Superintendent's Update - May 19, 2023
From the Office of the Superintendent:
BOARD AGENDA CALENDAR
The Board agenda calendar can be found HERE.
MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS (MVC) AND PAUSD
We do our best to communicate with families regularly and understand that our mass efforts cannot possibly keep pace with the speed of discussions over social media platforms. We also believe that it is futile to monitor and respond to every post or nuance that is shared with us. Finally, we feel that our communication efforts around this specific issue have exhausted the bulk of our families who are interested in a variety of topics beyond college-level mathematics offered through our local community college.
Everyone has the best interest of students at the forefront. As we can all understand, it is impossible to make everyone happy. We can, however, commit to civility since our students are watching and learning from us. Differences of opinions and interpretations of guiding rules are common in school districts, evident throughout California and the entire nation. However, the discourse around this issue has sometimes devolved into name-calling and assumptions of the worst in others. This is unnecessary and unproductive.
STATUS OF MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS (MVC) AND PAUSD
The FAQ section has already addressed most of the topics related to this issue at https://www.pausd.org/learning/curriculum/math#fs-panel-41048
PAUSD does not have a UC-approved MVC class or any current staff members willing and able to teach the course.
Anyone can see the UC-approved courses for any high school in California by simply entering the name of the school in the UC website at
Foothill has provided MVC classes for our students for quite a while in different formats and settings, including 0 period (before school hours) and a class listed as 7th period that started in the afternoon with enough time for students from both high schools to make the necessary commute.
According to Foothill, the 2023-2024 course will be offered asynchronously, online, and in-person on the Paly campus after school hours.
The class is designated as “single credit,” meaning it will generate a grade for the Foothill transcript.
The grade will not calculate into the PAUSD GPA, consistent with other “single credit” courses our students take in every other subject.
The highest level course taught through PAUSD is AP Calculus BC.
New courses are created and presented by school sites consistent with our existing policy. This occurs in December of each year. Neither high school currently supports the creation of additional advanced courses on their sites.
ADDITIONAL CONTEXT AND GRAY AREAS
MVC appeared in the Paly course catalog for a brief period of time this year. This was a simple site error and was corrected. The site knew the class was going to be offered as “single credit” and failed to correct the catalog.
PAUSD has maintained consistent communication with Foothill and the California Department of Education (CDE) regarding teacher credentialing. We understand that the regulations require teachers to possess a California teaching credential in order to assign high school credit on a transcript. However, there have been instances where parents and former students have contacted the CDE and received contradictory information. In response, Dr. Choe, upon receiving the contact's name at CDE, personally reached out to clarify the matter.
The credentialing issue may be an element of this topic where we will have disagreement between PAUSD and some parents. People can have different interpretations and comfort levels, even after reviewing the same information. In this case, PAUSD is the responsible party and will require a valid California teaching credential to award high school credit calculated into the high school GPA. This fine point has nothing to do with the ability to take the course free of charge while earning college credit.
It may be interesting to better understand the work we are doing in the area of dual enrollment in general. These courses are taught by credentialed PAUSD teachers who have also been authorized by Foothill College as instructors for the respective courses. For example, Human Anatomy is offered as a dual enrollment course at Palo Alto High School, as the teacher has been authorized by Foothill College. On the other hand, Human Anatomy at Gunn High School is not listed as a dual enrollment course, because the teacher does not currently hold that authorization. Early Childhood Development is another example of a course that has dual enrollment status at one high school but not at another.
Conversely, community college courses are taught by community college instructors who are not PAUSD employees and may not hold a California Single-Subject Teaching Credential. There are currently no examples of a “single credit” course in any subject being taught within our bell schedule at either high school by a non-PAUSD employee.
CLAIM OF SHIFTING RESPONSES
Despite our efforts, the discourse around this issue has sometimes descended into unproductive exchanges and unwarranted assumptions. It is particularly disheartening when those who disagree with the vocal majority face insults and attacks for expressing their views. This has included personal attacks of students who have expressed their own opinions on math-related topics. We should foster an environment where everyone feels safe to express their views, regardless of whether they align with the majority or not. Frequent and loud voices cannot determine every decision and will sometimes need to accept compromises. In this case, there have been many.
The responses have been adjusted due to the rapidly changing demands and frequent shifting of stated goals from some parents. We have addressed the first few waves, such as the attendance fee at Foothill (which is none), the options for course delivery (including asynchronous, online, and on-site), awarding of credit (single credit through Foothill), the creation of an FAQ page, the provision of informative updates, fulfilling media requests, and hearing opinions during Board meetings.
