Friday, January 11, 2008

Kate's list

Congratulations to everyone who has completed the first step in the SFUSD enrollment process and to those who have provided support. I don't know how I would have survived the past few months without all of you. You made me think outside the box. You made me laugh when I was on the verge of tears. You made me realize that San Francisco is a special place to raise children. I feel so lucky to be here and to be a part of this community. Thank you.

So here's my list. I'm already wishing that I put Flynn above West Portal and that Buena Vista was above Miraloma, but it sounds like the order is irrelevant. Also, please keep in mind that this is only one list. These are by no means the top seven schools in San Francisco. These are simply the schools that seem like the best fit for Alice and my family.

Alice Fong Yu (Imm C)
West Portal (ImmC)
Leonard Flynn (ImmS)
Miraloma (Gen)
Alvarado (ImmS)
Rooftop (Gen)
Buena Vista (ImmS)

The blog will continue. I'm bringing Alice to a private school screening tomorrow, so I'll report back. And I have more juicy topics to cover: what do you think Gavin Newsom needs to know about San Francisco schools, what are the presidential candidates' viewpoints on eduction, how to prepare your child for kindergarten (feel free to suggest topics). Come March, let's hope that there won't be much to talk about because all of us will have gotten our top choice. If not, the blog will provide support.

Finally, please pat yourself on the back. Drink a glass of wine. Let out a loud "Roar!" This isn't an easy process and we should all be celebrating now that we have a huge part of the it behind us. Thanks again. Best, Kate

69 comments:

  1. my final list was:

    alvarado spanish
    fairmount spanish
    flynn spanish
    rooftop
    alvarado english
    miraloma
    lakeshore

    ReplyDelete
  2. I went with

    rooftop
    commodore sloat
    alvarado gen
    clarenden jbpp
    clarenden ital
    alvarado spanish
    miraloma

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  3. Our final:

    AFY
    Flynn Spanish
    Alvarado Spanish
    Clarendon JBBP
    Clarendon GEN
    Rooftop
    Miraloma

    We're hoping for the best but, in reality, preparing ourselves mentally for Round 2.

    Starr King did not make our list ultimately and, dare I say, we scrambled over to CAIS for a tour last week - a last ditch effort to salvage a Mandarin option. We love the school. Regret the price tag. ;-)

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  4. OK. on these private school Saturday screenings what should we wear?I haven't worked in an office for years,we've only had our own animation business,and we're clueless when it comes to fashion. On the other hand our kid has great clothes.

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  5. Kate, I think I'll be at the screening with you tomorrow, if it is in the afternoon. I am wearing Jeans.

    My list was:

    Alvarado Spanish
    Clarendon JBBP
    AFY
    Clarendon SC
    Alvardo Gen
    Rooftop
    Miraloma

    Wishing everyone good luck!

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  6. i went with

    west portal cantonese
    alvarado spanish
    clarendon jbbp
    buena vista spanish
    miraloma
    flynn spanish
    starr king manadarin

    already wish i could switch bv and flynn. but it is done!

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  7. anon @ 2:28

    Care to share your thoughts on Starr King and CAIS?

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  8. our list:

    starr king (mandarin)
    buena vista
    alvarado (spanish)
    fairmount (spanish)
    jose ortega (mandarin)
    s.f. community
    harvey milk

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  9. SK vs. CAIS:

    I wrote in a post last month that I wasn't sure whether I had the "guts" for SK. Turns out I don't.

    I loved the Mandarin classes I saw at SK, but everything else about the school left me empty. I really really want to support schools like SK and the amazing parents that are rallying for it, so I'm not going to go into details other than to say that it was the HARDEST decision not to include it on our list. I really applaud the parents that are listing SK. Your kids are lucky. When my 2 year-old is entering Kindergarten it will probably be all-the-rage.

    As for CAIS, we loved it - the international orientation, the Mandarin, the arts, the athletics... It's got all the academic, artistic, cultural and athletic opportunities that should come with a $20K tuition fee WITH MANDARIN. I also got a great vibe from the parents and the admissions people. It's the only private school we're applying to and we only toured it THIS week. Seriously, we weren't going to do any private schools, but this one makes sense for us. I'll be shocked if we get in, but it's quite an unexpected turn of events for us.

    Good luck to everyone!

