Thursday, February 21, 2008

What do you want to ask SFUSD superintendent Carlos Garcia?

Any hankering questions for SFUSD superintendent Carlos Garcia? On Friday, February 29, I'll be interviewing him. I'll post our conversation in the form of a Q&A on the site. I'm hoping you can offer up some questions. Thanks for the input.


  1. What is the time line for proposing a new student assignment process?

  2. QUESTION REGARDING DECLINING ENROLLMENT: The District needs to re-brand itself and remove the false rumors and impressions many people have. Many parents don't realize how sucessful the schools are and think their only options are to leave the City or go private. Has the District considered a marketing plan targeting potential private school families to steer their enrollment into SFUSD? (SF Magazine, TV ads, etc)

  3. when is the strategic plan for SFUSD going to be make public?

  4. carlos - please make multilingual education available to all elementary and middle school children who request it!

  5. These are all great ideas...Keep them coming...Thanks! Best, Kate

  6. What can be done to entice people to select schools in their neighborhood regardless of race or economic status and therefore factor in vicinity into the assignment process (ie: if you chose a school in your neighborhood, you have a better chance of getting into that school). Other post had mentioned that they didn't want to chose schools nearby, because of uninterested principal, child (or parent?) would feel racially misplaced, wanted an immersion school and safety (on a tour, a parent saw a child being beaten up by another child without and adult intervention). Thanks, Kate.

  7. Please ask when the board is going to stop the hand-wringing and select a few more schools for closure. Some properties can be short-term leased or mothballed in hope that the uptick in enrollment will continue.

  8. I have three questions:

    1. Do you have a proposal of how to fund basic programs for all schools that are currently being funded by the PTA only at some schools (second language acquisition in elementary schools, K-3 music, reduced class size for 4th and 5th grades,art, PE)?

    2. How do you hope to continue to encourage innovation in the way schools approach learning, so that students are able to learn in depth and creatively and not just learn to raise (NCLB inspired) test scores?

    3. What is your plan to improve "low-preforming" schools (I am hoping that this does not include disrupting schools that are working well, cohesively, and creatively by transferring out their principals!)

    Thanks for giving us a chance to ask our questions!

  9. Most of the schools I toured were in disrepair, depressing and had little or no greenery, how do you propose to fix these schools so they are a more appealing alternative to the private schools for those of us who are concerned with the asthetics of the place our children go to learn?

  10. I heard that the assignment letters are being sent out on March 7th. Is this true?

  11. Sorry, because I know this is just for questions for Garcia, but gotta comment on the last one, the complaint about unaesthetic schools.

    If it's landscaping/decor/aesthetics vs. classroom needs, which one would you choose?

    Don't forget you're talking $20,000/year vs. free. Are you really expecting similar landscaping/aesthetics given that price difference?

    Also, I see lots of SFUSD schools that look really good, so it's not as bleak as it sounds.

    However, overall this seems like a wildly misplaced priority.

  12. That's surprising coming from someone who thinks SF public schools need better marketing (and shows why, I suppose, you're not the person to take this on). Aesthetics very much go hand-in-hand with functionality, safety, and morale. Yes, I want a working water fountain, lead-free paint, and a tree.

  13. Caroline -- take a break and go read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or something.

  14. Please lay off Caroline. She has so much to improve the public schools for all of us. It's fine to disagree with her but please be civil.

  15. That's the point isn't it Caroline? Some of us agree that these things are "extras" but also believe they are worth paying for.
    You have clarified my decision. I believe the education my kids will get would be similar, public or private but the "pretty stuff" the greenery, the new playground structures, new paint, bright cheerful hallways and bathrooms are the extras that my family consider worth paying for (yes even $20K).

  16. In my tours of the schools this past fall, my impression was that school beautification is really for marketing to the parents and only marginally beneficial for the children. Yes, having a beautiful and green campus does improve staff and parent morale but I don't know the children really see it the same way adults do. Given the forthcoming budget cuts, I'd rather spend money on other things than landscaping (especially in terms of items that will require costly maintenance). However, PTA/parent-lead school beautification efforts are never a bad idea.

