Thursday, March 13, 2008

Private schools to the rescue?

This week, many of us will be receiving letters from private schools. I'm thinking good thoughts for everyone.

Because the private schools aren't based on a lottery, we need to be more sensitive about acceptances and rejections. To me, it feels much more personal. Does anyone have any thoughts on how we might share information? I'm thinking that we should hold off on the private school talk for a few days. What do you think?

Ok, ok, I read your comments...let's go ahead and share. Has anyone heard anything yet? I'm so nervous!

250 comments:

  1. I would love for those people to post. It is anonymous here.

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  2. As someone who went through this 2 years ago, I can assure you that there will be plenty of private school talk starting as soon as the letters arrive in the mail. So people may as well talk about it on this blog since it's a big part of the equation for some people and a non-issue for others.

    By the way - for all of you going through this- we had a horrible school admission experience but it has worked out beautifully for our family in the end. So don't despair!

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  3. So Kate, will you be sending Alice to MCDS or just put down the deposit to hold her spot?

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  4. Regardless of the outcome, I would be curious if the letters arrive. Are they supposed to hit our mailboxes today or tomorrow? Just about all of us received our public school letters on Saturday, yes? I wonder if it will be the same with the privates - do they all mail from their own schools?

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  5. I was told by one of the admissions directors that they actually have a time that all of the schools are supposed to mail them out by on Wednesday byesterday) - it was something like 10 am! So I think most will come today - though who knows with the mail? I pray they all come today - I can't imagine only getting a couple and then having to wait for the others til tomorrow. I want to be put into or out of my misery all at once! LOL

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  6. Now is not the time to be coy. We took our chances and we should share the news. It IS personal that is why it is hard but we should trust that the bad news will be comfort for those who also got it and the good news will be met with the same happiness we felt for our friends who got their choices in the lottery.

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  7. R U kidding? I'll be right back here at noon when the first letters drop through the slot!

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  8. We usually don't receive our mail until late afternoon, so I'm going to try not to check back until then...

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  9. In many ways private school admissions *are* a lottery. Think about the "bad" birthdays (months just before Sept.), the boy/girl split (Friends had fewer girl spots this year), the push for diversity (not only ethnic but family structure and even socioeconomic), etc.

    Sure sometimes a family gets dinged because a child has learning or behavior issues, but from what I hear that's rarely the case.

    I know it's hard but I'm trying hard to remember that an admissions decision (yea or nea) should not be taken personally.

    And yes everybody post! Information is power.

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  10. Fill us in.. many of us may have wanted to apply to the privates but cannot fund it. We still are fascinated with the process and after all this waiting want to know. Don't think there are as many private families on here but hope they will be as open as the public..whatever the news.

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  11. From what I know, this isn't a particularly competitive year for independent schools. Meaning, there are fewer siblings coming through this school year. So, those who wish to go the private route probably have a better chance. That being said, make sure you follow-through if you are on a waitlist. Things really do change up until the 11th hour on Thursday when the deposits are due.

    Next year (entering class of 2009) will be a toughie as there are masses of siblings coming through so there will be very few K spots across the board. Good luck!

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  12. You got that wrong! This year is a massive sibling year. 50%+ for private and public.

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  13. Also, privates have the luxury of trying to create a balanced class -- gender, birthdays, geography, diversity, temperament (as much as they can tell from a short screening!) So in some ways it is a lottery. The year we applied for preschool, they needed 4 year old girls, and were turning away 4 year old boys in droves. We lucked out that year, but the tables were turned 2 years later when there were too many girls and not enough boys.

    So, even private school acceptances or rejections are not totally personal, although it can't help but feel that way. My oldest has a learning difference, and never would have made it through the screening. I couldn't take a private school rejection on top of everything else, so we opted not to put ourselves through that.

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  14. I'm not trying to re-start an old debate, and SFUSD certainly isn't what it should be, nor should people have to take on a school as a part time job, but what if those of you considering private stayed in public and helped all the other parents to make it what it's supposed to be - the more people involved would mean less time and effort for all? someone posted that Warren Buffet said the best way to fix the public schools is to do away with private schools (and there are spaces of course for private schools due to needs due to religion, etc.) but just something to think about with the letters you will receive I guess. Again, not intending to start anything, just want to provide something to think about and maybe it's something you are all considering anyway.

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  15. Before the public school vs. private debate inevitably starts again around comment 56 or so. Please consider the following.

    I had dinner with a couple of public school teachers last night and the feeling in the district is that SFUSD was blindsided by the amount of interest and applications by parents this year. They have been burned by admissions decline over the years and have been real conservative in planning for growth.

    As even a little blip in attendance can have major ramifications in budget and staff planning, especially at the K level, because of class size mandates - SFUSD is going to have a major problem on their hands that they are dealing with right now.

    I think that this blog has definitely helped on expanding the number of parents who are willing to consider public schools, which in the long run is a good thing - but SFUSD is a ponderous bureaucracy that doesn't adapt nimbly to change.

    For the short term at least they are counting on the private schools to help them out of this mess - until they can adapt to what is hopefully the new reality of greater acceptance by middle class parents of public schools and a reversal of flight to the suburbs.

    Just something to think about before the heated rhetoric about the "social ills" of private schools starts.

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  16. We did do the public school lottery - 0 for 7, like almost everyone who posted on this blog. The "school choice" system is really more like no choice.

    After reading almost all the postings over the last few days, I think the only way to fix SFUSD (and thereby stop the continual loss of middle-class families) is to get rid of its lottery system. Most parents want more control over what schools their kids attend. Anything short of that is whistling in the wind.

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  17. Next year will be more than 50% siblings. At some schools, there will be 80% siblings...just to keep your perspective.

    50% sounds about average

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  18. Next year ... there will be 80% siblings

    What is your source for next year's data?

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  19. Who are these people sending 2 or more kids to private school at $20K/child/year? It's hard for me to fathom.

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  20. Your circle is friends is not very diverse if you don't know any.

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  21. Who are these people paying $900k for a two-bedroom fixer?

    SF is a very expensive place to live. How can it not have a significant population of people who can afford private school?

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  22. Anonymous at 11:11am: That is a low blow.

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  23. In my experience, these families run the gamut of two parent working families making significant sacrifices (older cars, smaller homes), single-parent families whose grand parents contribute financially, combo stay at home or part-time working parent/working parent in investment banking, hedge funds, law, medicine, etc., and families where the parent may or may not work, but don't have to.

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  24. To 11:04

    The sources are parents at the various private schools, including the ones my children attend. It's just a sampling, but there are indeed be some schools that will have up to 80% of K spots filled by siblings. But this is not the case at every school of course!

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  25. The private school that my kids attend had VERY few girl spots this year due to siblings. In my experience, when private schools are in this situation they try to find ways to defer acceptance by a year for kids with summer birthdays. I've also heard more and more rumors about private schools rethinking their sibling policies for various reasons.

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  26. "Most parents want more control over what schools their kids attend."

    And most parents want their kids to attend good schools. How to allocate popular schools in a fair manner is the question.

    The larger solution is to make all of them better, which at a minimum means funding them better! but amazing things have been happening in this district in the last 10 years nevertheless, and many schools have improved. The new supe seems like a stand-up leader, too, at least so far.

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  27. to anon at 11:17,
    anon at 11:08's comment was a pretty low blow, too, btw. if he/she had referred to another subgroup of the population "these people," he/she would probably get some grief. please, please, can we just be happy for those who receive good news and supportive towards those who don't and just agree to disagree at this point?dead horse, anyone?

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  28. Agreed - intended or not the public school advocates tend to stifle private school conversation.

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  29. 11:08's comment seemed more like an observation (not a denigration) that it's hard to imagine a single family affording annual tuition to the tune of $40-$60K. but whatever. Someone surely has received their mail today. Out with it! We're all anonymous here!

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  30. 11:58, the call for civility if not outright support is well taken.

    Stepping back from personal emotions for a moment, both comments struck me as exemplars of how class-bound we can be, even in this progressive left coast city. I can absolutely believe that there are groups of parents who barely know any public school families (I'm thinking of certain preschools that are feeders for the higher-end privates) and who can not imagine sending Janie or Jonathan to public school. I can even more imagine that there is a large community of parents, maybe most of whom are not on this blog though, who truly cannot fathom how someone could afford private school tuition for 2 kids....I mean, even in this expensive city, the median income is about 60 thou, right?

    That second group is probably more "diverse" than the first group, actually, or at least larger, but it's hard to see that if many in your own circle are considering private. I would guess that most of us here have friends at public and friends at private, and know people who are all over the map in terms of income. But maybe not all of us. We think we know what we know, but there's lots any of us doesn't know. Hence the need for basic politeness.

    I will say that one of the great things about public school is that it crosses over some of these lines, and is a great education that way. At least, that is my mileage.

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  31. Shut up-What a strange comment.
    I appreciate and completely agree with your comments on social class etc. It is an important and interesting discussion in terms of its influence and how it plays out in education. Thank you for your post.

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  32. Shut up-What a strange comment.
    I appreciate and completely agree with your comments on social class etc. It is an important and interesting discussion in terms of its influence and how it plays out in education. Thank you for your post.

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  33. we are devastated -- no acceptances anywhere

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  34. Did you get any waitlists? Call them right now!!

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  35. Ditto to: "God! Shut Up"

    Let's brainstorm on how to support folks who need it.

    I just read on the PPS listserve that Rosa Parks has openings. That is a Japanese bilingual program.

    When I learn more I will post it!

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  36. Why is it hard to imagine families affording 2 kids in private school?
    We have modest neighbors in Bernal who send both of their kids to a $20K/year local private school.
    If you owned a house in Bernal before the dot com boom, you probably have a relatively small mortgage and can easily afford $40K/yr tuitions.
    I wish we were in the same boat...

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  37. I also appreciate the discussions about education and class. They are hard sometimes but worth reading. I have learned some things and they have made me think.

    The other reason I am addicted to this blog is the specifics about schools, so please keep that coming!