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  10. clarendon jbbp
    alice fong yu
    claire lilienthal korean
    clarendon sc
    claire general
    miraloma
    sherman

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  11. I'm a Claire Lilienthal mom and am honestly surprised at how little interest there is in CL on this blog. Not that I think that CL is the end all and be all of SF public schools - far, far from it - but historically CL has been so popular. And naturally I think it's a wonderful school - albeit with the dreaded 7:50 start time ;-).

    If this blog is indicative of people casting a wider net, so much the better!

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  12. Ref the question about what to wear at private school screenings...it doesn't matter what you wear - whatever you would normally wear on a Saturday. More important is that your child should wear something comfortable, that they can move around in and that doesn't bother them. Good luck.

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  13. CL Mom: Maybe it's because most of us on this blog live so far away from CL, and there aren't any good routes to take to that part of town. AFY is far but there are several roads that go pretty far w/o stop signs, etc. Just a guess.

    Our final list:

    Clarendon SC (Italian)
    Clarendon JBPP
    Alvarado Spanish
    Grattan
    Alvarado GEN
    Flynn Spanish
    Jefferson

    As for what to wear to private school screenings: We aren't looking at MCDS, so I can't comment on that. We're applying to three private schools (not the Pac Heights ones, just as an fyi), and from what I've seen at parent events, I would say not to wear jeans or fleece, not to bother with suits, and not to worry too much about your clothes. Most women wore a nice (as in clean, not pilled, not frumpy) sweater, shirt, or shirt with jacket/sweater-jacket. No one was wearing anything flashy or logo-laden. Most of the women wore pants -- black, brown, khaki, grey, etc. The men mostly wore what I would call business casual. People did not look fancy or expensively dressed; they just looked reasonably put together (well, at least most people did!). I hope that helps.

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  14. Oh -- but these events have been on week nights and not Sat day. Jeans and fleece would prolly be ok, though personally I would take it up one step from there just in case...

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  15. What were people wearing at EPC when y'all dropped off your forms? Hope you weren't overdressed!
    (she says sarcastically)

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  16. Haha, I'm wearing the same outfit tomorrow for our screening that I did today (and that I wear most days) - jeans and a black sweater.

    Re CL: yes, I think it is two things:

    1. Lots Noe/Vernal/Mission/Glen Park parents on this blog, and CL is not convenient to us.

    2. CL is very popular among people who don't do any research at all and just list the 'best schools.' Certainly, CL is one of the best schools, but we did search for many. In fact, without this blog, I may have listed CL instead of Miraloma! (Sorry, all fellow Miraloma listers.)

    Finally, interesting anecdote: two other mothers at my workplace filed their forms today. Both listed ALICE FONG YU first. Both are single mothers, and neither are wealthy. One is Asian American; the other is Latina. Neither looked at ANY SCHOOL. They chose it purely on reputation.

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  17. The private school screenings are not about the parents, they're about the kids - don't sweat what you're wearing. Maybe take a bit more care for your parent interviews, but I don't think the schools are too interested in the contents of your wardrobe.

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  18. i sure hope what the last poster says is true. this is san francisco for g-sake! all the discussion around what to wear ... it's a bit much. sorry.

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  19. Best of luck to all of you. We went through this process last year. It really does all work out- in the end it did for us and all of our friends.

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  20. I'd like to find out what people think of the Governor's proposed cut of $360 million from the K-12 funding in the proposed budget? From what I saw, the schools cannot handle this cut without seriously compromising our children's eduction.

    See article at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/11/MNVIUD5V8.DTL

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  21. re: Governor's budget, it is not going to be fun but there is a lot of advocacy to be done before this gets set in stone. Personally I think this is a little bit of a gambit - put out really dreadful budget scenarios so the Dems push through tax increases to forestall them and then the Guv gets off with a twofer - the Dems solve his budget problem AND they get the political fallout.

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  22. CL Mom: Curious - What were your picks when you went through the process and did you get CL on the first try?

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  23. My child has a low-incidence disability and we were specifically looking for schools that were especially equipped to accommodate it, so we only listed CL, Lakeshore, and Lawton, and he was inclusion (so assigned ahead of Round 1). He was placed at CL in the first round.

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  24. Congratulations to all on making this crucial choice. Best of luck in getting what you want! I'm so impressed with the savvy of this large group of young parents, and with your awareness of ALL the issues around choosing public vs. private school (whichever you do choose). That was just not discussed when we went through the process in the mid-'90s, and I was oblivious.

    I know you're aware that odds are that you'll get one of your SFUSD choices. But a few applicants get none of their seven, and that is indeed scary and stressful.

