District approves Chinese dual immersion program for fall Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Danville Weekly Online, on May 12, 2011 at 6:23 am
The San Ramon Valley Unified School District's Board of Education unanimously approved the inclusion of a Chinese dual immersion program at Quail Run Elementary School. Beginning this fall, the kindergarten class will teach students in Mandarin and English.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 2:37 PM
Posted by George, a resident of the Alamo neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 6:23 am
Teachers and administrator obviously don't get it. As they scream about budget cuts they are simultaneously adding expense to the equation... and then they wonder why taxpayers are fed up with their whining? Pathetic.
Posted by LMP, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 8:48 am
This sounds like a great program, but how can we afford it? I just don't get it. We hear there isn't money for teachers or supplies. The district shouldn't ask for ANOTHER parcel tax until they show they can live within their means, just as lots of families in the district have been forced to do.
Posted by Ellie, a member of the Greenbrook Elementary School community, on May 12, 2011 at 8:51 am
Oh my! I was under the impression our education costs have been so drastically cut!!! Now we're catering to non-English speaking????? and adding extra cost?? Steve Enoch, you just don't get it, do you!!!!!! What about our non-minorities, (which are quickly becoming the minority)and basic education!!!
Posted by psmacintosh, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 10:56 am
A. Surely all of the time, effort, and thought (let alone money) put into planning, designing, implementing, and operating this "venture", could have been spent more wisely on some of aspect of the educational system that is:
(1) more important, basic, necessary, and of higher priority to the educational needs of the students (and the society that is paying for them to be educated), and
(2) of benefit to more of the students--100% of the students, rather than all this effort going into the production of a side-course system to benefit 5% (?) of the student population.
B. If you can't find AMERICAN teachers to do this job (without necessitating a foreign teacher with VISA), then you should NOT be doing this. I'm surprised the Teacher's Union isn't up in arms about this!
C. We should be encouraging "assimilation" and upholding the value of the "English" language as the universal language, rather than using our funds and educational system to encourage the deterioration of the American culture and language. Why don't we just surrender now!
Posted by Carolyn, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm
Ashley, it costs $18,000 per section at the high school level, but I completely agree with you about Enoch. The fact that our taxes are going to support non-English speaking students is a travesty. If you choose to live in our great nation, appreciate and learn our language and stop taking money away from our legal citizens!
Posted by San Ramon mom, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm
This is outrages, what is next Mr. Enoch? We start teaching in Hindi?? I used to know this Hispanic family in San Ramon, the father worked for three jobs to provide for his family. They had 4 children and they came from Mexico, they had some relatives living in Concord. The father knew that it would be much cheaper to live in Concord, but he refused to move there...reason being they only spoke SPANISH in Concord schools! We have been living in SR nearly 15 years and in past 5 years it has changed from being friendly, clean, nice little town into something else. We have hundreds of different nationalities living in here, we cannot provide services for all of them in their own languages, especially by using tax payers money. I have lived in all over the world and in every place, there has always been a English-speaking school, but they have been private schools, meaning NO tax payers money has been used to running them. Mr. Enoch you are absolutely unfit for your post!!!
Posted by Gregg, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 4:11 pm
Glad to see so many people recognize the ridiculousness of adding a program which will serve so few. I thought there was a budget crisis? Whether this program costs $100 or $10,000 I would not call this fiscally prudent at this time. I intend to send Mr. Enoch a loud message by voting with my wallet and keeping it slammed shut until they show some responsibility and live within their means as so many others have mentioned on this blog and others.
Posted by Aubrey, a member of the Charlotte Wood Middle School community, on May 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm
Remember Spanish immersion? The reason education isn't working is that the teachers working on educating your children are being bull dozed by politics AND wasteful repeats of experiments that didn't work the first, the second, etc. time.
Posted by winston92, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm
Headline News: The SRVUSD Superintendent is accepting funds from the Chinese Government to run our local schools! Why are our District administrators going to a communist country to research education models and interview potential teachers? Does anyone else thinks it's a dangerous idea to open our young minds to direct manipulation and propaganda by a regime that has no repect for human rights and whose political ideology stands in direct opposition to our U.S. Constitution? Where in the Ed. Code does it state that the Superintendent has the right to negotiate with foreign governments to fund a California school?
Posted by Promote Chinese, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm
Excuse me, enrollment at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon is 1,503 students. The total number of white race enrollment is only 426 students. Nearly half the student enrollment at Dougherty Valley, 709 students are Asian. Therefore dual Chinese immersion at SRVUSD for elementary and middle school feeder schools is a very good idea that well serves the near majority of potential student enrollement.
