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SCHOOL AGE CHILD CARE - THE MENLO PARK MYTH

Original post made by beyond frustrated, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle, on Jul 29, 2007

Imagine my surprise when I saw my daughter's picture in the Menlo Park activity guide under the page marked "School Age Child Care".

The TRUTH is that there currently is NO afterschool care available in Menlo Park. If you dont believe me, try enrolling your kindergartener - anywhere. Burgess had 3 openings for Fall which were given to the two brave father's who camped overnight to secure their spots. My daughter in the picture is number two on wait list, I arrived at 5 am. Last year there were no cancellations.

I have been one of the most outspoken critics of the Menlo Park School Districts' hands-off policy with respect to onsite after school care and have spent the last six months and literally hundreds of hours in dialog with the Superintendent, the City Council and concerned parents trying to understand how Menlo Park can continue to ignore a problem which has existed for years (and which is documented by their own surveys).

Consider these facts:

MENLO PARK IS PRESENTLY THE ONLY DISTRICT ON THE PENISULA NOT OFFERING ONSITE AFTERSCHOOL CARE. Currently onsite after school care is offered (and has been for years) at: Las, Lomitas, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Ravenswood, Los Altos, Belmont Shores, Portola Valley, Burlingame etc.

THREE YEARS ago 43% of surveyed parents (not including incoming kinders who were not polled for some unknown reason) said they would use onsite childcare if available (196 families) and yet the District maintains they need to spend valuable resources exploring whether or not their is a need. We all know enrollment is up. What is to explore?

To this end the District recently sent out an electronic survey to assess parent's perceived district priorities. And again, despite the Superintendents' promises to the contrary (given to parents, and witnessed by City Councilmen and City Administrators), incoming kindergarten parents - those arguably with the most need -- were not (yet?)polled.

Furthermore, the electronic survey designed by a "consultatnt" had such an abysmal response rate that District could not get an accurate assesment of any of the questions asked. Consequently they decided to mail out hard copy surveys in hopes of a better return rate. What a waste of valuable time and money!

The successful and tested model for onsite childcare in most neighboring communities (Las Lomitas, Los Altos, PV etc ) is funded 100% by parents who use the service. No City or District money is used.

The going rate for legitimate, documented, nanny care is $18 per hour = $1,890 per month for care from 12pm-5pm. Of course none of this includes withholding, benefits etc.
Onsite care is $780 per month 12-5. (CCLC @ Las Lomitas)

Private School roughly $800 per month (St Raymonds based roughly $5,800 annual tuition - school from 8-3 plus nominal hourly charge for care from 3-5.

Translation: if you are a working parent it is cheaper to move out of Menlo Park or put your child into private school.

I dont think many new families are aware of the afterschool care problem that exists in Menlo Park. I certainly didn't before finding out the hard way.

Even for those who dont have families we all know that our property value is directly related to the strength of our School District. What happens to our property values when people realize that they can get better value for their dollar in other cities? Realtors pay attention here!!!

Mostly though this is a social issue. If you are a single parent, or if you can't afford to not work, or if you cant afford $18 per hour, what are your options? Not having affordable, onsite childcare available is simply elitist. This (non) policy should enrage anyone with any social conscious.

This is a School District issue but it will require the City, and the community to insist that the District take immediate action. To express your concern to the School District: board@mpcsd.org


There is no downside to bringing onsite afterschol care to MP. Please get involved.

Comments (37)

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Posted by Menlo mommy
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 31, 2007 at 6:16 am

This complaint about why public school does not offer a full day of kinder care does not address the child and why kindergarten is half a day, or the space constraint on Menlo Park public schools.

First off, where would the very young child nap or snack and have quiet time? Do parents who seek such care understand the age and mentality and needs of a 4 and 5 year old? Do they understand the need for love and the warmth of home after kindergarten? Do they understand that kindergarten is a HALF DAY for a reason?

Furthermore, are we as a community supposed to build a center for kids whose parents choose to live and work here even though they can't afford this lifestyle they are choosing? If we do choose to help support them, where do we get the space? Surely we can't use existing classrooms or gyms. They are already in use. And what teacher is going to put cots in her room and allow little kids to eat and essentially live in her class?


