Sunday, March 9, 2008

SFUSD success stories

"We got our first choice," Molly said. "Buena Vista!"

After hearing from countless friends who didn't get any of their seven, I was relieved to listen to a cheery voice on the other end of the phone. Most of my calls with friends over this weekend have been filled with tears and four-letter words.

Before going through this process, I was worried about these sorts of situations. I wondered, Will I be jealous if a friend gets into Alice Fong Yu and I don't.

When I talked to my friend Molly this morning, I wasn't jealous. I was delighted to hear a positive story. And I think many of us would benefit from some good news. Please, if you're sitting at home sipping champagne because your little honey got into Clarendon, speak up. Those of us who didn't need some inspiration. And if you have a story about successfully going through the wait list process last year, tell us. I'm so happy for those who did receive assignments to schools they love. It gives me hope.

48 comments:

  1. Spouse or I or both toured around 12 schools. We picked 7 based largely on start time, geography, and (at the top) K-8 and/or language immersion. We got one of the top 5 on our list, which happens to be our neighborhood school. Good principal, active parents, very close to home. We are feeling relieved, given all we've read here. We may try to put our names on a the waiting list for a language immersion program figuring it can't hurt us, otherwise we consider ourselves fortunate.

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  2. We got our first choice..Sunset Elementary. We loved everything about it and it is walking distance from our home.

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  4. This may feel irrelevant to K-seekers, but we got our first middle school choice, Aptos. All of the fifth-grade friends heard from so far also received their first choice. I was frankly surprised to find out that one of the families got top-ranked Presidio on their first try, since Presidio has a more difficult applicant-acceptance ratio than Aptos or James Lick or even Hoover. It was their first choice, but only 4th on our list due to the long commute from our house.

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  5. Been following this blog for months, but this is my first post. A very fun and informative addiction, thanks, Kate!

    My 5th grader was assigned to Aptos Middle School (first choice) and my kindergartner-to-be got Miraloma (5th choice). I feel relieved, but disappointed and sad for all the people on this blog and in real life who got 0/7 (almost everyone with whom I've spoken about kindergarten). On the other hand, everyone I know got their first or second choice for middle school.

    Six years ago, my son did get a spot at Clarendon Second Community after the ten day count. So while waiting can work, the process is frustrating and anxiety-producing. The system is broken. The schools need governmental support and money (duh!), so that no school will be considered unacceptable. To rely solely on the energy and donations of active parents to 'turn a school around' is absurd. Of course, parents can and should help, but many of us have other jobs and various circumstances.

    I am an active supporter of public school, and enthusiastically encouraged everyone to apply. I am disillusioned with this process. But onward to Round 2 and the Waitlist to try and get my daughter into the school down the street.

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  6. I heard some useful info for those of you seeking immersion programs that will help explain why many of you came up empty-handed after Round 1 but should eventually find a spot in an immersion program for your child. Apparently the district reserves half of the spots in an immersion program for native speakers of the language. For example, Flynn has 40 Spanish immersion spots, 20 of which are initially reserved for native Spanish speakers and 20 for native English speakers. Undoubtedly, the 20 English-speaker spots are filled after Round 1; however, chances are not all the Spanish-speaker spots are filled as immersion programs are typically not so popular with families who already speak the immersion language. The remaining Spanish-speaker slots will be released to the general waiting list AFTER Round 2. Hence, if you stick it out, chances are good that eventually you'll get a spot in the immersion program of your choice.

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  7. I just learned that another of my daughter's friends got assigned to Monroe! So whether we get Fairmount on Round 2 or waitlist or end up at Monroe, I feel happy that we have a great school and a built-in community from day one.

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  8. I am definitely a success story. I was so geared up for getting nothing and ended up getting Grattan (one of my top 5) and Creative Arts Charter School. This was a scenario I had never even considered and I really don't know how to decide between the two. I want to make a decision quickly to free up a spot at one of those schools for somebody else. Does anybody have views on either one they would care to share?

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  9. Hi Christine. How did you get two?? Just curious.

    Kathryn

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  10. to the poster above, as a Flynn parent I can assure everyone that slots designated for Spanish speaking kids are NOT released after Round 2 to non-Spanish speaking kids - that would compromise the two-way bilingual aspect of the program. Immersion is replacing bilingual programs in most of the Spanish immersion schools and it is not true that these are not desirable programs to Spanish speaking famlies - this is a bilingual and biliterate program - many families want their children to be able to not only speak their native language, but to read and write it as well, even though they themselves may or may not be literate. I can't speak for other immersion programs, except from having friends children in them, but all that I know of do not release spots for Spanish speakers to non-Spanish speakers after Round 2 - just don't want anyone to have false hope!

