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School district: No more international field trips for elementary students

Original post made on Sep 16, 2019

Palo Alto Unified will no longer allow school-sponsored international field trips for elementary school students, leading to the cancellation of a popular, longtime trip to Mexico.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 16, 2019, 8:55 AM

Comments (80)

34 people like this
Posted by downtowner
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:17 am

This is sad for the kids and the community. The group went to Costa Rica for many years and then they switched back to Mexico because it was cheaper. This Costa Rica trip was amazing for our son and all the kids. Also, we raised a ton of money so EVERYONE could go. This article makes it sound like people are left out and they are not. They should reconsider a safer country like Costa Rica if that is really the issue.


9 people like this
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:30 am

Maybe the school should fly the councilors from Mexico to Escondido, Hidden Villa, or somewhere cultural like New Mexico/ San Diego and create their own immersion camp. The district can't complain about safety issues then. Or parents just plan to skip a week of school, gather the troops and take your own trip like Mandarin Immersion does.


10 people like this
Posted by The last Time I Saw Paris
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 1:29 pm

This is a shame. Our fourth grader was telling us of tentative plans for a summer excursion to Paris that her teacher was planning as a 'total immersion' cultural experience. Lots to see & places to eat.

Parents were also invited to accompany as well.


6 people like this
Posted by Richard
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 1:35 pm

We chaperoned middle school kids to Japan in 2004, and it was an amazing trip for them to stay with host families and learned about the cultures and immersed in the language. I don't know if the trip has been going on lately but this is not a good decision.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I don’t think we should let kids speak Spanish anymore given our concern for their safety. Who really knows what’s inside a burrito?


46 people like this
Posted by Michelle
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 16, 2019 at 2:10 pm

Ironically, if Equity is the reason (more likely district costs and risk aversion) then this move will result in greater inequity. As an official school trip, fundraising takes place to ensure no student is left out due to finances; as a summer trip this won’t necessarily be the case.
Anyone know if the Mandarin immersion trip is supported by fundraising to ensure full inclusion?
I’ve not sent my kids on the 8th grade DC trip because it does not sit well with me that it it is only available to those who can afford the full cost. I think it’s honestly off that the trip is held over Spring Break to avoid the necessity of inclusion of all regardless of ability to pay.
I don’t envy the district weighing these decisions but if there was ever a time where the value of cross-cultural exposure and interaction is evident it is now! I’ve no doubt that this trip has been a transformative learning experience for students and it’s a shame to see it abolished.


30 people like this
Posted by Former JLS parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 16, 2019 at 4:13 pm

I am astonished these trips were happening anyway. My oldest 2 both had the opportunity to go to DC during school time while they were at JLS. This was a wonderful trip, and my youngest was anxious to be able to go when he reached the grade. Unfortunately by that time the trips were completely cancelled due to the fact that the BoE decided that they were unfair to families who would be embarrassed to ask for financial help even though there was no problem getting funding for those who needed help to pay the cost. The reason given was that many families were embarrassed or reluctant to ask for help even though that information would have remained private. Was it equitable for my youngest not to receive the same opportunity as his older siblings?

The fact that the lucky winners of the lotteries were allowed to continue to have these field trips shows once again the inequity of the immersion lotteries. Not only do those lucky lottery winners get the bonus of learning a foreign language in elementary school, they also got the opportunity to travel with school which was not available to the general school population.

Hypocrisy and double standards yet again!


14 people like this
Posted by Life isn't fair
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 6:03 pm

Looks like Former JLS parent got their way: no one gets to go anywhere! Can't Marianne Williamson manifest this with her mind?


7 people like this
Posted by Former JLS parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm

PS No I didn't get my way! I think everyone should have the opportunity to go on wonderful travel opportunities with schools. I don't know where you got the idea I was pleased. Astonished, yes because I thought they had stopped. Pleased, no because travel is a great educational tool and many students won't have the opportunity to do so if the family can't afford to take the whole family.

Allowing the Immersion programs to have trips when every one else was denied, is problematic. It was good for the lucky lottery winners, not so lucky for the rest. Certainly nothing for me to call fair. Bring back travel trips for all.


18 people like this
Posted by Elementary school mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Elementary school mom is a registered user.

I think middle school parents should try to get the trip back . Lack of transparency by the district is really staggering. At least SI parents are trying to get answers and possibly have the decision overturned.


26 people like this
Posted by Good!
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Good! is a registered user.

This is great news. An overseas trip with that many kids is difficult on sleep cycles and moods, a waste of money, and bad for the Earth. It is also a financial stress on many families, even when money is raised.

Wait until the children are teens, when they will better appreciate it and have more maturity to tolerate the difficulties of travel. Take them camping somewhere nearby instead. I cannot believe this is even a matter of debate. We need to begin raising our kids differently, and this is the very smallest of steps in that direction.


15 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:55 pm

"Lack of transparency by the district is really staggering."

I'm confused by this. They told the parents at the very start of the school year that they wouldn't approve international trips. This trip wasn't planned until next spring. The principal started telling them this last year. The principal and district staff met with parents at the school several times during the first two weeks of school to explain the decision, with the reasons being safety and equity. So what exactly is not "transparent"?

