Friday, March 14, 2008

Kate takes a break

Anyone feeling overwhelmed? I've decided to take a brief break from the blog; I'm turning off my computer until Monday. Today is Alice's birthday and I want to leave the school stress behind and focus on her for a few days.

I've talked to many parents who are struggling with the process and sometimes I worry that my blog is feeding the frenzy. I'm terribly saddened by the stories from people who have put so much effort into this and haven't gotten into any schools or a school that they love. People keep telling me that it all works out in the end but I hate that we have to go through this.

Feel free to use the comments section to pose questions and share information.

And please everyone, get some rest.

109 comments:

  1. Happy birthday to your daughter. You are smart to take a break from this. Take care.

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  2. Happy Birthday! Understand your need to take a break. After writing this blog and being so open about everything, why did you not share your private school news and reflections?

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  3. We are "taking a break" too. Turned in round 2 / waitpool choice yesterday. I'm done until we get those results. Last weekend after we received our disappointing results we looked online at real estate in Orinda...I don't want to do anything in a panic.

    Note, I have a friend who moved to Piedmont last year because they got no schools on their list. The first day of school- they got a phone call from Clarendon stating their boy had a spot. I need to remember that when I get cuckoo over this whole process....

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  4. Kate needs to be especially careful at this time. While supposed to be anonymous her identity is known to many and will be by now to the private schools she has applied to. Making your thoughts and plans so well known is not strategic and I really hope she has not reduced her options by being so candid. From me, a real anonymous with nothing to lose and much to gain from reading this blog, I send my thanks to you Kate, have a rest filled weekend.

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  5. I don't think Kate has said anything here that should affect her chances at any school. She hasn't come off as pushy, obnoxious, or mean, and her assessments of all schools have been very fair and focused on the positive. I certainly know that I would never have been so even-handed as Kate has been in all this!

    Kate, happy birthday to Alice and enjoy your weekend!

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  6. I don't think you're feeding the frenzy at all. If anything you're making it better by providing a lightning rod. Mixed metaphors, but you get my point.

    Only through a site like this does the widespread discontent become so manifest as to galvanize change.

    Thank you Kate.

    PS, I bet you don't make it through the weekend. :P

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  7. I can assure you that the private schools knew a long time ago Kate's real identity.

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  8. I agree with the above poster. I bet most of the privates Kate applied to knows who she is and of her blog. If I were Kate I would be careful about what I say as well hence the deafening silence on the privates. Take care of Alice's interests first Kate. I'm sure we'll find out what happens eventually.
    Good luck!

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  9. I don't know how we would have gotten through the process without this blog and forum. Last night, in the depths of our self-pity and wallowing, we re-read your prescient entry in January about school choices and options for changing and it brought us off the ledge and back to earth. So thank you for everything.

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  10. Yes, let's all remember that until your child is actually attending a school you don't really know how great a fit it will be. We're all trying to make educated guesses as to where our children will thrive. Some kids will thrive in many environments, others will need more structure, or less structure, more or less focus on arts, more or less focus on socialization, more or less focus on traditional academics, etc., etc. And, what works for some kids in K, might not be working by 4th grade because circumstances may change. My point is, nothing is forever. We can course correct if we find that the school we "choose" now is not the best fit down the road.

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  11. I am a physician and a Professor in the UCSF School of Medicine. My daughter attends Rosa Parks JBBP. With a visionary principal and talented teachers who are both creative and disciplined, I can truly say that Rosa Parks JBBP has exceeded all of my academic expectations for my daughter. As a parent, it is such a joy and so important to see my child thriving in her environment. She is in spades. I have started the Rosa Parks Science Discovery Project which is a collaboration between UCSF and Rosa Parks to introduce science in a fun and creative way to the kids at Rosa Parks with role model UCSF students. The creative arts including music and visual arts are an important aspect of the curriculum as well. While Japanese language and culture acquisition is a unique aspect of the school that prompted my wife and I to take a look, it is the academic environment that has impressed me the most...something I am used to at UCSF. I would encourage families to seriously consider taking a tour of Rosa Parks JBBP. Each child is unique and has different needs but this is a very special school.

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  12. good idea, kate. personally, i think it's okay to get sloppy at kid's parties. just put the bottle in a goodie bag. giddy up!

    did anyone attend last night's "counseling" session at ortega? where an EPC rep *personally* read us -- verbatim -- the powerpoint presentation that is available on the web site? you know, in case you can't read it yourself?

    okay, okay...i appreciate all the work that arnie fokin et al are doing, but saturday attendees should be forewarned that attending the session may result in the following symptoms: unbridled paranoia, flop sweat, homicidal rage, manic episodes, fugue states, hallucinatory images of oneself as tatiana the tiger rushing the podium, hairy palms and possibly incontinence. if you are on jenny craig or weight watchers you can add ketosis-induced dementia to that list.

    seriously, though...i had the foolish idea that we were going to be COUNSELED -- thus the name of the meeting -- and get some specificity: what schools are reasonable to put on your amended list; what approximate chances might you have of getting in off the waitlist given THIS year's figures, etc. etc. generally, when you asked these things, they got real mad at you.

    that said, i do have some learnings to share with the group:

    -- arnie threw out this figure -- er, i THINK -- as being last year's percentage of first-round offers that were ultimately turned down: 40%. i have no idea if that is accurate or if i even heard him right (the woman who began chanting "mommy, mommy!" over and over and consuming her own purse was a distraction).
    -- it was said that you can change not only your waitlist choice but also your amended choices AFTER the march 28 deadline. can anyone validate this? i can't IMAGINE why they don't put this plainly on the form...perhaps they don't want us calling them? but why? we're so nice.
    -- one idea i got from a parent ambassador was to call individual schools you are considering for your amended list after march 21 and ask them straight up how many people enrolled. duh! that's a good one -- why didn't i think of that?
    -- somebody mentioned the futility of offering sexual favors or bribes, as such measures only serve to humiliate the offerer and are rarely accepted*.
    -- if you want to do round 1 again next year, put the word "masai" in the slot where it asks for home language. that will save you so much anguish!

    hope this helps...please share learnings from the trenches...