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  11. We're happy! We got our Harvey Milk, which was our 2nd choice, and our daughter's best friend also was assigned there though it was their 7th choice. We think our daughter would thrive in a language immersion program, but we found ourselves hoping for HM nevertheless. No doubt about it though, this process lends itself to second-guessing, and having a choice translates for me in feeling a false sense that I could be denying my kid some amazing experience based on the great differences in the bells and whistles at varying schools. We listed some of the top requests: Alvarado, Flynn, Fairmount, but also New Traditions and McKinley. It's too bad that the general ed schools now become a negative instead of a positive based on their lack of an immersion program. For now, I'm feeling anxious about going back to HM knowing that it is the one, and I'm just hoping that my gut vibe on the day I toured will be the same now that i'm an entering parent.

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  12. Another success story . . . we got our first choice, Buena Vista. It's also in our neighborhood and we feel extremely fortunate. And relieved. No wonder families leave San Francisco - it's a huge ordeal for most.

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  13. We also got our 1st choice - Flynn Immersion. I wish you all well and hope that you also get into a fantastic school.

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  14. Christine, when did you receive your letter from CACS? I didn't think they had gone out yet.

    To the poster who asked...CACS is a charter school, so it has its own separate lottery process. One needs to apply separately.

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  15. we got our CACS letter on Saturday -- could still be in the mail for some

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  16. Christine,

    We had the same two options and opted for Grattan. We've been very happy with our choice, although they're both great schools with lots of happy kids and families. Part of what tipped the scales for us was the neighborhood - we can walk to Grattan - and we had some concern about the lower test scores at Creative Arts. I know the choice can be difficult but I don't think you can go wrong either way. Not sure that helps, but the point is it's not a bad problem to have : )

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  17. We were fortunate enough to get our first choice, San Francisco Community. About half of the people I know got their first or second and the other half didn't get any. I hope that this works out for everyone. There are a lot of great schools in the City- I attended public school here my entire life. Good luck to everyone in round two. If you are looking for spanich emersion check out Paul Revere in Bernal Heights. It is under enrolled, and it is up and coming....

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  18. We are another happy Aptos (middle school) family. It seems that most families got their first and all at least their second choice at this level. The kids at schoool were all over each other comparing notes this morning, and their email was flying all weekend. They are amazingly supportive of each other's choices, too, very open-minded.

    My daughter was shocked to realize over the weekend that her cousin in another state has no choice of where to go to middle school; they assign to the neighborhood school. She thought that was a real negative. She and her friends had a lot of fun touring last fall and attending open houses, running into old preschool friends, etc. She wondered, doesn't my cousin get to pick jazz band over Blue Bear Rock Band over full orchestra? Big school vs. small school? What about language programs? Honors? Salad bars?

    Interesting perspective. Although we parents retained the ultimate decision-making power, her (strong) preference for Aptos weighed heavily in our thinking (and we liked it too). It's good to send a child to middle school with a positive attitude and sense of investment in the choice.

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  19. Same Aptos poster here, with a question for Caroline, if you are reading this: I registered my daughter at Aptos this morning, and the woman at the desk said we would get an info packet from the school in August. That's a long way away! So my question is, what is the process at Aptos for assigning the kids to the honors program, and is there anything we parents need to do about it? My kid is GATE-identified with very high test scores. She would certainly have her teacher's recommendation if that is needed. Does this happen automatically for GATE kids?

    Thanks!

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  20. I have to wonder about the immersion programs slots. One of our good friends had a daughter enter K at Monroe sp immersion last year and there was definitely no balance between native and non native speakers! There were only about 3 non native speakers in her class. Very hard on those students... How does that get so out of whack!?

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  21. We have two children at Creative Arts. We have been very happy with our choice so far. Our son is in his 4th year there and our daughter is in her 1st year. The only problem we foresee is the school district may force us to move (again) because they don't wan't to bring our building up to ADA code with Prop H funds.

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  22. RE: CACS
    I have already heard that CACS must definitely move either this summer or the following summer. The district wants CACS to move to the former Gloria Davis site in BV-HP; members of the CACS community don't want that site for obvious reasons.

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  23. to anonymous wondering about the immersion program - they are half filled with native speakers of the language if the child has been tested and is proficient at EPC. It is possible that people applied to the program, already spoke Spanish, but did not get designated as Spanish language speaker from EPC, yet at the same time were admitted to immersion as an English speaker. They are extremeley careful to keep the balance between languages with the knowledge they have.

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  24. We got our first choice Alvarado Sp. Immersion. I am so bummed for everyone who didn't get what they wanted.

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  25. @Aptos poster
    Yes, the gate kids get allocated automatically to the honors classes. This year there were four (I think) honors classes. On the first day at Aptos my child wasn't in an honors class - something went wrong but it was fixed by next day.

