Sunday, December 9, 2007

Alice's first private school screening

Alice was a wreck the night before her screening at Marin Country Day School. Generally, she's a good sleeper but sometimes, she simply can't fall asleep. We have a regular bedtime routine: bath, jammies, books, a song, hugs and kisses, back rub, a few more kisses, more hugs. And then I walk out the door and Alice and her brother, Sam, usually chat and giggle for a few minutes and doze off. But every now and then, Alice can't get to the Land of Nod. She'll lie quietly in her room for a while—sometimes an hour. I'll think she's fast asleep until she walks into the living room and says, "Mommy, I'm having a hard time. I can't sleep." This is just what happened last Wednesday night. And of course, when she said she was struggling to sleep, I got tense—because this was an important night for rest.

I walked Alice back to her bedroom and gave her more kisses and hugs—and then as I walked out of the room, she started to sob, uncontrollably. I tried to remain calm, taking lots of deep breaths, counting to 10 repeatedly in my head. I rubbed her back. I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, 30 times in a row. I told her a story about a rabbit who ate apples instead of carrots. And then I just lay down next to her, my body completely frozen while my heart pounded rapidly and my mind raced. I was thinking, "Fall asleep. You must fall asleep. What if she doesn't fall asleep? Okay, fall asleep now. I'm going crazy. Fall asleep!" Finally, by 10 p.m., Alice was fast asleep. (Alice usually goes down between 7 and 8 p.m.) Exhausted, I collapsed into my bed and fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning: I woke up and the bedroom was filled with light—usually it's dark when I rise. I look over at my husband and said, "What time is it?"

"If it's after 8 a.m., we're screwed!" (Our screening is in Corte Madera at 9:15 a.m.)

Ryan raced into the kitchen to check the clock, and sure enough it was 8:05 a.m. Our children never ever sleep this late. They're always up by 6:30 a.m. or 7 a.m. I started to freak out but Ryan assured me that this is a good thing because Alice needed the sleep. A few minutes later Alice walked into the bedroom; she's smiling.

"Mommy, are we going to the kindergarten today?"
she asked.

"Why yes, why don't you go pick out something to wear," I said in my calmest voice ever. "We're in a bit of a hurry dear, as we all slept a little late. We'll need to eat breakfast in the car."

Alice, my baby little girl, proceeded to go into her bedroom and put on navy blue tights, pink-striped bloomers over the tights (so they don't fall down), a polka-dot skirt, a flowery top, a peach colored sweater, and her black patent-leather shoes. She then brushed her teeth and hair, washed her face, and put a barrette in her hair. She did this entirely by herself. "I'm ready Mom! Let's go!" (Talk about rising to the occasion.)

By 8:30 a.m. and we were all in the car. Sam wasn't even wearing shoes—and my hair and teeth were both unbrushed. Ryan was at the wheel; his hair sopping wet. But Alice—who is an extremely careful particular little girl—was sitting neat and pretty in her car seat, her hands folded in her lap. There was no time to drop Sam off at school so the plan was that Ryan would drive us over to Marin and drop off Alice and me. Then Sam would drive back to the city to drop off Sam and then he would drive back to Marin to pick up Alice and me. Insane!

About a week ago, I had told Alice about the screening. I said, "I've visited lots of kindergartens and I found one that I really love and I want you to go check it out to see if you like it." I didn't have her practice writing her name; I didn't try to teacher her to read in a week. I didn't go out and buy her a new outfit. Really, the only preparation we did was visit MCDS a few weekends earlier for a book fair, so Alice was familiar with the school.

In the car, Ryan and I were getting a little stressed. The traffic was some of the worst we had ever experienced in the city—of course. We moved at a snail's pace along 19th and then we were entirely stopped on the bridge. I was convinced that we were going to be late—and I'm one of those people who is almost never late. Ryan called the school and left a message with the admissions director to say that we might be a late. Meanwhile, Alice sat quietly in the back of the car.