It feels like when some people say "it's not transparent" they mean "I don't like the decision." I get that, fine, but this was transparent - the district staff made their decision, well in advance, for the stated reasons. Sorry about that, but that's their job, right?


29 people like this
Posted by Escondido parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:03 pm

Escondido parent is a registered user.

Well... lack of transparency.... parents were originally told that the decision to change the policy was made by the board.. and at the next meeting that it had nothing to do with the board ... abc at the third meeting that it was not a policy change at all and that the new principal of the school never actually applied for the trip. So... still waiting for the truth


15 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:28 pm

@Escondido parent, I don't know what you were told or what rumor you heard, but the article is clear - the district staff made the decision, and the principal found out as the year began when she asked about applying for permission. Seems pretty cut and dried.

The article quotes other parents as calling the decision "unilateral" - that seems more accurate. The staff didn't seek parent input - they decided they weren't comfortable with recommending international travel, that was that. They could have pussy-footed around, had committee meetings, wasted a lot of time - but instead, they made their decision and told people. Good for them in my view.


22 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 16, 2019 at 11:32 pm

The lack of transparency here should bother all PAUSD parents… this decision to cancel the Spanish Immersion trip directly conflicts with the existing Board Policy, and yet there were no public discussions and no attempt to adhere to the right procedures. Just a closed-door decision presented as a done deal, with only confused and conflicting comments from the Board. Our PAUSD Board Members are elected to represent the best interests of the community and provide oversight of the Superintendent… someone’s asleep at the wheel.


14 people like this
Posted by Parent of 2
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:05 am

"directly conflicts with the existing Board Policy"

Per the article: "Under board policy, schools submit requests for ... out-of-country travel to the superintendent or a designee, who determines whether the travel should be recommended for approval to the Board of Education." The district staff said they won't recommend it. How is that not following the policy?

"Confused and conflicting comments from the Board"

Like what? I watched the recent board meeting, where I didn't see any comments from the board on this at all, nor are there any in this article. What "comments from the board" are you referring to?

You seem to be trying to stir the pot here, but mostly it seems like you don't like the decision. Sorry about that, but don't throw around accusations just because you didn't get your way.


19 people like this
Posted by Escondido parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:13 am

Lack of transparency is a big issue with this decision. The Board and superintendent keep changing their stories: at first, it was a decision by the Board (as announced by 2 Board members at Escondido) and Escondido principal was not involved, but after questions arise about not following Board’s procedure (a closed-door meeting, etc.), the superintendent version was that the Board was not involved, and it was the principal and district staff who made the decision. Something is not right.


7 people like this
Posted by Another Escondido parent
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:26 am

@Escondido parent, you are not telling the truth, sorry. I was at the Friday meeting where there were two board members. One said nothing at all (I don't know his name, he came in late), the other said very little (DiBreinza). Neither said anything about the school board making a decision. I agree that I don't like the decision but there is no reason not to tell the truth.


19 people like this
Posted by Parent of 5th Grader
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 17, 2019 at 6:31 am

The lack of transparency and credibility by administrators (Anne and Marcela) has been very disappointing. Anne's comment regarding safety is ridiculous and disingenuous, given she and Marcela encouraged us to take the children on the trip in June (making sure timing was outside of the school year and stressing that we were not allowed to use school resources (MP room, Konstella, etc.) in our planning efforts.) Neither could address the question "So what is the alterative?" given the purpose of the trip is for children to learn, and their jobs are educators....This was anything but about the children. They also kept the teachers out of the conversations, circumvented the Board (and parents) and basically lied about the entire process. This issue goes way beyond a trip, this is now about a lack of integrity.


9 people like this
Posted by Escondido parent 2
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 6:44 am

@another Escondido Parent. I was at 3 meetings, the one were we were told about canceling of the trip (very first one), back to school night(2nd one) and at the board meeting. At the first 2 meetings Principal and Mrs. Brown were there and let me tell you I heard different things all 3 times. It is nothing to do about the trip not more. It is about the way things and communications was done. I already know trip will not happen but I am scare at how we as parents have nothing to say about our children when it comes to big changes like this one. We as parents do not have a say it comes to our children school? District can change a policy like that and all of you will be happy? Or you just all happy because it was a trip you all did not like? Because yes article can say one thing but none of you have been in all 4 meetings to heard what is really going on.
When it hits home and they come and change a policy then we will see how you all defend that!


13 people like this
Posted by Economical Field Trips
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2019 at 7:41 am

For Spanish classes...a charter bus + layover in a San Diego Motel & a day trip to Tijuana should suffice.

For a Cantonese-themed field trip...a one day excursion (via school bus) to SF Chinatown.

For an American cultural diversity fieldtrip...perhaps a visit to Queens, NY.


43 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:17 am

Oh puhleeze! Allow me to throw the proverbial skunk out on to the table.