Since the initial demands emerged, we have received changing demands from the group. This includes a parent requesting the specific location of the MVC class to be offered during the third period at Paly without consultation with the site, an expansion of course offerings to include Linear Algebra, and a demand for a guarantee of no waiting lists or section caps. The upcoming June 6 Board meeting will cover the recommendations from the ad hoc committee regarding dual enrollment, although it is important to note that this particular course is not part of the committee's work on dual enrollment. The Board expects to hear further comments about advanced mathematics at the same time.
In conclusion, PAUSD does not offer a UC-approved MVC class and relies on Foothill College for its provision. The FAQ section on the PAUSD website has addressed the status of MVC and PAUSD, clarifying the available courses and grading policies. PAUSD is committed to enforcing the requirement of a valid California teaching credential for the awarding of high school credit, which is factored into the PAUSD GPA, regardless of how other school districts interpret the rules. Our efforts to expand opportunities in the area of dual enrollment are part of the proposed 2023-2024 PAUSD Promise and will be discussed soon.
LETTER FROM FOOTHILL COLLEGE - VICE PRESIDENT, KURT HUEG
FOOTHILL FINAL PLAN 2023-2024, SHARED WITH PERMISSION FROM KURT HUEG
Dear parents of Palo Alto Unified High School students,
It has come to my attention, through several emails that have been forwarded to me from parents contacting Superintendent Don Austin and Director of Innovation and Agility Jeong Choe, that a misperception exists regarding Foothill College’s intentions related to offering math classes during the day at Gunn and Palo Alto high schools.
Since its inception in 1956, when Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Henry Gunn formed a meeting to discuss the idea of creating a community college, Foothill College has enjoyed a strong partnership with the PAUSD. Through the passage of AB 288 in 2016, our partnership has grown stronger, as Foothill College’s ability to serve students in high school classes with dual enrollment opportunities has expanded.
Foothill College places a high priority on our relationship with Palo Alto Unified School District, and we have built strong relationships with our colleagues in PAUSD, and work hard to serve the needs of its students. We are continuously exploring new opportunities to serve the needs of students in our local high schools.
Recently, there has been some dialogue between PAUSD and Foothill College, regarding the timing and scheduling of math classes, particularly a sequence of classes that we have offered to PAUSD high school students. This sequence has been recently offered via zoom synchronous modality, to students at Palo Alto and Gunn, and includes a three-quarter sequence of Math 1C, Math 1D and Math 2B. I understand that parents are concerned that these courses may not be offered in a way that meets the needs of their students, and several have been in communication with our Associate Vice President of College and Community Relations, Simon Pennington, regarding their interest in exploring other options.
Foothill College has committed to offering this sequence of courses in person, with one of our math instructors, after the conclusion of the school day. While this option may not be optimal for some students, who want to participate in sports or other after school activities, this is when our college can provide this instruction and it is consistent with previous offerings and will ensure a level of quality and student success that we stand behind.
I am aware Associate Vice President Pennington discussed the idea of a contract education model with one parent, and that in the interest of providing information to that parent, made it appear as if Foothill was interested in pursuing a contract education model for offering classes during the school day at PAUSD high schools.
I want to be clear, there has been no discussion between the Office of Instruction at Foothill College and the instructional leadership at PAUSD regarding offering math classes during the regular high school day hours, nor will there be. While parents have been forthcoming in offering potential faculty that could teach during the day, we cannot entertain parent-led negotiations regarding scheduling of classes, hiring of instructors or contract education. We will continue to provide dual enrollment instruction through our AB 288 agreement with PAUSD, which is a growing and fruitful agreement, and we will continue to look for ways to expand our presence with dual enrollment classes with PAUSD, where it meets both the educational mission of Foothill College and the educational mission and needs of PAUSD students and faculty.
We look forward to providing students with outstanding college-level math classes in the coming year, as we have done in the past, and for continuing to improve our collaboration and relationships with PAUSD.
Kurt Hueg, Interim Vice President of Instruction, Foothill College
Kurt Hueg, M.B.A.
Interim Vice President of Instruction and Institutional Research, Foothill College
PALO ALTO ADULT SCHOOL
Camila Alvares Ospina came to the United States from Colombia in 2020 and was recommended by an au pair agency to try the Palo Alto Adult School (PAAS) ESL Program. She received placement and completed classes almost two years, including free Writing Academy courses and advanced fee-based English enrichment, which involved a grammar course taught by Simone Wojtowicz. Due to the pandemic, these classes were mainly on Zoom. Even though Camila received individual attention in the Zoom breakout rooms, she preferred the socialization of in-person classwork. Camila loves both experiences and emphasizes how learning English grammar is essential to her progress.
