Sunday, January 6, 2008

Un ange

A friend of mine has a staging company. When people sell their homes, they hire Linda to come in and decorate. She brings in furniture, lightens up the clutter, and makes everything look beautiful. Linda's taste is exquisite, somewhat shabby chic. She likes old furniture with chipping paint, and she always finds pieces with amazing intricate details and deep, rich colors. My taste runs along the same lines (though I don't have nearly the same eye), so sometimes when Linda goes on shopping sprees, I tag-along not so much to buy but to live vicariously through her.

Today, we visited Linda's friend Coco who sells French antiques in a warehouse on Bryant. If you were lost in the French countryside, you might expect to bump into Coco who would invite you over to her farm house. She's beautiful and friendly and she has an adorable French accent. Her taste is impeccable, and the linens, bistro chairs, marble-top tables, wrought iron beds, and farm doors filling her space are gorgeous.

Alice, Linda, and I spent about an hour going through the piles of French antiques. Alice found some wonderful garden gnomes, doll chairs, and baby beds. I fell in love with some school workbooks from 1928 in which students had written their lessons in handwriting that was so perfect it's hard to believe a computer didn't produce it. I found one in which a student had written Alice's actual name, which happens to be quite French, again and again and again. I'm a Francophile and I love old things, so I was in heaven.

After about an hour, when all the other shoppers had left, Coco told us that she needed to pick up her children. (She was gently kicking us out.)

"How old are your children?" I asked.

"Three and six," she said.

"Oh, they must go to the French-American school." I said. It seems like all French people who live in the city go to this school.

"No, we could never afford that. He actually goes to Flynn."

"Flynn? Did you say Flynn?" My eyes grew about three sizes.

We proceeded to talk about all the reasons she loves and adores Flynn. "I really can't say a bad thing about the school," said this super-cool French woman who speaks English, French, and Spanish. She went to college in Spain so that's why she's fluent in Spanish as well.

Our conversation ended with her saying, "If you want to go to Flynn, you really need to list it first."

All weekend, I've been stressing about where to rank Flynn on my list. At this moment, I almost felt as if I had encountered an angel.


  1. It's such a fantastic commentary on how SFUSD is changing that one family would be considering both Marin Country Day and Flynn. All I can say is that that would SO not have been happening 10 years ago.

  2. coco was my tour guide. i really liked her.

  3. Keep in mind that it doesn't much matter in which order you list your 7 choices if you are applying to any of the schools people are talking about here. Your name goes into a hat for each school you list. That hat for each school contains anyone who listed that school, 1 through 7. When your name comes up, you either get assigend to that school, or not, regardless of whether it was your number 1 or number 7 choice.

    The only time your order preference could come into play is in the event that you are accepted at more than one school (that you diversified a particular school at the moment your name was drawn at that school -- and that you did that at more than one school), in which case the district would assign you to your highest ranking choice.

  4. What if I am not in the official neighborhood boundary for the school but the school is very close... does this help me at all?

  5. Kate,
    You should write "Un ange", not "une".
    Thank you for all the very valuable information we read on your website.
    You are "Un ange" to us as well.


  6. Answer to anonymous above - the answer is 'no,' it doesn't help you at all. Fortunately for you, I suppose, being close only helps if you add "diversity" to the school, according to the lottery's socio-economic diversity factors (no preschool, qualify for free lunch, etc.).

    I too live much closer, but literally half a mile, to a school that is far more popular than the neighborhood school which the fairly arbitrarily drafted school zones place me in. I take solace in knowing that I would almost certainly offer no diversity to the closer, more popular, already highly requested school.

    And I also wanted to second the point made by number 3 anonymous above -- you have the same chance of getting into a school regardless of whether you rank it 1, 4 or 7. You will get assigned to the highest ranking school on your list that you have been selected for, if any.

    I have to imagine, FWIW, that the must re-run this lottery assignment process several times, as the number 7 people get assigned to their number 6 or above. But the whole thing is such a black box.