Has anyone bothered to check the situation on the ground in Guanajuato, Mexico where the camp at question is located? The region is in the midst of a full-scale drug cartel war! In 2018 the murder rate in Mexico was the highest since record keeping began with the state of Guanajuato being the fourth most violent. For 2019, Guanajuato has taken the lead with the murder rate already forecasted to far exceed the 2018 rate! This is hardly the ideal or sensible destination for an elementary school field trip!

The city of Irapuato, just a few miles from the camp some parents are clamoring to send their children , has recently earned notoriety as one of Mexico’s (and the hemisphere’s) most violent cities stemming primarily from a turf war between two extremely violent drug cartels. While Irapuato is the most dramatic example, several small and mid-sized cities in Guanajuato have had comparable accelerations in violence. Celaya, Salamanca, and Silao, the third, fourth, and fifth largest cities in the state and all within the vicinity of the camp, respectively, produced a total of 841 murders in 2018. In the case of Salamanca and Silao, the current levels of violence are more than 40 times what they were in the early 2000s when this international camping trip is said to have first begun!

The parents clamoring to allow this camp to continue are clearly not operating with a full set of marbles. Why would any school district in its right mind send elementary children into such a violent region? What’s next year’s camp destination, Syria? Afghanistan? North Korea?


21 people like this
Posted by Escondido parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:32 am

I was also at the meeting at Escondido with the 2 board members. Jennifer DiBrianza talked about how her decision was about equity. It was presented as a new policy. Later on, a few parents asked the district to re-open this case because it did not follow any board procedures. After this, the district and board completely changed their version and claimed that the board wasn’t involved and it wasn’t a policy change. Very suspicious!


22 people like this
Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2019 at 8:56 am

There are policy questions and implementation questions.

My opinion is that at a policy level, such trips should be supported, encouraged, even expanded. I do not detect from this reporting that PAUSD School Board or Administration have addressed this policy question, and the decision relating to the Escondido trip was largely tactical in nature.

Implementation should be a no brainer. There are numerous age appropriate venues for children this age that are safe and enlightening. Funding does not have to come from the District, but the District discouraging or forbidding such trips is disgraceful. Especially if such decisions are based on a particular destination, which could be changed if circumstances warrant it.


7 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 9:35 am

@Paul Losch

The policy was clearly stated as related to equity--equal access to educational opportunities provided by the district for all students, not just the high brow and wealthy and those with a passport. It's a standing policy.

How would you make it equitable? Not all students can participate in international trips. Immigrants without documentation have not been able to attend the Mexico trip in the past. Moreover, for the parents that can't afford the trip, who is going to pay for their passports and travel supplies if they are eligible to apply?

How do you justify the increased risk of international travel? Who covers medical insurance? Should the taxpayers be paying? Is all this within the mandate and expectations of public education? Is exposing the district to liabilities from international travel really within the mandate of the school board? Are teachers and administrators supposed to step up? One fifth grade teacher doesn't even attend with her class. Why not? Are you willing to step up and take responsibility?

It would seem to me that 100% parent-funded travel not on school time is the the most appropriate approach. As others have commented, this is how it's done with the Ohlone trip and the trips to Washington D.C. As far as the cultural exchange benefit, it's a well known fact that many of the SI parents jet off to Spain for their European vacations to experience the richness of the Spanish language. Why not take their poorer counterparts within them? Is it because the Mexico trip checks the box for exposure and appropriation of poverty?


20 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 9:52 am


Regarding equity issues, there has never been an issue for this trip at Escondido of any child excluded due to economic issues or immigration status. Every year Escondido parents and students raised money to provide scholarships for about 7 to 12 students for families that otherwise cannot afford this trip. On the contrary, having a school-sponsored trip is the best way to promote equality and inclusion for children of all backgrounds. If we are forced to plan our own trip outside of the school district, it is highly likely that many children will be left behind due to their economic situation, thereby depriving many kids of this amazing cultural experience.


18 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 4
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2019 at 9:54 am

Escondido Parent 4 is a registered user.

This trip has never been financially sponsored by the district. It is paid for by the teachers, fundraisers and a scholarship fund created by parents. It appears that not once in the history of the trip were there students who were not able to go due to financial constraints. Not once. However, having this trip during the vacation time and completely organized and sponsored by parents would insure that the only kids that will be able to go would be the kids of parents who can afford it. Hence making it into a vacation rather then an educational trip the way it has been for the last 20 years.


15 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 10:07 am

@Escondido Parent & Escondido Parent 4

Nice try, but many parents do not elect to allow their children to participate. Your claims falsely suggest 100% attendance. That is simply not true. You are only claiming that 100% of students who elect to go are covered financially. Many students did not go last year. And again, one fifth grade teacher doesn't go, so half of the claimed education value has been eliminated.

Talk about not being transparent and miscommunication!

That said, if the trip is not financially sponsored by the school district then there should be no problem continuing the trip as has already been planned. Moreover, to address safety issues, take the poorer kids to Madrid, Barcelona or the Costa del Sol in Spain!


20 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 4
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2019 at 10:40 am

Escondido Parent 4 is a registered user.

