Is it just Amador Valley High School? Schools & Kids, posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm
Does anyone know about the We the people program? I was at a party this afternoon and found out that many students who applied to the "We the People" program at AVHS were rejected. These students are qualified but apparently, AVHS only offers one class with room for about 30 students.
My understanding is that the We the People program participants enroll in a class called Comp Civics which is offered at Amador for credit but they only offer one section.
How can this happen in a public school? Granted, for many classes like Honors English there is a test students must pass, but ALL the students who pass the test and want to enroll get in as they offer more than one section. That, apparently, does not happen in Comp Civics. Many qualified students who meet the academic requirements are denied enrollment into the Comp Civics class since there is only one section.
I understand that federal funding ended for this program, and that is a good thing now that I find out how it works.
My question is: does this happen only at Amador or do all the schools that participate offer only one class and therefore have to reject many students who would like to enroll?
If anyone knows, I would appreciate the information.
In my opinion, a public school should only offer classes that will be able to accomondate ALL students who are qualified and want to enroll in them. If a class like Comp Civics must reject qualified students because only one section is offered, then that class must be cancelled until more sections can be offered to accomodate ALL the qualified students who wish to enroll.
I will be contacting my representatives on Monday but want to find out more about this program before then. I looked on the web but can only find general information. What I need to know is whether this happens only at Amador or in every high school where this program is offered.
It is important that Washington does not fund or support programs like this that exclude many qualified students in a PUBLIC school CLASS.
Posted by student, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 12:09 am
The requirements for We the People are not just grade-based (in fact, I don't even think they check your grades before you apply). For example, a really shy person could have excellent grades, yet they are probably not in a (comfortable) position to debate/speak in front of people. To answer your question, FHS also does it this way. The students are handpicked after seeing their ability to form an opinion and debate with others, but I don't think there is an excess of people qualified like you describe. The class itself is STRENUOUS and requires meeting almost everyday after school and on weekends and endless hours of work, so you really can't just be "qualified," you have to go beyond.
Posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:52 am
I do not have a child who applied to that class; my child is too busy with other classes and activities and does not have time for a class like this. I was at a party where I found out about several students not making it. I personally know some of those students, and they are very qualified (not just academically), and some of them are even in debate, speech clubs, are outgoing and simply qualified for what this class sounds like
My question now is this: is this the way Pleasanton (AVHS, FHS) does it? Or is this how it works in every high school that participates in the program?
Regardless of how a class is, every student who qualifies and wants to enroll should be allowed to do so. This is a public school district, and so far, I do not know of any other class that has such enrollment limitations. Even classes that have tough requirements accept all qualified (and some not so qualified) students.
Now, if this were just a club or extracurricular activity, I would not be so concerned. But this is a CLASS, and a class should not be rejecting students but accomodating everyone who has the potential of handling it with success.
We the people should be a club, not a class for credit. It should also not receive federal funding as no other club does. I read on the web something about the government having spent in years past 21.6 million in this program. That is a lot of money, and with budget deficits these days and cuts to education, how can our government justify financing a program that rejects so many students (only 30 can enroll out of more than 2 thousand students in a high school)? This program should not get funding from the taxpayers but from the parents of the small group that is allowed in the club (again it should not be a for credit class in a public school whose teachers are paid by taxpayer funds).
Please if someone knows more about this program outside of Pleasanton, let me know. I want to finalize my letter and emails.
I tried to find out information from the internet but I was not able to, and friends I have in other school districts did not know as they did not have this program at their high schools.
Does someone know how it works in other high schools outside of Pleasanton?
Posted by Don't Waste Your Time, a resident of the Bordeaux Estates neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:16 am
There are only 12 spots on the basketball team, there is only one quarterback on the football team. Volleyball and soccer are equally competitive. Even cheerleading has tryouts. This program has been around for almost 20 years and Amador always places very high in State and National Competition. While I tend to agree the school district shouldn't be subsidizing these exclusive clubs and that anyone who wants to compete should be given a chance to be on the team, I think decisions of this sort were made many many years ago that it's OK to have tryouts and pick only the students subjectively deemed to be "the best".
Posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:45 am
The difference with sports (basketball, football) and this We the People class is that sports is an after school, extra curricular activity where parents pay a fee, sports boosters raise money, etc.
The Comp Civics, as I understood yesteday, is a for credit class, the teacher is employed and paid for by the school district (full time union employee with all the union perks and protections)
It is not a waste of time to change something that is not right. A group of friends (one of them a lawyer) are on board on this, and one found the information about funding cuts through NEH, which I believe happened last year. We will pursue this.
