Monday, March 24, 2008

Kate's update

Sometimes I wonder about this blog that I've created. Has it helped the community of parents in search of schools or has it complicated the situation? Has it directed families to up-and-coming schools or has it flooded popular ones with an overabundance of applicants? Has it allowed private and public families to understand one another or has it deepened the gap?

I'm not sure what my intent was for starting this blog. I simply couldn't sleep one night and I like to write. It was a way to cope and I was feeling alone and hoping to connect with other families who were intimidated by the school search.

The past two weeks, I've been thinking a lot about the purpose of The SF K Files because I've been overwhelmed by my own blog. About two weeks ago, our family received an acceptance from Marin Country Day School, a school that I had toured two years in a row and absolutely loved. MCDS is my dream school. But when I received the letter in the mail, I was paralyzed. I was so immersed in the hysteria surrounding the school search (the debates over private vs. public) that I was frozen—so I apologize for the silence. I needed time to think on my own and to separate myself from the hysteria. I needed time to focus on Alice.

I'm deeply hurt by the families who didn't get into their top school. I've listened to friends cry. A friend told me about her friend who said the rejection from a school was more hurtful than her miscarriage. I've heard from two close friends who are making plans to move. In this city where children are rare and precious, we can't afford to loose a single child. In this city, where some families are still without a kindergarten, I find it hard to celebrate.

We have accepted our spot at MCDS. Last Wednesday, Alice and I drove over to Marin to officially accept it. I felt like I needed to physically step foot on the campus. As usual, the drive felt long and we were late (the deadline was 10 a.m. and we didn't get there until 3 p.m.; of course, we had called ahead) But once we arrived, I felt like I was home. I knew that I had made the right decision.

A friend and I went out for drinks tonight and we talked a lot about the school situation (she's actually the one who nudged me to finally post again). After a few hours of talking, we both finally agreed that the San Francisco school search is like child birth—only it's extended over many months, for some years. You go in with a birth plan. You want this public or this private and you want to be able to choose between the two. You pour your heart and soul into the search (pregnancy); it becomes your life for several months. And then you go into labor—and everything that you thought would happen doesn't. People who want epidurals aren't able to get them and those who want to go natural end up with C-sections. It's personal and emotional. It's all consuming and at times very painful. But it does all work out in the end. It's just unfortunate—and unfair—that some people have much longer labors.

I promise to start posting again. I'm crossing my fingers for all of those on waiting lists and I'm looking forward to hearing the results from Round II. Also, I have numerous ideas for topics to help us all prepare for kindergarten. Thanks for the support. I wish that we could all start kindergarten together!


  1. Congratulations! And well done.

  2. The value of your blog? The same way I devoured pregnancy/labor/birth literature when bearing my child, I read this blog in the search for a kindergarten. Your blog is a tremendous resource for the community and priceless for the discussion it has inspired.

  3. Congrats!

    MCDS is very difficult to get a spot in. It seems like those who are most connected get into MCDS. You have made alot of connections here and I am sure MCDS was well aware of that. I am sure Alice is an amazing girl and you are a great family. Lots of great kids and families got rejections. Do you agree that this blog may have been the connection that helped you get into MCDS?

  4. Congratulations!! We are very happy for you.

    What about financial assistance? Did it matter that you missed a deadline earlier?

  5. Yes, it has ended as I thought it would all along, with Alice in private school.
    Ironic, ain't it?

  6. You were late for the financial assistance deadline and the deposit deadline. Do you tend to be late with deadlines or is there something Fruedian there?
    Will you consider moving to Marin?

  7. Congratulations! MCDS sounds like a great school. Regardless of what school you ended up with, you've done the community a great service!

    Thanks a million.

  8. What a great conclusion to your search! I'm so glad you will end up a school that you're happy with and that Alice is sure to love.

  9. Congratulations and thank you for the blog. I hope you are happy at MCDS.

    I cannot help but feel disappointed each time someone chooses private over public. Maybe it is that it is not financially an option for us - maybe I am envious. I just would like to see parents like you in schools like Paul Revere or Marshall making a difference. It makes me very sad to see you go.

  10. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing. Please ignore the bitter's too bad they are displacing their anger on you.

    MCDS is very fortunate to gain a family like yours:)

  11. Kate, I am happy for you, I really am. I am curious, though, how you are going to finance this education? Didn't you have a post earlier stating that you were late for a deadline for financial aid at MCDS? I assume that you called them and they gave you more time? It would be helpful to understand how this school makes itself available for middle class families. Best to you and your family!

  12. Hooray for Kate and Alice! You must be excited and relieved, but also sad and conflicted. That's how we felt when we chose private, too, but such is the journey in SF.

  13. A lot of families I speak to say they "can't afford" private but really they can afford it if they make changes to their lifestyle. We really can't afford it, under any circumstances.
    I am conflicted by Kate's news as I am every time a friend or colleague of mine tells me they are going or even considering private. It feels like a kick in the teeth and it makes me very sad. Truth is we are not all in this together and things will never improve for all of our children until we are.
    That said I am happy on a personal level for any family that finds the perfect fit for them and their children wherever that may be. Thank you for updating Kate and best of luck to Alice at her new school.

  14. Congrats! MCDS is a great school.
    I'll say what seems obvious to me - this blog allowed your daughter (and son in a few years) to attend this school. I would bet a lot of money on it. It is a school almost impossible to get into without powerful connections. Given all the siblings and legacies there are few new spots. Of these half have to be from marin. Of these half have to be boys. In all there might have been 1-3 spots for SF girls and Alice got one of them.
    I have no doubt people on the MCDS admissions team read this blog.

  15. Congratulations to you - I'm glad you found somewhere you love and were able to get a place there. I'm offended by some of these comments, which seem very bitter. I do hope you'll ignore them and continue to post.

  16. MCDS IS a great school and it is hard to get into. However, connections are not the only way to get in. I know two SF families who got in last year - not rich, not connected, didn't lobby.

    Maybe the blog helped, maybe it didn't. So what? The bottom line is that Kate has provided a wonderful forum to share information, hopes, frustration, etc. The passion, creativity, and sheer willingness to "do" that she had in creating this blog is a part of her and I imagine it's hard to turn that off during parent interview, etc. Just be happy for her.

  17. I hope the people reading this blog don't feel sad or left-out because Kate choose private. This process is difficult because it involves a lot of soul-searching and honest questioning with your partner (about $$ and everything else). Yes - the lottery system involves a lot of anxiety, but living in an urban city is, in fact, more complicated than the suburbs.

    Private is not a real option for us because we want to have 3 kids. Moving to the suburbs, however, is an option.

    My husband and I have made the decision to go public and we are completely comfortable with our decision. When our friends talk about private or moving - we congratulate them. They are making the best decision for their families. We, however, have chosen to live in a very busy, urban section of the mission and send our kids to a public school. To us, this feels like a pretty exciting life that we are creating. No - it's not for everyone, but so far, so good.

    Good luck to all of you and I hope you are on the road to finding the best fit for your family.

  18. Kate,
    Congratulations!!! Just ignore posters who feel the need to deal with their own issues by insisting that this blog or some other connections must be the reason your daughter was accepted to such a highly selective school. Our child was accepted to a couple of highly selective private schools without connections, a blog, a big bank account, etc. It happens people!

    Perhaps the admissions committee felt that Alice would be a great addition to the kindergarten class, realized (through interviews, essays, etc.) that Kate and her hubby really understand and like what the school provides, and that they would be supportive, involved members of the community. Of course good connections help in this process. I'm not naive. I'm just saying that assuming that everyone who is admitted to schools like MCDS must have had an angle or an in is overly cynical and just not true. And for arguement's sake, let's say this blog helped Alice get into MCDS. So what?

    IMO, it's so not cool to accuse Kate of starting this blog and this community as a ploy. How many times have you turnrd to this blog as a resource or even a support group during this awful process? Way to say thanks. I'm sure that with her vast creativity she could have figured out a less time consuming and less publicly revealing ploy. Is it really so difficult to be happy for Kate and her family? BTW, I appreciate anon at 8:35's candor. You expressed your disappointment without being snarky and without questioning Kate's happy ending. I, too, wish Kate were going to be a parent at our school!

    Kate, I look forward to seeing where you take your blog next. Thank you for sharing your story with us and, in turn, allowing us to share our stories with each other. Again, congratulations!

  19. Rock on, anon at 9:45!!!

  20. Congratulations, Kate. This blog has been a great service to the parents of San Francisco.
    You opened parents up to considering schools they'd never heard of and created an opportunity to look at a whole range of education issues in new ways. It's wonderful that you have a place at a school that works for your family logistically and financially, and most important, feels like a place where Alice will be well-educated and well-nurtured.

  21. I'm the one who thought the blog helped her get in and I'm not bitter in the least. My kids are already in great private schools that we wouldnt change for MCDS. I just think it's great that Kate's kids will have such an enriching environment and education. I think Kate's intentions were very sincere and she didnt start this blog thinking it would help her with privates schools. She started a very needed dialog and did a great service to this community.

    Kate's primary interest was a great school for her kids and this she accomplished. I just want to congratulate Kate. I think the main downside to MCDS is the relative lack of diversity racially and economically but no option is perfect. Oh yeah and I forgot to mention the bridge.

  22. 10:26am

    Is it really that hard for you to be positive? Must be hard to be you.

  23. i know a girl from sf who was accepted to mcds, no connections, no $$$, no unusual family structure.

  24. Alright. So back to SFUSD...

    Anyone want to share their amended lists? I am still struggling with mine and deciding what to WL.

  25. Kate's friend who likened being rejected from private school to a miscarriage needs to get a serious grip.

  26. I think you have to have turned your Round II list in last Friday to get priority. We wait-listed Rosa Parks JBBP, which had not been a round 1 choice for us, and listed in the following order:
    New Traditions
    Harvey Milk
    George Peabody
    Francis Scott Key
    We were so burned out we did not tour the last 4. We did visit Rosa Parks three times. It's a lot of hassle for us but the combination of parent community, curriculum and available quality after-care convinced us it would be worth the effort.

    Attempts to connect with other parents at our Round 1 assigned school, John Muir, did not go far. I e-mailed one other mother who's family's in the same boat we are, where both parents work full time and cannot hover over a school. The PTA president did not reply to my e-mail. The parent liaison did not have any kids in the school. Without some sense that there would be a critical mass of incoming kindergarten parents who wanted to really push to make John Muir the next turn-around school, we did not feel comfortable taking that offer.

    Congratulations to all who got some good choices based on Round 1 and/or private school acceptances, and good luck to all in Round 2.

  27. Well I think you fit this stereotype

  28. we better not have missed the round 2. i thought it was 3/28 - this friday? anyone have confirmation of this?

    i like how you WLed a whole new school. i hope you get it. RP is so central and the language component it great. good luck.

  29. I wish your family the best at MCDS. The program and teachers seem great.

    I really want to believe a family like yours can be truly happy there.

  30. Congratulations to Kate!
    I agree with other posters that our school’s loss is MCDS’ gain, but can anyone blame Kate for taking “the path of least resistance” and choosing a school that she loved? I happen to be lucky enough to have received my number one choice in the lottery, but I can’t imagine what path I might have done had I not been so lucky. My family cannot under any circumstances afford private.
    I do have a question for Kate and it’s purely hypothetical, so it may be hard to answer, but if she had received lottery choice number one and MCDS, would her choice have been different?
    I think that 2003 was a baby boom year. I don’t think that the SFUSD was at all ready for the explosion in applications (same with privates). It is great that folks that can afford private take that option. It provides more public opportunities to the rest of us. I, for one am hoping to save money for the possibility of private later on (if I feel we need to go that route).
    It is also great that those who can afford private choose to go with public. It supports and improves the quality of education for those who have no other choice. I feel much gratitude to those folks! It is important to remember though, that this is a choice and not an obligation. Ideally public schools should be adequately funded by public money!

    I also felt so pained for those who must continue the journey. I can’t even pretend to know how difficult that must feel, but there will be a place for each of our children and no decision is absolute. We can change our minds.
    Why do people care so much about how Kate got into MCDS? I’m not sure. It should be of no concern. We all participated in this blog by choice. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t have received any attention at all. It was created by Kate, but it was “made” by all of us and it served a purpose for each individual who participated. It became much bigger than Kate and took on a life of it’s own.
    Best of luck to Kate and Alice. May kindergarten be a wonderful experience for you both.

  31. Why did you choose MCDS over Live Oak?

  32. the deadline to submit an amended application and request to waitlist is this friday, march 28 -- marlowe's mom is incorrect. i am curious about marlowe's mom strategy re the waitlist -- why would you list a school that you know has openings? since they go to the waitlist first if there are openings doesn't it make sense to waitlist a school that you know will have a wait pool, like grattan? otherwise all the wait pools will have to depleted before you have a chance of getting in (very unlikely at a high demand school like grattan). so we are waitlisting at rooftop and listing schools we have a better chance of getting into on our amended application.