When we finally pulled up, it was 9:13 a.m.—and pouring down rain. Alice and I raced through the school to the screening room. Three other kids and their parents stood outside; we had made it just in time. We were let into the small room where there were some 10 adults and toys. Alice immediately became very shy. She clung to my leg; she sat in my lap; she wrapped her arms around my neck. We played a bit with some blocks on the carpet—but she wouldn't let go of me. Some of the teachers—who were all warm and friendly—asked her questions and Alice wouldn't say a word.

And then one of the school's admissions directors, Jeff Escabar, said that he was going to read a story and the kids needed to give their parents goodbye hugs and kisses. He spoke in one of those sweet friendly voices that kids love.

As I hugged Alice, I started to feel tears well up in my eyes, and I thought "If she starts to cry, we'll just run. That's what we'll do. We don't have to go through this. I love this school and it's like a dream for her to go here, but we'll run." And then Alice started to release her grip. Ever so slowly she removed her arms from around my neck and she looked deeply into my eyes and whispered, "Bye, bye Mama. I can do this."

Alice stayed in the room until 11 a.m.—and when I went to pick her up she was as happy as a clam. She was wearing a name tag with smiley face stickers on it. She said that she did activities with the teachers and afterward they gave her a sticker. She said that she drew a picture of herself, wrote her name, jumped on one leg, and played—and that's all I was able to get out of her. During the car ride home, she was quiet, but as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, she said, "Mama, I liked that school. I'd like to go there."


  1. I wish a few more "private school only or seriously considering "commentators were participating in the blog to hear more about that side. Since the posts have not started here yet I think this blog must be mostly those considering public. I know there are alot of people out there only looking at private and I think there is some interesting discussion around that.
    I think the parent interview would bring me more anxiety than my child's screening.

  2. Actually, I'm a private school mom with 2 kids in private and for some reason am hooked on this blog (even though I'm done going through the process). It was all such an interesting experience and I never get tired of hearing about what others go through doing it. The main thing I learned is that the vast majority of people end up someplace that works out very well for them, and if it doesn't work out well, they switch and move on.

  3. I would be interested in hearing a discussion on the pros and cons of single-sex education. Possible topic suggestion, Kate?

  4. To the private school mom: Did you consider public? What made you decide on private?

  5. I'm a parent looking at both public and private schools, but I'm really hoping to get into one of our private choices. We're only looking at privates that would provide something above and beyond great academics (which, of course, are important too), such as language and culture immersion or a strong values-based program. Yes, I hear the public school advocates asking me what values I am teaching my child if we end up at a private school. With just about everything in life there are trade-offs, and this is a very personal and difficult choice. Your posts have helped me reduce the number of private school on my list and increase my interest in public schools. I won't lie; I am still very much hoping we'll be accepted at one of the private schools, but you have seriously mitigated my concerns about public schools. I have cut several private schools off our list because I no longer feel that it's private school or bust. You have also made me think about what my child will miss out on if we go private, and I hear and respect what you're saying. Before reading all of your comments on this blog, academics and bullying were my big concerns (not that bullying doesn't happen at private schools). Having read your comments, I realize that there are several public schools where we would be happy and fine on both counts. Off my list are several private schools and on my list are public schools I never would have thought to include such as Flynn. I have posted a few times in the past but, for the most part, have viewed this blog as a place for me to learn. I'm also not a huge fan of receiving semi-hate mail, though the tone of comments has chilled a bit, which has really helped me to hear the points the public school advocates are making (thanks Caroline -- I hear you now, and you clearly have a lot to contribute to the discussion). Through this process I have gone from *private only* to a combination of public and private and a serious pruning of the private school list. I'm pretty sure I understand why Kate has not reveiwed SF Day - great academics to be sure but at a price that, at least for me, includes more than just tuition. And yes, I'm more concerned about the parent interviews, though I am *dying* to hear about Alice's first screening!

    Thanks again, Kate, for this amazing blog!

  6. I'm the private school mom. We moved to San Francisco from the peninsula the summer before our oldest daughter was starting kindergarten. It was a fairly sudden move and I really wasn't in a position to get enough of a handle on the public school situation here to make that choice.