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Posted by beyond frustrated
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 31, 2007 at 7:33 am

You presume that those who are in need are more concerned with their large homes and fancy cars than their children. You are not taking into account single parents who marriages fell apart for reasons beyond their control, families who work hard to pay the rent and who must stay local because that is where their jobs are and their post baby boomer parents who now also need care. I agree in an ideal world we would all welcome our kinder home with loving, relaxed arms, a healthy snack, a bed to nap in and the smell of pot roast cooking and happily awaiting daddy who was home promptly at 5, Unfortunately, the days of Beaver Cleaver are long since gone - a fact which is acknowledged by every school district in the Penisula but MP.

Also the community does not flip the bill for any of this. The licensed day care provider does and their expenses are recouped by the parents who use the services. Which is the opposite I might add of the current offerrings (Burgess) which are indeed subsidized (unnecessarily) by your hard earned tax payers' dollar.

After school care facilities are typically provided in modulars specifically designated for afterschool childcare which (by the way) do not need to be those ugly brown construction trailers. See Project Frog for incredible examples of new eco-friendly, sustainable, attractive buildings. American Modular also has beutiful buildings which you will soon see erected in your back yard at the German American school (much nicer I might add than the Encinal or Laurel "permanent" buldings).

As you can see, many involved parents have been studying all aspects of this issue. I impore you to dig deeper on the issue. I trust like me, you are deeply committed to making sure that your children (and all children ) are cared for, lovingly, safely and to the best of our ability as parents who care.


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Posted by No TERC
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 31, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Are you familiar with the remodels at Encinal and Hillview? SInce there is only one field left at each school and Laurel can't take more buildings, there is no place to build.
The new TERC building at Encinal is the only viable place. The board voted to build a Teacher Education Resource Center at Encinal, a nice, expensive 2 story building to house books, tables, thoughts, ideas, coffee, lounges . . . but not to meet this need for care in our community. They did not get teacher input for that building. It's going to be an enormous closet for teachers who have no idea why it's even going in there. It's Ken Ranella's little jewel. He likes to build, even if the buildings have no purpose. Felton Gables neighbors are opposed to the TERC and want it used for After School Care. Unfortunately, no one has really put their foot down and redirected this vision of Ranella's.



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Posted by d
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:11 am

The TERC will enable the district to relocate existing district functions (technology functions, science kit distribution, etc.) from existing classrooms at Laurel, Oak Knoll, Encinal and Hillview to make room for needed classrooms at each campus. This will enable the district to maintain low class sizes and provide for essential district support functions.


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Posted by ageed - what are they thinking
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2007 at 7:18 am

actually there is a petition being circulated attempting to block the building of the ridiculous terc center which could have been build (like the District office) anywhere but on the valuable school property. the Board says they chose to build at Encinal so they could get Federal funding but they could have just as easily built at the German American Campus which is owned bythe District and for some reason leased out???? unfortunately the petition has been passed to the City which is really a separate baliwick. also, at this late stage of the game it is most unlikely that the plans will switch. these administrative functions, I agree should be carried out elsewhere so that child specific services i.e. afterschool childcare can operate on campus.

no one has mentioned that onsight childcare also alleviates much of the traffic associated with multiple pick ups. we are spending a lot of time and money trying to address the traffic issue and make sure surrounding neighbors have the least impact possible. wondering why the Board hasn't incporporated at the very least - partial care, from 12-230 into the solution for addressing the traffic issue. I know palo alto offers this service at all of their locations. I have to take two trips to the school within two hours


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Posted by let's work together
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2007 at 7:36 am

It is very unproductive for parents who want on-site childcare to pit their interests against parents who are in favor of maintaining existing programs and services such as small class sizes, hands-on science, and classroom technology. Rather than argue without any real understanding of the facts in an on-line forum, we should instead engage productively with our board representatives, our school site Principals, and our local PTO leaders and our superintendent to try gain an accurate understanding of the costs and trade-offs of various options for our community. If we want to have it all without negatively impacting the schools, one solution would be to ask the community to support a new bond measure to fund the annexation of adjacent land via eminent domain and and also provide the additional funding needed to build additional new facilities for childcare. Otherwise, trade-offs will need to be made.


