Monday, March 10, 2008

Do you have questions about Round II and the Wait Pool?

The line was practically out the door—and moving at a snail's pace—at the SFUSD administrative offices this morning. I dropped by hoping to get some of my questions about Round II answered. Unfortunately, I'm on deadline at work so I opted not to wait.

But I put in a call to Parents for Public Schools. I'm hoping to interview a representative about Round II and the Wait Pool. If you have a question, post it in the comments section and I'll try to get answers for everyone asap. Thanks!

116 comments:

  1. If we request to be placed in "waitpool" for our number 1 choice - do we leave that school off of our "amended list?" Is our original application now void? Do we need to reenter all schools we want - again??

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  2. I was assigned a school on my list. If I want to be in the wait pool for a school higher up my list, do I go ahead and register at my assigned school and then submit a wait pool request? And what about an amended list? I didn't get any instructions with my assignment.

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  3. Do we need to attend a counseling session if we know what school we want to put down on our wait list? Is there some procedural advantage to our going to a session, for example we get assigned to a counselor who will oversee our position or soemthing.

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  4. Hi,
    This email is for Amy Graff:
    Hi Ms. Graff,
    My name is Eve Cheung and I'm the Principal at J Serra. One of my staff showed me the article mentioning that your daughter has been assigned to J Serra and that you hadn't heard of our school. We're hidden away in the Bernal Heights area, across from a beautiful little park -Holly Park. We're small and a close community. We have wonderful students and very caring families. All our students walk or are driven to school. We're a diverse community and celebrate our diversity. Our students are making great gains academically. Please come and visit. We're very proud of our school! Eve Cheung

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  5. Can you only list schools with openings, or should you relist some of the schools from your original list in case openings become available? Also, when going onto the wait list do you have a better chance with a school in your neighborhood, or does it matter?

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  6. Some info from my husband who went to SFUSD this morning (we are a "got none" family) ....

    I laughed at him last night for suggesting he arrive there at 8 am when the office opens; you'll look like a ridiculous, desperate parent, I said. Apparently he was not alone. At 7:50 there were about 40 people ahead of him and he doesn't know how many had already been there. He finished at 9:20 and the line was much longer.

    We submitted our first choice as our wait-pool school then listed 7 additional schools. Without knowing whether this was the right thing to do, we relisted our original oversubscribed schools and added one not quite as oversubscribed. The interaction with the clerk was, I think, an official counseling session. The clerk gave my husband pat and official answers which can all be found online. My husband asked whether we should still attend the scheduled counseling sessions and the clerk said the info given at the sessions is the same as coming in to the office and speaking with a counselor but the sessions do have school representatives there. The clerk said there is no priority given for applications turned in before the round II deadline, so no need to run off to the district office today.

    About which schools to put on your amended list, here's something to keep in mind. As seats become available at a school, names are drawn from the wait-pool until there are no more names in the pool. If a pool is completely drawn, then the computer would look for people who have the school on their amended list. So writing down an oversubscribed school on your amended list (after your wait-pool choice) appears to give you little chance of getting into that school unless for some reason the wait-pool for that school has all names drawn out of it. Did that make sense?

    As I understand it, you do need to register at your assigned school if you want to be sure your kid has a seat in the SFUSD in the fall. You do not have to register to participate in round II. But if you don't register and your kid does not get assigned any school in round II or later from the wait-pool you are in danger of having no school at all.

    Of greatest interest: My husband described to the clerk the situation that some people requested McKinley and did not receive any of their choices while others were assigned McKinley against their will. The clerk indicated that this should not have happened and that the recourse is for the parties (those who requested it and didn't get it and those assigned it) to jointly file a complaint with the SFUSD Equity Assurance office using their documents as proof of the problem. I don't take much solace that overseeing body is the district itself. The office number is 355-7323. Here is a link to the forms:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/
    template/?page=forms&dept=77777


    The clerk said the wait-pool is run by lottery. This would suggest that the daily calls to the clerk would make no difference; however I have heard so many rumors that it does make a difference. Can anyone dispel the myth or prove the truth that there is a human factor involved in who gets picked out of the wait-pool?

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  7. So how is this for welcoming and encouraging - I call Fairmount to see if my husband can tour the school before we register and was told that there are NO TOURS, "you can come and register but we are not showing people around" !!! You have got to be kidding ???
    The man told me that there was no way they could show around everyone who wanted to look - "it would be very disruptive" - well as someone who was happy with my assignment I am now someone who is less than impressed - anyone got a school out there who would like to show around a prospective parent???

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  8. Well, it sounds like J Serra (basically just across Mission Street and up the hill from Fairmount) would love to show you around! Their principal and literacy teacher have actually been posting here with encouraging words.

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  9. The Fairmount person was right, tours are disruptive, if they did it for you, they would have to do it for everyone.

    It also means somebody has to lead the tour. This is a busy time for the school staff. Report cards are coming out next week, parent teacher conferences are next week too.

    Then comes Spring Break, and on the heels of that is the Standardized testing for the 2nd-5th graders.

    Some schools have a welcome tour for all registered families in the spring. Contact PPS for the parent ambassador for Fairmount to see if they have one scheduled. If not, perhaps the parent ambassador will be able to work out a mutually convenient time to give you a tour.

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  10. Of course it's disruptive, I did not for one moment suggest it would not be (not least of all for me) BUT I did not design the system I'm just stuck with it and trying to work through it the best I know how - I was going by Parents for Public Schools advice NUMBER 1 - after receiving your allocation:

    Visit your assigned school before Friday March 21st

    I also know that some schools are happy to welcome prospective parents and show them around before they register. I guess Fairmount has become too popular for that to be considered worthwhile.

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  11. I have a question about the wait pool and Round II amended application lists. I have heard two conflicting things: first, that all people who didn't get any of their 7 choices in Round I will be run as a priority cohort (all of their 7 choices run). second, that all of the wait pool choices are run first and so if you don't put a school as your wait pool choice you have little chance of getting it. How does it work in reality?

    We are trying to decide whether to put our #3 choice as our wait pool choice (small, neighborhood school, better chance of getting in), or our #1 choice (very highly in demand, but a lot of parents may choose private and spaces may open up). We'd be quite happy with our #3 choice, but also can't quite give up yet on #1 or #2.

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  12. Flynn is getting lots of calls today about tours and such. We will likely be touring this Thursday for anyone interested. Please contact Dave Forer at 650-868-7343. Or davidforer@yahoo.com

    And our Welcome Meeting is next Monday, the 17th from 6-7 in the auditorium for anyone with questions. Principal Addcox and the K team will be there.

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  13. Rachel B: thanks for the great info! we were one of the McKinley-screwed families. it was our 7th choice but we would have gladly taken it. My hubby was going to call this morning but I have yet to be in touch with him to hear how it went. that complaint form thing is quite interesting.

    if anyone else wants to discuss the mckinley thing off-blog let's figure out a way to get in touch.

    one of my friends was assigned to Sunnyside and the principal is calling all of the families personally to welcome them!!! She is excited even though she did not list it as a choice. My husband said if the principal at Hillcrest is serious about recruiting all of these noe valley families maybe he will do the same. (hint hint if you are out there.)

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  14. Visit meaning register before the 21st or lose your spot.

    Call PPS and ask to be put in contact with a parent ambassador, that person might be able to give you a tour before the 21st.

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  15. What nonesense ! Visit means VISIT - register means REGISTER.
    Should I want a private tour with a parent I will of course make contact with PPS to try and set one up. I was commenting on trying to work through the system and being met with an unhelpful "take it or leave it" response by the school, in sharp contrast to the way other schools are welcoming their prospective parents.

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  16. Visit does not mean tour.

    How many schools are giving tours BEFORE registration? Not many.

    The entitlement in your posts is breathtaking. It's all about what they can do for you. Charming.

    So many people got nothing, and many of those put Fairmount on the list. If the school didn't fall over themselves enough for you, by all means, find one of those you think will.

