Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kate's absence

I apologize for my recent absence on the site. I've been going through a major job change. Last Friday was my last day at my job of nine years and this week I dove into a new one. Lots of emotions. Very overwhelmed. I promise to get you some updates soon. I have a lot on my mind regarding schools but I'm not sure how to share it all. Because of the popularity with this blog, I feel like I have to be careful with what I say. And I think the blog is in a delicate transition phase. I'm not sure exactly where to take it next. Anyway, I appreciate all the chatter that's going on in the comments section. That's what is keeping The SF K Files up and running. Thank you, thank you—and I'm always open to your thoughts, comments, and suggestions.


  1. Congratulations and good luck, Kate, on your new job.

    I hope you (or a blog heir) will keep it going through Round II and the waitpool process, as well as through the preparations for kindergarten. A lot of people are relying on this blog to get through what is still very much unfinished business of the K search.


  2. Given that most of us are too chicken to post our names in the comments, everyone ought to understand well your reluctance to reveal too much about your current situation. Thank you for being so brave to this point! You've created a tremendous resource for so many people.

  3. You're so smart and this is such a great blog that I'm guessing your job is in Marin. I just can't imagine putting a five year old on a bus for two hours a day. There is nothing better than having a pleasurable morning with your child and walking them to school.

  4. I don't think that last comment was really so nice.

  5. whaddaya mean you have a real job, kate? your babies need you...that's us, of course.

  6. I asked some questions awhile back about the bus to/from MCDS and how that works. I have twin preschoolers and may want to look at MCDS (though we have even more complex commute issues than the school bus given that I work in the East Bay). Anyway, I think asking questions about the bus commute over the bridge is legitimate. It's a real issue. But I also agree with the poster at 9:59 that someone is using that issue to attack Kate's decision in an underhanded way, and it's not nice. There are less sneaky (not to mention more constructive to this conversation) ways to disagree with someone.

  7. sneaky is giving that commment too much credit!

  8. I would rather my child take a bus 4 hrs a day & go to a safe school where she will learn, rather than walk to a police zone so she could near about gang culture and not to go to the bathroom alone.

  9. anon@12:45, are those your only two options, or are there others as well?

  10. i'd like to know which schools you would consider are in a police zone with gang violence.

    we all want to keep our kids safe but a 4 hour commute? may as well live in walnut creek. i think it is safe there.

  11. ***would rather my child take a bus 4 hrs a day & go to a safe school where she will learn, rather than walk to a police zone so she could near about gang culture and not to go to the bathroom alone.***

    what planet is this person on? my bet, this poster has never set foot in one of our schools and/or is being deliberatively provocative to scare people. it's a lie.

    i say that not to put down the choice to commute over the bridge to mcds--i'm sure it's a great school--just to say, don't choose the commute or any private school for that matter just because you think the alternative is a police zone with gangs, unsafe bathrooms, and no chance at learning. it's just plain not true.

  12. It's weird to be so judgmental about a person deciding to send their kid to a school far away. Do you not think that parents consider these things, before making their decisions?
    I know that the 6 hour day was long enough (almost too long) for my Kinder ... adding additional hours to the already long day would not have worked for him, but that's him.
    Some people have kids in daycare 10 hours a day before they go to kindergarten, so maybe the kids are used to being away from family so much.
    Anyway, just because you could never do that with your child does not mean that it is wrong for every child.

  13. Perhaps 12:45 is basing her opinion of all urban public schools on the fictional one depicted in "The Wire."

  14. perhaps. although the situations are very different. baltimore is a very poor city with many of the kind of schools that jonathan kozol talks about. they are extremely segregated and incredibly poor. it may be that the middle schools there are as depicted on "the wire." as discussed on another thread and by sandra tsing loh, the reality here and in l.a. is quite different. although we should have tons more funding of course, we are not overall dealing with the same levels (percentage of the whole population) of community devastation that david simon shows in "the wire."

    exceptions: some of our schools, mostly in bayview / hunter's point and a couple of others have segregated african american / materially poor populations that look more like the schools on "the wire" (though we have more samoans in those than in b'more, i'm guessing). since busing ended it has been difficult if not impossible to get middle class people to go there from outside the neighborhood. but even with those the schools themselves have incredible teaching staffs and lots of resources. yes, there are low test scores and other problems due to the stresses on the families there, but the schools themselves are oases of learning for those kids.

    anyway, those few aside, the vast, vast majority of our schools are nothing like this description! the kids may not all look like "us" if that means white, upper-middle class, educated bobos, but the schools are safe, well-taught, great places to learn, with active families from many cultures who value education for their kids.

    i can't believe we have to keep saying this. there is lots to criticize in the public schools here, as there is with the private schools too (usally along different lines), but these extreme caricatures are really detrimental to the conversation.

  15. Good time to slow down Kate and perhaps consider a new by line for this site. Somehow "THE STORY OF ONE PARENT'S SEARCH FOR A KINDERGARTEN IN SAN FRANCISCO" (sic) doesn't quite fit the search strategy and outcome.

  16. No, the title still pertains;

    searched for a school in
    San Francisco

    despite massive effort

    didn't get one

    finds out "school choice" is a ridiculous lie

    decides to go all the way to Marin and spend a fortune to escape SFUSD

    and who can bloody blame her?

  17. Massive effort has no bearing on the SFUSD process -- it's a strict lottery, so effort is irrelevant. You could not bother to visit a single school and barely give it a thought, list Alvarado SI first and have just as good a chance at getting it as a parent who sweated out visiting 25 schools.

    That's frustrating, I agree, but on the other hand, nobody pretended that devoting effort would improve anyone's chances.

