Thursday, August 27, 2015

¡Si se puede!

Open Kindergarten Spots in English classes at César Chavéz Elementary School

César Chávez Elementary School is situated in the geographic and cultural heart of the Mission District.  Its entire façade is covered with murals representing the history and diversity of this school, and the cultural contributions of César Chavez, Dolores Huerta and the UFW movement.  In addition it has paintings in sign language, celebrating the 25 year history of the deaf and hard of hearing program at the school.   The halls are cheerfully painted, the classrooms organized, the teachers and students engaged in authentic learning.  The school is extremely safe, there are few discipline issues, and we have a wealth of community partnerships to work on enrichment, health and socio-emotional supports.  The teaching at Cesar Chavez is exemplary. For example, the math program is differentiated and aligned with common core and academic language, and far ahead of other schools in the district (two of our teachers helped write the curriculum and are former or current Math coaches). There are 1-1 Chromebooks for every 4th and 5th grader and a dedicated technology person who works with the rest of the school. Every classroom has technology, and iPads are integrated into reading centers.   The reading and writing workshop model began 5 years ago and is year more developed than other schools in the district.  Any child that arrived at César Chávez would thrive.
As the Mission District changes the English classes at Chávez are shrinking.  The more affluent families that are moving into the Mission have not yet begun to choose this school. There is a waiting list for students to enter the Bi-literacy pathway (Spanish and English for native Spanish speakers) yet the English classrooms need more students. Both our English and Spanish classrooms have small class sizes and dedicated, experienced teachers.
So, with all these advantages, what would it take for César Chávez to become a model for the rest of the City?  It would take integration. More English speaking families of all races need to begin to choose our school.  SFUSD needs to desegregate. Many articles have been written about SFUSD and the increasing segregation due to choice.  Other articles have been written about the importance of integration for improving educational outcomes. The articles in the San Francisco Public Press made it clear that parents typically choose schools where there is a majority of their own race.  This is something that we need to change.  In order to create a more equitable system more families who live in the Mission need to start choosing schools in the Mission District for their children, rather than driving across town to be part of a school that has better test scores. Parents who live in or near the Mission who are holding out for the English programs at other more faraway schools should come visit our school and observe in our English program.   Test scores that appear low at César Chávez reflect the racial and economic isolation of the school.  It’s impossible to compare data of other ethnic groups to the control group of our Latino students because the population of students other than Latinos is statistically insignificant. 

Right now at César Chávez we have space for 10-15 students in Kindergarten English classes that we would like to fill before September 4th.  If you are choosing between no school, paying for another year of preschool or moving out of the city, I believe César Chávez is an excellent alternative. I only recently began working here but I can assure you that If my daughter were age eligible for Kindergarten she would be here with me.  Please call or come by for a visit tomorrow morning at 9 AM if you would like to learn more. 
 If you are looking for a school for 2016-2017 I will publish tour dates in October. 

César Chávez PreK Early Ed & Elementary School
Escuela Primaria César Chávez, PreKinder - 5
825 Shotwell Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: 415.695.5765     Fax: 415.695.5843

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Open Seats In Classrooms!

Readers - The 3 day count was Wednesday.  Today is Thursday.  Are you seeing open seats in your child's classroom?  If so, how many and which school?  Feel free to count..  Readers will take any and all info.  THANK YOU

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Two years ago I wrote about trading in one dream for another when we didn't get language immersion in Round 1 of the SFUSD lottery.

Here's a confession. I never gave up on immersion. We've stayed in the SFUSD lottery for the Korean Immersion Program at Claire Lilienthal right through Round 5, three years in a row.

For kindergarten, one spot opened up for Claire Lilienthal's Korean immersion class in Round 5. There were two children in the waitpool, my child and another. The other child got the spot.

Over the next year, I saw my child's bilingual skills fade. We enrolled in Saturday language school and did up to 3 hours of homework a week just for Saturday school.  My child passed the SFUSD language proficiency test for 1st grade, and we went through the lottery again.

Fell asleep doing kindergarten homework
for Saturday School 
We didn't get in. No one left the class between kindergarten and 1st grade.