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  26. Fairmount #3

    our list was
    AFY
    Rooftop
    Fairmount
    Alvarado SP
    Miraloma
    Lakeshore
    Jefferson

    It seems that many did not get any on their list and that is awful--i know of a big group of co-op parents that are going to tour sunnyside might be the next up and comer school

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  27. Thanks, Andrew Sherman. (I will not be putting one of those "proud parent of an Aptos honors student" bumper stickers on my car, but I do want my kid in the right class!)

    --happy new Aptos parent

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  28. We were surprised to get our #3 - McKinley. I can't believe how many people who wanted it, didn't get it, and how many who didn't list it - got it. That makes absolutely no sense. I look forward to meeting fellow parents - hopefully you can make it to the 'new family' morning next week!

    For stats - we live in the Sunset, and applied to:
    Jefferson
    Grattan
    McKinley
    Lawton
    Sunset
    Dianne Feinstein
    Francis Scott Key

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  29. Just curious - It seems that geography may have played a bigger role this year. I know they said that it has no effect...

    How many people who received one of their 7 choices received the school closest to their address?

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  30. We finally got our letter today, with great news -- Starr King Mandarin immersion, our first choice! This was our list:
    Starr King Mandarin
    Buena Vista (Spanish)
    Alvarado Spanish
    Fairmount (Spanish)
    Jose Ortega Mandarin
    SF Community
    Harvey Milk

    I do really feel for those who are still left in uncertainty. If you look at wait lists from last summer, other than a few Clarendon or Rooftop-type schools, the lists were pretty short, even by around June. I hope that can be a little bit encouraging, even for those who would not be prepared to start the school year uncertain about whether your child will be moving after the 10-day count.

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  31. My daughter is happily enrolled in Kindergarten at Jefferson this year. It was a long road getting there. In last year's lottery, like many of you, we were devastated but not surprised to receive none of our 7 choices. We were assigned to Hillcrest in round one (not our neighborhood school, but nearby), which we didn't consider. We were assigned Francis Scott Key in round 2, which we found acceptable, except that it is 45 minutes from our house and starts early. We put ourselves on the waitlist for Rooftop, our first choice, but after analyzing the historical wait pool results on the EPC site, switched in the summer (maybe July?) to Jefferson, which was our nunber 4 choice originally. We were so excited to finally get off the waitpool at the end of July. Someone else we had met at a summertime Francis Scott Key new parent orientation also got into Jefferson after the 10 day count, in the same class as my daughter. We also know someone who got into Clarendon after the 10 day count. So it does pay to wait it out, if you can bear it. Good luck!

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  32. I got my first choice, Alvarado GE. I live in Noe, and this is my neighborhood school (though we are technically in the old McAteer district). I discovered this site today. I think the system is pretty crazy, and I hope we won't lose too many neighbors as a result.

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  33. Anonymous at 11:02 a.m. (sorry; as much as I schmooze online, I still couldn't keep up today...):

    If you have any concerns, call Aptos GATE coordinator Russell Addiego (469-4620). As noted, all students identified as GATE are assigned to honors classes, and Mr. Addiego also works to identify "high-potential" students who have not technically been GATE-identified but who can rise to the challenge of those classes.

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  34. My 8th grader got all three of his top choices: Balboa in the regular SFUSD lottery, SOTA via audition, and the acceptance from Drew just arrived.

    We're happy, of course, but the take away here is that Round 1 is far from the end of the road. Many seats will open up as lucky kids like mine make up their final choices, including many who will opt for private schools.

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  35. Yes, SFUSD tries to balance the number of native speakers and language learners in immersion classrooms.

    But it is also true that the more native speaking kids in a class, the faster the non-native speaking kids will pick up the target language. That is a fact.

    It also is true that most Spanish-speaking immigrant families underestimate how easy it is for their native-speaking kids to lose their ability to speak (as opposed to understand) Spanish once they enter an English-only classroom. Most avoid the Spanish-immersion programs.

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  36. we just got our middle school assignment letter for Hoover Spanish immersion, my daughter's first choice.

    Just want to give a word of encouragement for those who didn't get their top choices.....we were 'assigned' to Fairmount 8 years ago when we weren't able to get into Buena Vista. We were crushed at the time, but have been thrilled to be part of a community that has turned Fairmount into an excellent academic experience. Parent involvement -- and communciation with the principal/teacher is the key to making even more great schools in the city.