  18. Actually, I did get the impression that it would. From you in fact, at times.

  19. I said that those on the waiting list should call regularly.

    I can't imagine that I would have said individual effort would change anyone's chances in the lottery rounds, since I know that's not the case.

  20. Well, I am being a little bitter now, but you have to admit at the beginning of the process this year there was a lot more assurances to people that they would end up getting something they wanted (not just from you). Now, the schools themselves are saying, uh no, not likely to happen, take this one instead.

    But, sorry Caroline, I shouldn't direct my pissiness at you.

  21. Thank you, and let me be really clear.

    I don't say to a parent who sets out to get a spot in Rooftop, Rooftop and only Rooftop that they'll wind up with a spot at Rooftop if they're determined -- let alone if they put in a lot of effort.

    And when I say "end up with," that doesn't mean in the first round. Our own kid's assignment to the K-5 school of our choice (in the former appeals process) arrived in mid-April the year we did it, so you can see we weren't there yet at this time that year. We have friends who got in off the wait list after that -- in June, in the summer, and a few who got the call right after school started.

    What I'm saying is that I've never met a family who stuck it out through the process who didn't get a school they were happy with. Sometimes they did get the one-and-only first choice (occasionally in the first round). Often they got another one they had also found appealing originally. Not infrequently they had their eyes opened to schools they hadn't thought of, or had heard were not worth considering -- and found the school was a good fit for their child. Sometimes people wind up with two good choices -- they find they like the one they "settled" for and then get a call about an opening at their first choice. It happens one way or another, or at least it always has.

    It sucks that an evidently high number of families went 0/7 in the first round this year despite having far more open minds than middle-class families did in my time. I've been there, so I know how stressful it is. And I agree that SFUSD needs to greatly improve its handling of the entire process.

    I didn't say it was easy or stress- free -- au contraire, I think I've been pretty clear that it may take some weeks and they'll be stressful weeks. But then it's over, and in retrospect it was a short time in the grand scheme of things. You're right in the middle of the really bad part, and I sympathize.

  22. You could not bother to visit a single school and barely give it a thought, list Alvarado SI first and have just as good a chance at getting it as a parent who sweated out visiting 25 schools.

    i know this family! totally clueless, toured no schools and landed alvarado si. it seems totally unfair but as caroline aptly pointed out, effort does not factor in.

  23. But effort does factor in to the extent that if you tour more schools, including some that are not so popular, and you create a list of 7 acceptable to you that is truly a diverse list in terms of popularity, then according to Adam's spreadsheet, you could have a 90% chance of getting one of your 7. I think the effort comes in during touring season by making a commitment to finding 2 or 3 less popular schools where your likelihood of getting in is 50% or more.

  24. Concerning French schools...
    I'm a current parent at Lycee Francais La Perouse and would like to clear up some of the things that have been said. First, corporal punishment. We've been at the school eight years and have never, ever heard of anything like this. Never. The vast majority of the staff are devoted, caring and even idealistic people (considering the salaries they work for). Over the years we've had one or two teachers with whom we had issues, but we've always found it possible to work them out by talking things over. We've heard the occasional harsh judgment of such-and-such teacher by such-and-such parent, perhaps well founded, perhaps not – but these things happen at every school.

    That said, there is a big difference between the French and American mindsets when it comes to running a school. The staff at La Perouse (whom I hold in high regard, let me repeat) instinctively conduct themselves like teachers at a French public school, which is in many ways what La Perouse is (it has ties to the French government which FAIS does not). They teach the standard French curriculum set by the Ministry of Education in Paris (less than 20% of instruction is in English, unlike FAIS which is 50%). There isn't much the teachers can or will do for kids who can't follow (in France if you don't conform, you fall between the cracks). The notion of "customer satisfaction" is not something that French civil servants have a handle on, and the school administrators, although well-intentioned, frequently fumble in their attempts to communicate. ("Quoi? We're supposed to ask the parents what they think before we decide something?")

    The parents, on the other hand, despite the fact that they are mostly French or mixed Franco-American couples (with only a smattering of non-French speakers), tend to behave like demanding American private school parents, which they are. Some are spoiled and stupid (and wealthy), but the vast majority are friendly and want to cooperate. Sometimes there is an "impedance mismatch" between the parents and the school. But on the whole I would say the teachers and staff are making an honorable effort to adjust their attitudes to this strange American planet where the rules say you have to make the "customers" happy.
    I had to laugh reading the posts here about parent volunteering and whether it should be mandatory or optional. My observation is that American parents have the volunteering gene a lot more than French parents do. The parents at La Perouse probably want to volunteer more than the administrators have been trained to expect. But gradually both sides are getting the hang of this idea which is extremely alien to the cynical French whose basic mindset expects citizens to shirk all effort and let the government run everything. (France is in many ways a third world country in this respect, the basic assumption is that citizens can't be trusted to do the right thing and the government is either incompetent or indifferent or both, though rarely downright corrupt. By the way, in France there are a huge number of private schools, but they are virtually all Catholic and are subsidized by the government. In the public schools, the unions are all powerful.)

    As for bullying among the kids, I've seen hardly any of it in the years we've been there. Yes, there are cliques, especially among the middle school girls – but this is universal. One of our children struggled with this aspect a bit, but she soon adjusted (the "clique-iness" seems to come just as much from the American as the French kids).

    With respect to bilingual education, I would have to say the Lycee does an extraordinarily good job. Most of the kids become truly and perfectly bilingual in speaking, reading and writing (some children with no French speaking parent struggle, seemingly the boys more than the girls, but even in these cases most catch on just fine). There's plenty of financial aid available, but some of it comes from the French government and is reserved for families where at least one parent is a French national (though some is also available for American families). Those of us who are at least partly French (or seriously Francophile) are fortunate to have such a school in our city, even with its imperfections.