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Posted by onsite care works
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2007 at 9:47 am

Frustrated, I hope you heed the advice of let's work together. Your approach has raised the collective hackles of the school board and sup, and that does not help your cause.

To achieve success, you have to show that you are capable of looking at the big picture, not just yourself and your own child. I agree with your premise, and have supported onsite for years, but the district is trying to juggle many different priorities right now, and you'd do well to try to ingratiate yourself rather than to suggest that you should be entitled to services.


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Posted by S.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 1, 2007 at 10:51 am

Ridiculous! Frustrated is right. The TERC is wrong! As 'd' says, it's a storage facility. Why can't that stuff be put in storage elsewhere? If we do not step up and do what's right and make that TERC for children to actually use, we'll end up with a multi million dollar closet and no after school care program. If parents had not stepped up several months back and passed around a petition (thereby raising the hackles of this very lame school board and sup) we would not have grass for students to play on but an aritificial soccer field.


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Posted by frustrated not entitled
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2007 at 3:49 pm

For the record. My needs are met. I am self employed. I have and will continue to work around the schools' schedule and can afford nanny care when necessary. I don't feel entitled but I continue to push because there are many (I know personally) who dont have my luxury of time or finance to keep moving the agenda forward.

I've heard the Board suggest that there has never been a need expressed from the community and yet it somehow seems to have escaped them that the people who have the most need cannot be sitting in Board meetings until 1 am. They are tucking in their children, packing lunches for the next day and getting ready to go to work to pay the rent.

.We have gone to great lengths to work cooperatively with the Board - we have researched, we have problem solved, we have called in experts from surrounding Districts and from day care facilities. Over 70 people have expressed their voices to deaf ears. I am not alone in this. If persistance raises hackles, I would ask what might be more effective?

We have intentionally avoided the "petitions" that the Board President so angrily admonished MP residents for distributing (albeit successfully) recognizing it is easier to stop an action by petition than instigate one by petition. We fully understand the need for colloboraton and cooperation.

We ask the same repeated question: why not in MP? This isn't an issue of entitlement, nor should important school programs be compromised. We can - as with all surrounding Districts - have it all. This is not an either/or proposition as the District might have us believe. The template is easily duplicated and at NO COST TO THE COMMUNITY. The homework has been done ad nauseum and is readily available. Again, look to our neighbors in West Menlo, PA, PV????

It may be true that not all campuses have space for onsite i.e. Encinal. But space was shown to be available at Laurel by the District Architect. If a site was put at Laurel more space arguably could be freed up at Burgess for more Encinal/Oak Knoll kids etc.

I understand the District is busy and there is alot of their plate but this issue has been backburnered for too long. We recognize this as a evolving process with no sweeping solutions but must it take so long for the first step??


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Posted by onsite care
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Frustrated, I understand your frustration. I don't like what I am seeing from the board or Czar Ranella in recent years, but those are the cards we have been dealt.

The situation, as explained to me by a board member, is that the board sought input from the entire community at many public sessions prior to the bond election. (I do not remember ever hearing about these sessions, and your point about parents being too busy to attend meetings is well taken, but from their perspective, they tried.) They ended up with a laundry list of needs, calculated amount of funding required for each, and prioritized them. The bond, as you know, went to the voters.

You can argue that the board should have been aware that childcare was an issue. I agree. But it wasn't in their face at the point they made the list of items to cover with the bond, and so they didn't think about it.

So the bond passed, and they are trying to spend the money as quickly as possibly because they know construction costs are rising (this is what caused major problems with the prior bond) and they want to squeeze the utmost value from every dollar. To add a new project to the mix, one that hasn't been on the priority list, is just beyond the pale at this point. Someone needs to suggest creative financing, because adding onsite care is not going to fit within the framework that has been established.

Also, although the community may not have to bear the operating costs, there will be a substantial capital cost for the portables or whatever buildings are erected for afterschool care. If that were not the case, then the board/Captain Ken would probably have fewer reservations about forging ahead with this long overdue initiative.


