News


Backers of Mandarin immersion program plan charter school in Menlo Park

Rebuffed in their efforts to start a Mandarin-language immersion program within the Menlo Park City School District, a group of parents are working to instead start a new kindergarten-to-eighth-grade Mandarin immersion charer school, the Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter School.

According to Carol Cunningham, who had led the effort to start the program as part of the Menlo Park district, the goal is to open the new charter school in the fall of 2015, with two classes of kindergartners and two classes of first-graders.

In the lower grades, up to 90 percent of classes will be taught in Mandarin, she said, with the percent gradually lessening in upper grade levels to an about 50-50 ratio by fourth or fifth grade.

"We want to equip our children with the 21st century skills that will be demanded by an increasingly competitive and global society," Ms. Cunningham said. The founding families want to "create innovative learning opportunities, based on sound educational models, because we believe that families should have a choice when it comes to public education."

The group has many hurdles to leap, according to the suggested schedule on the California Charter Schools Association website, an ambitious timetable. "The average team takes a total of 1-3 years to complete the entire process," the website says, "depending on whether they have an established team and vision at the outset, their authorization environment, and a number of other factors."

Ms. Cunningham said that because the group has been working with the district for so long, they have already done much of the background work needed to start a charter.

The group plans to present its petition to start the charter school to the Menlo Park City School District within four to six weeks, Ms. Cunningham said. The district will then have 30 days to hold a public hearing.

The petition must be signed by at least 80 district families interested in enrolling children in the kindergarten and first-grade classes for the 2015-16 school year, Ms. Cunningham said.

If the district turns down the charter school, the group can appeal to the San Mateo County Board of Education.

A meeting to provide information about the proposed charter school will be held on Sunday, Aug. 24. A second session, from 1 to 3 p.m., has been added in addition to the original 3 to 5 p.m. session. Both are at the Parents Place, 200 Channing Ave. in Palo Alto. Child care and activities for children will be provided.

Scheduled speakers are Grace Mah, member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education; Ling-Chi Wang, University of California at Berkeley professor; Thomas Sudhof, a biochemist and 2013 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine and Stanford University professor; and Amado Padilla, a Stanford University professor whose research includes "studies involving second language learning and teaching, and strategies for achieving bilingual proficiency."

Those planning to attend are asked to send an email with the number attending and the name of their home school district to mmics2015@gmail.com by Aug. 15. Space is limited.

In April, the board of the Menlo Park City School District declined to take any action on a request to start a Mandarin immersion program by fall 2014. "I know it's simply not something that the district can do at this point in time," board member Terry Thygesen said then.

The planned charter school would eventually have classes for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It will, according to the school's website, "integrate the development of bilingual and biliteracy skills in English and Mandarin with a Common Core-aligned STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum, using an interdisciplinary, collaborative, and experiential approach that nurtures the whole child."

Among the details still to be worked out are what the class sizes would be and where the school would be located, although it would be within the district, according to Ms. Cunningham.

If children from within the school district do not fill all the available slots in the school, children from outside the district would be admitted, according to the charter organizers.

The school has 13 founding members, Ms. Cunningham said, who span a variety of disciplines, including education, high-tech, finance, legal, marketing and neuroscience.

A quote from founding member Thomas Sudhof is prominently featured on the charter school's website: "Immersing a child in multiple languages is more important for a child's development in the first 10 years than learning math or science because the structure and content of the languages a child speaks become part of the person's intellectual repertoire."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Please do not ask me to pay for this highly selective school. If parents want to teach their children Mandarin, then they should pay for it themselves. I remember my daughter's friends attending German School on Saturdays because their parents wanted them to learn German. They did not expect others to pay for it or even to subsidize it.

It may seem right now that Mandarin will be a highly useful language, however, things change and in 10, 20 years the demand/need may be quite different.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Pat
Learning a foreign language in school has all kinds of advantages Kids learn about the world (one of the main purposes of school), and they and their brains are trained and develop for their adult lives. One of the options for learning a language should DEFINITELY be Chinese.

Mandarin is the MOST widely spoken language in the world....2BILLION speakers. All kinds of purposes for learning it come to mind: understanding and participating in Business/Commerce, Politics, Education, and even national defense (where we like to know what other countries, even Russia and China, are saying and writing).

Why WOULDN'T learning Chinese be an advantage? Learning Chinese is not an endorsement of the country's politics.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Neighbor, I don't think that you've addressed Pat's main concern. Certainly, learning a foreign language has many positive benefits, such as appreciating other cultures and utilizing different parts of your brain. And I fully agree with you that Chinese could have very practical applications for these students later in life.

The concern, as a tax payer and a district parent, is where will the funds for this program come from and how will it affect resources for existing schools. The article spends quite a bit of time discussing the proposed program, touches on the process of how they will be granted approval, but doesn't mention financial resources at all.

There are two items mentioned in the article that concern me. The first is the fact that the committee seems to be trying to rush this through. It usually takes one to three years to get a charter up and running, but they're hoping to open for this school year? (4-6 weeks from now)

Secondly, I'm concerned about the almost throw away comment that "if children within the school district do not fill all the available slots in the school, children from outside the district will be admitted." How does this work? And if the charter organizers are already anticipating this, it begs the question, is this really necessary?

