Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who's in charge?

In my household, I'm in charge of finding a kindergarten. I won't attempt to explain how my husband would approach the process if he were overseeing it—but I will say that when our daughter was born he entered diaper changes and feeding and sleeping times into an Excel file and created bar graphs. If he was doing the school search, I'm sure it would involve lots of math, which makes sense because he is a scientist.

A few weeks ago my husband and I agreed that I'm the head of the school search and we developed a simple plan: I'll scout 15 to 20 public schools throughout October and early November, and then I'll pick my top seven, which he'll visit at the end of November. We also decided to look at four private schools and attend those tours together.

This week we already deviated from our plan because I'm enamored with Alice Fong Yu and I wanted him to visit it asap. I was terribly nervous when he was gone on the tour yesterday. What if he hates it? I kept thinking. I've heard from so many people who have been through the process that partners often don't agree.

We got lucky and Ryan also loved Alice Fong Yu. Though he asked entirely different questions during the tour's meeting with the principal. While I asked about field trips, the PTA, and arts programs, he asked how many siblings are hoping to get in next year, how many kids got in last year, and so on. And then he did lots of math and he determined that we have a 10 percent chance of getting into the school. Now, I'm depressed!

Anyone have stories about going through the school search with a partner? Any tips?


  1. We are a bit reversed -- I am the one with the facts and figures, and my husband is the one with the intuition. I actually trust his judgment more than mine.

    I am curious, will you please post your impressions of Alice Fong Yu, why you liked it so much? I am particularly interested to hear what you think about Cantonese being taught (rather than Mandarin) and whether it felt like a "pressure cooker" in there.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog! I am sure I am just one of thousands of other readers enjoying your perspective.

  2. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! If you both absolutely love AFY, that's great! It goes at the top of your schools list. Now you just have to find schools that fit well into the other spots. Try not to get depressed at this point - it's about looking at all the offerings on the menu, not seeing how many portions of each entree are available to order.

    Yes, you will have to be realistic about your chances - which will be worse at some schools and better at others. But it's still great news that you've found one school you both love and two others you liked.

  3. I now see your Yu review! Sorry about that. Thanks! :)

  4. I'll maybe see you on some of those tours. I saw our local neighborhood school Fairmount (public spanish immersion) Tuesday and Children's Day School (private) on Wednesday.

    I was impressed with both.

    I am not crazy about the lottery system. Especially, since it's main purpose was to desegregate elementary schools. And, our elementary schools are more segregated than ever...before the lottery even.

  5. Well, SFUSD has no choice but to use a lottery if it has an all-choice school enrollment system -- there's no other fair way when you have more applicants than openings at some schools.

    San Francisco used to have nearly totally segregated schools back when the various desegregation programs began. When we did the K enrollment process for my son in 1996, there was a lottery, but for desegregation purposes there was also a cap on the percentage of any one ethnicity at a school (I think it was 40%), so if a lot of families of your same ethnicity were applying, it was much harder to get in. Then the racial caps were thrown out by a court decision.

    Some SFUSD schools are quite segregated (most of them heavily Chinese and some heavily Latino), but lots of SFUSD schools are unbelievably diverse. Believe it or not, even SFUSD schools that are considered "severely resegregated" -- which I think means 60%-plus of any one ethnicity -- are still far, far more diverse than private or suburban schools. And it's the norm in many urban school districts around the nation for most schools to be 98-100% black or Latino. So our schools are far, far more diverse than those. -- Caroline, veteran SFUSD parent (8th-grader at Aptos Middle School, 11th-grader at School of the Arts; Lakeshore alumni)