Posted by Kitty Harvey, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:09 am
I saw Race to Nowhere documentary at Bishop O Dowd a couple of months ago. It would be great to get a showing in Pleasanton...I think a couple of PUSD school psychologists are working on it. Along the same lines is a great book by Madeline Levine called Price of Privilege. She spoke in Ptown awhile ago to a packed audience. The theme really hits home...stressed out, over programed kids on one hand then you have kids who reject that entire notion and check out. There is hope when we recognize how this destructive this mentality is and make systemic changes. Bishop O Dowd is making it a priority to reduce stress for students and calm hyper vigilant parents...I am not a Bishop O Dowd parent...I am a PUSD parent who was impressed with how BOD (Race to Nowhere was partly filmed there) is dealing with this issue.
Posted by Ptown Parent, a resident of the Happy Valley neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:51 am
As a parent of a teenager who has suffered from depression, I would like to say that it is not only the parents who put pressure and stress on our kids. The Pleasanton public schools begin to lecture our kids on what they have to do to get into "The UC System" in middle school, and just increase the pressure throughout high school. After counseling and therapy, my child is fine, but we had to let go of our high demands and expectations, and let him choose his own path to college. Let up parents and schools-I never thought about college until I was a junior in high school Let the kids be kids.
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:44 am
I checked out the trailer, thanks Tom. I'm not sure we can solve this problem without EVERYONE buying into it-- by that I mean of course parents, educators, students, but state agenices and even college admissions officers! For example, the CSU schools used to be the fallback-- now they've become hyper competitive, just like every place else. I'm going to get flamed for this, but when I was growing up, my schools were very homogeneous, and kids who went to 4-yr colleges were the exception to the norm. I got in with mediocre grades. Fast forward 40 years-- our schools are now highly diverse, and it seems everyone has to meet the standards of and compete with extremely high-performing Asian kids who finish high school with a 5.0 and who've won the Intel science contest. I didn't go to high school with any kids like that. I have nothing against diversity, but Asian culture has raised the bar very high for everyone. My kids talk about it with their friends in the car. They feel like they can't possibly compete. Again, I'm not racist, and I don't mean to offend. I'm just stating my observations. The focus is definitely on getting high grades and NOT on learning. It's a shame, but that is our current system. I agree that it must change.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:52 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Interesting. When I was in PUSD, no there pushed us to go to UC. That role was saved for the parents.
One problem is this idea of competition. Compete in the global job market, compete to get into college, etc. Education is not about competition, it is about becoming an educated person, to learn how to learn and think and solve any problem. That is an individual goal, not something to compete for. Parents really should ask themselves what is the purpose of education.
Posted by Counselors - do they really help?, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:00 am
The funny part is that the counselors who talk about how to get into UCs did not go to one, most of them went to CSU schools and got easy to get degrees.
They scare the kids about requirements, telling them they have to take this and that, and honors this and that is better, I told my kid that both his parents know how to get into college so he needs to listen to us not the counselors with not so good degrees that have absolutely no clue (other than what they read) about how to get accepted into a UC
Stop stressing the kids out. Stress is not necessarily coming from parents but from schools, counselors, teachers who give too much homework.
Posted by Artlover, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:00 am
A take away from this trailer is that the whole educational system is out of wack. So pointing fingers at any one component is wrong. As a parent of high schoolers, I want to know WHY the UC system has such archaic requirements to get into their schools. I ask you- WHO the heck really really needs 4 years of difficult math courses? Engineers, mathmajors,scientists maybe? You can get those kind of thinking skills a variety of other ways. Abolish these very narrow requirements! Have kids figure out how to examine mortgage contracts, car leases, rental leases, balance checkbooks, examine credit card debts etc. Things that will usher them into the real world.
Key words: critical thinking skils and knowledge.
My teenager was actually feeling guilty that she was only taking 3 AP courses next year! HUH? I told her she needed to have a "teenagehood" The whole smashing down of college expectations on teenagers in my mind is a real danger. She was baffled why I was not pushing her to do more- I love my child. Yes, she is still a child at age 15 and needs freshair and quiet time just as much as schoolwork.
This needs to start at the state level, where college entrance requirements are made. Also, start making NOT going to college at all or right after HS and acceptable path.
Posted by Kerry Dickinson, a resident of San Ramon, on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:20 am
I'm one of the advisors to the documentary "Race to Nowhere." One of the hot button issues raised in the film is homework. I was one of the parents who served on the SRVUSD homework task force that rewrote our outdated policy last year. While the policy is still not perfect, it begins to address some of the issues like discouraging homework on weekends and vacations, encouraging reading for pleasure, encouraging teachers to coordinate schedules, etc.
