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Budget, grades and graduation: School board to discuss coronavirus impact on district

Original post made on Apr 20, 2020

The school board will hear updates on major issues related to the coronavirus, including budget implications for the district, the impact on grades and high school graduation and flexible start dates for the 2020-21 school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 20, 2020, 12:36 PM

Comments (31)

32 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm

There is no synchronous teaching PAUSD is offering. None is offered to any student I know at PAUSD.


20 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 1:57 pm

The MOU w the teachers'union provides for credit/no credit grading. Apparently that's what the teachers'union wanted as part of agreeing to a change in working conditions to their collective bargaining agreement during this pandemic. Where do the students' needs come in?


19 people like this
Posted by whew
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Were there grades or teaching before this? My kid's teacher told them to teach themselves and the quizzes are graded online. Nothing really different going on except tutors the rich kids still have are online now. They still have the advantage given to them by poor leadership in curriculum delivery.


7 people like this
Posted by ethical responsible role model
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Using a product such as Zoom that resorted to fraudulent practices, sending CEO apologizing on TV etc. after the fact, sends a bad signal to youngsters on ethical and responsible conduct. (Or are those just for handbooks and used to punish the helpless?)


10 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Zoom isn't the only product out there. That can't be used as an excuse. Other online charter schools, for example, find a way to offer education to their students. Other districts and schools do find ways to figure out online learning for students --- by putting students first, rather than a special interest like the teacher's union.


17 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2020 at 4:31 pm

>There is no synchronous teaching PAUSD is offering.

This is a false statement. I teach at Paly and have offered synchronous teaching at least ten times. I know of colleagues who have also given synchronous instruction.

>The MOU w the teachers'union provides for credit/no credit grading. Apparently that's what the teachers'union wanted as part of agreeing to a change in working conditions to their collective bargaining agreement during this pandemic.

What proof supports this statement?

>Using a product such as Zoom that resorted to fraudulent practices, sending CEO apologizing on TV etc. after the fact, sends a bad signal to youngsters on ethical and responsible conduct. (Or are those just for handbooks and used to punish the helpless?)

Really? Do you use a bank that has bilked customers out of billions? Go for something less petty or offer a better alternative.

>Zoom isn't the only product out there. That can't be used as an excuse. Other online charter schools, for example, find a way to offer education to their students. Other districts and schools do find ways to figure out online learning for students --- by putting students first, rather than a special interest like the teacher's union.

It may seem like other schools are doing a lot but you don't really know unless you have a student enrolled there. The grass isn't greener on the other side; it's greener where you water it.


16 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 4:42 pm

@Paly Teacher -
You've offered synchronous learning 10 times -- and how many school days have there been since schools were closed? 26 possible school days have passed.

I don't know of a student who has received synchronous learning. Still accurate.


2 people like this
Posted by ethical responsible role model
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm

I wrote:
>> Using a product such as Zoom that resorted to fraudulent practices,
>> sending CEO apologizing on TV etc. after the fact, sends a bad signal to
>> youngsters on ethical and responsible conduct.
To which a @Paly Teacher countered:
> Really? Do you use a bank that has bilked customers out of billions?

So sad that our students are taught with lack of critical thinking people
if @Paly Teacher really is a teacher. All banks charge interest for a loan,
but that doesn't mean you take a loan from the bank that charges the
highest interest rate. Maybe some do in a naive way?

> Go for something less petty or offer a better alternative.
Petty? I'll ignore that as it is not constructive.

Many better alternatives: skype, webex to name a couple.
Their CEOs are not out there apologizing for frauds, lack of privacy.

Do you homework! Think! (Or, are those only for students?)


16 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2020 at 5:36 pm

@Independent:

Yes, at least twice a week for five weeks. Even if I had only taught once, that negates your statement "There is no synchronous teaching PAUSD is offering."

@ethical responsible role model

Not sure why you think I was talking about interest rates. Better to ask for clarification instead of assume. I believe you're looking for a lack of critical thinking in the wrong place. What I meant was companies like Wells Fargo open fradulent accounts and have other shady practices yet we still use them and instead target a small company like Zoom. I'll look into Skype. Webex looks promising but meetings for the free account are limited to 40 minutes.

Sometimes my colleagues ask me why I bother reading these comments. I tell them I like to remind myself why my job is important.