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  37. hey gang, for all of you who didn't get any of their 7 choices, my condolences. it's such a tough thing to take. you can't help but take it personally...though of course it's nothing of the sort. i have a story that might cheer you up. we didn't get one of our 7 last year either...we were gunning for clarendon jbbp, but ended up with sunnyside, which wasn't a good fit for our family. we appealed and appealed, and got nothing. i was getting a bit frantic, but knew that we could leave our "young" late fall baby in her pre-k for an extra year. the 10 day count came. we were hopeful because there were 7 spaces in the japanese program, only 10 kids on the "preferred b/c they didn't get any of their 7" waitlist. well, we were not one of the lucky 70%. we still didn't have a kindergarten, and i was getting nowhere with the middle-level placment guy at sf unified. As luck would have it, Miraloma (which was our second choice) had an opening due to a family that got a spot closer to their marina home. my daughter came home that first day declaring she had a new best friend. she fit in perfectly within a week. we love it there, and appreciate our spot every day. my advice? stick it out thru the summer. be prepared to go into sf unified's office and figure out your best odds. stick it out...you'll get a place you like.

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  38. We didn't get one of our 7 choices and were assigned to William Cobb which we don't feel is a good choice for us. I find it very interesting how many families (including us) that didn't get one of their 7 choices that live in the Richmond district were assigned to Cobb. Considering the school only receive 40+ applications, this doesn't seem right to me...certainly doesn't seem like a true lottery at all...what is going on?!?!

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  39. Last year we got our first choice for kindergarten at Rosa Parks JBBP. We are still extremely pleased to be part of the family! The kindergarten teachers do a fabulous job (as do the other teachers and staff). We look forward to meeting new kids and families during the orientation and tours.

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  40. Most of the schools in the Richmond area are oversubscribed (even Sutro and McCoppin have very few slots for GE). It's likely that the schools people have listed were oversubscribed, thus getting 0/7 is highly likely and I might even say, GENERALLY LIKELY given the popularity of the Richmond schools. After the lotteries for each school are run, if your name does not come up and you get nothing, then you will be assigned a school that still has openings and that school is pretty much Cobb for the Richmond.

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  41. May as well make Cobb great! It is a good location.

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  42. FYI - Cobb has a large number of families that choose that school because the parents work at California Pacific Medical Center.

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  43. to the poster asking about grattan vs. creative arts charter:

    my nephew went to CAC and really blossomed there. though i have not visited the school, his mom raved about the school having a great art-based curriculum, good class sizes, caring teachers, etc.

    i did go a couple of the fundraising events and was really impressed with the parent/student participating and organization.

    grattan is a good school, too, so it really depends on what you're looking for in a school.

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  44. Just a word of encouragement to those among you who did not receive one of your choices -- five years ago we were in the same boat, assigned to a school we did not request and knew nothing about. After touring the school and speaking with a very knowledgeable parent, we decided to ignore the scores and accept the assignment, but stay on the waitlist for the school that was our first choice.

    After the 10-day count, we were offered a spot at our first choice, but it was too late -- we had fallen in love with our assigned school, the teachers, the principal, and the community. We couldn't imagine leaving, so we didn't. Now, a few short years later, the scores have improved significantly and it's become one of the top 12 requested elementary schools, partly because of the families that decided to rally around it.

    All this is to say: 1) don't be afraid to look into a school that you did not request -- sometimes you may find that "hidden gem" you keep hearing about from PPS and it turns out to be the right fit for your family, and 2) staying on the waitlist does work -- even for the popular schools everyone is already lusting over.

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  45. We got into our first choice..Alvarado Spanish Immersion. I have never won anything in my life, but this time I feel as if I hit the jackpot. We have many friends who did not get assigned to any school on their list and I really feel for them. I hope it's true that in the end every parent finds the right school for their child but it really must be agonizing.

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  46. I've been at a PTO school and a PTA school. The main difference is that with a PTA school, the parent group doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. You need insurance for your event? You got it. You need to lobby when the state cuts your funding? The PTA is there. You need guidelines on safeguarding your school's money to prevent theft or worse, embezzlement? They have them. It's administratively a lot easier on the parents, and frees them up to focus on the kids and events (and, who am I kidding, the fundraising.)

    But parents are parents at any school, and all parents are concerned about their children. I've just found that the administrative part of the parent group runs more smoothly at PTA schools. Not everyone's top priority, of course, but for those who end up heavily involved it makes life easier.

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  47. we lucked out and got into Feinstein,our 3rd choice

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  48. i'm so impressed with all of you for really opening up to many potential schools not just the usual rooftop, clarendon, etc. pat yourselves on the back! when i was going through the process, i was driven crazy by incoming K parents' inability to imagine any other school besides "the list".

    if you are still looking for options, here's my "success story":

    my daughter is in the 1st grade in the japanese bilingual program @ rosa parks and she is really digging it! she loves playing with kids of all ages and backgrounds, learning japanese and japanese culture (my husband & i don't know japanese), eating mochi & sushi at special events, and adores her teachers.

    we also have a new principal who is awesome! google "monica nagy" to get an idea of what a high-powered educational leader she is.

    i'm excited that all of you active, thoughtful parents will be entering the public education community in san francisco. you may be at a challenging juncture now but ultimatley, it rocks!

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