In first grade, that bilingualism dwindled further. We enrolled in a different Saturday language school with smaller classes, added individual tutoring twice a week. My child managed to pass the SFUSD proficiency test for 2nd grade, and we entered the lottery a third time.

We won't get in. I heard that no one left between 1st grade and 2nd grade.

It's hard, after a summer of being asked, "Mom, when I grow up, can I live in Korea?" and "If my Korean gets good enough, can we go to Korea next summer?" and just tonight, "But how will my Korean get good enough if I don't go to Claire Lilienthal?"

You can't always get what you want. That's the hard truth of the SFUSD lottery.

We won't try again. It's not worth it for just 3 years, especially when 2 of those years would be in a large combined 4th-5th grade class. I might consider it if we weren't happy with our current school, but that's not the case. My child loved our school's kindergarten and first grade teachers, and just this week said, "I can't wait to go back to school." It still seems magical to me how much learning has happened in the last 2 years, with seemingly little effort and no parental involvement, quite the contrast to the pitched battles we've had over Korean homework.

For families who hear from SFUSD this week, congratulations! For those who don't have luck in Round 5, you're not alone.  And to those 8 families still in the CL KIP kindergarten waitpool, we look forward to meeting most of you in Saturday school.

Feel free to share the outcome of your Round 5 below.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Last Call for Round 5: Did you get the autodial today?

Are you holding on for Round 5?

SFUSD is autodialing families to remind them that they are still in the waitpool for Round 5. The phone number where they called you today likely will be the number they will use if you get a spot at your waitpool school.

If you don't get a call today from EPC at (415) 241-6085, you may want to confirm your contact information with them.

This Friday, August 14, is the last day to change or submit your Round 5 waitpool request. The waitpool list as of Monday is at

Good luck to everyone seeing things through to the bitter or happy end!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Open Seats in Available School Assignment Process (ASAP) become available June 17

According to a commenter:  Open seats in the Available School Assignment Process (ASAP) become available on June 17. You must show up at EPC in person to select a school from the ASAP list, first-come first-served. Lines have formed early in the past. The ASAP list might not be published in advance, but you can get a reasonable idea of what schools are available by studying the wait pool list that was published yesterday. Sometimes an industrious reader creates a list and publishes their guesses on this blog.

SFUSD Round June 15 Wait Pool List Now Online

SFUSD Recently posted the latest wait pool list, as of June 15.
Looks like Sunset tops the list with 26 families waiting..  Sunnyside has a waitlist of 19, much higher than Mirloma and Alvarado GE.  Where are you waiting?  Any surprises when you look a this list?

It's here:
And here:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Chronicle articles: Living Together, Learning Together

The Chronicle has a big series on racial integration and racial isolation in San Francisco public schools. The articles are all online here at:

There are a number of articles: One, titled "Can Separate Ever Be Equal?" focuses on two racially isolated schools: Jean Parker (mostly Asian) and Charles Drew (mostly African-American); there's also an article about one of the district's most diverse schools (Lakeshore).  Another article compares Cleveland Elementary (a racially isolated school, mostly Latino working-class students) and Clarendon Elementary (33% Asian, 31% White, 11% Latino and 6% African-American students, which roughly mirrors the ethnic demographics of the city). An article titled "Turning Around a Struggling School" focuses on Peabody Elementary in the Richmond, which went from underenrolled ten years ago to a highly sought after school today (50% White, 50% mix of other ethnicities). And another piece looks at efforts other cities have made towards desegregation.

There's also a graphic showing every elementary school's racial/ethnic mix:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Links: Parents for Public Schools, Support for Families, and a news article about iPads for SFUSD Families

We noticed a few comments from families that are confused by the SFUSD lottery process, including some folks who may have just moved to the area. It's not easy coming into this system at this stage! We definitely feel for you. A few reminders:

You are probably already familiar with the Enrollment Placement Center (EPC). If you go down there and ask to speak to a counselor, they can explain the whole process to you.

If you haven't already gotten to know Parents for Public Schools, please do check them out (their website is They can be a wonderful resource for families. They seem especially helpful with regards to the assignment system, but we've heard they can be helpful with other issues as well. Call or send them an email -- in our experience, they are very responsive.

Another great resource if you have children with disabilities is Support for Families
They should be able to answer questions about medical appeals and IEPS.