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Posted by frustrated
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2007 at 10:00 pm

I don't know how to put this anymore clearly to the Board, Ranella, the City or the Menlo Park public. The costs can and HAVE BEEN in other communities, FRONTED by the childcare providers (who operate for profit). These costs are offset by the parents who use the services. No city funds, no District funds are needed.

Only space, permission and initial Administrative time spent; xeroxing an RFP (boilerplates available in all surrounding Districts), distributing to an interested providers (comprehensive lists already available) and choosing (with the input of a preestablished parent committee in collaboration with the District) the most qualified applicants is needed.

With the amount of time the Board has spent "analyzing" the need, they might have already had systems in place for Fall.


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2007 at 11:46 am

I agree with "frustrated" that it seems short-sighted of the board not to take after-school childcare needs into account while they are planning building projects at the school campuses.

The MP district is expecting an enormous jump in enrollment, and I'd be very surprised if there isn't an associated jump in the need for afterschool childcare. Lack of foresight is causing the district to tear down recently built (and bond-money funded) additions at Hillview to make way for an even larger facility -- does the board want to face this same situation 5 years from now when lots more parents are facing a childcare crisis?

I'm really disgusted by the attitude of "Menlo Mommy." Apparently, anyone who needs onsite afterschool care is either a selfish money-grubbing working mom who doesn't care enough about her children to stay home with them, or a (gasp!) person who is not wealthy enough to maintain a Menlo Park lifestyle who should scuttle off to some poorer community and let her children go to lousy schools.

I have nothing against nannies -- I worked as one while in college -- but a high quality childcare center also provides excellent care.

I've grown to appreciate the enrichment activities, social opportunities and benefit of teachers who are educated in child development that's offered by Menlo Children's Center. I think it would benefit the entire community if more children had access to such high-quality care.

Building a wonderful community means caring about the well-being of all of its children, not just your own.


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Posted by Menlo mommy
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 2, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Mama is missing the point. A Kinder student is a very young child who cannot withstand a full day. It is not healthy. It's neglectful.

Why not go to a community where you can afford to live and stay home with your kids and make those "lousy schools" better? If you are neglectful of your kids by leaving them in a portable at school all day, and want to fill our lovely campuses with ugly portables so you can work, won't you in turn be being neglectful of all our kids in our community?


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Posted by Glad My Family is Out
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 2, 2007 at 9:53 pm

The District did not listen 15-20 years ago; who should they now? They are Atherton-oriented empire builders.


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2007 at 11:56 am

If Menlo mommy thinks all children in daycare are neglected, there's probably no point in explaining things any further.

I'm trying to imagine exactly what horrible things she thinks happen to kindergarteners in afterschool care. Sweatshop labor? Non-stop calisthenics? Two hours of dodgeball followed by an hour of verbal abuse and math flashcards? Withholding of snacks and drinks?

Daycare isn't the same as being at home. That can be both good and bad. Kids in afterschool care have snacks, can rest, quietly look at books, run around with their friends, work on homework, do art projects, listen to music or play with toys.


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Posted by Menlo Mommy
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 5, 2007 at 1:23 pm

I guess if Mama thinks it's fine to leave children in daycare all day, at all ages, there's no point in explaining anything at all. Mama needs a parenting class. Taught preferrably by someone who loves and understands children and their need for present parents.

Frustrated and Mama, give up your expensive cars, your expensive homes, your expensive vacations, your expensive things--and be a parent to your children. Raise them yourself. Don't expect they'll be fine with a minimum wage worker raising them. Mary Poppins does not exist, and certainly not for $8.75 and hour.


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Posted by laughing at the absurdity of it all
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 5, 2007 at 4:58 pm

Perhaps Mary Poppins does exist in the Willows after all. However it is going to take a lot more than a spoonfull of sugar to make this medicine go down.

Menlo Mommy's solution (and the Boards' apparent position) is that all those families simply quit their jobs, sell their belongings and stay home after 12:10pm so they can be like her - loving parents. Her arrogant and ignorant implications barely warrant reply.

Four years ago 45% of surveyed MP families used some form of afterschool care. 81% of surveyed families asked for onsite afterschool care.

Can we get back to an intelligent conversation grounded in reality?


