Vicki Abeles

Jennifer Abrams

Diana Adams

Alhondra Aguado

Willa Akey

Laurie Albright

Marcia Allen

Eileen Altman

Wyatt H. Alvis

Chandrama Anderson

Kristen Anderson

Silvia Antonelli

Mark Arevalo

Todd Armstrong

Jen Aronowitz

Tim Assimes

Roopam Bahl

Susanna Bahrami

Nancy Bain

Richard Balaban

Sandy Bardas

Ilana Bar-David

Andi Barlas

Cara Barone

Meg Barrett

Annelise E. Barron

Dagmar Becker

Jim Becker

John Begraft

Paul Bennett

Anna Berns

Patti Berryhill

Adi Beth

Tim Biglow

Joan Bigwood

Sarah Billington

Jamie Bindon

Alice Bizri

Rachel Blair

Julie Bloom

Jo Boaler

Diane & Bill Boggie

David Booth

Birgitta Bower

Catherine Boyce

Terry Boyle

Holly Brady

Margaret Brandeau

Gladys Bravo

David S. Brazer

Benjamin Brees

Terese Brennan-Marquez

Barbara Breuchert

Adrienne Brimer

Charlotte Brockman

Monika Broecker

John Brooks

Amy Brown

Kyle Brown

Ruth Brown

Eric Buatois

Alexander Burke

Lauren Burton

Richard Burton

Eugenie Cabot

Martha Cabot

Michael Cabot

Brenda Callahan

Michael Campbell

Emily Cao

Zenas Cao

Helen Carefoot

Temera Carson

Prudence Carter

Erin Castelan

Nicole Chan

Vicki Chang

Sabra Chartrand

Angela Chau

Chausow Family

Monika (Morhenn) Cheney

Baldwin & Sandy Cheng

Janice Cheng

Shoshana Chazan

A. Chezar

Andrew Chiang

Chiu Family

Heather Armstrong Choate

Wendy Christiansen

Shaw Chuang

Angie Civjan

Julia Clark

Bernadette Clavier

Joe Clement

Cloutier Family

Anne Colby

Fabiana T. Coleman

Trish Collins

Craig Comiter

Spencer Commons

Walter Commons

Community Health Awareness Council

Ginny Contento

Jill Cooper

Cynthia Costell

Liz & Jim Cowie

Kelani Cross

Larry Cuban

L. Cummins

Janet Dafoe

Gina Dalma

Cathleen Daly

Simone D'Amico

Rick Damelio

Avoy Datta

Joel Davidson

Ashley Davis

Carrie Davis

Ronald W. Davis

Caitlin Dazey

Julie Delliquanti

Harry Dennis

Brigid Dentoni

Nitai Deranja

Linder & John Dermon

Jess Deutsch

Tara Dhillon

Adi Diner

Jenni (Thompson) Djafari

Donna Do

Khoa Do

Desiree Docktor

Kate Vershov Downing

Karen Druker

Jordan Dubin

Jeff Dukes

Mary Dunn

Lisa Durham

John Dusterberry

Douglas Eck

Olivia Eck

Samuel Eck

Julie Eggert

Rebecca Eliscu

Lauryn Emery

Suzanne Emery-Sphar

Krista Enos

Amir Eshel

Emmie Fa

Anna Fankhauser

Vanessa Fasoli

Dewi Faulkner

Jonathan Faulkner

David Feinstein

Lea Feinstein

Kay Marie Ferguson

Allison Ferraiolo

Natalie Kang Ferraiolo

Keith Ferrell

Leslie Fiedler

Morris Fiorina

Charlotte Fonrobert

Lynell Fort

Richard Freed

Francine Freeman

Froehlich Family

Ellen Ford

Jennifer Fryhling

Kiran Gaind

Marielena Gaona-Mendoza

Martha Gates

Greg Gatwood

Albert Gelpi

Anne Gerfen

Margot Gerritsen

Mark Gibbons

Tori Gibbons

Deb Giden

Carol Gilbert

Eva Glasrud

Maud Gleason

Kathryn Goetzke

Andrea Goldsmith

Ana Gonzalez

Bonnie Goodman

Roger Gordon

Meghan Goyer

Sarah Graff

Green Family

Richard H. Greene

Joey Greenwald

Anders Greenwood

Jo Greiner

Judy & Milt Grinberg

Marc Grinberg

Tracy Grinberg

Anthony Gromme

Meri Gruber

Karen Guttieri

Ganka Hadjipetrova

Amy Hald

Lois Hancock

Inge Hansen

Christopher Harjadi

Cathy Harkness

John Harrison

Susan Symon Harrison 

Jacob Hartinger

Tamara Hartl

Aja Hartman

Drew Harwell

Karen Harwell

Jennifer Hawks

Joy Helsaple

Dwight Henninger

Nancy Hernandez

Alex Hero

Laura Christine Herrero

Daniel Herschlag

Jennifer Hetterly

Beth Hill