I am sorry, where did I say that there was a 100% participation?
Please read carefully . I said "It appears that not once in the history of the trip were there students who were not able to go due to financial constraints."
What this means is there were never students that wanted to go but ended up not going because their parents could not afford it. Thats what "financial constraints" mean.
Of course there were students who did not go for a variety of reasons. My child did not get to go on a school sponsored field trip last year because he got sick the night before. Not due to financial constraints. Do you see the difference?
One of the large reasons for going to Mexico vs Spain is financial. While through fundraiser and donations and scholarships Mexico trip (under $2K per person) can be achieved for everyone; doubling of this cost is unrealistic.
I think you are trying to argue just for the sake of arguing, without giving this situation any real thought.


24 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 7
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Escondido SI Parent 7 is a registered user.

Clearly we all have different opinions about this trip and it is invigorating to be able to openly engage in these discussions about equity, trip location, etc. And these are exactly the discussions we should be having with the Board, so that we can collectively understand the risks of a specific trip and work together to explore viable solutions. However, the key issue is that PAUSD has made a blanket decision to end all international trips for 5th graders -- regardless of destination, regardless of educational value, regardless of teacher input -- based on a closed-door process that did not involve parents or other community members. This is the issue we want to address. In the past, when there were specific safety concerns, the SI Program was able to successfully transition the annual trip to Costa Rica, thereby providing a similar experience for the SI students. If there are specific safety concerns about Mexico and the location of the current camp, then we should be having discussions about alternative countries/locations. However, PAUSD has unilaterally shut down that option.


18 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:21 pm

@Escondido Parent 4

The camp is a week long! If there isn't 100% participation, due to excessive costs or immigration status or perceived risk to a child, and the trips take place during school hours, then there is a serious equity issue which just supports the decision made.

Then please address the issue of one of the teachers not attending while you claim there is an educational value to the trip.

Furthermore, are you going to address the safety issue involving a trip into a region in Mexico currently in the throes of a drug cartel turf war? If something goes really, really wrong, who will be responsible? Will everyone just shrug their shoulders and just admit they all signed a release of liability form?

In the end this all sounds like a group of largely privileged and wealthy parents not be used to hearing that they can't do whatever they want whenever they want when it comes to public education. The good the whole outweighs the narrow interests of a few.


19 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 12:32 pm

@ Escondido SI Parent 7

If you want an educational experience for your student with international flair and travel, there are plenty of private schools around that can provide for that. Furthermore, if parents want to provide funds for other underprivileged students, there are many ways to do so, although I would argue that financing international trips is most likely low on their list of needs.


22 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 7
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 17, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Escondido SI Parent 7 is a registered user.

For those of you curious about the specifics of the camp program for 5th to 8th grade level at El Molino in Mexico, including perspectives on safety from recent attendees, you can view more details here:

Web Link

Many local schools attend the program every year, including Girls Middle School and Park Day School.

Also, for those concerned about equity, please keep in mind that the group that will be disproportionately impacted by the district’s cancellation of this trip will be families that otherwise could not afford to participate in great programs such as this.


28 people like this
Posted by This place is dangerous
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2019 at 10:10 pm

And for those of you looking for a description of current conditions in Guantajuanto, there's this about Irapuato, about 40 miles from the camp, dated Aug 30, 2019: Web Link Good heavens. A few snippets:

Irapuato, Symbol of Rising Violence in Mexico’s Mid-Sized Cities

After years of relative calm, the city’s 474 murders in 2018 — which stemmed primarily from turf wars between the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel (SRLC) — represented a nearly three-fold increase from the prior year.

According to a recent report from a non-governmental organization called the Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal, Irapuato’s murder rate in 2018 made it the sixth deadliest city in the Western Hemisphere. This places Irapuato in the company of cities whose security challenges are far more famous, including Caracas, Acapulco, and Ciudad Juárez.

While Irapuato is the most dramatic example, several small and mid-sized cities in Guanajuato have had comparable accelerations in violence. Celaya, Salamanca, and Silao — the third, fourth, and fifth largest cities in the state, respectively — produced a total of 841 murders in 2018.

A local self-defense group calling itself the Justicieros de Irapuato emerged with promises to protect the city’s residents where the police could not, a significant step toward the breakdown of the social contract between the government and the governed. By 2018, the local police essentially declared publicly they would no longer seek to enforce laws related to organized crime, which it proposed to leave to the federal government. This may have helped take local police out of the firing line, but a more complete abdication of a government’s duty is hard to imagine.



26 people like this
Posted by This place is dangerous
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2019 at 10:47 pm

And here's an article about the deployment of Mexican federal army forces to areas in Guanajuato from Feb 2019: Web Link

It includes pictures of military forces patrolling the streets of Celaya, which is 9 miles from the camp where the kids were to go.


22 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2019 at 11:01 pm

@Escondido SI Parent 7

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The web link and map you provide clearly shows that the camp is in the middle of the Guanajuato drug-cartel war-zone equivalent of the Sunni Triangle! Wow. Just wow. Ignoring such a threat and dangerous environment is just plain nuts. Nuts!