    Please keep in mind that if that happens -- and if you pursue the process -- you will get a school you're happy with! Former SFUSD Educational Placement Center head Orla O'Keeffe once said that the initial placement is "an offer -- the start of a converation." You're not locked into that initial placement if it's not what you want.

    Last spring and summer, one panicked mom was posting regularly on the PPS listserve after getting none of her seven choices. She did have a tough summer, and she was convinced that she would never get a decent school. But at the beginning of the school year, the EPC found her child a spot in her first-choice school.

    One mom was talking to me last year about how to handle the process when they didn't get their chosen middle school. She had been planning to blow off the counseling workshops that SFUSD runs for families who didn't get their first choice -- I guess she assumed that they were just hype. DO NOT BLOW THEM OFF! SFUSD staff need to see your face there, and you need the information they can give you. (This family did quickly get their first-choice middle school after all.)

    For those of you who plan to (or may possibly) wind up in SFUSD schools, do join PPSSF if you haven't -- www.ppssf.org . If you are the type who likes to engage in online discussion (which seems likely if you're reading this blog), join the PPS listserve. If you can take the heat -- because things can get scorching -- consider joining the sfschools listserve:

    sfschools-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

    The San Francisco Schools blog offers much of the same information as the listserve without the heated back-n-forth (except occasionally in some comments): www.sfschools.org

    The blog and listserve are both founded and run by SFUSD dad KC Jones -- I actually co-founded the listserve with him in 2000, but he's the owner. I post a lot on the blog, and there are a couple of other occasional co-bloggers.

    The Green Party's Left in SF blog, www.leftinsf.com , often carries education commentary by the very dedicated if sometimes (IMHO) wrongheaded observer Kim Knox.

    And when you get to your school, do join the PTA or other parent group, and check into serving on your School Site Council.

    I'm a PTA advocate because, unlike PTOs and other single-school parent groups, it's part of a powerful nationwide lobbying/advocacy network for public education, children and families. So I would even urge those of you in PTO schools to consider working to become part of the PTA. That means you're working for every child and every public school everywhere, not just your lone school and its students.

    The PTA doesn't function as effectively as it could, in my opinion -- and I'm sorry to say that's true in San Francisco. But it has an amazing structure in place, ready and waiting for a new generation of activists to use it -- a structure you could never, ever replicate in this far more complex era. (The PTA was founded in 1897, when I guess people didn't have nearly so much going on, and rapidly became a household name.)

    Buckle your seat belts and get ready for an exciting ride! Best wishes to all of you doing the most important job there is.

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  25. So for those who have been language/immersion focused...did you look into Claire Lilienthal for Korean? Can I ask your thoughts on it as to why it did or did not make the list? Thanks.

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  26. Our final list:
    Alvarado (ImmS)
    Flynn (ImmS)
    Rooftop (Gen)
    Alvarado (Gen)
    Miraloma (Gen)
    Starr King (ImmM)
    AFY (ImmC)

    Good luck to everyone.
    Fabien

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  27. re: korean immersion

    i have twins and would like to separate them. there is only one class per grade in KN at CL.

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  28. Our list was:

    Fairmount
    Flynn (Spanish)
    Buena Vista
    Monroe (Spanish)
    Alvarado (Spanish)
    Marshall
    Sunnyside


    Had we been looking for a GE program that was relatively local we would have struggled to find 7 that we had any chance of getting into. As it was we were not, the opportunity of a bilingual education was too much to resist with locality and start time a close second.
    We are not blinkered, all the schools we chose have something going against them, but the good things about them outweigh the bad and we are sure that our kids will thrive if we are lucky enough to get any of our choices. Good luck to us all and shame on Arnold.

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  29. Did anyone look into or apply at the Nueva School?

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  30. We looked into Nueva a couple of years ago. We felt that academically it was fantastic. However, we were almost relieved when our child was only waitlisted because of the high cost (and very little financial aid, especially for new families) and the obvious affluence of most other families we met there. Our SFUSD-attending child now feels fortunate to live in a nice apt in SF and visit Disneyland over spring break rather than deprived for not living in a mansion and going to Europe or Belize for spring break.

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  31. Kate,

    Just curious.. Why no review of SF DAY? Was it really so bad, you had nothing positive to say?

    If you get your top private choice any idea how that will factor into your decision on public schools?

    We are in this boat.. We have a list of our 7 public schools but we still dont know if we will go public or private. We cant really afford private, but for some reason it's so hard to let go of the idea.

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  32. I did a blog item that will piss off a couple of people, but so be it -- I still thought it might be of interest.