  17. re: beautification (it's funny how we can't seem to let this one go).

    i think there's a difference between cosmetic (read = surface) shabbiness and broken-window syndrome (i.e., the phenomenon whereby a place looks shitty so people infer that nobody cares about it and treat it shittily, continuing a cycle that leaves it even more dismal). personally, i didn't tour any schools that fell into the latter category; even the shabbiest clearly had somebody trying to improve them. plus, there's a big difference between functional decrepitude (no drinking fountain) and cosmetic (opaque windows and old johns). it's priorities again. i, too, like for kids to be around greenery, but would definitely prioritize a whole bunch of things higher.

    my questions to the supe concern the application process and ways to increase trust/applicants:

    is there some way to re-work the assignment system so that everybody who applies in round 1 is *guaranteed* one of their round 1 choices? (this would go so far to earn trust from prospective parents and reduce the dropout rate.) correspondingly, is there some way to reward applicants in terms of "points" for applying to non-grossly-overenrolled schools? for instance, could you get extra points toward your choices if you applied to less-overenrolled or underenrolled schools?

  18. I'd take it a step further: offer applicants *money* for enrolling in underenrolled schools.

  19. Lowell High School is flagrantly shabby -- I think it's a point of pride for them, like, "We're all brainiacs and we don't care how our school looks." Other than that, I really don't see that many unattractive SFUSD schools -- and many are real architectural gems.

    Ironically, my own kid's high school is a truly ugly facility -- School of the Arts, at the McAteer campus, originally built about 1970 -- apparently a low point in architectural history. Yet it's filled with students making beautiful art, so it has the feel of a warehouse full of studios.

    I'm not advocating ugly or neglected schools, obviously. And I have worked pretty hard as a volunteer to market SFUSD schools -- though not, admittedly, based on their physical appearance. My point is that with money tight, it really is classroom needs vs. aesthetics, and we have to consider that (as does Garcia).

    To parents for whom the school's physical appearance truly is a priority, private school probably IS the appropriate choice.

    (My 8th-grader has a classmate whom I carpool daily and who's applying to St. Ignatius. The other kids in the carpool kind of tease him about it -- 8th-graders are plenty old enough to get it: "Why would your parents spend $17,000 a year?" He semi-jokingly answers, "Because it has carpets!")

    There are lots of really nice-looking SFUSD schools, though, and some real gems (check out Balboa High School, the Spanish tile inside Aptos Middle School, the Egyptian deco motif of James Lick Middle School, and many more).

    OK, back to the questions for Garcia, who definitely has more essential things to worry about than aesthetics.

  20. And here is a question for Garcia:

    There are calls for just dropping the Diversity Index and running a pure lottery. Reportedly, models show that wouldn't change the makeup of schools much. What's your view of that idea?

    (Oh, forgot to answer this: Working water fountains and lead-free paint are health and safety concerns; SFUSD is required to provide them. So those aren't among features that I, or the district, or the law, would view as aesthetic.)

  21. I think the declining enrollment/marketing/rebranding is a big question I have for Carlos (second comment). It goes hand in hand with reaching the mayor's DFYC's objectives of keeping families in the City, too.

  22. I have to disagree with the posters that felt that more resources should be put towards marketing/rebranding etc. My son's preschool has about an equal mix of parents applying to just public and applying to both public and private. While some of the parents are sure they will go to any of the private schools they have applied to if they get in over any of their public choices, my sense is that most families have done their homework and done numerous tours, reading, talking to other parents etc. While I occasionally get comments from East Bay friends about the scary situation with SF public schools (clearly they are misinformed!), I know of no families with preschoolers or younger moving out of SF because of a misperception about the schools here (though some are moving for other reasons).

    In my experience, most families, unless they are dead-set on private schools and can easily afford them, have done the research and the tours, and have done a lot of thinking about their priorities. I have heard some parents talking about how depressing it is to tour the public schools after going on private school tours and the tremendous sense of inequity they feel (about the facilities, the enrichment, the small class size, excellence of teaching staff etc.), but clearly these are opinions not formed in ignorance, but from observation and their own point of view.