Wake up! English is certainly not the only language spoken in this country, especially here in California.
Posted by Bud, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 5:59 am
Promote Chinese is right about the enrollment figures. However, I believe he/she is missing the point that money has and will be spent on something that seems so arbitrary at a time the SRVUSD is screaming they lack money. And lots of it.
If those families want this so badly then make them pay for it. They can hold their own auction or have their own PTA and raise funds that way. But using taxes and funds that everyone of us has been forced to pay for such a limited program makes absolutely no sense. If the District were swimming with cash or charging for it then the outcry may not be so loud. The timing is terrible and makes no sense.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 9:31 am
This is a good example of how liberal, special interest groups have taken over, and destroyed, the public schools in California, and apparently nobody has the guts to state that the "emperor has no clothes". Before you know it, the teachers union will be using their political influence, holdiing rallies in a shopping mall, to get yet another parcel tax passed, to cover the future expenses of these type of ridiculous programs. Any one on the school board who voted for this type of nonsense needs to be recalled, and the superintendant needs to go as well. Fact is our local public schools have done so well over the years largely because of two parent households actively being involved in their children's education, voluntering at school, making sure homework is done, paying for private tutors when needed, donating money directly to the schools each year for necessary supplies and programs. However, if the liberal teachers union and their special interest group allies are allowed to disrupt our children's education with these type of ridiculous programs, our local schools will fail, despite the best efforts by us parents. Eventually, parents will pull their children out of the public schools, which will be a very sad day for our entire community.
Posted by Michele, a resident of the Blackhawk neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 10:30 am
Of the 709 Asian students identified at DVHS, how many of their parents were the president of the PTA, ran a fund raiser or chaired the very elaborate school auctions each year? Heck, how many of them even bought a ticket to an auction, showed up for a PTA meeting, let alone a class party?
This program should be tuition based and 100% of the funding should be donated, paid or raised by the participants.
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm
If I am reading the article correctly, it seems that it was deemed necessary for four (4!) district employees to travel to China for research and interviews. Because we all know that it is impossible to find people in the Bay Area whose native language is Mandarin....
It might very well be a worthwhile educational offering. But as usual, it's also a boondoggle.
Posted by 2 sided, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm
I don't think the merit or value of this program is what is in question. It actually sounds interesting to me. What most want to know is why it is being added now when we are being reminded daily that the District is severely lacking funds for even the most basic resources. They are using verbage including "crisis".
The District needs to realize that money is finite and once it has run out, it is gone. The taxpayers don't want to give any more until the SRVUSD faces this fact and their actions and decisions match it.
Add this and other beneficial programs into the 21st century but don't tell me there is a budget crisis and act as if a tragedy is imminent on one hand and then fly multiple personnel to China and tour the state on the other hand. They can't play it both ways.
Posted by Terry Koehne, SRVUSD, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm
While the school district typically does not feel it is productive to contribute to the comments section of a news story, I wish to clarify a few points here:
1. The district is simply wanting to start with one class at one elementary school. Next year would consist of one kindergarten class. If successful the program could grow each year to the next grade level, again with one class at each grade. Dual immersion English-Mandarin classes are in many school districts across the country as a way to prepare students to be successful in a world where China is clearly a strong, economic player in the world. In fact, the state of Utah is initiating a state-wide effort to expand these classes, as a way to ensure that their students can have a competitive edge in the years ahead.
2. Research is very clear that the younger you teach a language to a child, the easier and faster it is for the child to read, write and speak the language.
3. The students who participate in the program will be at Quail Run School anyway, and the teacher is already a teacher in the district. The program is entirely optional for Quail Run families with kindergarten children. The only expenses are minor start-up costs for materials and we are hopeful that an exchange program will cover the cost of an aide.
4. The trips to visit schools in China by a few district administrators and a Board member have been part of educational exchange programs with the purpose of sharing best practices. The trips were funded entirely by the organizational exchange programs and no district funds were spent on any of the trips. Any incidental costs associated with the visits were paid for by the individual participants. Thousands of educators across the country have participated in these programs over the last 10 years.
Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm
Terry: you lost me at the dependent clause of your first sentence. IOW, I wish you'd consider it part of your outreach to comment more often.
I am hopeful/confident? that this message board contains a disproportionate fraction of xenophobic hand-wringers and panty-twisters among its regular contributors, and I also believe there are many, many more readers of a more moderate mien. I hope you'll be back.