If you have useful information please post. Ie, do you know how it is done in other high schools. One of my friends is going to contact Arcadia High tomorrow.
Again, a class taught in a public school, for credit should not deny admission to anyone who is qualified and wants to be a part of it. You have it right when you say the selection was subjective.
If you want to compare this to football, then operate like football: not a class where you earn credit, extracurricular activity, "comp civics" boosters to raise funds, stipends for the teacher vs full salary, etc.
The class is even listed on the program guide for Amador, it is a class. You cannot compare it to a sport as the sport offers no credit and it is not a class (PE is but not the after school sports)
Posted by Former Student, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:26 am
Wondering, Don't Waste Your Time had it right; comp civics is exactly like a team. Only a select few, who were the absolute best, get to be on the comp civics team. It doesnt matter if you think those students were qualified because there were obviously students who were more qualified. And I don't doubt that selection is a little subjective, but everything in high school is subjective. I don't think this is anything to make a big stink about...
Posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:23 am
You have the right to your opinions Former Student, just like my friends and I have the right to pursue something that we think must change.
After all, our taxpayer money has been used in the past to fund a program that presents itself as a class in a public school and that excludes many, benefits very few.
It does not matter if the teacher thinks the best were selected, that is not how public schools operate. If you want exclusive stuff, go to a private school or a private club.
I guess I will not find useful information from posts here, only opinions, too bad no one here knows any facts such as how other high schools do it, how many high schools participate.
20+ million is a lot of money to give to PUBLIC schools so they can act like private entities that can exclude its students.
Again, a club would be the way to go for this team/program. A club funded by the parents, with a stipend for the teacher (versus a full salary for a union employee paid for by a public school district and funded by taxpayers), etc.
We already have the contact information of the people we need to talk to at the government level, but we need to find out how other high schools do it. That way we can see whether it is just PUSD that is excluding some who qualify and want to enroll, or if the entire program (all participating high schools) operate that way.
Posted by Technically , a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm
Well, technically Comp Civics ISN'T funded and IS exactly like a team. Also, sports can be a class via athletic PE. If they let everyone on the comp civics team it would never do as well as it does now - do you know how hard it is to even organize 30 students, let alone more?
Posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm
"Well, technically Comp Civics ISN'T funded and IS exactly like a team. Also, sports can be a class via athletic PE"
Comp Civics is a class and it is funded by paying the teacher the union negotiated salary with benefits and perks. No class in a public school, taught by a public school teacher, can reject qualified students. I am surprised that people studying the constitution do not know this. As for how hard it is to manage 30 kids: we are talking about seniors! Besides, other classes manage more than 30 kids by having more than one section.
If it were just a team, it would not give credit and would not be presented as a class - look at the program guide, it is on the AVHS website under counseling. The forms even have that as a class one can select when choosing classes. I just saw the forms on the AVHS website. It is definitely a class, not just a team.
As for sports being a class, I looked it up on the program guide: it is not. There are various PE options but none reject students.
If Comp Civics is "technically" not funded as you say, where did the millions of dollars per year in past funding from Congress for this program go to? Are you saying we have some misappropriation of funds? Please explain.
Posted by WeThePeople, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm
You must be an advocate of the 'every child gets a trophy' syndrome. Yes, not everyone who applies for Comp Civics get selected. It's the same as athletics - not everyone makes the team. Get over it. There are other AP classes available at Amador that your child (or your friend's) can take.
I suggest you find out more about the program by talking Principal Jim Hansen before you start lawyering up on this.
Posted by Really?, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm
You have great kids, competing in a Nationally recognized program, who are learning to be protectors of our rights and our future leaders. You hear of a few kids who's feelings got hurt because they didn't make the team( life lesson by the way) and you are going to spend your time trying to tear this apart? Pleasanton parents have this overwhelming sense of having to protect poor little Johnny from getting his feelings hurt and at the sametime put their head in the sand over the drug problem in our town. Kids in this town have no ability to handle adversity and disappointment because of people like you. Leave these elite kids alone and wake up. If you feel the need to be a bully parent, why don't you focus on the drug problem in this town, which includes heroin. We need more people who care about saving these kids from the terrifying consequences of the drug use going on right now. Focus your energy where you can make a difference for the GOOD!
Posted by Bill, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm
Tend to agree with Really. The world is too full of do-gooders to the point where instead of somebody benefiting from a great program, nobody benefits because someone's feelings got hurt and the program is shut down.
It would take all my fingers and toes to count how many times my kids got the shaft either in school or a sports program. Smart kids will roll with the punches and make the best out of any situation.