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2007 at 8:01 pm

Thanks, "laughing." I guess "Menlo Mommy" believes only spinsters should have careers, and that only rich people need to work -- excuse me, rich daddies.

Here in the real world, I think we need some constructive suggestions for getting the MP school board to get on board with the need for on-site afterschool care. We need a productive dialogue with them.


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Posted by Free O'Connor School
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 5, 2007 at 9:09 pm

You should go to the MP city council mtg. this Tues. the 7th (email the council too!) and support the appeal to not extend the use permit for O'Connor School for the private German American School beyond it's current term. We need this campus back so that the MP school board can meet it's promise in its $91million bond election promo. to re-acquire O'Connor school if needed to meet unforeseen excess school enrollment. It would be great for after school child care needs in the future, as well as for the TERC center (which needs a state grant to get built at Encinal anyway, not a done deal). This 5th campus has been a "sweetheart" $300K annual lease payment deal from the beginning for the benefit of a private enterprise. Nothing against the German-French American Private school folks but this is a much needed public school facility. O'Connor was part of the approval package by the State Sup. of Schools when the Willows was transferred from Ravenswood Sch.Dist. to the MP School Dist. It's time to stand up to the school board and the city and demand a PUBLIC NEIGHBORHOOD school for Willows residents.
Read the apologist city staff report online on the city council website agenda to understand why we need to protest the status quo.


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Posted by onsite care
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 6, 2007 at 5:24 pm

I'm not sure that O'Connor provides much of a solution to this particular problem. Parents prefer onsite care, and O'Connor's location is far from ideal. But it may make a lot of sense for TERC and possibly some auxiliary programs.

I guess Menlo mommy is trying to start a mommy wars slugfest, but that's really not the issue here. In Palo Alto, lots of kids use the onsite care for social reasons: it's so much easier (for stay-at-home parents, nannies, and other care providers) to keep children in an age-appropriate environment where they can play with their peers than to spend hours sending emails or making phone calls to set up afterschool playdates. Why not make greater use of existing school facilities that have been built with taxpayer money? It's an all-round win to provide onsite care.

I haven't studied the council agenda, but I'm not sure that denying the use permit would help. MPCSD has already agreed to rent the facility; denying the use permit would put the arrangement in limbo and probably result in legal action that would consume MPCSD (and possibly MP) funds that should be used for better purposes.

I don't see O'Connor as a neighborhood school. Ever. There would have to be a sea change in district mentality for that to happen given the size and location of the campus.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Palo Alto is lucky to have on-site after school care at each of its elementary schools. They have a special kinder program (complete with warm and fuzzy time), wonderful staff and great activities. The staff of the Kids Clubs are truly part of the school community, recognized by ALL the kids. There is enough demand at some of the sites that the Kids Clubs are full with waiting lists. I don't think Menlo would have any trouble filling the programs and I suspect PACCC would be happy to advise them.

To Menlo Mom - in a perfect world, I'm sure many more parents (of both sexes) would choose to be home with their kids after school. Instead of belittling those who can't afford not to work (and they are usually working to feed and house their kids - not to buy BMW's and go to Belize), why don't you work on companies to provide more well paying flex-time and part-time jobs?


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Posted by Free O'Connor School
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 6, 2007 at 8:34 pm

The lease for O'Connor is until 2011, but it can be terminated after that by the school district if the rental amount is not mutually agreeable. If the city withholds the use permit beyond 2011, then the GA school will be forced to move after that. They have no legal right to force the district and city to accomodate them. A facility lease and use permit are revocable beyond 2011. That's why the $91million bond measure last year included O'Connor as a 5th campus if enrollment surges. Contrary to Onsite Care's assertions, O'connor would make a great Willows public elementary school and childcare center. It was promoted as such to get the state to agree to release it and the Willows from the Ravenswood District in the 80's. Therefore, it should be utilized per the state's conditional approval at the time. Otherwise, the other 4 campuses sprinkled around the city become seriously overbuilt and overcrowded. The German American school website indicates they charge up to $15K per year for tuition, so if there are over 300 kids attending there that is huge revenue income to a private enterprise, and the school district is only getting $300K rent, minus the cost of maintaining the physical buildings ($$$), all at our expense. Since when should we district taxpayers and parents make such huge financial and personal sacrifices so a private enterprise can make such a huge profit at our expense using a publicly owned facility?
Did you get the message that the city council needs to step up on the use permit issue since this current school board has its head in the sand?


