School board set to discuss middle school laptop program tonight

Laptops would be part of instruction starting in 6th grade next fall

The Pleasanton school board is scheduled to receive an update on the expansion of technology at the middle schools during its board meeting Tuesday night.

In order to provide equity and greater access to the curriculum through the use of 21st century instructional technology supporting the implementation of the District Strategic Plan, the middle schools are proposing to expand the traditional Laptop Program to all students beginning with sixth grade during the 2015-16 school year, according to staff reports.

Tuesday's presentation will provide trustees follow-up to the presentation made at the Jan. 27 meeting.

In other business:

* The school board will discuss an update of the School Climate Transformation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students.

Staff reports said funds are dispersed over the course of five years and emphasize the implementation of multi-tiered systems of support for students with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

The update will include an implementation timeline, goals, and next year;s focus of Tier One intervention strategies.

* The board will discuss and possibly take action regarding legal services for the school board.

Trustees will discuss pros and cons and options for retaining an attorney to address board-related questions.

* The board will recognize the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, the Southern Alameda County Alliance of African American Educators (SACAAAE) Cultural Student Award recipients and the Pleasanton Unified School District's Teacher of the Year.

The open session of Tuesday's school board meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the district's boardroom, 4665 Bernal Avenue.

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8 people like this
Posted by Whistleblower
a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 11, 2015 at 8:58 am

There are is no valid reason to deny this program to all students. Let me summarize for you in case you are wondering about any open points:

* Pleasanton can afford this.
* All kids should have this option, free of charge.
* Teachers should be trained to instruct via this medium.
* Kids and parents should retain the choice to participate or not.

Simple. Don't be elitist or cheap and it will benefit everyone.

23 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2015 at 9:29 am

We participated in the laptop program one year, and I was not impressed. It was just a distraction from the actual instruction. It also made the transition into 6th that much more confusing. I'm also not impressed with the new emphasis on the chrome books at the elementary level. They are spending too much classroom time fiddling with the technology and not enough on the actual subjects.

I would hate to see the required for all students, but this board has already shown with calendar change issue last year that they tend to push forward with their plans regardless of public input. I hope we can opt out.

20 people like this
Posted by Middle school parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2015 at 9:39 am

I think it disingenuous to refer to the districts proposal as an expansion of the current laptop program. The current program has a ratio of one student per device and all teachers in the laptop program opted to teach it and are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about technology. The new program will not have a one to one ratio unless enough parents step up and purchase laptops. Laptops will be provided / loaned to kids without the funds but otherwise kids without their own one will be sharing. Also I question how prepared all teachers will be to offer a meaningful technological component. After all many of these teachers have opted not to teach the laptop progrsm in the twenty years plus it has been offered. I am very disappointed that instead of trying to expand our existing program through parent education, loaning out more chrome books etc , the district is rushing to introduce a diluted program in which the technological component will very much depend on the individual teachers timetabled for your child and the number of parents purchasing laptops in each class. And this change is being made with no parent input or consultation. It wasn't even discussed at the PMS incoming 6 th grader meeting last week. I absolutely support the wish to expand the program to all kids but this does not do so.

17 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2015 at 11:51 am

I agree with middle school parent. The District continues to mislead the community by promoting this change as an expansion of the laptop program. It is not. A 3:1 device ratio cannot replicate the curriculum of the current 1:1 laptop program.

28 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Castlewood
on May 11, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Can someone provide answers to the following:
Are there enough Reading Specialists in the Elementary schools?
High school counseling ratios are 500+ to 1, well above recommended levels, are there enough counseling resources in middle & high schools?
Are there enough hours for school nurses (i.e. there is a nurse on-site during the entire time school is in session?)

I had two kids go through Pleasanton schools and the laptop program was available for both. Is this more of a case of scratching the status itch for the individual (my laptop is better than your laptop), the community ego, and the district office? There will be a financial requirement on the part of the district and if these other needs aren't satisfied (and there are many more needs, I'm sure) then why is this a priority? Additionally, I've not seen a discussion of where, with all of the new building happening in Pleasanton, the kids who are moving in are going to go to school which is also going to take significant resources that the district doesn't have....Priorities?