A good friend of mine helped spearhead a charter school in her district in a different part of the country. In her state, they needed to secure private funding that would support the school for two full years in advance before they were granted permission to open. After the two trial years were up, funds come from the district, incrementally over the next couple years. This helped ensure that it's not just a couple of founding families obtaining public funds for a school that they've decided would better suit their needs. I'm curious to know how California handles this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood, Almanc staff writer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Just to clarify - the article states that the charter school will open in fall of 2015, more than a year from now; not this coming school year.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MPCDS Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm

My apologies, Barbara. You mentioned twice in the article that the proposed start date is the 2015-2016 school year. I misread the sentence, "the group plans to present their petition to start the charter school...in four to six week," and took it to mean they were planning to start in that period so time, not planning to present.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Atherton mom
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm

The problem with an immersion program is that the school also has to teach the common core curriculum in addition to teaching non native speakers a very difficult language. The decision makers might want to hear from some unsatisfied parents from mandarin immersion programs in San Francisco before jumping on this bandwagon. As always, can't we get a language class from an early age in all public schools before we skip ahead to full immersion? The mPCSD's answer to the original request from the mandarin parents was one of the most logical responses they could have made.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Entitlement
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

This idea bodes ill for Menlo Park--look at the acrimony and wasted taxpayer funds in Los Altos where a group of divisive parents (mostly from Los Altos Hills) pushed forward Bullis Charter School. Millions of dollars of legal fees with fuel to the fire by pro bono attorneys who are parents of the charter school kids. I would guess many people behind this movement in Menlo Park moved in to the area in the last decade or earlier and pay the exorbitant property tax and so they have a sense of entitlement as to what this goes towards for education.

These families should just look towards some of the great immersion programs available in the area like ITSP.

The laws supporting charter schools need to be tightened as people are abusing the intention of charter schools to help disadvantaged communities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

Actually, I'm stunned that parents in Atherton and Menlo Park wouldn't want their kids to have the best possible education and would think a public education is too expensive.

Learning a language early in life is a HUGE asset later. Language instruction is basic, not frivolous. We expect all foreigners to speak English, maybe learning a bit of other languages would be GOOD FOR THE U.S.

It's not only basic, but it's not too expensive. This is one of the wealthiest areas in the U.S.

Zāi jiān, Tschuss, Adios, Au revoir, Shalom, Ma'a salama


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:42 am

Atherton Mom is right.
I do support the teaching of other languages in our schools, but an a charter school immersion program in Mandarin is not warranted.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Pat -- please explain why you believe teaching Mandarin is not warranted.
Thanks.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Pat and Atherton mom - Please consider the following two things:
1. Learning a second language through immersion versus through a language class are totally different things. The former, which does not require learning the rules of the language first, asks the developing brain to categorize based on feedback and thus expands the cognitive repertoire of the young brain and allows the benefit to last a life time. Google "language immersion" and you will find plenty of scientific evidence for this.
2. Please do not confuse learning a second language like Chinese with becoming a Chinese or adopting Chinese policies. China is a rapidly changing country. Its development in the next 1-20 years will create large environmental and economical impact to the world for better or for worse, whether you like it or not. The challenge will be there. The question is: do we want our kids to master the skills to face the challenge, or do we want our kids to stick their heads in sand like an ostrich? The choice is yours, but your kids will face the future in different ways based on your choice for them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Good comments, MP Parent.

And as said earlier, it's always a good idea to be able to understand what the folks you're dealing with are saying -- whether it's in business. government, or defense. Maybe that's part of the reason why German was taught in every school during 1920s-1950s?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MP preant
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

agreed, neighbor. English is taught in every classroom in China since 3rd grade or earlier from 1978 onwards, before that Russian was taught in most schools. The Chinese had always known the challenges they have to face and they prepare their next generations for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by baffled
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Jumping in here while you've all got it fairly well covered, but seems that the majority of you believe you are right and the other person is not. Makes me wonder if perhaps debate immersion would be a better idea, something to teach the children how to come up with a strongly backed argument -- then they can learn how to prove their point in Spanish, English, Mandarin or C++ (now that would actually be useful)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 6:54 pm

MP parent
Foreign language skills would allow Americans to understand conversations where the foreign speakers (e.g. Chinese speakers) are speaking to EACH OTHER.

Might be useful in both business and international relations, don't you think?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

neighbor:

that would be useful in very many situations. Are we going to learn every language in the world? Otherwise it's a crap shoot as to what language is most useful.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Not much of a crap shoot when 1.5 BILLION people speak Chinese, and when China is our greatest competitor. The benefits are pretty obvious -- we should understand Chinese.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

neighbor:

20 years ago we should all learn Spanish. Now it's Chinese. 20 years from now what, Russian? sorry, still a crap shoot.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:46 pm

No crap shoot at all -- the world changes and we must keep up.

The U.S. has more international relationships than ever, and it will continue. It will get more complex. Can't hide from the world.

Right now..and for the foreseeable future -- being able to understand Spanish and/or Chinese would be very smart.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

not Russian or Arabic?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Russian and Arabic are GREAT suggestions, but so far they probably only make sense on a smaller scale for those interested in International Relations.

Chinese has a much wider range of uses in all kinds of spheres, and belongs in the curriculum


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

neighbor - yes, learning a new language is empowering for many reasons including the ones you stated so clearly. Learning a language that is completely different from English (tonal versus non-tonal, etc.) when young also induces additional developmental changes in the brain (primarily sensory cortices) that allows the brain to learn other languages later on much easier.