Regardless, the trip has not been cancelled. It's still going on, only this time it will be after school lets out and have nothing to do with the school district. I really don't get how the less privileged students who still want to go all of a sudden won't be provided for through fundraising. This seems like more of a strong arm tactic: If the district won't sponsor the trip, we who are going will take it out on the poorer student population. What exactly changed? What is really behind all this? Does the new schedule impede on the more privileged parents' European vacations, swim team leagues or extra curricular summer camps? Something doesn't add up here.


6 people like this
Posted by r.o.w
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2019 at 8:33 am

r.o.w is a registered user.

I wonder to what degree this cancelation relates to the fear that Trump could try to prevent some kids from coming back into the U.S. after the trip?


26 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

Parents are free to form groups that want to travel to foreign countries during vacation periods if they feel that international travel is important to their children's educations.

There is no reason that the publicly-funded school district should be involved in this activity.


25 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 7
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 18, 2019 at 11:51 am

Escondido SI Parent 7 is a registered user.

Regarding safety, we all have different levels of comfort. At the extreme, there are people that believe all countries outside the US are unsafe for their family, and likewise, there are people that will not come to the US because they feel it is unsafe. My personal approach is to take practical precautions and avoid problematic areas wherever I go: whether I am in San Francisco, New York, or visiting Santiago, Chile, I will avoid certain areas.

Every school activity entails some level of risk that should be understood and considered, and parents always have the ultimate say on whether or not their child should participate. And while there are dangerous regions in the world (including inside the US), I certainly don't believe that every country and every location outside the US is high risk. There are amazing international opportunities that are very appropriate and highly valuable for our children of all grade levels (as stated in our District's longstanding field trip policy), and the merits and risks of each individual activity should be open to discussion and review (and adjustment as needed).

The key issue is that PAUSD has made a blanket decision to end all international trips for 5th graders -- regardless of destination, regardless of educational value, regardless of teacher input -- based on a closed-door process that did not involve parents or other community members. This is the issue we want to address.


19 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 18, 2019 at 2:42 pm

@Escondido SI Parent 7

I disagree. The key issue is high risk. The Guanajuato region is currently in a state of high risk. No schools should sending children there on international field trips. Do you agree or disagree, since you appear to be avoiding the issue as it specifically relates to the Escondido field trip? Furthermore, when school board members and staff are in charge of the safety of the public's children, their level of risks they are willing to allow tends to be understandably low. Your risk taking level may be high, but that doesn't mean it should apply to large groups of children for whom you are not responsible.

Lastly, the key issue never dealt with international field trips for ALL fifth grade classes across all PAUSD schools. Escondido is the only campus that had one and it has been an outlier and anomaly and hence defies equity.


14 people like this
Posted by Not end of the world
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2019 at 11:14 pm

Sorry for the Escondido kids and families. However it's not END OF THE WORLD. The kids will have out of state and international trips in middle and high schools. The teachers will organize the non-school sponsored trips. My daughters joined the French teacher and classmates to France in 7th grade. And she went to DC during spring break in 8th grade with 70 kids from Greene. She had a great time. Honestly I think it's better for them to travel with the group starting from middle school. They are more responsible for themselves. Not a big bundle for the teachers and schools.


12 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2019 at 12:57 am

A close family friend of mine from Mexico pulled me aside and told me it is not safe, and to not let my child go on a field trip to Mexico one summer.
He told me that the cartel members can tell an American, and they target Americans on tour groups to kidnap for ransom.

He told me to trust him, and to not believe what the choir teacher had told us (that it was safe).
I have never seen him this concerned.
He told me that he would never allow any of his children to travel to Mexico now, and he is Mexican American.


19 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 8
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2019 at 8:11 am

The SI international trip has been there from the beginning of the program (18 years already) with the first 5th grade class graduating from the program in 2001. 
 
The district doesn’t put in any money for this trip.  Parents and kids raise money to provide scholarships for kids that cannot afford it (about 10 each year).
 
[Portion removed.]
 
I guess this type of trip should only be available for the privileged who can afford private school or trips outside the school.


21 people like this
Posted by Stay-at-home mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2019 at 9:26 am

So much for Ivy League and elite college degrees of the Palo Alto residents. Why would anyone allow their elementary school child to go on an international trip (anywhere) with a school? It's unsafe anywhere for a child who is 11-years old or less! No one is going to care about a child like a parent will. Just because no one has been killed on this trip to Mexico, doesn't mean it's safe. These parents have their heads in the sand to think that it's okay to send their kids to Mexico. I was just speaking with a DACA person recently who said that he won't even visit his parents in Mexico due to the cartels.

Why are Americans so clueless? They assume all other countries are as safe as the U.S. In fact, there are countries which are safer than here (Singapore, for one) but Mexico is not one of them. Life is so cheap in Mexico. If a student is stolen, no one cares, DUH. Good thing those parents got their Ivy League/elite school degrees so they learned to make good decisions like sending their children to the cartels for human trafficking (that is sarcasm).


6 people like this
Posted by Stay-at-home mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 19, 2019 at 9:35 am

Escondido SI Parent 8's postings: "The SI international trip has been there from the beginning of the program (18 years already) with the first 5th grade class graduating from the program in 2001.

I guess this type of trip should only be available for the privileged who can afford private school or trips outside the school."