I am so pleased to see our district and surrounding communities embracing this important documentary. I encourage everyone to go to RacetoNowhere.com and get a DVD and spread the word. I also have my own blog on parenting and education issues which I encourage you to check out as well - East Bay Homework Blog. (You can Google it.)
Thank you Town Square Forum for posting about this documentary about teen stress.
Posted by Jessica, a resident of the Ruby Hill neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:25 am
I actually had the producer , Vicki Abeles, on my weekly education show "Class Action". The documentray is fascinating and it was born out of the creator's frustration with how stressed out her own children were. They had a medical emergency with their daughter and she realized her daughter was overworked, over scheduled , over stressed and showing signs of depression. Abeles was an attorney for Viacom and decided to make a documentray that calls for a transformation of the education system with less emphasis on testing. She consulted with experts like Denise Pope. The title comes from a kid she interviewed who says he's in a race to nowhere. It's powerful movie and very much worth seeing. They are doing screenings in each district. Jessica Aguirre
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:57 am
I'm 67 and the world is much more complicated than when I was a teen. What I found helpful as a teen was hiking and getting out of the city on a regular basis. London was crowded, noisy, dirty, expensive, and full of tourists. On weekends, we would make short trips to the country and hike, hike, hike.
There's not much open country for teens to go hiking with family & friends but there are places. The most important thing to do was to reduce the stimulation and put ourselves in eenvironments that taught us how to self soothe. It's very difficult for teens today to slow down and relax. It seems to me that too many people want a piece of lives.
University is important for success. There is more to living and having a happy successful life. GOOD LUCK TEENS!
Posted by concerned parent, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm
So, how can we, as parents, get this treadmill to stop? How can we make the policy makers take notice (eg, no child left behind)? We are killing our kids (they are killing themselves, literally) and robbing them of their youth. Why not abolish testing altogether, or make classes pass/fail? Then anyone who wants to go to college, and who has "passed," can go? My son goes to one of the Pls high schools, and although he has never said so, I know that if he went to Village, he would feel a huge weight lifted. But no, can't send him there-- he won't get into a 4-yr school that way!!! I completely agree with Artlover, who suggested that kids learn life skills. Why is physical science a graduation requirement?? My son will never be a chemist. The only way things are going to change is if everyone bands together and forces it, because right now there is just too much inertia, unfortunately.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Mar 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm
It may not stop! Children can't slow it down, it's up to the parents. Do what you think is best for your kids. It's clear that the state is mostly interested in test scores. Take your kids back and help them find ways to survive without all the pressure. You won't be sorry.
We get one time around in our bodies, give your kids a chance to live long, happy, healthy, lives...it matters.
Posted by CSU grad, a member of the Foothill High School community, on Mar 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm
To Counselors - do they really help?:
Comments like yours,"The funny part is that the counselors who talk about how to get into UCs did not go to one, most of them went to CSU schools and got easy to get degrees" and
"...the counselors with not so good degrees that have absolutely no clue (other than what they read) about how to get accepted into a UC" only perpetuate the problem.
Why is a CSU degree considered less valuable or easier to earn than a UC degree? Quality educations can be earned through a variety of institutions and that's the message we should be sending. Not, "those counselors without UC educations are worthless."
Posted by To CSU Grad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm
The point was that the counselors scare the kids about UC requirements when they themselves have not attended a UC.
Counselors gave presentations at school about requirements, and they scared the kids about how hard it is to get into college.
Being a college graduate yourself, you know that getting into college is not as hard as these counselors make it sound. It is actually not difficult at all, otherwise there would be no college students, no college grads.
And, kids do not need to be so stressed out. Counselors even say that the decisions you make in high school are the most important, blah blah.
Nonsense! Kids: know that there are hundreds of colleges out there and many will accept you as a student, even give you scholarships or financial aid. You do not need to be stressed out in high school, enjoy your childhood, you will get into college if that is what you want, and you do not need to be stressed out about it.
Posted by Rethink the homework, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm
Interesting article, Stacey.
If you guys remember, when school started going on for more hours it was back when women started going to work in numbers. Kids then though, came home with homework already completed. Time was well spent in class.
What I don't understand is how our kids can be in school for a class every day and still have homework?
In college you go to class 2 or 3 times a week, and sure you have homework (but no busy work).
For some reason, from kindergarten to 12th grade, kids must be in school every day for at least 6 hours, and still get homework? Some may say that elementary uses too much time in music, etc, but what about middle and high school? They have the same math class every day, for an hour daily and they still have homework!