24 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 20, 2020 at 5:42 pm

I find it not so ironic that the same tech gods that told me to ZOOOMM ZOOOM ZOOM those first few days are the same ones that were tbrowing down the F bomb continously before the webinar came on tonight. Yeah guys, you were live!
Don't tell me to trust you with my job and liability.FAIL


14 people like this
Posted by Why so little synchronous teaching
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 5:55 pm

We are seeing virtually no synchronous teaching at Gunn. I was thinking how frustrated and disappointed teachers must be, after creating so much momentum earlier in the year and getting kids interested and engaged and building fun classrooms to have to now teach through a straw (which is like async teaching must be like). And these few months (Feb-Apr) are so important for learning. We lost one and the remainder are async. My guess has been that the district said synchronous teaching - a lot more like what's in the classrooms - is not allowed, maybe because it would disadvantage some kids. Is that true? Or did the teachers union say no? Or was there a fear of lawsuits? Or does somehow the district think async is better for kids? Why so little synchronous teaching?


14 people like this
Posted by Teach
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 20, 2020 at 6:03 pm

@Why so little synchronous teaching-
Without any editorial on it whatsoever- two words: EQUITY ISSUES. So the SEL gurus and all the others who PREACH, yes, I said PREACH from their self righteous soapbox about equity.....see job opportunities in the district right now and are POUNCING.


1 person likes this
Posted by ethical responsible role model
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 6:12 pm

@Paly Teacher
>> Not sure why you think I was talking about interest rates.
>> Better to ask for clarification instead of assume

Hmm..be a role model. Ask, don't assume! :) No idea why you assumed that *I
thought* you were talking about interest rates? It was meant to be
an analogy of how one makes tradeoffs based on self interests, resting on
principles, fair and ethical. The point was that schools, colleges, parents,
and leaders should not just have "free" as the only driving principle,
and that we should demonstrate critical thinking to children, and have
thoughtful answers to their questions when news show a CEO apologizing
on TV, in front of Congress, etc. for illegal, deceptive practices but
their schools continue as if nothing is wrong and even heap praises.

But when the students make one mistake...they don't get that CEO treatment!

>> ... I like to remind myself why my job is important.
If you are a teacher, let me assure you that your job is IMPORTANT!
And thank you for that.
But, the moment we think we know everything there is to know, above being
questioned, or doing the best with no room for improvements, it starts
going downhill from there!
With information of all forms, facts, alternate facts, fake, half truths,
etc. readily available out there, critical thinking and reasoning are
essential skills our students should be exposed to and practiced daily.


Like this comment
Posted by ethical responsible role model
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2020 at 6:24 pm

@Teacher
>> I find it not so ironic that the same tech gods ...

There are no tech gods, no trusted brands anymore...everyone should be
scrutized scrupulously. And we must not get locked in...


21 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2020 at 8:15 pm

Can parents just stop lol like if anything students should have a say in how they want their grades reported. There’s a reason why it’s pass/fail, it’s helping more than it’s hurting. And just because grades from this semester won’t affect gpa, colleges you apply to will still see course rigor as well as first semester grades. It’s going to be ok


16 people like this
Posted by Soooooooo
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:33 pm

Since there appear to be a couple teachers on this thread and since they are anonymous I would really like to hear how hard the teachers are working right now compared to normal school days.

My 2 kids (1 in middle one in HS) have had almost zero zoom calls or synchronous learning. The assignments posted have been spotty and lots of very low effort/thought things like watch very loosely related subject videos. I feel like teachers for the most part are being paid very well to not teach. I know lots probably have issues with loss of child care or other family obligations but my frustration is knowing tax dollars are being spent on teacher salaries with what looks like almost zero benefit to students.


12 people like this
Posted by Paly Teacher
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 21, 2020 at 12:02 am

@Soooooooo

Thanks for a balanced comment. Let me acknowledge your feelings by saying that if my kids had teachers who weren’t providing instruction, I’d be upset, too. The best I can offer is what Dr. Austin said tonight during his seminar: send your concerns to teachers and bring in principals if necessary.

For some teachers, it’s very hard to provide quality instruction online. You mention childcare needs, but there’s also the difficulty of taking the art of teaching and moving it online. MacBooks are not equipped for writing, new questions have to be found for assessments, and keeping a student’s attention is asking them to stare at a screen which can strain their eyes. Then there’s the issue of chasing down students who aren’t participating. Imagine having to email or call 40 families to get them to engage with school.

Again, I hear and empathize with your frustrations. Thank you for taking the time to hear our perspectives.