Wondering, if you want to contact your government representatives I would be more concerned with why our kids cannot afford to buy a home even when they earn a great living? Why is China filling our universities with their children and our kids are left in the dust? Why are young foreign workers replacing young American workers in America?
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm
The issue is that the public school district that the taxpayers all pay for is denying access to a classroom course. First of all, it is against the law for someone to have to 'apply' for the privilege of attending a public school classroom. This discriminates against students who for some reason do not get 'chosen' to be one of the elite ones who win spots in this class. The ACLU will have a field day.
It shows how those that run the school district do not have a clue.
BTW -- 'Really' must *really* believe the story of the 8 year old Heroin Addict story in the Washington Post from the 1980s called Jimmy's World.
Posted by Wondering, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm
This is not about someone's feelings getting hurt. It is about what is right vs. wrong (perhaps even unconstitutional).
Public schools cannot reject anyone, and the CLASSES they offer cannot reject anyone who qualifies/meets the requirements.
Enrolling in a class in a PUBLIC school should not have a "tryout" the way sports do. If you want comp civics to be like a sports team, then do not call it a class, do not offer it as such (have you seen the catalog/guide?). Instead, have it be an extracurricular activity with a "coach" who receives a stipend supplied by the participants' fees and booster clubs funds. And do not expect Congress to fund it the way it has in the past.
A class may not reject any qualified student, it is that simple.
Even AP classes do not reject students. As long as the students have the requirements to get in, they are allowed to enroll. As many qualified students who ask to get in the class do so. Some succeed, some do not do as well but everyone is given the same chance. Why? Because this is a PUBLIC school, not a private entity, not a club.
From reading some responses (which I assume are from either students in the Comp Civics program or their parents or maybe the teachers running it), I question the quality of the program: you are studying the constitution and you do not understand that you cannot reject qualified students from a CLASS offered by a PUBLIC school and taught by a PUBLIC school teacher, all financed by TAXPAYER funds? WOW!
Will we pursue this? Yes, no class in a public school should reject any qualified student who wants to enroll. And no, I do not have a child applying, but I am a taxpayer who does not believe a public school should act like a private one. You want to be exclusive and have students apply and get in or not? Go to schools like Bellarmine, Harker, De La Salle, but not schools in PUSD!
I agree with a post above that the board and the administration have shown poor judgment and a poor understanding of the way things work.
So far I have found that not all high schools in the Bay Area participate. I now need to find out how those that do participate in the we the people program do it: do they reject students as well?
Posted by Really?, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm
Again.....you are dead wrong about the heroin problem. Ask some of the parents in Ruby Hill who are dealing with it right now. This is Pleasantons little secret. Ask the kids....they know about it. It's a bigger issue then any of the "not in Pleasanton" people want to believe or are trying to hide.. And frankly for you to even say that proves my point. Go ahead and keep your head in the sand. 1980s? Where have you been. While the parents have their heads turned the kids are getting into their parents oxy and once addicted, they move to the cheaper version, heroin. This drug is becoming more and more popular because of all of the pain killers available to these kids and the abundance of them in Pleasanton homes. Just because they are white rich kids doing well in school with successful parents, don't assume they aren't at risk for this drug problem and that this is only a dirty street drug in poor areas.
While we are at it, let's talk about AVID. Only a few benefit. Speech therapy...only a few benefit. Resource programs for the handicap...only a few benefit. How about we try to reach kids and make them the best they can be, including the best and brightest.
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm
"All men are created equal" is what is part of this country's founding documents. I can't find "Only the best and brightest from Pleasanton's elite are given access to public school classrooms" anywhere.
Anyone who wants to enroll in this Civics class must be allowed to enroll regardless of their race, creed, color or disability status.
If you want to talk about the so-called heroin problem, start yet another thread.
Posted by Steven, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:21 pm
Let's say you have a classroom with 30 spots for mock trial. You pick the top most qualified 30 kids that are the best fit Let's say you have a class with 30 spots for AVID, you pick the top 30 most qualified about he kids that are the best fit. Your definition of "qualified" is your main premises. The kids who are in mock trial and AVID are the ones that qualified based on that years standard. There are many kids that would have benefited from either program but didn't qualify this year! Enjoy trying destroy something that is great for our school, our community, and our country. I agree with Really....your energy really would be better directed for the good and towards real problems that our kids are facing.
