Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Applying to kindergarten for 2009-2010? Here's your chance to get started.

Kindergarten Information Night at the JCC for NEXT year 2009-2010

Please join the Claude & Louise Rosenberg Early Childhood Education Program for this annual event, provided free as a community service to the public. This is a great opportunity for parents with children ages three and older to gather information from over 60 representatives of Bay Area public and independent schools about their kindergarten programs. This event is for adults only. No registration necessary.

Wednesday, May 7
6 p.m.-8 p.m.

For more info: http://www.jccsf.org/content_main.aspx?progid=2222&catid=104
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57 comments:

  1. I attend this event last year and came away...depressed. The PPS representative basically told me to not bother applying to any of the schools by my house because they were "too popular" and to try something farther away--a school, which, incidently, is one oversubscribed "hidden gems."

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  2. This is totally off-topic but I'm hoping someone can answer a family argument. As a non-American I'm slightly disturbed by kids having to "swear allegiance" to a flag or anything at all for that matter, but understand they have to do this at public (and private?) school. Do kids have to do this in Kindergarten and if not when does it begin? Thank you. And for those starting up the process for 2009 !!! Best of luck, it's never too early to start your research.

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  3. I believe we "pledge" allegiance to the flag. When I was in SF public school, one or two kids did not participate; they always stood out. I'm sure in this city there are many who won't have their kids say the pledge, and that's ok. Personally, it doesn't bother me at all -- I actually like it.

    Anyway, I attended the JCC event last year and it opened my eyes to some schools I'd never heard of or considered. Many of those are now revealed to be "hidden gems" (eg: George Peabody, Lafayette, Grattan, etc.). Anyway, it was a terrific opportunity to talk to teachers, administrators and parents of current students. I saved all the materials I picked up -- it was well worth it!

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  4. They do not pledge allegiance to the flag at my son's public school.

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  5. They do at one of the snobbier preschools (St. Luke's). Not sure I understand the merits of getting 3 year olds to memorize and proclaim a series of words they do not even understand, but some Pac Heights parents must think it is pedagogically sound and developmentally appropriate.

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  6. Where is this event?

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  7. The main JCC on California at Presidio.

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  8. Has anyone attended the "Choosing a Kindergarten" workshops at Parents Place in San Francisco. They are led by Lee Ann Slaton. They cost $30 so I'm wondering if it is worth signing up.

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  9. Kate: Did you visit SF Friends, Presidio Hill or SF Day?

    I didn't see any tour reports on your blog, yet most of the families we know who applied to MCDS and Live Oak applied to at least one or two of these, too...

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  10. What kind of qualifications do most admissions directors have?

    Is it mostly a coordinating and ambassador role (organizing events, tours, screenings, interviews) or does it require an advanced degree in education?

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  11. 11:45, Kate did visit SF Day way back when, but chose not to write about it, and never really said why. Perhaps she didn't like it very much, but didn't want to trash it publicly.

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  12. Anon 11:41:
    We attended the K workshop last year.
    LOVED Lee Ann. She went thru the public school process years ago (her kids are in H.S. now) and she has a very comforting demeaner.
    She mentions both public and private applications and how they differ as well as opening our eyes to some of the public Charter schools (as an additional choice). I highly recommend this workshop.

    We got lucky and got a spot at CACS which will be a great fit for our family.
    Otherwise it was 0/7 with no private school backups...
    Between my husband and I we visited over 20 schools!

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  13. Excuse the ignorance but what is CACS? Thanks.

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  14. CACS is Creative Arts Charter School.

    It's the only elementary charter-school option in SFUSD. There's also Edison Charter Academy, run by the controversial, for-profit (and now largely fizzled) New York-based Edison Schools Inc., which is not an SFUSD school but is chartered by the California Dept. of Education. It's a rent-paying tenant in an SFUSD property (at 22nd/Dolores).

    Curious: I've never heard of an applicant NOT getting into CACS, except for one child with special needs whose parent then succeeded in negotiating with them for acceptance. Has anyone applied and not gotten in?

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  15. No problem. CACS is Creative Arts Charter School.
    They are a K-8, with a hands-on, arts based integrative curriculum. (Reggio Emilia model)
    You can find out more at: www.creativeartscharter.org

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  16. I know several families who were wait-listed at CACS.
    Right now there's about 40 on the wait list for K but there are a few openings for 1st grade.

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  17. We too were waitlisted at CACS last year but were offered a spot in early April.

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  18. FYI: Every other year they add a Kindergarten class to gradually expand the size of the school. Next year there will be 40 Kindergarten spaces (not counting siblings, of course).