  33. if she had received lottery choice number one and MCDS, would her choice have been different?

    my guess is no. from the way she gushed about mcds it was evident there was no way she was going to pass.

  34. Why did you choose MCDS over Live Oak?

    read her threads about the 2 schoools -- her love for mcds is obvious.

  35. Kate, so fabulous that Alice got a spot at MCDS.

    Who knows, really, what's going through the heads of admissions directors when they put together a class. Certainly, for some people, connections make all the difference. For others, the child fits the desired profile and so does the family. Some of it must be luck as I'm sure there are ALWAYS several kids and several families who look almost identical on paper. In that case, the luck may be merely that you--or your child--have a memorable name. Or for some reason something happened in the process that gave you a special connection to the admissions director. Maybe writing a blog is memorable, but I agree with others who noted the blog could have been a plus or a minus, depending on how you looked at it.

    I know that for me the blog has been a HUGE plus. It has been great to share, anonymously, with all of you. Where else could we have such honest discussions? Where else could we learn what others like us are thinking? Where else could we gain valuable perspective from those who are very unlike us?

    Thank you, Kate, for giving us this forum. And congratulations again for choosing something that works for Alice and works for you. Best of luck!

  36. I have to admit today I feel a bit of that heavy feeling lifted from my shoulders. I found this blog at a real conflicted time in my life about wether or not private or public makes sense for my family.

    Even though I had no choices while the process was unwinding; almost daily I would flip flop. This site made me take a real hard look at public. I decided to go public and in hindsite ignorantly I was certain we would get one of our seven. In fact I almost lost interest in privates..

    Then the triple whammy happened...

    Budget crisis in California that really highlights the dismal funding of our schools, 0 for 7, and an acceptance letter to one of the top privates. I have been laboring; honestly without much sleep about what to do... should we still go public if round2 works out?

    Today I feel like what am I kidding myself. If someone like Kate can make the decision to go private, I must be crazy not to. I probably have like 1% of her opennes, risk taking, and soical awarness. I feel closure .... for some reason it just makes me realize that for all the talk out there many people offered with what they feel is a superior learning enviorment for their kid jump at the opportunity if they can.

    I can; so why am I tripping so hard...............

  37. We agonized over whether to wait list Grattan (really our first choice for Round 2 and our only carry-over from Round 1) or Rosa Parks JBBP (which we also really liked) for Round 2. Rosa Parks JBBP's parents did a lot of PR for Round 2. We were concerned that there would be a lot of competition among people who listed Rosa Parks JBBP as their number 1 choice for Round 2, after their wait list school. Grattan was in far higher demand this year than last year, and last year they did not get through the 0/7 Round 1 families on their wait list.

    We have never won any kind of random drawing in our lives. If there are 9 out of 10 winners, we will be the one that is not a winner. Of our closest friends who are kindergarten applicants this year, one family got Claire Lilienthal in Round 1 (and won't be using it because they're going to French-American) and another family got McKinley in Round 1--and we are very happy for them. We, however, went 0/7 and got assigned to the school with the second-lowest API in the district. We were told we were almost certain to get an assignment if we wait-listed Rosa Parks JBBP for Round 2. Although it's not over until it's over, we wanted to quell our anxiety by wait-listing a school that we would be happy with and highly likely to get, rather than taking more chances. At some point, rather than trying to shoot the moon, you realize you're a lousy shot and stop wasting your arrows.

    BTW, sorry about the 3/21 deadline error; I don't know where I got that idea.

  38. 12:35

    Go private if you can afford it. It's your child, and I think too many people are willing to live their politics on their child's back. Your child will be happier and so will you. Congrats and enjoy!

  39. Kate, This was a story about the SF school lottery and getting your child placed at a good school in that system. That may not have been your intent but that was what made your blog interesting. That story is over and I'll miss it.

    Now it will be a blog about a person getting ready to send their kindergartener to private school.

    Maybe somebody else should start a new SF School blog aimed at parents with young children. Heck, maybe I should!

  40. Go private for your own reasons - not because Kate made the decision to go private.

    I have friends who have made the following argument, "We got a spot in x private, there were xxx+ applicants, We'd be crazy not to take it right?"

    This does not sound like a logical reason to choose private.

    Rise above any social pressure you feel and make the right choice for your family and your circumstances. You may surprise yourself.

  41. I am sure it isn't an easy decision. A two hour commute. A financial strain that could lead a family into bankruptcy and cause huge marital strain. I would say there is more to worry about than be relieved about, and I am not saying this to be negative, just realistic. These are all things Kate has considered before making her decision.

  42. I am very happy for Kate, as this is clearly what she wanted from the beginning. And I do think that if someone really, truly wants a certain school, be it public or private, SO MUCH, that they'll be able to enroll their child there, blog or no blog, money or no money, etc..

    Kate was honest from the beginning that MCDS was her "dream school" (she used those words), and how many of the bitter posters can say that was the case for them as well?

    That is why I would caution anyone from using Kate's decision as a guide to making decisions for their family. The truth is, we don't know how much financial assistance that Kate was offered, for example, or maybe her husband works out in Marin, so the bridge situation really isn't so bad for her? When we project our own lives onto someone else's, we find it's not an exact match.

    I also would encourage people to continue to seek out what is best for THEIR family, be it public, private, parachial, etc. We ended up having a few choices, but choosing a school that some consider to be less "prestigious," but which worked extremely well for our family and what we thought would make our child happiest.

    In this case, Kate decided that MCDS best fit her needs. That doesn't mean that Town, or Day, or Burke's, or whatever, best fits yours. And, really: isn't it high school, no college ... no, grad school that matters most?

  43. Getting back to the waitlist
    we wait listed New Traditions and i really hope we get it, it was not on our 1st list. I've toured it a couple of times and i really liked it, i got a really good feeling about the place and i can see my daughter being very happy there. I chose an amended list too but i am over the waiting game and so is my daughter, that is my reason for picking a waitlist school that i have a good chance of getting into, so that we can get on with our lives and so my daughter can get excited about where she is going to go to school. Its a decent school and we are happier now.

  44. Congratulations. MCDS is a wonderful school! My oldest son goes to high school with several graduates from there, and clearly, those kids all still love learning and are excellent students.

    (IMO -- The only thing worse than applying to kindergartens in SF is applying to high schools in SF. At least at the kindergarten level, it is only the parents that feel the rejection. Thankfully, most of the kids are oblivious to all of this. In high school, however, the rejection is felt by the students.)

  45. Congratulations Kate. I've thoroughly enjoyed the blog, it has been a welcome distraction and entertainment through this process. Good luck at MCDS, I hope it all works out for you and Alice.

  46. Kate is responsible for creating the drama of her choice of private over public -- I thik if she came clean from the outset, people would have understood and moved on. To have disappeared and left people guessing for a couple weeks has only fueled the speculation that she is *ashamed* and turned a generally friendly blog into a pretty nasty one.

  47. I completely understand how Kate's decision may have been difficult even though she was accepted to her first choice private school. We went through this process last year and hearing about the stressful lottery process and general negative things about SF public schools, we applied to one private school even though we weren't sure we could afford it. At first we thought of it as a "back up". But it became clear during the application process that we had no more chance of being accepted at the private than being assigned to Rooftop. We also spent a lot of time looking at the public schools and found many we liked. We were fortunately assigned in Round 1 to one of our top choices. We were not accepted at the private school. But if we had been accepted, I don't think it would've been an easy decision. I think my husband and I would have had different opinions on the best course to take. There would have been financial concerns and ugly arguments over who didn't have enough career ambition and should we just leave the Bay Area altogether. So, I think were lucky first to be assigned to one of our topic public choices and also to not have to make a hard choice between public and private.

  48. anonymous March 25, 2008 12:44 PM
    "Maybe somebody else should start a new SF School blog aimed at parents with young children. Heck, maybe I should!"

    Yes, please, a public school parent start another blog. I am personally not interest in the “haves” discussing getting their kids ready for their cushy kindergarten experience. I am more interested in hearing from struggling parents working together to make a school (especially an emerging school) successful.

  49. 3:36

    I totally agree, we should have one blog for the 'haves' and one for the 'have nots' and maybe a third for the 'have kinda, because i have a house but no spare cash for private school.'

    One of the more amusing things about this blog has been the constant jockeying in the comments for the moral high ground. It's so San Francisco.

  50. Hey, there already is an SF public schools blog. it's Right now it is mostly parents of older kids posting about issues but it is a team blog and I'm sure the team leader would be interested in trying out some new voices. Check it out.

  51. Keep in mind that is more political/policy oriented than this blog, and it's not forgiving of parents who choose options outside of SF public schools.

  52. Kate,
    Thank you for giving us such a heartfelt and thoughtful update on your family's situation and decision. And, of course, congratulations to you and your family for getting your first choice private school. We are in a similar position (we just accepted our place at Children's Day School) and your expressions of conflict, guilt, relief and happiness are all ones that really resonate for me. I too have many friends that are in very difficult positions right now and my heart goes out to all of them. I worry for them, feel angry on their behalf, question why things worked out one way for them and differently for us and generally marvel at what we have all gone through these past six months. It really has been such an extraordinary process for us all - and one that has forced us to reevaluate our priorities, beliefs, assumptions and pocket-books. I am so grateful to you and every other thoughtful parent who has approached this blog with such courage, honesty and insight. It has been such a place of support for me as I have gone through this process. Please keep going - I look forward to the journey of Kindergarten and beyond.

  53. Please don't abandon this blog, everyone! I, for one, am interested in discussions about how conflicted or resolute we ALL feel about our choices, and why, and what's working and what's not.

    I think we'd be kidding ourselves if we weren't open to the idea of going from public to private or private to public and back again. We're all just doing the best we can to get our wonderfully individual little guys and girls educated, right?

    And as for have and have nots and have sortas, well, that's a whole 'nother blog in itself, yes? What kind of trade offs are we all making to have what we've got, get what we have, decide what we can do without?

    We all have kids, probably wonderful ones, and I'd like to think most of us are interested in hearing how others here are making it work--or not. How many of you are planning to move now or in the next few years?

    This blog started as a place for people exploring ALL SF school options to come together to discuss. Why can't it continue that way, with separate threads for different topics--Round II, getting an "up and coming" school going, preparing for private kindergarten (loads of angst there, no?), how you're helping your struggling school, etc.

    I have really been enjoying all sides and facets of the discussion and really don't want it to stop. What will I do with all my free time?

  54. Kate-

    Thank you so much for this blog. I was turned on to your blog by a friend who is going through the kindergarten search and I have been addicted to it for about three weeks-and my kids are only 2! What I want you to know is that this blog opened my eyes up to what great public schools there are out there. We moved to our neighborhood for the local Catholic school which I am still interested in but now have a whole list of other schools to consider. Thank you thank you thank you. And congratulations on MCDS.

  55. Anon at 4:13 -- as you obviously know, I blog extensively on the blog. I'm a sharp critic of charter schools and have worked to open parents' eyes to the social impact of their decision when they choose private. I don't view my attitude as unforgiving -- I'm just calling on parents to consider the impact in making their decision.

    But the owner of the blog currently has one child in private school and has also seriously considered charter schools.

    It IS a very political blog, but not exclusively political. And the owner would certainly be open to other voices, including those of parents of young children.

  56. 3:53 - agreed.

    If we have an all-publics blog, we can divide ourselves further, into the high-demand and low-demand schools.

    On the all-privates blog, we can divide into the parochials, the other religions and the secular.

    Or maybe we should all be a tad less scornful, and less speculating as to why someone has chosen a particular school, and look for ways to press for, and create, stable, safe, "good" schools for all our kids.

    The one thing this blog has made me realize is that I can no longer ignore SFUSD politics, even if my kids end up in private.

  57. Congratulations to you and your family. Be happy with your decision - you know what feels "right."

    We are also moving forward with our pursuit of a private education. We gave the public school process a chance and have lost faith in it but have not yet lost faith in raising a child in the City.

  58. I am extremely happy for you, Kate, really I am. I ended up choosing a private too, even though I entered round two to see if I could get the 1000 to 1 shot at my dream public, Clarendon.

    I have to wonder, 'tho, if you would have enrolled in a public school, had you gotten Marin Country Day AND a choice public school.

    While this blog has been extremely valuable and I thank you for it, I would bet the farm you would never have gone public.

    Am I wrong?

  59. I can't imagine that this blog facilitates anybody to get into a school. Like, the schools really give a damn? I don't think so.

    The dogs may bark, but the caravan keeps moving on, no matter what, year after year, and it's all talk.

    I mean, look at the classes on your tours of Hamlin, Town, MCDS, Burke or any of the other schools. Virtually all white, almost all privileged, and as a "diversity family" who got turned down flat, I think all their talk is just meaningless.

    People talk about sacrificing, but come on!! Anybody who can afford MCDS at $20K and up doesn't know the meaning of "sacrifice"!!