Personally, I can't think of another second language, instruction in which would be anywhere near as important as Chinese for this rising generation.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm
Terry: You have got to be kidding me! As the spokeperson for the school district, you note the school district does not believe it is "productive" to take part in conversations in this local on line news service. If you follow this local on line news service, you will see that Mr. Gillette, the spokesperson for the Town of Danville, is a regular commentator, sharing information and answering questions that us Danville citizens have regarding our town. He does an excellent job in keeping us informed, answering questions, and giving us straight forward responses to important local issues. It is too bad that the school district does not share the Town of Danville's values and goals in keeping us informed, and answering legitimate questions. It would appear that the school district does like to obtain opinions from us local parents on important issues facing our children, particularly when the parents views are in conflict with the views of the powerful teachers union. It is also ironic how the school district thinks it is "productive" to send us parents non-stop e-mails lobbying for constant parcel taxes and other benefits for your special interest allies, but does not think it is "productive" to converse with parents on issues important to us. Communication is suppose to be a two way straight, and it is sad that the spokeperson for the school district does not apparently understand this.
Posted by Christine Landon, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 8:29 pm
I transfered my teens out of the district to a private school because of the funding issues. Funding for Mandarin is not a wise investment - I have lived in Asian and I am currently in China on business. Learning Mandarin is an admirable goal for some but it is so difficult to learn it could take a lifetime. The other thing to know is that there are numerous dialects so one may still not be able to converse. It is important to learn about China and Asian but after years of doing business in China and living in Asia, the advice I got was to learn about the geography and the culture. The Chinese who we will interact with know English. Rather than spend time on learning Mandarin, we need to get our averages up in math, english and geography which is what the Chinese are focusing on and surpassing our kids to gain acceptance to our public institutions in California. They are getting it - why aren't we? At a time when our budgets are being cut dramatically for basics, this is not a priority, this is a distraction. I have great respect for the Chinese and they have it right by focusing on the basics and focusing on quality family time. This is just not smart business.
Posted by Member, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 8:38 pm
The school district should not be accepting funds from the Chinese government as this is not within the guidelines of good standards of business conduct nor a good use of our funds to supplement these trips exchange programs are good at the high school of college level but our elementary and middle school students are in need of basic education This was an agenda that our superintendant had on his power point years ago after reading the world was flat - yes, we are being outpaced in Asian with students excelling in the basics and jobs are moving there so let's get competitive and focus on our priorities which is to fix our current problems which will be a multi year effort don't waste money on the nice to haves use it on the necessities
Posted by Erik, a resident of the Diablo neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm
Using "research" (see above) as justification for this round of controversial educational "innovation" is, at best, illogical. If we agree that introducing a second language to younger children is valuable, why is it offered to only 25 children in a select school in a public school district? Why that school? If the rush is on to learn Chinese this decade, why not encourage native speaking volunteers to help in their local schools and hire Chinese language teachers for those disadvantaged schools that do not have Mandarin speaking volunteers?
(How many of you remember the rush for German, Japanese, and then, Spanish in recent educational innovations? During the past 3 decades, each was considered a "must" until it was dropped for the next innovation.)
Posted by Winston92, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm
Apparently, the contributor "Promote Chinese" believes that the only issue at hand is the demographics of the DVHS boundaries, dismissing any objection to the distric plan as mere chauvinism. S/he misses the point.
Locally-controlled schools are among the most basic institutions of freedom in our country and accepting funding from the PRC represents an afront to that freedom. Of course, it will begin subtely by inserting elementary teachers in our primary schools to change childrens' attitudes: ...communism isn't so bad, afterall; the Tiananmen Square Massacre wasn't covered accurately in the West, etc. The concern about accepting funding from a foreign state has nothing to do with xenophobia but everything to do with maintaining the integrity of our schools as an institution of a democratic republic.
Ms. Landon is correct in observing that most Chinese nationals are anxious to learn English and that our schools should be focusing on teaching skils that will enable our country to maintain its edge in innovation and development.
Posted by Lillian, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm
I believe the program is an intro to the Mandarin language and not into Communism as some of you have alluded to. Why is it that some of you always bring in Communism as if anything Chinese is political? This is culture and language and not politics and there IS a difference. As one stated, that students in China speak English, as well as in many of the other countries. The students speak their native language as well as English. I'm referring to Germany, France, Spain, etc. and their students are bilingual if not more. Our students can barely speak English (and I am not referring to foreign students).