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  38. SFUSD could eliminate a ton of stress by allowing parents to select 10 to 15 schools instead of just 7. For you public school advocates out there, I'm sure this would help keep families in SF and in public schools. Through this process I have learned that people don't leave the city or the public schools because of the quality of the education, but leave because of the process. SF has lots of good schools. The SFUSD just makes it very difficult to get into any of them. I can count at least 15 schools that I would be happy with. Granted some of these schools are a little far from my home. I believe if the district increased the number of schools you could select there wouldn't be as many people who don't get any of their 7 schools. Seems simple to me. Maybe I'm just bitter that I didn't get any of 7 schools I selected.

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  39. Anonymous at 10:49am has a very good point. I fear this year's enrollment game is very different than previous years. If just doesn't hold that the system will work out for everyone in the end if there is too much demand. The excellent work of PPS and the activism and interest inspired by this blog has really changed attitudes but can SFUSD really handle such a spike in demand? And from what I hear, the competition on the private side is especially fierce this year.

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  40. Would those who are looking at private schools (we're not) care to post what a typical or average tuition might be?

    We feel really strongly about public school - but are fortunate enough to be in a financial position to consider private if for some reason there was no other option. So, we're planning on taking what we might have spent on tuition and making use of it to benefit the school our son attends - trying to balance self-interest with public good a little bit.

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  41. frank, good idea. they already expanded from 5 to 7 and made the process better with ranked choices (back when, the 5 were considered as equally ranked, which was awful as we were scared to put down our acceptable but lesser choices). pps, any chance of expanding beyond 7?

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  42. Jeff please see the following previous post on this blog:

    http://thesfkfiles.blogspot.com/2007/10/private-school-tuition-comparison.html

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  43. Ok, I'm going to be brave now and post private school news since people seem to be requesting it: our mail has not come yet, but we found out by email that our child has been accepted by CAIS (Chinese American International School). We went 0-7 in the public school lottery (using Adam's spreadsheet had ~ a 60% chance of getting one of our choices, so we thought we had been reasonable in our choices), and I am thrlled beyond belief that our child got into CAIS (and a bit shocked, too!). For those wondering, we have no connections there or anyone who wrote letters on our behalf, etc. We applied to two other private schools and will hear later today, I hope, but there is only one of the other schools I would consider over CAIS. CAIS is one-way Mandarin Immersion (meaning that the students, with a couple of exceptions, do not speak Mandarin before starting at CAIS). For all of you still waiting, I wish you the best of luck. And to anon at 12:39 and anyone else in the same position, I'm so sorry that you didn't get better news. Definitely call the admissions offices at any schools where you are waitlisted to reiterate your interest. I've heard through the grapevine that, on average, people applied to more schools per kid this year than they have in years past. The waitlists should move. Also, this is the time to have others write letters of support for you and your child. My understanding is that you can ask families you know at the school to do this if you know any (I know, sounds crappy, but this is what I was told at the beginning of this process). Is your child at preschool? If so, maybe your preschool director can help as well. Know that your child is wonderful, no matter what your letters say.

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  44. Jeff, I hope you are at my kid's school! Kate posted something last fall about the range of private tuition. The lowest is Synergy I think, in the mid-teen thousands (?) and they seem to go up to $25,000 or so with the average somewhere around $20-21K.

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  45. Congrats, 1:26. You sound relieved. Just curious, will you be staying in the waitpool process for the possibility of a public assignment? How many people will be using a private acceptance as back-up?

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  47. to anon at 1:02pm:

    SFUSD does allow you to pick 15 (well 14) schools, only they make you do it in TWO rounds.

    the joke is on us, buddy!

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  48. You are not crazy for turning down Hamlin. Sometimes a girl needs her cheese! Hang in there

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  49. If Live Oak calls us with a spot... we will take it.

    They won't call you. It doesn't work like that. You MUST call, mail, AND email them! Say everything you said in your post.

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  50. You are not crazy, Jennifer. Good luck with Live Oak, but if you end up at Fairmount, you can feel happy that your kid is getting a good bilingual education, and put some of those funds into retirement and 529 college funds (with a little left over for cheese...).

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  51. 1:34pm Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on your options. Please do let us know what happens to you. I for one would love to see you in the Public system but you must do what is best for your family.

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  52. To anon at 1:31: thank you, and I am totally relieved. We are not going to continue with the public school process. I just can't take it anymore. In terms of back-ups, we were kind of all over the place. Our top two choices were private, our next several choices public, and then our last private school. However, the last private school is very popular and hard to get into (I doubt we will), and so I wouldn't call it a back up. We just liked several public schools enough that we didn't think that spending that much money was worth it for the last private school. We didn't know that, though, until we were part-way through the admissions process, but we did know that before listing our 7 public schools, if that makes any sense.

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  53. Jennifer: Congratulations on your acceptance to Hamlin - and no, you're NOT crazy for turning it down. The education is wonderful there, but the school itself is not everyone's cup of tea. I'm not trying to bash Hamlin, you could say that about any school and IMO that's a big part of the equation in this choice.

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  54. To 1:34.

    I don't think it's crazy to turn down Hamlin. The flip side to the class discussion earlier is affluent families sending their kids to SF public. Not that many, true, but growing. We know 2-parent, 6-figure, 2-home professional families who send kids to SF public. We also know an undocumented, single, immigrant mom (sitter earning $18/hr) sending her kid to Catholic, another single mom sending kid to private on financial, etc. You get the picture - it's ironic.

    The friends sending their kids to SF public say that it's because a kid's academic achievement is much more strongly correlated to factors such as parental education level, parental involvement etc. rather than whether they pay $50k/ yr for 2 kids for Kindergarten. (I guess that's why Palo Alto and Orinda have higher test scores - because the kids are from Eng-speaking, educated, affluent homes - not because the public schools there are that much better than SFUSD, with its diverse, significant non-English speaking and special needs population.

    There are fine private schools in SF and Hamlin is a great school. But my 2 cents, the notion of "borrowing, begging and never eating out" to do that, when your child could thrive at Fairmount (or Live Oak) doesn't seem worth it. Good luck!

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  56. Did you get financial aid to go to Hamlin or not? If you got some aid, I would be curious how much they gave you? It is a very expensive school. If you have to starve almost to go there, it will not be good for your kids later. It will just put stress on you, your spouse, and your family. And then you have to deal with trying to keep up with the Jones' at a school like Hamilin....just my two cents worth.

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  57. The bit where she says:

    And, we got accepted to Hamlin's!!! Wooohooo!! But, wait. We didn't get any financial aid. Booohooo!!!

    is the clue to if she got financial aid or not !!!

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  58. We applied to Notre Dame des Victoires. They sent their letters out last month. We were turned down flat. The principal was kind enough to respond to my letter asking why. Our son is ready for kindergarten and very bright, but they have large classes, and he can't sit still and he's a very strong, bossy personality. It would not have been a good fit. We know our kid well enough not to have taken offense and appreciated her candor. Our preschool teacher said that even though we loved the curriculum, she thought it was a blessing because he would not be happy in such a strict environment. We also went 0/7 in Round 1. On to Round 2.

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  59. I can not be the only person really frustrated at a system that encourages, forces really, people to have back up plans. I wonder how many people are holding great public school placements but will give them up if they get the right private school offer. I have no issue with the parents who are doing this (except a teeny weeny bit) and really appreciate the honesty of the postings but it makes it so difficult to work our what is worth listing in the 2nd round and the waitpool when we don't really know how many people are going to drop out. I would have given a limb for a spot at Fairmount, now I would give a digit for a place on an Immersion program. I doubt however if I would give up cheese for anything !

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  60. You are not the only frustrated person. My big question is why we all put up with this BS. San Francisco is far from the perfect place to live. This is not a family friendly city and the school situation is a reflection of that. I may sound bitter being 0 for 7 but it is the truth, whether you want to accept it or not. I am surprised more of you have not considered moving out of this crazy place.

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  61. We were rejected for SFDS, I am disappointed as i really thought we had a good chance. Earlier in the year SFDS had CONVINCED us that they were looking to expand the socio-economic diversity of the school, so we applied for tuition assistance and went through all that paperwork.(I believed them until i found out in Feb. that they raised tuition 7% raising it to just under $24,000.) We are a middle income family and once again I feel we are getting screwed! thats 2 privates school rejections for us and 0-7 in public! this is very upsetting for us and i just really hope and at this stage Pray that the 2nd round comes up trumps, i have no other backups!

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  62. I have been a long time paritipant in these blogs. In fact thanks to Kate and all of you I really have given public school a very hard look. In fact up until Saturday it was my preference. Of course we got non of our choices. Today we got Burkes!! The money aspect of the decision is hard, but everyhting else is easy.

    I can honestly say I hate the way SF chooses to treat the people that actually pay for public schools in SF. It is a horriblle experience to go through what we and our neighbors and all of you have to endure to send our kids to a so called, "hidden gem."

    I went to public school in SF and it made me a strong person; a succesfull person. But I can say with great opennes it did not make me a smart or educated person. Whatever smarts I got are street smarts..

    I want someothing different for my kid. I want my daughter to have both. And I'm really not bought into that happening at a "hidden gem."

    With that said Burkes is an exceptional school that costs way too much money..

    who knows what we will choose; but at this time its leaning Burkes or Marin.....

    We will be waitpooling for our top public choice.. But I have to say at this point (screw it)!!

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  63. 3:16, so sorry for all the bad news this month! i am sure the news will improve. one thing, since you were ready to commute to (or maybe live close to) sfds, would you consider the rosa parks japanese program for a waitpool or round 2 choice? it is relatively close by to sfds/masonic over there in the western addition/japantown area, and several posters have touted it. i am not there, have no partisanship about it, just thinking logistically....

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  64. Ok, here we are:

    We went 0 for 7 on the public school lottery, but really truly there was one private school we thought we wanted more than a public school anyway. It is a religious school not really discussed here ever.

    But my husband and I also really loved our education growing up so we wanted to make sure we looked at all of our options. We ended up falling in love with SIX private schools, and applying to each. In the back of our mind, we really did, however, want to send our child to the religious school the most.