    *except if you are waitlisting for AFY, clarendon or rooftop, in which case they are required.

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  13. Kim, you are hysterical! (Possibly in both senses...?)

    I've volunteered as a parent peer counselor in those sessions in the past. My impression (from that perspective) was that parts were mind-numbing, but then in other parts, some parents were honestly having their problems resolved, getting genuinely significant new information, etc. I'm sorry that doesn't seem to have been true. But I still think it's important to see and be seen, if that make sense.

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  14. it was said that you can change not only your waitlist choice but also your amended choices AFTER the march 28 deadline.

    Maybe they were refering to this (from a PPS lady in another thread):

    "Open Enrollment begins in June. During this time, you may opt to take a school that you prefer over your current designated school and still remain in the wait pool for the school you want. You can also change you wait pool school at any time if you feel you want to increase your odds."

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  15. if you want to do round 1 again next year, put the word "masai" in the slot where it asks for home language.

    I'm amazed that it didn't occur to me until so late in the game that people might lie on their applications. Does the SFSUD attempt to verify application info through city records?

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  16. The Masai are a very famous warrior tribe in Kenya whose lives center around herding cattle.

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  17. Okay, then! So let's a bunch of us put down masai next year. Which school should we invade with out masai immersion program?

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  18. Kate, thank you for your blog. I don't think it's feeding into the frenzy at all, instead it's providing real life experiences with the SF school system that will help parents prepare themselves.

    I do have a question that I can't seem to find the answer for. It is my understanding when applying to public schools parents do so according to the SFUSD schedule, but what about private schools? Should I be applying to private schools now (my son is 17 months) and get on waitlists in case we get turned down for the public schools of our choice or do I apply for them when I am applying for public schools?
    Thank you

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  19. oh...(laughing). seriously: there is nothing they can do to us that is worse than what the 0/7s this year have already endured. it's not like they're going to find out we lied and, you know, waterboard us.

    or is that part of round II?

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  20. I calculated last year that if you say you are Samoan you have the best chance of getting your first choice.

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  21. private schools do not allow you to pre-enroll or get on waitlists (thank god!). They're pretty much on the same timeline as public schools. I began touring private schools in October prior to the year my daughter would be attending kindergarten. There's no way to get ahead of this system which I think is a blessing.

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  22. my daughter's jewfro/italfro can pass for a samofro in a heartbeat! hope at last!

    new strategy: redshirt and reapply as fijian national....

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  23. Oh Kim, yay Kim, more meetings for Kim! Man that was funny.

    (What have you decided??)

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  24. Kim,
    Not only do I love your comments, and your blog (I think you have my four year olds clone)... but as we may well be reapplying next year (her bday is the end of Nov) I've got to use your idea. Our daughter is adopted, and we know that she is Laotian and ... anyone's guess. Perhaps we should use one of your guesses to get better odds, and she's definitely of mixed race. Who knew there could be a good side to that big unknow ;) And thanks for the notes about Paul Revere, we really liked it too and talked to a GREAT mom at the enrollment fair, who was really happy there. MCL

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  25. Kim, where are you hoping to send your daughter? I want to be on the PTA with you!!!

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  26. hey mcl,
    Rumor has it that someone who had adopted their daughter put down their daughter's birth parent's ethnicity/education level (back when they considered a mom's education level) and got their first pick...Rooftop.

    whatever works, right?

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  27. time to start studying laotian (lao?) now, because they don't care where you come from, only what language you speak at home (at least this year...)!

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  28. Some random answers:

    Yes, parents lie. But it's complicated to know how to lie -- it all depends which school(s) you want. I THINK that if you put that there's another first language in the home, your child may be tested to determine his/her English proficiency. Of course that wouldn't be so bad; your kids are completely bilingual in Masai and English. As long as their Masai proficiency isn't tested.

    Race isn't considered anymore, so Samoan or Laotian doesn't help.

    The district DEFINITELY does not have the means to do detective work on anyone's application -- they don't even have enough staff to answer the phones.

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  29. PTA commenter: yes, but then you have to take my whole freakish family, because my parents have threatened to join with us! in fact, my dad is starting to get ancy that we went 0/7 and don't have anything firm yet...he brought his tool kit over already. he's old school...always has a wrench and all that. and a big bag of size 4 soccer balls. it's kind of weird, actually.

    as far as what we hope (back when we used to have hope): an immersion program on southeast side (revere, flynn, fairmount...maybe monroe...buenva vista?). i think marshall and starr king are too far for us...bad bus routes.

    anybody got one of those for us? i'll give you my samofro hairdresser's name and my dad will work on your 1960 nash rambler....

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  30. look how i spelled "antsy"!? that is scary. i blame it on SFUSD, of course.

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  31. "whatever works, right?
    March 14, 2008 1:38 PM"

    Are you serious?

    Go ahead and lie on your application and say that the language spoken in your home is spanish or cantonese. Sleep well knowing that you probably took a took a spot from a family that is probably more disadvantaged than you.

    Wow! What a role model you will be for your children!

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  32. 2:05

    don't get mad at me, I didn't do it...I went 0 for 7 in round one. It was just a story I heard from someone who heard it from someone else.

    lighten up...some people are getting too angry on this blog, possibly displacing anger for the system on parents who are suffering just the same.