Menlo Voter - yes, picking a new language that is "USEFUL" is hard because we all have different standard for usefulness. When 9/11 occurred, the FBI and CIA discovered that the entire US intelligent service has no more than 10 people who can understand Arabic! Who would have thought Arabic could be so useful. Would you? Utility is what most parents think when it comes to education, and this is one of the problems in our education system. There are many other aspects for a child's development that is far beyond learning useful skills. Is playing wood blocks useful? Perhaps they should learn to build a fence instead! Learning is about fostering curiosity, inspire creativity and ignite passion for more learning. It is about empowering our children for a life-long desire to understand more, to communicate more, and to see more. I know you may be wondering: then how does learning Chinese help in all this? Aside from the language advantages we have discussed above, China is one of the countries that still remains as a mystery in many American's mind. The American media does not portrait the true China (nor does it portrait truthfully the situations in Russia and many mid-east countries). Take a look at the history books we give to our kids in school, you will realize how out of date the materials are. Our kids deserve more! I don't want to go into a political debate here, it is beyond the point. But if the people in the US do not have any desire to truly understand another country from language to culture, from politics and economics, while the people in this other country is trying everything they can to understand US, who do you think is going to lose in the game in the end? China is a country that is rapidly developing and will impose a challenge to US in the near future (if not already), no matter what your wish is. Don't make the mistake China made in the past centuries when it shut its door and hoped the world would leave it alone.
In the end, you have the choice to pick any second language (or none) for your child to learn. After all, I consider many languages and cultures interesting and would like to learn about them myself. But please think a little beyond the immediate usefulness when making choices for your children's education. You want to help them develop into a whole person, not a utility machine that is good at something.
I believe this Menlo Mandarin Charter school has a mission that is beyond teaching Mandarin, they actually want to put innovative learning into classrooms. Please be open-minded.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 11:23 am

YOU WROTE
1. "Utility is what most parents think when it comes to education, and this is one of the problems in our education system"

2. "China is one of the countries that still remains as a mystery in many American's mind"

YOU STATED MY CASE PERFECTLY.
1. Our kids need to have useful skills in this world -- speaking another language is one of them. (Not to mention that it has been shown to also train the brain for several kinds of learning...e.g., math).

2. HOWEVER, as a Geographer and Historian (doctorate) I especially appreciate your point about understanding the culture and history of a place. Culture influences all discourse. Another reason to understand what the Chinese are saying.


China would be less of a mystery if we understood what they were saying, writing, and doing. Right?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 12:16 pm

neighbor - Thank you.

1) The Renaissance time is the prime example of richness in science and art. Giants like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many others are not just an painter, or an sculptor, or a mathematician, they are renaissance men who are creative in many disciplines. It was giants like them that pushed the wheels of our society forward with both technological and artistic advancement. Not all children will be like that of course, but we need to provide them with a learning environment to allow them to develop to their full potential.

2) Yes, in the end we are citizens of the world. Knowing a new language brings down one more barrier of communication. I am a scientist. Communication without boundary is crucial in science and technology. Isn't it true also for many other human endeavors?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Sorry -- but I must add a footnote: A "renaissance" in China started earlier and lasted longer than in Europe. Wish I'd learned about it in school -- but I just got instruction about Europe and the U.S., and was told that it WAS World History.

It wasn't. I was cheated out of a full and unbiased education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Then it is time that we change that so our kids can get a full and unbiased education!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Conflation
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm

There seems to be in this thread some conflation of the questions of (a) the desirability of having kids learn languages, in particular Mandarin, and (b) the desire for a publicly funded Mandarin immersion program for just a few of those kids. I don't see anyone disputing the former, yet responses to those who are skeptical of the latter on grounds of cost or effective language learning for all the kids seem to speak only to how learning Mandarin is a Good Thing, as if that would address their concerns.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Conflation - I understand your sentiment regarding providing the opportunity to all kids. yes, wouldn't it be great to give all our kids the chance to learn a desired second language in public school. Why has it not happened? The tax payer's money that is allocated to our State education falls way below that standard. What will be the perfect solution? Is depriving ALL our kids the chance to learn a new language the right solution to it? Because not everyone can have it, so no one should have it? Please also know that teaching a language in a language class is completely different from language immersion (see earlier argument in the forum), the former never allows the kids to reach full proficiency. Is it feasible to have language immersion in all classes in all public schools? Not only it is not possible financially, it is not even desirable because parents want different things for their children. Some rather having their kids learn French or Spanish or German, or music instead. Conversely, is it fair to deny the demand from those who WANT their children to learn Mandarin? These parents are also tax payers, don't they deserve what they want for their kids?... These questions can go on forever... The bottom line is: does having mandarin immersion in a public charter school significantly reduce the learning opportunity of others who cannot get in to this school? The answer, in my humble opinion, is NO. Yes, it looks like it will be taking a chunk of public funds from the district, but please remember these kids are going to be in public school no matter, they need education one way or another. So allocating a portion of the public fund to educate these kids is completely legitimate and is not taking anything away from others kids - every kid has the same entitlement for getting the education he/she wants. Moreover, if the charter school develops innovative learning methods that can benefit all kids I (independent of the language component), it will eventually benefit ALL kids. Please, let's get our mindset out of Mandarin and "selective" kids. These are our kids and I believe anyone who wants to have a chance to learn Mandarin will have the chance to get into the charter school. We should work together to improve our public education, one step at a time.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Mandarin, along with other languages, should be available to all students not just those in Charter Schools. It isn't a luxury and this community can definitely afford it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by amusing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Listening to people lecture us about the value Mandarin immersion because of the immense economic boon it will confer on the few kids who learn it is both amusing and nauseating.

There may be many reasons to learn Mandarin such as cultural benefit, enrichment, cognitive development, general knowledge, but trying to position their children for a brighter economic future is nowhere near the top of the list. Assuming that such is the case is simplistic and promotes something as fact without an iota of substantiation.

Fact:

1) English is the dominant language for business and finance in the world. Name an event that will change this and explain why it *likely* to happen.

2) English is now the language of diplomacy. Name an event that will change this and explain why it *likely* to happen.

3) Chinese languages are not very computer friendly. Ask anyone who actually speaks and writes Mandarin or Cantonese.