Finally, we noticed an interesting article in the Chronicle about a new digital technology pilot program in SFUSD:

Best of luck to everyone out there...

Monday, May 11, 2015

SFUSD Round 2 Results?

Have parents out there received Round 2 results? If you got a letter in the mail and want to share the outcome or ask a question, please respond in the comments.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tour Notes - San Francisco Schoolhouse

I realized it might be worthwhile (to at least a couple people) to post my tour notes from San Francisco Schoolhouse, especially as some families are still exploring kindergarten options for this fall. I toured before joining the blog so I did not post my notes earlier, but even though we ended up not applying, we really liked the school. The school still has open spots for 2015-16 and upcoming tours (

Among the reasons we did not apply were that the location was would have been very difficult for us and we felt we did not have the bandwidth for a parent participation elementary school at this time. And, honestly, we liked it so much that we did not want it to be a back-up and knew that if we were accepted, we wanted to be able to attend.

San Francisco Schoolhouse


Location: 301 14th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118 (at the Beth Sholom Synagogue), Inner Richmond

Grades: Currently K-4, expanding to K-8 by adding one grade per year

Total Enrollment: 44

Kindergarten Size: One class of 11 (12 maximum)

Time: 9:00am-2:00pm (I believe that next year it will be 9:00am-3:00pm for grades 4-5)

Aftercare: 2-4pm After School Enrichment Program

Tuition: $9,350 for 2014-15, $10,350 for 2015-16

San Francisco Schoolhouse is one of San Francisco's many new independent schools, having opened its doors in 2011 with two students.  It is a bit of an outlier for us as it is not near our home or on my husband's commute path downtown, but I was intrigued by the unique parent participation model, low student-teach ratios, the personalized "project-based, hands on curriculum" touted on its website, relatively low cost, and the very good things I have heard from a few friends involved in the school. My son currently attends a co-op preschool that we love, so the idea of an elementary school inspired by those types of schools was something I was curious about, although I knew that the classroom obligation would be much less and different.

It took about half an hour to get to the school for the 9:30 a.m. tour, which was not bad, but I had to consider whether we could do it every day. I found street parking easily about a block away, though it was may have been easy because street cleaning had just ended and the tour began about half an hour after school started. The school currently leases its space from the Beth Sholom Synagogue.

We were greeted by two women who were among the first to enroll their children in the school. They chatted with us as we waited for the remaining tour attendees, another current parent, and the head of the school. The parents were quite personable and clearly excited about and happy with the school.

The third parent and the head of school, Daniel Popplewell, arrived and chatted with us briefly before the actual tour began. We were then split into three groups, each of which visited 3 classrooms. Daniel passed out clipboards and pens and asked us to write down things that we considered "progressive" education as we walked around. My group was led by one of the parents.


Outdoor Space

We first walked through the outdoor space, which was a very large concrete area on the second floor with two basketball hoops and several riding toys and tricycles. The area is also used by the synagogue's preschool, though not at the same time. We were told that this is also where the kindergartners have lunch and that the 1st through 4th graders walk to nearby Argonne Playground for lunch.

School Building 

When we entered the building that housed the classrooms, the walls were covered in lots of cheery art, which was nice given that school had only been in session since the day after Labor Day, just a few weeks before my tour. I'm guilty of not remembering much about the content of the stuff on the walls - my brain basically processed it all as "letters, numbers, colorful art and projects, yep, looks like classroom and school hallway walls to me" - although there was a very cute series where the kindergartners had drawn pictures and alongside was text with a "what you don't know about me" blurb for each child.


My group visited kindergarten, first grade, and the combined third/fourth grade.

The kindergarten was delightfully boisterous. Some kids were happily and messily painting, one table showed the aftermath of some very messy play with clay/play-dough, other kids were building with blocks, and some were working with paper, scissors, and glue. The teacher – Miss Bridget – explained that it was "work time," which was basically a free choice time, and that later in the day for "table time" another teacher would come and they would work in smaller groups.