    Coming from the suburbs, of course our perception was that SF public schools are terrible. Now that I'm here and have learned so much, I think that if we had been here when our daughter was in preschool there's a very good chance we would have ended up in public school instead of private. However, there are a few aspects of public school that would be of great concern to me (based on what I know) - primarily the influence of No Child Left Behind and the assignment of homework in the younger grades. It's interesting that these are NOT issues unique to SFUSD - I would have had exactly the same concerns in our old suburb, which has one of the "best" school districts around!

    My personal opinion is that private school does provide benefits and advantages, but I really can't say if those advantages are truly worth $20K/year in tuition. I do love all the opportunities my kids get at school, but those opportunities are also available from other sources in San Francisco. I also feel that we have a great parent community at my kids' school, but of course that's not something that you need private school to achieve.

    So, to sum it all up, we're very happy with our kids' school situation, but if we had been in a position to be better informed going into things we might have made a different choice.

  7. We're applying to private and public but focused more on private. I don't think public is bad choice at all, although I do think the lottery process creates a lot of anxiety. I do echo what the Peninsula parent says: I do hear stories of seriously heavy homework loads at some of the better regarded publics, and hear that's true in the Peninsula as well. That said, I don't know if it's worth $20k either.

    What I'm curious about are whether there are any real differences in parent population at different privates. A clear example is SF Day. They talk a lot about diversity and social justice, which contributes to an impression that their parent body is more diverse and laid back. But many people say the population there is no different than the fancy schools in Pac Heights. I wonder what the other poster referred to as the "price" for SF Day.

    We've done a number of interviews for privates and found the admission people very professional and easy to talk to. They know how anxiety provoking the process is and do what they can to leaven things.

  8. Has anyone visited The San Francisco School, on Gaven Street? What were your impressions?

  9. To the poster who asked about the San Francisco School: We visited SF School on Gaven a couple years ago. With very few exceptions, all kids start in pre-K. Unless something has majorly changed in the past year and a half, the only spots available in the grades above pre-K are from attrition. We liked many things about the school -- decent diversity for a private school, a seemingly kind community, low-key parents, interest in different cultures, a fantastic music program, etc. We weren't sure if the academics fit with what we were looking for, especially in math. We also felt that the school might be too progressive for us, which is a bit hard to explain and certainly a subjective response. We felt a sense of "you're privileged so feel guilty." Again, totally subjective; no one actually uttered those words. We *are* privileged and we want our son to have gratitude and feel a sense of responsibilty, but we felt it went a little too far for us, at least for the elementary school grades. Finally, our son was already quite happy at his preschool and we didn't love SFS enough to consider leaving his preschool. Our neighbors have two lovely children at SFS, and the family is very happy with the school.

  10. Great story, Kate. I'm glad Alice ended up having a good time! Sorry that you had such a stressful morning, but it sounds like you did an amazing job of keeping Alice from feeling that stress.

  11. Yes, seriously, Kate - great job. I don't think I could have done such a great job hiding my anxiety from my child!! I'm sure that Alice made a wonderful impression.

    BTW one thing that makes me anxious (so many things make me anxious!) about the private school screening is wondering what the parents do while the child is being screened.

    Do all of the parents hang out at the school? Do they NEED to? Do parents bring their younger children? Are they supposed to? Is this yet another time when we are supposed to network and make a good impression? I don't think I could make a good impression for 3 hours while stuck at a school! Plus, it is so hard for me to miss so much work!!

    FWIW, the missing work thing kills me, and it is ironic because one reason I am targeting private schools is bc I hear that they are often easier for the working parent who can't be in the classroom on a regular basis.

  12. One thing to remember is that often with private schools you are expected to help and "support" even more beyond the tuition. One expects that at a public but at a private you generally feel like "hey, gave at the office" so what the...! I have had many friends feel sideswiped by this. One friend called it Plus Plus, Plus the extra money for aftercare and Plus the money expected for the myriad fundraisers, auctions etc. Just something to remember or ask about when touring.