  60. to Anon March 25, 2008 12:35 PM:

    I do NOT envy your situation! Good, good luck! You are standing in the middle of the whole educational earthquake enchilada!

  61. anonymous March 25, 2008 12:42 PM‪ wrote,

    "This was a story about the SF school lottery and getting your child placed at a good school in that system.

    I have to agree and that's why I followed this blog. I do think Kate captured the voice of a skeptical parent rather than a public school advocate (like the folks at Where do parent-advocates of sf public school children meet now?

  62. Congratulations, Kate!

    I'm so glad you finally posted about your acceptance, your choice, and your dilemmas about posting and your blog.

    I'm very grateful to have had this blog during our (exclusively public school, non-immersion) search. I loved your school tour notes, the varying topics, and the sense of community it fostered (especially receiving those lottery letters!)

    We were one of those families that went 0/7 in our lottery choices, and I hope that you will continue to post topics that speak to the continuing drama of Round II and beyond, for those who still have not found a school.

    Despite all of the advice we received to "shoot for the moon" with our wait pool choice, we decided to list a slightly less popular school that we liked very much and put choices on our amended list that we did not list in Round I and that we don't love, but which are better than the alternative, our assigned school. I'll be thrilled if we get our wait pool choice, and I'm happy with the decision to go with a school we could be happy with and may not have to wait until September to get into. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

  63. Kate, you've done a wonderful service to the community by producing this blog for so many months and pouring your heart into it. Please don't stop, or let the occasional naysayer get to you. And congratulations on MCDS. You absolutely did the right thing, and have no reason to apologize or feel guilty. Choosing what you feel is best for Alice in no way detracts from the sincerity of your efforts to evangelize the up-and-coming public schools in SF. Once you get settled into MCDS, you really ought to take some time off from work and turn this blog into a book – you write beautifully, and I'm sure it will be a hit (no, I don't know any agents, but I'm sure you'll find one).

    I would like to address some of the private school critics. First, it's wrong to think that parents who choose private are hurting the public system. On the contrary, the fact that private schools compete for families like Kate's can only help public schools and the hardworking administrators who run them to make the choices that will make their "product" better. I realize the words "product" and "competition" in this context are controversial, but we all know in our daily lives that competition works. Who wants to live in a world where there is only one political party, one brand of car, one supplier of food and housing, etc?

    The facts, as amply documented in this blog, suggest that competition is indeed having a profound and lasting positive effect on SF public schools. Year by year, they are getting better. The frustrations of parents who go 0-for-7 stem from the inability of the public system to change fast enough. Perhaps some of the blame lies with the elected school board officials who supervise our schools? (It's striking how that never gets mentioned here, it's scary to see how powerless so many good citizens of SF seem to feel – trust me folks, we are not powerless, and we do have choices.)

    Second, I would like to deflate the myth propagated by some commenters that families who choose private are all rolling in money. The fact is that the best SF private schools are extraordinarily generous with their aid policies. I've noticed that the private parents who post here are reluctant to provide hard evidence for this proposition, so let me correct that lacuna. We are a middle class mixed white-asian family living in SF. We earn about $110K a year, have only modest savings, and are renters. One child goes to private middle school for which we pay about $8K (less than half of full tuition), the other child goes to private high school, which costs us a little more than $10K (full tuition is $30K). We are completely "unconnected", and only modestly diverse. Our older child got into the top 3 privates in SF plus Lowell. All three privates offered identical aid packages. Families who earn less than we do should know that they can expect a higher amount of aid. MCDS charges only $500 per year for the least privileged families, while at the other end of the scale, Lick Wilmerding might even give $5K in aid to a family earning $200K per year if they have a bunch of kids in private school or college.

    We liked Lowell a lot, but we didn't like the overcrowding or the "sink or swim" attitude of some teachers, and we hated the fact that popular, dedicated teachers at Lowell could have their jobs taken away by mediocre teachers from elsewhere in the district who happen to have more seniority (this actually happens). We also didn't trust the school board to do what's right for the school (Lowell has plenty of "anti-elitist" enemies, a few have even posted on this blog).

    So there you have it. We made our choice. Sure, maybe we should be spending the $18K a year we pay for schools on a mortgage instead (though at the moment I'm glad we're not). Maybe the defenders of public schools should be asking why the political system doesn't allow public schools to charge parents like us a fee. Frankly, if they fixed the problems at Lowell we'd be willing to pay. But every family, even those of modest means, should know that they have choices in SF. The privates are not necessarily out of reach, if you find the right match for your child and go into the process with a positive attitude, as Kate did.

  64. Congrats on getting into the school you wanted for your daughter - you needed to go where your heart & mind felt best. I wish the city's public schools had worked for you, but only you know what's best for "Alice" -- don't let anyone else's comments bring you down!

    Your blog has been a wonderful to follow, and I wish I'd found it sooner. (I discovered it a few days before Round 1 letters were sent.) I too was up each night scouring the Web and reading all I could about schools, going on tour after tour -- it was like a 2nd full-time job! We applied to public, private and parochial and were very blessed to get our #1 choice public as well as the private & parochial. We chose public as I've always been an advocate of public school, am a member of Parents for Public Schools, etc.

    A very good friend of mine was 0/7 and last year we were 0/7. My daughter is an end-of-the-year baby so we looked at last year as a "free shot" with the lottery. When we didn't get one our our choices, we decided to delay her start.

    Anyway, all the best to you, and best of luck to all parents in Round II!

  65. Agreed that we could do a lot to demystify the financial aid aspect of private school.

    Our child will be in first grade in one of the big privates next year. We make $135K a year, rent, have modest savings and a decent retirement fund. We offer no diversity except maybe economic. We pay $12K in tuition.

  66. We'll chime in on the financial aid info as well. We have 2 children at one of the big privates, own our home, have modest savings and a fair amount of bills, make a combined income of $160k and will be paying 6k in tuition for each child. (We paid more for preschool.)

  67. Oh my goodness, where to start. Maybe this process could be sort of compared to someone's *uncomplicated* pregnancy. The anguish you went through is NOTHING compared to what some of us have experienced. Have fun on your freakishly long commute.

  68. To Caroline:

    Why are you so down on Charter Schools? It almost seems personal. My creative, highly visual child was accepted to CACS and we couldn't be more thrilled. Private school was NOT an option for our family and we got 0/7 in the lottery.
    More choices, not less, please...!

    Every family has to find a good fit for their child. I'd like to see less judging and more support of each other on this blog. It's about doing what's best for your child and your family.

    Kate, you've provided a really valuable service and perspective and sounding board for all of us. Please keep going with this blog. Congratulations to Alice and everyone else who got what they wanted. Hang in there everyone else. Families with older children here (who haven't moved out of SF) all tell me it works out in the end.

  69. "We liked Lowell a lot, but we didn't like the overcrowding or the "sink or swim" attitude of some teachers"

    Our kids are in private but we're desperately looking for a more diverse high school experience. Money is not an issue.
    Our kids are very good students but we dont want a hypercompetitive school like Lowell. We want them to cruise and have an active social life so they can look back fondly on their childhood. We've also crossed out hypercompetive privates like University.

    Does anyone know of good public high schools thats more balanced? Is there a blog for high school that anyone is aware of?
    I suppose we could move down the peninsula or to the east bay but we really dont want to.

  70. This isn't really the spot for this, Anon at 8:04 a.m., but no, it's not personal. It's political and principled.

    The short version: it's not about individual charter schools (in most cases). But overall, the charter movement is a weapon wielded by the Bush administration and what has been called "the conservative infrastructure of think thanks and policy journals" to attempt to fully privatize (that is, eliminate) public education.

    Sorry to unload that on an incoming charter school parent, but you asked.

    Here's one commentary on charter schools, by me:

    and here's another, not by me:

  71. Anon at 8:39 a.m. -- contact PPSSF at 415/861-7077 or to learn about SFUSD high schools.

    Check out Balboa -- you'll be pleasantly surprised! And that's just one of SFSUD's promising high school options.

    I have to say I know more students and families who hit rocky shoals at Lowell and SOTA, my own kid's school, than at Balboa. Middle-class families I know at Balboa, including those who started there all but kicking and screaming, are overwhelmingly positive about it.

  72. Oh, please. You really think the Bush administration is in favor of an arts-oriented alternative school? I highly doubt it. If the public schools served our needs better, there would be less of a need for charters. What about parochial schools--are you down on those too? I'm not religious but I feel that people who are have the right to choose them for their child. Charter schools ARE public and deal with the same issues as other public schools (displacement, budget cuts, etc)
    Caroline, I know you've done a lot of good things for public schools and I applaud you. Too bad our kid didn't get into any on our list. I'd gladly send our child to our tiny neighborhood school if the school wasn't failing (I'm not just talking about test scores---lack of leadership, serious violence and bullying is a BIG problem there).

    The point is: We all want what's best for our child.

    Sorry to veer off course here...

  73. This is really not the place for the political charter discussion. One more point and then I'll suggest going to the sfschools listserve if you want to continue the discussion.

    There was a moment when I realized that there's a blurry distinction between a supposedly progressive hippie arts charter and the kind of charter the Bush admin admires and promotes. I saw a CACS family I know and like driving by. Their car had a bumper sticker that said "My Child Learns at a Charter School" -- emblazoned with the logo (a rising sun) and name of the Center for Education Reform (CER). CER is a very far-right, fully anti-public-education organization closely allied with the Bush Administration, and hugely funded by wealthy right-wing benefactors.

    That's when I realized they are all truly one and the same movement. Of course this family had no idea, but there's a huge amount of "don't ask, don't tell" or la-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you going on there, which is WHY they had no idea.

    I guess they found out sooner or later, because their sticker has since been replaced with an "Impeach Bush" sticker -- rather a startling switch.

    You can join the sfschools listserve at:

    Center for Education Reform:

  74. Anon at 9:04 AM, I don't think you veered off course at all, because this blog offers insight into the selection process we all followed to choose what's best for our kids. (I hope someone from SFUSD admin is monitoring this blog, to see why parents might opt out of public -- starting with the hairy enrollment process.)

    Some of the most highly-educated, socially aware, lefty liberal families I know (we're talking left of the Weather Underground here) send their kids to charter schools, so I don't buy Caroline's argument about a right-wing conspiracy. More choices and a chance to see what other schools might be doing right can only help.

  75. Caroline, I'm as paranoid as the next crazy liberal, but do you really think Bush is trying to eliminate public education? C'mon.

    10:56, thank you for a very reasoned post.

  76. Oh pleazzzzzze. The real threat to public education in SF is not charter schools, it is the idiots on the Board of Education who don't care what it is like for parents and are merely using the position as a stepping stone to some other political office. See how many parents drop out of public education because of the ridiculous enrollment process? They are too busy dealing with red herring issues like the ROTC and muni passes for students than actually dealing with the budget. Time to toss all the dimwits and dinosaurs off the board and elect some sensible people.

  77. I didn't believe it either but I think it's true. When you think about broad political agendas, the far right would like to dismantle what they would consider inefficient, socialized programs. Offering school choice (including charters, vouchers and homeschooling) is one way to slowly deplete funding and choke public schools. Why would Schwartznegger fight for homeschooling? It's certainly not to protect the ultra-hippies out there.

    10:56, I agree wholeheartedly that offering school choice as a part of the SFUSD school assignment process has driven friendly "competition" amongst public schools. It's upped the ante in terms of bolstering PTA's and principals to promote positive change. However, I wholeheartedly DISAGREE that opting for private schools in any way benefits the public schools. I simply fail to see how choosing private schools benefits public schools when it depletes real money (per diem funding based on student enrollment) from them and represents a loss of a possibly committed and dedicated family.

  78. i have to agree with caroline on the charter question (and i'd have to throw privates into the equation as well -- sorry dudes.). there was an earlier thread here specifically about charters that you should read for more detailed arguments.

    my cavegirl opinion: there's the commons, and then there's everything else. leaching funding, energy and attendance away from already impoverished common institutions will destroy them. no family's choice is zero-sum. democracy depends on public education. abandoning ship has dire consequences for everyone. end of story.

    for me, this process has really highlighted the tension between pursuing your ideals as a citizen and protecting what you perceive to be your child's individual interests. throughout this exercise, i have heard the phrase "i won't use MY child as a guinea pig" more times than i can count. i too have had this feeling, but i'm trying to look more closely at what any of us is truly risking by (a) participating in the process to its conclusion; (b) considering sending our kids to unbaked schools; (c) sending our kids to unbaked schools. when you take a step back and look at the risk inherent in other, less privileged, people's lives, none of these things seems that risky, really.

    i'm just sayin'....

    anyway, we went 0/7 too, i'm enraged, i care deeply about my kids' education, i don't want a yucky guinea pig in my home and i don't think SFUSD's enrollment system works either, but i guess i'm not ready to withdraw from the system (i.e., quit my ideals) yet. (and i'm hardly an idealist -- ask anyone who knows me. i'd sell my soul for 5 minutes with whoever operates the infamous computer that runs this nightmare.) then again, ask me again in september (ha ha).

    i don't think this is the first time the left and the right have come together in a kind of marriage of convenience, is it? i know plenty of radical lefties who don't feel they owe "the system" anything either -- homeschoolers, anti-vaccination people, etc. -- albeit for different reasons from those on the right.