Posted by Observer, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm
AVID is a good example. Not every kid can get into this. But this isnt about what is fair. That's a smoke screen for wonderings attempt to help the kids who's feelings got hurt by not being selected. In addition, there are kids every year trying to get into athletic PE but there are not enough spots. The thought that the school much provide seats for every kid that wants to take this class is really off the mark. This is simply parents trying to grasp at every attempt to make things happen for their kids rather than letting them compete with their peers and they don't care who they step on or what other kids they impact. Help your child find their niche and nurture that. Pushing them through the system with threats works sometimes but you are really cheating your child of their opportunity to find their greatest strength. Maybe not being selected opens another door for them and time to purse something else. Getting caught up in "this isn't fair" is what is robbing our kids of growth and other opportunities and these kids walk around with chips on their shoulders nicely held in place by their parents.
Posted by Me, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm
We are new to Ptown. While I do not know too much about We The People, our former school district has a similar process for the Mock Trial program. It was an elective class and had invitations. Not everyone who wanted to participate could because the numbers were limited.
There were also tryout for Show Choir and Chamber Choir...both of which were graded classes. These were VERY competitive.
All of these classes were offered by the school, taught by teachers and used the same resources as any other class. I think while most of the students and their parents were initially disappointed, they got over it and were able to go on to productive lives. I never heard of anyone asking for these success programs to be cancelled or threatening any other action. I would assure you that this type of thing happens at most, if not all, of the major school districts across the country. It comes down to budget and resources.
Unfortunately, life is not fair.
The fortunate thing is that I think all of these kids will still have some great opportunities in their lives. It sounds like these are really great students, so I'm sure they can still get into college. That is the great thing about our school district...if our students don't make the cur for one activity, there are lots of other places for them to use their talents.
By the way, at Foothill this year, not everyone who requested and was qualified for was placed into certain honors classes due to the sections being full. Thankfully, they did not cancel those classes for everyone.
Posted by Been trained, a resident of the Jensen Tract neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm
The Center for Civic Education is the umbrella group that was federally funded. The federal funds went toward textbooks and training for We the People and Project Citizen among other programs. It was not an earmark since every congressional district received funds. The materials were available to every teacher who went through a training, at no charge to the teacher. There was substantial recruitment done to advertise the staff development. We the People employs a teaching strategy and curriculum used in thousands of classrooms, only some of whom compete. The curriculum is available to 5th graders, 8th graders, and high school civics classes. The curriculum is valuable without the competition.
Competition classes raise the money or pay themselves to travel to the
competition. The teachers, organizers, and judges volunteer their
hours after schools and on the weekends.
Not every student who applies for yearbook, or the newspaper, or leadership gets in. Many classes have some type of criteria. Many things come into play. All classes are paid for by tax dollars.
Posted by Parent of students., a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm
I have had one child who made the team, and one who did not. It is competitive. The students who do not make the team are allowed to take AP Government. The AP government class actually better prepares the students for the exam. It is called "competition civics" for a reason. We understand the process and know that it is very competitive. This is one class. Why are you trying to kill a great program? Yearbook, leadership, etc. all screen students. We completely support the program and know that "wondering" has a lot of sour grapes. Support your student and help them to understand that all children do not get a trophy and that life is full of challenges and set backs that only make us stronger in the end. Let your children face the realities of life and don't live it for them.
Posted by Former student, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm
As a former comp civics student, I can say that this program is not for everyone. It is demanding, time consuming and requires extreme commitment to do well. The rigor of this program requires for team selection to be exclusive and competitive. Amador has a high reputation in this program and is well respected in the program. The class has to be limited in size because to participate in the competition each school has to have 6 teams (units) of no more than 5 team members (hence, 30 students for the class). While academic credit is granted, the class itself is only one semester long and requires a lot of time after school and on the weekends. If the team excels to the state competition, like Amador has every year, then the preparation for the state competition is actually after the semester ends. When I was on the team and as we prepared for the state competition our comp civics class had actually ended, so all of our practices were after school and on the weekends. Not only is the course demanding on students, it's demanding on the teachers. To keep Amador competitive, the teachers need to focus on preparing the team for competition. There is simply not enough hours in the day for the teachers to prepare more than one class.
It's demanding, requires commitment and extends far beyond the normal requirements for an honors and AP class. Also, we had to pay out of pocket for our travel, while the team fundraises to help with expenses, i still had to pay out of pocket for travel. Also, honors and AP classes are selective. In a comment above, the original poster stated that as long as students were academically qualified, they got into AP and honors courses and if needed, they would add extra sections. That is not the case, I was denied admission to an AP course while at Amador and instead of complaining about being denied that class, I took an alternative honors course. While rejection is hard, you learn from it and I'm sure your child (or friends kid) will get over it. Take it as a life lesson, just because you are qualified for something doesn't mean you are going to get it.