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  17. Also, the people putting together the welcoming events, tours, etc are the parents.

    The schools are busy educating our kids.

    You refuse to make an effort to contact a Fairmount parent rep to see if perhaps they DO have anything planned.

    Instead you call the front desk of the school expecting them to drop everything for you.

    Ask the PTA if they have anything planned. As you see a few posts up, Flynn's PTA has put together something.

    You have to make an effort to, not just throw a tantrum and act like a slighted child.

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  18. In NYC you get into your local school automatically. No it is not perfect - not as diverse - but it is a public school system that works for middle class public educations supporting families. It is ridiculous in this day and age to burn more carbon fuel and waste parent and kid's learning time to trek across the city for school instead of walking down the street. As well kids dont connect as well with neighborhood kids to do spontaneous playing at the local playground.
    What's even more incredible is that 2/3 of you voted agains the NYC system in the informal poll. Well here we are after the fact. Anyone want to change their minds?

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  19. This message is for Eve Cheung.

    Eve -- my daughter was also assigned to Junipero Serra -- not one of our 7 choices. I will call the school for a tour. But what advice can you give Kate, myself and other J. Serra families about your school? Are you willing to work with a PTA to improve the school? What do you feel are the school's strengths and areas for improvement? Please help. I have to admit that from looking at the data on Junipero Serra, I am feeling very ambivalent about sending my daughter there. What can you tell me to alleviate my concerns?
    - concerned parent

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  20. This just came out on the Mckinley mailing list. It looks like a genuine glitch at Mckinley:

    Hello families,

    The school district has overenrolled Kindergarten at McKinley by 40 places. At this time, Bonnie & Vikki are noting the time and date parents register at the McKinley office. This is being done in anticipation of the likely squabbles between the district and angry parents who show up late to register at the school.

    Bonnie explains that we are limited at our school to accepting more kids because we cannot put K's, 1st graders or 2nd graders on the second floor due to fire code regulations.

    My heart goes out to those parents who show up believing they have a space and then don't. Ugh!
    Please spread the word to anyone you know who is enrolling at McKinley. Enroll asap.

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  21. Sutro Elementary. Consider this school! 235-12th Avenue and Clement. Staff is nurturing and kind. Environment is small and family oriented. Kids are very happy there.

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  22. Agreed.

    I just don't see how this eco-wasting pseudo diversity system is better than one based on equal opportunity, possibly amended w/ some neighborhood preference.

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  23. I'll second the poster who smelled alot of entitlement in some of the posts here. It's absurd that someone thinks that school principals should personally call Noe Valley parents to encourage them to enroll. You're really not as special as you think and our schools really have better things to do than schmooze you just because you're middle or upper income.

    On the other end of the spectrum, kudos to those open to new schools already organizing to make those schools even better.

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  24. "Anyone want to change their minds?"

    No. A neighborhood assignment system wouldn't address the underlying issues. This district faces the usual complexities of educating a diverse set of kids. They have to meet needs of disadvantaged children and the desires (not bad or unrighteous desires, mind you) of educated middle class families. A neighborhood system would just move the problem, and all of the frustrating struggles we parents go through to get a "good" school spot for our kids, to a new venue. If the perception and/or reality is that the numbers of spots at "good" schools is limited, let's face it, the fight would still be on to get one of those spots. But it would be focused on living in a particular zip code or block, it would distort real estate prices, it would disadvantage whole sets of kids even further and worsen segregation, and it would tend to limit the scope of choices we have now. At least now we get to have some say in picking certain programs and emphases and locations (subject to availability of course--but again, the popular spots will always be oversubscribed).

    I know, it sucks to go through this. And there are glitches that need to be fixed (McKinley seems to be this year's example) and perhaps the system needs to be tweaked again or maybe even changed up to be a pure choice system (no diversity lottery) with strong outreach put in place to help disadvantaged families apply in round one. But a neighborhood assignment system would be a huge step backwards.

    'Course, it's easy for me to say that as I have lived in the following assignment areas: Bryant and Edison (now a for-profit charter school), and Sanchez. No, I am happy with this fairer (if frustrating and protracted) system. Your mileage--and location!--may vary.

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  25. I am so sorry that you detect entitlement in my posts (?) I certainly meant none. I genuinely thought I was doing what I should be doing.

    I have not refused to contact PPS, not sure where you got that from.

    I contacted the school directly to see if they had a "welcome" or whatever tour set up and that still does not seem like an unreasonable thing to do.

    At no point did I expect the school (or anyone) to drop everything for me or fall over themselves for me (?) believe me I have put in as many hours and dollars into this process as anyone, I know it's down to me to do the legwork - I just understood from what I have read/been told that the next stage in the process was to visit/tour/look around the school. I find it hard to believe I am the only person who would appreciate looking around the school I have been assigned before I register.

    I have other options and just want to be really sure that I am doing the right thing for my son, I understand that some people got nothing on their list and some wanted Fairmount - like I said, I did not design the system, I'm just trying to get through it.

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  26. ditto on the apology for the "entitlement" perception. I certainly didn't mean to come off that way. Let's please not turn this into a forum to flame each other and just be supportive. I am enjoying this blog because it gives me the feeling we are not alone in this process.

    and btw, I wrote the comment about asking the principal to call. i just thought it sounded lovely, not that we need any special welcome. and we are not the typical noe valley family. we rent. I work non-profit and my spouse is in higher ed. we struggle just to pay the rent (and our place is below typical noe valley rent rates) and private school is not an option for us. again, I apologize for sounding entitled. just working through it all like everyone else.

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  27. Can someone post a list of the schools which have openings for Round 2, or must I go to a counselling session to see it?

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  28. Boy, the lawsuits are just piling up, aren't they? How can SFUSD possibly deny the people who received acceptance letters to McKinley admittance based on the order in which they register? The form states you have received enrollment if you sign up by the 21st- not that you MAY receive enrollment if you hurry up and beat everyone else over to the school! They just do not have a legal leg to stand on in terms of denying admission to those who were offered it at McKinely - am I right? Hopefully, there will be a natural attrition due to private school acceptances, etc. But honestly that post made me steam! The thought of getting an assignment and then having to "duke it out" in a school office somewhere over who put her name down first on some list? RIDICULOUS. Rrrrrrrr...

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  29. The supposedly entitled person is not alone. I've called a bunch of schools today to try to talk to a parent or observe a class. Fairmount was the only place I was met with rudeness.

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  30. Well, it does help to explain the reported discrepancies about McKinley of the last few days. There was obviously a big glitch with that school. Last year the glitch was with Marshall and the processing of English-language families (as I recall). The only other school that has been mentioned here in this category is one playground-hearsay tale of someone who supposedly did not put Clarendon on her list but got a spot. (I'm with Lorraine of PPS on that one--I'd want to check her original submitted list before I believed it....whereas with McKinley it seems there are many tales to tell and the glitch is real.)

    Maybe the district can offer some kind of priority placement grouping to those who were oversubscribed at McKinley (sounds like the airlines, doesn't it).

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  31. Update for McKinley folks - just received a call personally from the principal, Bonnie Coffey-Smith, welcoming us to the school - I about dropped the phone! She didn't mention the overenrollment problem to me but just reminded me I had to come by and sign up by the 21st - they are having a visiting day for kids/parents on the 18th. She did ask if we were intending on going and I was very honest that we were also waiting to hear from privates, etc and then making our final decision. She was completely understanding of this and said she really hoped to meet us on the 18th. A nice, pleasant surprise out of all of this enrollment mess!

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  32. Re my urging folks to call when you're in the wait pool, two things:

    There are sometimes indications that feet get dragged on filling openings (I'm putting this delicately) -- an opening is sitting there unfilled, names are in the wait pool, nothing happens for a while. This is one reason to make those calls.

    Second reason is just my own philosophy, but also from being on the board at a parent-run co-op preschool where we had to deal with a waiting list from the other end.