    I would be very sad to see some of SFUSD's precious resources going to some kind of rebranding/marketing campaign when there are no shortage of middle class families staying in SF and excited about the schools here, and when we can clearly use the money for something else worthwhile.

  23. Lorraine from PPS here....
    There is a partnership underway between SFUSD, the Mayor's Office, the SF Chamber of Commerce, Parents for Public Schools, DCYF, SF School Volunteers, SF Education Fund, SF Foundation, UESF, Coleman Advocates, First 5, SF Schools Alliance and SF Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) to develop a branding/marketing campaign for San Francisco public schools which will launch in 2009. The Taproot Foundation, through a volunteer marketing team from Wells Fargo, provided a branding messaging strategy that we collectively will be working from. An advertising agency, Mortar Agency, has agreed to provide pro bono advertising and media planning and creative development for the effort which is planned to launch in 2009.

    Right now, this group is focusing on passage of the Quality Teaching and Education Act (parcel tax measure) for the June 2008 ballot.

    But stay tuned - a marketing effort for schools is happening as a city-wide partnership (as it should be!) - without using valuable school dollars that need to get to our students.

  24. Regarding aesthetics again, I think they do matter to our kids and to their education, although I agree that there might be other things (like new books, computers, etc.) that should be paid for first. But, we should not discount the environment where our children learn because it does make a difference. There have been numberous studies done about how the environment around you impacts your productivity, mood and attitude. I wouldn't ask my child to go to a place 5 days a week, 6 hours hours a day that I wouldn't feel comfortable and happy working in myself. I think it is a priority and must be addressed if we want more parents to consider sending their children to public schools.

  25. why do your schools suck?

  26. "I wouldn't ask my child to go to a place 5 days a week, 6 hours hours a day that I wouldn't feel comfortable and happy working in myself."

    I wouldn't either. But most SFUSD schools I've seen are reasonably pleasant overall. Which ones have you seen that are so bad?

    When my kids started Lakeshore, the playground was in pretty bad shape, but the building was/is reasonably attractive, light and airy with features like a really nice library. And kids were still playing happily on the funky playground.

    However, since then, the playground has been replaced (lobbying by parents got it moved up the priority list; the work was done in summer 2000), and there are now lovely garden projects in two different parts of the yard. So that's one example of a school that was pleasant to start with and has been improved largely due to parent /teacher/community efforts.

    I'm not advocating leaving facilities unpleasant. I'm just saying that the picture is nicer than the original post made it sound, and asking the superintendent to make aesthetics a higher priority probably isn't going to fly.

    I've also heard schools blasted over the neighborhoods they're in -- I clearly recall critics of Marshall Elementary complaining that there's prostitution and drug use in the neighborhood. Kind of beyond the scope of teachers and school administrators to deal with that, though.

  27. Speaking of marketing, I hope some of you noted the big story on the Chronicle's Bay Area page yesterday on the SFUSD All-City Music Festival.

    Granted that a feature on a student concert isn't nearly as interesting as a sex scandal or corruption expose, but that IS the kind of story that shows off what our public-school kids are doing. To my knowledge there's nothing like it for private schools in San Francisco.

    (Shameless boast: My 8th-grader was principal trombone in the All City Concert (middle school) Band. And she started -- originally on trumpet -- in the free SFUSD instrumental classes offered at ALL schools at district expense beginning in fourth grade. She switched to trombone in sixth grade after her band teacher at Aptos Middle School handed her a free school loaner trombone to try out.)

  28. On the subject of school aesthetics, I think a clean, cheerful physical environment sends the children a clear message, "We value this place and what we do here." Likewise, a dreary environment says, "We don't care about this place." I also think it's perfectly legitimate to ask parents and students to play an active role in school aesthetics. After-school programs can and should legitimately involve children in aesthetic efforts, whether it's picking up trash or gardening or making or selecting artwork to display in public spaces. (My kid loves to decorate and work in the garden, and if you make it a game, he's not bad about cleaning either.) PTAs can involve parents through fund-raising and volunteer time. For schools where the population skews towards parents who have less time and money to give to these efforts, it would be nice if the school district could apportion a bit more of a physical plant budget. Forced to choose between a tree and a 20-child class, I'd of course pick the 20-child class, but it's sad that the choice has to be made.