    We thought we presented a really good case on all of our applications, though. We thought we did very well on the interviews. We thought our daughter did very well on the screens. We expected to get into a couple of the schools.

    We got into the original school, the religious one, and waitlisted everywhere else. My husband says, "Sometimes things just happen as they should."

    A part of me wants to go on the waitlists for a couple of the other schools, especially Hamlin and Friends, but I can't deal with uncertainly any more. I want to just accept and be done with it. It was my daughter's first choice all along, and maybe I should just let it be.

    I wish I had a nice public school spot to give up for those who want it. I don't.

    I must say, too, that I really don't take personally our wait list status at the schools. One of the letters even had a nice personal note saying, "I wish we had more room!" We don't offer any diversity whatsoever in any way you slice it, and I really believe that the schools are trying to diversify, as they should and must do. I'm really not bitter. At the end of the day, I'm relieved.

    I genuinely hope that others who were waitlisted don't take it personally. I was told that most private schools had VERY FEW openings this year, especially Friends for girl spots, and other privates are always really small, like Live Oak. They try to diversify and they look for a number of factors.

    ALL of our children are wonderful and worthy and beautiful and smart, whether they were accepted into a private school or not.

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  65. Just found out we were wait listed at Synergy (the only private school we applied to). Part of me is sad and part of me feels relieved (don't know if we can really afford it so this makes that decision a little easier). We will definitely hang in there for both public and private waitpools/lists/2nd rounds, etc. Congrats to everyone who is hearing good news from the privates. I haven't given up on any of this yet... but it's been quite a process already. Feeling a little bit defeated (the dinner I had out tonight with girlfriends will be a nice pick me up and a good reminder of what I would be giving up had we gotten into Synergy... trying to look at the bright side).
    Good luck to all of you!!!!!

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  67. To the 3:16 poster, I'm sorry you were disappointed at SFDS. They're know for doing a poor job handling the admissions process and it looks like you may be yet another family that came out of it feeling misled.

    Best of luck in Round 2!

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  68. I hesitated to post all day as I didn't want to seem like I was pouring salt into wounds. But I know that some people do like hearing the "happy" along w/ the "sad" so I thought I would share. We were accepted at more than one of our private schools which was an unexpected but extremely pleasant surprise. We are 99% sure we will go with our first choice school but want to give the others the serious consideration they deserve - we do not take our acceptances for granted and are so appreciative of the opportunities presented to us. We know how lucky we are. In the interest of full disclosure, we represent significant diversity. Our thoughts are with those who did not receive the news they had hoped for today.

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  69. We got wait-listed st SF-Friends (which we expected since they only had 7 openings for girls, 15 for boys) and at LiveOak.
    We were also wait-listed at NDV (where they had all the girls spots taken by siblings, as I understand it. Since we got our first choice at Alvarado Spanish and the chances for private are so low, we'll stick to Alvarado and are really happy about it.
    Fabien

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  70. This is more for people who will go through the process next year than those who are in the thick of it now.

    We were offered and will accept a spot at Hamlin, and we could not be happier about it. We were also offered enough financial assistance to make it possible for us to do this without begging, borrowing or significantly changing our modest but comfortable San Francisco middle class lifestyle.

    Hamlin mentions in its literature, on its website and during its tours that "Our goal is to make a Hamlin education accessible to qualified students whose families understand and embrace the mission of the School." In our opinion, they walk the talk.

    We weren't sure that we would qualify for assistance at all and probably would have found a way to make it work if we hadn't gotten any. We received less than the average grant but exactly what we asked for. (When you fill out the forms you are asked to indicate what you think your family can afford to pay.)

    Our family is not "diverse" in any of the traditional ways, FYI.

    As with some of the public schools we toured, we found that our preconceptions about some of the private schools were misguided. When we began this process we did not think that Hamlin could be the place for us (before we toured). What we found was an exceptional academic program and a warm and welcoming community. (I'm sure they keep all the scary people locked up during the admission season. ;-) We were surprised, and we were smitten.

    We also felt encouraged by Hamlin -- not directly, but through the process, the information made available, etc.-- to apply for assistance, and they made it easy to do. Filling out all the paperwork is a pain in the butt, though. We never felt that we were jeopardizing our chance at a spot by seeking assistance.

    We were also accepted at one other school and waitlisted at another. We would have happily sent our daughter to the other school that offered her a spot (not a girls school). If we had only gotten our third choice private school and nothing else, we might have gone public. This would have been a hard week.

    We feel really lucky.

    Please know that more than a few of the private schools we toured did not seem worth the money compared to what we could have gotten in our favorite public schools, at least in the lower grades, and we did give public school a good, hard look.

    Good luck to everyone, and thank you so much, Kate, for giving us a place to lurk, share and learn what others think about all the kindergarten "options" we have in San Francisco.

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  71. Synergy was the only private we applied to and we got...the wait list. We'll register at Harvey Milk (our assigned school), put in SFUSD wait list choice and stay on the wait list at Synergy. We won't go through round 2 of the 7 choices because we are reasonably happy with HM.

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  72. KATE, HAVE YOU HEARD?? WE'RE REALLY ROOTING FOR YOU!

    Also, has anyone here been accepted at Live Oak? I haven't heard of anyone accepted at Live Oak, SFDS or Friends. But I haven't spoken with a lot of people.

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  73. I know someone accepted at SFDS and two wait listed at SFFS.

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  74. anon 7:17 - We were accepted at SFDS and Live Oak. Feeling very blessed tonight.

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  75. We got two rejections today, both saying our kid was on the young end try again next year.Recommended redshirting him. (His birthday is in July.) We are bummed. Wished we had know his age was going to be such a hurdle. Can't really imagine sending him to another year of preschool and then not being bored stiff in K. Therefore will enroll in public school we were assigned, our #6. Anyone in a similar situation.

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  76. I've been telling everyone from the start how this "sfkfiles blog saga" would end; Kate will wind up enrolling her daughter into the most expensive private school in San Francisco.

    The End.

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  77. and where...pray tell, does your child go to school?

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  78. We have twins. We were another 0 for 7 on our public school attempt. Today we got a yes from MCDS, a yes from Live Oak, and a wait list from SF Friends. We feel incredibly lucky. One of our closest friends got 0 for 3 on the private school application, and they are an amazing family!

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  79. can someone enlighten me why some kids are getting into multiple schools and some other amazing kids aren't getting in anywhere? i know a few kids (not mine) who everyone expected to get in everywhere be left out in the cold and would really like to understand what is going through the admissions directors heads??

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  80. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  81. Wow, twins into MCDS! Congrats. That's two SF spots gone. What preschool do they go to?

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  82. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  83. anon @ 7:30 - It's very uncommon for private schools to take boys with July b-days for K in the year that they turn 5. That's one of the frustrating parts of the whole process.

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  84. wow, anon at 7:59. Where do I send my child so that he can learn to be that smug and judgemental? Kate has provided us with an amazing forum, and that's how you respond. I think I'll add ungrateful to my list above.

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  85. Helena - I didn't understand your post. Where will your daughter go to school?

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  86. So what are you supposed to do?
    Another year of PreK? With the real possibility of not getting in the next year and then what?
    Kinder in public school when he is 6? when he is already reading at 4? The only thing I can advice people is apparently plan your pregnancies so your kids are born in January.

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  87. Did Kate find out? She truly has provided us with an amazing forum.

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  88. Some of the preschools have "transitional K" years for kids who are chronologically old enough to go to K but not "ready" for K. From those programs they go either to private school K or to 1st grade in public school.

    I agree that if you have a kid with a summer b-day who is ready to go to K and you want him/her to go to private school it's a bad system that's evolved. I wish the private schools would have an upper limit age cutoff as well as a lower limit - basically, your kid has to turn 5 by August 15, but can't turn 6 before July 1 to be eligible for private school's incoming K class, or something along those lines.

    However, keep in mind that if you hold your son withe the July birthday in pre-K, he will be at a much greater advantage next year relative to his position in comparison to other kids this year.

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  89. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  90. CAN WE ALL PLEASE COMMIT THAT IF KATE TELLS US SHE IS SENDING ALICE TO LIVE OAK OR MCDS, THAT WE ARE HAPPY FOR HER? PLEASE!!??

    Kate, you have done a huge service here and I for one want to celebrate you!

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  91. Actually, the age cut-offs are even younger than what's been listed. Generally for boys it's July 15 and for girls it's August 1. Co-ed schools are anywhere between August 1 and September 1, but there's a lot of leeway.

    I wouldn't call it red-shirting, but if you want your child to be competitive in certain schools, that extra year can do a lot. You must remember that there will be kids up to a whole 15 months older, so that would be an issue.

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  92. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  93. To annonymous 12:22,
    shut up yerself!! you poopy pants!!!
    LOL

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  94. I would guess that the kids who are getting accepted at multiple private schools fit into 1 of 2 categories:
    1) provide "diversity"
    2) have one parent who doesn't work or works part-time/flexible hours (can volunteer) and another who earns a high 6-figure salary (can pay full tuition plus donate to the capital campaign). Please enlighten me if your child has been accepted to multiple schools and doesn't fit into either of these categories.

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  95. does anyone have a feeling about the possibility of actually getting out of the wait pool?

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  96. As previously posted, my child/our family, accepted at two schools and waitlisted at another, does not fit into the above categories. We do not provide obvious diversity. We are not wealthy. We did feel that the two schools that offered us spots were very good fits for us, for very different reasons.

    I don't know what the answer is, but have to believe that, as other posters have commented, it has a lot to do with the make up of the class in terms of gender, age, personality, etc.

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  97. We were waitlisted at Presidio Hill and Synergy.What is the possibility of getting into one of these schools when you're on the waitlist? Does anybody have any experience with this?

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  98. Kate, When will you tell? You shared your public right away and I assume you have heard from your privates. What does it mean that you feel comfortable sharing your public outcome but not your private? I think it feeds that reputation that there is something more special there.

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  99. To the poster at 3:30 who thought it was nice that one of the private schools included a hand written note saying "I wish we had more space": Sorry to burst your bubble but we got that one too. I'm afraid that's a color copy.

