Sunday, March 16, 2008

New feature: K Files Council

Can't decide between schools? Don't have any schools and unsure how to proceed? Going over a million different scenarios in your head? Let SF K Files visitors offer input and advice.

Here's how it works:

Email your dilemma to thesfkfiles@gmail.com and include "K Files Council" in your subject line. Please remain anonymous but mention your neighborhood. Kate will post your situation, and then SF K Files visitors can offer constructive input and thoughts.

This new feature is meant to help people think outside the box—not to offer expert advice that will solve problems. Also, visitors who comment are expected to be supportive, encouraging, and understanding.

Anyone want to go first?

54 comments:

  1. Can someone please clarify whether SFUSD considers kindergarten required or optional?

    Per the CA Educational Code, section 48000:
    (a) A child shall be admitted to a kindergarten at the beginning of a school year, or at any later time in the same year if the child will have his or her fifth birthday on or before December 2 of that school year.
    A child who will have his or her fifth birthday on or before December 2 may be admitted to the prekindergarten summer program maintained by the school district for pupils who will be enrolling in kindergarten in September.
    (b) The governing board of any school district maintaining one or more kindergartens may, on a case-by-case basis, admit to a kindergarten a child having attained the age of five years at any time during the school year with the approval of the parent or guardian, subject to the following conditions:
    (1) The governing board determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child.
    (2) The parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance.

    and Section 48200:
    Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years not exempted under the provisions of this chapter or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) is subject to compulsory full-time education.

    Does anyone know how this works with SFUSD's policies?

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  2. I am torn between two schools. Childrens Day and Live Oak. I have read great things about both but have read that CDS is not as rigorous in the lower grades. Also, we have a child who would later be able to attend the pre-school at CDS.

    Although not having to go through this process again for pre-school is very tempting, I would really like for my child to go to a school that has a nice balance of academics and social responsibility. Live Oak seems very strong academically but seems to be a little less socio-economically diverse.

    HELP!

    Many thanks in advance.

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  3. Would you choose a private immersion school (we got in) for a general education (public school) school? We're middle class without huge retirement or savings accounts. We believe in education, but we also believe we need to take care of ourselves so that our children won't have to later in life. Thoughts?

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  4. p.s. to the question above...we got 0/7 in round 1 and we've already put a deposit down at the private. Who know what we'll get for public but it'd be saving us 20K a year, and NO language.

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  5. We are torn between Children's Day School and Rooftop. We have always felt very comfortable at CDS, love the community, the curriculum and the location (walking distance from our home) although it will require big financial sacrifices for our family. Rooftop is rooftop, although we have recently heard some negative stuff about certain teachers and safety procedures. The recent drastic budget cuts are also a huge concern to us. Thoughts, insights?

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  6. For the Live Oak v. Childrens' Day poster. I've heard good things about both schools, although I know more people whose kids have gone to Live Oak.

    What are the other things you like about the schools outside of the classroom? Does one have a more active parent community than the other? Does one have better extended care than the other? Are there more clubs or sports oppportunities later on at one or the other? How does each school handle the transition to middle school?

    Overall, where do you see yourself being the most comfortable over the next 9 years? Sometimes you just have a sense that you'd just gel better with a certain group of parents, making it easier to arrange playdates, carpools etc. Also, if volunteer hours are required (I know they are at Live Oak, I don't know about Childrens' Day) which group of parents would you rather hang out with while you do all those hours? Picking a school should primarily be about your child, but you definitely have to factor in things that affect you and the rest of your family.

    I probably wouldn't factor in the preschool, since your younger child would have sibling preference in either case. It just seems to muddy the waters.

    Good luck!

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  7. To the Live Oak/CDS parent. Congrats on having 2 choices! I do know of several families who pulled their children out of CDS due to varied concerns. Over the years I have heard very mixed things about the school. I know several families at LO who are very pleased with the school and community. Good luck!

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  8. Rooftop v. Childrens' Day (or any other private.)

    Strategically, I think any admissions officer will understand that you absolutely WON THE LOTTERY getting Rooftop. I don't think anyone would hold it against you for choosing Rooftop over their private school. If Rooftop doesn't work out for whatever reason (and no school is right for every child) you can always apply to privates again.

    I would also be cautious about making decisions based on rumors. If you have concerns about certain teachers or safety, you should probably ask the principal directly. The rumor mill in SF is notoriously unreliable. I think when you're making aa $180,000 decision, it's important to make sure you have as much accurate info as possible. What you find out may confirm your fears, or it may comfort you, but either way you'll have done your homework.

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  9. Ouch. Now I'm really concerned about Childrens Day. Can you elaborate on why the pulled their kids out? It's really difficult to make the decision. We initially did not like Live Oak but when we returned with our child liked it very much.