David Hingston

Greg Hintz

Barbara Hirsch

Simon Ho

Tanya Hobson-Begraft

Christine & David Hodson

Katherine Hohbach

Carol Hsu

Aubrey Hughes

Stan & Kiyomi Hutchings

Daniel Hutt

Susan Hyder

Suzanne Jacobs

Cindy Jacobson

Bruce Jaffe

Rani Jayakumar

Jason Jenkins

Lisa Jewett

Ting Jiang

Carolyn M. Johnson

Ed Johnson

Evan Johnson

Mohanjit Jolly

Nev Jones

Kathleen Joynes

Liza Julian

Amy Kacher

Jessi Kai

Sakeena Ahsan Kalyan

Karen Kang

Sripriya Kannan

Barbara Kaplan

Tanya Kaplow

Vinaya Kapoor

Catherine S. Karagueuzian

Gloria M. Kardong

Joan B. Karlin

Ruth Kaufman

Arnold Kaufman

Lynn Kearney

Gargi Mitra Keeling

Jon Keeling

Jennifer Aarts Keenan

Nicole Kerbey

Christianna Kienitz

Bette Kiernan

Carly King

Jenny Kiratli

Denise Kiser

Cynthia Klein

Heidi Kling

Akiko Koda

Jen Koepnick

Alfie Kohn

Jeffrey Koseff

Kerry Kravitz

Peter Kriss

Jenny Kuan

Carol Kuiper

Amy Kull

Janaki Kumar

Bart C. Lally

Florence LaRiviere

Joan Larrabee

Gerry Larvey  

Malene Latu

Julia Lauer

Lucretia Lee

Ron Lee

Robin Leiman

Carol Leonard

Carrie LeRoy

Ellen Leverenz

Cate Levey

Rebecca Levi-Cohen

Henry M. Levin

Sarah Levine

Robin Levy

Marilia Librandi-Rocha

Jill Lieberman

Patti Livingstone

Alan Lo

Sarah Longstreth

Tatiana Loops

Trevor Loveless

Jana Luft

Lori Luft

Anne Lumerman

Grace Lunn

Frederic Luskin

Jean Lythcott

Julie Lythcott-Haims

Kabir MacDow

Gerry Mack

Catherine Magill

Hemla Makan-Dullabh

Sue Mann

Janet Marder

Annabel Marks

Natalia Martorell

Inna Matov

Laurie Matzkin

Jody Maxmin

Hedy McAdams

Deri McCrea

John McCrea

Shari McDaniel

Brenda McGee-Yeldell

Robert McGinn

Alison McNall

Winter Mead

Michelle Mello

Noa Mendelevitch

Ofer Mendelevitch

Michelle Mendoza

Rashmi Menon

Sreekanth Menon

Lucia Mensick

Randie Meshirer

Christine Meyer

Heidi Mickelsen

Matt Miles

Maytal Miller

Beth Mills

Eduardo Miranda

Edward G. Modica

Karen Moos

Amy Morgenstern

Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Hayyah Muller

Jenny Munro

Greer Murphy

Hannah Murphy

Meredith Murphy

Allen Namath

Sarah Namath

Gayathri Narayanan

Lisette Narragon

Amie Neff

Barbara Nelson

Rene Netter

Debbie Newhouse

Eric Newhouse

Wendy Ng

ChauLong Nguyen

Jim Nguyen

Saxon Noh

Virginia Noh

Denise Norwood

Amanda Oakson

Ali Brown O'Brien

Lindsay Okamoto

Deborah Olenev

Heather Ostrom

Nancy Huddleston Packer

Pam Page

Arnie Papp

Carolina Parada

Grace Pariante

Michele Parker

Liza Patnoe

Gary Patou

Karen Patou

Laura Patou

Maria de la Paz

Aliza Peleg

Roy Peleg

Bissera Pentcheva

Karen Persson

Peggy Phelan

John Phelps

Renan Pineda

Barbara Pitkin

Mamie Gong Poggio

Scott & Donna Poland

Emily Pollard

Alan Polley
Shanna & Kyle Polley

Stefania Pomponi

Cheryl Poole

Katherine Price

Jonathan Prosnit

Helen Purcell

Annette Puskarich

Gloria Pyszka

Chris Quaintance

Stephen Quake

Stacey Quo

Fred Radford

Elizabeth Radigoy

Leah Ragen

Devi Ramanan

Ramanathan Family

Janet Ramusack

Luisa Randon

Mayma Raphael

Katy (Schnitz) Reamon

Nicole Redzic

Cathlyn Reem

Rush Rehm

Kristine Reis

Georgia Relman

Sophie Relman

Terry Rice

Christopher Rich

Molly Foy Rich

Hallie Richmond

Ann Robinson

Cheryl Balcon Rodella

Peter Rogers

Cathy Pinsky Rohloff

Heather Rose

Cary Rosenzweig

Jessica Roth

Rob Rubenstein

Marine Rudelle

Avi Runge

Al & JoAnne Russell

Stacie Russell

Elle Rustique

Mehran Sahami