    Maybe there is a lesson here. Not sure what it is though. Maybe something about sincerity vs. technology.

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  100. Six years ago, my son (July birthday), now in 5th grade, was not accepted at the private schools (I think we applied to just 2, SFDS and Synergy, but to tell you the truth, time erases all of this--you go down another path and you forget all the agonizing details)--he was ready for kindergarten, not reading or anything, but totally ready. He has had a great tenure at Clarendon (again, admitted after the 10-day count), and it is extremely clear in retrospect that it would have been completely crazy to hold him back for another year of pre-school or pre-K. In addition, my skinny little boy at 5 has turned into a very big boy of 10--one of the biggest/tallest kids in his class--it is hard to imagine him in 4th grade this year. Obviously every family has to make their own determination of their child's readiness for kindergarten. But I wouldn't do that based solely on some private school rejections.

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  101. We just smeared it and it's not a color copy, it smears.

    Clearly you didn't get in anywhere and I'm really sorry. You shouldn't take it personally; nor should you try to make others feel bad.

    This is not a reflection on us or on our children! Really, it will be ok.

    P.S. Even if yours is a copy and not an original, you still shouldn't be sad.

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  102. RE: the poster who asked about getting into Synergy or Presidio Hill off the wait list. I know last year our preschool director had a good sense of where students were on the wait list - generally those folks do talk to admissions staff at the grade schools, so you might want to try asking your preschool director to call for you if you really want something. For Synergy, however, I believe they had 0-1 slots for their K this year (maybe more slots for the young Ks, as they have a 2 year K option) - so probably, unless your kid is a young K (bday after Sept 1) it's pretty unlikely.

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  103. I'll retell a story in case it helps anyone (even though as you know I would love it if you would all go to public school, and really so would you...)

    A family in my kids' preschool; smart but obstreperous and oppositional child. No financial aid needed. They thought they'd have an easy time getting into privates, but their top choice (Brandeis) turned them down, so they had to hope for their several fallbacks. All rejections except a waitlist from Live Oak. This was actually my idea: parents from our preschool wrote letters of support about how the mom was a terrific fundraising coordinator at the preschool. They got in quite fast (maybe this would have happened without the letter too).

    The kid I carpool applied to Lowell and St. Ignatius; got into Lowell and rejected at SI. I know of others in past years who've gotten into SI and didn't make Lowell, so who can figure this out?

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  104. Maybe where you go to preschool has something to do with it, since the preschools have to write recommendations. I'm sure some directors and teachers are better at it than others.

    Bottom line is that waitlist just means we liked your kid A LOT but only have so many spots. Don't give up hope. I'm not!

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  105. We got into Brandeis and Hamlin, our top choice was Burke's which waitlisted us. We also got waitlisted at SFDay (no surprise there.)

    We'll see how it shakes out, I'm still a believer that it will all work out in the end (but I guess that's easy for me to say because we have two acceptances to choose from.)

    Any thoughts from anyone considering Hamlin?

    Thanks so much!

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  106. Disclosing: Got 0 for 7, and just got waitlisted at Synergy. Family makes about 50 K a year. Crazy that we would pay for private, but we would.

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  107. 5:39,
    Congratulations! Not only am I happy for you (really), but also for the rest of us who will end up with one of the spots you have to give up.

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  108. 8:47,
    I commit! I commit! Really, Kate, I'm happy for you and Alice wherever you are happy.

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  109. 11:44,
    Why was Burke's your pick over Hamlin? Are they that different apart from location? Didn't tour because I have a son.

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  110. 11:53 -
    5:39 here. Thanks for the good wishes. We are really sensitive to the whole wait list issue so we will be contacting the admissions directors of the schools we won't be attending tomorrow to let them know. The faster everyone can commit to a school the faster they can start cycling through the wait lists. Best of luck.

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  111. To ANON at 8:20 pm

    I think you misunderstood my post, about guessing how all this will end and how Kate will get her daughter into the most expensive private school.
    I was not being judgmental; I support and applaud all her heroic efforts to find the right school for her daughter and also appreciate this great blog.
    My point in surmising how all this will all end was to point out how ironic it would be, if in fact, the end result is that her child winds up in private school. You all must see the irony of that. Parents should send their children anywhere they can that they think is best for their kid. So don't be angry with me, I think we agree!

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  112. Burkes and Hamlin are similar and very different at the same time. Culturally things are changing at both schools with new Heads coming in this summer so who knows what they will become. Up till now Hamlin was 'dominated' by the former Head while the outgoing Burkes Head had a more laid back style.
    Physically they have a very different feel. Hamlin is vertical like an urban school while Burkes is spread out like a suburban school. I dont think one is better in the absolute sense. It is a personal preference.

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  113. Anon at 9:03 on 3/13: We applied to three schools, got into two and were waitlisted at a third, and we do not fit into your categories. Best to everyone going through this process.

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  114. I will go through this process next year. I have not seen any postings surrounding jewish day schools. Any jewish day schools on anyone's radar?

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  115. Brandeis Hillel Day School on Brotherhood Way is an excellent school.

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  116. Brandeis is a very good school. I know several very happy families there. That said, there are often many children from the JCC Brotherhood Way campus that go there each year in addition to BH sibs.

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  117. We got accepted to Burke's and waitlisted at SF DAY... I would love to hear peoples perspectives on these schools..

    We toured other privates as well but chose not to apply... I agree there seems to be a big difference between Burkes and Hamlin.. We will see how new directors at these schools influence the programs..

    My family is not sold on the all girl's thing ... but we felt like SF day was the only mix-sex school that really competed with the private same-sex schools....

    Wow it's tough to transition to K in SF... How hard can collegge be after this.... (smile)

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  118. We know families who have been happy and unhappy at almost every major private school in SF. Just like public school, no school is perfect.

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  119. is anybody else annoyed that kate has abandonned this thread? i realize this is her blog and she can do with it as she pleases, but i have begun to regard this as a support group and for kate to bail when people need support the most feels insensitive particularly since we have been supporting her journey every step of the way.

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  120. Kate isn't here to support the rest of us. If she's working the wait list at a private school I can totally understand her not wanting to get into it on the blog until it's resolved.

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  121. can anybody offer any real experience examples with private schools? I am kind of tired of the bare bones comment that everybody has good or bad experiences. This is an anonymous blog for most people... so you can share a little detail... otherwise I'm not sure the post has much relevence.

    People post such lenghty and detailed commentary on the public schools... But when it comes to chat about privates its these weird one liners ......

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  122. and, aren't we ALL here ostensibly to support each other??

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  123. i too thought we were all here to support one another and not just to be kate's groupies

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  124. She's already said today in another post that she "doesn't have anything firm yet", which would mean that she either got reject letters from all the private schools or put on waiting lists.

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  125. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/02/free-to-choose.html

    an interesting jumping off point for those who would like to read more about the school reform issues beyond our insular lefty debates.

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  126. sorry, forgot about the formatting. You can recreate the link.

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/
    the_daily_dish/2008/02/
    free-to-choose.html

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  127. http://www.city-journal.org/
    2008/18_1_instructional_reform.html

    Also interesting reading. Not saying I agree with everything - but it's instructive to look past our self-imposed boxes.

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  128. 5:07 - I can't find where she posted that she doesn't have anything firm yet. Haven't seen anything that even refers indirectly to private school acceptances. Perhaps I missed it?

    I must say, I have to agree with 3:17 - although perhaps annoyed is too strong a word. I think disconcerted is better. To me, this silence is indicative of some form of "private school shame" that exists. That if you are accepted to a school or multiple schools you have to be embarrassed by your good fortune and if you weren't you need to be ashamed by your "failure." This is a line of thought that just has to be BANISHED for GOOD. We know of INCREDIBLY deserving families who received all wait-list letters while equally deserving families received more than one acceptance. Both should be able to share their frustration/joy equally without judgement. As someone who was accepted to more than one school, it has been an awkward time, fielding the "So what happened yesterday?" question. I almost feel like a jerk for having options when there are others who have none.

    This silence around private school acceptances makes it seem like somehow applicants had more of an affect on the outcome - when in actuality, I think it is really 99%
    number of siblings, boys/girls, birthdates, personality types, class structure, etc. Things that one has no control over - yes, there is a much more personal aspect to it - interviews, playdates, etc. and that is what makes it hard. And yet these are used to determine personality types, readiness etc. - again things that are objective not subjective.

    To not talk about the private school process is to give it more "power" than the public school process - and is IMO an unintended devaluation of the public school option. In the end we are all trying to say that both choices are just that - CHOICES. Valid and wonderful in their own rights. The "perfect" private might be a disaster for one kid while the "perfect" public might prove similar for another. It is as individual an assignment as the admissions decisions themselves.

    So in the end I wish we could all just share our concerns, hopes, fears, joys, triumphs, etc. regarding our kids' educations - public or private. Because in the end, all we want is the best for them. And only each one of us as individual parents/guardians can decide what that is for our child.

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  129. Went 0-7 in public process. Went 5-5 in private process. I am the product of public schools from grade school through graduate school. Our child will boldly go where no one in my family has gone before...private

    Some learnings to share:

    1. Certain preschools have a better track record/reputation with the private schools, and no, they are not all snooty, etc. Find out how your preschool can help.

    2. Find out how many siblings are expected for the next K class (2009-2010) to get your expectations in check. (get boy/girl breakdown) Example: Friends had very few girls slots this year (4) due to sibling preference admits.

    I have heard that next year could be an intense sibling year (meaning that while "only" 50% of the K slots were filled by siblings/alum kids this year, some schools are expecting close to 80% of slots to be filled by siblings/alum kids (same challenge as in some public schools, no surprise)

    3. Attend and participate in the "Open Houses, coffees, educational nights, etc." that your top choice privates (and back ups) offer. This means going to optional events. Its a "time drain" but with so few spaces, the schools are more likely to make an offer to an obviously interested and engaged family that asks interesting (respectful) questions than a less visible one (all other factors being equal).

    4. It's never too early to start learning about the schools and their "language" about "fit", "choosing the best school for the child" (meaning not the family if there's a boy and a girl and the school is single sex), etc.