    This has turned out to be a longer post than I expected. I hope people find it useful to compare experiences.

  25. I'm the parent who posted about the French school - I just realized I put it in the wrong thread, it was responding to comments in Kate's Sandra Tsing Loh thread. Pardon my mistake.

  26. "I think the effort comes in during touring season by making a commitment to finding 2 or 3 less popular schools where your likelihood of getting in is 50% or more."

    Yes. Finding the hidden gems (maybe 10 people on the tour) is key.

    That is how we found Grattan. I think there were maybe 5 people at the tour we went on.

    This year I heard there were 50 people every week. YIKES!

  27. "then according to Adam's spreadsheet, you could have a 90% chance of getting one of your 7"

    The mathematical premise behind Adam's spreadsheet is seriously flawed, it doesn't account for the diversity crap, doesn't account for siblings, so many people thought they had a reasonable chance (according to the spreadsheet) and didn't get one of their 7.

  28. I agree. The often touted Adam's spreadsheet is a flawed tool. The diversity index isn't taken in to account. How could it be? There is no way to know ahead of time many of the variables.

    I don't understand why people rely on it the way they do.

  29. Actually this year's version of Adam's spreadsheet did take sibling preference into account. It is true it did not take the diversity index into account. Buy I would not call an index that gives kids who live in public housing, qualify for free school lunch, speak another language at home, and/or did not have the benefit of a preschool education a greater chance of getting into high demand schools "crap." In fact, that seems to be the least the District can do.

    Personally, the spreadsheet was very useful for me. I found two undersubscribed schools to put on my list and two that had admission rates of around 30-40% last year becuse I wanted to make sure I got into something. It did not work for everyone, and I'm really sympathetic to the posters who said the spreadsheet told them they had a 90%+ chance of getting one of their choices and went 0/7, but I don't think it claimed to be the end-all, be-all, just another tool for parents to use in assembling their choices.

  30. When I used the "Adam spreadsheet" it was to quickly assess popularity. I knew it did not take into account siblings, diversity or neighborhood priorities (or, most importantly this years application numbers!). We worked out a formula for those factors for ourselves (as best we could) and I consider that to be the "effort" involved in increasing our chances. However, at the end of the day the system is based on a lottery. You either got lucky or you didn't which is the problem with the system. The spreadsheet was a helpful tool for comparing the popularity of a large number of schools for previous years. I doubt that many people thought it was more than that.

  31. Welcome back Kate! It is great to see you up and blogging again and congratulations on the new job. Many big changes in your life - all positive. Well deserved!

  32. Kate--Welcome back and big congrats on the job front! You've had some big changes happen this year.

    I'm looking forward to more topics on K including round II results, getting ready for Kindergarten and all the rest. Thanks for sharing so much with us.
    I really enjoy the ongoing conversations on this blog (even when they get a little snippy).

  33. So, I have a serious question--not trying to be smartass at all. What makes a "bad" school (one parents do not want to enroll their kid in) bad? Is it a sketchy and/or poor neighborhood? Is it the test scores? Are teachers worse at those schools. Are the kids more unmanageable because parents don't parent or because of peer expectations. Basic funding is supposed to be the same, yes? Supposedly, some of the "worst" schools get more funding. Is it just not being used properly? Is it incompetent principals/administrators? Is the BOE favoring certain schools? Is it the lack of the PTA? Too low pay for teachers at those schools? The BOE sucking? The state sucking? Everything?

    It wouldn't be so bad if there were at least basic standards and quality of education that were actually MET (not just suggested or supposedly required) routinely by the school system itself. That's not the case, unfortunately. Providing the "exrras" would be more palatable, even if one had to do it from the ground up. Having to work hard to provide the basics pisses me off on behalf of every student and parent in the system.

  34. Just a reminder: diversity is the reason for the diversity index and the "lottery." It was a plan devised to satisfy two seemingly conflicting court orders--not to assign by race AND to integrate schools, on race and ethnicity. At least one court order has expired, but no new system is in place yet.

    The schools that people seem to be rejecting (sometimes vehemently, sometime tentatively) are the ones, of course, that have not been integrated. By official count, the index/lottery system resulted in re-segregation. Now it seems we are getting closer to having enough higher income/higher ed level families to spread around to these schools. these comments you see the flaw in that system.

    The historical trend is that if you get more of the HI-HE families in a school, it improves. Heroic efforts not needed; just be a normally involved or potentially outraged parent would probably be sufficient.

    THat's the historical trend, not necessarily an argument to enroll your kinder kid in such schools.

  35. So basically it does all come down to race. No one wants their kid to be the minority. I don't see how this will ever change, especially in the short term, then. They won't put magnet type programs, like immersion or what have you, at all the under-desired schools will they? There will always be schools left out in the cold. Especially if, as I've heard, the people who get those schools tend to be ones who don't participate in the lottery process. And I know there have been greater outreach efforts recently, but have they been effective?

  36. It's a sad fact that socioeconomically disadvantaged kids often face extra challenges, have high needs, and require a lot of resources from the school system.

    My kids have attended diverse schools with low-income, high-need students. But my view is that a critical mass -- a certain tipping point -- of high-need students just puts such stress on a school that it becomes overwhelmed. So that's largely my answer to what separates a struggling school from a successful one. The needs are just so, so great, the pull of the street culture on those kids is so strong, and even with extra resources those schools struggle. No educational system anywhere has found a magical way to resolve these problems.