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  33. Its funny - someone said "whatever works", condoning the behavior of lying on the school application. I may be desperate but I still have ethics and I hope the people on this blog still do as well.

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  34. wow, you guys are brutal... it was said sarcastically. i am seriously losing my interest in this blog with parents who lack sense of humor and take everything so seriously.

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  35. Just for the record, I know a family who DOES speak another language at home. They don't have a lot of money, and they will have a hard time affording private school. They went 0 for 7 on their 1st round. So I guess it doesn't always work (and yes they filled out the form correctly - I told them to call SFUSD, don't know if they did).

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  36. As quoted from EPC's "Diversity Index Handout":

    "A common misunderstanding with respect to the Diversity Index process is the assumption that there is a “perfect” or “ideal” profile based on some kind of additive properties associated with the diversity characteristics – for example, that having all “1s” is better than having all “0s”. There is, however, no perfect profile since the lottery
    program is always attempting to balance the ratios of a given characteristic among many characteristics Rather, there are only profiles that bring these ratios closer or farther
    from the optimal 50/50 balance at a given evaluation point. In other words, a profile that
    would, at one point during the lottery process, pull the ratio further away from the 50/50
    ratio may later in the lottery process be the profile that best pulls the selected population
    toward the 50/50 goal.
    ."

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  37. kim green, Starr King and Buena Vista are 5 min apart by walking. I don't understand why you say that BV would work for you while SK is too far.

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  38. Ditto on the reality of reporting 2 languages at home. Honest on the app...0 for 7 in the lottery. Reporting any language other than English will prompt an english test upon starting school, And a spanish or cantonese test now (spring)or signed affidavit that your child's PRIMARY language is as reported (Masai included).

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  39. actually, buena vista is too far too -- we live on the border of glen park and noe. i was grasping at straws. i mean, *i* can do it, but how will my 4-year-old? you know how sometimes something is close as the crow flies but requires two buses? transfers and getting to school on time -- not a great idea, IMHO. bike's an idea, but, god, in the rain with two kids? no, thanks. the role of transportation in the "choice" system is confounding. it kind of forces you to drive, really.

    and, for the record, not for a second was i suggesting lying on the app about languages or even that i know how they use home language in the diversity index. who knows? it's a black box. one can only guess. anecdotally, i have noted that everyone *we* know who has a home language other than english did get one of their 7 (they all happen to be european). my husband and children are bilingual in french, but we put "english" in answer to the question of what the child speaks most often at home, because it is the truth. knowing that we may have to endure not knowing how or if we get a school until september does make me think about that question a little nostalgically, and wonder if having answered "french" would have changed our fate. i hear you folks for whom it did not...yet i can't help but wonder based on my informal survey results. but i could never have lied. i never even stole a grape from the market! prissy capricorn -- too afraid of getting caught.

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  40. Thanks for the run-down on the counseling session. Glad I skipped it and headed to a friend's for an impromput invitation for empanadas and wine. My spirit...and my family..appreciated a night of fun.

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  41. we reported english and hindi and got 0 for 7. tant pis.

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  42. I actually happen to speak Laotion, as I was born in Laos, but we still went 0 for 7.

    Of course, we were truthful and Laotion never appeared on our application, as our daughter does not speak it nor is it spoken at home. So close yet so far....

    :-)

    As a friend of Kim G's, I can attest that her daughter does indeed have a lovely jewfro/ italofro.

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  43. I spoke French to my daughter until she turned 3. Now I speak to her in English about 90% of the time. I considered putting down that French was spoken at home but I thought that would be stretching the truth too much. It might have helped, who knows.

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  44. I'm impressed by the positive energy of everyone here. We were applying for 8th grade, and I decided the K-8 schools would provide the easiest transition, and in doing my research came across this site. We are 0 for 6 - I only put down 6 schools because I could only find 6 middle or K-8 schools that had API scores close to or above 800. I am not willing to ignore API scores just because a school has a nice principal or an attractive facility. I say this based on my child's experience. He did poorly on the math standardized test and I figured he just didn't test well. Then I started working with him and found out he didn't know how to work with fractions or decimals and that's why he got wrong answers.

    I applied to one private school as a backup and was accepted so that's where my child will go. Financially, we get help from our child's grandparents to enable this - does anyone else also?

    My question to everyone is: what exactly does the lottery system accomplish? It doesn't seem to achieve ethnically balanced schools, academic parity or true parent choice. Perhaps, it does encourage schools to promote themselves which likely leads to improvement.

    Maybe neighborhood schools combined with magnet options would be worth a try for SFUSD. But is that even legally possible in SF?

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  45. Last night was absolutely useless, and just served to get me very worked up (because of the demonstrated idiocy of Archie and the "counselors"), and I had gone into the evening not expecting much to begin with (and in a good mood). They were even giving information that conflicts with what is on the SFUSD website and in the Enrollment Guide.

    Kim, thank you for getting me to laugh...I needed it today!

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  46. I'm pretty certain that Kate's daughter was accepted at both of the private schools to which they applied.

    Perhaps she is choosing to be quiet out of consideration of other people's feelings.

    Additionally, I'm guessing that she is considering turning down the acceptances for financial reasons, and because she is truly dedicated to SF public schools.

    But even if she goes with a private school, I hope we will applaud her for the great service she has provided her, and allow her to make the decision that is best for her family.