4) The Chinese language is completely different from every other Sanskrit/Latin rooted language. There may be ~1.4 billion Chinese, but there are many more billions of non-Chinese with languages that share a common root or a substantial investment in an English based educational infrastructure and their net economic power is greater than China's and will likely remain that way. The dominant foreign languages learned in large population growth areas like Africa are Western languages with English at the top of the list -- not Mandarin.

5) There's a reason the Chinese develop some basic English proficiency from a young age. It's because they know their educational and professional futures are severely narrowed if they do not. Refer to facts 1 and 2.

Making the argument for any immersion program based upon future economic or sociopolitical trends is foolish at best. Arguing for a huge investment from any public school system based upon a set of low probability events that would change deeply entrenched global paradigms is unhinged.

Arguing for required language enrichment with any 2nd language from a young age makes complete sense.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

WOW. Such inappropriate adjectives "amusing and nauseating". I guess I'll use "naive"

Denying that China is starting to monopolize our production economy is strange. Look at your labels, look at your computer or any electronics. Look at where a growing percent of your foodstuffs come from

Yes many Chinese speak English -- but if you're involved in business or politics or any economic/social interaction do you understand when the Chinese folks in the transaction don't speak English?

Much more than a cultural benefit is involved.

English speakers are not the largest group in the world -- See the data

Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm

This is very reflective of what happened in Palo Alto 6 or 7 years ago. Parents, led by the above mentioned Grace Mah who is now part of the Santa Clara County Education Board, wanted a Mandarin Immersion program. The Palo Alto School District said no. Just like Menlo Park "the board of the Menlo Park City School District declined to take any action on a request to start a Mandarin immersion program by fall 2014". Ms. Mah and others said they would start a Charter School instead and PAUSD now has a Mandarin Immersion program. Ironically, it goes thru 5th grade with no more public Mandarin instruction until high school.

The original intent of charter school laws in California were to encourage innovation in failing, struggling school districts. These same laws are now being used in wealthy Districts to provide boutique programs using public $$. If learning a second language is of such great value, we should be teaching all of our public school students a world language, not just a subsection.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Palo Alto parent
You are right -- ALL SCHOOLS should be teaching world languages. Absolutely.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 9, 2014 at 10:19 pm

I the boosters of Chinese (or any other language for that matter) immersion claim it will be to the benefit of students, and I agree that learning a second language is a real benefit in so many ways, they who do they agitate to extend this benefit to so few? I would suggest that what ever funds might be spent on any immersion program be spent on offering foreign language to ALL students, if they wish, as a regular class. Not those few who win a lottery.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by MP parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Good point, Ben. This charter school IS INDEED open for ALL students, ALL are welcome! Just sign up. The students who are interested in attending is part of the target of our public education. Every student in the district has the same amount of entitlement of public education. That is exactly the point!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2014 at 6:16 pm

As one of the wealthiest communities in America, Atherton is fortunate to be able to offer languages in ALL of its schools.

The community wouldn't consider limiting math to any of its kids, because they deserve to be prepared for their world.

Their world is much more complex than previous generations so language skills part of a basic education.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mei
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 11, 2014 at 3:31 pm

MP & neighbor How wonderful that ALL students can attend the Mandarin immersion charter school. I hope that all of the District's children register for this wonderful opportunity. However, if they do, will the charter school be able to accommodate them all? If not, how will the students for the school be selected? Will ESL students be eligible?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

To quote myself (!) .....
"As one of the wealthiest communities in America, Atherton is fortunate to be able to offer languages in ALL of its schools. The community wouldn't consider limiting math to any of its kids, because they deserve to be prepared for their world."

Never wrote that ALL students must attend a Charter School, or even that ALL students should learn Mandarin. Just that all students should have the opportunity to learn a foreign language.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Count me among the (many) others that support ensuring our children have the opportunity to learn a 2nd language in elementary school, for all the cognitive and long-term learning advantages mentioned previously.

However, the advantages of learning a 2nd language are NOT the exclusive purview of mandarin. Learning ANY 2nd language can accomplish this.

And I'm concerned that allowing this immersion program will result in critical resources (manpower, short-in-supply classrooms, funds) being drained from other critical curriculum: learning a musical instrument, math, spanish, etc.

And MPCSD Parent makes an excellent point ('"if children within the school district do not fill all the available slots in the school, children from outside the district will be admitted." How does this work?'). If children outside the district are allowed into MPCSD, the parents of those children should not get a free ride; they should pay the full cost that is put upon the people of MPCSD: approximately $11,200 per student per year:

Web Link




 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Peninsula Resident -- Don't know why you think I (or anyone) was supporting Mandarin-only! Quoting my self a 3rd time:

"Never wrote that ALL students must attend a Charter School, or even that ALL students should learn Mandarin. Just that all students should have the opportunity to learn a foreign language."

A foreign language.

I understand that language immersion will not drain the resources of the rest of the education program in one of the richest towns in the U.S. It won't even use a disproportionate amount. And steal resources from the other programs (you mention learning a musical instrument, math, spanish,etc)

There's nothing to fear about offering Chinese language instruction and you need not fear that the few students you admit for neighboring areas will steal Atherton's education resources.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by menlo mom
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Can someone please clarify how on the Mandarin immersion would work with the new Common Core requirements? Everyone seems to jump on this charter bandwagon but wouldn't it have to follow state/federal requirements as well? It doesn't seem like a great fit. What is stopping parents who want Mandarin from enrolling their children in the multitude of Chinese language classes in the area?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by JustTheFacts
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:43 pm

There have been a lot of questions posed in this thread and not enough answers. If you are genuinely interested in seeing immersion programs succeed in Menlo Park or simply want to learn the facts, there are some great resources available on the website: Web Link

In particular, the Mandarin Immersion whitepaper is a treasure-trove of information on the topic. It presents the benefits of bilingualism, the advantages of the immersion model, the case for mandarin, and the addressing the board's concerns. There are also some amazing statistics in the appendix from other immersion programs.