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  19. Does CACS admit by blind lottery? We have friends who were there for K some years ago (child now in 9th grade), and they were under the impression that it was by screening, not blind lottery.

    I don't get it about adding a K class every other year. CACS has been around for at least 9 years, so wouldn't it have something like 5 K classes by now and be getting pretty large? And does that mean they're continually expanding each grade as the number flows upward?

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  20. it's a lottery.
    preference is given to sibs and children of staff

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  21. Anyone here apply to Nueva?

    We know a couple of MCDS families that also applied there. (Guess once you're willing to send your kid to school on a bus, it doesn't matter whether they go North or South).

    Has anyone visited?

    How does it compare to MCDS?

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  22. I thought it wasn't clear whether Kate visited SF Day or not. And SF Friends had a lot of girl siblings this year and very few girl spots, so maybe that turned her off from Friends.

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  23. anon @ 1:50

    We toured Nueva, but not MCDS, so can't compare them. Nueva wasn't a fit for us, so we passed on applying. The lower school classes seemed a bit too chaotic for our kid to thrive. Also, the displayed classwork was not impressive to us, considering the student population. The IQ cut-off is reported to be 130. I honestly don't know what our kid's IQ is, but we decided against subjecting her to the testing process once we got a look at the classes and displayed classwork.
    As always, YMMV.

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  24. What does, YMMV mean?

    (I'm a bit of a computer luddite)
    -thanks-

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  25. YMMV--your mileage may vary.

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  26. Schools have an IQ cut-off?!?
    What the----?

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  27. Nueva is a school for "gifted". You can't even apply unless your child passes the IQ test and scores higher than 130.

    You can't really compare Nueva and MCDS. The only thing they have in common is that both are out of town, and both have very impressive grounds.

    Nueva's academics did not impress us. It seemed for being school for "gifted" the program was not that challenging. Also due to it's location and the fact that their population is from all over the bay area, the sense of community is very underdeveloped.
    The great thing about the school, at least from what we have heard, is there special attention to social-emotional development of the kids.

    Another important thing to know about that school is that due to the required IQ scores, the siblings do not get a priority, so it is very common to have families with one kid there, and the other one somewhere else, because they did not pass the test (that was my main concern with the whole idea of Nueva honestly, what if the second one doesn't pass the test, do I have to tell her/him that s/he is not smart enough to go there?)

    Anyway, I am not going to address MCDS, since it has been discussed here enough. It is a great school, and few that get in are pretty lucky...

    And, since I finally decided to post, does anyone have any knowledge/feedback on Mt. Tamalpais school in Mill Valley?

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  28. We applied to Nueva and our child got in. We thought it was a great fit for our child. They provide a lot of in depth coverage of topics and development of the social/emotional aspects of the child.

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  29. 7:17 - What other schools did you like?

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  30. We applied to CACS last year (07-08) and did not get offered a spot until the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL! We went and looked at it again and decided against switching our daughter for a number of reasons. It is interesting, the timing, b/c if we had gotten that spot in March, or probably earlier in the summer we very well would have sent her.

    They are in the process of increasing their class size from 1/year to 2/year and have a complicated process of how they do it (they explained on the interview but can't recall) - but they are not increasing just the Kindergarten.

    Finally about CACS - they are moving. I don't know if they found a location yet, but they are moving out of their current spot. I will also say, as an LGBT family it was probably the school that was MOST impressive on this aspect of diversity. This school and SF Day. But I wonder if any queer parents read this blog anyway. ...

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  31. 10:08, the Alvarado LGBT pride and family diversity month is happening now. We've been doing it for four years and the teachers take it very seriously, for example in prepping for the assembly and doing the background work with the kids on a range of related topics. We are also beginning to participate in a national pilot program to develop LGBT elementary curriculum. This does not mean sex ed at this age (though the older ones get some of that, including HIV education), but is more about family diversity, anti-homophobia, inclusion. We have many lesbian and gay families, also several teachers and of course, the principal himself.

    I believe there is a rainbow family group at Marshall, and I've heard of other schools having them too, just can't recall at the moment with a cold clogging up my brain cells.

    I am so glad to be raising my kids here, where their sense of "normal" is that families come in all shapes, sizes, genders, etc.

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  32. I read the blog and I'm as gay as a blueberry pancake. My test for schools was the comfort level of parents and staff in answering questions about LGBT issues, more than their actual answers. If they can say "gay" or "lesbian" without blushing, it's a good sign. I'm sure there are a lot of queers on this blog!

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  33. I'm gay too. As a side issue, I found the so-called "top" private's schools talk about diversity was utter utter poppycock.

    Fact is, I didn't see or hear lots of glbt folks at the tours. And of course, you can't see that from looking at the kids on the tour.