    In response to the comment about resegregated schools: Schools that are segregated with high-performing groups (in SFUSD we're mainly talking about Chinese kids) don't struggle, though. The issue, again, is the critical mass of high-need students who are likely to be low achievers. (Also please note that in SFUSD, more than 60% of one ethnicity is defined as resegregation -- a figure that would be viewed as wonderfully diverse in any private school.)

  37. SFUSD has done this -- newcomers have only seen the "after":

    "They won't put magnet type programs, like immersion or what have you, at all the under-desired schools will they? There will always be schools left out in the cold."

    Here are some schools that were viewed as horrible ghetto schools only a few years ago:

    Starr King

    Some of those were turned into sought-after schools after SFUSD put desirable immersion programs at them. We will see if that happens with further such schools, such as Jose Ortega.

  38. Thinking about whether "effort" provides a boost (or not) in getting a school in SFUSD, and also the Lycee parents' very interesting comments about the differences in mentality between French and American school cultures, I have to think that a big reason this list does get snippy sometimes, particularly about the lottery, is that we are mostly middle or upper middle class parents who have been taught (brainwashed?) to believe that we live in a meritocracy. That if we do our homework (tour 25 schools), make wise investments (allocate our choices carefully), ask the right questions, show up at the all the meetings, then we'll be rewarded, in this case with the popular school for our kid.

    It's the American Way, right? It drives our middle class brains crazy that we can't figure out how to do MORE to get a better outcome.

    But at the end of the day, it's still a lottery for any school that is oversubscribed. The diversity index (which I happen to think is fair considering that the potential leg up is to kids who are really, really disadvantaged: live in public housing, etc) probably hardly affects our odds, as we are mostly competing against each other for Clarendons, with no particular advantage to you middle class person versus me middle class person. Just dumb lottery luck is all it is.

    With private schools it is different, or seems that way. At least we can imagine outperforming the competition by how we comport ourselves, through a scintillating essay, how we dress on the day of the interview or coffee meet, and so forth. So when we get in we can think to ourselves--I did that right. Or when we don't, we can walk away sadly, perhaps secretly wondering if the DH's choice of a Daffy Duck tie on the morning of the meet and greet was not a little too irreverent....either way though, we think we had something to say in the matter (whether or not that is true). With private school apps, we might feel vindicated or rejected, but not like it was totally out of our hands.

    Similarly, this sense of being out of control with the lottery is the reason why neighborhood schools sound so attractive, because then we middle class strivers could do something to control the outcome, by buying or renting property on the right block. It would give us a leg up, a chance for an advantage through our greater willingness to do the research and work for it--and we want that! Yes, we want that advantage!

    Really, it's the fact that we couldn't do something extra to get our little ones into Rooftop that enrages us. Especially if all the work we did do (those 25 visits and all the mouse clicks) didn't actually help. Especially if our slacker next door neighbor did NO work at all, maybe even cribbed off our list, but got the coveted slot.

    I bet from the description of French schools that our counterparts might be a bit more...fatalistic? about this kind of thing. The government does its thing and we all go along with the results. Customers? Meritocracy? Feh.

    By the way, I include myself as a middle class striver.

  39. A British emigre I know says that starting something like Parents for Public Schools in her homeland would be considered an unacceptably pushy-American thing to do.

    So that tells you something about cultural differences.

  40. Anon, I do understand your point about wanting control and an advantage, etc. That is natural to most Americans. But it's also more than that--to have the whole system be so intrinsically unfair (and I mean the education system as a whole, not the SF lottery system)is wrong. Of course, that issue goes much deeper and further into our society and government. Like, I said, short term change is not likely. Socio-economic change doesn't come easily, and people's attitudes about it don't change easily either. Caroline, I appreciate that those schools have been improved so much, but how many schools are considered acceptable now and how many are not? Aren't there about 80 schools? How many are popular/getting popular? 20? 30? More?

  41. What do people think of system where the default assignment is to your neighborhood school and everyone has the option to particpate in a lottery for all alternative schools and/or schools outside the neighborhood. Even if your neighborhood school was one that needed work, if you knew it was likely your child and many others from the neighborhood would end up there, you could start taking some control, surveying neighbors/pre-school friends about their commitment to improving the PTA. It would certainly give some peace of mind early on without forcing anyone into a school they did not want. Round I and II and beyond could still operate much the same as they do now, but perhaps more people would opt out if they were happy with their neighborhood school or were committed to improving it and knew there were many others right there with them. I suppose there still could be diversity issues but I'd be curious to see how it panned out given the remarkable ethnic diversity in so many SF neighborhoods.

  42. The lottery system needs a LOT of improvement, and it would be great to devise a top ten list of ideas for that, but I give San Francisco USD props for actually trying to meet the needs of a very diverse community, even while moving away from heavy-handed strategies like forced busing. It's a long-term strategy that is actually working, when you look at the Alvarados, Miralomas, and this year, Leonard Flynn. Achievement is rising, and schools are improving.

    The problem is that we parents are in the middle of it, on the ground, and there are still not enough slots to go around, especially if we assume that not all the good slots are saved for kids from the "nicer" neighborhoods which was historically the case, before the desegregation movements of the sixties and seventies.

    As Caroline notes, highly segregated schools with historically underachieving communities tend to get overwhelmed. Not because their teachers are paid less (though I understand that the upcoming parcel tax, if passed, would allow them to be paid more, in fact), but because the number and scope of the problems are so overwhelming. And the thing is, it really doesn't take that much integration to turn that around--though there is often still an achievement gap in integrated schools and I know educators are still trying to figure that one out. It's just that the atmosphere turns around pretty quickly. I've seen it happen.