Posted by Village students can go to college if they want, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm
"But no, can't send him there-- he won't get into a 4-yr school that way!!!"
Actually he could. Many people even get their GEDs, and move on to college just fine. The myth of the importance of high school has to stop. Did you know that in California you do not need a high school diploma to get into a junior college? Not that I am an advocate of that, I simply want to point out that what you do in high school does not define your life.
Education is important, but the way they are going about it these days is just wrong. A girl just committed suicide not long ago, a PUSD high school freshman. Palo Alto has had its share of suicides.
We need to stop the nonsense, at it begins with the schools and the so called "experts" (counselors)
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Mar 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm
I hate to be the one that brings the bad news but most Pleasanton kids are C- to C+ students.
What about trade school?
The counselors are not responsible for your students being afraid...parents are expecting and demanding too much. Lighten up mes petites...if parents were truly concerned, they would be more involved in the education of their children...sad sad sad...complain complain complain...sad sad sad...
Posted by Alison, a resident of the Del Prado neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm
The longer I have lived in Pleasanton the more concerned I have become about our children. Way to many people are getting caught up into the system where academic achievement means everything. The stories that I have heard from various parents about the stress level that their children are under is deeply troubling. Our children are bogged down with way to much homework, yet so little is actually marked by a teacher. A stamp is given to most of my children's homework. One question that always crops up in our house hold is. If your teacher doesn't mark your work, then how does she know if the class understands what she has taught? Another thing I don't get is our children are marking and proofreading other student's work. Our children are not qualified to correct or mark their peers work, and if they were, there would be no reason for them to attend school. Someone needs to step up to the plate and evaluate what is important to our community. Let our kids be kids, adult hood comes soon enough.
Posted by debbie, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm
To much work is done at home and that is why so much plagiarism is being committed. Student are so stressed out that they are using the internet to get better grades. In Great Britain children do course work to earn their GCSE diploma, but the course work is done in school. Educators have enough brain cells to realize that the more work you gave a child, the more likely that a child is going to get outside help from parents. The science projects that our kids do in Elementary school is not done by them, but by parents.
Last week my twelve year old son was given an essay to write which included a thesis statement, followed by quotes and opinions. Since when has a twelve year old kid been expected to write like a college student. These kids are marked for perfection, not effort. If a twelve year old kid gets an A or a B at college writing skills, then you can bet that the essay has been written by a parent. Open your eyes and look what is being created in this area. Children who are stressed and can't cope with the level or amount of work that is being given.
Posted by Susam, a resident of the Danbury Park neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:18 pm
What a refreshing holiday I had. Two week back in Wales with my family, and guess what? I didn't see a single piece of homework for two weeks. Why? Because Christmas is a holiday time where you relax and enjoy the festive season. The kids were all on on sleighs, rosy red cheeks and big smiles on their faces.
I sat in the chair and found myself picking up my nephew's math book. Wow! There were comments made by Dafydd's math teacher. Well done Dafydd! Good try! Good boy! You didn't understand section two, please come see me. My eyes swelled with tears. How long ago was it that I saw a comment on my kids work?
My kids asked, do you have homework Dafydd? No! My teacher wants us to have a good time. Mom! I forgot to bring my math book, and I have fifty problems and I have an essay due the day I go back to school. Oh, and I have a book report and my teacher said if its not done I get a zero!
Posted by Get Educated, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm
"Last week my twelve year old son was given an essay to write which included a thesis statement, followed by quotes and opinions."
I'm glad this discussion is being brought up. What you have described is actually a 5th grade state standard in writing. This is only one of many that are required to be mastered by certain grade levels. If not, students are marked "at risk". I have heard many say "when I was in school we had 40 students and did fine...." The standards and what is required to be taught is much more difficult and at younger ages than even ten years ago! What's amazing is most students can really master this high level of work. Those who struggle have interventions in place in our schools. This is crucial to alleviate stress in students whose readiness for these skills is not yet developed. I hope we can afford to keep these intervention programs in place for our kids. It is so important to understand why these types of "extras" are needed, and many of you have been right on with that very point.
Posted by Lynda, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 6:29 am
"Last week My son was given an essay to write which included a thesis statement, followed by quotes and opinions"
I would also like to comment on this. Over the past couple of year my children have been given work which is way beyond their small years, and I find myself explaining what teachers have already explained. There is no box that every child fits into. Their learning capabilities are all different, and each learn at their own pace.
I have been a witness to children as young as six breaking down because they can't complete x amount of math problems in a certain time limit. What a harmful way to teach children.