The first grade also had no desks, but a couple tables and a couch. Four or so children were working on reading with an assistant teacher just outside the classroom at a table. Inside the classroom, the teacher, Rebecca - one of the founding teachers, was working with a couple children at a table. A couple kids were working with manipulatives on a table. And two kids were sitting on the floor listening to books on tape, which I thought was pretty neat. The classroom was small, but it had room for books in a small "library." The kids looked engaged, even working semi-independently, and I liked that they still had a bit of freedom to move around.

The combined third/fourth grade classroom had eight third graders and four fourth graders, and was led by the school's newest teacher, Susan. Still no desks as the kids were all seated at tables with about four kids to a table. The kids were learning how to actively read a text, i.e., mark up the text with notes about things they found interesting or confusing. It was an interesting process to watch, especially as the kids were at the very early stages of learning how to do this and needed lots of support from the teacher.

I was encouraged by the fact that all of the teachers seemed like the kind that my kids (most kids?) would enjoy spending time with. I'm a little bummed my group did not get to see the second grade class, as they were apparently working on a neat math lesson using coins.


We ended with a Q&A with the parents leading the tour and the head of school. Daniel was recently hired and is the school's first head of school. Daniel came from Odyssey, an independent middle school in San Mateo for gifted students. The parents explained that Daniel was hired in part to help the school develop a unified curriculum as the school does not yet have one. I found Daniel to be very likeable and he seemed to both have some clear ideas for the school on some issues as well as appearing receptive to being flexible as to what would work best for the community on others as the school moves forward.

Future K-8 Expansion

The school plans to expand to K-8, and while their current space definitely works for K-5, it is too small for K-8. They may end up in two locations though they would be near each other.

Learning by Doing

Daniel reflected that he believed kids learned best by doing, and talked about the school’s project-based learning emphasis.

One of the examples of project-based learning that was mentioned at the Q&A was that Jack, who is currently the second grade teacher, and was one of the founding teachers, once had a project for the kids to build a house. They had to figure out how to put it together and make it work, including making working plumbing.

One tour attendee noted that there were "values" on the walls of the 3rd/4th class that seemed written by the students themselves. Daniel noted that the idea of self-generated expectations was something that existed at all levels - students, parents, staff.


One of the parents described the school as being able to "meet students where they are," which is the lure of small class sizes for me - presumably more opportunities for differentiation within the same class. An example was given of multiplication being taught to different students in different grades because kids were ready at different times. In addition, one parent also noted her daughter and classmates had struggled to learn multiplication at a different independent school, but when she came to SF Schoolhouse, her teacher understood that the students needed a stronger foundation before moving on to multiplication, and all the kids got it.

Technology in the Classroom

One of the more thoughtful and interesting answers from Daniel came when he was asked about technology in the classroom. He noted that the students do not currently have computers in the school, and pointed out that a lot of them are going to have that access once they get home anyway and so do not necessarily need it at Schoolhouse. In addition, at his prior school, where every child had a laptop, he noticed that sometimes everyone was engaged in their technology rather than interacting, which was a negative.


The school does not have a library, although the classrooms have books, some of which are brought in by the teachers from the Richmond branch library. They have also made regular public library field trips for the older students.

Snacks and Lunch 

The school is nut-free, but, because it is in the synagogue, it is also meat-free so parents have to be creative about the lunches packed for the students. There is no cafeteria or on-site food service. There are apples in every classroom for morning snack so kids have apples every day.

Parent Participation

The parent participation obligation is a family job, requiring approximately 10 hours per month of work, and a classroom obligation to chaperone 5 Adventure Days per year, if you have one child at the school. Some of the Adventure Days are on site, some are not. Other than this, there is not much expectation of parents being in the classroom.


To be honest, the school did not appear very racially diverse, although I did not see all four classrooms. Obviously, that does not mean that the school lacks other kinds of diversity - LGBT families, socioeconomic diversity (which feels possible with a sub-$10K tuition), etc. That said, there were a lot of visibly racially diverse parents on the tour, which leads me to believe the school will be more diverse as it grows. That factor was not a deal-breaker for us, especially as my family has, as a result of all our school tours, had to reflect on how racial diversity plays out across San Francisco schools, and given all the other things SF Schoolhouse had to offer.

