Gentry Slams M-A High School Menlo Park, posted by Not Even A Little Surprised, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2007 at 11:12 am
Sloane Citron, one of the head honchos over at Gentry Magazine often writes about his family experiences. In the November issue he takes on the idea of diversiy in schools and basically shuns the idea that diversity is a good thing. No, he says it distracts from learning. See below...
"While Hillview is a fairly homogeneous place, Menlo-Atherton is diverse. While it's impolitic to say, I'm not sure the diversity is such a positive thing in a learning environment. While it is the reality of our society, from a learning standpoint, it is one more impediment to the challenge of teaching and learning. And, as a result, the children are sometimes pushed into environments where 'real-world experience' is placed above the act of learning. In other words, the concept is real and honorable, but the result is sometimes less than satisfactory."
Sloane, what is the message here buddy? Keep it white so kids ca learn? C'mon. I know you write for the wealthy and the exclusive, but do you have to be so overt in your condemnation of non-whites? Your own ancestors would be ashamed of this slop.
Posted by real world 101, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2007 at 11:33 am
Why do you think Sloane's ancestors would be ashamed of this slop? Chances are that at least some of them were as rude and arrogant as he is.
I read the article, and the paragraph about M-A has absolutely nothing to do with his theme. It's just a gratuitous slam against the school, with no substantiation given. If he wants to use his prejudices as an excuse to send his kids to private HS (no doubt something he can afford given the number of glossy ads in his publication) then more power to him, but why broadcast his bigotry to the world?
Posted by John Nash, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2007 at 8:17 pm
Thank you for weaving in the important issue of student diversity in your piece entitled "The Last Times," which appeared in the November issue of Gentry. It's an important topic and thus I was disappointed you left your readers hanging. What, pray tell, about M-A's diverse student body is so problematic?
Student diversity is "the variation within a student population of such characteristics as race, religion, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class." As you are a person of letters, I want to believe you knew this. After all, it's a definition readily available online from the Educational Resources Information Center, or ERIC, our country's library of education research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
And because I want to believe you know that diversity means so many things, I want to believe you won't leave us hanging. Please follow up with us about what aspect of student diversity at M-A makes, as you assert, "the results less than sometimes satisfactory"? What makes you "not sure the diversity (at M-A) is such a positive thing in a learning environment"? Are there too many Catholics and Episcopalians ganging up on the Lutherans in corridors? Or is it the co-educational enrollment? Maybe it's distracting to the opposite sexes. I'm guessing not. So what then? Too many poor? Is that closer? Too many cultures? Getting warmer? Too many races? C'mon, spit it out. Don't hide behind code and let us in on your thinking.
Not following up will let us know you already have.
Posted by mlk, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 27, 2007 at 4:47 pm
You can be sure folks from East Menlo won't be able to comment on his remarks, since gentry isn't distributed there. Not their demographics. I don't suppose he'd support moving the Belle Haven Elementary into MP/Sequoia school district so they'd have a chance at a better education?
Posted by Elias Blawie, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Oct 28, 2007 at 6:51 pm
I am very surprised and disappointed Gentry published something like this, and an editor should know far better at that! I heartily endorse John Nash's and mlk's comments. The reality is we live in a diverse world, and our children need to share and experience that as well. California is becoming more diverse, not less. And these are public schools, not elitist country clubs.
Fortunately, I doubt Gentry is taken as a serious magazine locally, and certainly things like this don't help. In fact, we had to scramble to find anyone with a copy since all our neighbors and friends seem to have quickly recycled it with trash pick up last Friday. Keep this up, and I would definitely say to Mr. Citron, take us off your list. Perhaps many of us would suggest the same.
In terms of serious input, let me suggest basically the opposite of Mr. Citron's approach. I will start by observing that under the Tinsley voluntary desegregation settlement, apparently it is the case that in the Menlo Park Elementary district which encompasses Hillview Middle School, a student needs to have applied from out of district no later than third grade. Since these "diverse" students may be from more challenging settings, no suprise that in the years before they get to Hillview age, many have filtered out of the system and not been replaced. And, I expect the overal Tinsley impacts even in the early grades don't get to the demographic levels reflected in the overall Menlo Park and surrounding communities to begin with. Thus, we look that much more lilly white and suburban perfect perhaps at Hillview, but it is not representative of even general housing and resident turnover.