Posted by Amador grad, a resident of the Stoneridge Orchards neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm
And not every student who auditions to get into the top band is allowed into the top band. Comp Civics is the same way. There are only 30 spots in the class, the same way a top band only has so many spaces for so many musicians. You try out -- if you appear to have potential you get in. It is hard work and it takes a certain type of student to thrive in the environment, especially to have your ego crushed and reformed into someone who can actually critically think. Anyway, there are plenty of classes at Amador and other schools that are just like this, that have limited space and ask you to "audition." Please do not go stirring up trouble because your special snowflake of a child did not get in. Sometimes the best thing you can let your child do in life is fail.
Posted by Amador Mom, a resident of the Canyon Oaks neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm
I wonder if this is coming from the long standing tradition in this town of politics playing such a big role in who has access and who does not? I have a child who was part of the program and I feel that the selection process was very fair and that all students had equal opportunity to be chosen, they just had to pick the best teams. However, over the years I have witnessed more than I would like the vicious politics and favoritism that dominate many programs and sports in Pleasanton. This is why people feel the need to "lawyer up". There are some incredibly immoral adults in this town who will only do what is best for them.
I never felt that was the case with We The People.
Posted by Is this a joke?, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm
Learn the difference between unconstitutional and illegal before you start throwing those big words around.
To take this to court would be so unbelievably petty and asinine. Your allegations are both small minded and erroneous. Anyone who would claim that the school's policy is unconstitutional would have to have no knowledge of how the constitution's text or interpretation. There is no constitutional violation here. There may be a federal or a state law that this violates. And maybe if you could show that, people would agree with you. But the fact that you haven't elaborated your claim of unconstitutionality or illegality shows that you have either not done your homework, or that no such law exists.
Posted by Seriously?, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm
These students were "qualified" and complaining that they didn't get in? Qualified by whose standards and by what academic requirements? Theirs? Their parents'?
As a former participant, I can tell you that WTP changed my life, and I'm sure it did for many if not all other alums. Yet you would go to great lengths to deprive funding for an educational program that immensely benefits students, albeit only those who are deemed able to withstand the rigors of the program. Seriously? What kind of person are you? I've seen some ridiculous things that taxpayers get mad at, but this takes the cake. Anger about paying taxes to fund a war you don't agree with, I get. Anger about paying taxes to fund a program that helps students beyond what the books can teach? Not so much.
Re: Again, how has the school discriminated based on race, creed, color or disability status in this instance? I see no allegations that this was the case. Before you jump to conclusions and make baseless accusations, get your facts straight. And I'm pretty sure the ACLU is busy handling real social problems...not whiny high school students.
Posted by My lower back hurts, a resident of another community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:22 pm
I once knew a dangerously handsome young man who was a We the People(informally known as "Comp Civics") student at the national level in California, and a Judge at the State level in Maryland(thus geographically outside of Pleasanton as you wished). To answer your question, yes- Every high school in the country that competes obeys the same limitation.
But your theory on ALL government school funds being used for the education of ALL public high school students for ALL programs has ME wondering...
If, on average, ~58,000 people on a given year inquire about enrolling in a government funded program informally known as "The Boat School"(federally funded), ~15,000 complete the application process(federally funded), ~5,000 successfully interview and receieve a nomination from their member of Congress(federally funded), 1,200 walk through the gates on induction day, 980 graduate and become officers exactly four years later after recieving their education(federally funded), 407 medically and academically qualify for Naval Aviation after screening(federally funded), 200 slots are assigned after the selection process(federally funded), 180 will complete primary flight school(federally funded), the top 20 will go on to advanced jet school to learn how to fly a fighter(federally funded), of that 20, the top 15 will learn to fly the F/A-18E/F Superhornet(federally funded), of the 15 that go to sea, 1 will be launched over the bow of the aircraft carrier on any given day with $85,000,000 worth of taxpayer dollars strapped to him or her, are we to let EVERY high school student in America(since this entire process is federally funded) who is "qualified" and feels up to the task and WANTS to do this be the ONE (1) who gets launched off the bow in a Superhornet?
Posted by Not a 'copter parent, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm
"Wondering" seems to believe that her opinion = constitutional law. Where in the world did "wondering" come to the conclusion that every public school must make every course available to every qualified student? As many have correctly pointed out, there are numerous examples of for credit courses that have high barriers to entry and/or enrollment limitations (choir, band, athletic PE, leadership, yearbook).
