Monday, December 17, 2007

Hot topic: public school picks

By now, many of us are starting to develop a list of our top seven public schools. I've got seven—though I've yet to finalize the rankings and I'm still hoping to visit a few more schools the first week in January.

Here's my current list:

Leonard Flynn (Spanish)
Buena Vista
Alvarado (Spanish)
Alice Fong Yu
West Portal (Chinese)
Miraloma
Rooftop

I hope to tour Clarendon and Starr King in January. If I lived closer to George Peabody, Alamo, Lakeshore, or Lawton, I'd include them on my list.

Please share your top picks. Parents who have already gone through the process, feel free to share your lists from years' past.

106 comments:

  1. My top picks: Clarandon, AFY, Sherman, Claire L, Argonne, Dianne F, and Alamo. With that list I should probably start thinking of my neighborhood school. But you never know..

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  2. Kate, since you seem fairly set on immersion, I'm curious why you decided to not include Fairmount in your list? As I recall, it is within a few minutes walk from your home?

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  3. I'm also set on immersion and am thinking of Alvarado (Spanish), AFY (Cantonese), Starr King (Mandarin), Farimount (Spanish) and West Portal (Cantonese). Not sure which the final two schools will be.

    I found the parent involvement at Fairmount and Starr King to be really exceptional and inspiring -- it made me want to be a part of their communities. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't feel the click so much with Flynn. And the tour guide at BV made it seem like a few parents pull the bulk of the weight there, which turned me off.

    It's hard to make the decisions. I've been obsessing about this for the past several months, and end up feeling like so much is random -- both in the limited view you get in a 2 hour tour of a school, and of course in the lottery deciding the final match.

    And, like the previous poster, I am curious what kept Fairmount off your list, Kate.

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  4. It's nice to see a list quite different from "the usual suspects." I'm curious, tho, about what you would do in the event that you got into MCDS and Flynn? They seem worlds apart.

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  5. final contenders (we live in outer noe, take public transport and that's a huge factor): fairmount, flynn sp, alvarado sp, rooftop, alvarado gen, mckinley, miraloma, harvey milk.

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  6. My list from a few years ago:

    Grattan
    Alvarado (Gen)
    Fairmount (Gen)
    McKinley
    Harvey Milk
    West Portal
    Clarendon

    We got our first choice, Grattan

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  7. Is anyone including Monroe? I have heard great things

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  8. Miraloma
    Alvarado Spanish Imm.
    Fairmount
    Rooftop
    Clarendon
    Monroe Spanish
    Lawton

    In that order. Not sure what will happen in first round...I think that I will have some priority for the second...

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  9. I'm sure most of you know this already, but Clarendon is two programs so can be two slots.

    As to me, we are still very undecided! We did, like most people, like Miraloma a lot. I would like to put Alvarado on the list, but I'm really worried about the playground and lunch time chaos factor. We also like Rooftop and Clarendon (both programs). We hope to visit West Portal and AFY after the break - are those schools done with tours? (say no!)

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  10. Here is my current list (though it definitely could change)

    Flynn (Sp)
    Miraloma
    Grattan
    McKinley
    Alvarado (Sp)
    Rooftop
    Fairmount (Sp)

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  11. Of course each family has to decide what are the important and deciding factors, but as an Alvarado parent for many years I think the playground issue was overblown in a previous discussion.

    Something to know is that the kids are segregated into three separate lunch and recess groups (K-1, 2-3, 4-5)....I believe this was misreported as two groups (K-2, 3-5) somewhere on this blog. In the lower grades, the kids are further segregated by lower yard and upper yard (switching each recess) to give the kinders even more set-aside space. Teachers provide playground and lunch room supervision and there also is a paid lunch recess supervisor.

    Some teachers also allow kids to stay in and read during recess and after lunch (this is on a per teacher basis). Other teachers provide special activities at recess like basketball practice and leading games.

    The play structure in the upper yard is orthopedist-approved with soft mats (contrast with pre-2004 play structure with asphalt that led to several broken bones) and is also wheelchair accessible. It was grant-funded in the wake of those injuries and was a barn-raising experience that took kids' design suggestions into the planning. The picnic tables on the upper yard and the new garden area on the lower yard are providing spots for kids who want a quieter recess. Many classes also get their fresh fruit snacks during first recess so there are teachers and parents on the yard handing those out.

    I realize that a couple of parents spotted a lack of supervision on a tour they were on. That is definitely not the norm. I don't know if that situation was because of a miscommunication with a sub, or perhaps a teacher-supervisor helping a child with a bathroom or illness emergency, but it is just not the norm. I actually really know this from personal experience, because my spirited child likes to push the envelopes of any seemingly arbitrary rules and has plenty of interactions about them with the current lunch supervisor that I get to hear about a lot (!).

    None of this is to say that yard staffing ratios will be the same as in the kids' preschools. They just won't be, anywhere. It may seem crazy now, but a year from now it won't seem so much. I'm facing the leap to middle school with some trepidation, and I do remember the jump from preschool, so I get the anxiety. It seems so impossible--but then kids grow and stretch into bigger kids and they actually want their independence.

    I was talking with my kids about teasing the other day. They don't think it is an enormous problem at school, at least not more than at any other social kid space like summer camp. They could each name some incidents, but nothing persistent and systemic. I would guess it is at levels similar to any other schools that have good leadership, excellent teachers, and plenty of parents on site. It is there. It is not the dominant culture by any means.

    I am also aware of interventions in the classroom to teach inclusion, notably with a kid who is noticably "different" due to a visible special needs situation. Some of this stuff can be hard even for grownups, so it has to be taught.

    It's important to say that Alvarado has a clear mission to teach cross-cultural appreciation and interaction given the significant cultural groups that are there. This is not always easy; it would be easier to be in a school where everyone looks and acts like our family's "tribe" in race and class terms. But what an education for the kids to learn how to do this and to learn to appreciate others' cultures.

    Another note is that Alvarado will soon be one of twelve pioneer schools in the nation to teach a new inclusion curriculum on LGBT issues. We have a gay principal and many gay families, and already have a family diversity/gay pride annual assembly along with the Day of the Dead, MLK, Women's Day, and Cinco de Mayo.

    There are smaller schools than Alvarado, so if the playground energy issues are paramount, you might consider them first. I just wanted to say that our experience in 5+ years with the school has not matched the posters' impressions from that tour.

    Fwiw, we got Alvarado in the first round and as our first pick way back when. We know families that have gotten in on the first round, so it's not impossible. Seems to me that Flynn is in a similiar situation as Alvarado was then, very much up and coming, over-subscribed but not ridiculously so. Great opportunity to jump on the wagon there, I think. For Kim who asked about Marshall, I have (white, educated) friends who are very happy there with the warm community and the Spanish.