Open House

About a month after the tour, I attended an evening Open House at SF Schoolhouse where we prospective parents had a great opportunity to meet with the teachers in small groups, sit in their classrooms and hear their perspectives, and ask them questions. It concluded with a Q&A with the teachers and Daniel, the head of school. I did not take extensive notes, but a few things stood out to me.

All of the teachers were enthusiastic and passionate about the school and progressive education. They discussed that with the smaller class sizes, they can keep narrative records of the children’s progress and that is how they can report and discuss with parents where there kids are and how they are doing.

Jack showed us one of his students’ projects – they were learning about maps and created their own 3-D map of a neighborhood with streets and buildings. It was still in progress, but a great example of hands-on learning.

Rebecca also told us about a project where the students made (and ate) raisins. She also explained that one of the things she really liked about the school was that they had the freedom to stay with a project or a concept for longer than initially planned. If the kids need more time to get a concept, she does not have pressure to move on and can work on it longer.

Ultimately, I left with both an even more positive impression of the school and the unfortunate certainty that the daily drive would probably be too much for our family.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Report on Student Assignment and Meeting Tonight

Over on her blog, Rachel Norton has helpfully linked to the new report from SFUSD about student assignments. Read the report here:

and check out comments here:

There's also a meeting TONIGHT, Monday, April 13, about student assignment -- it's the Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment, 6 pm on 4/13 in the Board Room at 555 Franklin St. Open to parents and community members. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Event: SF Bike & Roll to School Week April 20-24

San Francisco’s annual Bike & Roll to School Week is coming up soon: April 20-24th. Thousands of children and parents from all manner of San Francisco schools, from preschools to high schools, public and private, have participated in the annual event in past years. Check out the list of 66 schools signed up to participate to see if your school is registered. You are invited to participate in the event even if your school isn't registered. Below are some resources to help you get rolling.

Get Rolling Resources

  1. Figure out your bike set up. Not yet setup for riding with your children? Check out this Family Biking Guide for tips on different setups for different ages.
  2. Brush up on skills. Do you or your child(ren) need more practice before you hit the streets? Check out these all ages, free learn to ride and traffic skills events. And review the Rules of the Road with your child.
  3. Figure out a route. Use this Family Biking Routes map and sample routes to help figure out the best routes to and from school and/or aftercare.

Please note that though the above resources are oriented towards people who will be rolling on bike wheels, children and families who roll on scooter, wheelchairs and other types of small wheels are welcome and encouraged to participate! For families whose children who have a physical disability, BORP is an excellent resource for opportunities to try biking (and many other fun things!) and get information on specific bike configuration recommendations.

Extra incentive: Any participating San Francisco parent can sign up to be eligible to win some very cool raffle prizes, including an electric assist Family bike from Xtracycle plus both one month and one week free test rides of your choice of one of three amazing electric assist family bikes courtesy of Vie Bikes.

Happy Bike & Roll to School Week to everyone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Event: Today's Adolescents and How to Navigate School

A helpful reader wrote in to tell us about this interesting event coming up. 

Overloaded & Underprepared: Today's Adolescents and How to Navigate School

How do I raise a healthy adolescent amidst all the pressure to perform?
How do I choose a middle or high school where my child will be healthy and successful?
What's MY role as a parent to support them through these critical years?

Millennium School, a new independent middle school opening in 2016 in the southern part of San Francisco, and the Bay School, an independent high school, are delighted to announce an event featuring Denise Pope of the Stanford School of Education. Denise's well-known research and previous books have helped parents and educators find a better balance for their kids, enabling academic success without creating "pressure cooker" environments. In this event, designed for parents whose kids are entering or in middle or high school, Denise will share the most recent research on raising healthy, successful adolescents in today's high-pressure environment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
7:00pm -8:30pm
Hosted by the Bay School 
35 Keyes Avenue, San Francisco

FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited and will sell out. Please reserve your seats early at 
Doors open at 6:30pm

For more on Millennium School: 
For more on the Bay School:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

SFUSD School Assignments: Welcome Events and Additional Tours

It sounds like there are lots of additional tours and welcome events planned! Here are a few we've heard about:


PTA–sponsored TK/Kindergarten Ice Cream Social
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Time: 5:30-6:30 PM
Location: Enter the front door at Alvarado School, 625 Douglass Street @ Alvarado Street