    5. Don't be uptight. Try to be relaxed and "normal" in the parent interviews (I know, it's a stressful, important meeting. Nevertheless, with so many great kids, these schools can afford to factor in "are you a pain in the a..." if you know what I mean.

    I'm sure there's more. ..

    Thanks, Kate for providing this wonderful forum.

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  130. Under "Kate Takes a Break"

    1:53 pm, today

    "my dad is starting to get ancy that we went 0/7 and don't have anything firm yet..."

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  131. Question: We got into Children's Day School. Any feedback to offer? We have loved what we have seen so far but do have an oustanding public school option as well. Thoughts? (We realize how lucky we are and that lots and lots of people are now waiting. We feel its really important to make a decision as soon as possible so that one of those spots is up for grabs).

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  132. To the person who got 5 out of 5, WOW, congratulations! Just have to ask, do you add diversity or come with a fat bank account? (Not to say either is necessary at all, just curious!)

    We went 3-3 and I agree with everything 5-5 wrote above.

    It's important to know what the school is looking for and to call out those qualities in your child and family that are a good fit when you write your application. And be yourself. If you are a pain in the a**, then you should try to be someone else.

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  133. To those considering private school, I totally agree with everything the 5/5 poster wrote.

    My kids attend Friends and one of my children used to attend SFDS. If anyone has questions about either school I'd be glad to answer them.

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  134. I agree with 5/5 but quite frankly it's not enough. This year there were few non-diverse folks who satisfied those requirements and didn't get in anywhere. Really wonderful kids/families received rejections, not even wait list invites.

    I'm not typing this because I am bitter. We were accepted by our first choice private school. But a number of great schools at all the top preschools - Little School, JCC, Marin Day, etc., did not receive the acceptances they were hoping for.

    So for those who were lucky, great. But honestly, it involves a lot of luck, myself included.

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  135. Question for poster w/ kids at Friends and child who used to be at SFDS - hope this isn't too personal - did your child graduate from SFDS or did you switch from SFDS to Friends and, if so, why? If this is something you'd rather not answer, I completely understand! It just sounded from your post like perhaps you left SFDS and I was wondering why. Did you have an experience w/ SFDS in terms of learning differences?

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  136. I agree with poster above. I don't know that much about how people have done - I have made a point not to ask around - but the few datapoints I have suggest that multiple accepts were not typical this year. I doubt they're typical any year.

    I think people may be afraid to post because SF is a small city and they don't want to be outed. But I think it would help to have some idea what privates people are talking about.

    I'll try to be more specific. Our child was accepted to two north of the city schools a lot of poeple have heard of and WLed at two others. We offer a modicum of diversity (sorry can't say exactly what kind).

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  137. - To the parent that posted they left SFDS and can answer any questions -

    Why did you leave? Can you post your perspective on the top 3 good and bad points you found being a school insider?

    Many thanks .....

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  138. I'm curious how many people that are leaning private have a good public school option and are not wealthy?

    Sure is a hard call.... 25K or Alamo.... what would you do?

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  139. No brainer - Alamo.

    $25K can buy a heck of a lot of (fill in the blank here, college savings, family vacation, music/dance/art lessons - oh, yes, mortgage?)

    I have friends who left SFDS for public because their friends were happier in public and they felt that for $25K they should be getting a heck of a lot more (and followed the advice above.)

    The year their kid was accepted, 250+ kids applied for 9 non-sibling spots so they won the lottery on that one.

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  140. We took our older child out of SFDS due to a difference we had with the school. I won't go into the specifics of the situation, but it was an experience that made it clear that it wasn't the right place for our family.

    As for the strengths of SFDS, obviously the academics and the arts education are wonderful. You really can be very sure that your kids will have fantastic educational opportunities. And I really loved some of the elements of the curriculum - for example, the second grade has a year-long unit on the history of San Francisco that encompasses all types of learning opportunities, and is really a great experience for the kids.

    One thing I don't like about SFDS is that they have a very low comfort level with kids who don't fit "in the box" in some way or another. I'm not just speaking about learning differences; in general, there's not a lot of patience or interest in quirky kids there. Also, it's a very "show-offy" school. They'll trot out a kid who is an enormously talented singer or pianist at every occasion, and every event seems made to wow parents/grandparents/friends/community/etc.

    As for Friends, I think they're done an extraordinary job with that school. I'm really pleased with the full scope of what my kids are learning there. In addition to great academics, they're learning a lot about self-confidence, taking risks, caring, empathy, service, etc. I think they could push the kids farther academically, but some aspects of the curriculum are stellar. My 4th grader's writing has really taken off in this very good curriculum.

    I also really like that the school is very "on mission" in their efforts to apply Quaker values to everything they do. At the same time, there's a lot of practicality. The head of school, Cathy Hunter, is stellar. Overall, the school has struck a very good balance between their focu on the future and the tasks at hand, and their ability to just "wing it".

    As the parent communities go, both sets of parents are great in their own way. However, I personally feel more comfortable with the parents at Friends than at SFDS. People at the school seem a little more comfortable with themselves at Friends - that goes for parents, kids, teachers, administration, etc.

    If I could change anything at Friends, I guess it would be the academic rigor that I mentioned earlier. Also, I find that the school can verge a little heavily on the sanctimonious for my taste. It takes a leap of faith to be there without a sense of how things will shake out in middle school, but I have a lot of confidence that they will handle it well.

    Hope this helps!

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  141. I think we need to be careful. There are alot of wonderful children who all deserve great educations, public or private. To say that only kids from diverse and/or super wealthy families are getting in can come across as blaming those families for taking "our" spots. The reality is that siblings pre-fill a majority of the openings...and I understand the sibling preference. If I had one child already at a school, I'd want my other children there also. Nonetheless, that didn't make yesterday any easier.

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  142. RE: CDS vs. Alamo
    Our child attended preschool at CDS and is currently attending an excellent SFUSD ES. IMO CDS is a comfortable place with a great yard but with rather weak academics. Also, a small group of parents (including early financial backers of the school) have a great deal of say in how the school is run, and the politics can be intense. I find the community at my child's current public ES much more relaxed and the learning experience more rigorous. And we are certainly enjoying life more and saving for the future now that we don't have the substantial tuition bills to pay. You should do what you think is best for your child/family, but in your position, I would take Alamo.

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  143. Add us to the list of not loaded, not connected, not diverse families that had more than one private school to choose from. Lucky? We think so.

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  144. "all the top preschools - Little School, JCC, Marin Day,"

    Really curious, 7:12 or anyone else, what is a "top preschool"--or rather, which ones are they and what makes them so? I have friends whose child just got into one of these listed, but their original preschool search list didn't seem to be about "top" versus "second tier" or whatever, and they (and I) are from the SE part of town, not the north side, so their search included several over here.

    Does going to one of these make it is easier to get into a private school, or certain private schools for that matter? Do these preschools cost more? Is there a waiting list or connections or something that you usually need in order to get in? (Sounds more like NYC than what I was expecting here.)

    tx,
    expectant mom

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  145. Some preschool directors have relationships with some of the private schools. It is not necessary to go to these preschools to get into the private schools, but it sometimes helps.

    There's really no set rule - it can feel very arbitrary. And those 3 are not an exhaustive list. I think that schools considered feeders include: Calvary, St. Luke's, Lone Mountain, JCC (mostly the California St. location), Eureka Learning Center, Peter's Place, ... I know I'm forgetting a lot. But kids seem to get in without being at any of those schools, too.

    Sometimes being from a smaller or lesser known preschool can actually render you a "diversity candidate," or at least "attractive candidate," as can having a very interesting job, being from a famous family, having relatives who attend or attended the school, etc.

    I would be shocked, seriously shocked, if Kate's daughter were not accepted both at MCDS and at Live Oak.

    I'm sorry if this sounds cynical. It's just that with 200 applicants, sometimes the struggle is in just being remembered. Much less being "asshole" or whatever as someone suggested above. Often the kindest, calmest most down-to-earth people end up just not being noticed. Sometimes they are noticed. It's a numbers game.

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  146. what a crazy and stressful system! i'm not there yet, but not looking forward to it.

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  147. Does anybody have experiences they can share about Burke's? Our daughter was accepted and we are trying to make the best decision for our family?

    We really appreciate your candid feedback.

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  148. So were you basically not telling the truth in your application and interview when you said it was an ideal fit for your child/family?

    I guess I'm just at a loss for how someone could be accepted at one of these highly competitive private schools if they are not at least a little on top of what the school is about and what it would mean for their family.

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  149. We are on a waitlist for a few private schools. So, now what's the strategy? Do you show up in person and tell the Dir of Admissions how much you love the school? What's appropriate to ask? Do you ask what number you are on the waitlist? MCDS says they don't have a numbering system but what do they base it on? One short purple hair boy drops off and they accept another short purple haired boy? Is there anything you can do besides doing the private school dance to the gods above?

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  150. Our daughter is at Burkes and she absolutely loves it and so do we. It's hard to do a school justice describing everything about it in a small comment box so if there is something more specific feel free to ask. This is just a brief description.

    Even in higher grades we find Burkes still has a nurturing, warm environment and we like the fact that it seems balanced in terms of academic rigor(read: too much homework) and an easy going extra curricular oriented environment. Interestingly I heard Hamlin has eased up on the academic rigor this year and moved towards the Burkes model. The teachers in the lower school are in general young but excellent. The ones we had were very passionate and dedicated to their vocation.
    The parent body as a whole is not too different from the other 'top tier' privates and run the whole gamut in financial means but > 50% seem to be homeowners in the usual neighborhoods of Pac heights, Presidio heights, and sea cliff so in the upper school there will be more awareness of who are the haves and have nots in the class. There are some flashy parents but in general that is not the culture.
    The school is finishing up a large capital campaign with big changes on the campus. The new gym and library are fabulous and the new upper school science, art, music areas have absolutely gorgeous views of the park-like setting that surrounds the school. The uniform is a god send IMO. It makes it so much easier in a hectic morning and the green jumpers are practically indestructable. I find the afterschool program very convenient and well run with excellent choice of activities. Not cheap however.
    What would we change if we could? It does have minorities but cannot be considered diverse for a city like SF. The lunch program has been revamped - initiated by some parents last year but still could use improvement such as a more extensive salad bar.
    Our daughter is thriving in a school she loves and we would choose Burkes again in an instant (our son attends a boys school and I cant make the same statement there).
    Our daughter is forming close friendships within the class (as are we the parents) some I'm sure will be lifelong. SF has other outstanding privates as good as found anywhere on either coast but IMO Burkes is right up there.