Instead, let me suggest that what we really should be doing is merging our local elementary districts--all of Menlo Park City, Las Lomitas and Ravenswood, and once merged even consider unifying as a full K-12 district. Of course with vested and narrow interests, pigs will fly first, but that at least is a topic worth debating. Why should students have a better or lesser education in an overall Menlo Park and surrounding setting because they live generally West or East of 101? Why do we pay the overhead we pay for our relatively small districts?
In sum, Gentry needs a more mature and careful approach if it is too be taken seriously. This piece was certainly not a winning idea in those regards.
Menlo Park resident
Parent of two students now at M-A who attended Hillview too
Posted by Just us, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 10:13 am
Elias, thank you for your innovative and radical idea for improving the public school education available to all Menlo Park residents.
I'm sure you're right, pigs will fly before that idea gains traction, but it would be one way to relieve the current unjust situation. Menlo Park city schools have an embarassment of riches, while the Ravenswood District is underfunded and plagued with a terribly high teacher turn-over rate.
Posted by new guy, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 11:40 am
This is quite an interesting line of conversation.
The truth is: education is not equal and while people here seem to think there is a utopia for education somewhere, I bet at the heart of it, and at the end of the day, they would not want to be part of it.
We want the best for our children. It is that simple. So what that means is that we do everything in our power to ensure that our children can compete (read: win).
So what do people who wish for their children do to "help" their children complete? They spend money (read: buy houses/rent apartments) in towns and neighborhoods with the best schools. How do I know this, just look at the prices for real estate and rentals in towns with good schools vs. not so good schools.
I think the problem is is that people look at schools as a manufacturing site. Simple spend the same money (and what is meant here is that money = all resources) and make all schools equal. So lets look at why this can never happen. A good school is not simply children using resources, its much more than that. Its about community and specifically the local community, before the outside community.
For those who were lucky enough to attend college, the best colleges realize that in order to maintain and grow their standing, they have to enroll the best students.
We live in a community where even the best and brightest struggle to live here. Its only natural that we try even harder to give our children the best start in their lives. Is it fair - life is not fair friends, competition for resources will only get tougher.
Posted by Sloane Citron, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 2:33 pm
I have read the comments about my column, and I would like to respond.
It is clear to me that some of the responders are not familiar with Gentry Magazine and that many are are not familiar with our role in the community.
Gentry, from the start, was designed as a community magazine, not a "city" magazine. You will not find a magazine that contributes more to our communites. Among many other things, we have written over 300 pieces about the not-for-profit
organizations. We have given away more that $750,000 in free advertising to every type of not-for-profit organization. At our events, we have raised more than $1 million for charity organizations.
For you to blast this magazine, which has only the best of intentions, shows a rush to judgement. Especially since it is clear that many of you don't read the magazine.
As far as my piece goes , it is clear that in my limited words that I have I did not make myself clear. FIrst, all four of my children are Menlo-Atherton students, two post, one now, and one pre. I am a solid supporter, giving thousands of dollars and much time. I am a strong proponent of M-A or my kids would not be going there. One of my graduates is at UC Santa Barbara and one at Berkeley.
Here was my intent: M-A might have several races, but it is not diverse in terms of the actions that I've seen. Each group tends to stick together, from lunch to parties to friends. Further, the school quit having school elections because everyone just voted along racial lines. The school is divided into two groups: the motivated kids and the unmotivated kids. And this "separate but equal" situation , in my opinion, hurts everyone. A huge amount of staff time and money is spent--and wasted- solving the issues brought on by the 'two school" situation.
How wonderful if there could be two schools, one for the kids who are motivated (regardless of race, nationality, etc.) and a separate school--with proper teachers--who could try to move the unmotivated students into the motivated category. This is what I meant to imply, and obviously I did a poor job of it.