There is much that I love about living in Pleasanton. What I do not love is the way that many of our parents behave. So your kid, or some of your friend's kids, did not make the cut for the Comp Civics program (which by definition means they were not qualified). What exactly is it that you will be modeling and teaching them by trying to take this to court? That mummy and daddy will never let them fail? That if you can't have something, you will make sure that no one else can have it either? I'm sure that it doesn't feel good to not see your name on the list but it won't be the last time that your kid doesn't get something that they want. The best thing that you can teach them is to pick themselves up, dust off and move on to the next challenge.
p.s. college application season is right around the corner. What is your plan when your child doesn't get in to the college of his choice? Who are you planning to sue then?
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm
Children cannot be denied admission to "exclusive" courses in a public school, even country club high schools like Amador and Foothill. The only admission requirements I know of connected to PUSD is Tri-Valley University, that fraudulent university you all had running at your school administration site, but even then, you admitted everybody that applied (all 1,555 of them) regardless of what their qualifications were, as long as they had several thousand dollars.
Sounds like the lawyers will be busy again.
Also I'm pretty sure those coming up with lame excuses and defending of this practice are coming from those who have some role in the school management, board, teaching or the PTA.
PUSD caused this problem because of a combination of any of the three issues: 1) poor planning on the school administration in planning adequate sections for this class and 2) prima donna teachers and administrators turning a class into an 'audition' only classroom and 3) they don't know what they are doing (i.e. for instance having Tri-Valley University, a fake college, run on your campus) and maybe should stick to something simpler.
And to the poster above, life is fair. In the good ol' US of A, life is fair, or if the government operates in a manner that isn't fair, the courts ultimately make it fair, punishing those that created the unfair policies in the first place.
Posted by Disturbed, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:25 am
Wow! Talk about total disregard for people. I am an Amador parent and have nothing to do with the admin or this class. But I am disturbed by your comments towards the school, teachers and admin. I totally disagree with your opinion as well as "wonderings". And you are loosing more crediabilty the more you write To The administration, teachers, volunteers, and students of Mock Trial: We commend you and support you. Congratulations on your success! Ignore the noise and distractions created by a few nutty people and march on towards your goals and future and represent Pleasanton and Amador as you know how. The sad reality is that there will always be a few who try to destroy a successful program and taint the positive experience, a lesson learned... And unlike the parents and kids that didn't get selecteded to participate, you will roll with the punches and grow from the adversity! Thank people like this as they only make you stronger. To wonderings and again.....pathetic
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:31 am
Disturbed/Amador Parent, you refer to Mock Trial students, etc.
Mock Trial and "We the People" Civics are two separate programs.
Either way, you should read up on the 14th Amendment, particularly the Equal Protection Clause, and the case law involving that. A sad reality is that perhaps your education did not cover that particular topic.
Posted by Not a 'copter parent, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:39 am
You've made the assertion several times that a public school can't deny a student access to a class for which they are qualified. Tell me what the legal basis is for this claim? I grew up in California public schools, as did my children. There have always been classes that were audition only or limited enrollment. Common sense would tell you that you can't require a school to keep opening sections of a class just because more students want to enroll in a particular course.
In the specific case of the WTP program, the competition is limited to 6 units of 5 students per unit from each participating school. Even if we followed your (incorrect) premise and let in every student who wanted to enroll in the class, theoretically opening up an infinite number of sections, there would still only be 30 students allowed to compete.
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 12:56 am
The case in California is Daniel v. State of California, a class action lawsuit filed related to equal access for all California students to participate in advanced classes based on the 14th amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
[Copter, I hope you aren't a legal profession or an employee or trustee for the school district.]
Posted by WTPFTW, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:28 am
Although Daniel vs. CA was a successful lawsuit, the circumstances of the suit were far different from the circumstances in the Pleasanton schools (and any other school that participates in the We the People Competition). The aforementioned lawsuit complained of inequality between course offerings in different districts, particularly districts of different socio-economic statuses and far different ethnic balances. A valid comparison would be to bring suit against the state claiming that other, less well-off districts were not offering a We the People class and that the lack of such an offering was hindering the ability of their students to pursue higher education. The result of the Daniel decision was to provide funding to schools who could not afford to offer AP courses at their school as a means to level the playing field between more affluent districts.
Citing Daniel as precedent is a reach as unless I've missed something (possible) it did not require the more affluent schools to open more sections for its classes with competitive enrollment standards.