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  151. Thank you for the description of Burke's, which is informative.

    A small quibble: I don't think we can refer to "minorities" to refer to non-white people anymore since in both SF and California there is actually no majority ethnic or racial group anymore (and there is also a growing, if still small, subset of folks who are multi-racial, like one of our presidential candidates). The rest of the country will make the turn to majority-minority in a few decades at the most. A small point, I know, but words are part of narratives, and this one is changing, and fast. Our country will look very different when our kids are grown, when our kids will be minorities too (I presume most on this thread are white, as I am). Indeed, they already are minorities here in San Francisco. Though not I guess at Burke's, as you point out.

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  152. 9:45pm, why would you be shocked? i know of several amazing kids with amazing families who didn't get in anywhere.

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  153. It is sort of loathsome having people tell you that they will not "let you" pay them 24K a year to educate your child.

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  154. What would you suggest instead? There are more people who want to send their kids to private school than there are spots available.

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  155. Thanks for the very nice description of Burke's..

    If you wouldnt mind sharing your perspective on a few topics, I would love to hear your repsonse.

    1) I recently was chatting with a parent who's child graduated from Brandise and now attends St. Ignatius. The parent told me the child achieved very good grades and excelled in elementary but when the child got to High school the family discovered the child is very challenged academically and actually unprepared... Do you think that Burke's offers a competative scholastic enviorment that prepares the girls to really compete with SF kids as a whole?

    2) How bad is the fundraising and do parents feel excluded if they cant contribute beyond the tuition?

    3) Could you offer any websites, resources, or literature that show a bit of transparency on how Burke's really stacks up against other privates in SF and the country... How the children perform academically compared to the rest of the country?

    Many thanks for any feedback ....

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  156. When discussing privates you really have to define the category you want to learn more about. There are many private schools in SF. Typically you hear people chatting about the "big privates."


    I would label these:
    MCDS, Hamlin, Burkes, SFDS, Town, Staurt Hall, and Covenant

    Then you have the very popular mostly non religious and highly competative:

    Brandise, Friends, Presidio Hill, Live Oak, Synergy, Childrens day, Chinese american, french american, Adda Clavengar,.... a few others

    Then you have religious schools:
    I dont know these but there are so many it's probably hard to count...

    From my perspective unless you happen to be the very lucky, wealthy, or your child is just leaps and bounds beyond many other very bright children then in order to have a real shot at getting into the "big privates" for sure and to the "very popular non religious schools you have to get in the system early.

    Yep, that's right the system. I didnt even know about it until I found myself in it.

    There are several feeder pre-schools and I would venture a high % of kids in privates come from the feeder schools.

    Rosenberg and Marin Day are two schools that I guarantee many private school children come from.. There are others.. If you are private school bound and especially if your after the "big privates," get in the system now; otherwise your chances are real slim!

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  157. Two privates I know of have year-round admissions and may still be accepting applications for the fall. Hilldale, located in Daly City, costs around 11K. Adda Clevenger, previously discussed here, costs around 17K. We ended up moving our son to AC, when he was failing to thrive at his public school. It's not for everyone, but it's a great fit for him. Good luck to you all.

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  158. It's not that stark!
    It is a fact that some pre-schools are over represented in these top tier or 'big privates'. However my suspicion is that big cohorts of like families congregate in these feeder preschools and apply on-mass to the big privates. These privates are looking for applicants from the smaller preschools and it may actually be an advantage to apply from them. Similar to having an advantage getting into Stanford if applying from Alabama.

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  159. I would be shocked, seriously shocked, if Kate's daughter were not accepted both at MCDS and at Live Oak.

    I wouldn't; they both knew her identity long ago, and it seems obvious that she -- through a sense of conviction and/or guilt -- will go public. Private schools try not to waste offers on people who are not likely to take them.

    That being said, I bet they both waitlisted her with an "if you're really serious..." offer.

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  160. someone mentioned "haves and have nots" at one of the big privates. i'm wondering, what does this mean? does anyone know what the economic breakdown is for kids at these schools, or any one in particular? in the publics it pretty much breaks down as free lunch/not free lunch. do these privates have any kids who qualify for free lunch (and how do they do if so--how do they make it in what must be a pretty much alien culture)?

    or are the have-nots mostly the middle class kids who are there on partial scholarship or their parents straining and groaning to make it? Or is it a mix of very poor and middle class kids among the have nots?

    also, beyond the question someone asked about not being able to contribute to fundraising beyond tuition, is there a problem for kids whose families can't afford some of the "extras" like field trips out of town, or is that stuff covered by tuition? how much extra are families really expected to pay beyond tuition, not even counting fundraising?

    really wondering....this is such a different world to me yet we all live in the same city! we've had some stuart hall and mcds kids on our sports teams in the past but i really didn't clue into how expensive and, i guess, exclusive they were, and certainly those families were nice enough folks. this is eye-opening for me.

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  161. $25K can buy a heck of a lot of (fill in the blank here, college savings, family vacation, music/dance/art lessons - oh, yes, mortgage?)

    $25K can buy a heck of a lot of --->education<---

    $20,000 per student per year is about the minimum cost of an excellent education, regardless of where the funds come from. SFUSD has less than $9,000 to spend per student. You can come up with the spare $11,000... or just cross your fingers and take a nice vacation.

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  162. Attitude!

    Many of us do not have a spare $11,000 lying around (per child), and what is this about nice vacations? Is that what you think about us public school parents?

    I have avoided making comments on this private school thread because so many of you are facing tough news or even good news but tough choices. I think many of us public school parents have lurked here but tried to be good about that. I care a lot about the public schools and try to promote them, but I also understand that these choices are complex.

    But. You do not need to suggest we have all this money laying around that we are choosing to spend on frivolity. For most of us, that is very much not so, and it is offensive to suggest that. Yes, there are many parents who make the principled choice to go public when they could go private, and God bless 'em, but most of us are not in that category, so why do have you have to make us wrong like that?

    Plus, you are wrong. Kids can get an excellent education in the SFUSD. Not in every school, but in many. I wish we had more money for the schools, no doubt, and I'm grateful to SF voters for giving us some through Props A and H, but my kids are bright, articulate, well-read kids and so are their friends. They will do well. I wish we had the levels of funding of Massachusetts, which has top-ranked schools. But even that is not the $20K you cite (where do you get this stuff?).

    It's also true that most families cannot and will not be able to afford private education, so the creeping privatization of education is a total disaster for our society as a whole insofar as it takes away support from building up the public system.

    I've seen all sides of this. I attended inner city schools as a child, horrible ones that were nothing like sfusd schools today. I am amazed by what is taught here--I had none of that and was basically self-taught. I was then sent to a country day school on almost full scholarship for middle, and it was a lot better educationally (if horrible socially). Because I was suffering socially I eventually left and went to a fine public high school a lot like Lincoln High here. The headmistress at the country day told me I would hate the public school, that I would find it dirty, chaotic, and edcuationally deficient, and that I would be back.

    Not so. After I got into Williams, Amherst and Harvard I went back to my old country day school for their graduation to see my old best friend graduate. Turned out many of the kids had not gotten into these schools despite one of them being a legacy kid at Williams. Yeah, I went to one of those three schools (that has its own stories).

    I did very well--was not behind the many prep school kids when I arrived. Some of them were bright and hard-working and of course very *polished*, and some of them were dumb as posts(not most, but you could tell which ones were "affirmative action for the wealthy" kids) and very entitled. I graduated with honors and magna cum laude, phi beta kappa....and so glad my parents did not scrape the bottom of the barrel to send me to the country day for high school-- because despite the almost full scholarship, there were costs of commuting, of "extras," of clothes I wanted to keep up even a little, that were hard on them, and they had other kids to think about too.

    My own perspective is that high-end privates buy you a network of well-connected, powerful people (and I can see why people would want that), plus social polishing. I mean, listen to the discussion here--"top-tier" and "haves" and "the system." You learn how to be upper class, or at least upper-middle class. A bright kid with strong family support can just as well get into Williams or similar from the decent public schools here, but may not have that extra polishing.

    Having seen it all, I'm not interested in that for my kids. I'd rather work my middle class 9-5 job and have the time to actually spend with my kids rather than take the corporate lawyer route to pay for fancy school, but never have family dinner together. And I see that that is my choice. I can work a big-time job to afford private for my children, or I can be home while it's still light out (at least this time of year). I see my friends working those long hours, hiring nannies, and eating take-out most nights. Not for me.

    Sorry to all the nicer people here, and I'll step away now. I was avoiding saying this stuff until that comment about how I and my fellow public school parents are neglecting our children in favor of the nice vacation. Make your choices, and I am not judging you as individuals for doing so (some of you are probably my friends, or very like them), but don't suggest that we are not investing a lot for our kids (and also a whole bunch of other kids) over on the public side of things.

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  163. What do you do when...

    ...you go to a "highly recommended" pre-school for 3 years @ about 50K total tuition and you are told from the pre-school "we will get your child ready for kindergarten".
    (btw..they said they had 100% placement for 2007)
    ...get great communication with school & teachers
    ...get amazing reports for parent/teacher conferences
    ...get stellar student evaluations sent to schools you are applying to
    ...we (pre-school) will observe your child over the next few months so if the private schools have any questions we can respond.

    and

    are told...
    from the pre-school
    ...the 5 private schools you picked look like great matches for your family. And your child should get at least 3 with NO PROBLEM

    before march 12 we heard...from the preschool..
    'hey does your child have a stutter problem? Someone at burkes, hamlin, or convent asked..I CAN'T REMEMBER.