FInally, besides sending your kids to a "diverse" school, what do you do to foster relations among the many communities that live here? I've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, given the organizations extensive promotion, and coached more that 30 integrated sports teams. And I have done this all while being a minority of a minority- a traditional Jew in Menlo Park.
I would sugest that before you set out to castigate someone and something, you take the time to learn more about the history of those involved and to try to be a bit more inclusive of ideas that might differ from your own. That, I might suggest, is the true form of diversity--acceptance of opinions that do not agree with your own.
Posted by Elias Blawie, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 5:37 pm
For Mr. Citron and the community--
Actually I think I know a fair amount about the community and about the school, having lived here for half my life and having attended public schools in the area too. Those schools had much the same dichotomy seen at M-A and other schools in the Sequoia district. And don't be so sure at least some of us didn't take some time to check into a few things. I bothered to sign my name as did another respondent. Some of us perhaps have a better appreciation of the "history of those involved" than you seem to assume, and that goes both ways by the way.
I suggest that you do take some of the input constructively. Given both the prior posts from others and then your follow-on posts, I would have to say I do not think your piece was particularly well written or clear at some key points. And in your professional business--writing, editing and publishing--you should be prepared to take that kind of input. I think your contrast from Hillview to M-A furthered some of the reaction you got as well. You admit you did not make yourself clear; leave it at that. Do that rather than blaming others for their reasonable reactions to some porly expressed thoughts as you go on to do. For reference, I read what you put in your piece, including the bylines that are included. And I did go back to your source article, not relying on what I first saw posted here as the source.
Let's move on from there. About the substance: I would probably not draw the line at motivated and unmotivated. I would focus more at achieving and not achieving, and then include motivation as one of the major factors that can contribute to not achieving. I also do not think M-A has a monopoly on this, and from a distance see some of the same issues at well regarded local private schools in some regards. And having attended a top-rated high school myself in the Bay Area, it's not unique to our community either. By the way, my worries are most acute actually for kids who fall in between; working at it, struggling some, getting okay grades. M-A I think has pretty strong programs for both strong achievers and those struggling. Yes, some of those struggling won't take advantage of available resources, but many will. All of these thoughts and perspectives are worth debating and trying to improve in any community--including yours now expressed more clearly.
Posted by disappointed, a resident of the Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 6:28 pm
Having attended a "diverse" public school (Woodside High School) I think it is a shame that the magazine chose to publish such an article. And why are you disparaging public schools whose students get a "real life situation" as opposed to the students who attend private schools in the area and remain in a sheltered, closed-minded environment. I would take my "real life experience" over type of elitist suburban environment any day.
Posted by back at you, Sloane, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood, on Oct 29, 2007 at 7:04 pm
Rule #1 in the laws of proper social behavior: do not start an apology by slamming the people to whom you are theoretically apologizing. Just take it on the chin. There's a big boy.
This is an educated community, and I daresay that most residents, including those who fall below the wealth threshold for your esteemed publication, understand its purpose, its demographics, and its editorial slant. Whether anyone, including the recipients, actually reads the publication is a different story. May I suggest, with all due kindness and only the mildest sense of irony, that the magazine really works best as a self-parody. (It's okay. We understand. Someone's got to do it; why not you?)
And finally: the two-school solution ("how wonderful if there could be...") is about as blatant as it gets. My suggestion for you, in the future apology category: just say you're sorry. And then stop.
P.S. As a traditional Jew in MP myself (hoo boy, scored a lot of points with that one, Sloane) I am sure I am not the only person in town who has seen you having temper tantrums in public. It's not pretty, and I can only surmise why you don't care to show more self-restraint. Instead, as one of the many who have seen the seamier side of Sloane, I will only reiterate my previous advice to keep your mouth shut. Stick to neutral topics. And have someone with a little more heart and soul read your columns before you send them off to the world.