Mimi Salmon

Michelle Sandberg

Vicki Sandin

Debra Satz

Michael Saunders

Meera Saxena

Aileen Schmoller

Karen Schreiber

Lauren Schryver

Anna C. Schultz

Dan Schwartz

Greg Schwartz

Dayle Schweninger

Anantha Sethuraman

Deepa Shah

Piyush Shah

Macy Sharif

Anoushka Sharma

Chitra Sharma

Rahul Sharma

Vivek Sharma

Chris R. Shatterly

Thomas Sheehan

Kathy Sherman

Lois Shore

Shu Family

Jeff & Corrie Sid

Carl Siegel

Lee Siegel

Paul Siegel

Paula Siegel

Elaine Sigal

Cara Silver 

Gabrielle Simpson 

Randeep Singh

Steve Sinton

Stuart Slavin

Deniece Smith

Rolana Smith

Tyler Smith

Curtis Smolar

Stephen K. Smuin

Jeanese & Jeff Snyder

Liz Snyder

Mari Soberg

Brent Sockness

Corey Sommers

Mimi Sommers

Sylvia Stanat

Jennifer Starr

Philipp Stauffer

Benjy M. Steinberg

Catherine Steinkamp

Adina Sterling

Andrea Stern

Kim & Kevin Stern

Hayley Stevens

Jana Stevens

Patricia Stevens

Richard Stolee

Abigail Stone

Emily Stone

Janice Stone

Jon R. Stone

Mark Stone

Monica Stone

Katie Crocker Storey

Adam Strassberg

Myra Strober

Mike Strong

Suganthi Subramanian

Bridget Sullivan

Janani Sundar

Maliha Syed

Bill Symon

Gloria Symon

Jack Symon

Farhad Tabrizi

Ruth Tarnopolsky

Chelsea Taylor

Nani Teves

Karlie Thompson

Emanuela Todaro

Julie Tomasz

Lori Bogard Toomre

Yidong Tong

Darren Torre

Debra Hapgood Toscanelli

Samuel Toung

Garima Tripathi

Tammy Truher

Stephanie Tsai

Lexi Tsien

Sara Tsuboi

Veronica Tung

Steve Turner

Tal Tversky

Ronald Tyler

Laura Usich

Guadalupe Valdes

Julie Valentine

Fabiana Vega

Natalie Veldhouse

Caroline Vericat

Caroline Vertongen

Marc Vincenti

Walter Vincenti

Beverly Wade

Keely Wade

Steve Wagman

Manoj Waikar

Ayelet Waldman

Carolyn Walworth

John Wandling

James Wang

Emily Watkins

Cy Ashley Webb

Larienne Weber

Sharon Webster

Mike Weiss

Lance Welsh

Joy Gorman Wettels

Denise White

James White

Katie White

Virginia White

Lynn Wiese

JoAnne & Bob Wilkes

Liliana Williams

Lisa (Whisnant) Williford

Clyde Wilson

Melissa Wilson

Laura Wingard

Mary Wolff

Rega Wood

Joseph A. Woolcock

Angela Wu

Jackie Wyant

Larry Yang

MeeLon Yee

Jessica Yu

Marina Zago

Mila Zelkha

Roni Zeiger

Jin Zhang

 

 

P.S.  Among our signed suppporters are at least 53 parents and grandparents; 22 teachers (from the PAUSD, Girls Middle School, Keys School, Castilleja); 20 counselors, therapists, LMFTs, psychologists, and psychiatrists; eight physicians; seven Stanford professors of education, two of law, two of drama, two of philosophy, two of classics, and one of religious studies; five local rabbis; four pastors; attorneys with Skadden, Arps, with Cleary, Gottlieb, and with the City of Palo Alto; the co-founder of an outdoor program for home-schooled kids; three Palo Alto realtors; martial-arts, yoga, music, and drama instructors; a chief health strategist from Google; a garden manager for Living Classroom; the director of Stanford’s Genome Technology Center; software engineers; venture capitalists; an Academy-Award-winning filmmaker (Gunn, ’84); a sr. communications officer for the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health; a Florida psychologist & national expert on suicide intervention; a St. Louis pediatrician & national expert on reducing stress in med schools; the author of Beyond Measure & filmmaker of “Race to Nowhere."  For more, see “About our Supporters” on this website.