Menlo Park is already behind on immersion compared to other districts and what's amazing to me is that the school board didn't do more to embrace the opportunity to expand the over-subscribed Spanish immersion program when the proposal was first put forward over a year ago. The benefits are clear (as outlined in detail in the whitepaper) and they far outweigh the costs (which are also reviewed in the paper).

As a parent who has taken the time to do the research, attend the board meetings, and sign the petition, I think we should be thanking this dedicated group of parents for continuing to push the school board by bringing such thorough research on what is the future of education (and the present in many countries!) to our attention.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 12, 2014 at 9:47 am

neighbor wrote:
> Don't know why you think I (or anyone) was supporting Mandarin-only!

I never said that, nor did I imply it. You incorrectly inferred it.

> one of the richest towns in the U.S.

Irrelevant (and incorrect; MPCSD is made up of more than one town). MPCSD budget is set based on state (base only) funding and local property taxes. Unless you get outside funding, you ARE taking money from other critical curriculum.

* Are you getting outside funding? Yes or no?

* Would you use MPCSD facilities? Yes or no?

* Would MPCSD need to hire anyone for Mandarin Immersion? Yes or no?

If the answer to any of the above is,yes, then you are by definition using MPCSD funds that are intended for other critical curriculum.

There are already classes and curriculum in MPCSD that give kids the same cognitive advantages, without the added expense, and without taking money from other curriculum.

If you want MPCSD money, you're going to have to do better.

> It won't even use a disproportionate amount.

Ah, so you do want to take money from other classes.

> And steal resources from the other programs (you mention learning a musical instrument, math, spanish,etc)

(I never used the word steal. Interesting) Unless you have separate funding, adding money to this program means taking money from critical classes and programs. That's not opinion, that's math (which may be one of the classes that could be affected. How ironic).

> students you admit for neighboring areas

Will the students from outside the school district pay the $11,200+ cost of instruction per year? Yes or no?





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Assuming the proposed immersion program requires public funding, it seems the proponents need to answer the question of how this program benefits the public (not just their children) by either:

1. providing a return to the public that is greater than that provided by current programs from which funds would be be diverted, or

2. reducing costs so that the immersion program would not cut into current programs

I have seen many arguments about how this program could be beneficial to enrolled individuals, but nothing so far that says this is the best use of my tax dollars.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm

I was an early poster on this thread and was interested to go back today and read all the comments that have been posted since. As I read through them, I become more and more concerned about a theme that seemed to run through more than one of the posts. In order to feel that I was responding intelligently, I decided to start from the beginning and take a closer look at what each poster said and went so far as to print them all out and do some highlighting.

Of the 43 posts, 23 were submitted by people in favor of the program. That would seem relatively split down the middle, until you look closer and see that 22 of those 23 posts were submitted by either Neighbor or MP Parent. The final one came from JustTheFacts, who clearly states that she has done her research on the subject, and is fully on board. I appreciate the links she supplied and that she is upfront about the fact that she's an interested parent.

If I hadn't looked more closely at the posts, I would have assumed that there was much broader interest in the program from Almanac readers, rather than just these couple posters. I especially liked when MP Parent and Neighbor riff off each other for six straight posts, complementing each other on what great points they're making.

MP Parent does not state that she has any direct link to the committee, but she does seem to imply it, and as a district parent who is interested in the program, this person certainly has a right to convince the rest of us. That being said, I think it would be appreciated at this point if MP Parent would state what their official connection to the program is. On the other hand, Neighbor, who seems to have such strong views on the subject and is definitely out to convert, is from "another community." That being the case, his objective is very much unclear to me.

I'd like to dispute one argument that each of these posters made.

First of all, MP Parent asks, "Is it fair to deny the demand from those who WANT their children to learn Mandarin? Those parents are also tax payers, don't they deserve what they want for their kids?" In a word, NO...or, better stated: Not Necessarily. She later states, "So allocating a portion of the public fund to educate these kids is completely legitimate and is not taking anything away from other kids-every kid has the same entitlement for getting the education he/she wants." And, again, I say NO. Just because you want it, doesn't mean you get to have it. YOU feel that Mandarin Immersion is well worth the price, I'm not going to necessarily disagree, as I believe there are pros and cons, but you can't use the argument that just because you pay taxes and YOU think it's a great idea that you have an entitlement to it. You could extrapolate that to all kids of crazy, or not financially feasible things. My opinion is that it is not essential to our district and if it effects the funds going to my child's education, I am going to be vocal about it. If it has no effect on me, go for it. But I have a problem with the logic that you deserve to have the funds handed over because you pay taxes and you want it for your kids.

And this ties into my larger issue, that I have with one of Neighbor's main points, and the reason I decided to post today. In the 14 posts from our Neighbor (from a different community) he refers to how wealthy Atherton and MP are no less than five times. "one of the wealthiest communities in America," "will not drain resources...in one of the richest towns in the U.S." "this community can definitely afford it." When I originally read through these posts, I did not realize that all these comments came from the same person. Without looking at each heading, I assumed that there were multiple people out there with this mindset, and I mentally prepared my vehement objections. But, lo and behold, it's just Neighbor (from 'another community'). Well, Neighbor, as a member of this community, I'd like to let you know something. I live and own a house in Menlo Park. I pay taxes and send my children to our public schools. I appreciate the fact that my family may be more well off than many in this country, and make sure my children know, understand, and appreciate this fact. Part of how I do this is by explaining to them, that, yes, we CAN afford both a Play Station and an X-Box, but no, we don't have both because we make choices in life. Yes, we could afford to go to Hawaii, but not if we want to visit Grandma. Because even if you are wealthy, there is a limit to your funds. And just because you can afford it, doesn't mean that you need to buy it. This holds true with public funds. In fact, as referenced by Peninsula Resident, due the cap that is placed on state funds, there is such a limit to the funds that supply our district that we have a non-profit that supplements it. Without the MPAEF, there would be NO art, music, or librarians in our district (among many, many other resources and benefits). It fills in when the regular funds end.