Posted by Get a therapist!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2007 at 7:56 am
Sloan, I think the "diversity" problem you are addressing is different shades of ignorant white attitudes about diversity and inclusion - shame on you for your lack of sensitivity to this vibrant community and what real learning is all about. Assuming your lack of insight also means you would have no interest in sensitivity training, I find it sad that you comment from your glass "12-foot ceilings" (I think that's the standard rich person's height) with no true understanding of the incredible learning that goes on at MA and other "diverse" public schools. I suggest you look within yourself to see what your part is in contributing to issues that polarize learning and people - oh right, it's every one else's problem, and heaven forbid if you and your offspring have to "deal". A very depressing comment from you in this day and age. I look forward to your defensive reply. Would like to be pleasantly surprised and have you show some accountability for the foolishness of your comments.
Posted by JF, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:20 am
How does everyone feel about the responsibility of the school in the way that Gang issues are handled? Do you feel like MA does a great job at this? Gang violence is a huge problem in this area. I have talked to parents of kids at Sequoia who have mentioned that the school is fine as long as their child doesn't look another child from a different clique "in the eye" OR that their MA child is afraid to use the bathroom at school because of who might be hanging out in there. Albeit a real world issue, it is definitely an issue of concern to the learning environment.
This post is more of a question to the MA community about how they feel the school handles this "school within a school issue." Is the education and effort so grossly different between the AP & non AP faculty that this environment is being worsened and not bettered?
Thoughts? I have every intention of sending my son to MA when the time comes, it's our neighborhood school. I just would like some real feedback on the actual day to day grind as opposed to PC arguments about the positivity of diversity. How do current students feel about their school?
Posted by Sloane Citron, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:23 am
Good Morning, I have read the comments about my column, and I would like to respond. It is clear to me that some of the responders are not familiar with Gentry Magazine and that many are are not familiar with our role in the community. Gentry, from the start, was designed as a community magazine, not a "city" magazine. You will not find a magazine that contributes more to our communites. Among many other things, we have written over 300 pieces about the not-for-profit organizations. We have given away more that $750,000 in free advertising to every type of not-for-profit organization. At our events, we have raised more than $1 million for charity organizations. For you to blast this magazine, which has only the best of intentions, shows a rush to judgement. Especially since it is clear that many of you don't read the magazine. As far as my piece goes , it is clear that in my limited words that I have I did not make myself clear. FIrst, all four of my children are Menlo-Atherton students, two post, one now, and one pre. I am a solid supporter, giving thousands of dollars and much time. I am a strong proponent of M-A or my kids would not be going there. One of my graduates is at UC Santa Barbara and one at Berkeley. Here was my intent: M-A might have several races, but it is not diverse in terms of the actions that I've seen. Each group tends to stick together, from lunch to parties to friends. Further, the school quit having school elections because everyone just voted along racial lines. The school is divided into two groups: the motivated kids and the unmotivated kids. And this "separate but equal" situation , in my opinion, hurts everyone. A huge amount of staff time and money is spent--and wasted- solving the issues brought on by the 'two school" situation. How wonderful if there could be two schools, one for the kids who are motivated (regardless of race, nationality, etc.) and a separate school--with proper teachers--who could try to move the unmotivated students into the motivated category. This is what I meant to imply, and obviously I did a poor job of it. FInally, besides sending your kids to a "diverse" school, what do you do to foster relations among the many communities that live here? I've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, given the organizations extensive promotion, and coached more that 30 integrated sports teams. And I have done this all while being a minority of a minority- a traditional Jew in Menlo Park. I would sugest that before you set out to castigate someone and something, you take the time to learn more about the history of those involved and to try to be a bit more inclusive of ideas that might differ from your own. That, I might suggest, is the true form of diversity--acceptance of opinions that do not agree with your own.
Posted by PA mom, a resident of another community, on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:34 am
I'm just curious - I've always been under the impression that Menlo and Sacred Heart are the real HS for a lot of Menlo Park and most of the Atherton kids - great to send your kids to elementary in Las Lomitas and Menlo, fine to go to middle school in Las Lomitas, but a lot less send their kids to HS. Does this change in the mix of kids affect M/A?