Translation: no one has been harmed so far, so it must be safe.

[Portion removed.]

Wealth is not a factor in the decision here. If the School Board allows this trip, someone eventually will get stolen, hurt, etc. and then what? PAUSD gets sued for millions upon millions for allowing the trip.


14 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 8
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2019 at 10:25 am

[Portion removed.]

For 18 years this trip has been part of the program because it's a remarkable culture trip and previous PAUSD boards supported this trip and encouraged this all-Spanish-speaking trip.

Now everything is changing with the current board and superintendent

We cannot have fear mongers in the district making closed-door decisions without any input from the community and without following any of the board processes.

Last year, at the same time that the board did not want to approve the trip because it was not safe for Escondido kids (no specific data was presented), DiBrieza’s daughter was going to El Molino, Mexico, with her private school.

Now I will copy from @SI Escondido Parent 7:

The key issue is that PAUSD has made a blanket decision to end all international trips for 5th graders -- regardless of destination, regardless of educational value, regardless of teacher input -- based on a closed-door process that did not involve parents or other community members. This is the issue we want to address.


10 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2019 at 12:22 pm

> The key issue is that PAUSD has made a blanket decision to
> end all international trips for 5th graders – behind closed doors.

The issue of school liability is the primary concern of the school board and district. In this day of high litigiousness, it’s hard to predict just for how much the school district could be sued. Even though an insurance company would likely pay any settlement or judgement against the district, the taxpayers are always responsible for a Basic Aid school district’s finances--which could result in more parcel taxes.

> No one has been hurt in previous years – so it must be safe.

This kind of logic is how people get hurt or killed. How in the world can anyone know for certain that because no one was hurt in the past that no one will ever be hurt in the future? Not the logic of an educated, or prudent, person.


3 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 7
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 19, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Escondido SI Parent 7 is a registered user.

For those of you interested in other examples of how the Board acted without transparency, please see this recent article:

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 9
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 19, 2019 at 2:38 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


7 people like this
Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 19, 2019 at 2:59 pm

@Escondido 7 - I'm confused. If I understand the article right, in this case the board had no discussion and took no action. Are you saying that they somehow colluded behind the scenes over the summer on the hot-button issue of elementary international trips? That seems pretty unlikely.

Is there any evidence for that (aside from above that a board member showed up at a large parent meeting, which is not unusual)? What do you think they did? And why would they bother?


2 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 10
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 19, 2019 at 4:55 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Board Watcher
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 19, 2019 at 6:03 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Escondido parent 12
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


3 people like this
Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2019 at 11:26 pm

fyi, for the DC, it's not true that all students are included, if they are unable to afford it.


2 people like this
Posted by Escondido SI Parent 7
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 20, 2019 at 11:21 am

Escondido SI Parent 7 is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


7 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 20, 2019 at 4:56 pm

The latest violence yesterday in Guanajuato only confirms that the school district policy is sound and warranted. I can't imagine any one arguing this is a safe place take 50-60 5th graders.

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by BorderIssues
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 21, 2019 at 9:30 am

Isn’t this really about Trumps border policy. Imagine if our children were detained trying to re-enter the USA and caught up in the current border madness. I’m sure the school board was thinking about that possibility. Perhaps when we have a new administration the policy will be reconsidered.


28 people like this
Posted by Time to call you a racist
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 21, 2019 at 11:29 am

Hate doing it, but this anti-Mexico and anti-Mexican talk goes a bit overboard into racist territory. I know we as a society are a little too quick to label folks racist, but avoiding the entire state of Guanajuato or Jalisco or Michoacan is a bit like avoiding the entire Bay Area because of bullets flying around in Oakland, East Palo Alto, San Jose, or even the site of a recent mass shooting, Gilroy. According to the poster who said that Mexican life is cheap, would that Palo Alto logic mean that life is cheap also in Oakland, EPA, San Jose, and Gilroy? My fellow Palo Alto citizens who label the president a racist appear to be the same ones warning us not to send our kids to Mexico because Mexicans think "life is cheap" or that Mexicans are going to steal our children. I am a little shocked that I haven't heard Anglos, Jewish people, African-Americans, Asians, LGBTQ, and everyone else denounce these stereotypical AND racist labels and language. Really makes me think that each group of people is just in it for themselves, and that all of us in Palo Alto have racist and stereotypical views and attitudes about everyone else.


3 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 21, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Yes, a sad day for Spanish Immersion and PAUSD.

I'm pretty sure that safety is not the main issue. I know the group went to Costa Rica when Mexico was deemed too dangerous. They could have found a safer alternative. This decision is all due to whiney parents who finally found a PAUSD administration that caved.

Both my kids were in Spanish Immersion and lucky enough go on the 5th grade Mexico trip. Every year, parents from the traditional side (they always preferred not to be called the "English side") would grumble about the opprotunity their kids were missing. As Escondido PTA President, I would hear about this.

The answer was always the same: "go for it"! Start planning, put together a committee of parents, start lots and lots and lots of fundraising for needed scholarships and I'm sure the school would back you. But of course they never did. Many eager Spanish Immersion parents accompanied their kids to Mexico on the trip to help chaperone, too.