  13. Kate, I'm wondering why you decided to "out" Alice and yourself to the folks at MCDS by describing Alice's outfit.

  14. I am sure that Kate already said enough about herself to "out" herself at both of the private schools she is targeting. And why not - this blog is great!

  15. Dave here - I am often the tour leader at Flynn, though not when Kate visited. Just wanted to make a comment regarding Kate's very strong anonymity - at our school at least. We were all waiting for her to come to Flynn and to put a face to a name/blog. But she did not introduce herself as Kate, and gave no indication she was there. Other than a quick post the morning of her visit, that none of us were quick enough to read, we had no idea when she was visiting. In fact, when we found out she had been at Flynn, neither Kathy nor Vali, who were giving the tour that day, could figure out which one of the parents Kate was.
    ... dave

  16. Hi Kate,

    Your post about Alice's screening made me tear up. Thanks for your blog. I have been addicted to it.

  17. Question about The San Francisco School for the poster who had visited: What were your concerns about the academics? I think I read on or maybe it was different site that a parent thought the academics in the middle school were lacking. But what gave you that impression from visiting? Maybe I am not asking the right questions or looking in the right places when evaluating schools.

    I visited this year and was overall impressed with the warm atmosphere. The teachers all seemed really warm and intelligent. The facilities and the enrichment programs all looked great. I liked it. I can kind of understand what you mean about "guilt" relating to the progressive mission of the school. But I figure it's a good thing to try to teach more humanitarian values in school. That was one of the selling points to me.

  18. Wow, what a stressful morning. But if you do go to school there, won't every morning be so intense? Would it be worth it to travel that far every day for school? There are trade-offs with every choice, but it seems that's one that will really impact your family.

  19. Good luck, Kate, on getting your daughter into MCDS. We know three kids/families who attend (all people of color; interestingly enough) and the kids are all lovely people who seem to be thriving at MCDS.

    Don’t let people like cynical parent get you down – the rest of us truly appreciate the sharing of your experiences and the forum that you have helped create. I can honestly say that I cannot imagine having to go through this process without the insights and opinions generated by your blog.

    My wife and I have a slightly different experience than most; we were committed public school parents who have opened up to the idea of private school for our child. We are both Latino and my wife is a 12 year public school teaching veteran in some of the toughest schools in SF.

    We have both had negative and positive experiences with public schools in our lives – we both have experienced tracking in the public school system (my wife was told by her high school counselor not to bother applying to the UC system) and she is intimately familiar with the sometimes maddening bureaucracy and incompetence of SFUSD and she has seen how SF schools have gotten significantly better over the past 5 years and I went to one of the best public high schools in the country. So I think we have a good appreciation for both the possibilities and issues with public education.

    We went to private school orientations at the urging of some respected colleagues of my wife and were surprised how strongly we reacted to the possibilities and environment that some private schools offer. My wife was especially impressed with Dr. Jackson – the new head of school at SF Day School- and she was very enthusiastic about his approach to education and leadership. She has already incorporated some of the teaching methods that she has seen at some private schools into her own classroom.

    We have also been pleased with our choices in public schools. I think that overall the school lottery program has resulted in significant improvement across the board for most public schools and there are many excellent schools – especially at the elementary level.

    Even at a school like Redding, which is off the radar for most of the parents who read this blog because of location, student population and test scores, I was as impressed with the quality of instruction and dedication of the teaching staff as any other school in San Francisco. Darleen Lau, the principal, is doing an excellent job leading that school.

    At this point, we have not decided on what is the best school for our family. We are pursuing the public and private options in parallel and will decide after we have all our options clearly laid out in front of us.

    The choices and issues are not as clear cut as people make it out to be.