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  12. i just counted up the names listed here and found 20 schools listed (not even counting separate programs within schools that provide another choice).

    that's from just a few posters who are readers of a blog that has a bit of a noe valley focus (not for all readers, no doubt, but it is hardly surprising given that kate has said this is her neighborhood).

    not bad. definitely more than the proverbial 5 schools of yore.

    it's great to see these lists, keep them coming!

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  13. I just stumbled upon this blog and wish it was available last year! A few comments from a Mom of two 'Kindergartners'...

    - There is not much (any) discussion of inclusion/special education programs in the various schools. I want to add my two cents that having such programs on a school campus add to my children's understanding of individual differences and instill an empathy for others. This results in my children not focusing on someones differences, but focusing on the person and accepting differences.

    - To expand the geographic options, those of you reading who are in the Northern areas of SF should take a look at Jean Parker Elementary (K-5). It's quite a hidden gem found on the East side of the Broadway Tunnel, adjacent to Chinatown, North Beach & Financial District.

    PROS: Dedicated former teacher who is now Prinicpal (note: she'll provide a tour when it work s for YOUR schedule); amazing team of K teachers; separate playgrounds #1 for K-1, #2 for 2-3 7 #3 for 4-5; very neighborhood/community oriented - sing/visit/etc. with elderly, visit local police/fire stations; state-of-the-art computer lab; music/movement&dancing/art instruction - definite academic emphasis, but I'm glad there is focus beyond academics; corporate volunteers help with literacy program; beautiful & inviting library; school funds are focused where needs are; Chinese Bi-lingual program; on-site aftershool care available;

    CONS: Not as diverse as I would hope as compared to our pre-k program;

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  14. question: if you choose to participate in round 2 of the lottery for whatever reason, do they only let you put schools on your second list of 7 that they know are (at that moment, at least) undersubscribed (not counting your waitlist choice)?

    curious about this...

    also: anecdotally, does anyone know anyone who got their top choice off the waitlist at any time through september who was NOT in the first cohort (i.e., who did not put 7 choices and got none of them)?

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  15. Kim, I believe the answer to your 1st question is yes. I have a friend who went through the lottery last year who put down 7, got none. She didn't end up doing Round 2, other than the waitlist option. Although I haven't directly asked her this question, she recently gave me her binder of school info and there is a '2007-2008 Amended School Choices List' and the only schools listed are the undersubscribed schools. It states: 'SCHOOLS/GRADES/PROGRAMS WITH POTENTIAL OPENINGS-MARCH 19, 2007 (This list changes constantly; there are no guarantees that openings exist in the schools/grade/programs listed)'.

    I had this same question because I still don't totally get it. Even the oversubscribed schools should theoretically have some openings after Round 1 when the parents who got assigned to them do not end up registering their child (b/c they've decided to go private, move, etc.). I know that a large number of parents do go ahead and register their child just as a backup, but I would think that there must be some who don't? Of course any such openings would get filled via the waitlist, which starts up at the same time as Round 2, but I don't understand why they don't run all schools through Round 2.

    Re. your 2nd question, I know of someone 2 years ago who got Alvarado (Gen Ed) after the 10-day count when she was initially assigned McKinley, which was supposedly one of her choices. That would have put her in a lower cohort. I would have to check to be 100% sure that it was definitely one of her choices though. The friend I mentioned above did get CL off of the waitlist, but she was in the 1st cohort, which we know has some luck with the waitlist.

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  16. In answer to your second question, a friend of mine who went through the kindergarten process last year got her 4th choice in the first round (Monroe Spanish immersion). She accepted that choice and wait-listed for Buena Vista, which was her first choice, and got into Buena Vista in the first or second wait pool run (it was late spring or early summer).

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  17. Here's my list, though still not 100% sure of the order:

    - AFY
    - West Portal (both programs)
    - Clarendon (both programs)
    - Flynn (Spanish)
    - Starr King (Mandarin)

    Rooftop is a "maybe" but I won't see it until January. (It's 7:50 with the mitigating factor of K-8.)

    If I weren't scared of a 7:50 start-time I would add Miraloma and Dianne F.

    Alvarado was on our list for awhile but we decided to focus on Flynn - if we're going to do Spanish Immersion we want to support our local school (which is Flynn). Plus Alvarado's got the dreaded 7:50 start-time! I'm trying really, really hard not to avoid that. Good luck to everyone!

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  18. I'm curious about listing super popular schools, such as Clarendon, anywhere other than #1. Is there a strategy to that? I know lots of schools get more #1 requests than spots, and schools like Clarendon have waaay more. If I'm not going to list Clarendon as our #1, should I just leave it off the list altogether, as we won't get a spot there listing it as even #2? I'm not sure I'm really understanding how this works!

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  19. Regarding Clarendon and not listing it first. I wasn't able to tour more than 7 schools, so I put down what I toured in order of preference.

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  20. It is my understanding that the lottery algorithm is designed to take ALL of your picks into account, and if you are a match for more than one school at the moment your child's name is run, it gives you the higher pick of those. Theoretically it would be possible not to be matched demographically with a higher pick (i.e., one that is not as wildly popular as Clarendon but is still over the top in applicants) but for Clarendon to have an opening at that moment in the lottery for you. Depends on who got assigned ahead of you (which itself depends on your lottery number) and what their lottery demographics were.

    As well, there is an advantage to putting seven schools on the list because you will be in a higher cohort for the wait list if you put seven but get none of your choices. Since it is advisable that all seven schools on the list be acceptable to the applicant family, Clarendon might fill one of the lower slots on someone's list to get to seven-- not the top choice but better than leaving it blank and ending up in a lower cohort if none of the top picks pans out in the first round.

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  21. A bit of clarity about ranking discovered at the enrollment fair. It doesn't matter whether you list Clarendon #1 or #7 - your name will be thrown into the lottery for Clarendon and your chances will be no better for having listed it 7th vs. 1st. Apparently, every school has their own separate lottery and you could theoretically receive TENTATIVE assignments at two or more schools. EPC only looks at rankings if you do happen to get into two or more schools and offers you an assignment at the one you personally ranked highest.

    This is good in that there is less "gaming" the system but bad in that if you really really want a program, your chances of getting in are no better than someone who listed it 7th.

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  22. thanks for all the clarification on how the process works. i can second the info on rankings -- they are only used to break ties between your own choices if you get into more than one program.

    now, on to other nitty gritty stuff: second languages.

    does anyone have info on how it factors into your profile vis-a-vis the diversity index if your kid speaks a second language at home? does it depend on what the second language is? does it depend on what their proficiency level is (i.e., equal or greater frequency than english)? (i am operating here on the assumption that the family in question does not qualify for section 8 housing/free lunch, etc.)

    i am basing these questions on what was asked on the application, and also what was asked on the affidavit we had to fill out testifying to my daughter's french proficiency.

    i can't help but wonder what they are going to do with that information, you see.

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  23. Kim, I have no idea about the French proficiency. I believe that being fluent in the (non-English) language of an immersion program could be an advantage, depending on the mix already accepted in that class by the time your number comes up, as they are seeking to balance those classes by language ability.