 

 

Our Open Letter

funded by thousands of dollars in member donations,

has been published in local newspapers on four occasions,

most recently in the Palo Alto Weekly, with 468 signers

 

 

And as of August 27 we have 604 signers.

 

We'll be publishing the letter again when the moment's right.

 

So please, add your name and join your voice to our cause.

 

To sign:  If you qualify to sign, and want to add your name, simply type in your first and last names, in the indicated field above.

 

Adding your email address (which will remain confidential) let's us put you on our mailing list.

 

But be sure you're eligible according to the terms of the letter's title.

 

 

 

An Open Letter

From Residents and Family Members;

Students, Alumni, and Employees of the Palo Alto School District;

Education and Healthcare Professionals and Youth Advocates—

To the School Board and the Superintendent

 

 

       We love our city’s high schools, just as you do.  We’re also concerned about them, and hope you’ll listen to our thoughts.

 

       We’d like to relieve the stress and discouragement at our high schools—longstanding problems that have many causes, calling for a many-sided plan to fix them.  Were putting forth such a plan, called Save the 2,008—for Healthier High Schools, because we share your desire for high schools that are forward-looking, life-enhancing, and vibrant.

 

       Nothing can happen without the six of you, of course, because you’re at the helm of Palo Alto’s schools—even if all of us, truly, as Superintendent McGee says, are in the same boat. As he often reminds us, “We’re all in this together.” And indeed we’re not in this to run down our schools; we’re in it to lift up our kids.

 

       Among our number (468 of us, names signed below), pooling donations to buy this newspaper space for Save the 2,008—for Healthier Schools, you’ll find Palo Alto parents and teenagers, business people and artists, rabbis and ministers, PAMF physicians and Stanford professors, Paly and Gunn alums, martial arts and yoga and music teachers, grandparents and grandchildren and people who are “names” in their fields.

 

       But we’re far from being some great collective battleship that wants to bombard what’s wonderful about our high schools.  And we’re far from blaming our schools for modern-day problems that have many sources.  No, we’re just pulling our individual, 445 oars in sync, toward a shared destination reachable by a unifying plan.

 

        For Healtheir High Schools would change everyday life for the high-schooler who feels harried from the moment the morning alarm goes off; for the parent whose workday thoughts stray to what’s happening, or not, at school; for the couple who argue, after dinner, about the downsides of private school versus the downsides of public. And this plan would improve life for school staff—faculty, administrators, counselors—who are daily backlogged with incoming emails, incoming things to do, incoming young faces with important needs.

 

        Named for the number of students and faculty at our city’s hardest-hit high school two years back, when loss and frustration returned to shadow our District, Save the 2,008—for Healthier High Schools was founded, as you know from our published letters to you last year, by a high-school sophomore and a former teacher, based on their daily experience “in the trenches” of school.

 

        It’s made up of six commonsense proposals.  Obviously, they’re not an all-or-nothing proposition, or meant to be adopted “verbatim.”  But they do make sense together, and—again, like oars in sync—can move us forward with the greatest speed and smoothness and lasting impact.

 

        The proposals would ease campus stress and discouragement, by:

 

1.  Shrinking the largest classes to a friendlier size.   Classes at Gunn and Paly are routinely, impersonally, at 30 or more teenagers per room—much too crowded.  Of all the ways to invigorate campus life, right-sizing classes is the most powerful, because it's “knowing that my teacher cares about me as a person” that makes each student feel inspired to learn.  In classes that aren’t overbooked, more hands get called on; homework is returned sooner, with richer feedback; more one-on-one “mini-lessons” occur.  With their teaching loads on a more human scale, faculty would have time to go to their students’ concerts, plays, and sports events—extracurricular caring that inspires even more learning.  Is money an object?  Backers of the Cubberley “super school” were ready to help us to the tune of millions.

 

2.  Giving students a voice in homework loads (which can be drags on morale or on a good night’s sleep) via a new, confidential, teacher-friendly app.  It would nightly crunch the numbers on actual minutes worked, would be the missing tool to implement our homework policy, and could be built by our very own whiz-kids.  Faculty could use it to avoid “test-stacking” and to compare their homework practices with colleagues’.  And every morning, flashing on our schools’ electronic marquees, would be the Average Minutes of Homework Done by the Entire Student Body Last Night.