    It's about the fact that it seems startling that a lot of people don't consider the cost comparison(multi-thousands vs. free) when pondering the public vs. private question.

    FYI, the owner of the SFSchools blog -- and thus my fellow blogger -- has had a kid in private school at times, a thought-out decision based on the child's needs. It's not an anti-private-school blog.

    http://www.sfschools.org/2007/07/private-school-and-startling-consumer.html

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  33. Sorry; here's a more workable URL:

    http://tinyurl.com/36pynw

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  34. Our public school list was
    Clarendon General
    Claire Lilienthal General
    Grattan
    Alamo
    Rooftop
    West Portal Chinese Immersion
    Jefferson

    We also tried for a parochial school (less costly than Adda Clevenger where we currently go) whose curriculum we really liked. We would be happy to get any of our public school choices or our parochial choice. And if we don't get any of our 7 public choices, we'll be interested to see what we do get; the playground chat is all pretty positive. Also, I hope people will look at my post from today about AC under "Happy New Year," as I fear there is some inaccurate (perhaps simply because it's outdated) negative-sounding information circulating about AC on this blog. I don't think it's perfect any more than any other school, but it's got some very positive qualities which I won't belabor here.

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  35. re: Nueva School

    For the parent that said they looked into Nueva a couple years ago...to say you have a child that could have potentially gone there, has the academics been sufficient for your (gifted) kid in public?

    So to all parents reading this- if you know you have a "gifted" child, would you be inclined only to send him/her to private? Or which public would you consider up to par for the task?

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  36. I have two children officially identified (not just by me) as gifted. SFUSD offers separate honors classes starting in grade 6 in many middle school (not all).

    I have a friend with fraternal twins -- one academically gifted, one basically not (that one is athletically gifted). She chose Brandeis because she knew that the non-academically-gifted twin couldn't handle the honors classes at my kids' middle school (Aptos). He was fine at Brandeis, though. So that gives you a view.

    Marlowesmom, I'm the one who was posting about Adda Clevenger, on the basis that information is useful to parents in making good decisions. I tried to clarify when information (such as the school's former "undisclosed location" and required cash payments made directly to teachers) was from the past. The same administration still runs the place, though.

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  37. random question: how would you even know if your preschool-age kid is "gifted"? does every middle-class parent just think their kid is gifted? my 4-year-old used the word "diaurnal" in conversation yesterday. does that mean she's gifted? (then again, she also picks her nose -- publicly -- until it bleeds.)

    i've only ever met one pre-kinder kid in my entire life who had skills that noticeably exceeded his peers'. and he was noticeably socially and behaviorally challenged as well. i think if i was facing something like that i'd be much more concerned with making sure said kid was socialized properly and learned how to deal with real folks. i'd be scared of the consequences of cloistering him in an ivory tower.

    my 2 cents.

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  38. An unpopular comment I'm sure...

    I have toured both privates and public schools. It appears to me the largest difference seems to be the visual difference in the childrens level of excitment and awarness in class. During the private school visits the children looked much more engaged and active. In a lot of the public school visits kids looked half asleep... Grattan being one of few exceptions.

    I once heard someone put it this way.. With private schools most kids asked love their school... With public schools it's really hot or miss.. Some kids may flourish and others will fall through the cracks...

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  39. re: Gifted kids

    There are a number of kids at Nueva, PreK. So I assume one way or another someone thought it might be a good idea to get him/her tested. As part of the admissions there, they have an IQ test, appropriate for 3/4 yo+.

    Believe it or not, a lot of these kids are socially, emotionally and academically adjusted. In other words, you'd never know.

    Until someone 'knowing' in that field recognizes certain behavior and recommends looking into it, there's probably a lot of sharp kids not using/developing their full range of potential

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  40. This may be true, but don't forget that private schools pick their students and public schools don't:

    **the visual difference in the childrens level of excitment and awarness in class. During the private school visits the children looked much more engaged and active. In a lot of the public school visits kids looked half asleep**

    You know all that extensive screening, described in well-written detail on this blog? Well, that's what it's about. Private schools are looking for engaged kids who are interested and active learners.

    The public-school kids you saw who are uninterested and disengaged? Those are the kinds of kids private schools won't accept.

    Again, the question is whether that screened class is worth thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.
    I'm not saying it's not -- at least to some families -- but it's a question to ask.

