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School board may change policy on busing EPA kids

Original post made on Sep 25, 2013

A decades-long policy of having East Palo Alto teens take a bus to high school in Woodside or Belmont may come to an end on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 10:13 PM

Comments (10)

Posted by Fair is fair
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 8:24 am

The high school district needs to build a new campus in East Palo Alto. There is no valid reason these pupils should be bused out of their neighborhood.

They never should have closed Ravenswood. That's water under the bridge at this point, but it can still be fixed by providing a neighborhood high school. It could be a rallying point for the community and provide a sense of pride.

Posted by fair-is-fair
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 8:27 am

The high school district should build a new campus in East Palo Alto. There is no valid reason to continue busing pupils half-way across the county.

Ravenswood High school never should have been closed, but that is water under the bridge at this point. A new in the East Palo Alto neighborhood would be a rallying point for the community and provide a sense of pride.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2013 at 9:27 am

The things that get to me on this issue are the following: Why does Las Lomitas find it so unprecedented for their kids to be sent to different schools? I can count so many schools in San Mateo County that already dp split up middle school communities - affluent communities like Burlingame and Hillsborough come to mind. And of course the Ravenswood kids get split up. Second, why does Las Lomitas feel so certain that their real estate values will be hurt by redistricting? Are they worried that their home values will take a hit like the town of Woodside, which is in the Woodside HS district (I am being facetious here - Woodside property values are outrageous). To me, it seems like redistricting is an opportunity to have M-A remain a strong and diverse school while bringing more involved and supportive families into Woodside HS, bringing it on par with M-A. These schools need a fair balance of parental involvement and support.

Posted by 20 year resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I agree completely that East Palo Alto should have their own school and with our affluent community, funds can be raised to support this. Why should Menlo Park/Atherton's one high school shoulder the responsibility of another community? It has weakened M-A's school spirit and comraderie as it is, to have 2 vastly different cultures come together in high school. Support building a new high school for East Palo Alto!

Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm

To "Neighbor" -- many families in the Las Lomitas district already have community involvement in MA. Sure, Woodside would benefit from having more involved parents; which is a way of saying that the involvement of parents is an investment. You think it would be good to move that investment (friendships, volunteer hours, community connections, donations, etc.) to another school, without acknowledging that all that investment is personal. In the abstract, all the high schools should get the same support. But you can't expect people invested in one place to be told to leave those investments behind and start over somewhere else and be happy about it.

The people who speak out about home values may be the most money-conscious and vocal, but there are many of us who value the community we have built at MA and don't want to be exiled. Perhaps in 10 years the community investment in Woodside would make it as attractive as MA. But that's a lot of hard work for the families whose kids will be in high school during those 10 years, work from which they will not benefit as much as later kids. We are part of that cohort, we will engage at either school, but please at least recognize the value you are so willing to transfer to Woodside is based on the personal involvement of lots of parents. Don't be snide to those parents whom you want to assign to improve Woodside. And I hope you are already an active Woodside supporter; otherwise, your opinion lacks integrity.

Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Btw, I was a freshman at Woodside the first year kids were being bused from EPA. Education in EPA gets a lot more support now than it did in the 70s, and the demographics are more diverse, so maybe a new high school there could be successful in ways Ravenswood wasn't. Staying inside your community has good and bad points. I hope that residents all over Sequoia Union High School District care about the education of all the students and the health of all the high schools.

Posted by Former teacher
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Many years ago I taught at Carlmont High School in Belmont and saw first hand the effects of busing on students from EPA. after a long bus ride, the students arrived after regular classes had started. since they'd left home so early, they were given breakfast before joining classes. I wish I could say that the EPA students and Belmont students mixed well; they did not. The EPA group divided itself into Hispanic and African American groups with resultant animosities and fights.

The EPA parents were too far from the campus to play any meaningful part in their kids' school life. virtually none was able to attend the teacher-parent meeting because of distance. Therefore, they didn't form an attachment or sense of pride in the school. Even with parent meetings arranged in EPA, the parent turn-out was minimal.

A high school in EPA would involve the community and instill a sense of participation that is currently lacking when students are bused out of their community. Of course, any students that want to leave MA or Woodside should be free to attend the new high school.

Just, please, end this non-productive school busing.

Posted by Interested
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Is there a desire among residence in EPA to have a new high school? If there is already a divide between students at M-A, what will happen when all of the EPA students attend M-A? Please elaborate about the concerns of current M-A parents.

Posted by Resurrect Ravenswood HS
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm

The East Palo Alto/Belle Haven area has more nonprofits per capita than any other community in the US. Many of them are child-centric. OneEPA, a local nonprofit, has started a child-serving consortium that includes dozens of organizations. Some of them, like College Track and Foundation for a College Education (FCE) are directly focused on helping teens succeed. So it's incorrect to suggest that there is no support now for kids in Ravenswood.

What the politically correct among you may not understand is that sending Ravenswood kids to M-A is not working because the kids end up segregated, and set on a low academic track. You can't start integrating in HS -- it's too late! So simply shifting all Ravenswood students to M-A is not a solution. And moving LLESD students out of M-A is likely to exacerbate the existing imbalance. Right now, there is a core of relatively affluent parents helping support the other kids. LLESD and MPCSD parents do all the heavy lifting and school volunteer work. If you cut that core in half and increase the number of kids needing support by 50%, a model that currently works pretty well may fall apart.

There are currently a couple of high schools east of 101 that do a great job of educating Ravenswood students. The wheel has been invented: look at Eastside Prep. Scale that up into a Ravenswood HS that provides a full range of services and maybe we have a solution to this decades-long challenge.

Posted by A-town gangsta
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

OK, 1st, I'm hugely sympathetic to students that don't want to be bussed. I hated being bussed as a kid. Count me among those that think another community HS is the right solution. I will vote NO on any bonds for SUHSD that just build up the existing high schools.

That said, I don't think I was academically disadvantaged because I was bussed. Not only was I bussed for part of my school years, but I also attended Grant Elementary School and Washington Elementary in Richmond, CA (look up their school ratings! They couldn't have been much better back in my day). And I now own a home in Atherton. I submit that low performing schools (and 9 elementary schools in total) did not hold me back much, though I'd concede the lack of childhood stability probably did.

The child him/herself is going to be the 1st determiner of their success. Parents 2nd. School 3rd. Anyone who thinks sending kids to a very-good/great school makes up for mediocre parenting or an unmotivated child is just kidding themselves.

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