I'm curious as to how you would like to see this program restructured given the fact that the rules for competition are 30 competitors and the class involves an AP test. If your answer to that is to allow all students to be in the AP class to take the test and only have 30 compete, then that is how the system currently works. If you have another idea, lay it out.
For the record, I am a teacher in Pleasanton, but that is the only way I am associated with the Comp Civics Program and I am not in a social studies department.
I am likely the only teacher dumb enough to comment here.
Posted by Again, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 1:58 am
You appear to not have looked at the court files. The case was brought forth due related to Inglewood Unified (which did offer some advanced courses). The case was settled by the State, thus is applicable throughout the *State* for equal access to education and equal access to those courses, citing the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
Just like you cannot have a hard limit for number of houses in Pleasanton (29,000) to cap its growth, you cannot have a hard limit of 30 students who are the privileged few to be anointed to take the Competition Civics class.
I'm sure that subsequent to the criminal trial, many of the 1,555 defrauded international students will file a civil class action lawsuit against Pleasanton Unified using the rationale that they thought Pleasanton Unified was operating an actual university.
At the same time, the ACLU or others or Urban Habitat can sue Pleasanton Unified for failing to allow equal access to education by having set limits in "application only" exclusive courses that are 'competition clubs.'
Either way, the currently incompetent administration needs to be replaced by those qualified to operate the District and conduct operations and legal agreements that are lawful and constitutional, something that they have proven in the last 12 years they lack the skills to do and continue to lack the skills to do.
Posted by ., a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 2:33 am
Just because the State settled and passed a law pursuant to that settlement (that is to be followed throughout the *State*), this does not equate to a court holding that the denial of access to AP courses was unconstitutional, as it appears you are trying to do. Obviously, I am talking in the dark here. I can't find any files online that you are apparently referring to, only articles briefly discussing the settlement. What court documents are you looking at that cite the Constitution and that hold that equal access is required?
Posted by Ben G., a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:12 am
Sorry your kid didn't make the team, but this is ridiculous. Per competition rules each school is allowed to have only one class (up to 36 students) compete, so this is how the program operates at every school, in every state. Although We the People has a classroom component, it is fundamentally an extracurricular activity, with hundreds of hours of teacher-supervised after-school and weekend work. The difference between WTP and Honors English is that Honors English doesn't meet on weekends. Honors English doesn't compete against other schools, requiring travel. Honors English isn't a team. I have no doubt that Amador offers alternative AP Gov courses for students who qualify didn't make the WTP team (or didn't try out). You're mixing up apples and oranges.
Posted by Andrew, a resident of another community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 7:55 am
"And to the poster above, life is fair. In the good ol' US of A, life is fair, or if the government operates in a manner that isn't fair, the courts ultimately make it fair, punishing those that created the unfair policies in the first place."
Again, what fantasy land do you live in? Take a 20 minute drive to Oakland or San Francisco and then lets start talking about "fair." Why do kids in cities like Oakland deserve a joke of an education and second-class treatment in comparison to the kids in Pleasanton? Are you outraged about their "qualifications" and lack of opportunity? Your hypocrisy is stunning. You REALLY NEED TO USE YOUR TIME MORE PRODUCTIVELY.
Posted by Not a 'copter parent, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on Feb 27, 2012 at 8:35 am
I am neither a legal professional nor a PUSD employee. I do however understand that Equal Access under the 14th Amendment does not guarantee that your child (or your friend's child) has unlimited and unfettered access to whatever their little heart desires. If you were truly concerned about Equal Access, your time would be better spent ensuring that the WTP program be made available in all districts,regardless of socio-economic conditions. I don't actually believe that matters to you -- only that your kid never suffer a disappointment.
You have yet to address what the resolution might be given the national competition regulations. Is your point that if your kid can't be in the program, then no one's kid can do this? If so, let's shut down all the programs that have a barrier to entry -- band, choir, leadership, yearbook -- so that your kid will never be disappointed.
One of the beautiful things about the WTP program is that it starts many young adults on successful legal careers. I suspect that if you actually tried to move forward with your baseless claims, there will be no shortage of WTP alum willing to help fight your case.