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  41. The "visual differences" may have something to do with the kids in the school, but I belive it also has to do with the fact that private schools have much more free rein over their curricula than public schools, and therefore have a much greater ability to spend time on topics that are stimulating to kids and develop a love of learning.

    As for whether that's worth $20K/year - I don't think there's any one answer to that question.

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  42. Re: Nueva. Once I heard that the test accounts for a 10 percent standard deviation, I decided not to test my child. Basically, they say that the kids must score 145 IQ, plus or minus 15 points, which really means 130 or above. I actually don't know anyone who brought their kid down for the test who didn't pass. But maybe the others are just quiet about it. I have many colleagues/friends who live in the Penninsula and send their children to Nueva. They all share one quality: great wealth.

    Re: engagement. This one I actually strongly disagree with. I think that the level of engagement depends ENTIRELY on what you are catching the kids doing in class at any time. So, for example, I saw a bunch of private school kids working in small groups who seemed moderately engaged, and listening in a large group, pretty engaged, but I saw equally engaged kids at public schools when they were in similar settings. And, when asked how they like the school, I heard equally positive remarks from both. And only ONCE, during the 25 or so schools I visited (about 7 private and 18 public) did I hear the answer "school is hard" -- and that was at a PUBLIC school, West Portal Cantonese immersion. Which sadly didn't make our list, despite that assessment (which I liked).

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  43. re: IQ

    so what does 130 or above mean? or 145 IQ? where does average score?

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  44. In response to...
    **I think that the level of engagement depends ENTIRELY on what you are catching the kids doing in class at any time.**

    Well, that's mostly true. But there are just kids who are chronically either zoned out in class or so hyper they can't pay attention, almost no matter what's going on. I first noted this when my older child was in 2nd grade and I was volunteering in his class a lot -- there were five kids (all boys but interestingly every race represented) in that category.

    A class of 20 with five kids like that would not look that great to an observer! This was a fantastic teacher who dealt with them as well as possible, but even so. And those kids simply would not be in a private school class.

    (Actually, one whom I still have contact with DID start private high school. He was a sport star, so Riordan took a chance. Then they kicked him out for bad behavior and now he's in public high school.)

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  45. My neighbor has a 3rd grader in West Portal immersion. After talking with her over and over again I have almost committed to private schools. Here is what she said..

    1) Due to class size and space there are grades that mix together. For example a single class with 2nd and 3rd graders. This is her experience. And not surprisingly 2nd grade was hard...
    3rd grade is easy mostly a repeat.

    2) She is almost done with all her english workbook assigments for the year becuase its her favorite and obviously she is ahead of the class... Teachers solution ... start practicing for standaridized tests. This is what she is currently doing...

    3) Overall assesment by her... School is boring, not very challenging at all....

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  46. Re: engagement

    "This one I actually strongly disagree with. I think that the level of engagement depends ENTIRELY on what you are catching the kids doing in class at any time."

    Yes.. I agree and unfortunatly from my experience of touring schools there is no comparison between private and public in this category.

    The good privates are able to literally tie all areas of study into a seamless curriculum accross the whole year...

    I would love to hear from public school parents what teachers do to keep students engaged. You dont get much of this in the tours; yet the privates focus almost all their time on this...

    Here are a few that stick out for me.

    1) English class - students study a time in history, read classics, and then perform a play acting out what they read.

    2) Geography class - students learn US geography by a game where each of them gets a car and cash. Then they have certain goals and they map their own way around the US. They have to create routes, manage budget, and write reports on all the places they visit.

    3) Science - The students dont even use the state assigned books. They spend weeks on critical topics that are the building blocks of physics and chemistry that otherwise are perhaps 1 page or 15-30 minutes in public schools. They learn outside the classroom to apply formulas and learn real-world application of science tehcniques.

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  47. Private schools do indeed have the flexibility to do more project-based work if that's what they prefer. In general they have more flexibility, and they don't have to meet the needs of a cross-section of challenging kids, or deal with ongoing discipline problems or special needs. There's no doubt about that.

    So, again, you just have to weigh whether that's a significant benefit that's worth many thousands of dollars (it gets into the hundreds of thousands if you have a couple of kids over K-12) vs. free.

    And of course there are the other issues that have been discussed here, including the lack of diversity, the negative impact on the community and its most vulnerable members, the harm to our public institutions and the implicit promotion of the "You're On Your Own" vs. the "We're In This Together" society.

    It so surprises me that I'm going to say this again -- is everyone here SO very wealthy that hundreds of thousands of dollars vs. free does not even factor into the decision? One private-school parent mentioned mortgaging the house. That blows my mind. What about college? Retirement? Your parents' needs as they age? Yow.