    To the poster just before Kim, yes, the system could admit someone who put, say, Clarendon #7 over someone who put it #1, but theoretically, at least before lottery numbers are assigned, you would still have a better chance than the #7 chooser because that person would have a chance of getting one or more of choices #s 1-6. I'm glad it is hard to game the system....not an easy process, but as fair as any, I think.....

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  24. Couple of points about waitlist vs ammended choices (At least this is my understanding, contact PPS to be sure). We were 0 for 7 a couple of years ago but our assigned school wasn't scary so we didn't put down any ammended choice schools for round 2, just a waitlist school (which we got in round 2). The waitlist has higher priority than the ammended choices list so the only reason to put a school down as an ammended choice is if there's a school with spots that you are more comfortable with than your assigned school. Any popular school will only be assigned via the waitlist in round 2.

    We have neighbors who had Clarendon as their 5th choice, had less popular schools higher up their list, and got Clarendon. It seems odd but it does happen.

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  25. i'm having a hard time putting our list together (it's really my list, because i've done 99.9% of the legwork, but that's a whole other story ...), primarily because so many of the schools i've liked start at 7:50 a.m. and i just can't decide if i'm up for that. we're not exactly morning people ... have any other "not early riser" types being able to reform themselves and their families, so to speak, and get onboard with early start times? Or am I just setting ourselves up for misery and failure (while being incredibly overtired and cranky)? i guess the guilty cultural Catholic in me can't entirely let go of the idea that i should be able to wake up earlier if it means getting my child into a school we love. the realist in me thinks i should tell the catholic in me to shut the hell up ...

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  26. We put down the following:

    1) Miraloma
    2) Grattan
    3) Clarendon
    4) Rooftop
    5) West Portal
    6) Alvarado (GE)
    7) Lawton

    we'll see what happens. luckily our neighborhood school is pretty decent.

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  27. Not one of us is a morning person but we ended up at a 7:50 start time school. Yes, we have adjusted, though I take no responsibility for anyone else doing so! It is hardest just before the switch to standard time, when the mornings can be ugh, dark.

    Sometimes I think longingly of our friends who have a later start time, but then it turned out to be a good thing when I had to go back to work after the divorce and the early hours gelled with my commute. Also, it has given us more flexibility for sports in the afternoons.

    Really can't speak for anyone else about whether this should be a factor or not. Somehow, we manage it.

    I do a lot of organizing of stuff the night before, because I know how awful I am in the morning. Coffee is set to brew on a timer, kids' clothes are laid out, cereal bowls set out, lunches ready to be packed (just need to put the PB on the sandwiches, other things like carrots and dip are in their little containers in the fridge ready to go), school papers and permission slips signed and backpacks set by the door. I also usually shower the night before, as do the kids. Pretty much we roll out of bed and are out the door in about 20 minutes.

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  28. I've got a few comments on the lottery topic:

    1. As I understand it, people have described the lottery system correctly. Your child goes into a separate lottery for each of the seven schools you pick. If you get tentatively assigned to more than one school (i.e., "win the lottery" at that school), the EPC will officially assign you to the school you ranked highest.

    A - it does not matter if you rank a school #1 or #7; your chances of being tentatively assigned to that school are the same.
    B - "winning the lottery" at a particular school means that your demographic profile balances the demographic makeup of the incoming grade AT THAT MOMENT in the lottery process.
    C - Having one of the demographic characteristics (extreme poverty, Section 8 housing, non-English home language, no preschool) is only an advantage if the incoming class does not have those characteristics.
    D - The "neighborhood" advantage means that you will be closer to the front of the line in the lottery for your neighborhood school than someone outside your "neighborhood."

    One question that I puzzled over for a long while was why any popular, oversubscribed schools would end up with any children that did not put it as their 1st choice? Since there were so many applicants for the spots, wouldn't only 1st choice people get those spots? If so, doesn't that make it pointless to put a popular school 2nd, 3rd, or 4th since there's no chance you'll get it?

    The answer I've figured out is that it does matter. Our child will be in a separate lottery (all running simultaneously) for each school (i.e., seven separate lotteries). If he gets a tentative spot in his 5th choice school and his 7th choice school but none of his other schools, he will be officially assigned to his 5th choice school. If that school is Clarendon/Miraloma/Aloma/AFY etc., then he will be one of the kids in that school as a 5th choice rather than a 1st choice. In that way, incoming classes can be made up of kids who chose the school anywhere from 1st to 7th.

    Then I asked, "Wait, a second. Why is this fair? Why should a kid who put Clarendon 5th get the spot over my kid who put Clarendon 1st? I really want Clarendon more than that kid!"

    The reason that it works out is two-fold. First, the kid who got Clarendon 5th got his HIGHEST choice. Everybody gets their highest choice possible after the simultaneous lotteries are run. Second, the system emphasizes demographic diversity. If my child does not diversify the incoming grade, he does not get assigned. This makes it possible for the classes to be more equally diverse.

    So our "strategy" is to put down seven schools that we really want and put them down in the exact order that we want them.

    Hope this helps. Please correct any mistakes in this thinking.

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  29. i think the lottery system works well in a lot of ways. one things that drives me nuts, however, is that you can only waitlist for one school from your first list. i realize it would be administratively challenging to manage more than one list -- though isn't that what they're already doing in round 1? -- but it seems sad and not consumer-friendly to have to completely give up on all but one school if you like several equally. (e.g., our top three choices in no particular order are fairmount, flynn sp and alvarado sp, but if we get none we can only waitlist for one of them, when i know very well that we would be just as likely to get into one of the three off of three waitlists -- and possibly be happier -- than anything we might consider for our second 7 in round 2. maddening.

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  30. On the issue of "top picks":

    One of the most interesting things about this process for me has been uncovering what it is that I'm looking for in a school and de-constructing the cliches we hear about "good schools". Instead of listing the schools we've picked (which are fairly similar to everyone else's here), I'm going to describe the characteristics we were looking for a what they mean to us. These are not in any particular order.

    Diversity -- this is such a troublesome and complex concept. While my spouse wanted it, I wasn't sure what it meant other than different colored children in the classroom (my ignorance). As we've gone on these tours, I've come to see diversity as "people not like our son." Why is this important to me? Not because we're citizens of San Francisco and we have a duty to participate in civic life, not because it benefits us all to value diversity, but simply because getting to know people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives will allow my son to reflect more on his own experience and understand his own nature more deeply. Therefore, diversity is important to me.

    The question then is, how important? If I want socioeconomic and cultural/racial diversity in my son's school, doesn't that also mean diversity in "readiness for school"? If I choose a diverse environment for him, how do I know that the teachers will have time for him instead of concentrating on all the kids that are "less ready" for schooling?