Posted by M-A mom, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Oct 30, 2007 at 11:01 am
PA mom, your impression is not correct. I don't know the exact figures, but normally there are only a few kids from Hillview who do not go to M-A but head for Menlo, Sacred Heart, Casti, and other schools. The parents who "need" Menlo for their own status reasons usually put the kids there starting in sixth grade, or else transition to Menlo straight from St Joseph or Phillips Brooks.
When you go to Back to School nights at M-A, you see the same people you've been seeing for years at Hillview, plus a few whose kids went to La Entrada. That is both the good and the bad about M-A--the kids do get to attend school in a real world environment, but their classes are with the same Asian/white middle class+ peers as in grades K-8.
Note also that there are many extremely well-off parents who send their kids to M-A and other Sequoia schools. Also, my somewhat biased opinion (having experiences as a parent with both M-A and Paly) is that I would take M-A over Paly any day because of the diversity and environment. Even though M-A has plenty of affluent kids, the sense of entitlement seems less prevalent than at Paly.
Posted by Susan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 1, 2007 at 8:04 am
Sloane, my son went to M-A, graduated in 2001. Columbine happened during his tenure there. I asked him how he felt about his safety at M-A, and he said, "Mom, M-A is the last place something like Columbine would happen, because everyone has to adjust to everyone else all the time." He was and still is glad he went to M-A.
Posted by no vc, a resident of the Menlo Park: Fair Oaks neighborhood, on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:25 pm
just watch the 60 minutes episode of Tom Perkins, premier Vc, tonite, claiming his largesse is a result of his "depression era" upbringing to understand how criminal these uber rich are that dictate our school situation. If you don't get it, then recall that all of his junior partners concocted a scheme to get the poor taxpayers to fund
school "improvement" while sending their kids to the best private schools. Not only did he Not grow up during the 30's, he's flaunting his super yacht on the show. Why aren't they spending their undeserved millions/billions on improving our neighborhoods?
Because they can never have enough! Power over the masses.
That's what Genry caters to. Wealth, power, influence!
Time we ask Perkins, What have you done for Darfur?
Do you make a difference? Or are just another user of the people for your own insatiable ego?
Posted by M-A Mom and proud of it, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:57 pm
Well, I am not surprised by the attitude that Mr. Citron has expressed, albeit inarticulately. I find Gentry's "Let them eat cake" attitude appalling, and have always thought about requesting to be taken off of their mailing list. What has stopped me is the number of laughs my husband and I get from how seriously the editors and their subjects take themselves. I can't imagine how empty their lives must be party after party. Yes, they raise $$$'s as an excuse to wear multi-thousand dollar outfits. But really,I've never understood the whole charity ball mentality. However, I always just thought we should leave them alone, free country and all that. And please don't think this is a sour grapes reaction. Financially, our family has as many resources as the smiling folks pictured in Gentry. We just choose not to publicly acclaim our assets.
I have a son who will be graduating from M-A this year. He is applying to and will more than likely be accepted by several highly selective colleges, and from what I gather admissions deans of these colleges love M-A because they know that these kids are not too precious! They deal with -gasp- real life issues, rather than being spoon-fed in a sheltered environment. My son has been on teams at M-A, where he didn't know if certain team members would attend games, as they didn't have telephones with which to contact them or their parents. They certainly didn't have email addresses. Sometimes, they wouldn't be able to attend practice because they had to rush home to take care of much younger siblings who had been left alone most of the day by parents who were probably the housekeepers and gardeners of Mr. Citron's readership. When my son started at M-A, he was a bit tentative about these kids who looked menacing to him. But as he saw them daily in the hallways, and eventually on his teams, he told me that he realized they were just kids like he and his friends. Before he drove, I used to pick him up and see him sharing the music on his i-pod with his team mates, i.e., just being kids together. That is why we will also be sending our younger son to M-A next year.
No, these kids usually don't end up as best friends. However, they do learn to not only intellectually accept them as just human beings, but also to feel it from the heart.