I don't know all the pros and cons of a "private trip." Maybe it will be better. It was such a wonderful and enriching experience the way it was, Both my kids were sad to hear of this decision.


13 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm

It's sad to lose a trip like this, however, if one school has an opportunity to go on a trip like this, all schools should do the same. It needs to be fair throughout the district.

Also, should be considered a heavy responsibility for all parties. If something happens here in the US, there is more recourse than in another country. Ultimately, if something difficult happens, this becomes the responsibility of the district and there is no coming back from it. Think about it.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2019 at 10:37 pm

@ Time to call you a racist

Mexico has changed, it is not the same place as it was 20 years ago. It is not worth taking this risk with the students.

-Longtime Mexican Resident.


14 people like this
Posted by Time to call you a racist
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 23, 2019 at 6:33 am

Nowhere is the same place compared to 20 years ago. It would have been a better argument to stick to media reports that it began to get worse after Felipe Calderón was elected president in 2006, but even that would ignore the history of violence in various Mexican cities, just like the history of violence in various American cities. Would we allow our children, or even adults, to go ride their bikes in East Palo Alto at 8pm tonight? That doesn’t mean that Palo Alto is unsafe, or the Bay Area or California, or the United States.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

@ Time to call you a racist

East Palo Alto is a heck of a lot safer then most of Mexico at this point in time.

-Longtime Mexican Resident.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 1:07 pm

There is a big difference between the U.S. and Mexico. Mexico is corrupt! This is why the wealthy of Mexico send their kids to other countries to study, because it is that much safer. The district made the right decision.


12 people like this
Posted by Escondido Parent 3
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

@Time to call you a racist

Anyone who has lived around here a long time knows that the murder rate in East Palo Alto has plummeted dramatically in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the opposite has occurred in Guanajuato.

What's racism is comparing East Palo Alto as dangerous, when it's not, just because many minorities live there. So take a look in the mirror. And then just admit the district made the responsible decision.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Here is a link to Narco-Political News


Web Link


20 people like this
Posted by Time to call you a racist
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 23, 2019 at 6:09 pm

And the racists continue:

“Mexico is corrupt!” & “What's racism is comparing East Palo Alto as dangerous, when it's not, just because many minorities live there.” & “Here’s the link to Narco-Political News.”

So all of Mexico is corrupt. Would that be more or less corrupt than the United States? I was born here and I love my country, but I will spit out my coffee if someone attempts to sell me the narrative that we are not corrupt.

And EPA is the victim of bad publicity and jumpy Palo Alto residents. One resident can claim that it’s not dangerous, but I rarely see Palo Alto families socializing over there after dark, despite all the gentrification of the last two decades. I, of course, was just over there Saturday night visiting friends.

And the link to the narco business is a wonderful example of Palo Alto stereotypes of people of color and the population of Mexico.

I’ll ignore the “most of Mexico” comment because I can’t spend all evening here. I have to go buy my kids bulletproof backpacks because I saw on the news that every American owns an assault rifle. Here’s a link to the Washington Post story on the Sandy Hook public service announcement, and the article says that 228,000 students have experienced a school shooting since Columbine. I don’t need to explain what Columbine is, do I?


19 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2019 at 6:32 pm

The district made the right decision.
Deal with it.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2019 at 4:27 pm

The district made the wrong decision.
Deal with it.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident 3
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2019 at 9:37 pm

The district made a decision. Deal with it.


5 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Regarding the argument that because not every kid in the district is going on this trip, then no one should: this is tragically nearsighted. Not every kid does AP classes; should we not offer them? Or how about higher level math. We shouldn't be teaching calculus if some kids can't keep up, right? Not every kid does sports; should we cancel all sports? We shouldn't pay for that expensive equipment and gym, right? It's not fair for the kids who don't like sports! Or music programs... oh sorry those were mostly cancelled already because of prop 13.

A school district should offer a wide range of great educational opportunities, for a variety of kids. We should all applaud when it does. We should be clamoring for more variety and more excellence! That's what makes a district a great place for all kids to go to school and do what they do best.

Regarding the immersion trip itself: the district is not even paying for this trip. The parents are paying for it themselves, and the community even raised funds for any kids who couldn't afford it! All the district is doing is prohibiting it, which saves them exactly $0 of travel expenses.

Regarding safety: there are plenty of safe places to go in Mexico. If that city is unsafe, then they should pick another destination, not deprive the kids of this great learning experience. The experience of immersion in a native-speaking country is invaluable for language learning, there is no substitute.


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Posted by Escondido SI mom
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 28, 2019 at 1:06 am

Agree with Michael. Regarding all schools should have the opportunity to go on international trip to be fair, why do other schools not have international trip? I don’t know, maybe no one had taken the effort to organize one. Until recently the school district was not opposed to international trip. If you are thinking that this is an inequity issue, you may want to ask yourself why no one organized one for your school.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 28, 2019 at 7:25 am

I copied this off the web page Borderland Beat:

Friday, September 27, 2019
Celaya Guanajuato: Ford Dealership Attacked with Gunfire Closes
Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Excelsior y PeriodoCorreo

An armed group fired high-powered weapons at a Ford car dealership in the city of Celaya, Guanajuato. Although there were no injuries reported, the damages are substantial and above all, they increased the climate of terror suffered by the capital of Guanajuato. The US automobile agency, Ford Montes, is located on Adolfo López Mateos Boulevard.