    I think once you tell the private schools you're gay, they tag you as "the gay applicant" or something, then figure you are up for only a few spots. Same with being a single mom. And if you are a gay single mom, well... I don't know which is better, having that moniker stamped on you, or being a straight white married couple--which I hear makes it really hard to get in anywhere!

    Kidding.

    I was wondering about the diversity index in SF, and how the courts made it hard to use race to integrate the schools. It's hard to believe that in SF, there wasn't a box on the SFUSD lottery form to check the family's orientation. Or if you are a single mom, dad, or whatever.

    I mean, did the courts outlaw that too?

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  34. Well, the entire diversity index and the waves of different enrollment programs over SFUSD's history stem from lawsuits over racial discrimination and segregation in SFUSD schools going way back.

    We all know the outline of the story, though I'm sure (in fact I know) that SFUSD was not maintaining "white only" schools in 1954 (the year of Brown v. Board of Ed, when of course other districts were running schools that absolutely prohibited blacks from attending).

    But anyway -- there is no directly comparable history of deliberate segregation of children of GLBT families or lawsuits about it. Obviously there are issues, and true diversity does include GLBT families, but it's a bit apples and oranges.

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  35. Not sure if it was in this thread or not, but someone asked for info on the efforts to start a Waldorf-Inspired elementary charter school in SF. Here's the URL:
    http://www.sfcsi.org/

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  36. Personally, I am glad (and applaud) that the diversity index is based on economic diversity and not race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

    I feel that children that come from middle-class families are more similar than different (regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation) and that the real difference is economic.

    I hope that the SFUSD continues to strive for economic diversity in schools (the cultural diversity will take care of itself).

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  37. Wow. The new head of school at Hamlin sounds amazing. Do you think she can change the rigid, snobby culture there?


    http://hamlin.org/news/detail.asp?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&LinkID=922&ModuleID=54

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  38. This is a cool and convenient tool: http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/show/1000559

    Unfortunately, there's only date through 2006-2007 school year. Maybe we could convince him to update it.

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  39. anon 10:49

    Its not just about economic diversity. It is also about racial diversity that adds to the bigs picture.

    Come on - we live in SF and to say:

    "I feel that children that come from middle-class families are more similar than different (regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation) and that the real difference is economic.

    I hope that the SFUSD continues to strive for economic diversity in schools (the cultural diversity will take care of itself).

    is BS. Are you speaking only for your white-middle-class-counterparts? I am probably considered middle class but my story is not the same as the person next to me in the same middle-class boat. Racial diversity add depth to any scenario whereas i don't think money does.

    If youre a good person (with or without money) then you add value being whatever color/culture you are. Give people more credit for their individuality please.

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  40. nueva people:

    so i've met quite a few families who applied to nueva this year. it's hard for me to believe that ALL those kids had such high IQs. any chance that they pull people in just to get application money or to increase the pool for sake of numbers?

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  41. I am glad to hear there are LGBT folks on this blog. I have often felt somewhat alienated by the discussions about "hidden gems" and "up and coming schools" - I think it is one thing to consider those schools when you are a straight parent, but it is a whole different ball game when you are not. I think LGBT families have far fewer choices when it comes to public schools at least (and probably private too). Many schools we talked to just said things like, "Oh that's not an issue here" or "Oh we have all kinds of families" and frankly that's not adequate (these were desirable public schools). I don't want to have to be a pioneer in my kid's school - and the schools that have significant and substantial diversity foci (whatever they are) are the schools that have the luxury to do so (IE better test scores, more involved parents). It's great that Alvarado has that - but it's an extremely difficult school to get in to.
    Private schools addressed these issues FAR better than public, overall.

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  42. I believe Nueva has a two step application process. You submit your application and fee. The (sizable) fee includes administration of an IQ test. If your child scores above 130, you are invited for the play group. Not all kids who score over 130 are admitted -- there is not enough room. I remember hearing somewhere that most of the kids they actually take are in the high 140s to 150s.

    Hope that sheds a little light.

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  43. 9:18pm - so NOT our experience of the vast majority (probably 11) of the 14 public schools we toured. Questions asked and answered, policies in place, no pioneering required. Which schools did you look at? I am surprised/disappointed that this was your experience and wonder if your expectations (rather than your hopes) are realistic?

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  44. I know many wonderful gay and lesbian families at San Francisco School, Brandeis Hillel and French-American. I know others at Alvarado and Grattan. This is San Francisco, after all. But I do totally respect the need to be in a place that will offer complete support. That is why I think that many LGBT families opt for private (at least certain privates) - acceptance seems more of a 'sure bet.'