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Posted by Bulldozer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2007 at 5:45 am

The students at O'Connor School will have to go somewhere. That means they either contribute the stress of the already packed schools or drive up the demand (and prices) of the private schools. It's a zero-sum game.

As for the public subsidy, the GA school is allowed to make a fair profit. Though it might seem a lot of revenue, there are other expenses beyond the facilities. They likely pay their teachers competitively.

Does anyone know what the "public" spends per student? Is $15K per student more or less efficient than what the public sector delivers??


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Posted by MPCSD parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 7, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Bull, many of the GA students don't live in MP, although the most likely scenario would be for the school to move to a new home. I appreciate the fact that the school needs affordable rent to stay in business, but if it's at the point that we residents are subsidizing the school--which, given the cost of new construction, may well be the case--then it is time for the district to rethink the agreement.

I don't think the city has any legal reason to deny the use permit. The school operation is in compliance with zoning and the general plan, and the school has apparently tried very hard to appease the neighbors and minimize traffic problems, which seems to be the city's main concern. The school board needs to be held responsible for the lease.

As for the cost of educating our kids, as I recall the number is a little bit over $10,000 per child. But I believe that is the marginal cost per child, and if you add in all the overhead (ie take the total budget and divide by the number of children) it's a lot closer to $15,000. Bureaucracy is not efficient.


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Posted by free o'connor school
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 7, 2007 at 8:28 pm

sorry, meant not to say revocable, but rather, not renewing the lease and use permit past 2011, when both expire. The GAS is trying to get a long term use permit for more portables. Let them be on the lookout for a similar setup like the International School of the Peninsula in Palo Alto (off E. Bayshore near the post office) in maybe the Baylands/Bohannon area where there are office campuses that are going begging. Let's retrieve the O'Connor school site for Willows neighborhood kids since it's school district, taxpayer funded, facility for the future of the Willows.


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Posted by think of the dgtr
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2007 at 9:31 am



Think that the poor little girl doesn't hear- probably every day- how ticked off mommy is mommy can't warehouse her?

What do you think is going on in her head while you spend "HUNDREDS OF HOURS" your proud words- yelling at people who won't take her off your hands- How is that good for her self-esteem? First daddy goes for whatever reasons and now mommy wants her gone too....


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Posted by mother of 4
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 13, 2007 at 11:02 am

"dgtr." Is that an abbreviation for "daughter?" Interesting. Suggests that the writer has unresolved abandonment or separation issues with his/her own mother or daughter.

There may actually be stay-at-homes who spend the days playing pat-a-cake with their kiddies, but I think they're in the minority. Most SAH parents are either too busy chauffeuring kids or dealing with their own stuff (part-time or flexible work, volunteer jobs, PTO, grocery shopping, whatever) to sit on the floor all afternoon.

Note that in Palo Alto, many after-school program attendees do have parents at home. Their parents pay for the kiddies to participate in the onsite programs because their kids want to hang out with their friends. Not stay at home with mom or dad.


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Posted by Get a Clue
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 13, 2007 at 11:54 am

Menlo Mommy and "dgtr" might want to read this article from yesterday's SF Chronicle. Although the writer uses the term "poor" women often, one can certainly apply "low income" in most cases -- and in this area where the cost of living is so tremendously high, the term can be applied liberally.

Web Link


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Posted by Ex MP Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2007 at 11:54 am

Below is a letter I sent to Ken Ranella and the MP School Board regarding how the lack of onsite after-school childcare has impacted my family.

I have been a part of the group of Menlo Park parents who have been meeting with you over the last six months or so regarding the need for onsite after-school childcare in Menlo Park. I am writing to advise you of the significant impact this situation has had on our family. This summer, my husband and I chose to move out of our recently remodeled home in Menlo Park, the sole reason being the lack of after-school childcare options in your district.