    For the person who posted not to worry about pre-school as we would have preference in both, I'm pretty certain Live Oak does not have a pre-school so it definitely plays a role as this process is so daunting and how lovely would it be to have both kids at the same school? That said, I consider K more important now as it is our immediate concern.

    Any info on either schools is greatly, greatly appreciated.

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  10. anon at 9:43
    Kids move for lots of reasons. I know of several kids who were moved out of LO last year. I'm surprised to hear LO described as strong academically, because that is not the impression I had, based on the experience some of those pulled kids had in their new schools.

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  11. anon,

    thank you for your comments. it is soo hard to make these decisions as you can ask all the questions of the school you would like, hear from parents who attend the school and really that's it. one tries not to read to much into blogs but what else do you have to go on? we initially did not like our daughters pre-school but when we heard from current parents and word of mouth, we were fine. then this year, we were very disappointed with the teacher AND the school.
    so what's one to do?

    i am glad to hear your input. it's actually the first time I hear anything other than praises for Live Oak. Is that a sign?

    Can everyone tell im crazed over hear (LOL)! It's funny, I can make
    last minute, make or break decisions at work on a dime and here I am flailing.

    I can not thank all of you enough for all your help.

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  12. I heard the same with CDC. The parents that I knew who pulled their kids out did not feel that it was academically challenging enough for their kids.

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  13. it's actually the first time I hear anything other than praises for []. Is that a sign?

    Take it as a sign that you shouldn't listen to anonymous chat board posters offering inaccurate information and opinions based on hearsay.

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  14. This is a gentle reminder about people who "leave" private schools:

    Private schools do "ask" students to leave sometimes. That's their prerogative. Be aware that when that happens, the parents are not that likely to be forthcoming about it (understandably) and may claim they chose to leave the school.

    My nephew was asked to leave an L.A. private school due to his dyslexia -- actually, he was fine through 5th grade, but then his parents were told he couldn't move on to attend the feeder middle school (it's that fancy Michael Milken school overlooking I-405 near the Getty Center). They did tell me all this, but other relatives are under the impression that they chose to leave on their own.

    This is just reminder to be aware of that possibility in absorbing parents' comments.

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  15. To the parent looking for information in your CDS vs LOS decision making process... I am a Live Oak parent with a great regard for the work that LOS is doing surrounding diversity, including the socio-economic realm. Happy to speak with you directly if you wish to hear all about it: crackles@gmail.com

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  16. Private schools do "ask" students to leave sometimes.

    It's not common and it's usually about encouraging a family to find deeper and more specialized help for learning disablities like dyslexia and ADHD.

    And by gosh, Caroline, I'm sure glad you're not my relative -- outing the family secrets on a blog.

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  17. We chose to pull our child out of CDS's preschool midyear because the child got accepted off the waiting list at our first-choice preschool, and we couldn't take the rigidity of CDS. The last straw for us was when we were called in for a special conference with two teachers and head of the school after our child ate a snack too early. (Parents send snacks, but kids are only permitted to eat them at designated times. Our child was very hungry and told to wait for snacktime, could see the snack bag clothespinned up high, retrieved it using a chair, and took it in the hallway to eat the snack.)

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  18. To me, Live Oak is truly committed to all forms of diversity - including socio-economic. I think it is actually a cornerstone of the school and what separates it from other privates. I think it epitomizes a school that has a "balance between academics and social responsibility." I'm surprised you didn't get that impression during the admissions process.

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  19. Was this the first time your child had a so called "problem" at the school?

    It seems odd to have a parent/teacher meeting to discuss a child eating a snack too early?! Boy!


    I suppose they were also concerned about him climbing and going off on his own. Not defending school, but perhaps that was of concern?

    Do not want to offend. Just curious.

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  20. Kate, why are you asking everyone to share their school-selection issues, while you are remaining SILENT on your private school results/issues? Are you using us and our candid chatter to deal with your own ambiguities? Are you secretly gathering info under the guise of "anon"? To spend months detailing your journey minute-by-minute, then being too frightened (or ashamed) to be open and frank at this point in time, leaves one to wonder how devious or sincere you might be. Jenn, proud public school mom

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  21. Kate's daughter Alice was accepted at MCDS and Live Oak. And if she tells us that, she fears looking like a hypocrite. Add that to the already-existing (and growing) opinion that the whole reason she created this blog was to get her daughter into Live Oak and MCDS, and can you blame her for being quiet about the issue?

    Next thing you'll see is Kate using this blog to finance her daughter's education at MCDS or Live Oak.

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  22. Anon, unless you run a private school yourself, I don't know how you would know how common it is for private schools to ask students to leave, any more than I do. I just know it happens.