    For every kid saying she's bored, you can find plenty saying they love school. That's true in public or private.

    Oh, and regarding the mixed grades at West Portal Elementary -- I don't know how it works at West Portal, but Lakeshore had many mixed-grade classes when my kids were there. It was NOT due to space or schedule problems but a philosophical choice.

    Yes, all engaged parents worried at first that it would be great for the first-grader in the 1-2 class and then they'd be repeating the same work in second grade, bored and unchallenged, But that never, ever turned out to be the case, and most families requested a mixed grade again if they could after their first experience. My son was in a 2-3 and then (by our request) in a 4-5. One teacher at Lakeshore used to have a 1-2-3 combo, and parents ALWAYS requested it for their second (and third) kids. I know one family who had that teacher for nine straight years -- three kids, one after the other.

    Changing principals and changing teachers led to phasing out most of those mixed-grade classes; I'm not sure if Lakeshore has any mixed grades now. But it definitely did not work the way the previous poster describes.

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  48. Oh, and what do public schools do to keep kids engaged? Well, a good teacher responds to what the class's needs and interests are. A good teacher focuses on what has been effective in his/her past experience in engaging students. I guess I could start rattling off assignments and class activities my kids have had. They are not all THAT different from what my friends' kids in private school have done.

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  49. The examples sited seem to be coming from a project based learning approach. Our own experience with PBL at a progressive private school has been mixed. In theory, it seems like a wonderful way to learn but it's an extremely hard thing to pull off in terms of adequately covering ALL the subjects required and in making sure ALL the students (not just the bright ones) are learning. I believe it takes unusually talented and exceptional teachers to implement PBL successfully.

    My own bias now is to have a balance of different learning approaches implemented in the classroom.

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  50. You know all that extensive screening, described in well-written detail on this blog? Well, that's what it's about. Private schools are looking for engaged kids who are interested and active learners.

    I've never really seen an unengaged 4 year old. Private schools screen the entire family -- its makeup, its color, its economics, its ability to contribute something of interest to the school's culture and community... It's pretty hard to base an entire decision on a one-time interaction with a 4 year old, if that were even the goal.

    The question is: when and why does a kid become unengaged? My kid's private school class has a number of students who have the propensity to become unengaged (for various reasons). My kid is one of them.

    But the school DEMANDS engagement. Engagement is fundamental to the curriculum. They are taught to be engaged, taught how to be engaged, and taught in an engaging manner.

    No one falls through the cracks, whether he or she is brilliant ("been there, done that"), struggling ("huh?"), bouncy ("what time is PE?"), shy ("..."), or whatever.

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  51. Honestly, I think that kind of thing depends on the teacher, not on the school. I am sure some public school teachers can perform just as well, and some private school teachers don't.

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  52. Regarding "Nueva and all the kids seem to test above the threshold level." I think this might be true because only the parents who have a good indication that their kids are "gifted" would go through the testing process. Therefore, it is weighed in favor of more kids passing the test because the majority of kids who are being tested are in fact in that category.

    We have visited Nueva on a number of occasions and haven't seen any more "rich" people there than at any of the other myriad of private schools in SF.

    We can "afford" private school, but it will definitely make a dent in our finances. That said, we have agreed that giving our children the best education possible is worth making some sacrifices for us, and I'm sure not all families feel the same way. Education is the most important thing in our family, so we will do what we need to do to make sure our child gets the best one for him and our family.

    I'd like to find out what other parents who have high achieving children (either identified through IQ testing or your own personal belief) have experienced in both private and public schools accomodating them, and please identify your school for information sake.

    Thanks!

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  53. Honestly, I think that kind of thing depends on the teacher, not on the school. I am sure some public school teachers can perform just as well, and some private school teachers don't.

    Yes, but private schools can mandate a curriculum that incorporates such intangibles as "engagement" or "social justice" or "community spirit" or whatever. It's not left up to the individual teacher. Also, private school teachers can be summarily fired or otherwise requested to seek employment elsewhere if they can't abide that curriculum's intangibles.

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  54. This is pretty insulting to public-school families:

    ...we have agreed that giving our children the best education possible is worth making some sacrifices for us, and I'm sure not all families feel the same way....

    I can't really respond without counter-insulting, so I'll only say that overall, I think my kids ARE getting the best possible education. Learning that they're the most special and the most entitled is not part of my definition of "best possible education."

