News


MV Whisman Parents wait for hours to get children registered for classes

Line to get code for school district's online registration moves at dial-up speed

A woman attempting to enroll her child in the Mountain View Whisman School District said she waited in line for more than three hours Tuesday, Feb. 1, before being approved to get a code that would allow her to register.

Melinda Athey said she had no idea why it took so long for her to demonstrate residency within the district and be on her way.

"It just surprises me that I live in Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and I'm sitting in this stuffy room, waiting," Athey said in the first of a series of phone interviews with the Voice. She first called while waiting in line at the Mountain View Whisman district offices. "It just seems like there has got to be something wrong with the way it's going."

Other parents attempting to register their children expressed similar thoughts to Athey, she said.

"It's definitely taking longer than expected," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of the district. "It's a new set of procedures for our staff. They're working at full speed, but it's taking a long time. That has been exacerbated by it being the first day of registration."

Goldman said that he thinks the parents who waited so long on Tuesday will find that the online process itself is better than the previous method, where parents had to fill out individual forms by hand, which were then entered manually into the schools computer database by school employees.

He said he is familiar with the system, which is employed by the high school his daughters attend in San Mateo. "It's wonderful," he said, "because it will automatically populate fields."

As a father of triplets, Goldman said this feature saved him lots of time. The system will also save paper and photocopying costs for the district, he added.

Athey was frustrated nonetheless. She said that when she signed up one of her older children for classes at Mountain View High School the whole process took all of 15 minutes.

"I made an appointment, I walked in, they photocopied everything and I walked out," she said.

Athey finished registering her child later that day on her home computer. It took her 30 minutes, she said. "It is still unclear to me why I waited three hours today to come home and spend another half hour signing up," she said.

While Goldman admitted that the new system moved unusually slow today, he expects it will get better in the days to come. He also reminded parents that they have all month to register. Because the school district does not assign classes on a first come, first served basis, parents do not need to rush to sign up.

"We're always inundated on the fist day," he said, "and the first day always takes a long time."

All the same, Goldman did not wish to excuse the overly long wait time.

"We apologize for any inconvenience that parents have experienced," he said."We acknowledge that the wait has exceeded our expectations. We will certainly take steps to improve our efficiency."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I saw the long line this morning, but not sure why everyone thinks they have to go on the first day? There is no benefit to being there on the first day, you still get priority registration as long as you register by the end of the month.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by @ MV Mom
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I agree with you. Especially the first day of the first time they are using a new electronic system.

It is so GREAT that they are using an computerized registration system now. I hope that the glitches get out quickly so people don't have to wait too long. It is such a great idea.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Been there
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I agree with the above. Relax - it's just kindergarten registration - there will be plenty of other, much more serious and much more agonizing, problems waiting ahead for you with the state of our public school system. Can't wait to see what these parents have to say once they get a taste of the other things that go on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

And it only gets more absurd the longer you keep your kids in these poor performing schools. It always seems to be a choice of little or nothing. The next thing you know they will want to increase our taxes again. And we are in the heart of Silicon Valley. Very embarrassing indeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

@Elaine - I find nothing embarrassing about our school district. If you think the schools are performing poorly, you are welcome to come volunteer in the classroom.

@ those of you waiting in line - is this news? have you not been to the DMV, a mall in the weeks before Christmas, youth basketball league sign-ups at the Y, or even to a restaurant on Castro Street on Saturday night? Why would you even expect to be served immediately with the current budget situation in CA? next time, bring a book.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I was there waiting. Picked up a number in the 50's and after sitting 30 minutes in the room, realized that they only called about 3 numbers and they were in the mid 20's. I went to work and came back 2 hours later and waited another 1/2 hour before being called. Nothing too out of the ordinary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Abby
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Some people just like to be early adopters. There's no advantage to registering on day one except that you get to wait in line to test out a new system. Come back in two weeks and it'll all be smooth.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm

@reader

Er... 2 of 5 elementary schools are in Program Improvement, the others are hinged dangerously close. The middle schools are gang infested. The MVWSD population that feeds into the MVLA high school system causes API scores to plummet at least 200 points on average. The district Kindergarten program is state subsidized day care at best. The mere fact that the district would put parents and incomers through such waits speaks volumes as to poor planning and management. No district employee had the initiative to work the line and provide information and knowledge. They are the customer, not you. Get used to it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Kinder is daycare? After having volunteered in a K class for an entire school year I beg to differ. Elaine, I think you have some points but they get a little lost in your delivery. Plus I am pretty sure the API score at LAHS is in the mid 800s, not possible to go up "at least 200 points on average".