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  47. What's you opinion on "diamond in the rough" schools that are actually in the rough? Will they truly turn around into the "next Alvarado" or the "next Miraloma"? Both those schools are in very expensive neighborhoods and it seems like some of the diversity comes from outside the school zone. With the exception of BV, I can't think of many schools in working class neighborhoods that have made a turnaround. Do you think it is possible that Flynn, Revere, Marshall, Starr King can actually become as desirable with the neighborhoods they are in?

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  48. Lorraine from PPS here---

    I received this from Gentle Blythe, Director
    Public Outreach & Communications for SFUSD today:

    --------------------------------------
    When it comes to the student assignment process, the district’s goal is to assign students to a school of their choice whenever possible and to create diverse schools in instances where there are more requests than seats available.

    No one who received an assignment to a school will be turned away from that school once assigned.

    There are a number of parents who are assigned to SFUSD schools who then opt to enroll elsewhere. As do many school enrollment centers across the country, the district uses data to determine how many students can be assigned to a school to ensure that the school is fully enrolled but not overenrolled at the beginning of the school year. For example, at a school with 60 available seats, the district may assign 100 families given that 5 years of attrition data shows that, on average, approximately 40% of assigned families didn’t actually enroll in the school or transferred early in the school year when space became available at a higher choice school.

    There is a good chance of still getting into a school of your choice through the wait pool and/or the amended choices application.

    Last school year, 17% of families who applied in Round 1 did not enroll in SFUSD. Almost half of these families received their first choice. Of those who did not enroll, 44% were kindergarten families.
    -------------------

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  49. 10:51 AM

    you are correct! how do we know any of these schools are the "right fit" until we're there? yes, we got grattan. yes, i wanted grattan. yes, i was relieved to know we didn't have to move. however, we can spend the next year there and find out that our child just isn't thriving as we'd hoped? or budgets are slipping so much that all the extra great stuff is gone?

    and for those people i met that got the call the day before or 7 days in that there was a spot for their child at their school of choice? i wish we could get numbers on that info...

    hope everyone has a great weekend!

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  50. 9:45
    We're at Grattan and we love it! Our child is in K. When I read these posts I think about how much better we know now about what type of school works for him than we did when we were applying. It was hard to talk the talk at the private schools we applied to because, honestly, when our child was four we weren't exactly sure what would be the ideal fit for him. Part of what we've been thrilled with at Grattan is the very welcoming community and the focus on the whole child. Hope you'll love it too.

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  51. So I guess this has turned into a 100% public school blog at this point. Is that correct?

    Private discussions seem to have gone away.

    Interesting since those acceptance letters went out this week. Surely there's some stress over that amongst those who applied to private.

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  52. When we got a "wait-list" letter from Synergy, I assumed that was the wording of all the rejection letters. In other words, everyone who is not admitted receives a letter offering them an opportunity to be on the wait-list. Can anyone clarify? Thanks.

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  53. To clarify what the district said about changing your listings on your amended application -- as long as you turn your amended application in on time (it must be received by the district by March 28), you have a two-week grace period to make changes to your listings.

    At some point during those two weeks, the district will publish the actual number of seats available in all schools based on who actually enrolled by the March 21 deadline. While this will be useful information to some degree, we will all see those same numbers, and as Archie said, there's just no way to predict human behavior, so the numbers are only so helpful.

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  54. Anon@11:19 my understanding is that some applicants DO get rejection letters but that most get waitlisted. Presumably it depends on the school, though. Last year, our son was waitlisted at 4 private schools and not ultimately accepted at any of them.

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  55. most get waitlisted? then what's the point of having a waitlist at all?

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  56. If you're interested in discussion about private school, the thread about private school is still active and people are talking about acceptances, different schools, etc.

    As for the waitlist, there are definitely some waitlist candidates who are higher up in consideration than others. However, the kids the schools decide to take depend on which kids drop out, as they're still thinking about the overall balance of the class.

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  57. anon: 3/14 11:02 -- we were lucky enough to be accepted at our top two private schools. i'm still reading the blog, but i know how lucky we are to have a choice between two schools we love. belly aching about being afraid we'll make the wrong choice just felt a little wrong given that we are exceedingly lucky.

    on private school waitlists vs. rejections -- both exist, and i'm guessing the extent to which a school sends most non-admitted applicants waitlist letters varies from school to school. we know people from prior years who got into several schools from the waitlists. you might want to call Synergy (if you haven't already) and let them know how interested you are and have parents you know thre or any adult who knows your child well (someone who leads a group your child is in -- music, art, a sport, etc) write letters on your behalf. however, while that strategy is recommended for most private schools, i understand that Synergy is not the "typical" private school in many ways. i can't imagine that calling to express your interest could hurt, though. i wish you all the best.

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  58. This morning as we drove to school, I passionately exclaimed, "I love our school! I love it so much I could just snuggle it up every time I walk inside!" My child laughed and said that she shared my sentiment. Thirty seconds later our car approached Flynn, and I saw hundreds of parents and children demonstrating on the sidewalk with brightly coloured signs bearing words of protest about budget cuts and pink slips. Toddlers rode upon the shoulders of parents carrying banners, and right in the center a television news crew was taping images of the energy charged scene. Tears of pride welled up in my eyes, and I honked my horn in support. When my daughter asked what was happening, I told her about the reasons for the action, and about the commitment of these amazing parents to give their children and the teachers of the school what they needed and deserved. It was a discussion that went deep, and my six year old daughter was fully engaged in it as we drove the rest of the way to our school: Live Oak.