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  55. If I say Jif is best and you think Skippy is best, would you be insulted? If you find insults in statements of preference that don't match up with your own, then surely your world must be colored with indignation.

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  56. You're missing that that quote clearly states that some families do NOT believe in making sacrifices for "the best education possible."

    The definition of "the best education possible" may vary, I agree.

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  57. What am I missing? I'm sure there are plenty of people who will not make a sacrifice for their idea of the best education possible. And some who will. And some who don't have to.

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  58. What I was getting at was that there has been a lot of talk on this blog about is the private school education really 20,000 times better than the public school education and is it really "worth" that much money. After touring lots of public and private schools, we came to the decision that it was worth it for our family to spend the money on education, where other families say it is not worth it, for whatever reason, and they choose to spend the extra money on other things that are worth it for their family. I was not trying to insult anyone, as I think the public school eduction is good in San Francisco, I was just trying to say that for my family, we have chosen to pay the extra money for private school, if we get in that is.

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  59. RE: Nueva

    I know two (very nice, very smart) families who have children who attend Nueva. The parents I know are silicon valley engineers who have been fortunate to have encountered enough money to handle the tuition but are still working (so they haven't really hit the jackpot). One family has one child in the school and another who (so far) cannot get in so that's an issue to consider with a school that is focused on the top students if you have multiple children. I would guess (based on my sampling of two families) that you'll encounter a more down to earth crowd there than you would at a Town or a Hamlin.

    Note that both these families are in the very good PA school district (which is not hurting for smart kids).

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  60. OK, thanks. I took it as meaning that families who don't choose private aren't willing to sacrifice, etc. Sorry to misinterpret.

    It definitely is the case that many families will choose public and then pay for extras that they might get as part of the school day at some private schools. At my level since I have a high-schooler, really personalized, handholding college counseling is an obvious example.

    But interestingly, the enrichment that eats up my family's "extra" income is instrumental music and various related activities (bands, improv classes, music camps etc.). I don't know of any SF private schools that are outstandingly strong in that area, so we'd be spending the same extra money even if we were paying tuition.

    SFUSD has managed to fund basic instrumental music out of the actual district budget, by the way, so it's not based on parent fundraising. (All schools offer group instruction in trumpet, violin, clarinet or flute, just half an hour a week as a pullout for students who choose it; and many middle schools and most high schools offer band and orchestra as part of the curriculum, and include free loaner instruments.)

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  61. I feel so lucky that we chose public school (and, yes, my children are "active and engaged learners" who will I'm sure develop a "lifelong love of learning.")

    Because we aren't paying big bucks for tuition, we can afford to send them to dance class, music lessons, fun summer camps, and even go on vacation!

    We could have made private school work financially if there were a really compelling reason to, but it would have been a real stretch. It just seemed like our life would become such a struggle. I just don't know what my children would be getting at a private school that they're not getting now.

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  62. But what if we don't get one of our seven, or even top 10, choices? Keeping options open by applying to private schools is totally reasonable.

    I'm really hoping to get one of my top 3 choices, because all three of those offer curricula and programs (immersion, diversity, etc.) that I simply can't find in private school, plus very close proximity to my home, but one thing that bothers me about these debates is that I keep wanting to ask "which public?" and "which private?" I just don't think that ANY public is as good as ANY private for my family. But many would be!

    Let's hope we get our choices!

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  63. Anonymous, and everyone here, I'm just repeating that in the 12 years I've been closely involved in SFUSD issues, I've never met anyone who didn't get a school they were happy with if they stuck it out through the process.

    Any time you hear from or about someone who says "We had to go private/move to the suburbs because we couldn't get a public school we wanted," inevitably that family made the decision early on in the process rather than sticking it out. I'm not bashing them for it, just saying...

    Here's one anecdote of a great family who were REALLY frustrated. Their older, now in 10th grade, went through Buena Vista, where they were extremely involved. The younger child is seven years younger -- a year or two too young to get sibling preference for BV. Then this family wait-pooled for BV, and just hit a brick wall (even though many other families have successfully wait-pooled for BV).

    Eventually they enrolled the younger in the unwanted, unpopular school she was originally assigned to, which had a new Spanish immersion program, and figured they'd just keep trying for BV. Then the assigned school started to grow on them, and they decided to keep the child there. SO now they're a satisfied and active family at Leonard Flynn Elementary.

    And that's the worst-case horror story I know of a family that got absolutely nowhere with the district advocating for the school they really wanted.