So, if MPCSD opens a charter school, will the regular funds end even earlier? I happily give to the MPAEF, but am not thrilled with the idea of having to pad it to make up for funds lost due to a boutique charter school, opened on the wants of a handful of parents. And don't get me started on the idea of yet another referendum.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Attacking the poster, his location, or how many times he posts an opinion are all irrelevant attacks to shut down an opinion you don't agree with.

Please stick to the substantive issue at-hand. I'd like to believe that free speech and different opinions are still permitted in this country.

My opinion is that:
(1) Learning a language is not a luxury, and giving it up is not like giving up having an extra toy or extra vacation.
(2) Teaching languages is not a superfluous luxury. Considering it is no different than considering giving up math.
(3) Teaching languages is essential preparation for success in this a very international world.

Giving your kids a full education is not unaffordable....especially in a community SO blessed with financial resources.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MPCSD Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Aug 12, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Neighbor,
I'm sorry that you feel that my post was a personal attack. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who tends to scroll through these articles and comments on my cell phone between other events in my life, and I thought it was important to share that what I took to be many posters in favor of the program, was, in reality, only two posters doing the majority of the pro-charter school opinions, one of whom doesn't appear to live in the area. I'm not sure how the fact that I questioned why someone who appears to live outside the district would be so interested in how MPCSD chooses to spend their money, is an attempt to take away your free speech. I'm just sharing my opinion, same as you. Free speech in action!
Speaking of opinions...you make some great points above. I don't think there were too many arguments posted anywhere in this thread against the value of learning languages; certainly not by me. But, the question remains, do we need a new charter immersion school in order to achieve these goals? And, more importantly, how much will it cost and where will the money come from? For all I know, these parents have all kinds of private funding to help them get off the ground. I'm not against the concept at all. I'm actually a huge charter school supporter, but, as in all financial decisions both personal and government related, I would like to see the benefits on all sides weighed against the costs. At this point, it seems as if the group will need to submit their proposal before these questions will be answered, so I will wait and watch.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 12, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Are mandarin-immersion proponents getting outside funding? Yes or no?

Would mandarin-immersion use MPCSD facilities? Yes or no?

Would MPCSD need to hire anyone for Mandarin Immersion? Yes or no?

Will the students from outside the school district pay the $11,200+ cost of instruction per year? Yes or no?

To "neighbor, a resident of another community":
1) do you agree that parents outside MPCSD should pay at least $11,200 per year to send their child to a MPCSD mandarin immersion program?

2) Will you campaign for that requirement as a condition for setting up mandarin immersion in MPCSD?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

"neighbor, a resident of another community" wrote:
> Attacking the poster,

You were not attacked.

> his location,

Your location was not attacked.

> or how many times he posts an opinion are all irrelevant attacks

Pointing out that almost all the proponent-posts came from 2 posters is not an attack.

> to shut down an opinion you don't agree with.

Your opinion was not "shut down" by someone else exercising the same free speech you enjoy.

> Please stick to the substantive issue at-hand.

I humbly suggest you take your own advice. You could start by answering some of the questions posed, instead of obfuscating the discussion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

The financial FACTS of managing a language Immersion program within a Charter School will be publicly presented. I don't pretend to know them, but find the $11.200 undocumented figure thrown about mysterious. Where does it come from, what costs are included, etc.?

From reading the article, it appears that after trying the traditional route for the program, Ms. Cunningham et al. are ready for the intricate Charter Schools submission/approval process, and have done their financial "homework." They will be presenting their data, along with a strong case for why teaching Mandarin is important.

It also appears that some members of the community oppose Chinese instruction specifically. The importance of learning a language, and the value of learning Chinese, are the issue I addressed in previous posts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm

The one thing I am curious about is whether this will be a dual immersion program (with somewhat equal numbers of Mandarin and English speakers) or not. And if students leave after the first year or two, how are qualified students found to fill the spaces - I would assume they would need to be at grade level in Mandarin.

@pennisula resident - Charter schools don't receive funding from any local parcel taxes or bonds, so the taxpayers in the Menlo Park District could ctually pay less for students in a Charter school. If students from outside the district attend, 70% of the funding from their "home" district follows them, whatever that funding is. If the student comes from another basic aid district, Menlo Park receives NO funding for that student.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm

"neighbor, a resident of another community" wrote:
> The financial FACTS of managing a language Immersion program within a Charter School will be publicly presented. I don't pretend to know them,

Fair enough.

> but find the $11.200 undocumented figure thrown about mysterious. Where does it come from, what costs are included, etc.?

$11,200 comes from the MPCSD web site. It's the cost MPCSD incurs per pupil per year:

Web Link

If you want a breakdown of MPCSD expenses, here's the website to do that, www.ed-data.k12.ca.us:

Web Link


> They will be presenting their data, along with a strong case for why teaching Mandarin is important.

Just so everyone is aware, it's worth pointing out that MPCSD already offers an after-school mandarin program:

Web Link

However, it's only once per week. If you point out that that's much too meager, I'd agree. If MPCSD finds a way to financially support a daily after-school class, I'd be a proponent in expanding the existing mandarin program.

But let's be clear: you've been painting a picture that implies there's no mandarin offerings at MPCSD, which is just not the case.

> It also appears that some members of the community oppose Chinese instruction specifically.