    Say you (the EPC clerk) call Name No.1 on the list. You get a busy signal, or "call failed." How many times do you keep calling back? Or: You get voicemail and leave a message. How long do you wait before you go on to the next name? Basically it's often a total pain in the butt trying to reach that name. Meanwhile, you have someone calling you, saying (pleasantly and politely) "We're sitting by the phone -- you can reach us instantly with one call -- and we want that spot!" Are you reeeeealllllly gonna be so pure about whose name came up first? Maybe, but maybe not. That was my theory in the old, less automated days, but it really hasn't changed.

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  33. I doubt if this timestamping for Mckinley will be relevant. School staff are trying to help parents if it becomes an issue, but EPS hasn't given them any guidance yet. They're in a tough spot.

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  34. The schools are hyper busy right now. They're dealing with registration red tape on top of everything else. The district does not provide schools with extra resources to deal with the registration process. The secretary and other folks working the front desk are doing multiple things.

    When you "visit" to register they copy all your documents and then check you off their lists. Meanwhile the regular admin work piles up.

    As I said, parent-teacher conferences are next week, standardized testing begins in April. These folks are operating on a shoestring (which is about to get cut further), they don't have staff to spare to walk people around the school.

    Some principals call families on their personal time (even if they call during the day, they have to make up their work at some point, it's not part of their job to call). It is a sweet gesture, but not all of them can do it.

    I agree, it's a wonderful thing when they do, a couple years ago my child's first grade teacher called us all the week before school started, a very nice thing to do.

    The schools (teachers, principals, support staff, etc) do a marvelous job, the district in my opinion is of very little help.

    The assignment process is awful, but it's not the fault of the school

    The welcome events are driven by the PTA in conjunction with the school. If you get welcome information from the school, odds are parent volunteers ran around compiling the information, typing the document, etc.

    And just as when you toured in the fall, odds are welcome tours are parent led. The principal in many cases will be able to meet and greet for a short time before they need to get back to work.

    I got the idea you didn't want to contact the PPS parent rep because of the way you dismissed a private tour and implied the school should somehow roll out a red carpet for you.

    I understand the frustration with the district, but the individual schools are there for our children. The person at Fairmount pointed out to you that tours were disruptive, and it is.

    Now this doesn't mean there won't be other times for you to feel welcome or tour the school.

    It might be schedules didn't align for the PTA to put together a welcome event during the registration time period. However, that does not mean nothing is planned.

    I believe Fairmount has a yahoo listserv, they must also have a pps rep, you could post on the pps listserv and ask.

    The person at the front desk at the school will not know everything the PTA is planning.

    So much is going on. Next year at this time, walk through your school's office as they deal with the newly assigned parents, kids with bumps and bruises, teachers needing photo copies, testing material gone awry, etc.

    And if you didn't feel as welcome as you wanted, then you've found a hole you can plug next year in the PTA. Volunteer to lead a welcome committee. Work with the Fairmount principal and plan a welcome event during the registration period. Create a welcome booklet, distribute a form to new families asking if the PTA can contact them.

    This is public school, there is budget crisis, teachers are getting laid off. Parent volunteers (working parents, stay at home, whatever ) are picking up the slack left and right.

    I strongly strongly urge you to contact Fairmount's PTA and if it's important to you, ask if they are planning a tour, even after registration (many schools do offer a spring tour after break). And if you need to see it before hand, ask the PTA for a private tour.

    The schools are in the business of educating our kids, however the PTA will most likely gladly help you.

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  35. Why was everyone there? Is the waitpool first come first serve?

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  36. add this to the list of problems:

    we were assigned Flynn GenEd. it was NOT on our list

    ran into a friend at a cafe. he did not get Flynn Gen Ed but it was on his list.

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  37. Addressing the "human factor"...we got into our first choice, Miraloma, and I've no explanation why- it's not our neighborhood school, we are not what I would think the "demographically desirable" family would be for Miraloma....the only thing I can come up with is that I dropped off my application very early on and was very nice to the woman at the counter. Human factor? maybe....

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  38. Hi, this is Suzanne from PPS. Congratulations to all who received one of their choices, and for those who did not, I wanted to clear up some of the confusion about waitpools and amended applications in Round II.

    First, please note that registering at your assigned school DOES NOT affect your chances of getting into your waitpool or amended application schools.

    Registering at your assigned school will ensure that you have a space reserved for your child there. PPS recommends you visit your assigned school, especially if it wasn't on your original list. You can also call PPS (861-7077) to be put in contact with a Parent Ambassador from that school to hear the parent's perspective of their school, or to get a personal tour of the school. Note that tours are normally done by volunteer parents, so some schools may not have a regular tour scheduled.

    Waitpools: You can waitpool for ONE school. The EPC considers your waitpool school your first choice - that you want to go there over a school you are already registered at, and over schools listed in your amended application. You can change your waitpool choice at any time. You will remain in the waitpool for a school until you are 1) assigned at the school; 2)you remove your name from the school's waitpool; 3)the waitpool lists are dissolved at the end of September.

    Amended Applications: In addition to your waitpool school, you can also list 7 more schools on an Amended Application. We recommend you check the data on the PPS website for the demand per seat at schools to help you find other schools that had less demand to list. The EPC will soon release information about waitpool lists after Round II last year, to give you more information about what schools had waitpools before.

    Counseling Sessions: We recommend you attend one of the Counseling sessions to not only hear directly from EPC counselors, but also to speak with PPS Parent Ambassadors from various schools. They can tell you about their school, give you suggestions about other schools you may not have considered yet, and most of them have also been trained on the enrollment process and can share their own experience with you.

    More tips are on the PPS website, and feel free to call the PPS office at 861-7077 or email us at info@ppssf.org. Please be patient - our phones have been very busy today. Thanks!

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  39. We got Sheridan which was not on our list and is almost completely geographically impossible for us.
    What I don't understand is how there were 40 openings at Sheridan, 53 first choice applicants, but only 15 of 53 got it.
    The posting on "the situation that some people requested McKinley and did not receive any of their choices while others were assigned McKinley against their will. The clerk indicated that this should not have happened" doesn't make sense to me. There have to be people who wanted Sheridan and didn't get it and my son "took" their place.

    Also, does anyone have a list of the 'undersubscribed' schools. I'd like to do some researh and feel that I have some choice over the school that I have to 'settle for" while I waitlist for my preference.

    Lastly, "Under the consent decree, no racial group may constitute more than 40% or 45% of total student enrollment at any given school." Has this requirement been amended to allow for (for example) Stephenson to be 67% Asian?

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  40. We did not save our original application, which is listed as one of the documents we need to register. Does anyone know if we can register without it? Why do they need it?

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  41. anonymous @ 3:46, the consent decree has been lifted and is no longer in effect. The socio-economic diversity lottery is an attempt to keep the schools diverse (not massively segregated) without setting racial quotas, with mixed results as certainly segregation by race and class has occured. There are contradictions in trying to ensure both equity and keeping middle class families in the district.

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  42. The consent decree was struck down by the courts a few years ago.

    For more read:

    http://www.colorlines.com/article.php?ID=106

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  43. and more:

    http://edjustice.blogspot.com/2005/11/san-francisco-schools-desegregation.html

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  44. Ok, thanks for clarifying on the consent decree, but several schools have 70%+ Free & reduced-price lunch students. That is specifically listed as one of the "5 factors." That doesn't seem to meet the diversity requirement either. I guess I am just soooo frustrated at getting hosed by a system that is (apparently) not working. I'd find this all a lot easier to swallow if it actually worked consistently.

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  45. The district should stop playing God, and just give families an equal shot at the school they choose.

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  46. Right now the diversity is based on class, if you will. Socio-economic, which where the free lunch comes in to play. So the poor mingle with the not so poor.


    Here is how the district explains the 5 factors:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=policy.placement.process

    • Extreme Poverty: Does the student live in public housing? Is the student a foster youth? Does the family participate in a homeless program?