She is now halfway through the MBA program and credits PAAS with improving her English enough to communicate effectively and enroll in higher education. This additional education compliments her degree in International Business from her native country. Camila hopes to work in the United States and is currently seeking possible internships.
Camila advises any recent immigrants in the area to come to PAAS since the classes are free. She says our program allowed her to go from understanding almost no English to being able to pursue an advanced degree.
“I am so grateful for the Palo Alto Adult School. It helped me and my English skills. It allowed me to grow professionally.”
Camila (left); Simone (right)
CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEE WEEK - May 21 - 27
Serving on the frontlines, classified employees partner with teachers and other district staff to strengthen schools. The added value of classified employees often goes unnoticed. PAUSD is highly appreciative of the work, time, and energy dedicated to the livelihood of the district given by each classified employee. These invaluable staff members represent, but are not limited to: transportation, nurses, school safety, front office staff, custodians, paraeducators, maintenance, electricians, nutrition service, attendance, information technology, registration, and facilities. In 1986 the California Senate began recognizing the third week in May as Classified Employee Week.
CAREER THEMED PATHWAYS OPEN HOUSE
Visit the Career Themed Pathways Open House on Friday, May 19 beginning at 3:30 p.m. This event will showcase various Career Technical Education programs from all middle and high school sites. Pathways represented include: Arts, Media and Entertainment; Business and Finance; Engineering and Architecture; Fashion and Interior Design; Health Science and Medical Technology; Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation/Culinary Science; and Information and Communication Technologies.
The culinary science programs will provide light refreshments. Visitors are invited to explore the student job fair, meet industry partners at the Quad Industry Expo, and learn about the Child Development program in the Media Arts Center (MAC). Questions may be sent to email@example.com to gain additional information regarding the Open House.
One of the best ways to protect children from substance abuse is to educate them about risks. Do so by having regular and open conversations. Parents and friends should watch for changes in behavior including, but not limited to, irregular eating or sleep patterns, low energy, and a lack of interest in activities children once loved. Remember, any pill or powder not prescribed by a doctor may contain fentanyl.
For additional facts about fentanyl, visit One Pill Can Kill.
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH
Caring for the mental health of our students, staff, and families is essential. The area of mental health is one of the five priorities of the PAUSD Promise. The staff understands the critical need to support our community, both through preventative measures and impactful interventions. This month, the Mental Health team is shining a light on its commitment to ensure the mental health and well-being of the district wide family. Through wellness activities and the sharing of resources, school sites are raising awareness about mental health in order to reduce stigmatization and increase accessibility to mental health support.
VIRTUAL THERAPY SERVICES / PARENT EDUCATION NIGHT WITH tbh - May 22
Next school year, PAUSD will offer virtual therapy services to all middle and high school students through Mental Health Service’s partnership with tbh. The services include online individual and group coaching sessions, 1:1 therapy, online resources, and parent education. Students will have access to licensed tbh therapists in the evenings, on weekends, and during school breaks, including summer. Students may also self-refer through the Rapid ID portal for coaching sessions. The 1:1 therapy is reserved for students with acute needs and will be referred through the staff wellness team. Parent consent for tbh services will be required for all middle and high school students.
An information session with tbh is scheduled for Monday, May 22. It is combined with a parent education webinar featuring TEDx speaker and author Katherine Sellery. See details below. Secondary students and families will receive more information about tbh during the fall kick off now being planned.
PARENT EDUCATION NIGHT: FOSTERING A COLLABORATIVE PARENT / CHILD ALLIANCE FEATURING KATHERINE SELLERY
Join Katherine Sellery, TEDx speaker, author, and parenting coach, for a live webinar on fostering a collaborative parent-child alliance. Katherine's presentation will focus on the topic of communication including the three R's (retaliation, rebellion, and resistance), which account for 75 percent of all behavioral disruptions. The event is free and open to all district parents. Pre-registration is required. Parents may register here.
This event is offered as a part of PAUSD's partnership with tbh, which provides middle and high school students with inclusive, accessible, on-demand virtual mental health solutions that meet their unique needs. Beginning fall 2023, PAUSD secondary students will have access to individual and group-based virtual counseling sessions with licensed mental health professionals at no out-of-pocket cost. More information about tbh services will be provided during the webinar.