Daniel Webster
Please join us for a casual welcome event at Jackson Park this Sunday at 3 pm. Bring the whole family. Meet fellow incoming DW families as well as current DW families and learn more about the exciting programs and events taking place at DW. We’ll have snacks and drinks
What: Daniel Webster Welcome Event
Where: Jackson Playground, 1500 Mariposa St between Arkansas and Carolina
When: Sunday March 22nd 3 pm

Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
If you missed our school tours, it’s not too late. We have tours scheduled as follows:
● Thursday March 19, 2015 10am
● Thursday March 26, 2015 10am
● Thursday April 9, 2015 10am
Tours are Drop-In. No reservation required. Tours start promptly at 10am and last around 45 minutes. Please meet in front of the school office at 9:50am to sign in.

We also have a few fun events that we’d love you to participate in (see list below). The Spring Carnival is an especially great way to meet other families and school staff, and have some fun, too. Please make sure to introduce yourself when you arrive - we’ll have a small welcome gift for your child. There will also be an organized Ice Cream Social for new families in May and an informal play date for kinders during the summer - details to come!

● Roller Skating Party: Saturday March 21, 2015 at Church of 8 Wheels 3-5:30pm
● School Carnival: Saturday April 25, 2015 11am-4pm
● Ice Cream Social for New Families: Saturday May 9, 2015 1-3pm
● Talent Show FUN-raiser: Saturday May 16, 2015 Time TBD
● Civil Rights Assembly: Thursday May 21, 2015 6-8pm

Jean Parker Elementary
Tours (starting this week): Interested in taking another look at our school? Come to one of our spring tours and meet our amazing Jean Parker staff, students and parents. All tours run from 8:35-10:00am:

Wednesday, March, 25, 2015
Thursday, April, 9, 2015
Thursday, April, 16, 2015
Tours begin at the yard (morning intake) and meet in our Community Room #200 immediately after intake. (Parking – Visitors may park in our garage on 840 Broadway and will need to get a temporary parking permit from the main office.)
Welcome K Event! - May, 16

Incoming kindergarten families are invited to our Welcome K Event before our Honeybee Jamboree Spring Fair on Saturday, May 16 @ 9:15am.

Honeybee Jamboree: Join us for food, games, bounce houses and more! Bid on Silent Auction items for amazing prizes. On May 16 @ 10am. Learn more about this fun event by visiting our school website here:

To contact us, call our Parent Liaison, Judy Zhang or speak to our Office Staff by calling: (415) 291-7990. Or, email Principal Tang at

Jose Ortega Elementary School (JOES)
New Family Welcome Night, March 25th 6-8pm in the school library. Come meet new and current families, talk to our principal, learn about the after school program and enjoy some snacks! If you were assigned JOES and have never visited, come tour JOES April 7th, 8am

Lakeshore Elementary
Please join us for a New Families Welcome on Friday, March 27th from 10-11:30. Come learn what Lakeshore is all about, meet our principal, see the campus and get acquainted with incoming families! Check out for more info about our programs and upcoming community events, summer playdates and more.

Paul Revere
Tours (starting this week): Take another look at our school—and meet current parents and Revere staff—on an upcoming tour. Join us at 9 a.m. on Wednesday 3/18, 3/25, or 4/8. Tours start in our Community Room (in our Annex Building at 610 Tompkins Ave.).

Rosa Parks
For those who were accepted to Rosa Parks Elementary School--either the General Education or the Japanese Bilingual program--we have a final school tour on Wednesday, March 25.

Then we have a welcome breakfast for all new families on Friday, April 10. Congratulations to all, and we look forward to seeing you there.

Waitlisted families are welcome at both events as well. More information here: Rosa Parks JBBP - School Tour Schedule

We are hosting a new family brunch and open house, where you can meet our principal, current families, and get to see our beautiful campus.

Saturday, May 2nd
235 12th Avenue (Between Clement and California)

Please RSVP to sutropta at gmail dot com

If you can't make it please email us anyway so we can add you to our email distribution list.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reader request: What about parochial schools?

A reader wrote in and asked us to start a thread about Catholic/parochial schools. Have folks received the news? Any surprises?