    I feel such a strong respect for my friends at Flynn and so many other public schools, and I'm proud to discuss these matters with my child and have her experience the respect that I give public school educators and parents. The sad thing is that, in the real world, very few public school parents reciprocate, and this forum is no different. If you look through the comments over the months, you'll see that at times a tone has been set here in the comment sections which has actually made some people ashamed to admit that they have even applied to private school. Yesterday evening at 7:07 pm, anonymous wrote this about Kate, the keeper of the blog: "But even if she goes with a private school, I hope we will applaud her for the great service she has provided." Anonymous, you make it sound as though this is a forum exclusive to parents from public school communities. You would be surprised if you knew how many private school parents, teachers, and administrators read this blog. Why do they read it? Because it is the tale of a family on the path of choosing a school for its child. They probably also read it because they care about children, which is why they are parents, teachers, and administrators.

    To those parents who find themselves passing judgement on private schools and making dismissive, negative statements about private school families, please realize that the tone which you set will be the one which you pass on to your child. Instead of pushing public and private parents apart into different factions, consider rising up together to take back education in our city, state, and nation so that every school is as good as the best public and private schools in the city.

    This is my first and last post here in the comments section. This site has been interesting to read over the months, and of late many stories have caused me to relive our family's own 0/7 disappointment from last year. Now it's time for me to move on. I'll lend my support on the streets, in the classroom, through letter writing campaigns, and by ensuring that equity and social justice are a part of my child's education in the home and at school always so that she, too, can work towards a better world.

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  59. 8:07, I'm delighted that as a Live Oak parent you are passionate about public education and willing to do something about it. I know LO is a great school and I don't judge that choice, especially hearing your words about public. Brava(o?)!

    I understand the defensiveness. The tone has gotten harsh at times, not always productively so even when the points have been sound. Pushing individual guilt for the bad choices facing us all as parents is not such a great thing. I'm sorry if any of my pro-public comments on this blog have crossed that line.

    Would just like to point out that it's gone both ways. There have been plenty of comments back about how public school parents are choosing to neglect their children's educations for the sake of nice homes, vacations, and other benefits, that we could pony up if we chose to sacrifice for our kids. Check out the private school thread that is still active. Some, though certainly not all, of the posters have said as much, and few others have definitely implied that public schools in SF provide inferior, bad educations. That is hurtful, especially when the kids get wind of that attitude. I think most of us here are aware that some schools here are not in good shape, but I also think most of us have also busted through the myth that most are like that.

    Anyway, again, as a public school mom and advocate, I really appreciate your plea and, especially, your willingness to work for public education even if it does not, at least right now, directly benefit your own child. I'll try to take your plea to heart, by the way.

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  60. At this point I don't really care if a school is public or private. I just want a school for my child. The public school advocates have stated time and time again on this blog to just relax and enjoy the ride, eventually you will get into a school that works for you. That may have happened in the past, but this year the SFUSD had something like 400 additional applications. I got a different vibe at the counseling session I went to about spots opening up. I'm wondering does the district really have the capacity for all the parents who went 0/7 to really get something that they are happy with? Are these spots really going to open up this year? I feel very uncertain about getting a public school that I'm happy with and have gotten very little reassurance from SFUSD. After going 0/7 in public, I would never fault somebody who goes private.

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  61. As a public school parent and activist, I, too, do not judge those who only make choices on what they feel to be the best for their kids and families. It's such a switch to actually have private school parents feel defensive - I've only experienced the other towards me as a parent who chose public with work colleagues and friends being very openly judgemental to our own choices.

    However, I believe that there really are only few who come down staunchly on either 'side' (really, are there sides when it comes to children?) and that, unfortunately, the few who post hostile comments pro/con public or pro/con private are in the minority.

    I sure hope so, anyway!

    Here's to making sure all children in all communities get their needs met. I just listened to a podcast about the $3 trillion war and the opportunity costs of what we didn't do with this money, it makes me feel so very sad for what our generation is doing for our children's future.

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  62. frank - i have to agree with you about the vibe at the counseling session. the prevailing attitude seemed to be, "don't worry, we'll find you a spot *somewhere*" with complete disregard for what qualities the school might possess or where it is. at one point, in response to pleas to be more specific about which schools might reasonably have openings (to put them on the amended list), arnie/archie fokin started calling out random names in a panic: "guadalupe always has openings! muir! muir! ortega, right here! ortega!"

    big selling point, mr. fokin.

    they acted like, at that point, it was absurd for the 0/7 wretches to exercise *choice* at all.

    i don't mean to contribute to the general air of panic and despondency, or to argue with caroline's and other parents' assertions that if we stick with it we'll get a school that we actually WANT, but i do believe this year feels much different than previous ones. PPS has done its job too well, it seems, and now hundreds of families have been hung out to dry. maybe some of us will get something off the waitlist in april. maybe in september. maybe not at all, THIS year. of course, we are angry.

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  63. Last year was nearly as bad. In our preschool group, six out of fifteen kids were 0/7 in the first round. It was so painful. A couple of us got something acceptable in round two, but the rest had to wait all summer through the ten day count. This system is ridiculous. Why should we have to slog through tours for months and months, and then another several months of lotteries? PPS is not to blame for their great work under these circumstances, SFUSD is the only one at fault.

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  64. I also fully respect the choice of a parent to go private over public. After all it releases spaces in the public schools to those who don't have the means for private and this is a very good thing, but I too have felt judged. I went to see my endocrinologist the other day and asked him where he sent his kids and he mentioned two well know private schools. He was now trying to decide where to send his youngest to high school since he had received a rejection from their private choice, but he had been accepted at Lowell. I said "Lowell is a fine respected school." He said " When you talk private your talking intellectual and educational caliber up here" (and he reached up to the sky) "compared to public down here" (and he gestured to the floor) He found no comparison in quality and that they were in two entirely different categories. I almost left his office in the middle of the visit, I was so disgusted.
    Children excel and fail in both private and public and they go on to succeed in life from both. I think parents play as much a role in inspiring children towards greatness. They also play a role in building attitudes of either acceptance and compassion or snobbery. We must do what's best for each of our families, but remember that it's personal and what's best for one is not for all.