  79. Kate--I want to thank you for this blog, and thank all the peole who've written so openly and intelligently about their children and their school search. I stumbled across your blog and became addicted: though my kids are already enrolled in private school, a few years and more past kindergarten, I loved reading your school tour reviews, and I especially loved the level of discussion your blog generated. I've said to my husband: if we were applying to kindergarten now, I think we would make very different choices because of this blog. But here's where you, Kate, and you, loyal blog commenters, have really helped me: you've made me feel proud again of living in SF, and of being one of the families who continue to choose to live here. Where else could we find such thoughtful, informed, literate, funny (thanks Kim!), intelligent, anguished honest, spirited and supportive conversation!

  80. Kate said: "abandoning ship has dire consequences for everyone. end of story. "

    You have abandoned the ship, so don't be a hypocrite and pretend that public schools are important to you. Do what you have to for your kid, but don't pretend that you care about the rest of us.

  81. To 10.41, that was what Kim said, not Kate.

  82. Kim, I haven't done a lot of research into the effects of private school on public schools in a particular area, but I doubt it's as 'zero-sum' as you imply. I don't think complex systems are that simple.

    For example, one could argue that the presence of a rich network of private schools in an area encourages people with children to stay in the city. Those people, who might have left the city if there was not a network of private schools, would take their energy (and their taxes) elsewhere. Losing them would impoverish the entire city, which in turn would impoverish our schools. (Starbucks, for example, has a counterintuitive effect on local coffee shops... they do better business after Starbucks moves into an area.)

  83. yeah, kate would never say something juvenile like "sorry dudes." g-friend still has her dignity.

  84. Hey Kim-
    You mean to say that if you had the means, you still would chose public schools on principle?
    I'm guessing, no.

  85. that starbucks argument is quite compelling. something to think about for sure...however, it is still my gut belief that a family's choice to go private does affect the whole, and that that effect is more negative than positive. here's my address if anyone wants to key my car now....(why not? like an idiot i have revealed everything else...for the record, husband horrified...likely to be dispatched forthwith to bloggers anonymous...bra size? state of marital relations? anything else you want to know, prurient wretches?)

    last poster: actually, we're filthy with trust fund legacies and dotcom cash-outs. filthy! we just really wanted our daughter to have the same thrice-fried public school cafeteria tater tots we had growing up....

    but seriously...i guess my family really is committed to public education. we are not ideologues, and we value education as much as anyone (i mean, really, being a dyed-in-the-gold-lame jewish american princess, do i really even have to argue this?) i can honestly say that at this point in time we would not consider private education for our children. it wasn't a hard choice for us (even though my husband and kids are bilingual in french and the french international schools might appeal in that way -- and ONLY that way ;- ) ). for us, the list of reasons, both personal and societal, to go public far outweighed the alternatives, that's all.

    okay, stop being interesting right now, people. i REALLY have to work now or will probably be fired for gross dereliction of duty....

  86. I know lots and lots of people who can afford private school but choose public school anyway. And most of those people haven't thought through it, nor feel as passionately about it, as much as Kim.

    Fortunately, in SF, you don't have to choose private school "on principle." You choose it because it offers a lot of great things.

    Kate never mentioned if she is entering the second round lottery - I assume she is not?

  87. 8:39am, re high schools. Beyond Lowell, Balboa is definitely worth a look, as Caroline suggests. Lincoln is a perennial strong option (if you look back through Kate's posts you will see an interesting NY Times article about how a bunch of Lincoln science students teamed up last summer with scientists at UCSF and beat most of the world's leading universities in an international genetics competition--they were the youngest team--check it out).

    On the northeast side of town (accessible to those of you who work downtown) Galileo's test scores have been rising fast and they have the Chinese program. I think they are the top school for test scores now after Lowell? Washington also has a rep as a decent comprehensive high school.

    Also, while I tend to agree with Caroline and Kim about charters, Gateway is attracting attention as an option for kids who don't want the big comprehensive experience.

    Regarding the economics of private schools, there's some merit to the idea that privates encourage competition and keep people in town. In a larger sense, though, the economics go negative. If there were no privates, and the set of folks who now go private went public, our public schools would be better.

    Also, I know it sounds crazy, but Caroline is absolutely correct that the right wing of this country of which GWB is a part would love to destroy public education. They have said as much. Vouchers (using public money for private education!--the opposite of what one poster here has already suggested today, which would be to tax private schools/families to support public) are weapons to drain resources and resourced, vocal families from the public system. Charters are more complicated but are definitely are used as a weapon to attack funding, teachers, public accountability. There really is an anti-public strategy out there, and it is not only on the wacko fringe.

    That is not to suggest that everyone who participates in these systems desire this. And it's complicated, because I know CACS has different goals, and wonderful families, and I cannot quite bring myself to speak negatively about these charter outliers, especially in our crazy SF system. In fact, I tend not to speak negatively about/to my private school friends either for the same reason. I wish it were not this crazy. I find myself feeling happy for Kate and Alice while, like many others, a little sad for the rest of us given Kate's talents and energy.

    Still, whatever our personal decisions, I think it is worth knowing and acknowledging the wider context, and though it is painful sometimes to have these discussions, I continue to be grateful for Caroline's bravery in not dropping these issues of the cost of private education or of charters. Denial would be worse (look at our financial system these days--lots of la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you went into that deregulated mess, no doubt).

    Kim, the way you said it about the commons is right on. I agree with every word you wrote, just wish I could write like that.

    FWIW, I am one whose household makes less than the SF median income of around $70 thousand, so even those who say they are getting good scholarships at twice that amount or more ($135K or $160K) are in a very different economic class than we are.

    We applied to one less expensive private a few years back and got waitlisted. We ended up in a wonderful rising gem of a public school and do not feel at all like our kids are guinea pigs. We feel lucky for our school community, which is quite diverse in terms of free lunch/not free lunch; we are debt-free; and we both have some flexibility at work to pick up the kids well before 6pm every day--this is the benefit of a less well-paying job (in our case, admin and the trades).

    Now as we face looking for middle schools for our oldest, we are not considering private at all. It's true that we do not have the means, though I think we could both work better jobs / longer hours to make it so. We are pretty much where Kim Green is now--public on principle, and we are also happy with the options we are seeing--though still seeing the need to fight for improvements.

  88. re, 3/26 11:54

    Can anyone comment on choosing public middle school over private in SF? What do you see as the pros and cons?

  89. Yes, the Bush camp absolutely would like to fully privatize public education -- aka eliminate it.

    I doubt if Bush actually intends to achieve that before he leaves office. He kinda didn't succeed with Social Security (but then, Social Security isn't under constant attack as public education is).

    I assume he backed off on his active efforts to privatize major government programs after the Social Security debacle. Privatizing education is definitely a top conservative priority, though.

  90. 12:26, regarding middle schools:

    I can't speak about private schools as we didn't look at them for several reasons both financial and on principle and because we didn't feel we needed to. I can at least offer what we saw about the public ones for our daughter this year.

    We are a highly educated but middle-income family. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of offerings at the public schools when we started digging for options.

    The honors programs at Presidio, Giannini, Hoover, and Aptos are high quality and your GATE-identified child will be among peers there. We saw some amazing teachers, especially at the (non-honors but Spanish Immersion) James Lick program, where they do differentiated instruction, also AP Giannini, and Aptos.

    All these schools offer full arts programs, including full orchestra and band options at several schools: this means *daily* exposure to music, or studio art, or drama, or dance. Full sports offerings and daily PE at all schools. Big field trips on offer, including local, national and international (we heard about Costa Rica, Egypt).

    I believe that at this point Aptos and James Lick offer a slight advantage to admission to Lowell High later (Band 3?). Aptos and Lick folks both specifically mentioned support for developing portfolios for admission to SOTA. Presidio and AP Giannini are more focused on Lowell and Lincoln.

    All the schools we toured have staffed libraries, several full-time with special programs on offer, example Lick has 826 Valencia teaching writing on-site to all students. Several of the schools have salad bars and scratch cooking.

    The facilities themselves are a range (Hoover is frankly 1970's-ugly but in a nice, calm neighborhood; Aptos is a stunningly beautiful art deco school and next to a refurbished park with ballfield; James Lick has a beautiful building but only blacktop; however, the Noe location is great). Transportation options vary. Aptos has a school bus from the Mission. Presidio was too far for us (would have required 2 public buses).

    There were plenty of bright-eyed kids giving tours and being quite articulate (I don't think anyone has a magic pill to skip over the 11-14 age issues though). Several PTSAs at the schools offer regular seminars to parents on "how to parent your teen" type thing. There were definitely some cultural differences between the schools, with AP Giannini seemingly more structured, even a bit rigid? to my eastside SF eyes, but some people want that.

    Lots of diversity; our kid will be going to Aptos next year which will mean more exposure to Asian American kids, although there is no majority population at Aptos...we are at an eastside school now with a mix of Latino and white kids, mostly.

    The lottery was a snap this year. All of our friends' kids got into the top school of their choice, ranging from Presidio to Hoover to Aptos to James Lick.

    Whatever your views on private vs. public, definitely check out the public middle schools! You may be surprised as we were.

  91. I agree that the right wing would like to destroy public education...but why attack charter schools?
    Why not implement and learn from the ones who have a successful model?

  92. Anon at 11:34 -- You may not believe it since I'm pretty outspoken here, but I also try to avoid directly haranguing and guilt-tripping my friends who have chosen private and charter schools. The ones I mentioned with the pro-charter bumper sticker from the right-wing anti-public-education organization? I'm not the one who enlightened them about it -- I kept quiet.

    Re speaking out otherwise: 20 years ago I would have been more likely to keep my views to myself so as to avoid offending anyone. Of course, 20 years ago there were no blogs or Internet discussion forums, so our avenues for speaking up would have been far more limited -- as was the ability to do research and learn about issues such as charters, privatization etc.

    By the time I hit my 50s -- 4+ years ago -- I had realized that avoiding offending anyone should not really be the top priority in life. Over the years, I've learned that I'm consistently more likely to regret it if I keep my mouth shut and fail to speak up for what I think is right. Think Raging Grannies, though I'm not a granny (godforbid, since my kids are 14 and 17, and knock wood) and only PART of my hair is gray so far...

    Anyway, trying not to directly guilt-trip folks does mean a delicate balance at times. I'm sure some, if not most, of my friends with kids in charter schools have at least some notion of my views.

    Sorry, this whole comment was overly personal. Speaking of getting personal and speaking up too, I really think it's unfair to blast "Kate" after she has put so much of herself on the line and done a public service too, in creating this blog.

    A consolation is that schools like MCDS have tended to view public -- especially SFUSD -- as a strange foreign planet, totally removed from their universe. That's obviously not the case with Kate, who is now very familiar with SFUSD schools and knows their positives as well as their negatives. If she even conveys her attitude, that will help open people's eyes. It's a baby step, but better than no step.

  93. The subtext of charter schools is that public education fails because it is badly managed, not because of the lack of funding. This is what the right wing wants to believe. Charter schools are the experiment that tries to prove it.

    How to attack public education: (1) start charter schools, saying they will be better run than public schools (2) get some kids (3) throw out the ones who aren’t so successful, (4) claim you are better than the public school system which accepts every child.

    And what are the results?

    And by the way, all you posters who attack Caroline are cowards for posting anonymously.

  94. Anon 2 at 1:09 -- charter schools do considerable damage to public schools in many ways, so that's why I attack (or at least criticize) them. They are not neutral-impact but harmful, and in the grand scheme of things, intentionally so. I previously provided links to information.

    Anon 1 at 1:09 -- great post on middle schools. I did some research on the architecture, so I just can't help adding even though it's not exactly the heart of what parents are looking for:

    Aptos, Presidio and James Lick were all built in the early '30s, full of gorgeous tile and deco detailing. Aptos is Spanish-style (it looks like Catalina tile) and James Lick is more Egyptian-style. I've only been inside Presidio once, but I think it was pretty much like Aptos.

    Hoover and Giannini were built in the '50s and are drab and blocky facilities. When Hoover was built, the neighbors raised a fuss opposing designing it with a clear front entrance, where they were afraid rowdy students would congregate (horrors!). So it doesn't really have a visible entrance. An inconspicuous walkway from the street, running between buildings leads to the real front door.

    Since Aptos has long had to fight the specter of its perceived inferiority to Hoover and Giannini, we have made a big point of our architectural superiority, even if our beautiful tilework is faded and worn.

