for our teens | March 20, 2015 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - March 20, 2015

Guest Opinion: What we can do to reduce risk for our teens

by The Palo Alto Department of Pediatrics at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation

The pediatricians of Palo Alto Medical Foundation are deeply saddened by the local recent events. The loss of a young person's life is always a tragedy but especially so when preventable. As a medical group and a community we must ask ourselves what we can do differently.

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Posted by Awesome
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2015 at 8:04 am

I'm so impressed and grateful that our caregivers have taken the time to write this letter. Thank you.

Posted by Gunn Mum
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 20, 2015 at 8:49 am

Please let the PAMF letter stand alone as their opinion. I am sure they chose their wording very carefully and thoughtfully. The weekly is now adding their editorial comments that may alter the message. If you feel the need to editorialize I would suggest waiting at least 24 hours so that people will read the original source first. If they are experts they do not need your assistance in stating their stance.

Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 20, 2015 at 8:54 am

Want to say this somewhere, and since other threads are not open, I will say it here.

One thing is very clear to me. We may disagree and have different opinions on the how, but we are all very concerned. The amount of discussion here online and in various venues around town show just how concerned we all are.

This is a caring community. We are all in it together even if we disagree. In fact it can be said that disagreement proves how concerned we are.

If any student feels that we adults don't care, then they should count up the number of comments on these threads and understand that there are a lot of caring adults here and we care for each one of you. We may not agree all the time about everything, but we care for you.

If you can't talk to your parents or someone at school, then find another caring adult in the community. It may be a friend's parent, a neighbor, a youth leader, a coach or a librarian. But find someone and talk away. We are listening, even if we appear to be making a lot of noise.

Posted by why don't this paper get it?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 20, 2015 at 9:18 am

physical education and academic classes that meet during a zero period that begins at 7:20 a.m. Palo Alto High School starts at 8:15 a.m., with 102 students currently enrolled in physical education classes that meet at 7:10 a.m., the school's zero period.

[Portion removed due to incorrect assertion.] This is about sleep, and students not getting enough. It doesn't matter if their not getting enough because of academic or PE. Schools need to stop the practice of zero period [portion removed.]

Posted by Another dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 20, 2015 at 9:37 am

This is dynamite. This is not just about zero period.

What these doctors are recommending is nothing short of a complete overhaul of schools (not just in Palo Alto but all over the bay area) that employ high-pressure tactics to drive kids to be more successful (and in many cases, drive them to suicide, depression, and/or performance-enhancing drug abuse).

This is long overdue. For parents like myself, who have kids less able to handle insane stress levels, we have essentially been forced by the school system to put our kids at risk...or take them out of public schools completely.

Now we have a chance to be heard and to start pushing back at these community-mandated destructive school environments.

Other school systems that are going to be affected: Orinda, Walnut Creek, Menlo Park, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Saratoga, etc etc. All of these cities have jumped on the "rigorous" bandwagon over the years, without considering that this would screw up many kids and many families.

I'm just sad it took so many dead children to get people to stop and consider the consequences.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 20, 2015 at 9:44 am

I like the frankness of this article. Howeve there will be many who push back on ANYTHING that prevents Susie or Joey from taking more AP's than the next kid because THEIR child CAN handle it.

There are two enormous elephants in the room.

1/A vastly disproportionate (compared to 99% of towns in the entire world) number of parents in our community did go to a "top tier" college. If they dropped out of college it was from an Ivy or Standord and that is considered even "more elite". These parents want their kids to have that feather in their own caps because it is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from them, and they got where they are today with that degree on their resume and think had they NOT had that on their resume they would not have ended up where they did. PERIOD. And there really may be truth to that. This is the mind frame of many. This is where much of the fever begins. At HOME. Because these parents have the experience of having that school on their resume. Those SAME parents work at places like Google (which last I checked requires an IQ test and has a point system associated with college names which must add up to a certain number to even be granted an interview). These parents in our community want their kids to pass that Google entrance exam of professional life.

2/Until the top tier schools stop admitting kids with resumes that clearly reflect that a child did not lead a balanced life, this fever will never end. And until the Googles and Goldmans of the world stop being school snobs
people will want those schools. Parents know about the school "snobbery" that goes on at many companies and so they want their kid to have a school that is accepted in that circle. They fear (and rightly so) that if their child has a less "respected" school on their resume ther theirs will be ignored because of the current process. I know purple on this group will likely blast my thoughts and point out exceptions- but that is what they are, exceptions and that means a gamble and our community of parents don't want to take that gamble.

In my opinion we can talk and talk and talk about making changes to the tune of everything listed above (which I personally want to happen) BUT the reality is families around here are never going to set aside the thoughts that I stated above. Nobody says this stuff outloud. But trust me, this is the concern in their minds and many give only lip service to wanting change. Trust me, many look at it as "hey, maybe if I pretend to want things to clam down around here others actually will and that will give my Susie and Joey a leg up."

I love what these doctors are saying. We need that force and the force of universities and corporations to find other ways to assess candidates or the madness will continue.

And one last thought.. Kids can't get the recommended sleep until PAUSD does some kind of online tracking survey type deal to see how long assigmmts are taking and what time they go to bed. Living here someone should be able to whip up an app for that. What's the delay?

Posted by StopThePush
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2015 at 9:55 am

The push for excellence is the problem. This has an affect on the over all well being of our children. I think it starts in the home and what the parents want for their children. People move here for the excellent schools so of course they want their kids to be high achieving. It has become a culture here in Palo Alto that needs to be changed.

I appreciate the doctors at PAMP addressing this problem and sending a letter to the district and community. I think they are spot on and the kids are losing sleep because of the amount of excellence expected. Even if they are tired and yawning they still need to push to get all of the work done. We need to change the tone and stop feeling the need to be the highest performers.

Posted by Palo Alto Online Editor
a resident of another community
on Mar 20, 2015 at 10:01 am

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