    I think it would require significant detective work to identify the relative in question, who is 500 miles away and knows no one who might read this blog (except me).

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  23. Again, I don't ever remember reading that this is a public school only blog. NO ONE should feel shame for preferring a private school.

    Also, to anon at 11:30am, I'd bet we're all reading and collecting thoughts to deal with our own ambiguities and/or questions. I know I am, and I'm glad this community is here. I'd like to think we're here to support, rather than to compete or belittle. Please step back and gain some perspective.

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  24. Hm. Interesting question. Does having this blog help or hinder Kate? I'm sure LO and MCDS know her identity but after thinking about it a minute, I think having this blog hinders more than helps her. Those two schools don't need any kind of publicity and I imagine they might view this blog as overly revelatory. I imagine they appreciate families to be discrete.

    Of course, I'm sure those two schools based their decisions primarily on the application and not this blog!

    Please be courteous and give her the space. She is likely undecided and needs to finalize her decisions prior to making them known to everyone - including LO and MCDS.

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  25. "Also, to anon at 11:30am, I'd bet we're all reading and collecting thoughts to deal with our own ambiguities and/or questions..."


    I totally agree with your comments.
    Let's not lose our heads.

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  26. It seems a bit ludicrous to me that private school directors of admission would base ANY decisions of acceptance based on this blog?! They may peruse it to see what the fuss is about, but what useful *individual family* information can they gain anyway from a bunch of anonymous posters!

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  27. No one said that anonymous comments would help someone get their child into private school.

    But setting up this highly popular blog and writing the luscious, only-positive reviews of the private schools, can, would, and in my opinion did help Kate get her daughter into private school. There is no way that the admissions directors don't know about this blog and don't know who Kate is. In fact, a couple MCDS teachers were posting here! Admissions directors talk, and they certainly read the reviews of their schools on this blog. It's not like they live on a different planet, and they DO care.

    How do I know? I just do. And if Kate is honest with us, we'll soon know as well.

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  28. The only thing I can imagine about this blog that would have helped Alice's private school admissions is that it shows that Kate is a bright/interesting, thoughtful person who would be committed to her child's education but probably not a huge pain in the behind - just the kind of parent a private school wants to have.

    However, all of these schools have hundreds of applicants, many of whom love the school and would write just as glowing a review. There are a huge number of factors that come into play in these decisions. If Alice wasn't the kid they were looking for then this blog wouldn't have gotten her in.

    I also think it's very unfair to turn on Kate at this point for not saying what happened with Alice's school admissions. If she's mulling things over then I can see not wanting to put it out there. She doesn't owe us anything - this is her personal blog.

    And if Alice did in fact get into both LO and MCDS then all the more power to her!

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  29. Caroline,

    Plenty of public school kids have been asked to leave / reassigned from their respective schools. My wife has taught at both Bayview and Tenderloin for years and had to deal with other schools 'cast-offs'. We are pro - public school but your one sided view of privates vs. publics is off-putting. There are many, many problems with education in this country and not one solution.

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  30. What's Bayview?

    My post wasn't inherently saying it was a bad thing for private schools to kick kids out -- I mean, obviously it's traumatic, and in some cases I'm sure I'd think it was mean and unfair (in others, including a specific one that I know of, I sure couldn't blame them). But it's the fact of life in private schools.

    My point was that it happens, and when it happens, parents are at least somewhat likely to refrain from being completely open about why they left the school.

    I could go into why the two situations aren't comparable -- a private school kicking a kid out vs. a public school's disciplinary transfer -- but that's really moot in this case, because as I say I wasn't passing judgment on that particular practice.

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  31. this whole process is ridiculous.
    you should be able to go to your zoned public school. if you are not zoned, you should be able to apply via a lottery. why should people have to travel cross town to go to school if they are a block away?

    schools are local so you can be active in your school, be close to your child, forge friendships with your neighbors and help build a community. this is just chaos!

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  32. I agree. Especially about the community-building aspect of going to your local school.

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  33. of course this blog helped her. now i understand why she outed herself (at the time i thought it was an accident).

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  34. Of course the schools know Kate. Of course she got in. Can you imagine the bad kfiles press those schools would get if they rejected kate?

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  35. The private schools likely at best waitlisted Kate's daughter--it was a tough year for non-siblings, even if you started an addictive blog and bring that coveted Noe Valley diversity. If she does get a private school offer she'll take it gang. Oh wise K Files Council, where will we go after Kate returns to her blog and broadcasts her public school rejection letter, absent the personal note in ink that smudges?

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  36. She deserves credit for thinking of it first - and doing it well!

    I predict that she got into both but chooses MCDS, but I want to know how she managed to get funding there if she missed the deadline.