 

3.  Requiring guidance counseling prior to enrollment in multiple APs.  Not a red light, just a flashing yellow light of caution—to remind students and parents that:  a) APs gobble up family time, friendship time, playtime, and the sleep-time so indispensable to teen health;  b) APs offer no proven edge for college admissions; and c) there are hundreds of colleges and universities across the land that offer excellent life prospects. (Who knew about little Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, cradle to eight Rhodes Scholars?)

 

4.  Undoing our kids' schoolday involvement with texting and social media—by requiring that phones be turned off, first bell to last (as we do at our middle schools), and by making our campuses more companionable.  Even during class-time, surreptitiously, our kids answer to the siren song of their phones—which bring them social comfort, connect them to Twitter and Snapchat, but also leave them prey to gossip and bullying and the approaches of strangers.  For our teens, distracted learning is as shaky a proposition as distracted driving.

 

5.  Curbing the bombardment of grade-reports—recently upped from every nine weeks to every three. This is information overload, pushing our kids toward perfection even as what they most need, more often than we think, is a little time to heal—to rescue themselves from an adolescent setback, a romantic rejection, a parental rift, a humiliation on social media, or from any bad case of adolescent blues for which “doctor’s orders” would be “Just take it easy for a while and you’ll recover.”

 

6.  Eliminating the misery-inducing cheating that is committed by some 75% of our overburdened youngsters.  Academic dishonesty is the degraded atmosphere they feel obliged to breathe, just to run the race of school.  Worsened by outsized workloads, continually countenanced, cheating erodes self-esteem and churns up so much angst—paper after paper, test after test, all four years—that it’s an issue of mental health.

 

      Why six steps?  Because many-sided, longstanding problems—such as ours with "student stress”—require many-sided solutions.  And because the steps mesh well together, multiplying their effect.

 

      It's no good to open up more one-on-one time in class, for example, if some of it’s wasted in teacher-isn’t-looking, one-on-cellphone time.  Likewise it would be cruel to "clamp down" on cheating if we didn’t help to lighten workloads.  Too, teachers with less grade-reporting to do, less homework data to gather, will have more breathing room for the one-to-one tutelage that supports kids in not taking moral short-cuts.  Faculty might even have time to make the student-affirming, evening phone calls to parents—better than grade-reports—that would be threads to help re-stitch our schools’ failing social fabrics. 

 

       And it’s wrong to cut kids’ attachments to their phones unless their attachments in the classroom are strengthened and we offer them meaningful connections to learning that isn’t cheapened by cheating, isn’t devalued by a continual reminder that it’s all about grades—learning they feel a passion for, learning that lifts their self-esteem.

 

       Make no mistake: we’re not blaming our schools for modern-day problems that have many sources.  But our teenagers spend more time at school and doing schoolwork than anything else; and their four high-school years, from wary frosh to accomplished, second-semester senior, are a crucible of adolescent development that will grip them emotionally for many more years to come, through decades of reunions.  No, high schools don’t create teenage despair, and they cannot cure it; but there’s a tremendous amount they can do to make it more bearable, more survivable.

 

       Though, at the hearing you granted Save the 2,008—for Healthier High Schools last September, you embraced none of our action-steps, and though the Superintendent informed us, “We will not be returning the plan to the agenda for discussion and action,” we would like you to reconsider.  That fall we had only 383 members; now we have 604.  You recently welcomed a grassroots initiative to change a middle-school name; ours is a forward-looking initiative too.  This year we’ve been joined by Vicki Abeles (filmmaker of “Race to Nowhere”), by St Louis pediatrician Stuart Slavin (a school-health researcher and moving spirit behind lowered stress in medical education nationwide), by Richard Freed (adolescent psychologist, author of Wired Child), and by Matt Miles and Joe Clement, high-school teachers in Fairfax County, Virginia, where there has been a teen mortality rate the equal of ours.

 

       We honor the care and diligence that you bring to our shared public trust: the fate and condition of our schools.  We’re rowing in the same direction you’ve already pointed—with last year’s zero-period change and creative bell schedule.  These six proposals, placed back on your discussion agenda, can propel our schools toward even further relief, and at no cost to our kids’ futures.  And since our schools suffer from the same problems as others across the land, changes that we put in place here can be a model for progress nationwide.

 

       We call upon you as Palo Altans who are in the same boat we’re in, riding out the same sea of troubles.  The shore is in sight, the lighthouse shines.  Let’s all pull together.

 

Sincerely,