    My answer to this issue is not completely solid, but I have been reassured by seeing able teachers address the needs of all their kids -- those who are ready to go forward and those who are adjusting to schooling. So I am willing to keep have a diversity of readiness in the school.

    Academics -- what does this mean? Certainly not test scores or meeting the state standards. Academics, to me, means a challenging curriculum that each teacher puts a personal spin on to make it interesting to the kids. How do I see this in the schools? I have no idea. Sometimes hallway or classroom decor gives hints of writing or art emphases. Some teachers have science equipment in their classrooms. Some have computers (tho' I'm inclined to believe this is an irrelevant detail).

    I guess the question of good academics is a mystery that can only be figured out after you're placed at a school in a classroom. We have to rely on hearsay, reputation, and impressions.

    Convenience -- Should convenience really matter when considering my child's education? Why wouldn't I drive across the city for the best program for him? Why wouldn't I change our lifestyle to make the 7:50 (ugh!) start time?

    The answer, for me, is that the school is more than a program for my child; it is a community that we are joining. To fully participate in that community, we need to be able to spend time at the school, both planned and spontaneous. We need to be close to his classmates and their parents. We need to find a place that we (and he) are excited to go to every day. Travel time and start time are key factors in being part of the school community.

    Physical environment - While this is not crucial to our choices, the layout and condition of the school does suggest what kind of place it is. Wide-open spaces, loud hallways, and automated procedures are not my thing. Intimate nooks, carpeted rooms, and a certain informality are my style.

    Principal -- does the principal really matter? At some schools, I've been wowed by the principal; at others, I've felt embarassed for the principal. But does the principal represent the experience my child will have? As I've gone on in this search, the answer seems to lean toward "No." If the school has an established program with committed teachers (which is a big if), then the type of principal does not matter. If the school is still developing and has weak teachers, the principal can be crucial. But I've seen good schools with great principals and awful principals -- either way, they're still good schools.

    There are other factors that I can't think of right now, but those have been the biggies in choosing our schools.

    Sorry if I've blabbed on and on...just clearing my head of all these thoughts and issues before the holidays!


    ps -- while people may want to remain anonymous, could they at least choose a screen name? It's hard to keep track of conversations when everyone has the same name ("Anonymous said...")!

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  31. to kdoah -- could you elaborate on this?

    D - The "neighborhood" advantage means that you will be closer to the front of the line in the lottery for your neighborhood school than someone outside your "neighborhood."

    Isn't your lottery number random? How do head to the front of line?

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  32. We are not early risers either but many of our picks last year were 7:50 schools and we ended up at Grattan. Fortunately, it's not too far from home and we've adjusted to getting up early. It's actually been a plus in getting me to work on time : ) The evenings are very short since we all get home from work and after school around 6 and then try to enforce at an 8 p.m. bedtime. We also prepare everything the night before and get the kids up around 7 and out the door by 7:30. Definitely an adjustment, but it's been worth it.

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  33. Anonymous asked about "heading to the front of the line"...

    From what I understand, each school has its own lottery. First, it collects every kid that put that school on their list. Then, it separates all these kids into two groups -- those in the "neighborhood" and those outside it. Then it runs the diversity algorithm (choosing kids that are most different from current class) on just the neighborhood kids. If, and only if, there are not enough kids who diversify the class in the neighborhood, then the school runs the diversity algorithm using the kids outside the neighborhood.

    That's the basics, I think. However, it gets very complicated. For instance, if the second algorithm is run to find more diversity, and a kid is assigned to the school, the current class's diverity profile is different. It may now be different enough to accept another kid from the neighborhood. Even though the neighborhood kid didn't diversify the class before, he does now that an outside kid has been added.

    Sounds like a fun process, doesn't it? You can imagine how complicated this gets with this happening at all 100 schools simultaneously!

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  34. kdoah is correct about the lottery elements in his/her earlier post. I believe that strategy is the best: put seven schools you want in exactly your order of preference.

    There is a neighborhood preference in the lottery for some schools, but not the alternative ones like Rooftop. (There was a discussion on another thread about the designation of alternative and how that came about...it is a bit of a relic now). Neighborhood preference applies if you live within the school's attendance area boundaries, which include satellite zones as well as immediate neighborhood. If you do not have an assigned neighorhood school (e.g., the old Edison school area in the Mission), the computer will assume that your first non-alternative choice is your neighborhood school and will give you that preference.

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  35. Wow.

    So from the neighborhood group (for example) for an individual school do they bring up a kid at random and see if the kid contributes to diversity, plug the kid in or not, and then pull up the next kid at random?

    Or, does every applicant go in with a number that determines the order in which they will be examined (and is it the same number at every school)?

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  36. Can someone post the link to the neighborhood school map? (Sorry - I can't find it) Thanks!

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  37. Kids are picked at random. Kids do not "go in with a number" at any time.

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  38. http://portal.sfusd.edu/apps/SCHFIND/showmap.cfm

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/ES%20Map.pdf

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  39. What is Alvarado B/Spring Valley N?

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  40. So to recap (correct me if I'm wrong): the schools do not care where you ranked them when they bring up your name. But if you qualify for more than one of your choices the district will give you your highest choice.

    Therefore there is no strategy, other than listing your choices first to last, that would further your cause.

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  41. do they only let you put schools on your second list of 7 that they know are (at that moment, at least) undersubscribed (not counting your waitlist choice)?

    I'm no expert but I don't think that's true. A few years ago we skipped the first round, only did the second round, only put down Rooftop, and got in.*

    And ended up somewhere else altogether.

    I don't think they have different rules about what you can put down in the second round depending on whether or how you participated in the first round.

    *Disclaimer: this outcome was most likely due to luck and the example is not intended to suggest a strategy.

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  42. Q: What is Alvarado B/Spring Valley N?

    A: Satellite attendance areas that count as "neighborhood."

    Yes, the best strategy is to put down your top seven choices in your order of preference.

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  43. I'm wondering why most people interested in immersion are not putting Buena Vista on their list...

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  44. Q: What is Alvarado B/Spring Valley N?

    A: Satellite attendance areas that count as "neighborhood."

    Thanks Liz

    Does that mean if I live in that box that Moscone, Alvarado and Spring Valley are considered "neighborhood'?

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  45. We have to narrow this list but here are the ones we're considering: Buena Vista, Alvarado, Fairmount, Flynn (all Spanish immersion), Starr King, Jose Ortega (both Mandarin immersion), Harvey Milk, SF Community, Miraloma, and Rooftop. I feel great about having so many I would be happy with, including some that at least in past years have not been that difficult to get into.

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  46. For those of you who are interested in the nitty-gritty of the lottery, I procrastinated last night by making a chart/graph illustrating how the diversity algorithm works (...at least, how I think it works). You can view it at:
    http://docs.google.com/PresentationEditor?id=drt3pjz_3d2b22nd2#

    Email me at kdoah@speakeasy.net if you have any comments/questions

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  47. Our list from last year

    Rooftop, Clarendon, Grattan, McKinley, Argonne, Lafayette, Peabody

    We got Grattan in the first round and decided not to waitlist anywhere and instead just enjoy the certainty of finally knowing where our son would go to K. So far, we love it! Good luck everyone.