11 people like this
Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 21, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for all the comments and I have to say, I really appreciate hearing from teachers. It is helpful. I know there are several Paly teachers that are doing an amazing job teaching and finding ways to engage students. There are also others that appear to be less engaged. I am hoping there is an opportunity for mentoring and collaboration among the teachers. We are all better together.

In reference to the student response about grading not impacting GPA, I have even been told by the school board members that the GPA for those students taking AP and/or Honors classes is NEGATIVELY impacted by CR/NC. It is a fact. It is best to state that fact publicly. Admit it. There is no way to dispute this fact.

I personally feel the challenge is that Seniors and Freshman are not as impacted with GPA issues right now and CR/NC is ideal. Seniors are accepted to colleges (and most colleges are offering an option to their students for grades or CR/NC). Regarding freshman, colleges generate GPAs based on Sophomore and Junior year and some 1st semester of Senior year. So, the group most impacted is Juniors and Sophomores.

The challenge is that those students who, for whatever reason, did not focus on studying in Sophomore year and then pushed themselves in Junior year and were able to get much higher grades than Sophomore year, are penalized for trying hard. It is a fact. Please don't say no one is negatively impacted.

Lastly, why was March 25th deemed an EMERGENCY day by Superintendent Austin such that he is the ONLY Superintendent to be the sole decider on grading? Schools like Palos Verdes, where Superintendent Austin came from, are voting on the 22nd regarding grading. Ironically, the teachers are pushing for grades at Palos Verdes. Other districts like Los Gatos/Saratoga, another very highly rated HS, has not decided. The districts around Palo Alto: Mountain View/Los Altos, Sequoia Union, and San Mateo are all petitioning CR/NC right now.

There are creative approaches out there that need to be evaluated. AND, most importantly, the board needs to vote on the grading decision after getting student, community and teacher input.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve Toteda
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 21, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Please join the PAUSD Board meeting and make your views known! The Board MUST vote.

Board Meeting Access Instructions - April 21, 2020:

Via Video Conference/Internet: Web Link

Via Telephone: Dial 669-900-6833, enter Webinar ID 949 9734 6242, then press #.
If asked for a participant ID or code, press #.


Like this comment
Posted by Another Paly Teacher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2020 at 10:16 am

I'm not sure who "Paly Teacher" is on here—I can only guess—but I thoroughly appreciate your perspectives.


8 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Honors credits widen the gap so any excuse to wipe it awat for any kid is done.

Transfer students with accredited honors classes get it wiped out. This is against board policy but counseling does as they please.

College Now is a program they do not publicize. It is not middle college. Paly staff refuses to give honors credit for foothill classes MV, LA and Woodside di give honors credit on their kids goa. Paly puts kids at a disadvantage .
The paly counselors do not believe in giving kids credit that they earned before this .


Like this comment
Posted by KateKpmn
a resident of Mountain View
on May 7, 2020 at 10:43 am


I think that this situation must grant for student pass grades. I try to do my best in online education, and I hope I'm not alone in this. It's not easy to concentrate on study, but I use some interesting resources and assignment such as writing service, e.g. writix and others. I think that this one Web Link can really make the study process more interesting and easy, especially in modern conditions. The governments should pay attention to that no one has been ready for it and make some benefits for students and teachers.


3 people like this
Posted by New in Town
a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2020 at 11:28 am

@KateKpmn
Using a writing service to do your papers is cheating. This is a difficult time for all students, but please do your own work. It's the only way to learn and develop the skills you will need in a future career.


19 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2020 at 7:29 pm

For those of us who actually have kids, you cannot convince us that synchronous learning is happening. We see reality with our own eyes.

My kids have both had Zoom "class meetings" now and then online, but nothing one could reasonably call education or instruction.


26 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2020 at 7:40 pm

@Paly Teacher

No one complains directly to teachers or admin because of the fear of retaliation mixed with the low probability anything will happen.

I sadly feel the fear of retaliation is well-grounded historically for those of us with experience with PAUSD. The only thing I see that could possibly help would be if the teachers that care about students were to police their own ranks, and call out the silliness of the admins above and around them. But that's a pretty big risk, too...


8 people like this
Posted by Aono
a resident of Barron Park
on May 8, 2020 at 2:40 pm

I am saddened to see what I thought was true is true there is no instruction. It is no different now. Teachers just tell the kids what to do, the rich ones hire tutors and the poor ones fail the tests or stay away from top classes. Sad.