I have also witnessed parent doing their kids homework at baseball games. I have seen parents grounding their kids because their GPA scores have dropped from a 4.0, this teaches them that unless their an A student they are not good enough. Please don't think that I don't want my kids to be well educated, I do. I just don't want them becoming depressed and being weighed down with things that they can't cope with.
I would also like to comment on the intervention programs. Your child has to be really struggling before they are given special resources. If intervention was so widely available, then why are so many parents paying for tutors and after school resources for their kids? I am one of those parents who have spent thousands of dollars for a math tutor because my son was failing Geometry. When my son asked for help, a teacher told him to look in the book. HELLO! The kid has asked for help. This happened in one of our Pleasanton High Schools, and people think this is a good school district!
Education is important, but parents need to step up to the plate and step in when their kids are stressed and over work. Our brains can only retain so much before it starts to shut down. Come on people, be honest our kids are struggling!
Posted by Stacy, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 8:25 am
Regarding the comment about "Our kids were taught essays in fourth grade."
Your absolutely right, our kids were taught to write essays using thesis statements in fourth grade, but writing is a process which is learnt from the time you start school. The process continues way into high school. Last year a high school teacher gave the class an example of an A paper because so many kids still hadn't mastered the process of writing like a college students. It is not what's being taught, it is the level at which our kids are expected to achieve. If a middle schooler is coming to school with an essay that is perfect, I don't believe the child has written the essay without any help. So much homework is given at home that it creates an atmosphere where children are using the internet to create better essays and school work.
No education system is perfect, but we should follow Europe in where most of their kids work is done in school. This gives teachers a true evaluation of what students are capable of, and not what parents are helping their children to achieve.
I believe that a parent's involvement is important, but I think that the expectations for young children are way to high, and that is why so many kids are feeling such high stress levels.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 9:20 am Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
I think you misunderstood me. _I_ was taught to write essays in fourth grade. "We" as in me and my classmates, worked on them in class. I was a K-12 PUSD student. I guess the writing standards haven't changed all that much in California.
Posted by Lee, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm
After reading some of the comments, I decided to give my high school student some questions to answer.
1. Do you think attending school in Pleasanton is more stressful than your previous school?
Yes, the standards are very high, and the pace in which we work is way to fast.
2. Do you think that children should receive homework on a nightly bases?
Yes, but it needs to be more control, some nights there is way to much homework
3. What is the biggest problem facing kids in this area.
The biggest problems is the stress level that we have to work under, and the standards that we have to reach.
4. Do you think homework should be given on weekends?
No! We need a break, relax and let our brains get back to a normal pace.
5, How do you rate most teachers in this area?
Teachers are to busy to care, they have so much work to get through, there's no time to go over what we don't understand.
6. Do you believe that students should mark each others work?
No, one student marked my worked and told me there was no such word as appease.
7. Why do you think students mark each others work?
The reason for this is that teachers give so much work they can't mark everything.
8. Do councilors help students
No! I don't need a councilor to tell me my four B's and one C is not enough to get me into a four year college. That only put more pressure on us students.
9. Have you ever cried over school?
No, but I have friends who have.
10. Have you seen your friends worrying about school?
Yes, on lots of occasions.
11. What the hardest thing about being a student here.
The hardest thing is always having to be responsible, do homework, study, turn things in on time. Excel in all areas.
12. Have you ever had a teacher refuse to help you?
Yes, I ask for help in math and a teacher told me to look in the book.
13. How did you feel?
I'll never ask him again.
14. Some people think that kids in this area have to much going on. What do you think?
If you mean we play to much sport after school, so do other nations. I don't want to be fat or become a couch potato. Sport teaches us about team effort, commitment to our team mates and it give us a release from school.
15. If you could change one thing about this district what would it be.
Allow kids to be who they are, accept them and try to realize that some subjects are difficult for us, and that C we got in Spanish was a C which we worked for.
Posted by To Alison, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm
I agree, Alison. Kids get too much homework, and the teacher seldom grades it. Usually, they have students grading students, either that or the papers take months to grade or never get graded at all.
If teachers stopped giving so much busy work and gave less work that is helpful for reviewing the concepts, everyone would be happier: students would have less work, teachers would actually grade their students' work rather than having the TA or the classmates do so.
Posted by To Alison, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm
Also, teachers grade papers based on the teachers' guide, which is not always all that accurate. It seems like teachers, as great as they claim to be, cannot come up with the answers themselves and rely on teachers' guides, many times when students ask questions about why, the teacher is unable to give an explanation and changes the subject.