8 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Here's some news for you: There are No nurses in our schools, forget about full time. We have health clerks who do good work but are not nurses. The nurses have more than one school and travel around the district.

10 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

There are no longer reading specialists in the district. Many, if not most, teachers were unhappy with their removal, and unhappy that there is no intention by the district or board to replace them in the future.

15 people like this
Posted by Disgusted by some parents
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm

I am absolutely disgusted by how some parents are defending the laptop program. The conversations I've heard from parents who want their children in a special program is disgusting and bordering on racist. Unfortunately, these are parents I'm forced to be around because my child attends the same elementary school.

Give technology to ALL students. Every single child deserves equal access. If it means the schools go to a 3 to 1, then so be it. Your little babies will still learn how to make videos in class.

15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm

@ disgusted by some parents

If you had done your research you would know that the laptop program is open to ALL kids. If you can't afford a laptop the district will provide a loaner, if you haven't got wifi at home the district will provide it, and no student gets turned away eg no lottery. I call that equal access!

2 people like this
Posted by Foothill Mom
a resident of Foothill High School
on May 12, 2015 at 9:00 am

Both of my kids participated in the Hart laptop program and both excelled. We only kept them in laptop classes for 1 - 1.5 years; they had developed a sufficient skill set to work independently and no longer needed "laptop classes." One of my kids is a high achiever; one is special ed but both learned solid computer skills. They can make a computer fly better than most adults today. Yes, there is room for improvement with teacher training. Several did not know how to use a computer and the kids surpassed them in just a few weeks. With proper feedback, these teachers were encouraged to retire. The program isn't perfect but it's still worthwhile and better than sticking your head in the sand given technology is their future.

4 people like this
Posted by Foothill Parent
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

Our child participated all 3 years in Hart's laptop program and loved it. She learned how to do research on the fly, create presentations etc. Her homework is completed in an organized fashion as it required to be completed at home so she could print; this provide her with valuable time management skills vs. kids finishing their homework in class, between breaks etc.

Making it optional for students is way to go. Many teachers are not capable of teaching in a laptop environment & will only distract from the learning of the class. The teachers who sign up for the classes embrace technology & don't hide from it. This makes all the difference in the world to the students. Some teachers in 8th grade did not "teach" laptop but the students still took notes & used their laptops in the class. Those classes my daughter struggled the most because the teachers did not encourage the use of the computer because they did not understand it & asked for hand written assignments, used dated materials etc.

1 person likes this
Posted by To resident
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

If you had done your research, you would know that it is not open to all kids. You would also know that kids who were given Chrome books were teased by other students because they were the poorer version.

Your world is not the world of everyone in this district.

21 people like this
Posted by AParent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2015 at 12:04 pm

My child is in the laptop program and we purchased a Chromebook. There are many Chromebooks in class and I haven't heard of much teasing based on who has what among the students about this. That isn't to say there isn't any as there is always something to tease someone about in middle school and others have had a different experience on this.

I have found that not all teachers have the classwork set up so it is as easy for the Chromebook users to access it as it is for the Mac users. In one class there is a lot of cutting and pasting to recreate docs because they weren't converted to a format that can be opened readily with the Chromebook. Extra credit hasn't been available to Chromebook users in the same class either. This is frustrating because we were pushed (strongly encouraged) towards Chromebooks in the laptop meeting for incoming students. Just another area where what is presented is not the reality.

Follow through is a BIG concern when this District pushes a new program. They aren't always forthcoming or honest about it either and seem to rush ahead, almost as if implementing a new program will look great on their "resume". The common core math book situation is an example. The back and forth on whether or not students had or didn't have a "current" math book when they really didn't as they were testing 3 throughout the year but brought home the old books. Steps weren't taken to make sure the program was consistent reliable and properly set up for ALL students in these few examples. I know there is a learning curve in any transition but what we've seen in the past is beyond this. It is lack of preparation and follow through. I have no reason to believe this would be implemented properly based on the recent past.