We found the process of meeting with you and the school board frustrating due to the fact that we saw no genuine comittment from you to update the after-school childcare system. Hiring a nanny or a driver to take our daughter from Kindergarten to an after school childcare program is not an option for us, nor is it an option for many other Menlo Park families. With three children ages five and under, the Menlo Park after-school childcare problem would be an issue for us for many years.

As you stated in the first meeting, "most families figure out a way to deal with the lack of on site day care." This is because your lack of action leaves families no other choice. For this family, "dealing with it" included dozens of hours researching feasible options, countless nights without sleep and an outrageous amount of stress. Certainly the costs to my family have been significant in many ways. Thankfully, we have been able to relocate to a community that has foreseen the need for after-school care and taken appropriate action – clearly with the best interest of its citizens in mind.

It is my hope that as families continue to bring this issue to you time and time again, you will understand that there is indeed a momentous need for after-school childcare in Menlo Park. At the very least, perhaps you will consider the costs you put on one of the hundreds of families who have brought this same issue to you before.


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Posted by frustrated wonders why the attack?
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 14, 2007 at 8:19 pm

The below quote is terribly dramatic (given the juxtapostion) admittedly but it speaks to the apathy and accompanying ignorance of those who would equate involvement with neglectfulness or something far more superficial. Teaching our children to get invovled in topics which serve all while hurting none helps build a solid foundation for self esteem based on selflessness, compassion and action.

Too often our children our taught they are special, just because they exist. Clearly they are flawless to us, their parents, but do we really think our children will remain feeling perfect without the tangible skills they need to survive in a world which does not see them through loving parental eyes?

Perhaps I should be spending my "free time" (though for the record my time spent on this issue has been primarly in the midnight hours) teaching my daughters how to ________, (fill in the blank). However, my family feels this issue is socially relevant and so I teach them that I/we care enough to spend our precious time taking a stance.

There is no need for division on this issue.There is no judgement against those who chose not to use after school care, There simply exists a huge community who wants and needs the option of affordable, onsite, afterschool care which (I repeat) is currently offered at every District in the Peninsula without exception.

Based on Martin Niemoeller's (victim of the Nazis) well-known statement about Nazi persecution , which begins,

"They first came for the Communists and I did not speak up--because I wasn't a Communist."
They first came for the immigrants, and I did not speak up--because my family had not been immigrants for three generations.

Then they came for the U.S. Muslims and Arab-Americans, and I did not speak up--because I did not want anyone to think I was sympathetic to "terrorism."

Then they came for the African-Americans, shot them down in the streets and put thousands of their young men in prison, but I did not speak up--because I did not want to look "soft on crime."

Then they came for the Gays and Lesbians, and I did not speak up--because I did not want anyone to think I was Gay.

Then they came for the atheists and secularists, and I did not speak up--because atheists are even more unpopular than Gays.

Then they came for the union organizers, and I did not speak up--because many people said that unions were "out of date" and "no longer needed."

Then they came for environmental activists and animal liberationists, and I did not speak up--because I did not approve of some of their tactics.

Then they came for the trouble makers, rabble rousers, antiwar activists, women liberationists, anarchists, socialists, civil libertarians, enemies of the state, prison abolitionists, and other disturbers of the comfortable, and I did not speak up--because I did not want any trouble.

Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up.


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Posted by frustrated by frustrated
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 15, 2007 at 9:36 am

frustrated, you undermine your position (which I otherwise support) with wacko posts like this one. How you present your message is just as important, and sometimes more important, than what you actually say.


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Posted by frustrated attack?
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 15, 2007 at 10:52 am

I admitted the quote was over the top but the message remains the same. A lot of people in this town don't like much of the status quo but very few are willing to get involved and those who do are often frowned upon for stirring the pot. If more people took preemptive action it would save the Council, the Board and the MP constituents a lot of time, money and hearthache.

But the record - point taken - I'm just getting fed up w/ some parents trying to turn this into a personal attack. Will stick to the issue and not get sidetracked again.