As for education, this school wins hands down. If your kid is a super achiever, there is no stopping him or her. She will end up in an incredible college. The "unmotivated" students don't really affect those "motivated" kids academically. No matter what high school these "motivated" kids go to, they will end up at a great college because that is the way things are in our very fortunate environment. I have seen the devotion by the administration, faculty and volunteer parents in helping as best they can the truly underprivileged kids. I've also watched as the mid-level kids have started to get the attention they deserve. It's not the perfect school, but I wouldn't want my kids to attend the "perfect school." What's wrong with challenge and struggle and trying to figure out how to live in a world that you aren't familiar with? After M-A, my son has confidence that no matter what kind of environment he ends up in post-high school, he will not only survive, but thrive.
Posted by Serious Question, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 10:39 am
I appreciate M-A Mom's insight and relating her experience. We are on the fence about M-A. Implied in her message is that her child is an athlete. My experience is that athletes have a somewhat easier time in these mixed environments. As an athlete one tends to have an extra bond that transends some of the barriers to integration. How is the experience for the students who are not athletes in the M-A environment? For example, band members and academic club only students?
Posted by serious answer, a resident of the Menlo Park: other neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 11:22 am
SQ, the M-A band is justifiably renowned, and an M-A institution under the direction of Frank Moura. I have not had a child participate, but my observation is that the members form a pretty tight knit group and get the benefits of the team experience.
There are many affinity groups at M-A, and a place for any student who wants to become part of an organization. For example, there's a national award-winning robotics club that attracts many academically-oriented students. Some of those students also do sports or play in the band, but many do not.
M-A is a terrific school for kids who have a strong academic orientation. I corroborate M-A Mom's statement about the school being a magnet for colleges recruiting for top students, and I was told that it is on Harvard's list of key west coast schools. The teachers are incredible, the course offerings broad, and the sense of community strong. I cannot imagine my kids getting a better education anywhere. (You could not pay me enough to send my kid to Menlo, a school that also has strong academics but a misplaced set of values and sense of entitlement.)
Posted by menlo alum parent, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 12:57 pm
Serious, knocks on Menlo School are unwarranted. Just a few years ago, M-A teachers ran out of basic supplies (like paper) before years end and would have to bring those necessities from home or pay for them out of their own pocket. Shakedowns/display of weapons in the restrooms/corridors were a regular occurence.(Just ask the Atherton P.D.) Only recently has the district come up with the money to get M-A on its feet. And it is becoming a glorious school with first class facilities.
Menlo serves a purpose in the community and it's community service requirement for graduation is renowned.
Students with learning differences have been given extra support to instill self respect and a sense of achievment.
Every student is expected to make the effort to achieve their full potential. Slackers are not tolerated.
Any "sense of entitlement" is a result of these exemplary values.
Every graduate has earned their diploma by working hard, and they are well prepared for rigorous college studies.
Most of the seniors who have to drive because of their off-campus commitments are using the old family wagon/minivan, and driving a hand me down has no stigma. I would wager that there are a lot nicer looking cars in the Paly student parking lot.
So cut Menlo School some slack. It is undeserving of your misplaced criticism.
Posted by public school proponent, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm
Menlo alum parent, I can only surmise that you have never sent a child to M-A nor engaged in a real conversation with any M-A students. If such rumor-mongering helps you feel better about writing that $29,400 check to Menlo, go for it. It's wonderful to have people like you paying taxes into a public school system that you don't use.
P.S. No apostrophe in the word "its." Should be "its community service requirement." By the way, there's no such requirement at M-A, but students regularly go above and beyond to provide food and necessities to the community, for example, collecting hundreds of thousands of food items each December. They do it because they care, not because it's required.
Posted by M-A Mom and proud of it, a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 4:51 pm
Reply to Serious Question:
Actually, my son is not only an athlete, but also in Frank Moura's Advanced Jazz Band, and was fortunate enough to travel to Europe with the Band this past summer, culminating with performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival (for which they fundraised). He is also taking 4 AP's this year. So, I think I can say that many of the kids in Band and in his AP's are also happy to be at M-A. Contrary to what some non-M-A people might think, these classmates and bandmates of my son don't waste any time fearing for their safety. So, you see, it's not only athletes who feel comfortable in the "mixed" environment.