  29. Hi. I just stumbled across your blog and I'd like to say just a couple of things. I was obsessed with the school choice thing about seven years ago when my son was approaching Kindergarten age. Actually, probably like many of your readers, I started thinking about schools for him when he was just a wee little one. We didn't get into our top choices for schools and ended up sending him to a Montessori school for K through 5th grade. I think it was kind of divine guidance because he loved that school and his teachers. I knew he was having a great time but with Montessori it's sometimes hard to gauge how the kids are doing relative to their peers in public or other private schools. But my son is now in 6th grade in a public middle school and he easily gets all As and that's pretty much the story for all the other kids we know who have gone from Montessori to other schools.
    We are actually hoping to move him back to a Montessori middle school next year. He's doing well at the public school but he was happier in the Montessori environment where children have more choice as to what subject and for how long they study during the school day.

    My other comment is that I was as totally obsessed as anyone on earth regarding researching schools and the decisions of where to apply etc etc. It was constantly on my mind for years! I don't know exactly where the obsession comes from but I'm pretty sure there's a lot of self assessment wrapped up in it all. My advice would be... if you possibly can, relax and lighten up. The truth is that wherever the kids go, they will almost certainly do fine. I think a short commute and local friends are very important. If there's a Montessori school anywhere nearby, you might take a look at it.
    Thanks for having the comments open....

  30. Re the Montessori post -- glad it's such a good environment. I've seen both -- kids moving from private to public and finding it easy, but also kids moving from private to public and discovering that the standards are tougher than they expected. As noted, it's really hard to know.

    In any case, don't forget to factor in that $15,000-$20,000/year vs. free. It's not like it's just "is the Montessori school a better environment for him?" -- it's "is it a better environment when you factor in that it's $whateverK per year vs. free?"

    With college looming (my oldest is a high school junior) and my family's main breadwinner in a field that was mighty 10 years ago and is now crashing and burning -- and retirement not all THAT far away -- I really have to point out that this is not something most families can afford to ignore. Unless you're super-rich, it's "is it worth going into debt for? Is it worth having far less college money and retirement money for? Is it worth our kids' graduating from college deep in debt for college loans?" In my family's case, we are so, so lucky that we didn't do that to ourselves when we were young and carefree.

    Here's a further blog commentary on the social impact of private school:

  31. Oh for crying out loud, Caroline - can you PLEASE just let someone post about their experience without making it into yet another opportunity to state the same thing you've stated over and over again? In this case it's entirely gratuitous, on top of being repetitive.

  32. She said she was new, and there are obviously other newcomers here regularly.

    I think the most effective way to convey a message is to repeat the message as needed. That's the case with practical advice too (and reminding folks that the finances have to be included in the calculation IS practical advice.) I'm sorry that those who have heard it before have to hear it again.

  33. Maybe, but you're monopolizing this comments page (and maybe others?) and I don't think that this is the purpose of this blog! I read the blog because it gives me a chance to connect and read about what other parents in the same boat (with kids applying to kindergarten this year) are experiencing about the process. I really don't like having to filter through all of the propoganda about public schools (I've heard it all already, so many times! and yes, I only applied to public!)

  34. I read today (on Left In SF) that SFUSD is planning on giving 500 teachers layoff notices as of March 1st. This is very distressing! Does anyone have any idea what teachers are getting this notice? What programs will be cut? Which schools will be affected? I know that layoff notices often don't get acted upon, but... does anyone know the lowdown on this? Maybe Superintendent Garcia...will he tell?

  35. At our public elementary school the principal made it sound like layoff notices for teachers and staff are routinely handed out by the district. She implied it was done almost yearly because there is a requirement that a certain amount of notice be given and when the budget is uncertain the district has to erred on the side of giving notices of layoffs, or potential layoffs. I guess often they are not acted upon because somehow the budget shortfall is made up somehow -- like with the use of the rainy day fund perhaps? This was all news to me (a K parent) and very distressing. Not only are teachers underpaid, but they face regular job uncertainty -- not to mention the parking permit issue addressed in another thread. My question for Garcia is what does he plan to do to attract and retain quality teachers in the district?