  20. To the person who asked about the San Francisco School:
    I made the comment about having concerns re: academics. I asked the a question about what math concepts the kids learn in 7th and 8th grade, and the person (an administrator, not a parent) was quite apologetic in tone when he explained that they had to teach algebraic concepts because soem public high schools no longer offered algebra and expected students had already taken it. I have no idea re: the validity of his statement, but we fully expect our child to graduate 8th grade having learned Algebra. The apologetic tone is what really got to us. I'm sure the kids do learn algebra. Also, I agree wholeheartedly with you about teaching humanitarian values at school. In fact, the only private schools left on our list build their programs around core values of kindness, respect, and participating in the greater community, both locally and globally. We took a couple of what many would consider to be the top academic programs off of our list because they didn't have as stong a focus on values as we would like. We just felt that the mission was conveyed with more "guilt" than were comfortable with. Again, our response is totally subjective, and it is a warm school with lots to recommend it. My husband and I had the same reaction to both the math response and the sense of guilt, which said to me that SFS is not the right place for our family, but I can easily see why it would be the right place for others. Again, our neighbors love the school, and their kids are bright, lovely people. It's just not a fit for us compared to several other schools.

  21. By choosing to raise children in San Francisco, we are automatically enrolled in the school of hard knocks. Teachable moments (aka crash courses) in harsh reality, justice, inequity, diversity, and social responsibility are all around us, all day, every day. It's a harder way to live, but it's ultimately the very reason our family stayed in the city rather than fleeing to the suburbs.

    Another reason we stayed was for the chance to offer our children the top-notch, cutting-edge academic education that exists only in San Francisco. For us, that is found in a school that is academically challenging and educationally progressive, that offers a strong sense of community and actively pursues diversity of all kinds, that is fundamentally allowed to shun governmental bureaucracy and incorporate into its very curriculum the values of tolerance, responsibility, justice, and perhaps even -- dare I say it? -- religion, AND that has the resources to pull it off.

    At the end of the day, I want to be sure that I'm not sending up my CHILDREN as little billboards for MY OWN societal do-goodedness solely by virtue of enrolling them in a public school. At the risk of contributing to the fall of Western civilization, we have chosen to wade in among the myriad of socio-political platforms slightly smaller than educational reform with our little ones: composting, pedestrian activism, sorting oranges at the Food Bank, philanthropy, cleaning oily birds...

    Perhaps we're just not big enough to make a decision that might benefit public schools more than it might benefit our own children; if so I swear we'll make it up to you, San Francisco!

  22. The choices and issues are not as clear cut as people make it out to be.

    Hallelujah! Thank you for a truly helpful and insightful post. It's exactly that kind of comparison and clarity that helps me think through the issues involved. Since we're all anon, do you mean a strong positive or strong negative reaction to the privates? Were there any particular privates or publics that really impressed you?

    Also agreed with the poster on Dr. Jackson. We thought he seemed smart, kind, open and very thoughtful.

    I know some poeple react negatively to the SF Day open house. We didn't like it either. But some families convinced us to apply anyway and to our surprise we totally changed our minds after the tour. The tour really impressed us.

  23. Kate,
    Reading "Bye bye Mama. I can do this." brought a lump to my throat. They grow up so fast. We will be going through this [again!] with our daughter in about 6 weeks.

    Good for Kate. I hope she gets in.

  24. "if so I swear we'll make it up to you, San Francisco!"

    As one who has written here about the social costs of going private, but also said it was a personal moral choice that must be weighed, I'll say I'm glad for this recognition that one's family might want to think about pitching in elsewhere (along the lines of carbon trading, perhaps?) to make up the difference. I would add:

    1) If you do go private, please advocate and vote for public schools when you get the chance, even if it doesn't directly benefit your kids, and even though you are paying that $20-25K per child for another school. I'm thinking of Prop A a few years ago (facility upgrades) and the wonderful Prop H (funding for libraries, arts and other wonderful things), also of a few years ago. We have seen the funding flow to local school sites from these measures and it has made a significant difference in the places where most of the kids really don't have that choice of going private.

    2) At any time, feel free to reconsider the public schools! Contrary to playground rumor in some parts of town, they are not only not bad, but many of them are downright good and your kids can get a good education there for free. Barring major meltdown in the teen years, I'm pretty confident my high-performing kids will have good options for college, especially with all the money I'm saving now by going public.

