Things We Can Do
The strength of a grassroots movement is rooted in two things: numbers and persistence.
If each of us does just one of the following, we'll magnify that strength.
1) spread the word to other, possible supporters;
2) volunteer an hour to put up some posters (contact savethe2008@gmail);
3) advocate for S2K8 in posts on PaloAltoOnline;
4) send a letter-to-the-editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, the Palo Alto Daily Post, and/or the Palo Alto Daily News. (Email addresses below.)
Or, if you're ever feeling frustrated by the slow pace of change, here are even more things you can do:
A) Email the School Board and Superintendent. (Addresses below.)
B) Visit www.facebook.com/savethe2008 and share, leave comments.
C) Spread the word about S2K8 via social media. (Mention this website.)
D) Speak at a Board meeting.
There's a public meeting of the School Board on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month during the academic year. (Although occasionaly a "special meeting" is added or a meeting rescheduled.)
Upcoming board meetings are scheduled for: Tuesday, October 10th, 2017; and Tuesday, October 24th. The sessions start at 6:30 pm—although the part of the evening for drop-in speakers, "Open Forum," doesn't usually start until 7:00 or 7:15.
Just fill out a card by 6:45 pm, to request a time-slot, hand it to an official—and your name will be called for your three-minutes at a small lectern with a little microphone.
Meetings are at the District Offices, 25 Churchill Avenue, Palo Alto, between Alma and El Camino.
Some Talking Points for Speeches to the Board
Just speak sincerely, say what's on your mind and in your heart, and you'll be fine.
Some of you have asked for suggestions for what to bring up. Here's plenty to go around!
1. Why you care about Save the 2,008. (Your concerns and feelings, your family's, your children's, your friends', your neighbors'.)
2. One or two of the six proposals that matter to you most, and why.
3. Our plan is straightforward common sense, easy to implement, and will serve as a model for over-stressed high schools around the country.
4. The Board and Superintendent made a good start in changing school conditions last year—removing Zero Period, changing Gunn's bell schedule—so let's keep on in that direction, making other basic changes to daily school life for our kids.
5. The upcoming increase in local tax revenue—some $10 million—will make decreasing class sizes a piece of cake.
6. Think of some objections you've heard to Save the 2,008. Explain why they shouldn't hold us back.
7. Quote a motto of Save the 2,008: "While high schools don't cause teenage despair, nor can they cure it, there's a lot they can do to make it more bearable, more survivable."
8. Mention our number of supporters (some 575!), from all walks of life and cite anyone's credentials (see "About our Supporters").
9. The proposals of Save the 2,008 have been before the Board for 10 months—yet none have yet been enacted. We need less talk, more action.
10. Fewer than six proposals wouldn't have created enough change. More than six would keep us from having a consensus. The "package" is just the right size—and has synergy within it.
For a refresher on the six proposals, just click to "Our Open Letter."
Useful email addresses:
Members of the Palo Alto School Board:
Jennifer DiBrienza: firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Collins: email@example.com
Melissa Baten Caswell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Dauber: email@example.com
Terry Godfrey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Superintendent of Palo Alto’s schools:
Max McGee: email@example.com
Gunn’s school principal:
Denise Herrmann: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paly’s school principal:
Kim Diorio: email@example.com
Weekly “Letters to the editor”:
firstname.lastname@example.org (300 words, max. Include name, address, tel.)
Daily Post “Letters to the editor”:
email@example.com (250 words, max. Include name, address, tel.)
Daily News "Letters to the editor":
firstname.lastname@example.org (250 words, max. Include name address, tel.)
And the Big Ask
And last, but emphatically nowhere near least, our cause will have an unbeatable ace to play if we can find a deep-pockets, big-hearted person willing to help us hire the classroom professionals to make smaller class sizes a dream come true.
Please read, use, edit, rewrite, copy, and forward the following "sales pitch" if you know anyone who knows anyone in a position to help.
To our Lone Ranger:
Few problems in education can be solved by silver bullets, but in the case of Palo Alto’s high schools a prime target is looking us right in the eye.
As the years pass, our high-schoolers are growing farther apart from their teachers. But the fraying of these working ties (a key safety net for adolescents) can be arrested by some simple changes in school routine—one in particular.
Everyday conditions in our high schools—indeed, the nation’s—aren’t pretty. Exhaustion and sleep-deprivation (from too many APs, too much homework); nightly anxieties over cheating (rampant at Gunn and Paly); a focus on G.P.A.s instead of on the joy of learning; cellphone distraction in the classroom; continuous time-pressures—all of these are making it harder for teachers to express their care and for students to make the most of that caring.
But our greatest nemesis is teeming classrooms—with many class-periods crammed with more than 30 learners, and many teachers shouldering workloads of 130, 140, 150 kids.
Smaller classes foster trust, communication, inspiration—with homework returned sooner (and with richer feedback), more one-on-one attention, more room in class discussion, more evening phone calls to kids’ parents, more faculty attendance at the students’ concerts, plays, games—more of all kinds of special care.
For Gunn and Paly, the silver bullet to reduce class sizes by a sensible 15% would cost some $2.5 million per year. A recent gift to Paly of $24 million (from the Peery family) is bringing a new athletic facility; Facebook’s CEO recently pledged $100 million to New Jersey’s public schools; and local houses regularly list for $10, $20, $30 million.
Right now in Palo Alto a community campaign called Save the 2,008—founded by a teacher, and with a roster of hundreds of supporters, including PAMF doctors, Stanford professors, attorneys, noted authors, and mental-health experts—is advocating with our School Board and Superintendent for six simple changes at Gunn and Paly, with smaller classes as the centerpiece priority.
Save the 2,008, to make its point as loudly and clearly as possible—for the sake of our teenagers’ education and emotional well-being—is looking for a local Lone Ranger who’d like to help out with a silver bullet.