  36. is it worth going into debt for? Is it worth having far less college money and retirement money for? Is it worth our kids' graduating from college deep in debt for college loans?

    YES, it's painful but worth it to help save public schools. Everyone needs to reach deep into their own pockets to help fund public education, because the government can't cover it. It is short roughly $10,000 per kid per year. Please donate that amount, plus an additional amount for those who don't have that much. If you don't have that much, just give till it hurts.

  37. RE: layoff notices
    from today's leftinsf:
    "Under the requirements of the Rainy Day fund, the funds can only be
    released if there is impending layoffs. It is hoped that the City
    will provide $30 million from the Rainy Day fund to stop many of the

  38. Re: Anon at 9:19am:

    The government (aka we the people) really could cover the costs of a good public education, as people do in many other relatively wealthy nations. Our representatives have had skewed priorities for use of our money--the Iraq war is the most obvious example--and through our tax policies we have also tolerated and abetted a growing class divide (just recently it became the largest chasm between rich and everyone else since before the Great Depression) that has allowed the super-rich to become obscenely super-rich, to the detriment of national priorities like education and health care.

    I mean, the current administration CUT taxes for the super-rich and sent the country to a long-term war and occupation at the same time. Funny how government "can't" fund education under these circumstances.

    I give out of my (middle-class, 60K/year) pockets to the the PTA at my kids' schools. I give of my time too. No doubt, parental involvement makes a difference, including on the aesthetic front mentioned earlier.

    However, I do not have $20K+ per year to give, nor certainly $40K (counting twice for two kids). That would be 2/3 of my gross pay. I am trying to be responsible about putting in money for retirement to supplement my pension, and also to save for college--I really don't want my kids to have their future choices hobbled by massive debt!

    Caroline makes a good and pragmatic point. The majority of parents truly cannot afford private school, and many who could think they could "swing it" probably should not, in terms of thinking all the way down the road to college and retirement. I know parents who paid for private school out of home equity, and while SF housing prices are holding more steady than in, say, Vallejo, does any of this really sound like a sound financial plan given today's economic realities?

    I encourage folks to read Jacob Hacker's "The Great Risk Shift," that talks in layperson's terms about the shifting of economic risk onto today's middle and working classes, with especial risks to families with kids--he says having the act of having kids is a newly risky move in America today, because of how the social burdens have been shifted onto individual families. He puts it in terms of health care, education, retirement, and all the rest of the items that individuals are shouldering more and more, without a safety net of spreading out the risk throughout the community. By way of reference, Hacker is a Yale professor of economics and is also the policy wonk behind the Edwards-Clinton and major parts of the Obama health care plans.

    I'm glad for Caroline's posts. If you don't like them, it's easy enough to skip them over them--but for many of us she offers good information about the details of school policies, years of experience in SFUSD, and a strong point of view that keeps things lively (I would say honest) around here. I like Kim Green's and others' posts too, for their very honest humor.

  39. Language immersion programs seem to be in demand at the elementary I'd love to find out the district's long-term plan for expanding immersion programs at the middle and high school levels.

    Thanks Kate!

  40. Is it true the class size cap for the 4th grade and up will be increased to 40 students?

  41. anon who cited the hacker book...very good point about the level of financial risk inherent in raising children in our society today -- and the newness of this risk. it certainly helps put in perspective the education choices before us now. as a family that was self-insured for many years until very recently, i can testify that there are many invisible costs to raising children nowadays (in spite of being "insured" we are still paying off bills related to our kids' births! and, obviously, one is headed for fucking kindergarten!).

    i, for one, am grateful for caroline's tirelessness in meting out her lessons....let's not forget that she brings the same energy to advocating for our kids that she brings to this blog. advocacy ain't always pretty. would i want to mud-wrestle caroline? maybe not...but i'd sure as shit want her in my PTA.

    can someone break into the district and get our assignments now? check's in da mail....

  42. From an SFUSD press release:

    Currently, California’s per pupil spending is one of the lowest in the nation; according to a recent Education Week report, California spends an average of $1,900 less per student than the national average. The report gave California a “D+” for finances.