    That is why SFUSD has a strategy of creating, in effect, magnet schools through immersion and other programs to lure middle class parents to segregated schools. Not to the segregated Asian ones, by and large, because they are doing better than well in the test score game. But to the Starr Kings and the Marshalls and the Paul Reveres. And it is working--the circle of acceptable schools is expanding, ring by ring.

    Every year, parents pick Rooftop & Clarendon. Some of them get their picks, and most do not. Every year, a few then flee to private (though not anywhere near the numbers that fled under busing) and many more are forced to look at rings beyond the Rooftops and Clarendons, then beyond the Alvarados, then beyond the Fairmounts and Miralomas, certainly next year beyond Leonard Flynn and probably Marshall too.

    So it is working. Just not fast enough for the parents caught in the "I put Alvarado first but I thought Flynn would be my backup!" problem. We all want all the schools to be wonderful magnet schools now. Except that to go any faster would require busing combined with absolutely no private schools--meaning, mandatory integration with no exceptions for anyone to go to private. That would improve the public schools, pronto! But it ain't gonna happen for a number of very good and a few not-so-good political reasons.

    So here we are. I think SFUSD is doing pretty well. As I said, I'd love to see a top ten list of potential improvements (not snarky ones that give all the good slots to people like me, but ones that make it more tranparent and easy to navigate). I'd like to see better customer service (though it sounds like we are at least as good as the French system on that one). But I still give the school district credit, because the improvements, seen over time, are real.

  43. Or what about a straight lottery with no complex formulas. Everyone's name goes in and is assigned randomly to the schools in a random order?

  44. With transfers allowed after if there's space?

  45. 1:24 and 1:27, do you mean with no parental preference stated at all? Despite none of us getting Rooftop, the preference seems to have some impact, especially with those schools that don't have 1000 applications.

  46. Well, I'm not sure. I'd have to think about it, but I'm leaning toward no preference. That's kind of the point, I think, in the sense that it wouldn't create those "must get into" schools. But, hopefully, would create a diverse population at each school that would be invested in upping that school's performance.

  47. Since you could only do it at the entry point years, like K and 6th, etc., it would be a gradual thing. The first few years would be challenging.

  48. Anon at 1:15, a cursory glance at the 5-year demand spreadsheet (available at PPS and SFUSD websites) shows that close to 40 schools had first-choice requests that exceed the total number of slots. If you take into account total requests for slots, beyond first choice picks, many more schools make that list. You can also see that in most cases demand has increased over the last five years for these schools. There are a few schools that do not seem to be moving, though, for example: John Muir, Malcolm X, Bret Harte.

    Anecdotally I can tell affirm Caroline's statements that 10-15 years ago the only "acceptable" schools to the demographic on this blog were a handful, namely Rooftop, Clarendon, CL, Lakeshore, and a few others. The idea of Miraloma, Leonard Flynn, even Alvarado--which started its upward trend about 8-9 years ago but didn't make the "playground reputation" list until about 5 years ago--being on anyone's radar would have been ludicrous.

  49. Yes, 1:46, the parents would be screaming! Talk about loss of control. I wonder if such a thing would be possible with lots of carefully planned community organizing to lay the groundwork for a fully transparent, extremely fair lottery that was aimed at full integretion but by complete chance, no leg up to anyone.

    Of course, there is still the problem of white/upper middle class flight. I bet there would be screaming too from the Asian families on the west side of town. We white folks just don't tolerate being in the minority very well, when the fact is that white kids are only 23% of the schoolage population here (and only 9% of the public school population). And the Asian families seem pretty happy with their segregated, but high-performing schools. A truly random lottery would almost certainly land us white folks in the minority and would mix all of us up. What a concept!

    Fears aside, my kid has done very well by all measures as a minority white kid. The reality has been quite good.

  50. Another thing to consider is that the lottery, even with the diversity index, isn't exactly fair because so few African American and Latino families even participate in the first round lottery. So all the spots at the "choice" schools get taken up in the first round.

    Also, some schools, like Alamo (which has maybe 2 African American Students?) and Clarendon have no busing from Hunter's Point/Bayview and the Tenderloin and that is another reason those families may not list the schools, even if they participate in the first round.

  51. "Anon at 1:15, a cursory glance at the 5-year demand spreadsheet (available at PPS and SFUSD websites) shows that close to 40 schools had first-choice requests that exceed the total number of slots. If you take into account total requests for slots, beyond first choice picks, many more schools make that list."

    I think that's close to 40 *programs*, not schools. There are just over 100 programs, I think? Still, the number of over-requested programs is increasing, albeit slowly.

  52. i think everyone (including the sfusd) agrees that it's not a perfect system. the question is whether even a small amount of diversity makes this crazy system worth it. according to the poll kate conducted pre-round 1, the answer was a firm "yes" (but i wonder if anyone who voted yes would change their vote to no based on the round 1 outcome). an all out random lottery would be insane.

  53. Even taking out the diversity factors from the lottery (though still leaving in the seven preferences) would still leave most parents out in the cold if we keep seeing Rooftop and Clarendon as the holy grail. Many hundreds of people will not get the 30 or so slots there. The fact that there are a limited number of desirable slots compared to the number of applicants means that the fight to get one of them will always be somewhere.

    Moving to a neighborhood assignment would move the fight to the real estate arena, and would create significant more disadvantage, compared to the current system, to those who cannot buy into or rent in the better neighborhoods.

    What we have now is an extremely imperfect compromise between forced integregation and re-segregation. I'd like to see the system itself improved, but I do want to see the schools re-segregated, however attractive it might seem right now to us 0/7 higher income, higher education folks to be guaranteed a slot at one of the better schools.