7 people like this
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2020 at 2:59 pm

All the District has taken an approach that pits parents against parents. The District pretends that ONE APPROACH is REQUIRED. It is NOT REQUIRED. The State has not mandated teaching methodologies, but it does strongly suggest that distance learning requires a variety of approaches depending on the students.

We should have different clearly articulated required approaches for 3K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

Most of 9-12 and a large group of 6-9 could follow the community college model and jump 100% into live synchronous learning on a schedule. Community colleges are killing it, BTW. Even our adult school and HeadUp preschool are doing this. For students in 9-12 and 6-9 unable to benefit from the synchronous model, they might need a later start of the school year, but probably 90% of high schools students and 70% of middle school students could have a live streamed school day. Let's give it to them.

For 3K-2 and 3-5, the challenges are much more childcare and facility based. These grades need innovative solutions, which one can only hope the state leads with. Parents need a choice aligned with their family's safety concerns. These will be unique and may not be "child" based. A parent at home could have an autoimmune condition or a grandparent could live at home.

Please advocate at the State, County, District, and principal level for an approach that beats State guidelines and provides real mandated teaching.


14 people like this
Posted by S_mom
a resident of Community Center
on May 9, 2020 at 1:34 pm

We have also had not-great experience with remote learning. I can't complain about my kindergartener because I think no kindergartener can actually be taught remotely because they aren't really capable of working independently. He does have about 3 1/2 hour zooms per week when some instruction occurs, but otherwise he only learns when I am sitting there working with him. I don't blame his teacher though -- she is providing plenty of materials and the zooms, it's just that a kindergartener can't learn much without an adult there.

My 5th grader's experience is worse though, because I think she could learn fine this way but isn't. She has one zoom per week (which is pretty much a class meeting where they do ice breaker-type activities) and otherwise essentially gets a short list of assignments each day in which the prompts change slightly but the assignments don't. Although she has to turn in about 3 assignments per week, after the first week her teacher stopped giving any feedback (and the first week she just left short comments on the assignments in schoology). Essentially no teaching is happening in her class right now, because the kids are getting no feedback at all. A short list of repetitive assignments without any feedback, plus one instruction-free zoom a week is not teaching!

Hoping they can figure this out by the fall if we have to continue it. Teachers should have to provide some feedback and academic teaching/interaction, and they should have more explicit requirements to ensure a basic level of teaching if they don't already. We are all having to balance work and families at home and I don't think offering a reasonable level of remote learning requires an 8-3pm level of daily work on the teacher's part.


3 people like this
Posted by Big picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2020 at 9:38 am

As a parent of a senior, I would point out:

-UCs and CSUs calculate student GPA their own way and limit the number of honors and AP classes that can bump student GPA. So some of the students who may think they are getting a bump, wouldn’t be anyway even if they got a grade.

-Students who think their GPA will be compromised can always take a community college course or two over summer - they give a GPA bump, too, and can also be transferred as college credit later. A quarter course for community college, if transferable, is worth a year of high school credit.

-Unless someone is on the line between some low threshold for admission and not, the loss of the GPA bump is not ultimately going to mean much. Colleges look at so much more than GPA. If students who are concerned use the extra time to do something meaningful, that will help more than any extra AP grade bump this year. The class still counts as an AP class when colleges ask how many a student took, etc.

- The superintendent giving C/NC is a gift if students choose to make the best of the hand their dealt. No, it doesn’t fix what they lost, but they can pivot to make the situation into something else. The changes made to help kids in school are going to hurt a lot of homeschooling kids in ways you’ll never hear about. Life isn’t fair. I fear the depression ahead is going to nullify many concerns that loom large now.


6 people like this
Posted by @PAUSD teacher
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2020 at 11:09 am

Your union fought posting assignments to Schoology a few years back. Web Link
So that along with parents directly reporting what they are seeing, it can be safely said that while some teachers are going beyond, the district culture is permitting and fostering mediocrity in remote teaching.


Like this comment
Posted by KateKpmn
a resident of College Terrace
on May 29, 2020 at 3:25 am

I think that this situation must grant for student pass grades. I try to do my best in online education, and I hope I'm not alone in this. It's not easy to concentrate on study, but I use some interesting resources and assignment such as writing service, e.g. writix and others. I think that this one Web Link can really make the study process more interesting and easy, especially in modern conditions. The governments should pay attention to that no one has been ready for it and make some benefits for students and teachers.


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