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  65. I agree w/ the last poster (I went 0/7, btw). If it hadn't been for PPS's hard work over the last however many years, I don't think I would have even found seven schools to list where I truly would have felt ok w/ my son attending. SFUSD needs to step up.

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  66. To 9:03 am. I must say that I have to agree with the doctor. Nine years ago, my daughter got accepted into Lilienthal and two top private schools. We felt blessed. But sent her to the public school because we believe in them. Her first two years there were awful. Here she was in probably the best public school in SF, and the kids were out of control, hitting one another and my daughter. The quality of education just seemed secondary to social engineering. She was making bad grades, and it didn't seem to be her doing. So we pulled her out and luckily got into one of the privates by third grade. There she thrived and started making straight a's. Now, seven years later, she got a financial scholarship to Lick for High School. Our second child is coming into the schools, and there is no way we can afford to send him to private school. We got 0/7 in the lottery. We are awaiting financial aid information from the privates to which we applied. Failing that, we are currently planning to leave the City. There is simply no way you can compare the quality of a good private school to the huge unpredictable mess that SFUSD offers. I was willing this year to send my son and try it again, but if I can't get accepted to a top one, I can't imagine the other ones would be adequate.

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  67. One point of comparison in this whole situation is Nw York City. In NY, there are not class size limits in public schools. Also, you go to your zoned public school. As a result, expensive neighrhoods with "good" public schools end up with overcrowded facilities and classes, and with people stretching to live in neighborhoods they can't afford so that they can end up with a desirable zoned school. A lot of people try to falsify addresses to end up with a school they desire.

    In addition, in New York they start to split out the G&T (gifted and talented) kids at the kindergarten level, so you have schools or tracks within schools that are devoted to G&T kids all the way through.

    All in all, it's a system where the "winners" and the "losers" are much more obvious and are clearly defined from the start. In San Francisco, I feel it's much more of an even playing field at the start and as the process continues. No matter where you live, you at least have the opportunity to find a good match between your kid/family and the school, and your child is not tracked into a "good" or "bad" program right off the bat.

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  68. To 9:48
    Well, the good doctor didn't think that Lick was good enough for his kid either. I personally am going public so I can save up for Lick for High School. I love that school!

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  69. I think whether a child is thriving at school depends on several factors: the school, the child, the teachers, the infrastructure, etc. I think can be a little too general to say my child did better at private vs.public or vise versa. It really depends on the fit, regardless if it's private or public. Every child is different. Also, I believe you can apply to another SF public in subsequent grades if you feel that particular school is not the right fit. Anyone want to verify this? Regarding children hitting each other, I hope that's been address in the last 7 years. That's great question to bring up on the tours. How do they handle bullying? Because I think there are definite strategies in place surrounding this in many schools (at least I hope).

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  70. Regarding New York: That state now has increased their spending per pupil to above $12K per kid, while California is still around $7K per kid (and this is BEFORE the governors proposed 10% cuts to fix the state budget on the backs of kids.)

    Whether you go public or private, PLEASE help put increased pressure on Sacramento to fix how California funds public schools! We must hold our local and state representatives feet to the fire to address the challenges facing public education - starting with how Sacramento plays games with public schools.

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  71. Yes, you can work with the district to transfer from one SFUSD school to another if you feel it necessary. I don't know how easy or how frustrating parents find this, but I know kids who have transferred into highly popular schools, midyear or in "non-transitional" grades, so it doesn't mean you're doomed to be dumped in a bottom-tier school.

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  72. To 1031: You wrote: In San Francisco, I feel it's much more of an even playing field at the start and as the process continues. No matter where you live, you at least have the opportunity to find a good match between your kid/family and the school, and your child is not tracked into a "good" or "bad" program right off the bat.


    ***


    All due respect, but if your kid gets into Clarendon, and the best I can swing is Sunnyside, then that is not a level playing field. The fact is, it is impossible to get into the top five or ten schools. People do. But then, people also win the CA state lottery. Just not you. Just not me.

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  73. 9:03:

    I went to see my ear/nose/throat doctor a couple of years ago and he asked about my kids & where they went to school. He had two kids who went to Lawton K-8 and one went to Lowell for high school and the other went to University High. I love getting perspective from someone who has experienced both public & private. He had strong feelings about Lowell vs. Univerity - he said he thought Lowell was "hands-down" better than University (but did say his wife was not so sure). My guess from his personality/tone was that better meant more rigorous/harder but he didn't elaborate. Anyway it was an interesting perspective & I think both his kids went on to become doctors.

    The message I usually get from private school folks about Lowell is not that the education is inferior but that they feel their kid wouldn't fit in because there are so many Asian students or they think it's too much of a "grind" and wouldn't be much fun.

    We're many many years away from high school but it's interesting all the same.

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  74. I'm confused about the McKinley glitch. I've heard that there were 10 families who had it one their list but were not given an assignment to McKinley and that if they wanted to enroll there they could do so if they showed proof of their list. But wasn't the problem that McKinley was also assigned to families who did not request it and, in addition, it had more requests than available spots anyway? It's great to hear that those who wanted it but didn't get it, can now do so. But doesn't this mean McKinley will be overenrolled? Will it have to add another K class? Can those who didn't request it but were assigned there also enroll, or will they be turned away and given another assignment?

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  75. Does anyone know if wait lists move? I am wait listed for a "top" school and accepted at a "competitive" school (which apparently as mentioned on this blog is not as rigorous as the public K's).