  54. I'm not sure a system with a default neighborhood school would necessarily result in massive competition in the real estate market. SF is already so expensive to rent or own in nearly all neighborhoods. Instead, such a system could result in neighborhoods with a mix of homeowners (all middle class or higher income) and renters (probably a mix of all socioeconomic classes) coming together and working to improve the neighborhood school.

  55. 4:01, that is not how it works in Oakland right now. Being in one school assignment versus another has a real impact on housing prices there. People fight to get housing in the right neighborhoods, and drive up prices, and lower-income folks, including renters, are quite often excluded. Of course, there is also the issue of Piedmont.

    Neighborhood assignment would also worsen segregation. This is widely understood in education circles. I know for myself, I grew up in a medium-sized city back East that assigned by neighborhood, and there was a vast difference between the working class neighborhood schools and the wealthier ones. Yeah, we have a number of mixed neighborhoods, but we all know there is a big difference between the Mission and Bernal, and between the Tenderloin and Laurel Heights.

    I really hope San Francisco would be better than this. I personally would not support a change that primarily benefits my class of folks at the expense of the kids in the Tenderloin, Hunter's Point, Ingleside, the Excelsior and the Inner Mission. Really, I think there are better solutions to what ails the system now, that do not worsen the inequality as this would do.

  56. I think if what seems to be the demographic of this blog want to live in San Francisco and send our kids to public schools we've got to accept we will be the minority. Isn't Grattan the only school where white is the largest percentage? And that's like 44%, I think. We can't all go there, and most of say we don't want to--that we do want diversity.

    To be honest, the middle/upper middle class folks are uncomfortable going to school with kids in a different economic class. Guilt, fear of differences or resentment, whatever it is, it takes us aback. There is a divide between the haves and have-nots. And I'm sure on the other side of it, those families have their own issues with integration.

    The current system isn't working well enough to bridge that. Perhaps race should be brought back into the lottery, or it should be a straight lottery with proper transportation provided for everyone in this case. And if the white middle class or asian demographic want to leave, then ok. I think costs will keep more than a few in the public system, though. And maybe they'll learn to work with it. I don't know.

  57. I wouldn't want a straight lottery with no preference since it could mean having to drop off your child on the opposite side of town from where you live and work (we live in Noe Valley and work in South San Francisco--I'd hate to have to drive to the Richmond).

    One reason we love city living is that most everything we need is close by, which gives us more free time than we had when we lived in the suburbs.


  58. I do think private schools need to stop patting themselves on the back for having 25-35% students of color in a city where only 23% of school age children are white, non-latino. It is *ridiculous*.

  59. So the net net of it is that we live in, if not the best, then the least bad of all currently possible worlds.

    It's not about race but about shared aspirations. Educated parents (of whatever color) want their kids to go to school with other kids whose families place the same value on education. I haven't heard a lot of white families complaining about sending their kids to Lowell with all the smart, hard-working Asian kids.

    And there's the rub: it's not that there aren't enough "good" schools, it's that there aren't enough "good" kids (read: sharing the same middle class aspirations). I sincerely believe the white parents here are NOT racist – if the Latino and African-American kids had test scores anywhere close to the Chinese kids, the white parents wouldn't mind being in the minority. On the contrary, they would be fighting to get their kids into those "diverse" schools. (And you know, all those undocumented Mexican immigrants whose kids populate the ESL classes in SFUSD? Their grandkids are going to be doctors and lawyers living in big houses in the 'burbs or running Fortune 500 corps. Immigrants make America great, so let's not put the blame on them for the temporary gap between their cultural baggage and ours.)

    But the unpleasant reality – and the reason why this blog exists and so many people read it – is that today only some schools have a critical mass of "good" kids, and these are the schools that appear on the lists made by the people who read this blog. The only way to make more "good" schools is for more middle class families to put on their pioneer hats and head out into the wilderness of not-yet-arrived schools, hoping to be joined sooner or later by enough of their peers to constitute the desired critical mass.

    We have a free public resource whose supply is slowly increasing over time but is sadly insufficient to meet current demand. So inevitably what we get is a rationing system to allocate the scarcity. Very complicated, rather opaque, time consuming and often infuriating – but really, is this system unfair compared to the alternatives? Neighborhood preference would inevitably make real estate – and therefore income – the deciding factor (some people here seem to doubt that, but honestly I can't follow their reasoning, last time I checked Mission and Excelsior rents were not Noe Valley rents). A pure lottery with no preferences at all? Sure, that would work, but it will never fly politically. The politicians and the bureaucrats (who are not all bad) would never expose themselves to something so transparent and yet so certain to be deeply unpopular. The educated, striving middle class white and Asian families would go berserk if faced with a system that was completely arbitrary instead of only partially arbitrary.

    Last but not least, there's the question of more money. I read in the NY Times somewhere that some public school districts on Long Island spend $20K per year per kid on their high schools. Hmm, I wonder what proportion of kids unfortunate enough to lack "middle class educational goals" are in those schools? Pretty low, I bet. Personally, I will vote for the parcel tax and any other proposal to increase school funding that the good people of San Francisco see fit to put on the ballot. But I wouldn't hold my hopes out for $20K per kid any time soon.

    So we come back to the net net of it: the current system, imperfect as it is, is the result of a convoluted Darwinian evolution that blindly but rationally balances all the competing forces in play and produces a result that is unacceptable to some but tolerated by most. I mean, if we really thought the pols on the BOE or the Board of Supes or in City Hall could easily do a much better job with the public schools, then we would have booted them out already for not doing so. But the near total absence of "throw the bums out" chatter on this blog suggests that the pols in inflicting the present system on us have correctly calculated the path of least resistance.