    If you want to see a '70s horror, look at SOTA (School of the Arts, 555 Portola at O'Shaughnessy). It actually was built in the late '60s and opened in 1970 as McAteer High School. The setting is great (gorgeous views from the football field, which other schools use but not SOTA, as it has no sports teams), but the architecture is awful. But when it's full of beautiful art, it has the feel of an artists' loft in a gritty warehouse. (If anyone comes to visit, there are often jazz ensembles jamming in the cafeteria -- that's my son.)

    And regarding architecture, poor Lowell! But I think the community takes pride in its funky lack of aesthetics. Lowell is about brains, not being a pretty face.

    OK, sorry, a TOTAL digression.

  95. I should add that the posters who sneer at Kate about connections and make snide comments are cowards too.

  96. Here's where the metaphor of the commons breaks down for me. In a true commons, we all share a general space equally. So, we work out a system and our cows graze in a common area (which we probably exhaust out of self-interest, but that's a different story).

    In the commons that is SFUSD, however, we're not sharing that space equally. If your kids get into Rooftop and my kids get into some (much) less-desirable school based on sheer luck, that isn't a commons. Telling me to improve my share of the commons (which will probably be a multi-year process, with a payoff that my kid won't see) doesn't change that inequity.

    Beyond that, I think that it's pretty selective to determine that public schools are the commons, and other things, such as housing, are not. I rent here. I don't see a lot of people lining up to help me own. Can't I declare that a commons as well?

    On the other hand, I'd be more than happy to roll back prop 13 and have property taxes reflect real property values. I suspect that some of you who bought homes more than a few years ago might object to that, though.

  97. When Gandalf starts calling you a coward, you know that you're on the internets.

  98. 1:54pm: Right on! You hit the nail on the head.

  99. 1:54 - If education is not within the realm of the commons and it's just a free for all, won't you have a situation where the richer get more educated and the poor get shut out? Even more than it already is? Access to education is important for democracy. It's not an arbitrary line drawn in the sand.

  100. Hi Kate, I think people here would feel better if they knew whether your (substantial) financial aid came through from MCDS, and that you didn't just pull some grandparents out of your back pocket...

  101. I agree that we longtime homeowners (we bought in 1988) need to be willing to step up and pay our fair share.

    When we first bought, we were paying obscene multiples of the property tax our elderly next-door neighbor was paying on the identical house and lot. Now it's presumably reversed with the younger families next door.

    I wonder what impact it would have on real estate values, the housing market, real estate turnover and who knows what else if we were paying tax based on our properties' actual value. It would surely require the kind of arrangements that might have staved off Prop. 13 to begin with -- some kind of processes by which the ancient widows on our block who paid $11,000 for their homes aren't having to actually pay in cash the property tax on their $800,000 home values.

  102. 2:27

    No, totally, I don't think it should be a free for all. I just think that if we want to create an equitable solution, it involves some large, hard choices.

    Personally, and I agree with Caroline here, I think that we need to re-think taxation. I'd be happy to pay a much larger share of my income in taxes if I felt it was actually being used to improve those things that we actually use in -- for the most part -- common (e.g. schools, hospitals, fire & police, etc.). As a long time Californian, I remember when higher education was essentially free, and that's certainly not the case now.

  103. "whether your (substantial) financial aid came through from MCDS, and that you didn't just pull some grandparents out of your back pocket..."

    I can't imagine how this could possibly be anybody's business - there is no need for the readers of this bog to request this kind of information.

  104. btw, I'm TOTALLy not sure what the "oh please" poster means to convey....if it is the usual snark at Caroline, I'm not getting the point....oh well.

    I'm also a longtime homeowner in SF terms (1994) and would be willing to pay more. I'd like to see a real debate on fair taxation that does not harm the proverbial widow or pensioner. Right now it seems like the ones being harmed are young families who can't afford property taxes and also don't have school funding.

    It's true that the system as it stands is not perfect--some get the Rooftop Shangri-La (I'm not so sure it really is all that, myself, but I take the point) and others get the decent schools that are not wildly popular, and others are panicked receivers of some at-this-point unacceptable offers.

    But the thing is, it is likely that all who actually go through the process will get a decent school. Maybe not Rooftop, but a decent school like Rosa Parks or Sunnyside. One that needs improvement and energy but will actually do a good job of teaching your child (there will always be exceptions in terms of fit, of course).

    And to me it is more important that more--indeed, all--kids have access to a spot in a decent school than that my kid have a spot at any Shangri-La, whether that is public Rooftop or private MCDC. I can't imagine how our democracy can function without decent public schools.

    I wish too for the extension of the commons even further, starting with health care. I would say that education, health care, decent housing and an income "floor," including old age pension (social security) should be basic entitlements, ones I am willing to pay for.

    Again to the "oh please" poster, if your comment was meant as a snark attack on Caroline's point, this debate on the commons is a venerable one in our nation and world, despite the retreat into "you're on your own" aka YOYO politics of the last generation. Just about everything mentioned here is taken for granted in much of Europe, for example, in some form or other. They have their own issues, of course....that's why there is debate. I don't mind debating the points with those who disagree, but don't think too much of anonymous snorts.

  105. Is any of this anybody's business?

  106. Back with you in a minute Caroline. I'm working up your reparations bill right now.

  107. Oh, and just to follow on, until we make those hard choices, I am going to act out of a certain degree of self-interest when it comes to my child. I went to very bad public schools, and I want her to have a different experience.

  108. Most posters are anonymous...Kate really is not (since her real name was in the paper a couple of weeks ago). Asking about her personal finances is a bit much.

  109. I think the question, while prying and none of our business (of course), is relevant. Kate claimed not to be able to afford private, she divulged that she missed the deadline for financial aid but then seems to be able to sign up to send not one but two children to one of the pricier schools out there. I would love to know how, maybe we could do the same. She does not have to answer, but the question is one many of us are asking.

  110. Kate doesn't have to answer anything she doesn't want to. But she already told us that she applied for financial aid and that she can't afford full tuition. She also told us she missed the deadline for MCDS financial aid. We all want to hear how private schools help families with "average" incomes. If hers is one of them, I can't think of a better place to share after all this!

  111. OMG, I signed up at Serra because I thought everyone else was!?!?!

    I'm totally freaked out right now!

  112. I signed up at J. Serra too. The jury is still out for me, though, so I'm going to waitlist at my top choice and fill out Round II amended choices. But I'll tour Serra and give it a chance, at least.

  113. Um, back taxes I can see, but reparations signify wrongdoing. ?!?

    As noted, Prop. 13 was perpetrated by my parents' and grandparents' generation (the wealthiest elderly generations in history).

  114. 3/25/08 Caroline said: "But the owner of the blog [] currently has one child in private school and has also seriously considered charter schools."

    I'm not an proponent of public, private or charter, just someone who has read this blog with interest. But Caroline, don't you think it's curious that someone who has a blog advocating public schools has their child in a private school? How are the rest of us supposed to take that? Public schools should be good enough for all of you, but not for my kid? Isn't this a bit hypocritical?

    It begs the question - what was it about the private school experience that was so enticing for this public school promoter? What didn't they get at a public school that they got at a private?

    It shows that every family has different needs - and no one should judge parents for chosing one direction over another.

    So while your arguments for public are compelling, you lose credibility for me on this particular point.

  115. Carolyn is not the owner of the blog in question so your lack of credibility comment is misplaced.

  116. Didn't say Caroline is the owner of the blog. She said the owner of has a child in private school (her words).

  117. I'll let Caroline answer but here is what she said before...

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

  118. whoever said: "OMG, I signed up at Serra because I thought everyone else was!?!?!"

    Guess that is where the lemmings comparisons come from, huh?

  119. I was really hoping that the OMG post was a joke. It was, wasn't it?

  120. "I was really hoping that the OMG post was a joke. It was, wasn't it?"

    Sadly, I think that person was serious. Scary, isn't it?

  121. Re the blog, It's possible to be pro-public-school without being anti-private-school.

    The blog's logo says:
    a blog for matters related to schools in San Francisco
    (schools, not just public schools)

    The sfschools blog is pro-public-education in tone, and is heavily focused on the politics of public education -- but is not inherently "pro-public-school and nothing else."

    Even I'm not anti-private-school. I'm just anti the notion that only private schools have value, and anti the notion that there's no negative impact on other schools and on the community when families choose private school. And I'm much more radical about this than the owner of the sfschools blog, who is pretty mellow about giving me free rein on the blog even though my opinions are often much stronger than his.

    I'm fairly OK with being asked nosy questions myself, but I'm kind of shocked by the demands for intensely personal information that some anonymous posters make on individuals such as "Kate" and the owner of the sfschools blog.

    I'm frankly disappointed in her choice of a private school that I grew up around and thus (based on that familiarity) regard with distaste, but her reasoning is her own business and I still wish her and her family the best -- as I have other friends who have chosen that same school.

    And it's none of anyone's ****ing business why someone you don't even know chose private school for his child for a small percentage of the child's school years.

  122. This post might ramble, but it addresses the tax issue and the unfairness of the burden in SF.

    I am a long-term homeowner in SF, and own two rental properties as well. I pay over $56,000 per year in property taxes and I don't feel comfortable about sending my kids to 70% of the public elementary schools in this City.

    I was 0/7, and dropped off the stuff for Round II yesterday. As far as I'm concerned, I'm already paying plenty of "tuition" in the form of property taxes for my kids, and it's a shame there aren't more Clarendons and Rooftops out there. OR Sunnysides and McKinleys. All of which were on my list. Yick Wo, Harvey Milk and Grattan round out the list.

    Some might think I'm rich, but I'm not. I live in what used to be a rough part of town, but it's very gentrified now. If I paid taxes off the current value of what I own, I couldn't afford to own it. This is my retirement and my college fund, and it's only worth what it is, IF I sell it. And I don't want to sell it. I've worked my self into the ground fixing up the places and holding them for the long term. I work for myself in non-profits, and was just smart and lucky that I bought when I did.

    I can speak to some experience about the tax thing. But mostly, I want you to know that I want to stay in the city, in my rough and tumble neighborhood, and don't feel rich.

    Prop 13 was designed to allow people not to get taxed out of their homes. Once a place gentrifies and the values go up, the old-timers like myself will get taxed out of their homes if there isn't a cap, like Prop 13. Whether or not you agree with it (and there is a great argument that it has gutted the public schools and infrastructure) it came from a good place.

    Since the majority of San Franciscans are renters, I don't know why there isn't a schools tax that everybody could pay. There is a city income tax in New York City. It's something like 3% or 4%. That would be fair.

    Is it fair that some really nice rich guy who earns over a million dollars a year pays me $900 per month rent control on a three bedroom apartment I own? Not a penny of property tax does he pay, and he sends his older kid to Lick High School? And he got lucky and sends his younger one to Clarendon?? And vacations with Kate in Hawaii? (The last one was a joke.) No. It isn't fair. And I have to rent to him at the same rent he was paying 20 years ago when I first rented to his funky 23 year old ass.

    But he is a nice guy. I'm just saying.

    See, I have a problem. If I cash out, where do I live? Do I move? I couldn't afford to buy my house in today's dollars or in today's property taxes. How do I retire in 20-30 years, if I do that? I actually like my big house with the big backyard, right in the middle of the big City. Paying all the taxes I do, I think the schools should be a darned sight better than they are. I am dedicated to doing everything I can to make sure my kids go to a good public school.

    But if they won't give me a school as good as the ones I mentioned, I don't know what I'll do. I think it's a shame that in this City and in this Country, they expect you to sell everything you own to get an education or to get health care.

    Do you really think the schools would be better if we were taxed more? I think they wouldn't be. We have a failure of priorities in this State and this City. The issue is so much bigger than taxes, especially since such a small minority of San Franciscans are home owners and therefore paying the taxes.

    We need to widen the tax net, if anything.

  123. Of course the schools would be better if they were funded better, which would be the result if we were taxed more unless there was some massive refusal to put the additional revenue into schools.

    That's why New Jersey, as just discussed, has famously strong schools -- they get a lot more money than California schools. That's why private schools can offer more resources -- they have far, far more money (and far, far fewer needs in terms of high-need students) than public schools.

    I would balk at agreeing that Prop. 13 "came from a good place," and I was a 24-year-old, politically aware California voter and (new) homeowner in 1978 when Prop. 13 passed. There was sound basis for the concerns that raised support for Prop. 13 -- yes, longtime homeowners' taxes were going up as their home values skyrocketed. Legislators dithered on finding a solution -- a process to defer those taxes -- until it was too late.

    But it was corporations and the wealthy who benefited the most, and meanwhile, the longtime homeowners who after Prop. 13 paid a pittance in property taxes WERE reaping unimaginable profit on their real estate investment. It's not so outrageous to expect them to pay adequate taxes on them in some fashion. My mom's house in Mill Valley, for example, cost $17,000 in 1959 and is now worth over a million, though it's not in very good shape.