Interesting. Do you have any examples? Please elaborate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

"palo alto resident, a resident of another community" wrote:
> If students from outside the district attend, 70% of the funding from their "home" district follows them, whatever that funding is. If the student comes from another basic aid district, Menlo Park receives NO funding for that student.

This is excellent information, thank you.


So, back to "neighbor, a resident of another community":
1) do you agree that parents outside MPCSD, that come from basic-aid districts, should pay at least $11,200 per year to send their child to a MPCSD mandarin immersion program?

2) Do you agree that parents outside MPCSD, that come from districts in which some of their funding follows them, should pat the difference between their home-districts funds and the costs to MPCSD to send their child to a MPCSD mandarin immersion program?

3) Will you campaign for those requirements as a condition for setting up mandarin immersion in MPCSD?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

@pennisula resident - Charter schools are public schools so they can't charge tuition, so your suggested "requirements" wouldn't be legal.

I'm not sure exactly how funding works in a Basic Aid District Charter, but Bullis Charter School in Los Altos (also basic aid) only gets $6000 a year per student in public funding (I assume that is property tax and a small amount of federal/state funding). Menlo Park might be different, higher or lower, based on your property tax base. Charters don't benefit from parcel taxes and the MP Ed Foundation could choose to include a Charter in its fundraising. Or not. The rest would have to be made up in donations at the school level. I think Bullis Charter School in Los Altos has a "suggested" donation of $6K per student per year.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Peninsula resident -- Maybe you didn't see my last post, which referred to the article above. That article, and my comments, were pretty clear. Repeated provocations won't elicit any other response.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by another PA resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I would suggest to those advocating language immersion for a few to justify that generous benefit for relatively few, vs using the required funds to to run a charter school to offer better foreign language instruction for everyone in the Menlo school district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms. Sterious
a resident of Encinal School
on Aug 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Just some other things to consider:

When the Board chose not to consider the initial request for Mandarin Immersion, I figured that there would be an "Immersion Slate" of candidates popping up for the upcoming election. Pretty crafty to go the Charter School route, less work for individuals and more work for the district to countermand and correct.

BTW, being on the School Board requires a huge time commitment A big Thank You to all current and past board members! If you haven't been to one, and you have an opinion on this subject, go and speak your mind. There is always time at the beginning of every session for public comment.

That being said, I personally think it was a mistake not to consider an immersion class for the new elementary school being built on the former German American School site. Granted, plans are already underway for a curriculum that dovetails with Laurel but things can change.

Now that M-A offers Mandarin, it makes sense that we follow the lead set by the Los Lomitas district and offer it as a language, whether it be in an immersion setting or in regular language classes at Hillview.

With regards to finding a site for a separate and distinct Immersion School, I don't see how the district can afford to fund another school site within the district boundaries given current property prices. The costs are simply too high.

Essentially, what this proposal does is back the district into a corner. I predict that if this process continues, the district will relent and have an immersion class begin at the new school.

The district will have to hire new teachers for the new school anyways, so if one or 2 classes in kindergarten are devoted to Immersion, it shouldn't break the bank.

But it must be done right. Looking back for an historical perspective, if you followed the roll-out and then retreat of the classroom Spanish program at the elementary schools (not to be confused with the current Spanish Immersion programs); it is all in the planning and implimentation. At the time of the approval of the current Spanish Immersion (6 years ago?), the board overuled Supt. Ken Ranella's concerns about doing too much too soon (Immersion + classroom). Mr. Ranella's concerns proved correct and the district had to drop the classroom part and focus solely on the immersion. Currently, language instruction is only offered at Hillview as an elective or after-school at the elementaries.

I believe that a Chinese Immersion program can only help prepare our students for a more competitive future but it must be done thoughtfully and not at the expense of the other programs that are already flourishing in the district. With careful planning and guidance (looking to the Palo Alto Schools, where it is already successful), I think this could be done.

It is just too bad that there is now an acrimonious atmosphere over something that most parents would, I assume, be a benefit for their children.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Repost
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 26, 2014 at 8:55 am

repost of the most rational response here.

Listening to people lecture us about the value Mandarin immersion because of the immense economic boon it will confer on the few kids who learn it is both amusing and nauseating.

There may be many reasons to learn Mandarin such as cultural benefit, enrichment, cognitive development, general knowledge, but trying to position their children for a brighter economic future is nowhere near the top of the list. Assuming that such is the case is simplistic and promotes something as fact without an iota of substantiation.

Fact:

1) English is the dominant language for business and finance in the world. Name an event that will change this and explain why it *likely* to happen.

2) English is now the language of diplomacy. Name an event that will change this and explain why it *likely* to happen.

3) Chinese languages are not very computer friendly. Ask anyone who actually speaks and writes Mandarin or Cantonese.

4) The Chinese language is completely different from every other Sanskrit/Latin rooted language. There may be ~1.4 billion Chinese, but there are many more billions of non-Chinese with languages that share a common root or a substantial investment in an English based educational infrastructure and their net economic power is greater than China's and will likely remain that way. The dominant foreign languages learned in large population growth areas like Africa are Western languages with English at the top of the list -- not Mandarin.

5) There's a reason the Chinese develop some basic English proficiency from a young age. It's because they know their educational and professional futures are severely narrowed if they do not. Refer to facts 1 and 2.

Making the argument for any immersion program based upon future economic or sociopolitical trends is foolish at best. Arguing for a huge investment from any public school system based upon a set of low probability events that would change deeply entrenched global paradigms is unhinged


 +   Like this comment
Posted by highjack
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2014 at 9:23 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MMICS Supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 28, 2014 at 2:32 am

There are a number of misconceptions with respect to 1) charter schools, 2) language immersion programs, 3) the value of Mandarin, and 4) cost/funding that I will attempt to clarify. It's extremely important that the community has this information in order to form an educated decision/opinion, instead of an emotional one based on assumptions. Also, please note that the school is not just based on Mandarin immersion. It integrates innovative curriculum with progressive teaching methods to develop 21st century skills for college and career readiness in our dynamic global society.