    "To short change and deny our children a top quality public education and thereby deny their hopes and dreams, merely to bow down to the false god of 'no
    taxes' is simply criminal," said Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). School officials are waiting for more details of the Governor’s proposed budget
    and will perform further analysis to determine the impact of the
    reductions. According to San Francisco schools’ superintendent Carlos Garcia, the district is preparing for a fiscal state of emergency.

    “Given the lean budget that we already operate under, the state’s budget proposal could require drastic measures including increasing class size, closing
    schools to consolidate resources, and eliminating transportation services within the extent permitted by law.”

    Please ask Carlos Garcia how we are supposed to feel optimistic about this situation given the fact that schools will be closed, principals and teachers laid off and/or shuffled around, class sizes increased, and the burden on PTAs and individuals to raise even more money to cover the shortfall will likely increase beyond what is realistic in most schools.

    This isn't a maybe, people, even with rainy day fund money the situation is not going to be good.

  43. I want to ask: is it true that the SFUSD doesn't have a grant writer to coordinate larger grant proposal to the state or federal government? If it is true are there plans to rectify it? I'm a new parent to the public schools with a daughter in kindergarten. I've been working on the grants and fundraising committee. I have heard from others that have been doing this for longer than I that our school (as well as others) have lost out on the opportunity to even compete for some larger state and federal grants that require district level coordination because the SFUSD doesn't have a grant writer or fundraising office.

  44. California spends an average of $1,900 less per student than the national average.

    For what it's worth, keep in mind that California bears the burden of educating 1+ million illegal alien children.

  45. I caught the end of the news this morning - it said cuts threaten to increase kindergarten class sizes from 20 to 32 - but said it would most likely affect only the poorest school districts (?).
    A change like this would directly influence my decisions. How do I find out what specific decisions have been made for SFUSD schools? and when are these decisions (affecting Sept '08 intake) likely to be taken?

  46. To anonymous above:

    For official SFUSD announcements.

    If the budget cuts pass, it's my moderately informed opinion that the district will have to accelerate the closure of under enrolled schools, operate with fewer teachers, and necessarily increase class size to accommodate for these changes. It's really too bad.

    Caroline or Lorraine will probably be able to chime in about other sources of information on what the cuts will look like in SF. And perhaps Carlos Garcia himself will shed some light tomorrow and Kate will share with all of us!

  47. "For what it's worth, keep in mind that California bears the burden of educating 1+ million illegal alien children."

    This topic was discussed recently on the SF Schools list. It is not a relevant point for the budget discussion.

    Non-demagoguing politicians understand that most undocumented residents and their kids (many of whom are citizens themselves) will not be sent back to the Old Country. The root causes and moral burdens of the current surge in world migration are too complex, and more importantly the impact of returning people en masse just too dire for the stability of the hemisphere and our own economy. As a practical matter, it's simply not going to happen; we are not going to be sending 12 million people back. The only way out of the current mess is comprehensive immigration reform, which will happen, eventually.

    This practical reality means that, unless someone wants to argue that we should deny education to an entire class of kids who will be growing up to be workers and residents and very likely citizens in a few years, that the only thing we can do is provide these kids that education. Not doing so would be punitive to the kids, immoral, and of course incredibly stupid on a societal level.

    Anyway, most of these kids' parents pay taxes and social security. It would make a lot of sense for the feds to recognize the extra burdens carried by high-immigration states such as California, New York, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, etc., by providing more funding for ESL and other supports. It would also be great to have more federal funding flowing to the states to address unfunded mandates like NCLB as well as to address the great unevenness in education funding across the 50 states.

    Throwing immigration into the budget crisis discussion is very unhelpful because it is simply not a workable policy point, and so easily leads to the distractions and damages of scapegoating when much more comprehensive and realistic solutions are called for.

    Also, I will not use the dehumanizing words "illegal alien" as descriptors of people, especially children, who are our neighbors. No human being can be illegal--only actions and behaviors.

  48. Nicely said, Sarah.


  49. Word is that Carlos Garcia will be holding a community meeting to address all these budget crisis issues. The PPS website would be a good place to keep an eye for the details --

    Well said regarding "illegal aliens," Sarah. (By the way, when undocumented workers using false Social Security numbers pay into SS, they don't ever collect.)