And just to report back, there was still a long line when I drove by again at 3. Again, not sure why the rush.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Gang infested middle schools? Uh, maybe in your imagination. I've spent countless hours at Graham as a parent volunteer and can assure there are no gang bangers to be found....just regular old middle school kids, and quite smart and likable at that. Please do come visit and see for yourself!

And one other thing...stick to the topic, which as I recall was long lines at kinder registration.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV concern mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 1, 2011 at 8:36 pm

This morning I was trying to register my child, and the first person who I had contact with, was the person giving out numbers and forms. She was not helpful and was very unprofessional. I worry about our kids. To add to the problem I had to wait 2 long hours just get a code.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 2, 2011 at 11:14 am

@Elaine - Like MV Mom and reader, I have also spent countless hours volunteering at our public schools and honestly, you have no idea what you are talking about, so you really should just give it up. "2 of 5 elementary schools are in Program Improvement, the others are hinged dangerously close." Well, there are 7 elementary schools, not 5, and Program Improvement does not mean that the school is failing. It means that some subgroup scores did not make ENOUGH OF A JUMP in percentage scoring proficient from year to year to satisfy NCLB. To take that one measure and say the school is failing is simply nonsensical. And by what measure do you say that all the other elementary schools are "dangerously close" to PI? What makes you think the Kinder program at the district is like day care? Have you had a kinder in the schools in the last 10 years?? And the middle schools are decidedly not "gang-infested," please stop spreading that old chestnut. And the high school APIs are 853 (LAHS) and 860 (MVHS) out of a possible 1,000 -- hardly "plummeting." Give me a break.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PLEZZZZZ
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

No gang bangers at Graham?, you must have your blinders on or it's just in your imagination if you think no gang bangers are there. Get real and BTW I have visited so get over your sorry education system and WAKE UP


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:19 pm

When such significant subgroups are failing teachers are stretched thin to accommodate their deficiencies which takes away from learning opportunities from the higher learners. There is nascent gang activity in the middle schools as well. Why do you think the police have dedicated personnel at the middle schools sites to deal with it. As far as Kinder is concerned, I have had children in the programs very recently and they are weak compared to neighboring districts and private schools. High school APIs you cite don't factor in the huge drop out rate after the first and second year of Latino students flowing in from MVWSD. The tendency to attack any such criticism of the schools is naive and selfish. The administrators for years now have done nothing but make huge efforts to constantly spin good news from bad, year after year. Its just plain laughable to think that our schools are up to the level of PA, LA, or Sunnyvale and Saratoga. Welcome to Mountain View.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kira
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I specifically waited until today to go because I figured they would need to work out the kinks of a new system on day one. I was in and out of there in under 30 minutes. Friendly folks, not crowded and everything ran smoothly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Moffett Reader
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I have had kids in the MVWSD for 15 years now and it doesn't get better the older they get. When MV District and Whisman District merged, they still favored the MV district schools i.e. Graham, Bubb, Huff. They have many more programs to offer than the old Whisman Schools. The kinder program at all schools is awesome! Most of the kids are reading, writing and doing math equations. I think when we were in kinder, we colored, did our abc's and played with blocks. And about middle schools- absolutely there are gangs!! They are more prevelant in middle school than high school. And even though Graham is on the "good side" of M.V., they have the worst problems. Don't let the area fool you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by meta
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

It took less than 15 minutes today at 1:15 pm. They told us at all of the presentations not to go on the first day. It's really not that difficult.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm

"The MVWSD population that feeds into the MVLA high school system causes API scores to plummet at least 200 points on average."