    At the end of the day, there isn't and can't be any magic bullet that will "fix all the problems", and certainly not between now and next Fall. But the system is evolving, even as we speak. The collective if not entirely coordinated pressure of middle class families who want to live and raise their kids in the city will ultimately make the system better. In the meantime, I'm inclined to believe Caroline's oft-repeated assurance that, for the vast majority of families, it really will work out in the end.

  60. Anyone else go 0/7 and worried you won't get anything in Round 2? And have no back-up? That's us and I am starting to freak out.

  61. I have a question. What if you do bite the bullet and take a much less desirable school, and go into it with the goal to do your part to improve thing, and what if it's just not tenable. Say, your kid cannot make friends, or fit in, or the curriculum isn't challenging enough, or whatever reason. Does SFUSD allow mid-year transfers? Is it difficult to get approved for one if they do?

  62. Kate,

    Is your new blog-The Mommy Files? Are you Amy Graff and Alice is Paris?

  63. Anon @ 8:13pm, that is an excellent and well-reasoned description of the situation.

  64. anon @ 8:42
    I know of a 1st grader who was bullied at a private. The school administrators made it clear they thought the victim was the problem. The mom went to SFUSD that afternoon, got a list of schools with available spots, and the kid was moved the next morning.

    If there are spots, I'm pretty sure you can transfer into them, even from another public.

  65. I'd like to address the blog entries ragging on the Adams spreadsheet. First of all, the spreadsheet is a resource, a free tool that he worked on and was nice enough to share. It is not a gurantee! And, he does indeed factor in # of siblings, but that is based on previous years and no guarentee -- how can anyone really know?

    We used the spreadsheet and came out with at 73%. More than anything looking at the numbers was a big fat reality check. That along with looking at past year history (all available on the SFUSD site) makes you realize how much of a numbers game it really is. We just tried to give ourselves better odds. If your list included most/all schools that consistently get more 1st round picks than open spots, your chances aren't so great. Some do shoot the moon and get the gold ring, but more do not. If your top choice or two are "popular" schools, it would seem your 2nd or 3rd choice should be schools where you have a better chance and you like -- then it's all up to the lottery and you have absolutely no control there.

    What happended with us? We really lucked out and got our 1st choice school -- which was in the Top 10 of oversubscribed schools. And, our neighborhood school wasn't even one of our 7 choices! (By the way, our neighborhood school is Jefferson, which is also oversubscribed.)

    Good luck to everyone in Round II. We very easily could've been in the same boat. On many tours we heard stories from parents who either got into their school via waitlist or ended up at a school they really like, but didn't originally choose or it wasn't high on their list.

  66. Congrats on your new job writing The Mommy Files Blog:
    and getting "Alice" (Paris) accepted into your dream school, MCDS. I would say this SF K Files project has been a major success for you.

  67. Anon at 12:40 said "I would say this SF K Files project has been a major success for you."

    Huh? sfgate bloggers don't get paid, do they?

  68. "What I'm saying is that I've never met a family who stuck it out through the process who didn't get a school they were happy with."

  69. Big and Tiny:

    I am SOOOOOOOOOO sick of that tired old quote.

  70. i really don't understand how anyone can think the lottery system is any good. everyone is praying to get in to one of the "GOOD" school. Why not focus on making all public schools good and forget this running around cross town??? and i hope no one thinks this will help "diversify" the schools. i'm specifically referring to race. san francisco is NOT DIVERSE. If you live in the city for the most part, you've got some kind of money. yes there are exceptions, but as a person of color moving from NY to San Francisco, I could not believe the lack of diversity (particularly of color --including hispanic). Yes, I know there is a Mexican population but they are segregated by location due to cost so what's the deal with this so called fairness? Do you really think forcing someone to drive/take public transport (which hell if it were an efficient service would help) half way cross town (in the rain) is going to help? What it does is just force parents of little means to have to figure out ways to get their children to school and back (incurred cost for transport/gas) as opposed to walking them to school and being able to perhaps be more active at the school because they actually have time to talk to teachers rather than to have to run because they have to catch a bus to get half way cross town to get to work.

    Why not allow ample slots at ALL public schools for those parents who would like to have their children attend schools out of their district if they choose to do so. If you think forcing people to fill out forms and agonize over getting into a school that's better than another is better than improving the public school system, well then i think then we are all in trouble.

    How horrible it must be for those parents who end up having to commute quite some distance fretting over how they will do so. How sad it must be for kids not to be able to go to school with their neighborhood friends or say "hey, you wanna come over after school?" because they live too far from one another.

  71. I can assure everyone that in large and diverse urban cities, assignments based on neighborhoods leads to more segregation. You should see the Oakland hills parents "defending their borders" so to speak. Schools serving predominantly poor families have to deal with problems that are beyond their abilities to fix. It's not practical to simply say "Let's make all our schools good so that everyone can go to their neighborhood school."

  72. It's not practical to simply say "Let's make all our schools good so that everyone can go to their neighborhood school."

    That's the problem right there. WE MUST MAKE ALL OUR SCHOOLS BETTER. With this attitude... we never will.

  73. "Schools serving predominantly poor families have to deal with problems that are beyond their abilities to fix."

    So who's left to fix it? What happens when "your" child has to go there because of lottery system?

  74. I agree with 8:47. In Oakland there is even a separate city (Piedmont) for parents who are eager to send their kids to public school but not have to deal with a true urban public school challenge.