To Michele, When referring to PTA etc. at the schools, how welcomed are the parents? Did it ever occur to you that both parents work and they don't have the luxury of attending events during the day, like PTA meetings, class parties? Do you keep track of participation by race? Sure seems like you do? Are you saying that only Caucasian parents participate...? There definitely is no immersion there.
This is a program for enriching students and if it doesn't cost anything, then let it happen. According to Mr. Koehne, it is of minimal cost, so why not try it out. It's happening in other districts that are just as "poor" as ours.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 8:25 am
Terry: You note there will be "trips"(plural) to China by school administrators and school board members to learn "best practices". Even assuming that school district funds will not be spent on the costs of flights and hotels and food and all other related expenses in China(which I seriously doubt), have you considered that you are spending money and help supporting financially a Communist country in which products are made cheaper by chld laborers? If the real goal is to learn best practices of combining Mandarin and English languages, why not simply go over the Bay Bridge to local San Francisco, where there are many top Chinese-Mandarin-English schools, and learn best practices from them, while supporting our local state, and pump some money into our state budget that pays for our education? The school district also claims we need all these expensive school administrators, well when they are gone on long flights and long trips to China to learn best practices, who is going to be doing there job at our schools when they are gone? Do our school administrators have so little to do that they can drop everything and go on trips to China, and not worry about who is doing their daily tasks back at our schools when they are gone? Terry, I do not expect to hear back from you, because as you made clear, answering parents' questions and communicating with parents is not "productive" to you, although sending us parents constant e-mails about why we need more parcel taxes is "productive" to you.
Posted by Jill, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 8:33 am
As a parent in Danville I am embarrassed by many of the comments in this blog. The district is starting a very small language immersion program at a school in Dougherty Valley that clearly wants the program. All you have to do is read these comments to see why the program is not in Danville. Dougherty Valley schools and their students are leaving Danville schools behind academically. The Dougherty Valley schools are preparing students to be the leaders of the future, not clinging to some reputation from the past as many seem to want to happen in Danville.
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 10:35 am
Jill: I am assuming that when you claim that Dougherty Valley schools are "leaving Danville schools behind academically", you are refering to state test scores. Are state test scores the most important thing you believe our school districts should be focusing on? What about teaching our students about world history, the evils of communism, and our long standing values of liberty, freedom and justice? Having students who learn and appreciate the real values that our country stand for, is much more important to me than creating a population of students with high test scores who lack a basic understanding of what it means to be an American.
Posted by Winston92, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm
The casual dismissal of the danger of funding our local schools through monies donated by the PRC reflects local ignorance of history and a lack of understanding of modern political events. The trigger-response of xenophobia in this forum is truly an insult to those who have been killed or imprisoned by the repressive regime in the People's Republic of China. If language and culture are the goal, then establish partnerships with democratic institutions in Taiwan.
Posted by Geoff, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm
The REAL international language is mathematics. Students(and their parents) in China and India have centuries old traditions of respecting education as a means for advancement.
English speaking students wanting to "compete" with their international peers would not "sass" their teachers, expect to be entertained by teachers, or debate the kind or amount of homework required. Curriculum content would not be expected to be made "interesting." Grade inflation would be eliminated.
If non Mandarin speaking parents want their children to compete iglobally, the competition starts with the attitude of the children in the classroom. Not everyone will "win" and every student will not get a trophy. There are more "average" people than there are top 10% people.
The experimental Mandarin class is creating a stir because the school district has implied demographic selectivity by the choice of elementary school for this experiment. If the same class were offered at all elementary schools, the concept would be more appealing.
Is the goal of this select class, not offered to all students in the district, really culture and language or is it veiled English language tutoring? If it is really culture and language, taxpayers have a right to complain. The same opportunity is not being offered to all students.
Posted by Zane, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm
Michele is absolutely correct in spite of the libs attempt to paint her the "racist!" ohhhh!!
A very private high school in San Francisco decided to go co-Ed. Seems as the demographics changed----donations from families of this new demographic as well as from the kids once graduated-----severely declined. Culturally--taking the education but never giving back with time and money was common from that community that now expects special classes in San Ramon! Enough!
Posted by member, a resident of the San Ramon neighborhood, on May 15, 2011 at 10:34 am
By the time industry middle managers(including educators) want to jump on board with "innovation," that boat has sailed. The next "best practices" are being thought of and developed by real innovators- not "me too" thinkers who think they are innovative because they implement someone else's "new" ideas.
