White Oaks Elementary is a below average school. My 2 kids attended it for a couple of years while we lived in the area. Given their ages I am able to compare it to the elementary schools they attended before and after we lived in San Carlos. The best thing about White Oaks Elementary was the committment of some of the teachers and staff. Their effforts were undercut by underfunding, lack of leadership from the principal, and poor attitudes from other teachers and staff members. As a parent you want your local school to do well, however on balance this one struggles to provide even an average environment. The high test scores it reports are more a reflection of the well-off neighborhood the school draws from, rather than anything about the education provided. This is particularly true if your child has any issues. During the 1st year at the school one of my kids was beginning to fall behind their peers in some aspects, while exceeding expectations in others. When I brought this up to the White Oaks teachers they repeatedly told me everything was fine. The next year, the bimodal nature of my child's performance was more pronounced with them progressing slowly in some subjects and rapidly in others. After several discussions with the 2nd year teacher and roping in the prinipal and staff I was told that while some students are high-fliers, mine wasn't and I needed to adjust my expectations. Fine if true, however this response was a defensive one from a school under pressure and just ignored the evidence from my child. Out of options with the school my family paid out-of-pocket for testing the school really should have given an year-and-a-half earlier. The testing revealed that my child has a specific, well-known learning issue and that her/his uneven performance was due to balancing that disability against an overall high capability. The testing was extensive and really made sense out of everything I had been seeing. Now that the problem is identified, the path is clear, and I understand what needs to be done to support my child. I also now know that this should have been obvious to the school. On balance, White Oaks Elementary struggles to provide an average learning environment and would not send my kids there again.
This school has some very talented and dedicated teachers, particularly in the early grades. But these teachers are stymied by a curriculum that values rote learning over creativity and critical thinking. Math, social studies, and writing instruction are particularly poor. The teachers are also hampered by weak leadership from the principal, who has no long-term vision for academic excellence. The school caters fairly well to average students. But if your child doesn't fit the narrow boxes in any way--because they're gifted, because they're experiencing challenges, even because they're a little quirky--then White Oaks is a bad place for them and finding supporting, caring adults will be tough.
We love this school! White Oaks offers caring, involved teachers. The principal and her staff work well as a team and are very supportive of their students. The person who left the comment saying this school is overrun with stay home moms who interup the classroom seems quite bitter. I am so grateful to all the moms and dads who volunteer their time to make this school an even better place for our children. With budget cuts and larger classroom sizes throughout CA, parent involvement gives teachers more time to teach rather than police the students.
If you have ever seen inspired teaching and solid curriculum, you know that, aside from some of the younger grade teachers, White Oaks does not have it. I continually wonder, "where is the beef?". There is very little substance to the curriculum. In the lower grades, there is almost no math whatsoever. Writing consists of journal writing with little to no help with organization, grammar, or conventions. And I actually had a teacher tell me that she could not teach science and social studies during the same time period! While there is some project-based learning, there is very little of it and the projects are not carefully chosen. The administration is unresponsive to concerns. White Oaks obtains decent tests scores because the parents take on the job of educating their children. I do not know of any child who did not take some form of math instruction outside of school. My children learned that they would learn little at White Oaks.
Interesting... My son has had nothing but great experiences at the school. Yes, parents are on campus, but as a working mom, I have appreciated the photos some of the moms have provided me (via snapfish) of classroom events that I am not able to attend. Additionally, I don't see parents in the classroom as a reflection of my teacher's ineffectiveness. Given the cuts education has experienced over the last 9 years, I applaud the fact that the school has capable teachers who can effectively utilize the support parents want to offer. As far as the principal is concerned, her communication works for me. When I'm not on campus I read the weekly online newsletter and stay informed that way. When I have been able to attend a few school meetings this year I've appreciated her updates with regards to the school's math pilot and the staff's PLC work. I know my child's teacher has spoken very highly of the work she and her colleagues have done in math this year so it would seem that something is in place with regards to professional development! It's unfortunate that those last two respondents took the time to taint the great things happening at our school!
I can't agree more. We've had older siblings come through this school and over the past couple of years - the quality has dropped markedly. The new principal is problematic where she fails to push the teaching staff for excellence. She seems incapable of creating a strategy that allows for teacher growth and excellence. Luckily, our youngest is moving on next year. As for the reviewer who stated that there are too many parents in the classroom, its a joke. Sometimes there are 2 or 3 parents in the class at any given time. You wonder why the teacher needs so much help.
The school supposedly has good ratings and scores. Our experience leads us to question the quality and objectivity of these past reviews. The teachers seem disorganized. The Principal is obtuse and she does not communicate well. Our son was doing very well at a private Palo Alto elementary, when we moved him into Whiteoak, he foundered in the unstructured massively disorganized chaos. We've asked to meet with the teachers and principal and the outcome of these meetings has always been "he's exactly where he should be". Overall, the school is over run by stay at home moms with nothing to do but to disrupt the classroom. The teachers depend on this extra help so they do even less work teaching. Very dis-satisfied with this school. We're thinking of stopping all SCEF donations (for what?) and putting him in St. Charles.