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  45. BTW, by 'acceptance' I don't mean _admission_. I mean, support. I mean, many private schools do a wonderful job of celebrating (not just tolerating) multiple types of family structure.

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  46. BTW, by 'acceptance' I don't mean _admission_. I mean, support. I mean, many private schools do a wonderful job of celebrating (not just tolerating) multiple types of family structure.

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  47. It's true that public schools are a bigger tent, and I can see (and have seen) how that can be an issue for GLBT families.

    There were two girls in my son's 4th grade class who became best friends -- at school. One was the daughter of a fundamentalist Christian family and the other was the daughter of lesbian moms. The Christian girl and her many sibs (white and fairly high-income, BTW) were actually not allowed to socialize outside school except through their church -- so they weren't just singling out the daughter of the lesbian moms. But still, we other parents observed this painfully.

    The fundie family went off to fundie middle/high school (Bridgemont, I think it is, on Brotherhood Way).

    I don't think they would have fit in at the GLBT-friendly private schools mentioned -- wouldn't have applied, would have been rejected if they had.

    I don't think the kids will grow up with their parents' attitude, though, thanks to the K-5 years in public school!

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  48. The schools that had lame (in my opinion) responses to LGBT questions were McKinley, Argonne, Jefferson. I don't think it's an unrealistic expectation to have a principal who gets that homophobia is a serious issue, especially as kids get older. Taunts of "gay" are consistently heard on the playground even at the most progressive and evolved schools.

    I want my kids to go to a school where when the inevitable teasing comes around (and YES it is inevitable) that the teachers and administration will respond appropriately. Quite frankly my daughter is in a public K right now where there is an LGBT poster on the wall (certainly, this is good) and the staff, administration and families have been completely fine, yet I KNOW that her teacher is so completely overwhelmed that she wouldn't even notice, much less know how to respond if an issue came up - and that is just not acceptable to me.

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  49. Bigandtinygirl

    In any bullying situation, I would definitely start with the classroom teacher (or teachers if kids in more than one class are involved.) But, if you don't get resolution, I wouldn't just fling your hands up and change schools. Bring it to the principal. Better yet, talk to other parents to find out if their kids have had similar issues. If so, arrange a meeting, and go to the principal together. Brainstorm about solutions.

    Bigotry in any form should not be tolerated. But the kids don't always know the rules, and need to be taught. My gut feeling is that bigotry by kids is usually systemic (school-wide) and needs to be addressed beyond just the regular classroom.

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  50. April is GLBT Pride month in the SFUSD. This is a great time to visit schools and enquire about how they are honoring this. Miraloma is having numerous events including a "coming out" celebration (anyone who has family or friends that are LBGT will "come out" at a morning circle). Teachers are also including more curriculum that addresses family diversity during this month. I think that it is a myth that privates offer more support. Some publics do too! You have to shop around.

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  51. "I think that it is a myth that privates offer more support. Some publics do too! You have to shop around."

    Yes I know some publics offer support, yet you have to get IN to them. We did not throw up our hands and leave. We feel supported by the teachers, administration and most of the other families at our current school (again by no means a highly desirable school) - we just want more LGBT families, more visibility, more room for attention to such things.

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  52. It does seem like some privates (Live Oak, Synergy) were years ahead of the curve in accepting/celebrating GLBT families.

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  53. While it's true that not all public schools embrace a celebration of LBGT culture, some do and actively recruit LBGT families. However, many of those that do are the more popular schools. Never the less, the same might be said of privates. There are a number of publics with high percentages of both LBGT staff and families, but I would agree that it's not the majority of schools and they are not the easiest to get into (but I would argue that the same is true of privates).

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  54. Same with privates:

    Yes I know some publics offer support, yet you have to get IN to them.

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  55. Anyone have any ideas for a family moving back to SF in January? We want to submit our application in time but not sure what the process is for our situation (don't have proof of residence yet.) Hoping not to have to do the second round application.

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  56. ^^Thanks!!

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  57. Respectfully, I have absolutely no understanding of why anyone living in America would have a problem with saying the Pledge of Allegiance. This country stands for the freedoms and value that are good and right. People will basically do anything to become a US citizen, even risk their lives crossing the boarder, yet we have people here who do not want to pay respect for our country. We love and accept people of different cultures which make up our beautiful country and yet, to hear someone say they have something against this country makes me wonder why they are here. If you think your country can offer the freedom that we do, then go. We are not a country that people should come and "use" to get what they can get and then go home after they have gotten their education, or whatever. Have respect. I am proud to have my son say the pledge as I did and this is a very relevant comment and topic for this forum. As a matter of fact, I will ask this very question of the directors of the elementary schools I visit. If we dump tradion, then we have lost who we are. Please respect our country.

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