Posted by Patricia, a resident of the Vintage Hills Elementary School neighborhood, on Feb 27, 2012 at 9:12 am Patricia is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
Wondering, I think you are misunderstanding. We The People/Comp Civics is exactly like a competitive sports team, band or other competitive extra-curricular activities. Those students who qualify for the football team get PE credit for that. But that doesn't mean that every student who wants to be on the football team gets to be on it and get their PE credit by playing football. Those that make it do and they are 'taught' by a PE teacher who has agreed to go above and beyond by coaching the team. Those that don't enroll in a regular PE class and may be taught by the same teacher. There are 30 spots on the competition civics team. Those that make the team are enrolled in that civics section taught by the comp civics coach, who goes above and beyond by working with them after school, before school and traveling with them to competitions. Those that don't are enrolled in another Civics section, possibly taught by the same teacher. They all learn the state mandated civics curriculum -- some at a basic level, some at an AP level. The comp civics kids just work a heck of a lot harder after school (on their own and with the coach), just like a kid playing football gets the state mandated physical education, but works a heck of a lot harder on their own and with the coach. The school is not denying opportunity to try out to anyone and it is not denying the curriculum to anyone. It's just that there are only 30 spots on the team, and the best get to be on the team. And again, the best doesn't always mean the best grades. Great, smart and qualified kids may not have some particular skill that is needed to put together a top-notch, well-rounded, and winning team.
All that being said, I am glad you recognize the value of the We The People experience. I hope you'll take the time to attend one of the local competitions (and that the kids who didn't make the team will turn out to support their friends who did). I also hope you will take the time to write to support funding for this program so more students from less advantaged school can offer this program. There are a lot of schools that can't even offer 30 kids a chance to participate. Pleasanton is lucky to be able to support a team at each high school and to have teachers committed enough to put in all the extra coaching time it takes to repeatedly take teams to the National level.
Posted by Meredith, a resident of the Oak Hill neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm Meredith is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
We the People is a beautiful program that encourages civic participation and understanding our nation's most important document in a way that everyone, to be honest, should. The selection process and the competition is what inspires the students to work harder. If you've been in any high school classroom lately, more access to certain classes does not improve the learning experience. It would be nice to have the opportunity of We the People available to everybody, but by opening it to everyone, it would compromise much of the powerful impact it has. Opening it up beyond the team's size would result in no impact at all.
I fully agree with anyone who is saying that We the People should be left alone. What makes Amador's program so successful is that fact that it can pick and choose the best based on nonacademic standards that will create a studious, functioning, cohesive, and ultimately VICTORIOUS team. I know many people who have made it and many people who have not. In the end, however, teams at both Amador and Foothill had the people that should have been on them.
To answer your question, EVERY school that has a We the People team does it this way. Every. Single. One. Across the entire country. That's the nature of a nationwide, competitive program. Not every school cuts the same amount of people, because the number of hopefuls can vary, and the number of accepted is and should be at the coach's discretion. That's how it works. Don't bother writing to your representative. They're very informed about the program from all the protesting constituents who fought to keep the Center for Civic Education's funding last year, and they'll probably just smirk and delete it.
Posted by Michaela, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm Michaela is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
As a former We the People participant, I am so glad that this class is not available to all students. I cannot even fathom what this course would have been if anyone could be allowed in. Grades and debate abilities are not the only qualities a "comp civic" or We the People teacher is looking for. This is an AP class, and of course this means you must have the grades to join. However, this class is also a commitment, even more-so than an after school sports team.
During the competition season of this class, I put in 3-5 hours every school night at least, spent the weekend with my unit to bond and strengthen arguments, and then spent hours editing speeches and researching current events/anything I could think of that would be valuable. The average student, even the smart debate students mentioned here, does not necessarily have the passion or the dedication to spent close to 20 or 30 hours a week working on one class. It's unheard of. However, there are students who are willing to do this.
Two measly class credits doesn't even cover how much work students are willing to put in this class. There is a reason only 30 students (and sometimes slightly less or more) are accepted. Those students are the so-called "cream of the crop", and just like a sports team, are dedicated to their team, the game, and their coach. About now, you're probably ready to get on your high horse and tell me that sports teams don't receive credit so I can't compare it. That is where you are wrong. Varsity players receive P.E. credit, giving them two extra class periods in their sophomore year. And all they do is run around a field with a ball in their hands. I, myself, was almost a varsity player, but We the People was the varsity team I wanted to be a part of.
During this class, each student came to realize why We the People was so worth the time and effort and the rigorous selection process. I don't know one student in my class, and probably in most We the People classes that doesn't agree that the students rejected probably wouldn't have been able to succeed. These teachers are brilliant, and deserve much more than a simple "stipend" for what they do. Their salaries don't even cover how much work they do in general.
Please, before you start complaining, understand the issue you're dealing with. You may know a few facts about this class and funding issues, but you don't understand the reasons behind the selection process.
The kids who make We the People deserve to. If you had participated in this program, or had a child that had done so, you would see and know the passion involved. Stop trying to make this a class available to every high school student, because not every high school student can be a member of We the People.