    Also, does anyone know if there will be spots in "good" publics for those who did not apply in Round 1? We did not apply for round 1 publics because we are moving from another state and did not have a permanent address.

    While we can afford private, would much prefer public. In the end, public is the real world.

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  76. i'm trying to figure out strategy for round 2 of the SFUSD fiasco. so ... people within the attendance area for a school have priority, correct? would that mean then that it would be better to put an "alternative" school (lakeshore, for instance) on your wait list? and what about amended choices? is there really no reason to put any in-demand schools down in your amended choices list, because if any spots did become available, they'd most likely be eaten up by the wait list people? sigh.

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  77. This is what a Parents for Public Schools person posted on their chat board:
    "There has been some confusion regarding the attendance area of a
    school. Preference is given to people living in the attendance area of a school only if they add diversity to that school according to the SFUSD definition of diversity. Then people within the applicant pool, who live outside of the attendance area, are looked at to add diversity. Once the assignment system is unable to add diversity from the applicant pool then selection from the applicant pool becomes random and living within the attendance area of a school is not considered in the selection."

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  78. "There has been some confusion regarding the attendance area of a
    school. Preference is given to people living in the attendance area of a school only if they add diversity to that school according to the SFUSD definition of diversity. Then people within the applicant pool, who live outside of the attendance area, are looked at to add diversity. Once the assignment system is unable to add diversity from the applicant pool then selection from the applicant pool becomes random and living within the attendance area of a school is not considered in the selection."


    if this is the case, then can somebody explain to me how an african american family living in noe valley who wanted alvarado sn DIDN'T get it (or anything) while a white professional family living in potrero hill DID get alvarado sn?

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  79. race is not part of the diversity index, as far as i understand it

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  80. 8:40pm is correct -- race is not a factor. here is an explanation of the diversity index factors:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/DI_Handout.pdf

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  81. 8:24 Race is not part of the diversity index. The SFUSD was sued for using race a few years ago.

    The diversity index is socio-economic, it's color blind.

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  82. Kim says:
    i don't mean to contribute to the general air of panic and despondency, or to argue with Caroline's and other parents' assertions that if we stick with it we'll get a school that we actually WANT, but i do believe this year feels much different than previous ones. PPS has done its job too well, it seems, and now hundreds of families have been hung out to dry. maybe some of us will get something off the waitlist in april. maybe in september. maybe not at all, THIS year. of course, we are angry.

    Kim, I think it always feels like "this year is the worst ever" when you are in the thick of it. People said the exact same thing last year -- e.g., there were way more families applying, the system is overwhelmed, no one will get what they want, etc. etc.

    I in no way want to minimize the anxiety and stress that you and others are feeling, and it is true that there was a big jump in the numbers applying for K this year. But a *lot* shakes out between Rounds 1 and 2 - we lose some people because they get disgusted with the whole thing and we lose others because they never really intended to choose public anyway. If at the end of Round 2 there are still a large group of families without a school that they chose, then I will eat my words. But I think things will look very different when the May letters go out.

    ALSO to the poster who said that if one person gets Clarendon and another gets Sunnyside, this proves the system isn't fair: what is unfair is the way you've framed the issue. Clarendon is a very nice school, but it is not perfect; neither is Sunnyside. For one family, Clarendon might work much better than Sunnyside. For another, Sunnyside might be a better fit. The mindset that Clarendon is better by all conceivable measurements is, in my opinion, very narrow.

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  83. Question for anon at 8:43 am (Mar 16): You said last year 6 families at your preschool got 0/7. A couple got something acceptable in round II but the rest had to wait through the ten day count.

    And then?? Did they all get their wait-listed school on the 10th day??

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  84. To answer the question of whether it is possible to transfer between schools in later grades. YES! There is a lot of movement. Sometimes people move for reasons of geography. Sometimes people move because language immersion turned out not to be the right fit for their child. Lots transfer from private schools. Some people move to the city from other places (despite reports to the contrary in the news!)

    I moved my kids from Catholic school to a public school in 2nd and 4th grade. I didn't even apply until after the second round. I just walked into EPC, asked for a list of schools with openings for 2nd and 4th grade. They gave me a list, I checked out the schools, and chose. My list was fairly short because I wanted a school that could take both my kids. Had I been looking for just one kid, it would have been easier. Almost every school had an opening in 2nd or 4th grade.

    Also, the school district has no way of knowing who is moving away over the summer. It's pretty common for slots to open up in upper grades at the 10 day count, and many people move then.

    Long answer to a short question! But, nothing is set in stone. You can give an unknown school a chance, and if it reallly doesn't work out, it is possible to move later.

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  85. I am so unbelievably stressed by all this as to be considering meds, therapy & couples therapy(well OK, it would not be a first for me). While I value Kate's blog, I am certain it has exacerbated my anxiety in many ways too. After picking Marshall last week, and then seeing Kate's glowing view of P. Revere, I am flipping out that I should consider P.Revere for Round II. In other words, this blog makes it hard for me to stick to my own convictions. I am WELL AWARE however, that this IS my problem, not a problem of the blog.
    On the other hand, I do also think the blog has fed the frenzy for certain schools (e.g. Flynn) which both hurt all of our chances of getting in and made us feel worse about not getting in than we would have otherwise.

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  86. I am wait listed for a "top" school and accepted at a "competitive" school (which apparently as mentioned on this blog is not as rigorous as the public K's)

    I would take just about everything said here with a grain of salt, especially if it is biased towards public school.

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  87. The diversity index is socio-economic, it's color blind.

    In theory anyway. Socio-economics statistically maps almost directly to race around here.