    In response to concerns that public services would be starved, the Prop. 13 advocates charged that government was full of fat and run by crooks and bums -- all we had to do was "cut the fat." This is the generation, mind you, that won its unprecedented financial security largely due to huge government programs -- the New Deal and the GI Bill, and cheap VA home mortgages. Of course, their idea of "fat" was anything that didn't personally benefit them (yeah, I'm still pissed, 30 years later).

  124. Man, I really think I need to go cold turkey with this blog. Either that or face time in divorce court and/or at the unemployment office. Because I spend waaaay too much time reading it. And I also spend way too much time obsessing over My Precious Muffin/Guinea Pig's kindergarten education. I handed in our Round II stuff today, and I'm going to try and be all Zen about it from here on out. Hah! We'll see how that goes.

  125. People have made a lot of intelligent comments in this thread, but one that has bothered me for a few days is the idea that people who send their kids to private school are the "haves" and those that send them to public school are the "have nots". I know a family who bought a huge house in 1994 and pay $1100 a month for a mortgage $4000 a year in property tax and all three of their kids go to Clarendon. Our family moved to SF two years ago, rent a flat for $2200 a month and scrimp to pay for private school for our son, so that he can maintain the bilingualism he got being born and living the first four years of his life overseas. We cannot afford to buy a house, because our situation would look something like $4400 a month in mortgage payments and $15,000 a year in property taxes. So which family is the "haves" and which the "have nots" in this situation? Before you get all sanctimonious that you are saving the world sending your kids to public school while the "haves" destroy public education, think of the family with three kids at Clarendon who pay $4000 a year in property tax. Are they saving public education? Are we destroying it by not being able to afford a house in SF?

  126. And it's none of anyone's ****ing business why someone you don't even know chose private school for his child for a small percentage of the child's school years.

    Uh, Caroline, you were the one who brought it up in the first place. If you share intensly personal info here, you're fair game for intensly personal questions.

  127. Guess Alice won't be bilingual after all :-(

  128. Not at all, Anon at 9:47 a.m.:

    "If you share intensly personal info here, you're fair game for intensly personal questions."

    I tell you that a third party has a child in private school and you demand aggressively to know exactly why? The fact that a child attends private school is not intensely personal information, and does not warrant an aggressive demand for a full explanation, which IS intensively personal information.

    I'm not sure how Miss Manners would suggest responding. She'd be calling for her smelling salts.

  129. If you could point us to this aggressive demand..? I could only find a rhetorical query...

  130. Miss Manners would also disapprove of my "none of your ****ing business" comment. So I apologize for that.

    I'll restate my own view on private school, though in this case we're talking about another family, not mine.

    Parents should make the choice they feel best meets their child's and family's needs.

    The three points I make over and over are:

    1. It's a mistake to automatically assume that public schools are inherently unworkable and private schools are inherently superior.

    2. The choice of private school DOES have a negative impact on public schools, the children in those schools and the community at large. That doesn't mean it's a crime to make that choice. It's a factor that in my opinion a socially conscious family takes into account in making the decision.

    3. Think about the financial impact on your family's long-range security.

    (You'd think that latter would be a given, but I know families who never gave public school a passing thought and took out second mortgages to pay for private, in situations where that is extremely likely to impair their future security.)

    I hope this clarifies my view a little bit.

    I mentioned long ago that I attended a kindergarten night in which a presenter from PPS discussed SFUSD and a presenter with expertise in private-school application discussed privates. I was there as a volunteer to assist the PPS presenter. It turned out the private-school presenter is an old friend whom I hadn't seen in some time and who has had children both in SFUSD and parochial schools. She describes herself as a public-school advocate and would surely echo my view that it's about what works best for your family.

    I feel more strongly about the negative social impact of private schools than she does, but other than that we're not really on such different pages.

  131. 2. The choice of private school DOES have a negative impact on public schools, the children in those schools and the community at large.

    Not if the option of private school "allows" a family to stay in San Francisco and continue to contribute to any number of other child-related and community causes, rather than moving in search of better schools.

  132. i agree with anon at 11:03am and will add that if a family opts for private and owns in san francisco, their tax dollars not only continue to help fund public schools and benefit other children.

  133. This whole blog reminds me of the bottle vs. breast feeding argument.

  134. It would be interesting to do some kind of ultra-sophisticated impact analysis. What's the impact on society overall of staying in the city and going to private school vs. moving to a suburb and going public? I don't know what the outcome would be.

    It still has a healthier impact on our community, our public schools and our children overall if you can live in the city AND send your kids to public school. I don't think that's arguable. But you have to make your decision with the best interests of your family in mind.

  135. With the bottle feeders trying to claim that their choice makes life not only better for their family, but also better for all the breast fed babies ?

  136. This blog does sort of sound like bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding. (Though I don't know anyone in SF who would admit to bottle feeding. That would be even more evil-right wing-damaging to the entire planet than sending your kid to a fantastic private school that you love!) It's terrible to spend money on private school, but it's ok to mortgage yourself to the hilt to buy a depreciating million-dollar home, have a Prius and bankrupt your retirement future by living in one of the most expensive places on earth. Whatever!

  137. I don't think it holds up to deny that it hurts public schools when families with resources send their kids to private school.

    Public school advocates universally accept that view -- that's why PPS has worked so hard to bring middle-class families back to SFUSD.

    Not only that, public school opponents also embrace it, triumphantly touting the high percentage of families going to private school as proof that public education is a failure.

    Or we can put it the other way -- the more families with resources choose to enroll their children in our public schools, the stronger our public schools become, which benefits all children and the entire community.

    Only a very, very tiny, contrarian minority would dispute that, put it that way.

    I don't say private school is evil. And I don't say it's "terrible to spend money" on it. I'm just saying that the cost is something that a family should consider as part of its overall well-being. For families that can afford it, no problem.

    This has, as noted, become much clearer to me as my children approach college-age, my husband and I approach retirement age, and my husband's industry -- the primary source of support for our family -- nears final, total collapse. In that context, I'm really shocked when families talk about sacrificing and struggling or paying tuition with a second mortgage.

  138. I'm really shocked when families talk about sacrificing and struggling or paying tuition with a second mortgage.

    You are shocked because of your cone of vision: You are perfectly happy with the caliber of public education.

  139. An MCDS bus question popped into my head while I was reading the news this morning: What do they do with the SF kids when (as happened yesterday afternoon) the GG Bridge link between Marin and SF is cut?

    As I understand it, the southbound lanes were shut entirely for several hours yesterday. Although this surely is not a normal occurence, accidents are a real possibility to be considered given the fact of no median strip, crazy lane changes, beautiful views. And what about, you know (hands firmly placed over eyes and ears), the possibility of an earthquake, maybe even the Big One?

    Does MCDS have a plan for this--route the kids around the Richmond Bridge to the Bay Bridge? Put them on the ferry? Hold them at school until parents can pick them up? What if the bus is stuck in traffic for hours and the little ones need to eat or, you know, use the bathroom?

    Full disclosure, I say this as someone whose kids are in school in SF but who works in the East Bay--though in my case there is another parent who works in SF. I also have options including BART (my usual route); AC Transit over the bridge if BART shuts down; or the Alameda ferry; or a long drive south and over the San Mateo bridge or even down and around San Jose and back up the peninsula.

    I think a lot about it, working as I do near the Hayward Fault. We have an emergency communication and meet-up plan in place that takes my distance into account. But then, I as the grownup am the one with the commute in this case.

    Anyone know what the emergency plan is for the bridge-commuter kids at MCDS?

  140. Caroline wrote:
    "2. The choice of private school DOES have a negative impact on public schools"

    I agree strong active families (like Kate's) going to Privates is the loss to Publics. If only SFUSD would come to their senses and let families attend their neighborhood public schools automatically will this reverse the trend. It works in NYC. It saves on the use of carbon fuel. Marxism started with good intentions as well - it just didnt work.

  141. Kate will be moving to Marin, I bet.

  142. I don't know what the plan is at MCDS, but every school should have an emergency plan (and probably does, if you ask). Knowing about this should be part of every family's emergency plan.

    As for MCDS, the whole bus/bridge issue is the reason that I ruled MCDS out categorically for my kids. I never even looked at the school because the idea of being over the bridge from them everyday made me too uncomfortable. And as a side note, when I see the MCDS bus outside my house picking up our neighbors at a little after 7 am I am very glad not to have to get my kids ready that early!

    I'm not trying to cast a pall on Kate's school choice as it sounds like she has ended up in a wonderful place for her family. We all have our "things" and for me it's the bridge.

  143. I heard that every child at MCDS has an "earthquake family." This is something I heard second-hand from friends of ours who applied there several years ago. We too did not look at the school, but only due to its location. It seems like a wonderful place, and I bet that many children greatly enjoy the bus ride.

  144. To the commenter at 1.17 PM, I actually heard that NYC just changed their public school system. I'm not sure what all the details are, but from what I hear, many parents are unhappy. NYC's problems seem to be much worse than ours. Private schools are MUCH harder to get into, even the religious ones (not that some religious schools aren't exclusive here), and public schools have a complicated assignment system.

    Also, there is a regular track and a Gifted and Talented track that starts with kindergarten. All children need to be tested at age 4 (!!!!) if they seek the G&T track, and they need to score above the 95% percentile now to be accepted -- note, this is higher than Nueva's requirements. Apparently the cut-off used to be closer to 90%. Oh, and there are no sibling priorities.

    Maybe someone who knows more about it can post if people are interested.

  145. 12:49, it's a cute rhetorical gesture, but inaccurate, to say that Caroline is "perfectly happy" with the caliber of public education in this city. She has certainly never said that. She is one who has fought, and continues to fight, for improvements.

    Caroline appears to me to be more nuanced, arguing that the quality of many of the schools is good enough to warrant a look for us education-obsessed parents. This is not a black-and-white thing, as most important choices are not. She additionally argues that school choice might reasonably take into account long-term family financial (and attendant emotional) stability, as well as the larger context of benefit / harm to our larger community. She said very clearly today that private school choice might be the best one for a given family when all that is taken into account; she is only arguing that those other pieces be given attention.

    So often the argument is made that the *only* right choice is one of the set of most-expensive (therefore highest quality?) or the ones with the best rep among our class of folks, or the ones with the great bells and whistles. Talk about cone vision--some people can't imagine how these admittedly more scruffy publics might actually provide a very good education.

    We public school parents are told (fairly often, btw) that we are making guinea pigs of our kids, that we are sacrificing them to our ideals, or even worse, to our supposed fancy vacations; we are also told that we would take the fancy private option in a second if a) we could afford it and b) we could have gotten a spot.

    I don't think the public schools are perfect. They need energy, love, attention, and oh yeah, funding. I also don't think any private school mentioned here is perfect, usually for a different set of reasons though. On balance, my kids are getting very good educations where they are. Not perfect, but very good. Balance that with the time it gives me with the kids not to have to work long hours, plus knowing we are supporting a system that benefits a wide range of kids, and seeing my kids growing up to understand on a gut level what it means to be part of a larger and diverse whole, well, it works for us.

    I personally understand why many of my friends made the individual choices they did to choose private over public. Sometimes I am sad, especially when the decision seems uninformed (when they insist, without investigation, that the public schools are bad). And I see do see a few of my friends under enormous financial strain to pull it off, or locking themselves into high-stress jobs to do it. But it is their choice. Sometimes it is evidently the right choice for that child or family--I can see that.

    But I do not see how it is wrong to suggest that these other factors be taken into account in making this decision; and I would definitely argue along with Caroline that many, many of our public schools are really fine--ranging from decent to good to very good to excellent. Just a few are not. It is not cone vision to say that we have experienced this and so have lots of our educated, professional friends in SF. Our kids are doing well.

    I have this vision of us all meeting up someday on the first day of college when we drop off our kids!--because whatever route they take to get there, I'm sure the vast majority of kids whose parents are on this blog, whether they go public or private, will be heading in similar directions for college.

  146. Yesterday afternoon went very smoothly at MCDS, despite the traffic nightmare on the GG Bridge. We had 200 SF students who unexpectedly needed to stay on campus, and we decided that all SF buses would wait until 5pm for departure.

    Teachers, administrators and staff quickly found various activities for the kids to do on campus while they waited, including watching a movie, attending a school basketball game, and playing impromptu outside games. By the time the buses left, traffic had cleared. Certainly not an ideal situation yesterday, but handled beautifully by everyone involved, including the students.

  147. I'm glad it worked out yesterday. But....Did MCDS call all the SF parents to alert them of the change in plans? What would have happened if the buses were already in transit, and got stuck in the traffic? If the bridge had not reopened by 5pm, or worse, did not open overnight, would the kids have been housed at MCDS overnight?

    (Can you tell I'm a worry wart?)


  148. Curious why anon's asking all these questions. Is your child going to MCDS? Are you overly concerned for Alice? Or are you just trying to give Kate cause for worry because she's made a decision you don't agree with? Come on, in the event of the BIG ONE all of us and our kids are at great risk. Could turn out the kids are safer in Marin. Who knows? We can't spend all our time worrying about what ifs.