    Bottom line: list the schools in the order you want them, and pray that the lottery gnomes are smiling on you! (or whatever)

  7. Yes, after they remove duplicates, triplicates, etc (people that fit into more than one school), they have some empty seats to fill with another run, presumably working only with the remaining people -- those who did not receive an assignment yet. So if LaShon qualified for Clarendon and Flynn and ranked Flynn higher, LaShon would be assigned to Flynn. Now there's an empty spot at Clarendon that must be filled by the closest adds-diversity person from among the remaining, unassigned applicants that listed Clarendon. After all this, the people who still don't have an assignment are assigned to their nearest school with room for them. I think.

    So... if you put down Flynn and only Flynn, you get might get two chances to be considered, one in the first round and (assuming you were rejected) one in the second round after they knock out the duplicates. If you put down 7 choices, you'll likely get an assignment in the first round and therefore not get a second go at Flynn. But if there were still more people that better contribute to diversity than you in your second go at Flynn, you're at the mercy of the school district as to where you'll end up.

  8. Not sure how to suggest a new topic, so I'll put it here. The suggested topic is, "How Important Are 'Credentialed' Teachers?" The reason I ask is: Several years ago, a lawyer friend with an honors history degree from Berkeley and a law degree from Stanford decided he could do more good working with public school kids than doing death penalty appeals. He went to SF State and got a teaching credential. [A digression: This man adores children (he's got 2 of his own who went to Rooftop then Lick-Wilmdering) and went into the teaching career, at considerable cost to his family, a gung-ho public school advocate. His public school teaching career was rather short, as he was assigned to a public SF middle school (can't recall which one) and, with his rather impressive academic background and teaching credential, given 6 classes a day of detention and expressly ordered by his principal to keep order but impart no knowledge whatsoever. Now he's back doing criminal law.] Back on topic: while he was enrolled in the credential program at State, I asked him, "Do you think you're learning anything that will make you a better teacher?" He looked at me quizzically and said, "You're the first person who's asked me that. No, I don't think so." He's the only person I've had that conversation with, and I would be interested in other perspectives.

  9. Anonymous said "If you put down 7 choices, you'll likely get an assignment in the first round and therefore not get a second go at Flynn".

    As far as I'm aware - if you put down 7 choices and don't get your first two, you can enter the second round with that school. And, in the second round, you get a higher priority than someone who did not list 7 schools. This was the case when I applied a couple of years ago, not sure if it still is.

  10. By second round in the previous example I meant a second run of the computer, before you get your assignment. Different than the second round that happens after your assignment. I'm unclear about the rules in the second round that you're refering to. But I think you can do whatever you want regardless of what or how you did in the first round. But I don't know. Hell, I don't know anything!

  11. the ranking piece of this is so hard. i keep playing over and over in my mind the scenario of this: if, by some unbelievable stroke of luck, we were in a situation where the computer granted us a spot at my 2 favorite (albeit entirely different) schools, which one would i ultimately most thrilled to get. the honest answer is "either." they are so different and carry such disparate qualities and benefits. so it's come down to this final deliberation that's killing me today yet the chances of it actually ever becoming an actual relevant issue is so devastatingly slim. but that's the agony of this entire process, no? that we work and grind at this for months and months knowing that we ultimately have such little control!

  12. Luckily you'll never know if you got spots at two schools and was assigned your higher ranked school, or if you only got one school by the skin of your teeth. You'll just get a letter with your assigned school if all goes well.

    Good luck to all!

  13. I love Coco! I have seen her booth at the Alameda Arts & Antiques Fair.

  14. Wow - makes me feel lucky I'm in the Flynn attendance area.

    Three months ago, before I started researching the SFUSD elementary schools, I'd have thought it highly unlikely I'd have sent my kid to Flynn. Now I'm sweating that we can get him in there.