The dealership closed due to extortionists. This close to the camp where the kids would be going. The U.S. does not have Ford Dealerships, Coca-Cola plants ...ect, close due to exstortion...Mexico is dangerous.

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Wake up
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2019 at 11:48 pm

It is truly unbelievable how ignorant parents and/or society has gotten. You scream gun control yet want to send your elementary child into a brutal war zone.
There were over 520 murders in Mexico between Sept 13 and Sept 19 of THIS YEAR! Among the dead are women and children as young as 8 months old.
How can any parent possibly think this decision was a bad idea? What you shoild say is "How about Spain instead".
I would be happy to share with anyone a website of the shear barbaric brutality that is going on there. Guess what....ISIS has nothing on the Cartels.
Do your research before you scream and yell that the school and school board is infair. They did you and your children a favor.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2019 at 10:41 am

Posted by Wake up, a resident of another community

>> It is truly unbelievable how ignorant parents and/or society has gotten. You scream gun control yet want to send your elementary child into a brutal war zone.

Unfortunately your "gun control" throwaway detracts from your otherwise logical argument. I agree with you that this program as it has existed should end. I also agree with you that vastly safer Spanish-speaking travel alternatives exist-- even in Mexico. (e.g. Yucatan). I can imagine that some people feel attached to Guanajuato, but, that attachment seems to be clouding their judgement regarding safety. I see no reason why this should be an officially sponsored trip. Mandarin immersion parents organize their unofficial trip to China-- why can't SI do the same?


4 people like this
Posted by Wake up
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Anon,

This is the ignorance that i was referring to in my last post. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 70 percent of Californians want stricter gun laws including GUN CONTROL. California already has the strictest gun laws in the country. Surprisingly, parents in California are upset that they can't send their children to a country with no gun law enforcement and ZERO gun control.
You are correct about the Yucatan peninsula. However, are you will to take that chance with your childs life in a country as corrupt as Mexico and other Latin American Countries?
Its clearly obvious that you do not have any idea what is actually going on in Mexico in its entirety. Do some actual research first.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Posted by Wake up, a resident of another community

>> Its clearly obvious that you do not have any idea what is actually going on in Mexico in its entirety. Do some actual research first.

Sorry, I'm not sure what your point is. The murder rate in Yucatan is less than the murder rate in 39 US states. The murder rate in Chile is about the same as California -- a little lower than average for the US. The murder rate in Spain is less than every single US state. If my child was in SI and everyone really wanted an international trip, I would vote for Spain. Barring that, Yucatan is reasonably safe. You can fly direct to Merida via Miami on American. Your "Miles" may vary.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2019 at 8:21 am

Here is some latest news for those of you who still believe that it is safe to send our students to Mexico.

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Cartel War in Guanajuato
Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat POPlab


click on image to enlarge



Anatomy of war

All armed conflict maps are photographs of the moment. The displacement of troops, conquests of territories, retreats and offensives are subject to fluctuations due to the disposition of resources, reactions of the adversary, errors, successes and blows of luck, common in any armed conflagration. The radiography presented below is necessarily provisional. It is a first approach, by bird flight, of the current position occupied by the armies participating in the war for Guanajuato on the battlefield. Some tendencies can be established in the course of the cartel war. But they are that, tendencies that tomorrow can be reversed, accentuated or diluted.

Look up Borderland Beat for more info.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2019 at 8:52 am

Just to make it clear, the conflict that takes place in the above article is in the state of Guanajuato, the state where the students would be going for the immersion program.

The latest conflict that most people have seen in the news, is in the state of Sinaloa: The capture of Chapos son. Authorities had to release him because the Cartel kidnapped the families of the police, military, and politicians. Some family members were killed.

Unfortunatley these cartels have infiltrated here in the bay area as well.




6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2019 at 7:57 pm

For those of you out there that still think it is safe to send our students to Mexico.

Sunday, October 20, 2019
Culiacan: Sinaloa Cartel sicarios sent government videos depicting military hostages and one soldier executed
Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat Forbes TY Gus

Sinaloa

A reason why the federal government gave up the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán López, son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, would have been the sending of videos with military hostages of hitmen, according to The Wall Street Journal ( WSJ).

According to a former government official with knowledge of the situation that Culiacán experienced on Thursday, the order to release the son of the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was given after it was reported to senior officials in Mexico City that at least six soldiers were abducted by armed men.

In addition, according to the source, the hitmen sent at least two videos to the military commanders of Culiacán; one showed detained troops as hostages and another showed a soldier, tied and barefoot, executed with a shot in the head lying in the street.

The American newspaper explained that it was not clear if the soldier filmed in the video was a hostage taken in the wave of violence in Culiacán, unleashed following the capture of Guzmán López.

Government officials consulted by the WSJ did not respond.


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