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  48. Curious about SF CommunityDecember 20, 2007 at 3:02 PM

    I've been very interested in SF Community but have not been able to make it to their tour given I work on Fridays. Can anyone weigh in on this school? Thanks!

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  49. did anyone else see the recent comment on the Flynn review by a current parent there? they gave the sense that the upper grades are problematic -- sounds like not all the teachers are onboard with immersion. i was wondering if anyone else had heard something similar (someone responded asking for more info, but the parent didn't reply yet). i'm hoping in the case of a school like flynn that things will continue across the board as more families decide to send their children there.

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  50. Kate -- I'm wondering why you pulled your latest post (on financial aid)? I guess some of the responses were kind of ugly...? Or am I hallucinating new content in the quest for feeding my addiction to this blog? In any case, I just wanted to lend some support: the purpose of financial aid is to offer the opportunity of a private school education to the widest range of people possible. You (and everyone else) fall into that range! It's yours to take.

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  51. I think the Flynn 3rd grade parent who posted her concerns is a friend of a friend and I am trying to get a message to her to respond to your questions.

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  52. I was just about to reply in support of your last post before you pulled it.

    In essence, if you can't bitch about your life in your own blog, then what's the point?

    One of the reasons I enjoy reading blogs is because you get a more unvarnished viewpoint of people's true opinions, concerns and tribulations. It would terribly boring, and much less honest, if everybody just wrote about counting your blessings and acknowledging their guilt about their own good fortune.

    I know a lot of people who are considered 'poor' and most people don't really care if someone is richer than them - people just don't want to be looked down upon for not being as rich as someone else. Other than that - no one really begrudges anyone the blessings one has in their own life.

    People need to get off their moralistic high horses. Just ignore their comments and move on.

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  53. A few years back my list was:

    Rooftop
    Clarendon JBBP
    Clarendon Gen
    Alvarado Gen
    Lilienthal Gen
    Alvarado SpImm
    West Portal Gen

    We were assigned to our first choice Rooftop.

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  54. I'm sorry too Kate if you pulled that last post because of people's comments. It's very brave and generous of you to bare your soul and share your family's experiences here for the rest of us. I truly enjoy your blog and hearing your story (and benefitting from all the great dialogue you've helped to create, as well as the informative reviews).

    I read your last post and could identify with quite a bit. For us, it really would be a big stretch to pay for private school, and I think I feel comfortable enough with public school, that I won't apply to the privates. But I do often find myself wondering what my family and I are doing living here in the Bay Area. Don't get me wrong -- I love it. It's an amazing place. But it's also formidably expensive, even when you're making decent money. Like many people, we're scraping by as it is every month. Not a lot left over for extras. But sometimes I think, but what an amazing place for a child to grow up. And then I remember this sweet boyfriend I had when I first moved out here in the 1990s. He was from Wisconsin. As we were driving down Route 1 one day, near Big Sur, I remember him saying how he was happy he'd grown up someplace small and not in a place like San Francisco. He was happy he had these new experiences -- he wondered if living around such a vivacious city and gorgeous part of the country would leave young people jaded. How can a small lake in Wisconsin compare with the stunning scenery. It's hard to be wowed when you've grown up in such a place.

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  55. Yes, I did pull the post because of the comments. I just felt really bad about my post--and thought I might have offended some people. I'll re-post it tonight with some tweaks.

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  56. Haha, I'm from Wisconsin and I have to say, that Wisconsin comment was pretty funny - and offensive. Wisconsin is as beautiful as San Francisco, and in some regards more beautiful. Lake Michigan is not some "small lake" -- you actually can't see the other side of it, so it looks as big as the Pacific Ocean to those who live on it.

    People in Wisconsin, especially Milwaukee, where I grew up (and hi! I know someone else who grew up in Milwaukee posts here too!) tend to be totally down-to-earth and non-materialistic. I grew up in one of the most materialistic and shallow suburbs in Wisconsin and when I arrived here for college (I went to Stanford) I was really shown that _anyplace_ in Wisconsin is totally the minor league materialism wise! You can buy a mansion on Lake Michigan with servants' quarters, 8 bedrooms and 2 acres of land including beachside for about the same price as the typical 3-bedroom in the Marina district. Whatever. It's cold there.

    Back to the normally scheduled discussion.

    Yes, Kate, I'm glad you are putting the other post back. Even though I didn't get a chance to check it out closely, I sure want to now! :)

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  57. (re-reading that previous comment, "offensive" is too strong - probably "amusing" and "typical" ... we Wisconsin natives are so subject to ridicule, we should get thicker skin ;)

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  58. Oh - but now that you are posting again, please let us know why Fairmount didn't make your list, even though you can walk there. Sounds actually like there were just schools you liked more...

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  59. Sorry, i didn't meant to offend with the wisconsin post. (that's what happens when you dash off a hastily thought-out reply after a full day in a cubicle ...). of course lake michigan isn't a little lake, and Door County is gorgeous. I didn't mean to dis' on your home state (my old beau was from a tiny town with a tiny lake, of which there are many in wisconsin). what i meant is that i sometimes think about the reasons my husband and I stay in sf, and think well maybe it wouldn't be the end of the world if we passed it up to go live somewhere less expensive, less crowded and, yes, perhaps less exciting. anyway, i'll stop. no more about wisconsin. again, sorry if i offended you.

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  60. haha, seriously, that's ok, we get it all the time! It is pretty and the schools are fabulous, but it is SO COLD! Brr.

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  61. what was offensive about it? (I didn't see any of the posts) you were being honest and i loved the stuff about the Nutcracker. i took my little girl on Tuesday night and it's "serious business" for her too! i'm sorry you feel bad. it was a brave post on a very personal issue. (and money is quite a taboo subject to begin with)

    at first, i really wanted private schools. but my husband (who is very fiscally conservative) insisted we try to get through 5th grade in the public schools. we talked about asking for financial aid - just to bring the sum down to something he could swallow - but figured they'd take one look at our combined income and laugh us right out the door - and that's AFTER i'd put in way too much time on tours, interviews, open houses, applications, letters of recommendation and assessments -- not to mention the stress that comes when you realize there are only 6 Kindergarten spots for girls for which they'll receive 250 applications ... maybe this is an exaggeration but the odds started to feel worse than the public school lottery... not to mention the stress over how i'd feel if we were rejected at all the places our friends got into... and so on.

    there's actually something really liberating in saying "yeah, we could afford this, but forget it! we'll save our $300K (in today's dollars) along with all the social baggage that comes with it!"

    if i've offended anyone for this, i really apologize. i DO NOT begrudge anyone for wanting private school for their kids! i truly understand the draw there! it's a totally individual decision. i just thought i'd share the ins-and-outs of how we arrived at ours.