    • Socioeconomic Status: Does the student participate in any of the following programs: free/reduced lunch, CalWORKS, and/or public housing?

    • Home Language: Is English the student’s home language? This is determined by the answers to the Home Language Survey on the application form.

    • Academic Performance Rank of Sending School: Is the Academic Performance Index ranking of the student’s current school 4 or above? The California Department of Education ranks every public school in California by academic performance, and assigns each school an Academic Performance Index (API). Note: this factor is excluded for Kindergartners.

    • Academic Achievement Status:

    - Incoming Kindergartners: Did the student attend preschool?

    - Students entering grades 1-12: Did the student score above or below the thirtieth (30th) percentile on the most recent standardized test of record?

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  47. A few FYIs:

    There are families assigned to Aptos who aren't familiar with it (listed it lower down or maybe, in another glitch, got it without listing it).

    I've volunteered to answer questions and to do a school tour this Thursday, March 13, 11 a.m. Come to the tour, or contact me at cgrannan@gmail.com

    Re Junipero Serra -- I'm not familiar with the school. But I checked, and it does have a PTA. Further info: All SFUSD elementaries have instrumental music in grades 4-5 -- once-weekly optional pullout class instruction in violin, clarinet, flute or trumpet. (It's minimal, but it started both my kids on the road to SOTA -- my 11th-grader does frequent paid jazz trumpet gigs.)

    All SFUSD elementary schools have Prop. H money for further arts and PE.

    If J. Serra is a Title I or a STAR school, it has still further additional money. Sandra Tsing Loh on her child's Title I LAUSD school:

    Back in fall 2005, when my older daughter enrolled at our drab LAUSD school, I was pleasantly surprised—almost shocked (steeped in Kozolalia as I was)—to discover that it was not a blasted wasteland. While aesthetically uninspiring on the outside, inside it was a plethora of books, computers, LeapFrog pads, and the like. Title I schools, such as ours (those with a substantial portion of low-income students), are eligible for hundreds of thousands of federal dollars that affluent schools are not. Our library was stocked, litter was picked up, graffiti erased. As far as I could see, no dusty panes of glass were in danger of shattering at our feet.

    I'm not recommending pursuing J. Serra, or not, because I know nothing about it; just noting that the assumption that it has no PTA, arts, music or PE is probably not valid.

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  48. Hello annonymous 3:46,
    Some of the people who did not get Sheridan may have gotten another one of their 7. If a person put Sheridan as #1 and Rooftop as #2 and got rooftop, not sheridan, rooftop would be listed in their letter.
    Clearly, though, Flynn GE and McKinley had a problem. Just to be clear, some of the Mckinley and Flynn GE requestors got NOTHING of their 7, right? I know if I hear someone got Starr King immersion and didn't have it on their list I will shit many bricks. My heart is with y'all.

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  49. Anonymous 4:39 et. al.-

    Those 2 factors Socioeconomic Status and Extreme Poverty as described and no doubt self-selected would seem to be very similar. Have those factors ever been correlated? Seems like they would be highly correlated so as to simply give a better chance to those w/ those factors.

    Is the raw data publicly available?

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  50. Jeff,

    I don't think the raw data is publicly available, but I for one would love to see it!

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  51. Hmmm. I bet *somebody* already has the data and can run a simple correlation.

    If not, as long as indidual private data is not revealed I think they almost HAVE to provide access to it per http://www.thefirstamendment.org/publicrecordsact.pdf

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  52. I also can't find our original application and am wondering if anyone has a suggestion about how to get a copy. I'm hoping to hook up with other John Muir assignees to see if there's any reason to be less afraid than I am (I did get all 4 of my tires slashed while waiting at a stop light in that neighborhood; I suppose I'm lucky it was not my throat but I'm not sure that counts as a school recommendation) but I definitely want to go for round 2 and the wait list as well, and have been told we need the original app to prove we applied to 7 schools in the first round (which of course we did).

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  53. Just wait until next month when SFUSD starts announcing all the small under-enrolled schools that they are going to close down. That will be fun.

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  54. Jeff,

    If you can't find anybody with the data, I think you'll find many of us cheering you on in your quest to get it.

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  55. Low socioeconomic = qualifies for free and reduced lunch
    extreme poverty = lives in public housing

    They aren't the same thing.

    Check the SFUSD website or Greatschools.net for school by school data.

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  56. To John Muir folks. I worked at John Muir three years ago(speech and language therapist). There are some great teachers there. I never had any problems with the neighborhood (except for parking). The kids are good kids. When I was there the principal had just replaced a well-loved principal who retired, so there was some tension around that.
    I'm not recommending or not recommending the school, but my stay there, including the kids and staff, was nice.

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  57. Marlowe's Mom -

    I brought the assignment letter to EPC this morning and it was enough to fill in the Round 2/Wait List form. i don't think you need the orginal application for that step, perhaps for registration. We were also assigned John Muir: is there any hope for serious consideration? Are you going to register your kiddo there?

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  58. So here is a question for PPS that I and some others seem to have: Do you need to bring your letter of assignment and/or original application when signing up for wait-pool and round II? Or can you just bring your round II application and the district already knows what pool you are in.

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  59. i am curious about the impact of your answer on the home language survey. are there "good" languages (from a diversity standpoint) and neutral ones? do they deduce some sort of class standing from whether your family has cambodian or, say, italian?

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  60. Advice heard from PPSF:
    * Don't enroll at a school you don't want your child to go to--you're taking a spot someone else might want.
    * The Amended list should be a list of schools with better odds of getting in--don't resubmit a list of popular schools. (Go to a counseling session to get the demand spreadsheets and waitpool info)
    * Waitpool only the school you really want that you have a good chance of getting into. Registering at a school or submitting an amended list have no effect on your waitpool chances.

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  61. "thanks for clarifying on the consent decree, but several schools have 70%+ Free & reduced-price lunch students. That is specifically listed as one of the "5 factors." That doesn't seem to meet the diversity requirement either."

    No, because what happens in our mostly choice/with diversity lottery system is that middle class and affluent families specifically de-select schools with large populations of kids who qualify for free lunch (note that this factor happens to correlate strongly with low test scores and also higher numbers of African American and Latino kids). Schools with higher test scores, of course, do attract these same parents, and these schools have higher numbers of middle class and/or affluent families, and are whiter and/or Asian American. They look like "us," if what we mean by us is white/middle class or affluent.

    But these popular schools are by definition over-enrolled, and so the diversity lottery comes into play. The diversity lottery gives a chance to some poorer kids to attend a higher-performing school, and so these schools tend to be less segregated by race/class than the lower performing ones. Assuming that free-lunch-qualifying families apply to them, they will have a good chance of getting in because they will contribute diversity.

    On the other hand, no one can force a middle class or affluent family to choose or to accept an offer for a lower-performing school (witness the strong feelings of folks on this blog who were assigned to one, and who are intending to find a different school through the Round II or waitpool process, or go private). We used to have busing, that did force families--the ones that didn't flee to private--to go to specific schools across town. The new system is designed to encourage desegregation in a more voluntary way.

    Because middle class and wealthy families do not go to the poorer schools, the schools that are most segregated by class/economic status--and also race/ethnicity-- tend to be the ones that are poorest. The ones the folks on this list mostly don't want.

    Yet...there have been counter-examples, such as when the pioneering co-op parents banded together to attend Miraloma a few years back. Then, once a school like Miraloma raises its scores and brings in more bennies through the PTA, etc., the school hits the radar of folks like us on this blog, and we begin to crowd out the poorer (and often browner/blacker) families that were there before. The diversity lottery is there to give those folks, who are seriously disadvantaged by factors such as poverty, a leg up to compete for those newly popular spots.

    In other words, it's complicated and there are contradictory goals at work. I personally think the district is right not to focus only on the needs of us vocal (and yes, often "entitled") middle class folk, though it is also clear to me that the district needs us and our energy. So. It's complicated. I would not want to be on the school board!