    WHAT YOU CAN'T REMEMBER!!!!!
    YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO KNOW THE CHILD...DIDN'T YOU OBSERVE HER AND WEREN'T YOU SITTING NEXT TO US DURING THE P/T CONFERENCE! AND YOU KNOW WE TOOK HER TO A SPEECH THERAPIST AND HAVE A LETTER IN HER FILE THAT SAYS SHE IS NORMAL AND AGE APPROPATE!!!

    YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO SUPPORT OUR CHILD AND GO TO BAT.........WTF

    then...
    4 no's and one wait list
    and you hear the one wait list is a slim chance

    AND

    the only reason that school is offering me a chance is because they love my wife and I and have heard how involved we are our pre-school

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  164. Dude, bummer, big-time. Did you and your wife apply yet to public? For most learning differences and various developmental delays, physical impediments (whether or not your kid has one), public are much better, starting with the fact that they do not turn the kids away from the get-go but also in terms of providing better services and therapies. There are some wonderful specialty private schools for some issues, example, autism, but in general I'd look at public over private if there is something that needs extra support. These means the gamut from simple stuff like pullouts for speech therapy (many kids get it) and sandtray therapy to inclusion with to special day classes, and everything in between. Each kid is approached individually.

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  165. In response to Anonymous 11:43's question:

    "is there a problem for kids whose families can't afford some of the "extras" like field trips out of town, or is that stuff covered by tuition? how much extra are families really expected to pay beyond tuition, not even counting fundraising?"

    If you're receiving financial aid, the percentage of tuition you pay becomes the "formula" for the percentage you pay for extra things like trips out of town, laptop, etc. Some schools waive fees for things like bus, uniform and extended-day for families receiving tuition assistance.

    Hope this helps!

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  166. @11:54 and @12:46, I have a little perspective as I have sent my kids to both private and public elementaries in this city. I didn't have a big problem with their private school, but we moved away for a year, and when we returned I thought, for various reasons including a new baby on the way, why not look at public.

    My kids now attend one of the schools in the top twenty requested schools, but not the top five. Yes, we found two slots open. My kids previously attended one of the schools named as "highly competitive," though not "top-tier," by other posters.

    What I have found is that their current school is actually more rigorous academically than their previous private school. It is more like the school they attended in Europe, actually. And it is not "drill drill drill" either, though I guess that may be an issue at a school like KIPP over in the Bayview. They get nice field trips, various arts, hands-on science projects, the usual. It's just that the academic curriculum is more focused than at their private school here. Their teachers are also a bit more experienced, and not as young.

    The other thing is that the social milieu is more diverse. This has its challenges and definite upsides too, honestly. The school is larger, noisier at lunchtime, and a little scruffier around the edges. We have worked to establish "green space" but we will never, ever compete with Burke's on that front. The kids do get taken to the park with the afterschool program, and on field trips to places like Angel Island. While the principal and secretary are lovely and personable, we are among 500 or so, so there is no spotlight shining on us. In other words, it is a mixed bag as far as the extras go.

    In terms of education, which the poster at 12:46 says must be bought at $20,000, I would say not so much. I think you can buy some extras that way, though, and atmosphere.

    For my family, this was the right choice. No regrets about the earlier experience--it's all in the mix, along with year in Europe--but it were me and I got "Alamo" or something similar, it would be a no-brainer to take that over a private assignment if educational quality is the issue and money is at stake too; save that money for a good college or for choices you don't even know now that you wlll need down the road. Even more so with three kids, but that of course is my mileage, an example of how individual families' needs do vary.

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  167. 12:46 -- hear, hear! what a testament to the role personal motivation and grit plays in life and success. sometimes i feel like that fact has been absent from this blog, regardless of one's stand on private vs. public. nowadays, it seems normal to want to buy (or otherwise secure) your kid a place among the "right" people and places. i wonder sometimes if anyone believes in meritocracy anymore. (ok, i'm not a pollyanna -- i know connections count. it's just...i SO want to believe you can still earn it.)

    i'm definitely one of those public types who's been lurking here, watching the dramz unfold...i have to say, the personal nature of the rejections has taken the edge off my rage that we went 0/7 in the first round (off-radar schools included). i kind of feel lucky now that our family didn't have to endure any of that. i'm not judging you for it -- damn, if i wouldn't like to have one decent school in our back pocket right about now -- but i am grateful.

    i was very concerned for the family with the kid who stuttered, and for kids who have to go to a school that rejects on that basis. what's the big deal? icky, icky, icky....

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  168. Kim Green, you are one of my favorite posters here. I am hoping for a great school assignment for your daughter, a karmic reward for your great sense of humor that has me and no doubt many others ROFL at 1am after a long day :-)

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  169. Wow, this has been completely eye-opening. After a solid year of my researching and touring schools, my daughter got in, on what seems like a total fluke, to one of these expensive and supposedly "feeder" preschools (we didn't have connections or pester, we needed aid, and we are only mildly diverse). We're going, because we liked it and she didn't get in anywhere else. So, uh. Knowing that a good public isn't a given, and that privates and charters will likely have to be in the mix even though we can't afford them, I'm kind of numb with the fear of what comes next.

    For those considering public/private: I went to a fancy country day school on heavy financial aid in the 1970s and 80s. I got a great education. But there was a price. I hid our middle-class status like it was a dirty secret and felt inferior all the time. I'd do it again the same way, I guess, but am hoping my daughter will get a good education without having that particular experience repeated.

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  170. I think the odds of getting a good public are increasing as the number of them increases. Unfortunately there is a very stressful process involved as lots of people apply to more and more schools (as backup, maybe? is this worse than college or what?) and because many people apply to the same short list of schools. It does seem to shake out eventually. Caroline says this all the time here on the blog, and it sounds like propaganda, but anecdotally it seems to be true that if you stay with the process you will end up with something acceptable. FWIW, we did, in round 2.

    That wasn't true for us with private, however--0/4 with one waitlist that never panned out, no phone call or letter after the initial notification. We of course followed up with the usual letter saying how interested we were, dropped it by the office in person, got the impression there were many of us in that boat. Eventually got that public spot so never followed up after that, and could not be happier with the K year. Happy kids, great teacher, lots of warmth and good community.

    Anyway, to the new preschool parent, enjoy the next 2 years (or 3?) in preschool. Don't stress too much now. At least the process (and schools) seem to be improving. Maybe it will be better when you get there.

    Gosh, this reminds me of being in labor, a rite of passage no can prepare you for but once you are pregnant you do have to go through. Guess we all make it eventually, just like those before us.

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  171. There is no such thing as a "feeder" preschool. That is a myth. If Kinder classes at the so-called "big" privates seem to have lots of kids from a particular preschool, it is usually because these schools are larger and therefore, more children applied from these schools. I can assure you more kids got rejected from these schools than from smaller ones. The percentages are probably not disimilar between the big preschools and the smaller ones in terms of percentage of applicants admitted. The Little School and the JCC have 100+ kids!

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  172. I'm in love with the educational opportunities provided by privates, but don't want my daughter to think it is "normal" to live in a mansion and fly private.

    Anyone else concerned about that?

    I've heard horror stories from families at Hamlin, SFDS and Burke's about how money shapes the culture at these schools...

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  173. 10:14 pm -- While we're certainly not there yet, we do know several other children admitted to the top-tier private school our daughter will be attending and I can assure you that none of them lives in a mansion or flies in a private jet.

    I think that most of us find that in any given situation there are going to be people who "have" more than we do and people who have less. It's up to us as parents to help our kids sort it all out and realize that the real value is in who you are not in what you have.

    Do we worry about this going in? Absolutely. But I don't think that the culture at all of the private schools in SF is as driven by money and social status as some reading this blog might like to believe. Some of the schools have cultures that are actually driven by achieving a good education for the children attending them.

    Are there going to be ultra-wealthy people at the school our daughter attends? I'm sure there are. But I don't think that they represent a majority.

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  174. I wish that people on this blog would stop assuming that independent school are filled with wealthy families and that public schools are filled with poor families. There is a lot of diversity in San Francisco public schools, not the least of which is socioeconomic. Sometimes a public school education is a matter of choice, not $$$$.

    We own two homes in San Francisco and have advanced college degrees. Our household income is in the high six figures. Our two children are in a SFUSD public elementary school (first and third grades) by choice. We are EXTREMELY happy with everything at our school, not the least of which is the WONDERFUL group of parents that we now consider our good friends. Importantly, our kids are happy and thriving and making good friends too. Our school is not a top-requested alternative school, but a little up-and-comer that was too sweet to resist. (Disclosure: we live next to Rooftop and didn't even put it on our list--after our tour, we honestly couldn't understand all the hype for that school.) If we were applying to the lottery this year, we would be happy with schools like Sunnyside or J. Serra.

    If you are 0/7 in public and waitlisted in private, don't despair. Based on experience and stories from our friends, I offer this advice: go into Round 2 AND waitlist your favorite school. You will get a school that you love by the 10-day count. Don't miss a minute of sleep if your private school dreams do not materialize. Based on our current, very positive, experience, I assure you that your child will get a good education in our public schools.

    Good luck and sweet dreams to everyone.

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  175. 0/7 in the publics. 0/7 in the privates. Two waitlists. Shocked. I am a 'diversity' family, was told to my face that I'd have my pick... and also was frankly repulsed by moms I met who were applying to 12 schools, putting their kids through all that.

    Now I feel bad I only applied to 7 privates. I have to chuckle.

    I really want public, and will go the distance to get a good one, although I have no faith left that it will happen, but Round Two and the waitpool seems the only control I have... I no longer trust the lying privates. Sorry, but I feel pretty swindled by their tap dance about wanting diversity.

    Having said that, I'll accept a slot if offered.

    My kid is a real gifted personable type. Can already read. Popular and polite. Everybody brags about their kid, but I am bringing this up because I wonder if I got pegged as "diversity family" instead of "really swell kid" family.

    Heavens to Betsy, I really want to stay in this city. I'm scared to think that my having had kids might mean I wouldn't be able to live where I am able to live. That's insane!