1)Charter schools provide families with a choice when it comes to public education and I think most people support having choices. Starting a charter school is also a *lot* of work and not some "crafty" ploy to circumvent the system.

The Charter Schools Act of 1992 states that:
It is the intent of the California Legislature…to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a method to accomplish all of the following:
a)Improve pupil learning.
b)Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving.
c)Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
d)Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.
e)Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.
f)Hold the schools established under this part accountable for meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.
g)Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.
-California Education Code Section 47601(a)-(g)

2)Although counter-intuitive, language immersion programs are actually much more cost-effective than enrichment programs. The reason for this is because you are delivering the core curriculum/state standards in the target language (and you can only do this starting when kids are young), teacher and facility costs don't increase. Budget constraints were the reason why Spanish For All was eventually discontinued, but Spanish immersion survived. In fact, many school districts are able to run immersion programs cost-neutrally (or close to it), and even revenue positive as in Minnesota's case, and no, districts don't have to hire a separate administrator to run the program.

Also, immersion is *the* most effective method for developing advanced proficiency (bilingualism/biliteracy) and academic competency in both languages, whereas enrichment programs provide limited exposure only, so you don't gain the cognitive (and other) benefits. Developing true proficiency in other languages is actually a priority at all levels of our government, even in our own school district. You can refer to the State's and County's Seal of Biliteracy programs, as well as the MPCSD's strategic plan. Some educators even believe that immersion will become the norm for education in the future.

More information and research, including the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and academic achievement data (which I don't believe are "narcissistic"), are available in the white paper posted on the menlomandarin.org website, so I would encourage you to read this.

3)Learning any language is excellent for cognitive development and in fact, one of the charter school founders, who is a neuroscientist and 2013 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, believes it is more important for a child's development in the first 10 years than learning math or science (because learning multiple languages expands the brain's capacity and stimulates learning in all subject areas)!

However, there actually is an added benefit to learning Mandarin specifically, not only because of its tonal nature and characters, which builds connections between both hemispheres of the brain (English speakers are only using the left side), but because it is also the most widely spoken first language in the world and 3rd most widely spoken in the US. In addition, China has the second largest economy in the world and one of the fastest-growing, expected to surpass the US in the next 10 – 20 years.

According to our US government, Mandarin is 1 of only 2 critical languages, which means there is a strong demand, but limited supply. The challenge is that language takes many years to develop, so by the time you realize you need the skill, it's too late, and the US is trying to play catch up. Also, education has a long time horizon, so educators have to be progressive (forward-thinking, innovative, visionary) to anticipate the skills and needs 15+ years out. We know enough about China's rising economic and political influence to anticipate the practicality of Mandarin for many generations to come, so this isn't some "crap shoot". If others believe that the future language should be something else, then I highly encourage you to present your case (and supporters) to the school district, as the parents did with Mandarin.

4)Cost is a sensitive topic and understandably so. However, charter schools are unfairly targeted. As one commenter indicated, it is actually to the district's financial advantage to approve the charter school, which is probably a surprise for many people. The district actually retains a larger share of the property tax revenue than what the charter school will receive, so the charter school needs to educate these district children with less tax revenue than if they were to attend the district's schools. Also, the funding follows the student, so charter schools will receive the same ADA for out-of-district students and they aren't getting a free ride on the backs of Menlo Park taxpayers. Therefore, charter schools do not siphon money away from the district nor its programs. In fact, it's the opposite.

In terms of facilities, the charter school needs 80 in-district signatures of families who are meaningfully interested in enrolling in the school in the first year in order to receive classroom space. Even then, this space is usually leased to the charter school based on a couple of different methods, so again, there's no free ride here.

One final note, learning Mandarin doesn't threaten English or challenge its dominance in the world. Learning other languages actually improves English, and the academic achievement data consistently indicates that children in immersion programs outperform their non-immersion peers, even on tests of the English language. However, if history is any lesson, we should remember that there were many great civilizations and powerful countries that have risen and fallen, so what is clear is that nothing lasts forever and the US is not immune. If anything, we are already losing our competitiveness in many fields and if we keep denying the impact of globalization, we will be victim to our own "narcissism".


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Moreland Parent
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I just came across this article.

The proposed charter in Menlo Park is being pushed by BALIS, a recently incorporated company that is also pushing the same exact Mandarin immersion charter school into Moreland School District.
Web Link

We're having the same discussion down in the Moreland district. A small group wants to push the charter into the district. Most of the community is asking "Why us? Why now? Why Mandarin?" Guess what -- the answer is because they can. Once they have the signatures on the petition there is very little the school district can legally do to oppose the charter. The last time this happened in Moreland, we had to close two schools to pay for the charter. (Discovery Charter -- MSD closed Latimer K-5 and Rodgers Middle.)

And even if the school district does stand up to the charter, and refuse the petition, the country education board can approve it. Guess who's on the charter's side? Again, that's exactly what happened in MSD.

There's no use discussing this with "Neighbor" and "MP Parent" (assuming these are actually different people. MMICS has submitted the petition -- it's out of your hands. Nothing the community can do about it.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Steins, sausage and spaetzle: Mountain View hosts second Oktoberfest
By Elena Kadvany | 4 comments | 3,196 views

Men Are Good For Three Things
By Laura Stec | 38 comments | 3,034 views

Storytime is Full
By Cheryl Bac | 7 comments | 1,104 views

Helping Local Veterans
By Erin Glanville | 1 comment | 388 views

Phone Sex
By Paul Bendix | 0 comments | 340 views