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  62. We were assigned to Sunnyside Elementary, which wasn't one of our 7 choices, but we visited the school and thought it was OK. A Sunnyside admin just called us to tell us about parent/principal meeting this Thursday night from 5:30-6:30, the same night as the counseling session. When we told her about the conflict, she was surprised and said she'd tell the principal. We thought it was strange that the principal wasn't aware of the district's schedule.

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  63. 7:31, GREAT post. Thank you.

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  64. Can someone tell me what a "literacy teacher" is?

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  65. Please don't construe the following email as ungrateful - we are very grateful to have gotten one of our seven. This question comes from simply trying to do as much due diligence as possible before making a huge committment for our family, like everyone else.

    We got Rooftop - our first choice, but have now heard from an existing parent at the school that there is long-time screamer teacher in one of the Kinder classes who terrorizes and shames the children and that the administration does nothing about it. I am also hearing that safety is very lax and that children end up on the wrong buses, don't show up where they should go and that the administration doesn't seem to care at all. Anyone hear anything similar or can shed light on any of this data? Thanks so much.

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  66. I don't know about the screamer teacher at Rooftop specifically, but I can guarantee you that pretty much every school has some problem teacher who is kept in place due to the UESF. Informed and assertive parents can usually avoid these teachers.

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  67. Here's a link to Muir ES PTA information: http://www.hayesvalleysf.org/html/pta/pta.html

    A number of activists in the neighborhood started this a few years ago, and we've had some fundraisers and grants.

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  68. 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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  69. I have heard from a friend that their child's kinder teacher at Rooftop had a real sink or swim attitude towards him. He had a rough month or two but then luckily things smoothed out.

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  70. Rooftop has long been WAY overrated. It's amazing how families are still flocking to go there. This, if nothing else, proves that people are still largely superficial and not at all analytical when they judge a school. Same goes to Feinstein.

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  71. Does anyone know anything about Jose Ortega? Do they have an active PTA? Is anyone who was assigned Jose Ortega now considering attending? Thanks.

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  72. Carl Barnes, the former SF District PTA president (and SF Firefighter) is a parent at Ortega. He's been very happy with the school. He is currently serving in a state PTA position, I believe.

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  73. So I've been looking at the stats a little obsessively, and math is not my strong suit. But it appears that my chances of getting into Flynn immersion (our first choice) were actually lower then getting into Rooftop (also on our list). We did get assigned to Flynn GE and I'll go check it out.
    But am I crazy or is that how these numbers read:

    Rooftop: 80 seats and 1055 requests
    Flynn Imm: 20 seats for English speaking kids and 273 requests
    (which is apparently 13 when you factor in sibs, and there could be a lot of sibs at Rooftop to)

    All this talk of people just picking the popular schools really made me think. One other thing that puzzles me is how many people requested immersion (would sign up right now) vs. how many seats there actually are. Maybe we need a seperate lottery for the immersion seats, and at least then there would be realistic numbers for families to work with.
    Just my observations.
    MCL

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  74. The reason you are hearing about families in certain neighborhoods all getting into the same school is because if you don't get assigned in the lottery to one of your choices, the district tries to put you at a school closest to your home with available spots.

    In fact, parents clamored for SFUSD to do this when in enrollment seasons of the past, they just didn't assign you anything and parents freaked out over being 'unassigned.'

    I met with parents at Sunnyside Park who seemed to think that it was a conspiracy trying to 'force' active parents to underenrolled schools.

    As if...

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  75. Anonymous at 10:13, call PPS (if you can get through; they're pretty busy!) and they can put you in touch with a parent at Jose Ortega who can answer questions.

    Re the question "why did so many families in the Richmond get Cobb?" -- it's because all the schools in the Richmond are oversubscribed, so then if you don't hit the lottery with any of your choices, you wind up in the nearest school with openings (that is, the nearest school that isn't oversubscribed). That's also why families in the Sunset get Ortega or Sheridan. They're a bit far afield (though not really as the crow flies), but all schools in the Sunset have more applicants than openings too. It's distressing, but more logical than it seems.

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  76. A new "Hidden Gem"? You be the judge:

    Various folks requested info on undersubscribed schools. I want to tell you about Rosa Parks Japanese Bilingual Bicultural program (JBBP). We are a current K family and put the school 5th on our list last year (and got it in round 1).

    The JBBP is in it's 2nd year at Rosa Parks, which is situated very centrally in the Western Addition (NOT the Tenderloin as someone in an earlier post stated - not that there's anything wrong with the Tenderloin, IMHO). The building that houses the school is large, beautiful, bright and airy and well-maintained. The school received a large "green" grant and a committee is actively working on a plan to create a community garden. Rosa Parks general ed has been an underperforming school historically, but has a great new principal, excellent staff and teachers, and a newly formed PTA. There is a lot of positive parental energy at this school.

    One of the highlights of the program for us has been the Japanese enrichment. It is NOT immersion, but rather the kids get 1 hour instruction/day in Japanese. Our daughter has really enjoyed this - it encompasses art, song, food, cultural holidays, etc. There is a very committed and involved JBBP parent community (the JBBP just celebrated it's 35 year anniversary).

    I do think that this school has a ton of potential - and the parents that I have met in both of the JBBP K classes (I don't know many parents in the general ed classes - another thing that folks are working on at the school is better integration across programs) are really wonderful, energetic, committed and involved.

    If you're interested here are some upcoming dates where you can find out more about the school:

    Thursday, Mar 13 @ 8:30 am -- Welcome Reception for Incoming Ks

    Tuesday, Mar 18 @ 8:30 am -- school tour. also there will be a multicultural book fair going on.

    Wednesday, Mar 19, @ 8:30 am -- school tour.

    And possibly an open house/tour 3/19 @ 5:30PM but that is still tentative. You can call the school for more info (749-3519).

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  77. We were assigned Feinstein, which was 5th on our list.

    To the anonymous who posted about the superficiality of people listing Rooftop and Feinstein:

    Do you say this about Feinstein because it's in a new facility? Are the teachers no good? It seemed like a good enough place when we toured. Lots of active parents, nice physical space. Since it has four kindergarten classes and not enough kids in the upper grades to make for a lot of siblings (we did ask about this at most schools we toured), it seemed like a good safe bet odds wise.

    We didn't like the principal and have heard of the myriad problems some at the school are having with her. We figure she'll get the boot if she's really that bad, but maybe we're being naive.


    Please share your thoughts as it will help us decide whether or not to waitlist something else. Is Feinstein all glitter and no substance? Are families happy there?

    Public school is our only option and we don't want to make a mistake.

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  78. Regarding Rooftop as being "overrated" (anon at 9:55 p.m.) I think that statement is unfair.

    After visiting it (as well as 15 other schools), I put it at the top of our list. I loved the out of the way location at the top of the hill. I loved that the lower school was separated from the upper school. I loved the art all over the school (and it did not look cookie-cutter like so many of the other schools.) I loved the garden. The kids looked engaged and excited, and extremely well behaved. It also has great diversity. It was the one school that most reminded me of my public school experience. So, I don't think we have to be "snooty" just because Rooftop has the most applicants. I'm sure there are a number of parents who put it down without seeing it just based on reputation, but for me, I thought it was a very special place. Unfortunately, we'll never know how special! But don't disparage it simply becuase it is popular.

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  79. Talk about emotional roller coaster. On Saturday we were so excited since we got into our 2nd choice.... McKinley, now I can't stop thinking about this "glitch". We now may be in a worse position than those that didn't get one of their seven, since if we did manage to get one of our other lower choices it was trumped by the McKinley mess up. I almost feel like I am without an assigned school and if its true that if you get one of your seven you are lower in the wait pool, will they consider this of the McKinley bunch? I guess I should get to writing my grievance letter. Okay maybe I am venting/over-reacting a little... but I'm sure many of you can sympathize/empasize. I guess I should wait it out and see what they say when we go to register tomorrow. I will let you know.... I need a glass of wine now....