    Regarding an SFUSD development director -- it does not have one, and desperately needs such a post. There are staffers doing successful grantwriting in specific areas, such as School Health Programs, but we need to think on a larger scale. This would be a great thing for the Ed Fund or other private funder to provide, even temporarily -- the position would presumably pay for itself rapidly.

  50. To the poster that wondered if there is a SFUSD grant writer, the answer is no, although that is a position they would like to fill and proposed using Prop H "third third" funds for.

    and yes, it is true (our school included) that some federal grants are out of reach b/c they need district oversight. That said, some district employees have tried hard to extend even further and help schools (they helped us write an unsuccesful federal grant, but the grant was written by two parents when it should have been written by the district).

  51. re illegal aliens...

    How can you say, "It is not a relevant point for the budget discussion," and in the next breath say, "It would make a lot of sense for the feds to recognize the extra burdens carried by high-immigration providing more funding"?

    Budget -- state or federal -- is the big, relevant point. Who here said anything about sending people back or denying them an education?

  52. SFUSD is NOT going to cut the reduced class size program for K-3 because it does not save enough money to be worthwhile. This is what I heard Carlos Garcia say to administrators. You may have heard it on TV about another school district who didn't crunch the numbers. That said, upper grades could have larger classes but I doubt it. The state cuts will be less than expected and we're getting rainy day funds.

  53. Forum (on KQED) did a piece on the education budget cuts this morning. Catch it again tonight or listen to it at

  54. Re: anonymous @ 4:22 yesterday on undocumented students:

    Of course the issue is relevant in an indirect sense in terms of federal-to-state funding policies, just as everything about state and federal policy is relevant to a big state budget crisis. That was my point: raising the question of immigrant children is relevant only when the broad context of immigration policy from the federal level on down is considered.

    But that context wasn't even mentioned in the original post. The original post just dropped the one sentence referencing the "burden" of "1+ million illegal alien children" into the education budget conversation, and, whether it was intended in this case or not, simplistic comments like this play right into the long history of distraction politics and demogoguing on immigration in California. I stand by what I said: the topic is not relevant to our budget fight, and raising it like that is damaging and unhelpful.

    The same person asks (naively? disingenuously?): "Who here said anything about denying an education or sending people home?" Maybe not here on this blog, but can anyone here be ignorant of the fact that plenty of Americans do, every day?

    It's in the air we breathe. A significant majority of California voters said yes to Proposition 187 thirteen years ago, which effectively would have denied education and hospital access to undocumented kids in California had the courts not struck it down. California's political landscape has shifted a bit since then, but not that much; do you ever listen to the Republicans in Sacramento, or to the screeching on talk radio? Say "immigration," and it's all about sending people back and denying services. Any mention of the "burden" of "illegal alien children" with no wider context discussed is reasonably understood as blaming immigrants given the atmosphere we are in. The folks on this blog strike me as intelligent and well-informed enough to know that.

    A better focus is to note that many other high-immigrant states, such as New York and Massachusetts, are not ranked 46 out 50 states in education spending per pupil as we are. While far from perfect, they have done a better job of maintaining a revenue stream for education. Just to mention one issue, California has lived with Prop 13 for a generation now, and at this point many large corporations are paying property taxes that are well below the market rates that most of us pay. Why should we balance the budget on the backs of our kids and not ask wealthy corporations to share the burden too?

    We have a structural deficit in California in all but the bonanza years. More cuts to education are not acceptable--all of us public school parents know that; so we need to look at the revenue side to invest in education for California's future. Let's keep our eyes on the ball.

  55. An interesting article on school lunches just got posted on the site, and Carlos Garcia is quoted, as well as several food activists from San Francisco, and a bunch of folks from our own Balboa High. It sounds to me like there may be movement afoot to get the POS (debit card) system implemented for school lunches, somehow, even though the Prop H "third third" funding will be diverted to the budget crisis. The POS system would be GREAT for the kids, whether or not they qualify for free/reduced lunch. Read the article-it's interesting.

  56. ^^Thanks!!