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  62. Here's our list:
    AFY
    Lawton
    Jefferson
    Sunset
    West Portal (Cantonese)
    Lakeshore
    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Basically drew a circle around our house and commute routes. Top three are both closest and top two have the advantage (for us, at least) of K-8. The rest are bit further away but along commute routes, and they seemed great.

    Now we leave it fate...(of the SFUSD).

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  63. You can never escape:

    I was on vacation and met a couple in their 60s from L.A. They said, "Oh, our daughter lives in San Francisco." Further discussion elicited this info: three grandkids in S.F., two elementary-school age and one younger; attending Friends school.

    The couple volunteered: Oh, the grandkids had to go to private school because the school district has this lottery process and blah-blah. The cost is a huge burden to their family and they wish they didn't have to do it.

    Of course I gave them PPS' contact info, and mine.

    This left me wondering, yet again -- how many families go private unwillingly, entirely because they have the impression that the lottery process is totally impossible? How many of them get that it's still less onerous, less labor-intensive and no less uncertain than the private-school application process? How many of them truly weigh zero tuition against $15,000-$20,000/year? How DO we public-school advocates ever manage to get the point across to those families?

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  64. Caroline, may I refer you back to the "tour improvement" topic? I made some suggestions that to me sounded pretty reasonable, but was shot down by some folks for even suggesting that the public schools had something to gain through better marketing.

    The public schools have a lot of battles to fight. They have a battle for resources, a battle for teachers, and, in many regards a just as important battle for a better public image. These are all important, and all deserve prioritzation. Happy Holidays!

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  65. I totally agree that the public schools have much to gain from better marketing. It's complex because that wasn't apparent in the public school world until the era in which they were desperately short of funds. So without outside help (such as from PPS), it's classroom resources vs. better marketing. But that has been much of PPS's mission all along.

    I'm starting to see that it would be worth it for PPS (and any other entities that are supporting public schools in this effort) to work specifically on responding to the myth that it's somehow easier or less onerous to work the private school application process.

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  66. I think the number of people who truly would want their kids to go to public but go to private instead because they think the application process is too difficult is fairly small. In my view, it's an excuse that people use to exaplin their decision to send their kids to private school (and my kids are in private school so I'm not trying to bash private school parents by saying that). It doesn't take much to figure out that the private school application process is very onerous as well.

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  67. Yes, I agree. It's not the application process that scares people about the public schools -- rather, it is the public schools themselves that scare people. But people wouldn't be scared if they could see how great so many of the public schools are! That is, IMO, where the marketing could come in, and why tours are so important. To think that people thought that a school like Miraloma is "rough" or whatnot is unthinkable once you visit it, for example.

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  68. Caroline,
    I agree w/ those who suggest that a private school family might use the lottery as a "PC" excuse when asked about why they went private. We're applying to both, so I don't mean any offense. I can just see why someone might make that excuse. A big issue for our family is the 7:50 start time and, therefore, early dismissal, for a large percentage of the public schools we like. I won't get into all the reasons why we cannot make those hours work (TMI), but suffice to say that it's not just the hassle or the "hate the mornings" factor. I'm sure the 7:50 start is a life savor for many families, but for us it's a killer.

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  69. I know it's true that some -- perhaps many -- families use the lottery as a PC excuse, but I just can't help believing that SOME are sincere.

    It really startles me that the money is such a small issue to so many, though! It's hard to imagine finding excuses to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in K-12 tuition for nebulous benefit. $15,000/year/kid (conservatively) vs. free -- hmm, tough choice? Even my wealthiest friends would rather be saving that kind of money for their kids' college fund, or retirement, or higher-quality care for their aging parents, or an upgrade to a suite on that Mexican Riviera cruise.

    We would have had a lot of trouble with a 7:50 start time too, Anonymous. Not only is the early morning grueling, the early end to the school day would have been a pain for a family like ours that was picking our kids up rather than using after-care programs. But it seems like there are a lot of good choices with 9:30 starts. Meanwhile, some families really need the early start times -- another benefit to having a choice.

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  70. someone told me that she really only wants 1 school (if she doesn't get it, she will go private) but has listed 7 schools it will give her a better chance of getting her #1 choice -- is this true? i have never heard this one before.

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  71. Picking seven schools will not help you get you #1 choice. The amount of schools you pick has no bearing on whether you get your #1 choice.

    The only way it could be relevant is if are willing to go on a waiting list at your #1 school. People who put seven schools on their list and DO NOT get any of them, then get priority on the waitlist.

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  72. I heard that you get messed up in the second lottery go-around if you do not list seven schools during the first lottery. I've heard this from numerous sources, but I don't understand the second round process that well.

    Also, I agree that having choices around start times is important for serving the whole community. Unfortunately, though, more than half the schools we are interested in -- Alvarado (both tracks), Grattan, McKinley, Miraloma -- start at 7:50. It's very depressing. We might need to trade two of these out for Flynn (SI) and Fairmount (SI). These seem like schools on the rise, but it's not clear to us that the academics are on par yet with the schools I mentioned above. I would love to hear from current parents at those schools, especially w/ kids in the higher grades, about their perspectives on the academics. Yes, I know that academics aren't everything, but they do matter a great deal to us. Thanks.

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  73. i too would be interested in hearing from current parents from flynn and fairmount about the upper-grade academics (we're in same boat -- keep loving the schools with the 7:50 a.m. start time, but have a hard time getting things moving in the morning, so we're apprehensive about choosing them)

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  74. One slight clarification to the lottery discussion earlier... I believe that the way it works is that the computer creates a base profile of a class (using the diversity factors) based on seats filled by siblings, then looks within the attendance area for the applicant who contributes the most diversity to that class. It tentatively assigns that kid, then re-calculates the base profile of the class, looks back out within the attendance area and finds the kid who adds the most diversity to the new base profile. It keeps doing this until students within the attendance area no longer contribute to the diversity of the class, then it looks outside the attn area the same way - looking for the student who adds the most diversity. Once there are no more applicants within or outside the attn area who contribute to diversity, it looks at all the remaining applicants together (within and outside attn area) and selects randomly from the rest of the applicants.

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  75. Hm. At Flynn, for example, families from Noe Valley will take any seat at Flynn, sending Hispanic families from the Mission out of their neighborhood. Sleep well. So much for social reform.

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  76. That statement was a bit naive. There are several schools in the Mission, including Marshall, Sanchez, Fairmount and Flynn (among others). Noe Valley families are not "displacing" Hispanic families by going to Flynn. Dual immersion programs require half of the families not to be English-speaking (someone correct me if I am wrong). Given that the GE strand of Flynn is still under-enrolled, it strikes me as extremely bizarre to say that anyone is displacing anyone at Flynn.

    These are the very types of misperceptions that actually do keep me up at night. Hard to sleep well with so much ignorance around.