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  80. FYI, an acquaintance of mine who teaches in a higly-regarded alternative school in the SFUSD and did her student teaching at Ortega raves about how wonderful Ortega is and is sending her own child to kindergarten there.

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  81. FYI, an acquaintance of mine who teaches in a highly-regarded alternative school in the SFUSD and did her student teaching at Ortega raves about how wonderful Ortega is and is sending her own child to kindergarten there.

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  82. Re: Jose Ortega - I have a good friend who is a teacher there and she says it is a very nice school.

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  83. We got our first choice, Lakeshore. Has anyone heard anything bad about it? I loved the consultant hours each teacher is given but can't help but wonder what impact the budget cuts will have on it. I do plan on registering my child to save his spot but will also apply to Spanish immersion schools for round 2. My son is already Spanish Bilingual and don't want him to lose that. I'm hoping that us being native speakers will at least give us an edge in this whole mess.

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  84. I can easily see why parents and families would fall in love with Feinstein and the way the school looks. The same goes for Rooftop and it's top of the hill location. The facilities though don't do the teaching, the staff does.

    The teachers in these schools (ahem) are the ones who deal with the students on a daily basis and the principal (ahem for one) is the one who deals with the students and the parents on a daily basis.

    As a person who is a part of the system, I wouldn't even list Rooftop and Feinstein as my choices.

    That's just my opinion.

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  85. But recognize that that is YOUR opinion about Rooftop and Feinstein and that each parent needs to make their own decision about it.

    Talk to a PPS Parent Ambassador to come to your own conclusion. For every situation/school there are a variety of opinions.

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  86. My kids went to Lakeshore for K-5, 1996-2005 (total between them). We are still well connected with the Lakeshore community; my husband did regular classroom volunteering there until just a few months ago, when his work situation made it impossible.
    I certainly wouldn't hesitate. It's a great community; my kids got an excellent education there and it was an overall wonderful experience.

    At the time we first applied, Lakeshore was one of the "only five good schools in SFUSD." I think there are a few reasons it fell out of that pantheon:

    -- Due to PPS and related efforts, many, many other schools have risen in status, so now Lakeshore is just one of that crowd.

    -- Immersion schools have multiplied and become so popular that it's even harder for Lakeshore to stand out in the crowd.

    -- It did have one of those legendary fantastic principals, a revered SFUSD veteran who was savvy and connected and could really get things done. She retired in, I think, 2003. The replacement was very nice, but that cost Lakeshore some cachet. (The current principal seems very well liked.)

    -- Lakeshore is an alternative school, and in our day the official advice was that your only option was your assigned school or an alternative school. That wasn't strictly true, but it was the official word, so alternative schools had lots more cachet than they do now.

    So it's no longer the shining out-of-reach ideal that it once was, but it's a very good school. The enrichment program really is great.

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  87. we got assigned Jose Ortega.. Very dissapointed since we live so close to many good schools that of course we didn't get. I dont know anyhting about Jose Ortega and to be honest I havent fully bought in to the parent ambassadors or parents for public schools...

    I know this isnt the most pleasent compliment, but I relaly want to hear the truth... No the truth through a glass half full lense.

    My daughters education is critical to me and our family doesnt need to settle. I want to make sure the school we go to is a strong fit and not just positive to the parents who advocate for it.

    Can anyone offer real unfiltered experince with this school?

    Thanks

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  88. I'm also looking for an unfiltered opinion. What, in your opinion, and I'll take it as one person's opinion, is wrong with the teachers at Feinstein? We didn't get that warm fuzzy feeling when we toured, but no alarm bells went off, either.

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  89. We went to register at McKinley this morning. Already 52 families have registered and it hasn't even been 2 days. They seem to feel positive and told me not to worry, but I think I may now enter the second round for security and see what we get.

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  90. I understand the comment about wanting unfiltered opinions--and it is good to ask widely as opinions do vary! I would just say that parent ambassadors, while certainly they are aiming to "market" the school, are putting their own kids where their mouths are by sending their own kids to that school; they are also not being paid to do that job. Most (though okay, not all) parents I have talked with have been pretty candid once I got past the basics and started asking some well-framed questions. Be up front, and ask specifically for candid responses from the parent ambassador and the principal and whomever else, and see what you get.

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  91. First, thanks to K Willets for the link to the John Muir PTA web site. I never came across it Googling the name of the school.

    To anonymous at 6:49 p.m. on March 10: (a) thanks for the tip about the assignment letter and (b) I have e-mailed the president of the John Muir PTA asking for more information. I drove by the school last night and it's further from the tire-slashing location than I thought. The building and immediate surrounding area area actually far prettier than I expected. The PTA sounds kind of cool. Not just parents but non-parents in the community are involved, and they're raising some money. Not the well-oiled machines of a Lilienthal or Clarendon, but a start. In some ways there may be opportunities that are not present at other schools where the "extras" programs are entrenched. I for one would love to see a second-community French program in a public school, like Clarendon's Italian second-community program, and if some Cole Valley/Haight/Duboce francophiles are assigned to Muir & push for it, maybe we could get it. If there's any interest, e-mail me at sallison@gandalaw.com and put John Muir Elementary in your subject line.

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  92. Unfiltered about the John Muir PTA:

    That PTA was actually organized by outsiders who had basically adopted the school. It's a wonderful thing that they did that, but that's a piece of information I would want to know. One of those organizers, Kim Knox, has been vigorously applying for grants and organizing activities at the school, too.

    How the dynamics of the school and the actual parent involvement are, I can't say. That's just a material piece of information.

    When we first looked at Aptos Middle School, then known as "dirty and dangerous," in 2002, my husband was very wary. The parent volunteer giving us the tour disarmed him this way: She said "OK, I'm going to show you the most disgusting thing you have ever seen" -- and sent him into the boys' locker room (boys weren't using it at the time). He came out saying, "It's just like the locker room in my junior high!" His resistance melted.

    I just finished describing the worst problem teacher at SOTA to a friend of a friend who's deciding between SOTA and St. Ignatius. Not only is it the right thing to do, I think it is actually reassuring to parents to get what's obviously not the sanitized view.

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  93. Lorraine from PPS here--- (warning long personal story ahead)

    I've posted this before, but it may be worth sharing again.

    Six years ago we only listed the 5 most 'popular' schools not wanting to throw away one of our spots on a school that we knew had spots but we couldn't get into (we didn't have all the data that is available now and back then you only got 5 choices, not 7).

    I had seen Miraloma, loved the facility, loved the principal, but figured if it was so underenrolled, what was it that others knew that I couldn't see? What was WRONG with it? The test scores were among the lowest in the district and it was severely underenrolled. Only 15 people had requested (that is not 1st choice - 15 TOTAL put it on their list at all!) and there were 60 kindergarten openings leaving a gaping hole that we were apparently being asked to fill.

    I called PPS and contacted the Miraloma PPS Ambassador, who spent an hour and half on the phone with me - TWICE - answering questions. I did the same for several other schools, most of which were quite underenrolled (several of which have since blasted off in enrollment.) The Ambassador simply spoke of how her son was doing, what she loved about the school and basically just shared her personal experience. I trusted her, thought she had similar values and also could see that education was a top priority for her kids, like me.

    At that time, two others from our school were in the same situation. We figured we'd go ahead and enroll, while we each put other things on our waiting list and figured we'd just wait it out.

    When school started, we met several other lovely families that had been in the same situation and a handful of 1st grade parents who had started volunteering and making changes.

    Come the 10-day count, we got our 1st choice school - Clarendon. But once I was at Miraloma I realized that there was no reason to leave. So I turned down Clarendon. Some others left. But the core stayed as we were rapidly becoming a school community.

    I had felt that my biggest contribution would be to start organizing parent tours as that was what had made such an impact on me the prior year when looking at schools. So a few of us signed up to do that on alternating Tuesday mornings. We saw, in the first year, interest increase as the year progressed as more people learned of our tours while on Rooftop and Clarendon tours. I recall having 3 people at the beginning and 20+ people weekly on tours by January.