    No, I don't think the choices are cut and dried. But hopefully we public school advocates have helped some families reconsider public, for now or the future.

  25. I have been thinking about the whole private vs. public thing a lot, and one thing that Kate said still stands out in my mind: she is in her 20's! I think back to where I was, more than 10 years ago, and I can't imagine even having kids, much less owning a condo in posh Noe Valley or contemplating private school (!).

    I waited to establish my career before getting married, then waited to be established in my existing job before having kids, and now, in my 40's, I probably have a lot more money than Kate, but Kate will have a lot more money than she has now, in her 40's, and I don't think that there is anything wrong with using some of that money to spend it on private schools.

    Of course we support all of the propositions that have helped public schools. In fact, my husband and I have been active in local politics and have donated time and money, even hosted events, that have helped raise that money. We will submit the lottery but I actually would feel a bit guilty taking a spot at Rooftop, if we lottery in, when someone younger, who can't afford private schools, could use that spot more.

    Is that a messed up way to look at it? We are looking at both private and public, and I think we could make it work just fine at either, but I can't wrap my mind around the heavy handed moral judgment. We give to this City, this community, this world, in a lot of ways, and I'm proud of our contributions. As one of the posters said above, I don't need to use my children's education to make a political point. I make that political point in so many ways in other methods in my life.

    At any rate, I am genuinely grateful for this blog and the way it has helped me think through the issues. I'm still fraught with great anxiety about this process, but at least I know that I am not alone, and I have entire confidence that it will work out.

  26. To the last poster, I think it's great that you are contemplating the social impact your decision will have on the larger community. However, in my own view, it's not about the moral implications of public vs. private but rather that I place a premium on my kid's exposure to real diversity - people of different backgrounds, especially in terms of class. No matter what, private schools will skew largely to the wealthy and the kids are more or less coming from the same socio-economic background, regardless of race. I think that does a lot of harm to one's perception of the world. Simply put, many of these private school kids end up taking things for granted. The community service requirements at a lot of the private schools only goes so far to affect one's personal views about social justice when it's only 20 hrs/semester.

  27. To the poster in her 40's (me too), I'm glad you are politically active and support the propositions. I have said before that most posters here who are considering private seem to be decent, community-minded folk, so I would assume that most of you would support the schools with your votes regardless of where your kids attend school.

    However, I have heard some say, yes here in San Francisco, why should I vote for more taxes when I am already paying a burdensome $45K per year for my kids to go to school, I can't afford any more. This is one of the several concerns related to increasing privatization, that the sense of broader community investment will be decreased, not only the dollars and parental energy that one individual child brings to a local school, but seen in trends of community investment on a broader scale as the percentage of public-schooled kids decreases.

    San Francisco probably bucks this trend (which can be seen in places like Oregon, where the state and also localities have starved their schools as the percentage of immigrant kids has increased vis a vis an aging white population). Our city of few kids consistently votes for schools and libraries, at least so far. Thank you, San Francisco!

    Nevertheless. Although I have always voted for the schools, even before having kids, I certainly had greater sense of urgency in voting for Props A and H, knowing exactly what the needs were and what a difference the funding would make at my kids' own school site. It's the difference between being community-minded for other people's kids and having a sense that I am voting for a community, even family, of which I am very much a part. That is also the difference for our kids of being actually a part of a diverse community and doing community service on someone else's behalf.

    Anyway, we will all have a chance to put our money where our mouths are next year, when there will be a parcel tax measure on the ballot to help raise teachers' salaries. I hope you will all, public or private school parents, support this measure with your votes and dollars, and maybe even host an event as the poster says she has done in the past. That would be great contribution to the schools regardless of your personal choice for your kids.

  28. I'm the 40-something above. I want to make it extremely clear that I have never voted against tax increases - in fact, voted for them. Also, I did something that is pretty rare -- I lobbied in a fairly high profile forum against Proposition 13, and faced great opposition in my views. Of COURSE we'll vote for any parcel tax that raises teacher salaries.