Honestly, we don't send our kids there because we feel it's a noble social experiment. We have proven results! For us, it has been a terrific experience (academically, athletically, musically, socially and culturally) that we would never have given up. If you're concerned about being anonymous in a "big" school, I have to say that our experience has been very individualized. As busy as my son is, his teachers in general (not always) have been incredibly supportive. He seldom has a week when he doesn't leave school early for an athletic or musical event. The teachers truly understand the importance of these "distractions" for so many of the kids. As for the rare teacher who isn't willing to make any accommodations, well, my son has to learn to deal with him/her and the related frustrations. I have enough confidence in him by this point that I figure he'll take care of these issues on his own (and he has!), and that he'll have the good judgment to decide if he needs additional help from us to help resolve conflict .
So... if you're looking for constant warm and fuzzies for your child, I don't think M-A fits the bill. But if you're looking for a variety of experiences from which your child can choose, and MANY warm and fuzzies, and your child feeling competent, independent, learned, challenged, etc, combined with compassion that is obtained from daily experience do give M-A a try.
Again, remember this is not a "perfect" school. My son has had to really look at himself and his friends squarely. They all know that it's small-minded to make knee-jerk generalizations about kids who don't dress or speak the same way as they do. He has had to wrestle with the easy tendency to dismiss an entire culture. However,the interactions with kids on his teams and in the hallways do constantly remind him that they are not so dissimilar after all.
By virtue of self-selection, since many of us do some soul-searching when we consider high schools for our kids, many of the parents I have met at M-A are likeminded in terms of our family values. In this extremely affluent community of ours, they have managed to raise children for whom a sense of entitlement is not an option. There is almost a reverse discrimination where kids don't want to appear too wealthy. I am sure these kids will be friends with my son for a long time regardless of where they all go to college. They are wonderful kids who are always welcome in my home.
Posted by Greg McMillan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 10:06 pm
Well, it's a shame to see the old battle of public school vs private school playing itself out in this negative way..... In the end, for the kid who is going through it, ( and I bet their last thought is who is paying for all this....State or Mom and Dad ) High School is a HUGE challenge and their first introduction to the rest of the world.
MA or Menlo School or any other High School education is about just that....educating. There will always be motivated and not so
motivated children - no matter the school and no matter if you are poor or rich.
Keep up the good work , High Schoolers, and may your dreams come true...
Posted by can't we all just get along?, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Nov 6, 2007 at 10:40 pm
I agree with Greg that it's a shame to see adults fomenting juvenile school rivalries. M-A is a terrific comprehensive public high school with much to offer students at both ends of the achievement spectrum, and M-A is every bit as good academically as Paly or Gunn (which are not as diverse at M-A). Menlo is one of the top college prep schools in the entire country with a well-deserved reputation for excellence along with some of the other top private schools on the peninsula such as Castilleja and Crystal Springs. We are lucky to live in a community with so many outstanding public and independent school options.
Posted by Joanna, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 8, 2007 at 8:39 am
This is rich!
As a person who has visited many many families in the area, white and non white.
I know children who do karate, debate club and all that jazz, and then smoke dope, vandalize and surf porn on the same day. Oh yeah, did I mention that they (these two in my example) are sons of a wealthy VC? Oh yeah, they are white.
Oh.. and I can't forget the kid, often seen as "such a perfect kid" who had perfect diction and manners. He had a closet of dope and gave it to friends. Didn't sell it. He didn't need the money. His mom was an early employee at MicroSoft. Oh yeah, they are white.
Do you know what? I saw Gentry on the coffee tables at both houses.
Just two examples for you. Gentry might want to take ads from marijuana factories along with their full page open house ads.
All subscribers to your magazine aren't the same. I'd say 96% of them don't play polo.