    Later that year the group of parents (about 12 of us, I think) formally turned the PTO into a PTA . The next year, we went from enrollment of 245 to about 265. Those who put Miraloma on their list of 7 (by this time) jumped from 15 to aboutt 45. The next year was double and people who didn't put it first and thought it was a shoe in backup for them found they had to waitlist to get in.

    However, the word on the playground about our school was still limited to a handful of parents. The first year I was shopping at Tower Market wearing a Miraloma t-shirt and a woman in line asked if I taught there. I said my son attended school there and she (really!) said “I can’t believe anyone would send their kid to that school”. I felt sick – was I really making a terrible mistake for my child? It wasn’t the first time that listening to outsiders, overly or implicitly, suggest we were not doing right by our child. Of course, it was always people who really didn’t know what they were talking about or who hadn’t stepped into our school or any public school in the past decade.

    By contrast, two years later wearing the same shirt, I had parents in the same store told me Miraloma was #1 choice and were crossing their fingers to get in. The last two years we have added classrooms and teachers to accommodate our school that was filling up. We went from 245 when we started to full building capacity at 360 during our time at Miraloma.

    By the time my daughter came in two years later, people were actively wanting to get in. I remember that year at our spring festival talking with a fellow 'pioneer' parent that I never imagined I'd see the parent involvement that we were seeing or the increased enrollment while I was still at the school, much less in just two years!


    Miraloma is one of MANY schools where this has happened. I want to emphasize that while, yes, there were co-op parents from a variety of schools, there were also many dual-working parents who invested their time, energy and belief as well - some of these made a huge impact on developing our School Site Council, English Learner Advisory Council, PTA - others had time to volunteer during the day, others helped teachers correct homework at home or just made copies on Wednesday mornings. We made it a priority to value any and all contributions a parent makes – from reading to their kids & attending parent-teacher conferences, to organizing fundraising, to organizing parent volunteer tutors in classrooms, to monitoring the listserve. I’d venture to say some of our biggest impact volunteers don’t spend much time at school and do their volunteer efforts remotely. Of course, this doesn't even take into account the many other facets, terrific teachers, dedicated principal (and a new principal that came and took the baton and has run with it.)

    It really does take a village and a little goes a long way. It was among the most profoundly amazing personal experiences I have had - so much it changed my career from the corporate world tothe world of an education nonprofit!

    For those that are afraid to 'take the plunge' I want to assure you that you that I don't feel (nor would I have) I sacrificed anything for my children's education. And I never imagined that I would have found a home in San Francisco like I have through my public school.

    I want to emphasize that I had to listen closely and carefully to my own values and ask myself: “How is my child doing in this school?” I questioned myself often. I also realized that HE was fine – in fact, he was doing great. After almost 6 years there, I can honestly say that I think he got everything from elementary school that I had hoped and dreamed of, plus I gained a whole new perspective and community of friends that I will have for the rest of my life.

    I hope all of you will find the village I have in your public school. We will now be adding Aptos Middle School to our school community next year. PPS is often asked what the next ‘hidden gem’ is and I think what I am reading here is an indication of what those are.

    I was skeptical, scared, and in exactly the same place as all of you who did not get one of your choices. But, please, hang in there. And Parents for Public Schools and our many parent volunteers are here to help.

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  94. A comment on the person who called Fairmount....not sure who you spoke to, or if there will be pre-enrollment 'tour'. I doubt it since it's a really hectic time at all of the schools as they go through parent-teacher conferences and prep for the state testing.

    Fairmount does a lot of parent outreach and you'll have many opportunities to get involved in the community before your kinder starts school next fall. Welcome!

    Tours and outreach to prospective parents are all scheduled for the fall/winter.

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  95. We live in West Portal, and were also assigned to Jose Ortega. Interesting to see all the postings: how it does seem to be the default school for everyone who lives in/around the Sunset. So I suppose there's hope that it will improve if all those new involved parents choose to go there. But we still plan to try to get into a different school, since that seems like a risky proposition to gamble on with a child's education; by the current population of the school, poverty and poor reading and math skills seem to be the rule.

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  96. "that seems like a risky proposition to gamble on with a child's education; by the current population of the school, poverty and poor reading and math skills seem to be the rule."

    But they will not be the rule for your child. The poor reading and math skills of other, more disadvantaged kids do not mean that the teachers cannot or will not teach your child who is probably more advanced.

    I'm not pollyannish; I do want a critical mass of kids at my kids' school who will support them at the more advanced level they are at, and push the teachers to teach to that advanced level. Yet even with that as a bottom line, I have seen in our diverse school that there is much for our more middle class kids to learn from their not-so-middle-class cohort.

    The best approach for all kids, both disadvantaged and advantaged, is probably a highly integrated one, which is why it makes sense to band together with other folks, as seems to be happening with Sunnyside and some others, to be that critical mass.

    Jose Ortega will start to come up in any case, as it attracts families with the Mandarin immersion program, and many of the benefits of their efforts spill over to the GE program too.

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  97. Regarding the above posting about the advantages of mixing high and low level learners at Ortega, or any other school: I would like to see the study showing that this is of any educational advantage to students of higher levels! Of course the students from more fortunate backgrounds will still be in a better education positional compared to those who are not, but would they not be even better if the overall level of the class was higher? What I want from a school for my kids is an good academic education in a safe environment. All else is very, very secondary.

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  98. Very important: You LOSE your first assignment IF you get an assignment in Round II. So do not do Round II unless prepared to give up your Round I assignment This told to me by PPS person). Someone please confirm or refute! Also, can anyone help me locate on the SFUSD web-site the school by school info on seats available, seats filled? Can't find it.

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  99. As long as you enroll at your round 1 assignment it's yours until you unenroll. You don't have to accept any assignment.

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  100. Cheryl - I am the poster who was assigned Fairmount and called the school yesterday (silly me!). Thank you for your posting , it was kind of you to take the time to respond.
    Don't worry, I was well and truly put in my place by some less than friendly posters who thought me completely unreasonable for contacting the school directly, for wanting to have a look around and for hoping to hear some sort of friendly and polite response (as I do whenever I call anyone about anything).
    I'm sorry that I wasted anyone's time, I just thought that was what we were supposed to do if we were unsure of our assignment, I do know personally that several of my friends have been offered "tours", welcome meetings and conversations (by the school staff not the PTA) at other schools so I did not think I was so far off base. However I do now understand that I was and having received some thoughtful insight by responders, such as "the schools are in the business of educating our kids", I realize that I should have just trusted my gut rather than posting my frustrations.
    I thank you for your welcome.

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  101. I'm the one who posted about the advantages of integration.

    My own experience, with one kid in elementary the other in middle, is that my kids score very, very high on the tests and also by more qualitative measures such as quantity and quality of books read, quality of writing, breadth of knowledge in areas such as geography and history. They have highly educated parents, and they travel, and they have been taught to ask questions. They are definitely privileged, at least in terms of educational background. A minority but significant grouping of their classmates share this background, but in both schools at least half their classmates qualify for free lunch.

    I have not seen any educational disadvantage to them sharing a classroom with less advantaged kids. There has been enough of a cohort to support and challenge them (peer learning), and the teachers have been skilled enough to teach to different levels, that they have thrived. I do think having something of a critical mass is important, but once you have that, the support will be there for your kids.

    While I have seen no educational downside to the diversity mix, I have seen a huge social upside. I do not want my kids in a hothouse environment, or one that is filled with kids much like themselves, such that they do not question their own perspectives and sense of normalcy. There is a welcome challenge for my kids in having to integrate others' perspectives and experiences. They have to think more! I want my kids to develop the skills to function in the larger, and more diverse, and increasingly interconnected, world. A diverse environment helps them do that. My kids are becoming highly skilled, cosmopolitan, urban kids.