    I think that, whether a family opts for private or public, it is extremely important to support public schools. Even though we are considering private, we have on several occasions made in-kind donations to public schools. We did this even when we had no intention of sending our children to those particular schools.

    Improving the public schools benefits all of us. But I think that there are many ways of improving those schools.

    Finally, as to the assumption that private school kids spend only 20 hours a semester on community service: I think that those types of values eminate from HOME. And I think that the majority of public school families -- which, mind you, are NOT the families represented on this blog -- don't spend most of their time on community service either. Let's not fool ourselves.

    Certainly there may be legitimate concerns that Republicans, who favor so-called "school choice" measures and prefer to abolish property taxes, populate many of the private schools. We take that very seriously, and it has made us think hard about what environment we want to educate our children in. That said, these are people that would never consider sending their children to public school in San Francisco anyway. If they don't get into their top choice privates, these folks will move to Ross.

  29. I'm glad we are identifying shades of grey here. We don't need to trash people for going private, or make them out to be all the same. Like the last poster who works to support the schools and is definitely not a privatizing Republican. Along the same lines, we can't dismiss the community benefit/loss moral arguments out of hand either, or dismiss public schools boosters as PC moralizers, because they have a point, a big one actually. It comes down to a personal decision with no doubt many factors, one of which really should be the community support issue along with quality, diversity and so forth.

    The weight of the discussion has me leaning toward public (helps that I have seen more than 7 good schools of course), but I have valued the points made by people who are coming from all sides, including those sitting on the fence. Not in a wishy-washy way (as in, I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay so let's not challenge each other, okay?). What I mean is that each point has moved the conversation further down the road, even the repetitious ones, because that is where some of the contradictions in this decision, or perhaps competing values, are exposed. At least for me in my process, so I can make a more intentional decision. Thanks to all who have shared here on the topic. It doesn't get to this level on the playground.

  30. Oh, my comment wasn't to say public school families participate in civic life more, but to say it is very important to me that the social milieu of the school population is diverse in terms of class. Sorry about the cynical aside of the 20 service hrs/semester. I did very much appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post.

  31. I was flyering for the last Prop. A in front of then-Albertson's on Sloat, and I did have one woman snap at me, in response to my proffered flyer: "My kids go to PRIVATE school." God, is it hard not to snap back. (But I didn't.)

  32. Caroline, what exactly is the point of your last post? If you are going to argue against private school - make your case again rather than using an association fallacy argument.

  33. anonymous, I assume she was responding to the eight or so posts immediately before hers. Her anecdote seemed in context of that conversation to me, and while it may not be representative of SF voters, including many community-minded private school parents on this blog, the attitude she describes does exist. It's exactly why one poster in the thread specifically asked private school parents to please vote yes for the schools measures, such as the upcoming parcel tax for teachers, even if their kids will not be affected by it directly.

  34. The last anonymous guessed my reasoning accurately.

    Of course I have many, many private-school friends who strongly support public education in every possible way except sending their kids there.

    Re the private-school mom snapping at me when I offered her a flyer for a school bond measure, occasionally you get the same reaction from elderly people, mostly men. It's really the same attitude -- they don't think it personally affects them if public schools are adequately funded, so they say "f*** 'em." One old geezer snapped at me once, "I'm against all that stuff." It wasn't clear what "stuff" -- schools? bond issues? Voting?

    Anyway, my point is that it DOES affect everyone, whether or not they send their kids to public schools.

  35. ok, so this is really a bit off topic (well, not entirely), but caroline's last post reminded me of a barbara kingsolver essay i've always loved ...

    also serves as my reminder to work on my "getting EU residency" idea if the you-know-who's get re-elected in 2008 ...

  36. ok, so this is really a bit off topic (well, not entirely), but caroline's last post reminded me of a barbara kingsolver essay i've always loved

    also serves as my reminder to work on my "getting EU residency" idea if the you-know-who's get re-elected in 2008 ...