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  77. To the person who made the snarky comment about Noe Valley families displacing Hispanic ones: well, a lovely holiday season to you, too! I am the poster who asked about Flynn several posts above. I do not live in Noe Valley (though I think that's irrelevant, anyway; there aren't enough spots in Noe Valley schools for Noe Valley kids as far as I can tell). And since when do you know my ethnicity or anyone else's? And, yes, why aren't those Mission families the Noe Valley-ites are supposedly displacing filling the Flynn GE strand? Are you just a web troll trying top elicit responses, or are you really that bitter? BTW, I'll sleep just fine, thank you. Lordy this process brings out the ugly in some people!

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  78. agree with the last few posters -- the diversity algorithm is much more complicated than the displacement-theory poster implied.

    that said, the commenter's point is not without merit.

    look at miraloma es, for example.

    if you check the ed-data web site, you'll see that the miraloma student body was 36% white for the 06-07 school year. five years ago it was under 9% white (more reflective of the district as a whole, which was and is around 9-10% caucasian).

    (the page is framed so i couldn't link directly to the school profile, at least in my browser):
    http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/

    i mentioned this in a different thread, and a miraloma parent explained that this shift is more about miraloma getting an (undeserved, in her opinion) bad rap from AA parents and then emptying out, THEN filling up with middle-class kids.

    nevertheless.

    once i discovered these pie charts on ed-data, i got curious and checked a bunch of local schools. it was interesting. what i learned was: (1) SFUSD is still highly segregated by "race" and economic group (see free and reduced lunch stats); and (2) most, but not all, of the "name" public schools have many more asians and whites than others (no surprise, i suppose).

    rooftop was an exception. lilienthal, to some extent.

    anyway, i realize that "displacement" as defined by the earlier poster is not the only reason a school could be unreflective of the district's ethnic and socioeconomic breakdown, but it could be part of the picture.

    another aspect of this picture: what do you do if (1) you want to attend a school near your house; (2) you don't have a car and far-away schools without school bus routes near your home are out of reach; (3) most of the schools radiating outward from your home are oversubscribed (e.g., clarendon, rooftop, west portal, alvarado, etc.)?

    welcome to the world that is outer noe. can you blame us for wanting to go to flynn and not, say, junipero serra (sorry, j.s.)?

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  79. SFUSD's enrollment system is set up to offer families in low-income areas access to popular schools. That's one thing the diversity index is about. If a horde of middle-class white families applies to Miraloma, and there are also a lot of low-income AA and L families applying, the point is to have the lottery select a mix of students. That would mean the middle-class families wouldn't push out all the AA and L families, and the middle-class families might have less of a shot at getting in than they'd like.

    When Miraloma was a less-popular and far-less-successful school (that is, in the days when I fought to get my kid out of it!), it filled up with low-income AA kids by default. Those tend to be the families who don't exercise their right to choose and whose kids get plopped into whatever school has openings -- most likely a less-successful school. It's a complicated situation.

    I haven't actually gone looking at at K-5 schools for years, needless to say. When I was still a Lakeshore parent and thus was in closer touch with elementary schools, I sat down to make a list of the schools I would willingly consider for my kids. At that time I had been an SFUSD parent for some years and involved with PPS and the SFPTA, and knew many more parents and far more about schools than I had when I first went through the enrollment process (initially, I totally believed the myth that SFUSD had "only five good schools").

    So I'll try to recast my list. I only included my quadrant of the city, the southwest (I'll say west of Mission, south of GG Park). I'd say these schools are in the category of "if I had no choice, I'd be content with this assignment." And I may be forgetting some entirely.

    Miraloma, Sunnyside, Commodore Sloat, Fairmount, Alvarado, West Portal, Lakeshore, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rooftop, Clarendon, Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, Sunset, Alice Fong Yu*, Lawton**.

    *I would have to do some research on what it's really like for a non-Cantonese-speaking family to have a kid in Cantonese immersion.
    **I'd take a close look at this one because of its longtime reputation for being very desks-in-a-row traditional, a reputation that has held on for many years now. But I'd still feel we'd been assigned to a proven, successful school.

    There are other schools, including Jose Ortega, Ulloa and Sheridan, that I don't feel I know enough about; I'd want to check them out. There are others elsewhere in the city that I'm also sure we'd be happy with, and certainly some that I'd be leery of.

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  80. can someone give me an idea of how insane it will be on 1/11? should i plan to spend a few hours getting the application filed?

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  81. "I've been very interested in SF Community but have not been able to make it to their tour given I work on Fridays. Can anyone weigh in on this school? Thanks!"

    Lukewarm, myself: might be a function of that the tour-guide was very low-key.

    Good APIs (790), all project-based learning. Less structured that other schools I've visited: maybe 15% of kids were ignoring the teacher in the classes we visited. I'd have the concern that relying solely on project-based learning would lead to a rather patchy education.

    Physical plant OK, with exception of library. Very limited library hours, which would seem to cut across idea of child-directed learning.

    No formal principal (they rotate head teacher position amongst the teaching staff), which has the disadvantage of not getting a strong direction from a single leader, but the advantage that because the school's essentially run by committee, there's going to be more continuity, which certainly might be an advantage if you choosing a K-8 like SF Community.

    Recess (to my surprise, walkign past after the tour) was very orderly: no sign of the kids being aggressive with each other, and they lined up like clockwork at the end of recess. One of the teachers/monitors started singing "I don't know but I've been told/These kids are made of gold" which I thought was really touching. So it seems a supportive environment.

    Might float some people boats (not me), but I'd recommend you check out Harvey Milk as well: while not a K-8, it seems to be to offer a lot fo the good points of SF Community without some of its downsides.

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  82. I liked Miraloma the best of the schools I visited last year (the kindergartens seemed more project or play based, nice library, eager principal), I didn't put it on our list (too early, too far, no Spanish). Also would have been content with Grattan, and Sunnyside had we been looking for General rather than Immersion.

    Our priorities were proximity, start time and Spanish.

    Our list last year was:
    Flynn (Spanish,.3 miles from home, 8:35)
    Buena Vista (Spanish,.9 from home, 9:30)
    Fairmount (Spanish, 1.1 miles from home, 8:40)
    Rooftop (liked the arts, the community, the woodsy setting)
    Harvey Milk (liked the small size, really liked the K teachers, and multi-purpose neighborhood to visit twice a day)
    Alvarado (Spanish, pretty close by, arts, too early)
    Monroe (Spanish, pretty close by, up and coming, more diverse than some on this end of town with more Asian kids)

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  83. oh, and we got Flynn.

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  84. I know, I am late to this but vacation does that. to those asking about SF Community there was a tour review posted here SF Community.