"Best practices" is just fluffy packaging material; basic knowledge provides tools for innovators. Why are education managers afraid of the less showy and harder taught basic skills? Those are the skill sets being taught in countries that out-test the US.
Posted by Allaina, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 16, 2011 at 8:41 am
In response you, Terry Koehne, and your clarification points:
1. Pandering to special interests is so patently wrong, especially when I just read the article about SRVHS needing to cut Men’s Ensemble and combine the jazz levels. With regard to China being an economic player, they are the cheap labor we use for OUR companies, not the other way around. They learn OUR language to do this. My husband works for one of these companies and a majority of his development team is in both China and India, and he has no need to learn either Mandarin or Hindi. The world economy is based on the dollar not the yuan. As for Utah, if your friend did something that wasn’t so smart, would you follow suit? Apparently, you are…
2. I don’t believe that anyone would disagree that a language is easier to learn when you are young, but if you are talking world languages, French is the number two language used in more countries as their official one. It is spoken in all six continents and used as 1 of the 2 official languages of the Olympics with English obviously being the other one.
3. Why is Quail Run so special that you feel the need to pander to them? I am sure every elementary school in the district would like to money for whatever special class they would like. Since it is optional, the parents who choose to sign up for it should also pay for whatever costs are associated with it. The schools have no problem asking for $300-$400 per student per year to cover costs for basic needs. If these parents, some of whom I suspect are here on H1B Visas, want a special program for their kids, let them pay for it. With regard to the teacher, based on layoff possibilities, wouldn’t that teacher need to be available to teach something else more important if someone less senior got laid off? Also, you’re “hopeful” the exchange program will cover the cost of an aide. What happens if it doesn’t? In addition, someone asked who funds this “exchange” program. What is your answer?
4. Again, who funds the exchange programs? Like many have said, we should not be accepting money from a country whose system of government is so fundamentally wrong that it includes horrible treatment of women down to aborting female babies because of the governmentally imposed one-child law. I would also assume that although you say no district funds were spent on this endeavor, I doubt the people who went declined their paycheck for the days they were in China and not here doing their actual job. With regard to the thousands of educators who have done this, are most of them from California, or from states that aren’t as in debt as our state is to the point of declaring a “state of emergency” for education.
Obvioulsy, Mr. Koehne, there is no justification for this program no matter how you spin it. Someone just had it on their agenda and finally squeaked loud enough to get their way.
Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 16, 2011 at 9:09 am
I am the grateful recipient of experimental instruction in conversational French at about that age in in NY state school system. I can still get along in that language, lo these very many years later.
I don't know why some of us have such difficulty adjusting to changes and innovations -- I suspect many opponents are using the budget whipping boy as a proxy for more general discomfort with things Asian. Too bad. Our children and grandchildren won't inhabit our world, but their own global village. I think instruction in Chinese at an early age is an excellent idea, into which I'd enroll my kid if I had one that age.
And folks, in general conversation (like here), please don't think your derogatory use of the "Liberal" is an epithet -- I, for one of many, wear it proudly.
Posted by Daughter of a Teacher, a member of the Greenbrook Elementary School community, on May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm
Jill: I too am embarrassed by many of these comments. Really, America, you think by having an optional Chinese immersion program at an elementary school we are promoting the "evils of communism?" Where are you getting this stuff? I thought some things that our country stood for was equality, freedom and opportunity to better ourselves. Don't you think exposing our kids to as much education as possible will brighten their futures rather than tarnish it?
Posted by American, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on May 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm
Daughter of a teacher: You previously complained about how teachers and schools are getting less funding and having bigger classes, which is due to the recession in CA. I suggested that our school district use our money to send school administrators and educators to San Francisco if they need to study best practices in Mandarin-English classes, as there are many top schools doing that, and that would result in money being spent in California that would help increase the revenue and money for education and teachers. I noted that spending our money in China, on flying our people there, on hotels, restaurants, and related expenses, in going into the Communist economy in China, rather than supporting our economy in California. If you do not understand this, than you need to have your parent, the educator, teach you critical thinking analysis.
Posted by Tin Pot Dictator, a member of the Greenbrook Elementary School community, on May 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm
American- we need to pack you and the pitch fork crowd in a crate and ship you off to China. You obviously can't stand the thought of any personal growth for our children - native born or otherwise! Critical analysis thinking - you wouldn't recognize it even if it slapped you in the face!