My daughter performed very well on API throughout her 9 years in MVWSD and the further she got into MVLA, the further her scores plummeted - by junior year, she was scoring below basic and she has been an A student throughout! What it says to me is that they spend way too much time "teaching to the test" in the lower grades. I'd much rather they stop doing that and spend those 6 weeks that they practice for the test on real learning, but they must in order to comply with No Child Left Behind.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

That's interesting to know. And very concerning. The suggestion is that LA schools are teaching a broader content-knowledge curriculum while MV focuses more on test taking. It makes me very concerned. However, anytime some one tries to express concern or be critical of the district, they get slapped down as knowing nothing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Margaret
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

Just wanted to say that this morning I signed up a k child for next year. I started at 10:14 and was done at 10:19. The passcode was in my email when I got home. And the people were very help and pleasant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

To Elaine and MV Mom: Not sure about your logic. "My daughter performed very well on API throughout her 9 years in MVWSD and the further she got into MVLA, the further her scores plummeted - by junior year, she was scoring below basic and she has been an A student throughout! What it says to me is that they spend way too much time 'teaching to the test' in the lower grades. I'd much rather they stop doing that and spend those 6 weeks that they practice for the test on real learning, but they must in order to comply with No Child Left Behind." The API (actually, the STAR test, the API is the school's score) is a state-administered test that demonstrates how well the student learned the materials the school that the state defined in its standard for that grade level. This is the same test that she takes in High School -- the STAR test, again the state's test to demonstrate proficiency when measured next to THAT GRADE's standard. Assuming that the state is building on its own standards year to year, and the tests accurately reflect those standards, then I do not see how you can blame the elementary district (where your daughter did "very well") for a drop in her scores at the high school. If you wanted to make a case that "teaching to the test" in elementary caused a drop in scores on some other measure - SAT or AP scores, or some such -- that might be on thing. (Though my kid, an MVWSD grad with no outside tutoring or help from me, scored extremely well on her SATs and has received the AP Scholar with Distinction designation for getting all 4s and 5s (mostly 5s) on her AP tests, so I personally think her elementary education was pretty good.) So if a kid did well on STAR in MVWSD, it's because they had mastered whatever the STATE -- not the district -- decreed they should learn in those years. If the STATE wanted them to learn something different because they would need broader or more in-depth knowledge for the high school versions of their own tests, then they need to either redefine the standards or the tests. But to blame MVWSD for kids not meeting scoring advanced on a 10th grade content test seems kind of lame.

So I may agree with you that too much "teaching to the test" goes on, but I think that is true in general, everywhere, because of the high-stakes nature of the STAR testing scores. But I'm not buying that it's the elementary district's fault if high school STAR scores for individual students drop.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Clyde
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 7, 2011 at 4:58 pm

My daughter is an elementary school teacher and it pains me to no end how blind people are to the statistics that support what I am about to say. What communties continually get the lowest test score, create the greatest havoc concerning school discipine, have the highest truency rate, the highest dropout rate, etc. yet continually blame their problems on teachers, the schools, the districts, the system, the tests; well you guessed it, the black and hispanic communities. And do not call me a racist for anyone can check the state stats. I live in low income housing, am asian, and I have seen black kids smoking crack on stairways on school nights while their asian peers are inside doing their homework. These two communities; hispanic and black by their own actions have dragged the school system and the test scores to record lows in California. Where are the gangs? Well you guessed it again, in the black and hispanic communities, not the white and asian communities. So I say to the local black and hispanic parents that have children in the local school districts; follow the lead of the asian parents and begin to take responsibility for the havoc they are creating in our classrooms and society. Just take a drive over to East Palo Alto or Oakland and see what I mean. Where are the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to stop the high dropout rate, teen pregnancy, gang killings, men leaving their families, Oh I know, it is so much easier to blame the school systems, society, and white and asian societies. Think about it.


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