    I feel like if I moved to the 'burbs I would be ruining the life I wanted for my kids, not to mention my own life. I mean, I'm smiling when I type this, but man oh man, I'm really scared of having to leave the city.

    My friends in Manhattan tell me I should move there. You might have to pick the neighborhood for the schools, but there are a lot of them, and you just go to the school down the block, and it's usually a killer school. No muss. No fuss. Imagine that.

    This is about a lot more than just the schools. It's about freedom to live the life you want.

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  176. Manhattan is no muss, no fuss? You clearly haven't looked into the real estate market there ...

    Buying or renting near a good school is NOT that easy or cheap. You'll spend the equivalent of an SF private school tuition alright...

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  177. To 11:38, I have to think money does play a part. It's what I see right in front of me.

    We applied to six privates and didn't get a one. Got waitlisted at one we're not crazy about and can't afford anyway. We are working class by SF standards, earning $50K per year. But my son's best buddy at preschool got in everywhere he applied. All the top schools, 5 of 7 where he applied. His family are multi-millionaires. Nothing wrong in that, but I have to wonder, why he got accepted and so many of our friend's struck out altogether. It's the only thing that makes that kid different from our kids.

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  178. 0/7@12:21 I doubt that being a diversity candidate hurt, but having a child who already reads may be a problem at privates other than Nueva. My guess is that you also requested financial aid, also a problem. Good luck finding a public school that fits your child or hold him/her out another year and try for Nueva.

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  179. 12:20: somehow, you've managed to do what no one else has -- convince me we ARE going to get a school we like by september (as opposed to donning prairie skirts and instructing our children in the intricacies of the civil war under a velvet painting of jerry falwell).

    12:21: hang in there. we're right there with you...

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  180. To the poster at 1:29pm -

    Unfortunately there is no time machine that will allow you to go back in time and pick a different preschool. I say this not because you would have been guaranteed acceptance at a private school but at least your daughter would not have spent three years at an apparent private school kid prep factory instead of a nurturing, caring environment. The statement that your school would observe your child in the months leading up to private school placement so they could answer any questions makes me wonder what they were doing the previous 2.5 years your daughter spent there??? They actually said that your child should get in to 3 of your choices with no problem? Your whole post made me shake my head in amazement that such a place exists.

    I'm surprised that a stutter would knock a kid out of the process altogether especially if the preschool evaluations have been glowing. My only guess is that your preschool is churning out so many children to the same private schools that a child with a slight "problem" gets passed by in favor of the others. What your school should have done at the first hint by the privates that there was an issue is invite the admissions directors (at your top 1 or 2 choices) to the preschool to observe your child so that any concerns they had could be alleviated. Minimally, the preschool director should have been in communication with the schools on your behalf prior to having this bomb dropped in your lap.

    I don't think any preschool is obligated to get your child into a private school, but based on their posturing I would say you have a legitimate complaint. Good luck to you.

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  181. I'm with Kim Green: bravo 12:46. Thank you for your post.

    I do wish I heard more -- from friends -- that even though they aren't crazy (are shocked/devastated/dejected by) about their SFUSD school assignment, that they will go in there like gangbusters and make it better.

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  182. Two questions comments:
    1. When one states that privates devote 20,000 to each student is this totally accurate? After all these are mostly for profit enterprises. How much goes into the pockets of the administrators, etc?

    2. Many privates utilize the services of public schools for speech and special ed services. Legally a parent (even a parent at a private school) has a right to request these services for their child. Ironic, but it's true.

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  183. Actually in most cases, a large fraction of private school tuition goes to pay the mortgage or rent on the school building. Public schools do not have this cost.

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  184. 10:17 am above: Most of the private schools in San Francisco are nonprofits -- 501(c)3 organizations. Teacher and staff salaries are the largest line item expense BY FAR. This is not to say that teachers in private schools make more than teachers in public schools. In many cases they don't.

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  185. 10:17: I have two corrections for you-

    1) private schools are not for-profit enterprises. They are not-for-profits. Much of the tuition goes toward teachers' salaries. Private schools are generally more extensively staffed than public schools for several reasons: class sizes don't increase after 3rd grade; there are 2 teachers in every classroom, at least in the lower grades; and there are full-time teachers for "extras" such as library, art, music, languages, PE, and drama.

    2) "Many" private school parents don't utilize public schools for services. You might be able to get services for a child up to the age of 7 as legally required, and even that isn't a sure thing.

    As for private schools being full of kids whose parents have mansions and private jets, I can assure you that this is not the case at my kids' school (Friends). There is really no split between "haves" and "have nots" there. This might be in part because they still are filling out the school and the oldest class this year is the 5th grade. It also may have to do with the fact that it's a school that tends to be sought out by people looking to avoid that. The school itself tries really hard to avoid creating circumstances that make people feel left out.

    My older child used to attend SFDS, and there was definitely more openness about wealth there, although not to the point where those of us who were not fabulously wealthy and didn't take fancy vacations felt at all odd about it.

    As for places like Burke's, Hamlin, Cathedral, etc - I've certainly heard stories about flashy displays of wealth, but without firsthand knowledge and on the basis of anecdotes, I really can't say.

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  186. To 11:38 am,

    Sadly, money talks when it comes to K admissions. That's just the reality, particularly when schools are gearing up for major capital campaigns (like MCDS).

    That's not to say no middle-class families get in. Or that rich people can't be wonderful and down to earth. But anyone who thinks the rich don't have a big leg up with top-tier schools are kidding themselves.

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  187. To 11:38 am,

    Sadly, money talks when it comes to K admissions. That's just the reality, particularly when schools are gearing up for major capital campaigns (like MCDS).

    That's not to say no middle-class families get in. Or that rich people can't be wonderful and down to earth. But anyone who thinks the rich don't have a big leg up with top-tier schools are kidding themselves.

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  188. A comment iln response to this:

    ***private schools are not for-profit enterprises. They are not-for-profits. ***

    Here's my understanding: Most private schools are nonprofits. That doesn't mean they don't make money but refers to the structure of their business. A big aspect is that donations to the school are tax-deductible.

    One existing SF private school, Adda Clevenger, is a for-profit. That doesn't mean anything in relation to how much money it makes. Friends who are parents there tell me it's because being a nonprofit would require the owner to work with and answer to a board, and she's not willing to do that.
    It's those friends who clarified to me what I'm relating now.

    A now-defunct private school, Discovery Center -- which folded three or four years ago -- was also a for-profit, and I don't know the story of that. This all might indicate that there may be other for-profit private schools around, FWIW.

    Private schools are indeed known for paying their teachers less at K-8 level (private HS's have a higher pay rate), but then their teachers have to deal with far less in terms of troubled kids, special ed, poverty, mandatory testing, and being endlessly, publicly bashed for not achieving miracles and solving all the problems of society.

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  189. I just looked at a couple of private school websites. They do not post financial information anywhere (accounts of the schools budget). Interesting....
    What most do have are places to participate in fund raising efforts and places to volunteer to help out on various projects...I guess after one pays the 24,000 you still need to give more and do more?
    As a parent I would want to see the financial statements. I only looked at the two schools that I considered applying to. As a public school parent I expect to fundraise and donate time and money extensively, but It is surprising that privates expect the same.

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  190. You should go look at the schools instead of the websites.. I'm sure once you experience a tour at one of the big privates you wont be so concerned about financial statements as much as; "How do I get in."

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  191. Why would it surprise you that your child's school wants you to be involved? Wouldn't you want to be?

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  192. hello all - our boy was accepted at Town and NDV. Does anyone have any negative, positive or random thoughts about either or both? we appreciate all comments! thanks

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  193. Any Hamlin parents out there to give some real feedback on this school?

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  194. I heard through a former teacher who used to work at SFDS that they generally avoid admitting early readers. Not sure why.. and don't know whether other schools follow suit.

    As for being rich... I think it is less about the size of the bank account, and more about the rich mobilizing their network of fellow rich, e.g. getting private school board members to write letters on their behalf.

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  195. My niece went to Hamlin. They had the parent spend upwards of $1,000/month on tutoring because she wasn't reading by the end of kindergarten. Given the cost of tuition, I would have assumed that the school would bear the additional expense, not the parents. Anyway, turned out she had a hearing issue due to chronic ear infections. Quick surgery fixed the hearing and the reading.. but not until thousands had been spent on tutoring. Granted, this was all under the last school head.

    I hear they are good with disciplined, hard working girls.. not so good with the gifted or special needs sibs.

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  196. on every tour the parents said that "you will KNOW which school is right for you". why is it that I have no clue which one to attend, and only with 2 options?

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  197. What schools are you trying to decide between?

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  198. Yes, the super rich are welcomed with open arms into independent schools (and they have friends in all the right places to pull strings on their behalf). The selection process for those of modest means is more selective and rigorous. The purpose of my 12:20 AM post was to point out that families with substantial disposable income are attending public schools in SF by choice. Many families on this blog have had a rough week and seemed very sad about private school rejection letters, which compelled me to write. A private school rejection is not the end of the world. Your child can attend public schools with children from lovely families who share similar hopes, dreams, and values. They will have fun and get a good education too. You will make great friends. Haven't you been thrilled by all the parents who reached out with invitations to special tours of their schools this week? There are parents waiting to embrace you at this very moment!

    We live in San Francisco, and we wanted our children to go to school with San Franciscans.  Period. All the money in the world cannot buy that type of education for you in an independent school. I am sure that the irony of independent schools employing "Diversity Specialists," whose job is to admit token students who bring diversity and a semblance "of the real world" to their hallowed halls, does not escape the notice of the quick-witted families on this blog. Hello!

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  199. anon at 4:12
    They may have known which school was right for THEM, but they really didn't know which school was right for their child until the child got there and thrived. Even a good fit school can go south later, and it's not necessarily the school's fault, though as a parent it's hard to stay away from the blame game. A couple of 3rd graders left our private school last year, several others moved in from other privates/publics. My advice, pick the school your gut-reaction points you to, but stay tuned into your child and know that a change down the road isn't the end of the world, and doesn't even mean you made a mistake. These decisions are fraught with anxiety, but very few irreversible errors are likely to happen.

    Good luck.

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