    That said, of course it's not wrong to have some private-school applications in so you can make the choice that seems right for your family.

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  64. Also, keep in mind this is not a life or death decision, although it may feel like it right now. We chose a Catholic school for our children that worked well until my oldest was in third grade. Our circumstances changed and it stopped working (more to do with my kid than the school.) We changed to a public school when our kids were in second and fourth grades. It wasn't at all traumatic for either me or my children.

    Fast forward a few years to last week when we were making our list middle schools for our middle child. I felt like my head was going to explode with the weight of our decision -- unlike elementary school you almost always DO get your first choice of middle school, so you really have to rank them the way you want them. But, then, I had the realization that if it wasn't working, we could change! This brought down the anxiety level 1000%, and made my daughter relax visibly. She is choosing a less popular program, and was happy that she could try it without being tied down for three years if for some reason it doesn't pan out the way we are hoping.

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw that into the hopper. It was comforting to me, and may bring comfort to others.

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  65. kate -- could you possibly post a solicitation for stories about people who did not get what they wanted in round 1 and how things tracked from then on? i know caroline has posted a buena vista story. i am starting to fret now that the apps are in. it might give people the determination to see it through september if we hear true stories from previous years about waitlisting/submitting an amended application.

    it would also be useful to discuss strategies for choosing which school to waitlist for in the event that you don't have a single favorite. for instance, we have three equal top choices, but one has historically been much more overenrolled than the other two (though the other two will surely see increases this year). i guess i'd like to know tipping points. one hears rumors that people get into even grossly oversubscribed schools if they have the cojones to wait till september, but i am not so sure. doesn't it stand to reason that you only hear the "success" stories? i want to hear about people who stuck it out and did not get their waitlist choice. what happens then, especially if you were assigned a truly substandard school? (let's not pretend they don't exist.)

    another thing also concerns me. my understanding is that the counselors will guide you to underenrolled schools to put on your amended app for round 2. given that things seem to be opening up and a wider selection of schools are sharing higher numbers in round 1, will underenrolled schools for round 2 by definition be sucky ones? are there TRULY any hidden gems left in this town?

    kim, who has the jitters now that the app is in, the wine buzz worn off and i'm alone with the shrill echoes of my own slightly demented public school advocacy (and, let's be honest, double standards: i don't my kid to be assigned somewhere i think is truly "unbaked." i don't! i don't! gimme an immersion program walking distance from my house or put in the SUV and drive me to the suburbs, 'cause i'm done and beat.)

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  66. I'm in the same boat as Kim. Now that applications are in, I'm panicking that this will be the "tipping point" year where more people than ever are willing to give public schools a shot - most definitely a good thing overall, but may make for very stiff competition. It'll be interesting to see the wait pool data this year.

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  67. I know someone who went through the lottery last year. Put down seven choices - Clarendon was #1. Didn't get any of his choices. Got assigned Sunnyside. He never heard of it, and after looking at the test scores, didn't want it. Went through the process to get his assignment changed, and I believe by round 2 he got an assignment he was happy with - West Portal.

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  68. Re the dad who rejected Sunnyside based on its test scores:

    Sunnyside has a higher API than the following schools that have been discussed here:
    Leonard Flynn
    Fairmount
    Buena Vista
    Monroe
    Creative Arts Charter

    And its API is just a hair below Miraloma Elementary's (767 to 755), and Sunnyside's Similar Schools rank is higher than Miraloma's.

    So if that dad rejected Sunnyside ENTIRELY because of its test scores, you can see that he doesn't share the same line of thinking as many posters on this blog. Many of you, based on your willingness to assess schools with an open mind based on broader criteria, might have been happy with that placement. In other words: not inherently a horrifying close call.

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  69. Bravo for such an thoughtful site:
    I want parents to know that there is an amazing Korean Immersian program at CL ES. They have the finest most dedicated teachers. My kids florished and the KIP classes where consistently the highest achieving group in the school. We have since moved out of state to a "Top" rated public school system, and I can tell you my kids are well educated and are in the top of their class in Math and reading. SAVE your money, don't even consider the $20K for a private school when you can get it for FREE at SF fine public schools, and the upside is you meet and connect with some amazing, dedicated and diverse families that you are NOT going to see in an all white private school. Give your kids a REAL life expereince, isn't that why we love San Francisco! (I miss it so much)

    Remember, your kid will learn because you are the interested, dedicated parent and you value education, the test scores have nothing to do with it. trust what you have and will put into your child's education.

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