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  88. On the public v private debate- I don't think either one is necessarily better. It depends on the school. One thing I can say from the Lowell perspective, many kids from private school (mostly the small liberal ones, and the parochical ones) start at Lowell a full year behind their public school counterparts in math. They remain in a lower track the whole time. Also, on Lowell v. private high schools, from what I've seen the privates have nothing like the pass rate on AP tests that Lowell has. Many schools have AP classes, but low scores I've heard about from many elite private high schools just don't seem to happen at Lowell. Academically I have no doubt that Lowell is at least as high quality as any of the privates.
    That said it is kind of a grind, but its also a myth that all the kids are that way. There are many quirky individuals there who do their own thing.

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  89. To anon @8:57, please relax: Marshall is a wonderful school (small, nurturing, good academics) with a core group of involved parents. Your child will thrive there.

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  90. THANKS! to 11:41, I needed that. However, there was shooting at 16th & Hoff this AM. I wish I did not know that.

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  91. don't kid yourself -- marshall is in a sktechy dirty part of town replete with junkies and crime. to not acknowledge this is to endanger your child.

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  92. Children's Day School is a few blocks from Marshall, and yes the neighborhood is sketchy. But once you're within either school, the neighborhood doesn't intrude.

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  93. To Anon at 7:15: well, yes. But keep in mind there are drive-by shootings, etc in Bernal, near Paul Revere, near Flynn, etc. Of course I would love to have my kid in an immersion school in a better 'hood, but this SFUSD does not allow that, does it? Believe me, I am losing sleep, stressing my relationship and family over this. It is NOT an easy decision. And now your words will replay over and over again in my already exhausted, worried brain.

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  94. Don't stress it - I have lived in this "sketchy" 'hood for 10 years. I have never heard a gunshot, do not know personally anyone who has been threatened physically or verbally. I have driven and walked the streets both day and night alone, with baby and with toddler and felt no more but no less safe than on the streets anywhere in this city or others. We all need to be aware and alert, of course but the reality is that bad things can happen in the "nicest" of places.

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  95. The vast majority of drive-by shootings are gang-related and occur late at night. I would not lose sleep worrying about how they will affect your child who attends school during the day.

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  96. As Kate suggested in the original post, it's important that we all get some rest. This is such a stressful time, and we don't help ourselves, our relationship with our partners, or our children by thinking, researching, and processing this around the clock. The stress of it can be very destructive over days, weeks, and months. If it's public, fill out the ammended choices/waitpool paperwork; if it's private, make your love for your favorite school known. If you don't have diddly-squat, get some sleep and try to allocate some time every day this journey, and use the rest of your day to be in the moment and enjoy life with your child. Best of luck to all us.

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  97. I intended to tour Marshall but when I got there, I was so turned off by the location, I kept on driving (and I live in Bernal which has its fair share of unpleasant parts). Even if the school was a paradise I decided that if I wasn't comfortable with the locale, I certainly wouldn't be comfortable having my baby go to school there. Sure, bad things happen everywhere but in certain areas, you know the likelihood is higher. I had a friend who lived in Spanish Harlem in New York and her next door neighbor was murdered, yet she chose to stay. I thought she was crazy but the decision was hers and only hers to make.

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  98. San Francisco Friends School is moving into a building literally one block from Marshall, and they are going to have some sort of relationship - not sure what exactly.

    The location is FINE. It's FINE!

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  99. Just to put your location fears in perspective, private school parents will soon pay over $20,000 to send their children to the San Francisco Friends School at their new location in the old Levi Strauss building on Valencia and 14th (four blocks away from Marshall Elementary).

    Good luck!

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  100. there is a new yuppie-type cafe on the corner of mission and 15th (one very short block from marshall), and also new condos. gentrification is coming to the north mission. as a resident i am not sure how i feel about this; it's a mixed bag, i guess; but the neighborhood is definitely coming up. rainbow grocery is just a few blocks away for those who like to shop on their way to/from kid pickup. walgreen's, bart, taquerias--there is lot that is convenient about the location in terms of managing errands and transitions.

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  101. I agree that the neighborhood is a mixed bag. I work in the area, and my kids go to Friends so will be going to school nearby next year. It really changes block by block. On the one hand, people in my office generally avoid walking to the 16th Street BART station largely due to the character of the block between 15th and 16th. On the other hand, there are many changes in the neighborhood - everything from the aforementioned new condos to the remade Valencia Gardens to the Armory. Despite the (*ahem*) activities inside the Armory building, it has really cleaned up that block to have that building occupied and repaired.

    I know there's a difference between Valencia and Mission, but I'm not especially concerned with my kids going to school in the Levi building on the whole. I'm not too pleased about the prevalence of pot clubs in the area, though. In general, whereas I could imagine letting my kids go to school on the bus without an adult once they reach middle school if the school were in a different location, I'm not very inclined to allow that at the Valencia location unless there are some BIG changes over the next few years.

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  102. Thanks for all the posts re: gentrification of the Marshall area.
    It certainly is changing. One has to spend a few hours down there to sense that. The school itself feels very safe & all of the parents/staff I have talked to assure me they have NEVER had danger come inside the school yard or building.

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  103. is kate ever coming back? it would be nice to have closure.

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  104. No she's never coming back. We did it! After a seemingly endless week on LO waitlist...We got in!!! Whoo Hoo!!!

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  105. Congrats! I hope "Alice" has a ball there!

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  106. wait, is "amy" really "kate"? i'm confused.

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  107. Kate is Amy but not that Amy. Whether the info is correct or not, that is a spoof post.

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  108. It is most definitely not correct. Why don't we wait and see what Kate chooses to share.

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