  149. Yes, parents were called immediately, plus a blast email was sent to the whole parent body. There is a Marin buddy system in place in case the need for an overnight should arise, and if the bus had left earlier and gotten stuck in traffic, the kids and the bus driver would have...well...made due. (Busdrivers all have cellphones and student directories, of course.)

  150. I'm the one asking the questions. Sorry, I should have said my twins are in PREschool in SF, so I am a parent who is about to go through this process. (I can hardly wait! wheeeee!). I asked because MCDS sounds like a truly wonderful school, and I am wondering about applying there.

    But, as you can see, I am trying to wrap my mind around me being in the East Bay, my husband being in SF, and the kids being in Marin. But it sounds like an incredible place. Any thoughts about this? Any other MCDS families that have these multiple commute issues? Am I worrying too much, as the mother of pre-schoolers, and this is not really an issue for the older kids?

    Ah well, I guess there is also the problem of being a twin family so we are seeking those elusive TWO spots at the same school. MCDS may be wholly unrealistic. Any feedback on that issue too?

    Anyway, I thought I'd ask. As a prospective K-searcher, I am very glad to have all of you going through this before me, and especially grateful to Kate for providing this forum.

    To the MCDS person responding, thanks for the info.

  151. Thanks, Anon at 1:36 p.m. -- I was going to respond to a comment or two about my post, but you did it much, much better than I could. Your response to the jab that I'm "perfectly happy with the caliber of public education" is right on.

    I've been here for sure!


    We public school parents are told (fairly often, btw) that we are making guinea pigs of our kids, that we are sacrificing them to our ideals, or even worse, to our supposed fancy vacations; we are also told that we would take the fancy private option in a second if a) we could afford it and b) we could have gotten a spot.


    As I've said, some private school parents' mantra is: "I'm not sacrificing my child just to be PC!" (with the unspoken slap "...the way you are").

    And I've been jeered at on the assumption that I just couldn't get my kids into the fancy private school I secretly wanted -- and even for being too poor to afford it. We've never applied to any private school at all, and it might well be that my kids would be rejected everywhere (if nothing else due to their s***-disturbing mother), and we certainly would struggle to afford it. I don't really view the lack of wealth as something to be ashamed of. If that's the pervasive view in the private-school world, I'd rather steer clear.

  152. I don't get it Caroline; are you not perfectly happy with the caliber of your own children's public school education? I thought that was your point.

  153. One thing never mentioned about private schools is that they don't often enroll children with disabilities, so when they say they are "diverse" it never applies to different kinds of abilities and minds.

    It is sort of like the old days in public schools when all children with disabilities were "invisible", kept in separate classrooms, and you never saw them.

  154. 3:22 aka "please do": this is rude and cowardly! Caroline may be a s***-disturber but she is not rude on a personal level like this (or at least apologizes when she is). She's also not anonymous. There is a worthy debate here, but this is not an example of it.

    3:25, this is unnecessary jabbing too. 1:36 just made a point about nuance and you are ignoring it. you can find a school to be not perfect (honestly, does anyone know of a perfect school) but good enough, even very good enough. one can see that there are multiple issues to be weighed, for example, dream school versus good-enough school that also benefits the larger community. these are adult choices. nuanced ones.

    just because you landed on one side or the other in terms of public or private shouldn't mean you can't see the nuance (and of course that applies to both sides of this). i think Caroline has fairly well stated that she understands there are reaons to choose private sometimes, even though she is a passionate advocate for public. i don't see why folks on the other side of the fence cannot at least admit she has a point that a) there are decent public options; b) private school costs may be financially prohibitive and also risky for many families in the long run; and c) going public supports the larger community. i would add that going public also teaches our children to be part of the commons in all its diversity.

    now, all of these issues may legitimately not outweigh the reasons to attend a private school. for Kate, mcds is her dream school, and she also went 0/7in the stressful lottery. other families have kid-specific issues.

    but it is not wrong to raise the issues as factors to consider! that is what Caroline does. why is that so threatening that snarky and deliberately obtuse responses are called for? we can do better here.

  155. Choosing a school for your kids is a very personal issue; I don't think anyone has the right to condemn another person's choices. Why would they? Seems odd to me. If you would never send your kid to a private school, then great, don't send your kid to private school, but don't try to blame people who do for all the problems public schools have. The problems publics schools have can mostly be blamed on the real lack of parenting skills amongst many of the families.

  156. Thank you, 4:00pm. Well said.

    At the end of the day we all make our own decisions based on what we feel is best for our kids: whether public, private, parochial, charter, etc.

    Just because you disagree with someone's choice, doesn't give you the right to judge them.

    I for one am tired of being judged for my decisions as a parent and having been made to feel defensive. Why can't we all be supportive of each other rather than try to prove we are right? Are we THAT insecure?
    Also--very easy to inject politics into your beliefs and use that to judge others, far more difficult to see each family and child as an individual.

    Oh, and I'd gladly post un-anonymously, but blogger won't let me.

  157. I wonder if the public schools would be trying at all to improve if wasn't for the fact that so many families choose not to use the public system. It points up the problems with SFUSD in a very stark way. (I grant you that a lot of the negative press in not deserved. I do believe you can get a fine education at some SFUSD schools. Assuming, you can get in.)

    I have no idea yet about the history of schools in San Francisco and when the private schools became such a common choice for the middle/upper class families. I wonder if no private schools existed, or if most parents chose to support public, would the public schools try to improve or would they get complacent? In the current culture, it concerns me. I worry now with the unexpectedly higher enrollment numbers they had this year if it will result in a attitude that they don't need to try so hard.

    The public school system has intrinsic problems that aren't going to be solved at the parental involvement level, unfortunately, though I think that is an enormous factor in making schools better. The lack of uniformity where it counts is disheartening. I care about my kid, but I do care about everyone else's, too. Our city just points up all the flaws of our country's educational system more than most. Frankly, I don't see it getting better anytime soon.

    People like Caroline, whether you agree with her views or not, get involved and learn how things work, and probably learn how to get certain things done. And that's probably the best we can do now to make a difference in the system. Making your voice heard doesn't always work, but it sometimes does. Pointing out flaws and positives, holding people accountable, these things aren't fun, but it's what we've got.

  158. Public, private, parochial, charter....whatever, it's all good, just as long as ALL of you vote for future parcel taxes and bond measures that support public!!! We obviously can't rely on state funding. You CAN support public even if your kids are not there and that is what really matters. That supports the WITT philosophy too. One does not have to be in the system to support it (though it doesn't hurt).

  159. Absolutely! My family did this even before having kids.

  160. Anon at 3:29 has a good point.

    Friends in private school have specifically told me, complaining about kids with behavior problems, that "I'm not spending $22,000 a year to have my child go to school with kids with behavior problems." Behavior problems aren't the same as learning disabilities of course, but there is a similar intolerance for any child who is perceived as holding theirs back.

  161. "I'm not spending $22,000 a year to have my child go to school with kids with behavior problems."

    Yes, intolerance is the word for it, sadly very common in such insular environments. Autism causes some behavior problems in some kids, even kids with brilliant minds and high IQ's.

  162. Yes, yes! Support the parcel tax!

    To anon at 4:00, I take your point, and I am one who has striven here to be fair-minded and well, understanding, about the choices each individual family makes. I actually think we parents are expressing the enormous stress that families with children are bearing these days in a society that talks a nice talk about supporting our kids, but really doesn't, in material we lash out at each other with more vehemence than is necessary, whether it be breast/bottle, or public/private. Anyway, that's what I think. Same with the SAHM vs. working mom wars.

    However, anon at 4:00, to be fair it is important to note that the sniping and judging goes both ways, as Caroline put it a few hours back: We public school parents constantly hear the (defensive?) mantra that "I'm not sacrificing my child just to be PC!" (with the unspoken slap "...the way you are").

    I am reminded of Barack Obama's speech on race in Philadelphia. To get past the sniping, we need to understand how the other feels. I really do hear that mantra a lot, and my kids overhear it, and while I am not insecure about my choice here, I do not think it is good for the kids to hear the clear message they are getting some kind of substandard education because they are guinea pigs or not loved enough by their selfish parents or whatever. (They are getting great educations, in fact....but they do not have an ability to compare).

    Nor do I think that guilt is a great way to boost the schools, although the heart of the arguments for public, when well-stated, which they are not always, are much more than that too.

    Just a few reflections. It's hard to have serious and honest conversation about something this important and charged, and personal, without stepping on toes. But we can try to be little understanding, going BOTH ways, even in a mostly anonymous forum like this.

  163. "However, anon at 4:00, to be fair it is important to note that the sniping and judging goes both ways"

    Indeed it does, I meant anyone who criticizes another parents' choice of schools should think twice before doing so, ESPECIALLY parents who send their kids to private school and then put us down for sending our kids to public schools. The "sacrificing" comments are especially idiotic, I agree, and also hurtful to parents who could in no way afford the hellish tuition, or don't wish to live beyond their means, even though it seems to be the fashionable thing to do these days. Not all of us wish to go into huge debt, not all of us have trust funds or rich relatives. Not all of us have the choice to go private.
    I know several families who have paid a King's ransom to send their children to private schools and only find out at S.A.T. time that their children didn't apparently get the "dream" educations they thought they had paid for. Oops. If only they had learned MATH.

  164. RE:Nueva vs. NYC publics
    Nueva has the higher cut-off: they take the top 3% (97th percentile) vs. NYC gifted, which takes only the top 5% (95th percentile).

  165. To 4:27 - I have seen some (but by no means all) historical numbers and my understanding is that the number of children in San Francisco public schools began dropping significantly when the desegregation consent decree was implemented -- just like in other cities. Presumably some of the families who left SF public schools moved out of town and others chose private schools.

    There is a difference between having an opinion about the social implications of a choice and judging individuals who have made that choice. I have opinions about whether certain industries have a harmful effect upon our society, but that doesn't mean I judge a friend who takes a job in that industry because they feel they need the money they will make for their family. Similarly, I have very strong opinions about the deterimental effect that choosing private school has on public schools, but I do not judge friends who send their kids private and I won't rule out that option for my own family in the future. I think many people on this Blog interpret comments on the social implications of choosing private school as personal judgment. They are not the same.

  166. 6:07

    Thanks for the info. I just wanted to make clear that I wasn't attempting to judge anyone with my post at 4:27. I want to go public next year with my child if at all possible, but there is definitely a chance we might go with a private, too. Two of my nieces are in privates in NYC, and I understand why. Another niece will be entering public school in the midwest. I think I've got a good grasp of the concerns parents have with any schooling. Mostly, I was just speculating (and worrying) about the situation here regarding the public schools because I would prefer to keep my child in the public system for various reasons. As people have said, our current state government is doing nothing but hurting us. It was more of a biting my fingernails post, rather than an indictment of either public or private. I agree that we see a lot of personal judgments here. Kids and education are touchy subjects. With every kid and every school being different, along with the uncertainty of getting anything you truly want, well, it's a volatile milieu. I can see both sides--I'm seriously considering both--and it's not easy on either one.

  167. Do the private schools make their ERB test scores public?

    Everyone makes such a big deal about test scores when judging public schools, but it seems there is no similar, quantifiable way of comparing the privates.

    You can't really tell if the teachers are great by observing for a short amount of time, so you are vulnerable to falling in love with the campus or the vision, without ever really knowing how the kids fare in the end compared to kids in other schools.

  168. I think it is so sad what the SFUSD is doing to the parents of san Francisco. The lottery is unforgiveable and poorly planned. Current middle class parents want to be in the public schools, which was NOT the case just 6 or 7 years ago. But instead of welcoming them, the parents are told to either win the lottery or fix a school.

    Speaking as a parent whose child got into one of the trophy public schools (Rooftop, Clarendon, Lakeshore) several years ago, I can only tell you that "back then" middle class parents were only willing to go to a few of the public schools. If you didn't get into one of them, then you had to go private. But the system could be "gamed". and it frequently was by clever parents. A creative medical hardship could get one into Rooftop in those days.

    We would up leaving the "trophy" school for private due to chaos caused by ruthless politico parents and an overly politicized Bd of Ed.

    Private has been good to our son. He has thrived in the small classes and with core, art, music and PE teachers who know him very, very well. Although I think some of the best teachers are in public school, the ongoing personal attention that is provided in private schools cannot be matched in any public school.

    Just my observation and opinion.

  169. Question about financial aid: My three friends who applied to privates for financial aid got identical packages from the schools they were accepted to.

    I had assumed the packages might vary depending on the wealth of the particular school.

    ANyone have insights?

  170. If only SFUSD would come to their senses and let families attend their neighborhood public schools automatically will this reverse the trend.
    When people are NOT chosing their neighborhood schools now (only 19% of kindergarten families put this down and I'll be few of them were those on this list), why do you think forcing people to have less choice makes it better?