    My list - Spanish Immersion was the main objective, so in no particular order (And not final, plenty of time to procrastinate)

    Marshall
    Fairmount
    Buena Vista
    LR Flynn
    Monroe
    Rooftop (I know)
    And I need to check my notes for number 7

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  85. how does my kid stand a chance when we're all listing the same schools? omg. the anxiety attacks are unbearable at this point.

    i would love for my son to be in a sp imm school, but only saw 2 and did not care for one of them. i also want a diverse group...and i'm not seeing diversity in my neighborhood.

    here's my list: (tell me why i should add fairmount)

    claire, grattan, alvarado (sp), miraloma, flynn, rooftop, dianne f

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  86. Maybe posting a list will help me formulate one...
    It is getting near the deadline and we are still going in circles about what is most important to us. I have some immersion anxiety but live so near Buena Vista think we should give it a chance.
    Rough Draft List: Not in order yet:

    Buena Vista (2 blocks away)
    SF Community
    Miraloma
    Rooftop
    Alvarado both strands
    Harvey Milk?
    Fairmount?
    Clarendon?
    Moscone?
    Needs a little trimming, I guess.
    I'll be so glad when this is over!!

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  87. My list: Clarendon GE, Miraloma, West Portal GE, Sunset (loved this school!), Dianne Feinstein (I feel mixed about it, but it's a short walk from our house), Lafayette or McKinley, McKinley or Rooftop.

    I just discovered this wonderful blog after months where the kindergarten search has felt like my second part-time job. Thank you for doing it! I live in the outer sunset, and don't have immersion as a priority (though I'm bilingual in Spanish, most of the Spanish immersion schools are just too far and I wasn't that impressed with Alvarado)and I'm assuming that's why my list looks so different. I'd love to hear what people think of McKinley!

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  88. re mckinley: i loved this school, the physical space, the fact that they offer something in between full immersion and no foreign language, and of course, principal bonnie. but she says she is retiring in a couple years. since i feel she is the driving force behind the school, i worry about what the future may hold (especially since this is a school in transition).

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  89. ack! if i go down to 55 Franklin, will they still have applications? i filled ours out last night, and had peace with it. for about 15 minutes. now i'm second-guessing all those 7:50am. start-time schools i put down. also, where it says "has your child ever attended school" on the application are you supposed to say yes for preschool. I wasn't sure. If yes, what do you put down for grades? Leave it blank?

    Here is our current list:

    Flynn
    Alvarado
    Miraloma
    Grattan
    McKinley
    Commodore Sloat
    Rooftop

    I'm second-guessing McKinley, because of Principal Bonnie most likely leaving. And Rooftop, because when I think back to the tour i honestly wasn't that impressed (i did dig that garden, though, and the diversity). I would probably put West Portal in its place. I know Commodore Sloat might seem random, but if we buy a house here (we've only been here a year and are renting at the moment), Ingleside is probably one of the places we could afford to look. Otherwise we'd do a TIC closer in.

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  90. To the immediately preceding poster: I don't know the answers to your questions since I haven't even looked at the application form yet (ugh!) but I do have an extra if you want it. I live in Noe Valley. Email me at amyeasland@yahoo.com if interested.

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  91. i was there on friday and they had plenty of applications. and don't worry about it looking *perfect* -- at the last minute i changed my mind about mckinley and decided to put sherman in its place and the woman at the EPC said to just cross it out. in the current school section (which i agree is a little confusing), i just wrote in the grade as "preschool." in the end, i wouldn't agonize too much about rooftop versus west portal -- the chances are slim that you will get either so you will be doing the waitlilst route anyway.

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  92. wait?! mckinley offers foreign language instruction during school hours? in spanish? what language and how often?

    i didn't visit mckinley b/c of no lang enrichment. darn it.

    soooo frustrating that there is no centralized and ACCURATE source of school info.

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  93. to the poster who loved sunset school - why?

    i have heard great things but never made it out that far. wondering if i should try to squeeze it in next week.

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  94. Regarding the application, can't you just download a new one of off the website?

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  95. For what it's worth, here's my tentative list:

    1) Rooftop
    2) Sherman
    3) Lillienthal
    4) Grattan
    5) Argonne
    6) Clarendon
    7) Lafayette

    Next week I'm seeing Lawton, McKinley, Argonne and Grattan, so the last 4 might change a bit before I'm through.

    While we are applying to both public and private, we would go private if our child gets into any of the ones we are applying to over any of the publics. That's why my list is heavy on the popular schools.

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  96. tentatively -

    flynn SI
    monroe SI
    alvarado SI
    clarendon both programs
    west portal
    starr king MI

    maybe will swap fairmount for starr king. not sure yet.

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  97. to the person looking at ingleside areas -

    check out lakeshore. i really liked it but it is too far out for us. i think you can tour there on wednesday 10am. awesome PTA, library, and gardening programs. i liked it more than rooftop for sure.

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  98. mckinley offers spanish language instruction (not much -- once a week i think)

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  99. Regarding the application, can't you just download a new one of off the website?

    because the application is old fashioned carbon copy and you need to keep a copy

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  100. To the poster who asked about why I loved Sunset Elementary --here are some reasons, in random order: It seemed like a shiny, sunny, happy place, teachers seemed enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and interested in the whole child, students happy and engaged, great art displays in classrooms and in halls (art and essays that showed students were creating their own vision of something and not just copying) that are changed by the teachers all together every friday, we ran into someone we knew on staff who works at several schools and loves Sunset the best, they hired a .8 teacher to reduce the class size of 4th and 5th grades in the afternoons, organized, bright classrooms, great principal, great garden, nice big yard and school bought equipment so kids can play different types of things at recess, cross-age buddies, 8:40 start time, a bit more diverse than many schools in the sunset, parking lot encourages parents to hang out and visit. Everyone from my son's preschool (in the Richmond) who saw it loved it, though it is far away from most. I encourage you to check it out!

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  101. ugh! ugh! ugh! i wish i hadn't read that last post about Sunset. Because now of course I'm trying to figure if there is any way in hell i can tour it before Jan. 11 ...

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  102. Regarding the application, you can download it online, print it out, fill it out, then make a copy for your own records, then turn it in. You don't need to get the "official carbon copy" one, the one on the website is just fine.

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  103. Here's the application link:
    http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.appforms

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  104. does anyone know if the after-school programs at Clarendon and West Portal are as difficult to get into as Rooftop's? I've got one spot left on my list and can't decide which one of the preceding to put down (i know, i know, i probably won't get into any of them ...l) This is when I wish I took better notes on the tours. thanks.

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  105. oh my dears, what a crazy last minute scramble! I am not even applying this year and am drawn to the schools people are writing about!

    Just wanted to add that among my friends looking for non-immersion schools last year for this year, a couple got nothing and waitlisted and a couple got assigned and waitlisted - all of them for the more popular schools. All four families got in by the 10 day count. Rooftop (2 people - one turned it down as her son had settled into St Philips, which may have cleared the way for the other), one for Clarendon and one for West Portal.

    Just saying that if you hold out long enough chances are that you will get exactly what you want.

    Best of luck

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