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Posted by Working Mother
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2007 at 3:11 pm

I am a so-called "stay at home." I gave up dreams of a large house to be with my kids. I don't just play pat a cake--I actually work my ass off! I rear my own kids everyday (you do know what rear means as opposed to raise?) volunteer at our school, I volunteer with another organization, I prepare my family's fresh meals, I walk and nurse my baby, I ALSO have a career that I work at from home part time. People can and should make sacrifices to rear their children themselves. I am sorry but that's just the moral and loving thing to do!

It's hard to choose to work and send your kid off to daycare. But aside from all this, many parents who make these sacrifices do not want to see portables (as is so lightly suggested), littering the space left at our already crowded school sites. I really think Menlo Park has to solve this issue another way. Ken Ranella is CORRECT in his thinking. Parents need to find another way.


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Posted by It's about our kids
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm

[yawn] Another mommy warmonger who wants to impress us with her superior understanding of grammar and holier-than-thou attitude. Let it go, okay? This is not about who is on higher moral ground or who loves kids more (working parents can cook with fresh ingredients too!) but how to provide afterschool care and programs for all kids who need or want them.

It's about our children, get it?

We, the taxpayers of MPCSD, have paid (and continue to pay) quite a bit of money to assure that our children have the best facilities we can afford. Those facilities have been designed to accommodate our children's needs. It's ridiculous to send everyone away at noon or 2 p.m. and tell them to find another venue for the rest of the afternoon. What a waste of a perfect physical plant!

Encinal used to host an onsite program operated by a third party. No extra portables were required. Even if you don't use classrooms, all the schools have a number of common rooms--multi, library, art room, music room--that can be ultrapurposed for childcare.

If the other districts can manage onsite care, why can't MPCSD? It's shameful.


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Posted by free o'connor school
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Ranella and the GermanAmericanI board rep. stipulated at the City Council mtg. Aug 7th that the O'Connor lease does not automatically extend past 2011, (watch the council video web feed for some illuminating comments from Ranella). Like, 30 more kindergartners expected next week when school opens than previously estimated!! With a demographic study that underestimates needed elem. school space for the future, it looks like the district will indeed need O'Connor back in 2011 as stipulated in the June '06 Measure U spending options. Check out the district's board mtg. Aug. 23rd to see if Ranella gets some reaction from the board on this hot topic. It would be great for Willows kids to be able to walk/bike to O'Connor and not have to trek over dangerous Coleman ave. to get to Laurel. AS for new facilities, The TERC bldg. at Encinal is not a foregone conclusion, since it needs a state grant to get built. And Felton Gables residents don't want that huge 2 story warehouse/teacher center looming over their backyards. They're already furious about the back room deal the district tried to make with the city on the U-19 soccer field. Some expect them to tie the district up for a long time in court over inadequate state law mandated CEQA environmental report compliance and the increased traffic on Encinal if the TERC is built and the delivery trucks come and go at all hours. The much needed signal at Middlefield/Encinal is still a sticking point with Atherton, particularly funding (they only want to pay half). The State Architect, State Sup. of Schools and the SMcounty Grand Jury recently issued scathing rebukes of incompetence/ cost overruns in school building construction throughout the county, so nothing is going to happen at Oak Knoll, Hillview and maybe even Encinal any time soon.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2007 at 5:27 pm

What is nifty is that society does have 24 hr care when the little critters end up in full time care--AKA the criminal justice system. And we all know how not being with parents gets the lil' darlings primed for the criminal life. Good news today- Britney lost her kids-- can only be good for them. Hope some of these "Warehouse my kids! When do I want to dump them? Now! Warehouse my kids! When do we want them warehoused? NOW!" mommies will send their kids where they are wanted- 24 hrs/day--not when mommie is available.


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Posted by Work is bad
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 21, 2007 at 11:33 am

I'm a bit shocked that the "Every mom a stay-at-home mom" militants have left out one route to their goal -- welfare.

Assuming you don't plan to round up every single-parent family and heave them off a cliff, one way to keep mommy at home with her kids instead of working for a living is to provide us all with welfare payments and subsidized housing.

Why allow a woman the dignity of work when you can have her stay at home all day in a dangerous slum, surrounded by her grateful offspring? Truly, I have seen the error of my ways, thanks to you enlightened people. Down with daycare! Give me Welfare!


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