A Review: allaboutthekids.org

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • Apr
  • 14
  • 2005

Paul Robichaux is a parent in the Evergreen community who wants Silver Creek High School so break away from East Side Union High School District in order to become part of a new, unified school district. His Web site, allaboutthekids.org, is his stage online to get his message across to anyone listening. In my opinion, he fails miserably, and I don’t write that lightly. His site shows a staggering lack of integrity or argumentative skills. It’s full of unexplained assumptions that paint a terrible, yet irrational, picture of the situation. The site smacks of Mr. Robichaux’s desire of change for change sake, without any explanation (or links to any discussion) of why his proposed change is the best course of action.

ESUHSD Causes All High School Stress!

We are well aware that the current configuration of our community’s educational resources dictates that our children leave this great elementary environment for the uncertainty of high school within the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD). I believe that this uncertainty is ripping at the very fabric of our community, I believe that this uncertainty is ripping at the very fabric of our community, as families begin to focus on developing coping strategies to reduce increasing stress as children approach high school age. Private school or moving from the community are only two of the most common options. Other alternative strategies are available and there are those in the community that seek your help in their full development. (Source)

We’re “well aware” that the current system requires students to move from a “great” situation to the “uncertainty of high school”? Students move from “great” to “uncertainty”? I’m not “well aware” of this idea and I’d need some statistical evidence (NOT anecdotal, thank you) in order to be convinced. However, failing to support and/or explain his attacks on ESUHSD does not stop Mr. Robichaux. He continues.

Mr. Robichaux cites this stress as induced by ESUHSD and as a primary reason for students moving to other areas for high school. It is beyond all reasonable logic to think that this stress, the normal stress involved with being a teenager and in a new schooling environment, is the fault of ESUHSD high schools. Yet again, I’d need some hard evidence to believe that to be the case and Mr. Robichaux has none.

He states that families in the Evergreen community are “developing coping strategies to reduce increasing stress as children approach high school age.” Does that sound any different than what parents all over the globe are doing as their children enter high school? What does that have to do with the quality of the high school the student is attending? Doesn’t this stress have more to do with the teenage years and less to do with the quality of instruction? Is this stress unique to the Evergreen community?

High school is a very tough place that steps up the demands placed on a student. Greater responsibility, greater independence, greater maturity, all of these things and more are expected of high school students. It is as challenging to move from junior high to high school as it is to move from high school to college. A quick comparision of the California Content Standards for 7th grade and 9th grade in any subject area will show the increased complexity of the demands high school requires. So it’s no wonder that students and parents stress about that move and therefore focus on developing coping strategies for such a trying time in one’s life. But we must remember that it is these challenges that make one grow.

“Private school or moving from the community are only two of the most common [coping strategies].” Does Mr. Robichaux mean to imply that students attending private schools do not have to face such stress factors? Does he mean to insinuate that a move from the Evergreen community means that this stress disappears?

But Wait! There’s More!

Add to that the impending SAT, ACT, CAHSEE, and STAR testing, college application process, thoughts about a career, ideas of moving out, growing independence, and all the other tramatic influences that come with being a teenager with active hormones, any student in any high school anywhere will have the stress that Mr. Robichaux indicates as “ripping at the very fabric of our community,” a very heart-felt tug at the reader’s pathos, though empty of any valid logic. Evergreen is not special in that it deals with any more stress than students entering high school in any other community.

No Statistics? Just Make ‘Em Look Good!

A page from his Web site reflects Mr. Robichaux’s appeal to emotions, thereby earning the reader’s trust, regardless of logic. The graph presented on that page is not labeled, so I’m not entirely certain what it measures. It looks bad, though, I’ll give him that. I assume it’s displaying the disparity in API scores. During which years? Who knows. The source of the scores he reports there? Also unknown. Any discussion of why Evergreen community schools are compared to Palo Alto schools? None. I know the reason, but a critical look at that data would suggest that comparison is illogical and ill-founded. Mr. Robichaux entertains no such discussion of his data, instead perpetuating the notion that such comparisons are valid and worthy of note.

Aside from poorly documenting his created graphics that are supposedly there to strengthen his view and not critically analyzing the data he’s representing, his comparison of Evergreen community schools to Palo Alto schools is troubling:

Now truly, Palo Alto is an older more established community with a somewhat different socioeconomic makeup. But when these differences are factored out kids leaving the elementary grades can be directly compared as they eventually exit Middle School and High School.

I’m not sure how one goes about factoring out such a huge influence, but I’d love to see the math on that one.

Ten Events That Have Nothing To Do With Anything

Near the bottom of Robichaux’s page, he lists ten “Recent events that tend to strengthen the view that the community is concerned about ESUHD.” The events listed there show no direct correlation to an increasing concern about ESUHSD and there’s no commentary provided as to how those ten items demonstrate this concern.

A Complete Lack of Ethos

allaboutthekids.org is replete with logical errors, as pointed out above. The spelling and grammatical errors take a chip away from his credibility. How much credence can you give someone who does a syntactically poor job of expressing his views about education? A bit ironic, isn’t it?

Wait a minute, where is the ethos for Paul Robichaux at all? Who is he to be talking so authoritatively about education? He is not a teacher. He never has been. He’s a man who made all his money in the computer industry. To the best of my knowledge, he’s never gone to school to learn about pedagogy. He holds no college degrees in such matters. What makes his voice one that we should listen to more than anyone else? He’s a local parent, but he’s certainly no expert in matters of education. This is akin to Bill Gates speaking up on education: he is not an expert and his opinion should be treated with a grain of salt.

Evidence? What Evidence?

I’d expect to find mounds and mounds of evidence supporting the move to a unified school district, analyses of school districts that made such a move and how the move impacted the students. Where is the evidence that creating a unified school district would solve the problems he points out? If you’re looking for evidence of any kind, Mr. Robichaux’s site is not the place for you.

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