Posted by High school student at Foothill, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm
As a student in this area I can't stress enough how stressful it is to be schooled here. An incident happened a month ago in my math class. Our teacher feels the need that we must do hours of homework, as much as thirty math problems a night. Maybe he feels it is not his job to actually teaches us in class, because we are even doing homework that we haven't even covered yet. As a strong student I stood up in class and told this teacher that the homework was having a negative impact on my other classes. Well, he wasn't amused was he. Someone had actually challenged him. We were told that because we had complained he was going to give us even more. It takes me over one hour to complete math homework, that is without any other homework. Do people know what they are doing to us kids.?They are making us hate school. It is not a nice environment to be in. From the top down we are told how important it is to do well, how colleges only look at students with scores that are academically high. BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!
I want to be successful, but how do we define success? A student who has an A, or maybe the kid who just won an award for perfect attendance. Or perhaps it is the child who has battled to get that C in Biology. We want to be kids, I don't want a life where my face looks into a book every minute of the day. I don't want to go on vacation and have to do a thousand word essay due the day school starts. I want balance, and you people at the top need to listen to us students. We're tired, worn out and our batteries need recharging.
Posted by guess what, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm
Thanks for your post. My daughter has told me on the only 2 occasions she asked the teacher for help that she got shut down as well. And, conversely, I've gotten feedback that she doesn't ask for help. No need to wonder why.
An observation I have is that so many parents seem totally focused on academic achievement, to prep for glorious college and ultimate career, and no respect of a future family (meaning some day you'll grow up and need to nurture a relationship with a spouse, make compromises, think of the other person). It's a very selfish focus and I don't know how young adults finishing college or in their careers are going to make the transition. I predict alot of lonely people.
Posted by Trisha, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm
I think that many of these posts are worrying. To me we have teachers who are overwhelmed, and kids who are stretched to the limit. Why isn't anyone listening? I have had this discussion with several of my American friends. What is the purpose of homework?
Homework is given as practice, it is a way of improving our children's skills, but if none of this homework is mark it defeats the purpose. A math teacher can give twenty problems to a student, but if he is not correcting the work, then that child will keep making the same mistake, because no one is telling them other wise.
This business of children marking each other work is not acceptable. I heard of an incident where children were changing their friends answers because they had them wrong. This environment is unhealthy because it allows children to cheat. There is nothing more encouraging to a child than a teacher writing well done! Students feel good about themselves, and this in turn makes them confident about who they are.
Education has been blown way out of line in this area. In my opinion people are not doing their jobs. Teachers are creating and allowing room for cheating and plagiarism. The more work covered in class the less likely it is for a student to cheat, because they don't have the internet, resources or parents to help them with work.
People need to listen. The system is broken and we need fresh ideas on how to fix it. Giving more homework doesn't fix anything, it only creates more problems.
Posted by High schools in PUSD should not be stressful, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm
My child was given a test without the teacher covering the material.
I agree with the posts above that PUSD is a stressful place to be a student. My only advice for kids is to do your best but do not worry too much about the grades or what your counselors say.
You will be successful in life without stressing yourselves out in high school. Colleges will accept students who are not the straight A, full of AP classes type. Colleges look at many things.
I went to a UC and it bothers me to hear what counselors, teachers, schools tell our kids about being college bound and being accepted into a UC or any other university. Really, UCs look at more than grades or what classes you took.
Once you get to college, you will see that what you learned in high school is not that helpful. Taking AP Calculus does not mean you can skip the first Calculus class in College (in theory you can but I do not recommend it).
Enjoy your high school years and do not let your counselors and teachers make your life miserable. Do your best, but do not stress yourself out.
There is so much emphasis on high school. Please know that if you don't do well in high school for whatever reason, it is not the end of the world. The junior college will accept you, there is a GED you can take. There are so many options.
You can always transfer to a 4 year university after a couple of years in the junior college: not only is it cheaper, it will allow you to take it easy in high school. There is no entrance requirement for junior colleges, all you have to do is either be 18 years old or if younger have a high school diploma or GED. You will be given an assesment test but not as an entrance requirement, they use it for placement purposes.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2010 at 7:02 pm Stacey is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
"Readers' Forum: Expansion of Advanced Placement program is hurting students" Web Link
"A survey of more than 1,000 AP teachers by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute published last April found that more than half of the teachers were concerned that the program's effectiveness is being threatened as districts loosen restrictions on who can take AP courses.
A majority of the teachers said that AP should be open only to students who demonstrate that they can handle the work."
"There is nothing wrong per se with setting a high bar for achievement. However, educators must realize that succeeding in college-level courses requires adequate pre-AP preparation. Putting unprepared students into AP classes is a disservice to everyone."