7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

@to resident,

Actually I have done my research on this. The program is absolutely open to all students. You can check my facts by looking at the information provided by the District to parents each year about the laptop program. You can also watch the video of the January 27th Board meeting where this was discussed. As for chromebooks, lots of kids in the laptop program have them.

17 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Our friends daughter was in the program, and experienced quite a bit of class delays and confusion due to multiple platforms and inconsistencies between what the different operating systems would do and not do. It did not appear to be a very well thought out program.

Our child is not in the laptop program, but uses her laptop constantly for projects and homework. I'm not sure we see any value in this program. It is easier for students to use computers when they aren't tied to the strict computer curriculum. Nice idea, but the kids probably have it handled better than the adult driven program.

8 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Awesome, the school board is discussing middle school laptops while the parents of those new middle schoolers will be at the open houses tonight. Well played school board.

3 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Sorry, open house tomorrow, it's the DARE program tonight at AVHS.

3 people like this
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 13, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Jtjh is a registered user.

Claiming that a program is 'open to all students' by no means ensures that all students who would like to join it, or who would benefit for doing so participate. To believe that it does indicates a degree of naivete concerning the many other 'gates' that children from limited-income families have to open even before they even reach that allegedly 'open to all' gate of the laptop program.

How many, for example, will deny that they have any desire to participate, because they do not want to hurt their parents by making them apply for those 'loaner' laptops and thus reminding them yet again of their inability to provide for their children what other parents can?

How many parents will not allow their children to participate, because they have already suffered one too many humiliations or sleepless nights, in their effort to cover the many other expenses - compulsory and 'voluntary' - facing the parent of a school-age student in a wealthy area such as pleasant.

And that's just the start of it......

Some years ago, I attended a small meeting for parents where a Pleasanton principal announced that henceforth communication in a certain area would be sent out via email. When I asked what they'd do about students with no home access to a computer, his off-hand reply was: "You show me a student who doesn't have access to a computer".

I found it unbelievably depressing. For the true meaning of the terms'access' and 'open to all' frequently depends on one's position on the income scale. Especially in a wealthy area such as Pleasanton.

Like this comment
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

Jtjh is a registered user.

Yet again, I really wish that the Town Square boards had an "Edit" option! My apologies for the errors in my post - I hope it is nonetheless comprehensible.

3 people like this
Posted by Elementary Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm

To Jtjh,

I have lived in communities in which I was at the low, middle, and high end of the income scale. It was not as fun being on the low end, but I also appreciated the opportunities that were largely subsidized by wealthier people. If someone does not want to accept a free loaner device because they feel humiliated that someone else has a better one, that sounds like a personal problem not an access problem.

3 people like this
Posted by Herwegoagain
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 13, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Will there be verification of need or will those parents who's priorities lie in keeping up with the Jones also be eligible for devices? Thee are some who's children are in more than one expensive after school athletics and programs, dress to th nines and then cry poor to receive resources either donated by other parents or provided by the school. Maybe the district should plan on providing devices for all.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Jtjh is a registered user.

In response to 'Elementary Parent' )and others, of course):

You took issue with one of two examples that I gave of the difficulties faced by the impoverished in our community and elsewhere. I disagree with your conclusion, but that's not very relevant. For as I indicated in my original post, in their quest to a achieve an education equal to that of their wealthier classmates, the children from families at the lowest end of the income scale will have to overcome many obstacles and face many problems - some great; some small; some which are probably impossible for the majority of us to comprehend.

My point was that I don't believe it can be argued that the laptop program school programs is truly open to all. (Likewise many other opportunities in schools that are allegedly so.) In the case of the laptop program, it's because I'm certain that the majority of those who already participate in it use their own laptops. Offering loaners to some pupils doesn't level the playing field. It is only level if financial outlay for parents plays no part whatsoever - in application, selection, or participation.

Other posters have explained that if the program is extended students will need to share laptops. I do not, therefore, believe it can be argued that the program was truly 'open to all'. The district relied on the fact that most students would supply their own laptops. Or, to put it another way, it relied on the fact that few of those who applied would actually need a 'loaner' laptop. Otherwise known as self-selection.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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