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  37. Why does kate not explain her decision to not tell? So strange since that was the whole premise of her blog.

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  38. My guess is that the blog took on a life of its own, far beyond anything Kate ever expected.

    I think we should respect her privacy. This is a tough time for all of us "anonymous" folks. It's got to be even tougher for Kate, with everyone second guessing her every move.

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  39. I don't understand why Kate does not address the private school issue either. At least let us know why she chose not to tell where she got in. She seemed so open accept for this one area. I don't really understand it.

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  40. On Thursday, March 13th Kate wrote about "Private schools to the rescue?" and she wrote, "Ok, ok, I read your comments...let's go ahead and share. Has anyone heard anything yet? I'm so nervous!"

    Funny because she said let's go ahead and share but she has shared nothing about her private school offers. Too bad she wants us to all share but she does not want to let out what private schools she was accepted to.

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  41. I personally am going to abandon this site until Kate is honest with us, and I recommend that others do the same. It feels like she set this whole thing up to get her daughter into private school, and now that her daughter was admitted, she feels no need to pretend anymore.

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  42. Why do some of you think this site helped Kate's daughter to get accepted at private schools? What did she say here that made her a desirable applicant? I think this site has been very beneficial for many people because it's given us a place to share thoughts about particular schools and the application process. But I don't see how it's made Kate and her family more likely to be accepted by private schools. If she was a strong applicant, she would have been so even without this forum she created. And I completely understand why she is choosing not to publicly debate her options at this point. Why do some of you feel such a need to know anyway? Sure we've been with her through her journey, but we've really been here because we're on the same journey ourselves. The benefit of this blog is in no way diminished because we may not be told what Kate and her family choose. And far from abandoning us, Kate has posted new topics to address individual concerns and keep the discussions alive. Thank you Kate!

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  43. It's sort of like a cliffhanger - we've been part of it for a few months now and we feel like we're not getting that last episode that reveals all.

    Since today's the last day for registering at Live Oak, we'll know soon enough.

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  44. Why do some of you think this site helped Kate's daughter to get accepted at private schools? What did she say here that made her a desirable applicant?

    because most families only get an application, a 90 minute playdate and a 1/2 parent interview to show a school how great they are and how much they love the school. the fact that kate started and maintained this blog and her glowing, detailed and thoughtful reviews of the schools shows that she is intelligent, funny, dedicated and loves her daughter very very much (remember her post describing alice? it was sheer poetry) i don't see how a school could read this blog and not come away feeling that they know kate that she's a terrific person and mother.

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  45. I'm sure Kate's published essay about Alice was part of her actual application and I don't think it's hard to convince private school admission directors that you love your kid a lot.

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  46. I think you give these schools way too much credit for caring that much who the parents are? Why would they want such a spotlight? They are many times over-enrolled by parents who all have wonderful, bright, much loved kids. Be involved, pay the fees and don't cause trouble - it really is not that hard to fill the handful of places they have each year.
    Who CARES where her kid goes to school? I was interested in this blog for the big and broad picture not to stalk one individual.

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  47. who cares? most of the people here who have followed Kate's journey from the beginning, agonized with her over the public versus private decision and have become emotionally invested in the outcome.

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  48. Check the "Kate Takes a Break" post. Alice is going to Live Oak.

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  49. To the previous poster, how do you know "Amy" is really "Kate"?

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  50. That's a spoof post.

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  51. who cares? most of the people here who have followed Kate's journey from the beginning, agonized with her over the public versus private decision and have become emotionally invested in the outcome.

    Emotionally invested !! You can NOT be for real. Now I know it is time for me to stop reading this and for you perhaps, to get out more.

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  52. Just as you would have the sensitivity to respect the privacy of a friend who did not volunteer whether her child got into a private school (or at least I hope you would), I think those of us who have enjoyed/obsessed over/benefited from the discussion on this blog should respect Kate's decision to keep quiet for now. There are lots of legitimate reasons she might -- for example, maybe she is waitlisted or has accepted a spot at a private but will give up the spot if she gets into certain public schools and she obviously can't say that on this blog if her identity is known. Personally I don't really care if she had selfish reasons in mind for starting this blog. It's still been a great source of entertainment, thought, and information for me. I'm curious about where she will end up but I will respect her privacy (maybe I'm just not sufficiently familiar with blog culture, but I think she still is entitled to that) and assume that at some point she will let us know.

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  53. Private schools don't want "pushy" parents, let alone someone who is going to potentially write blogs about their kid in their school. I think doing this blog would have the opposite effect you all seem to think it has had, it would deter private schools from accepting her child.

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  54. ^^Thanks!!

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    ReplyDelete