    I also like that my kids know that they are very, very special--the most special--to me but that they are part of a larger community of kids who are just as worthy of our society's time and attention and investment. They are developing a sense of "we're all in this together." This is not a fuzzy point for me. It is basic civic education in a democracy.

    So I disagree with the premise of the poster @ 12.32. Once you have the needed critical mass of high-performing kids, no, you don't need 100% high achievers for your kids to excel at the highest levels; there just isn't more to boost. But in that monocultural (including monoclass) environment they will really miss out on the very real educational benefits of diversity.

    My kids attend integrated schools in terms of race and class. They are good academic environments and they are also safe. Nearly all the schools mentioned here, including many of the ones that have popped up in the assignment process, will provide that for your kids. They certainly will do so if you bring in a cohort of active, engaged families.

    I would not hesitate to jump on the Sunnyside bandwagon or to check out Jose Ortega either, if I were back in the K process. As it is, we chose one of the most integrated middle schools in the district last year for our older kid. My private school friends are continually amazed by my kids' evident intelligence and verbal skills, and persist in thinking of them as an anomolies in the public system. Glad to say, their classmates are amazing too.

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  102. We are one of the families that did not list McKinley as one of our 7, but were assigned there anyways. I didn't even tour McKinley for round 1, but now the more I learn about this school, the more I'm liking it. I feel pretty lucky with this 'mistake'. If SFUSD is going to take away my assignment at this point, they'd better be prepared to give me my first pick.

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  103. Poster at 1:18pm, I'm sorry you felt burned yesterday. There have been some flamings in the commentary on this blog but in my experience it's not the norm, despite the intensity of feelings on these issues. I personally thought people jumped on you too much, given that a basic courteous response is not too much to ask for (it could have been an individual failure in that regard) when you call a school, even if a tour was not possible. I hope the Fairmount PTA will in fact provide that opportunity at a time that is less disruptive to the school. How could you have known, anyway, that it is a busy time with P/T conferences and so forth.

    There does seem to be some unevenness between those schools in recruitment mode (Sunnyside) and those that have "arrived" and have plenty of eager applicants. But that doesn't make rudeness right.

    Anyway, I think we are all stressed! And I hope we can keep the tone more even and in fact supportive over here, as it generally seems to be.

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  104. We were assigned to Paul Revere. The only thing I know about it is that the principal sends his kid to Miraloma. Anyone have any insight? I don't think I'm going to bother registering.

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  105. I totally second the remarks of Anonymous @ 1:27. My kids' experience at an up-and-coming school was wonderful. They were challenged academically and nurtured socially in a safe environment. I have to say that the amount of bullying, teasing, and rejection increased just as the number of middle-class, white kids increased.

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  106. I enrolled my son at a small "hidden gem" in the SFUSD 4 years ago. We have high test scores and PTO-funded art, music and PE classes. The school is now on peoples' radars, and applications have increased 4-fold in 4 years. Although the lower grades are now completely full, my son has enjoyed class sizes of 16-19 students. IMO, there are definite advantages to jumping on the bandwagon early.

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  107. We too were assigned to Jose Ortega and live in the Inner Parkside area. From what I have read, the school has a lot to offer: small class size, plenty of grant money, dedicated teachers, principal and parents. If it were my neighborhood school, I would jump right on the bandwagon -- for all of the reasons articulated by Miraloma parents and alums, and by other posters. The biggest issue for us, frankly, is location. My husband can drop off and drive to work (in Palo Alto), but I will need to do the pick up. And I work in the financial district. I've looked at the public transportation options, and by best case scenario, I figure it takes me 45 mins to get there, and us another 45 minutes to get home (we would have to transfer). Convenience, and not adding even more stress to our lives, is going to trump all the positives, unfortunately. It's a shame that there are not more "undersubscribed" schools in the Sunset.

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  108. Yes, there is a lot to be said for figuring out the stress factor of commutes. I hope you find something more convenient in Round 2 or Waitpool process! If not in the Sunset, then maybe something closer to more convenient transport from your work. I know Sunnyside is on the 23 Monterey line, but I have no idea if that connects easily to the Inner Parkside--probably not, eh.

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  109. For those of you who are having doubts about Revere, Ortega, and Sheridan, I really urge you to take an hour off to go and check out these schools. Though not as "seasoned" as the teaching staff at schools such as Rooftop, Lakeshore, and the transferred seasoned staff at Feinstein, the staff at Revere, Ortega, and Sheridan are energized, engaged, and welcoming as your children will find out for themselves.

    The site administrators at Revere, Ortega, and Sheridan are dedicated, children-centered, and strive to stay away from district politics.

    Judge a book by its pages and not its covers.

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  110. To Jose Ortega parents - don't know if you are still reading - but public transportation is actually not bad! My kids go to preschool at Brotherhood Way, which is just a couple blocks away.

    One great option is to park at the Daly City Bart (they have parking lots there) and BART in - 20 min by BART, door to door. And the drive time isn't that bad either. It takes me usually 20 min in the morning and 25-30 min in the evening (arriving by 6 PM).

    (Unfortunately, although we too were 0/7, we weren't assigned to Jose Ortega so we can't take advantage of that.)

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  111. Still with two very important questions:
    1) WHERE on SFUSD website is the data of # of apps per seat, school by school? I can ONLY find a summary for the top 20.
    2) WHO can definitively answer the Q re: losing one's Rnd 1 spot if you go into Round II? Prior poster said this does not happen, but all other sources say you lose your #1 school if you get one off your amended list. Please someone must know for sure?

    And less urgent:
    1) When do the Spanish Immersion programs stop accepting kids from non-Imm schools? In other words, for how long can one nurse the hope of getting into a Sp Imm program if one's kid is not in one to start? Thanks

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  112. ellen&nicole,

    1) The list of apps and also first-choice apps per seat is linked on both sfusd and pps websites on their enrollment pages. it is labeled as a 5-year comparison document but it does include this year's data.

    2) Sorry, can't answer this one definitively! Hopefully the counseling sessions will help. In any case, if you are okay with your round 1 assigned school, obviously you should register there to hold the spot while you go through the process. However, there are warnings in bold on the amended choices/waitpool form that if you get one of your amended choices or your waitpool pick that it will replace your current assignment; yet it seems like at least a couple of folks here have told stories of getting their waitpool pick and keeping their current assignment. It seems to me that any assignment is an "offer" and that if you are registered at another school you should be able to decline an offer and keep what you have. But. Lorraine, anyone else from PPS, any word?

    3) You can still enter a primary English speaker into an immersion program at the start of 1st grade, but not beyond. I have seen it happen. At my kids' school, I have seen the late entries do fine after struggling the first couple of weeks. Primary Spanish or Cantonese speakers (you know, target language) are sometimes entered in later grades.

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  113. I got assigned New Traditions which is a good 25 minute commute from my home and work. It was not one of my 7...which seems to be the case for so many folks this year.
    Does anyone know anything about the school? I am willing to tour it.
    I am really sad and upset that I live in this city, pay taxes and cannot even send my child to a decent school without a fight.

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  114. About the only consolation I can offer as an old-timer is that the number of spots in so-called "decent schools" used to be many fewer, and we had to fight even harder, using all our powers of pushiness and guile as educated and entitled middle class types to make it happen for our kids, probably to the detriment of other people's kids. The current system is fairer and more transparent, and there are so many more good options now.

    Really.

    I know this sounds dumb right now, but soon your kids will have spots in quite nice schools, this rite of passage will be behind you, and you will be counseling those who are coming after.

    And it is a bit easier on the middle and high school levels. I'm not sure why, but part of it is being a veteran (old fart), I think.

    Oh, and several people on other threads have written about New Traditions. It's supposed to be good, with lots of art.

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  115. For perspective: Every 5th grade kid at Miraloma got their #1 choice for middle school!

    Choices include Aptos, Lick, Denman, Presidio and Hoover.

    It's SOOO much easier at the middle school level.

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  116. ^^Thanks!!

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