    Even on this blog parents voted 2 to 1 NOT to have neighborhood schools and keep choice.

    What time and time again we hear is not neighborhood schools, but predictability in the process and the guarantee that a child will have access to a quality school. (Problem here is that everyone defines quality differently - but you get the idea.)

    Just don't revert to simplistic solutions because there really are none - much as people would want to believe.

  171. "RE:Nueva vs. NYC publics
    Nueva has the higher cut-off: they take the top 3% (97th percentile) vs. NYC gifted, which takes only the top 5% (95th percentile)."

    This is misleading so lets compare apples to apples. If Nueva has the highest standards here Hunter has the highest standards in NY among public schools. It has a 98th percentile (stanford binet) cut off just to be able to apply. The school tests further this select group and eventually 15% of the top 2% make it in.
    At least these were the figures a few years ago.

  172. One problem with a sudden conversion to neighborhood schools is that some neighborhoods have several schools nearby (Clarendon and Rooftop are fairly close by) and others have none. Another concern is that some schools (I'm think those with immersion programs) have unique programs. Would it be fair for only those in the neighborhood to have access to them? Not to mention the schools would likely become even more segregated and those in lower income neighborhoods would likely only get worse. I'm more in favor of some way to equalize the additional funding PTAs raise for schools so that schools without an active PTA can somehow be provided funding and support to help establish some of the extras that are available at the Clarendons, Shermans, Miralomas, etc. Of course money alone isn't the answer. There would need to be some administrators to set of the programs and some way to strongly encourage more active parent involvement. Maybe some contestant on Oprah's Big Give can come up with a creative plan : )

  173. To the parents paying $22,000/year so your child need not attend class with kids with disabilities who might slow down your child: please consider the possibility that YOUR child might have a yet undiagnosed learning disability. I know several contemporaries of my son who were expelled from private school when they were found to have dyslexia. My son's best friend transferred to a private school in first grade (his parents thought he'd benefit from the more sheltered environment) and was then asked to leave after his FIRST semester when he was diagnosed with mild dyslexia.

  174. How much you want to bet Kate's going through Round II? Do you really think she'd give up on public so easily? Most people put down the private downpayment and then they continue to play the lottery. Everyone does it and why wouldn't Kate? She put so much time into touring the public schools. It just seems like she'd at least see what she can get in Round II. But with the way the process is going this year, she probably won't get a thing in Round II.

  175. Re,
    'The problems publics schools have can mostly be blamed on the real lack of parenting skills amongst many of the families.'

    March 27, 2008 4:00 PM

    Just wondering how this statement passed through with no seems rather sweeping, and perhaps aimed at certain races/socioeconomic classes. Can one really imply that 'the problems in public schools' are 'mostly' due to poor parenting? Are we to extrapolate from that comment that children in private schools have more involved, 'better' parents? Hmmm......

  176. 6:07, I appreciate this comment:

    Similarly, I have very strong opinions about the deterimental effect that choosing private school has on public schools, but I do not judge friends who send their kids private .... many people on this Blog interpret comments on the social implications of choosing private school as personal judgment. They are not the same.


    While we have seen judgmental comments on all sides of the debate on this blog, I think many here are trying to debate the issues without making specific judgments on individuals. I too believe there is a detrimental effect of private upon public, but do not judge on an individual level my many friends who have gone with private, for many different reasons. You know, this process is stressful and none of the options is perfect, so I try to go easy on people--though without denying the general point about the community benefits of choosing public school, which I think should be considered as a factor in the mix.

    Sheesh, none of this is simple, is it.

  177. Regarding "poor parenting skills" -- I just read the book "The Code of the Street" by African-American sociologist Elijah Anderson, on the pathologies of the inner-city black community. Poor parenting skills are the tiniest tip of the iceberg. The culture Anderson portrays is one of the factors posing such a huge challenge to public education. The oppositional, alienated, anti-mainstream culture runs deep and is far beyond the ability of teachers and schools to repair.

    In my kids' diverse SFUSD schools, I have seen occasional problem children whom I can see are a product of this culture. (Don't panic -- only occasional!) A school with a critical mass would be truly challenged.

    I blogged about the book, here:

  178. Re,
    'The problems publics schools have can mostly be blamed on the real lack of parenting skills amongst many of the families.'

    Anon at 10:24 asked how this comment passed without mention. I personally likened it to the "troll" post Kate deleted. It was so ridiculous and ignorant as to not be worth response, perhaps others felt likewise?

  179. I thought the parenting skills comment was fair enough. Do you have any kids in public school? If you did, you'd know what that person meant. So many kids do not get enough sleep, or eat proper meals, and they spend all their time away from school in front of the television watching violent shows, they have no books in the house, they show up at school in filthy clothes, it is so sad.
    I'm not saying that parents of kids in private schools are better parents, but many of the factors that kids raised in poverty by parents who have themselves a lack of education do play a role in their children's preparedness to be in school.
    Private school kids can also suffer from neglect, they have expensive things and go to expensive schools but spend hardly any time at all with their parents, they are raised by nannies.
    Anyway, it is a fair enough comment, not at all on par with the racist trash that was deleted earlier.

  180. I agree that different parenting skills affect a child's ability to succeed in school (or in life). Just yesterday my daughter was playing with the neighbors in front of our houses. The uncle of our neighbors kids started handing out large snickers bars to all of the children. None of these kids need to be eating the candy (the two oldest boys are already starting to become overweight - they are in 1st grade). I politely turned-down the candy for my daughter but these kids need to be eating heathlier or will be at risk of childhood diabetes.

  181. As someone who has two kids in what I feel is a elementary public school that I sometimes really love and sometimes really hate, I'd like to make a couple of comments about SF public schools. I have no problems with the way the current process worked if I truly believed it works in the way it is advertised. But I have heard too many first-hand stories of people jimmying the system to believe that there isn't corruption going on here. I think that is a natural outcome of a somewhat bizarre system that allocates a very small number of slots. Second, I am very skeptical of all the "buzz" that is going around about some of the schools, including some of the things said on this blog. Parents with kids currently in a school have every incentive to lie about what is going on at that school -- and they do. I'll never forget the experience I having one parent sell me on a particular public school and then, three weeks later, hear a mutual friend report how "relieved" that original parent was that she had gotten her kid out of that "awful" public school and into a private school for the next year! Given all this, I think it is perfectly understandable why some choose private school. And I think it is also perfectly understandable why some people not only choose private, but don't even go through this bizarre process!

  182. Anon at 10:09-

    This is getting way off topic, but I hardly think that letting kids eat a candy bar is tantamount to the kind of "poor parenting skills" that are up for debate as having the potential to affect a kid's ability to succeed in school.

  183. Off topic but so what? I do have kids in public school and I did find the poor parenting skills comment offensive. What bothered me was the "mostly can be blamed" bit...?
    Have you seen the level of funding our schools have? As Americans and Californians particularly we should be ashamed at the priority we give public education.
    To blame poor parenting is a let off for ourselves and our elected representatives.
    Making a scapegoat of specific members of our community is a dangerous road to go down.

  184. Funding is part of the problem, we need more adults and teacher's aides in the classrooms which need a lot more "crowd control" than private school classes seem to need.
    But I also agree that lack of proper parenting explains a lot. That is not making the parents "scapegoats", but come on -- if the kids don't get enough sleep and are not nurtured and encouraged, if they have not been taught to value education and learning, it puts more of a strain on the whole system, which is already under way too much strain.

  185. Honestly speaking, even the SF public schools, even the "trophy schools" are not that great. I've gone through the entire public process now, with my kid heading to college, and mostly wound up with the best public schools. It is a truly sad state of affairs that the job of running and improving the schools is given over to parents. Parents are not professionals and in my experience 90% of the time they are primarily interested in their own kids (with certain notable and truly impressive exceptions). So in my kids' trophy school there was usually an A class (most popular teacher, more perks) and a B class. The volunteering parents were in the A class, and those single working full-time parents got what was left. I think this is typical, and if I had it to do over again I would go for a less in demand school, with less manipulative parents. I truly fear the movement to have parents reclaim schools. It is going to turn all those schools into political places, run for the benefit of parents who can afford to give time and/or money. It is the school district that really needs to do its job.

    This said I don't regret choosing the public school route. Nothing is perfect, we're financially okay, and my kid has done fine. I just wish people would be honest that the schools are not heaven on earth.

  186. In our school it's the kids of parents considered troublemakers (loudly disagree with the Principal on one or more issues) who end up in the B class...along with the kids of single parents, etc who are unlikely to complain.

  187. I have to honestly say that I haven't had that experience of an A or B class at Clarendon. My son is in 5th grade now. For one thing, parents are not allowed to request teachers--the class lists are posted 1-2 weeks before school starts. Maybe some parents do request teachers, I don't know, but I have never noticed a difference between the 'quality' of the classes in a given grade. They seem pretty thoroughly mixed each year.

  188. People who make more than 100K a year get financial aid?! No way!!! How much money do you have to make to NOT qualify? Sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. We make half that and had no idea. I geuss this is a rare place (blog) where people actually discuss money honestly. Seriously though, for the person who said they offer "financial diversity" at over 100k, did you mean you stand out for how LITTLE you make? Wow!

  189. At a forum offered at my daughters' preschool we were told to apply for financial aid if you make under $250,000/yr.

  190. "At a forum offered at my daughters' preschool we were told to apply for financial aid if you make under $250,000/yr."

    Welcome to the San Francisco private school community. It is not a place for ordinary folk. 44k in tuition for say 2 kids is paid with aftertax money and represents ~70-80k of pretax income. Add to that the cost of a mortgage on a 2-4M house or 100k/yr in rent and soon you realize $250,000/yr isn't going to be close to covering expenses. It is a place where doctors kids are on financial aid.

  191. OMG I had no idea we could have applied for financial aid when we make just over $100K. I'm assuming it's harder to be admitted if you request aid (i.e. make under $250K) though.

  192. Wow, 9:24, you know people who live in some expensive digs. Yes, San Francisco is an expensive place to live, but even in my kids' private school the vast majority of people don't live in places where they spend 2-4M to buy or 100K/year to rent.

  193. 5:36 -- You mean your friends' houses are only worth $800,000 and they rarely spend more than $40,000/year to rent?

    I know for a fact there are families at San Francisco Day School and Marin Country Day School who make $250,000 and get aid.

  194. Okay. Actually I'll be one to chime in and say that any parent who makes her daughter commute an hour or more each way to a school--that's about 10 hours per week for the kid and 20 hours for the adult doing two round trips--can't possibly have the best interests of her kid at heart. It sounds CRUEL to me.

    It's like those fools who live in Fairfield or Martinez or wherever who spend an extra 15 hours in their cars each week commuting, in order to be a home owner, when in fact, their lives would be richer living in the city, staying renters, or settling for a smaller home, and spending that time and money in a more useful, less stressful way. Like leaving their house and going to a park, a cultural event, something! It's what the rest of the world does.

    You can accomplish a lot in 10 or 15 hours. As a parent, as human, as a student.

    Kate should move to Marin if she wants MCDS. But if she does move to Marin, the public schools there are phenomenal. And she wouldn't have any excuses for not sending her kid to a public.

    I'm just saying.

  195. RE: FInancial Aid

    YES, the privates do offer significant aid for people. It makes it affordable to send your kid to the school. Lots of people earning $150K or less qualify, especially if you do not own your home/have equity/etc.

    However, only a few kids get it. The rest pay full price. And the kids who do get it are usually diversity people. Which is why you have a very very white affluent class peppered with a few standouts.

    I'm sorry, but I took the tours. I saw the classes. Those were some major rooms full of well to do kids. I just did not see anything I'd call diversity. At all. Some classes didn't even have a single token. I was really surprised.

    I was a gay family and was led to believe I would be given the red carpet. But apparently there were too many gay families and they only wanted one. Which is what they got. One kid from one gay family of color--out of the whole city. Think of that. Two birds with one stone, I guess.

    So I'm sorry and all, but that's not diversity, that's tokenism.

  196. Financial aid continued....

    It depends on the school, but there are absolutely white, heterosexual families making up to $250K getting financial aid. They just might not tell you about it, and you'd never guess.

    The aid calculations are based on the amount being paid to tuition-charging schools, including preschools; total income; assets (renters have an advantage here); debt, etc.

    Applicants fill out a standard Parent Financial Statement and submit it to the Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS--don't ask me why). SSS then spits out a number and reports it to all of the schools to which the student has applied. The schools can then adjust that number to reflect cost of living and any unusual circumstances. Parents are also asked to state what they feel they can afford to pay. This is why some schools offer nearly identical awards. They are getting their numbers from the same place.

    You'd be surprised by some of the people who qualify.

  197. "Kate should move to Marin if she wants MCDS. But if she does move to Marin, the public schools there are phenomenal. And she wouldn't have any excuses for not sending her kid to a public."

    This isn't support. We all need to remember that the school decision is personal.