  75. Yes, there's no excuse for the attitude, "we can't fix all schools".

    How long has SFUSD sucked? Pretty long it seems like if it's only in the past ten years the number of good schools has increased beyond five. I don't think all the other schools were "hidden gems" waiting to be discovered. It took a lot of hard work.

    Inertia...just saying. Outside forces required to change things.

  76. A few comments:

    "I do think private schools need to stop patting themselves on the back for having 25-35% students of color in a city where only 23% of school age children are white, non-latino. It is *ridiculous*."

    Well, that's marketing. They know perfectly well they're full of ****.

    "... there's no excuse for the attitude, "we can't fix all schools"..."

    Well, there's such thing as reality. It's like curing cancer, ending war and eliminating world hunger. No school district anywhere in the world has solved the problem of "making all the schools good" when it comes to dealing with schools that cope with high numbers of disadvantaged, high-need students. The challenges are just too great.

    "How long has SFUSD sucked? Pretty long it seems like if it's only in the past ten years the number of good schools has increased beyond five."

    SFUSD used to openly have crappy schools for low-income children of color and fine schools for middle-class kids. In fact that's what all diverse urban districts were like before Brown v. Board of Education and subsequent efforts to desegregate schools. So it depended on your perspective whether the district "sucked." If you were white middle-class and didn't care about those poor dark-skinned folks on the other side of town, the schools were just fine.

  77. Reality. We can never change it, of course. Well, as a white, upper-middle class citizen, I'm good! Yippee!

  78. That's a little willful misinterpretation, Anon at 10:17 a.m. I don't even need to state that that wasn't what I was saying. But perkily announcing, "Hey, I know what! We should just make all the schools good!" is not productive either.

  79. "SFUSD used to openly have crappy schools for low-income children of color and fine schools for middle-class kids. In fact that's what all diverse urban districts were like before Brown v. Board of Education and subsequent efforts to desegregate schools. So it depended on your perspective whether the district "sucked." If you were white middle-class and didn't care about those poor dark-skinned folks on the other side of town, the schools were just fine."

    It is important that we not return to this. Oakland struggles with their big divisions between the hill schools and the schools in the flats, and I would hate to see SF move further along that spectrum. No, the schools cannot do all the heavy lifting against inequality, but we do have a responsibility to make sure they do not contribute to it.

    I think Caroline's point, and I agree with her, is that there is unlikely to be a fix that does not involve integration. And that is a long-term process. We've come aways since the 60's, the 70's, the 90's. But we are not there. It's frustrating sometimes being in the middle of a long process. I would say though, there are rewards for everyone who participates in it though; it's not by any means just us middle class educated folks giving: we get a lot too.

    The lottery system needs further tweaking--I think Henry's ideas on the other thread for more transparency and information flow are excellent. But it is doing its job, seen in the long view.

  80. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much, but why the need to "out" Kate and her family by revealing her identity? It takes the fun out of this blog for me. ( I realize that the info is out there now...)

  81. "But perkily announcing, "Hey, I know what! We should just make all the schools good!" is not productive either."

    Yeah, because that's exactly how it was being said. Talk about willful misinterpretation.

    You seem to present contrary views at times, by the way. Or is just that as long as your kids are taken care of, that the most needy schools can fend for themselves?

  82. Maybe it came across as harsh, but Caroline, who has many years of hearing these arguments and ideas before, was making a reasonable response.

    Some folks, I'm sure well-intentioned, were making the argument that we could have neighborhood schools if only we made all the schools good with more funding, good teaching, great programs. Her response was, it's not that simple. It is true that none of the schools have the resources they need at this point, but lots of those schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods *have* received extra support. The problem is, they are dealing with overwhelming problems. With a population that stressed, including students and parents, they have not historically been able to succeed. What has worked, in some measure, is integration, especially in terms of economic class. Integration gives the school a lower stress level and brings in resources. Even without any heroic interventions by parents, just plain integration is a proven pathway, if not a completely perfect one in terms of closing the achievement gap, to success. And it does it without lowering the test scores or achievement of the middle class kids; what happens is that the boat rises. It's been shown to work.

    This is the argument in favor of slowly widening circles of integration, which is what the present SF model is doing, as opposed to the neighborhood schools model. This is why we have the model we have. We middle / upper middle class people don't always like it; we dream of that Edenic time when our little ones would walk down the block to a school full of kids whose familial cultures we understand, who are striving for the same goals along the same paths. We have (reasonable) objections to being in this opaque process and maybe being forced to go some neighborhoods away. We also forget that the Edenic time of the past was rooted in segregation and unfairness. Returning to that model now would be, at this time, a return to that too.

    This is Caroline's point--it is not possible to have all successful schools if they are rooted in neighborhood segregation and thus mirror the inequalities of our neighborhoods. Highly segregated schools in very poor, historically underperforming communities do not succeed. This is what Kozol has shown. So these well-intentioned ideas will not work.

    By the way, it is ludicrous to accuse Caroline of not caring about disadvantaged children and disadvantaged schools. You may disagree with her perspectives, but questioning her commitment to the goal of quality education for all kids is bunk. As one of the founding members of PPS and also PTA activist; as someone who quite frequently asks hard questions about the schools and also takes a lot of pushback; and as someone who has sent her own kids to public school from K onward, including to a (then) quite dicey middle school, she has walked the walk. You don't have to like her, but you can't call her a hypocrite. She wants those needy kids to succeed; she is just arguing that they will not do so in segregated (i.e., neighborhood) schools.

  83. 2:38, Kate outed herself in the Examiner a few weeks ago when she allowed herself to be interviewed, using her real name, as the author of the SF K Files blog.

  84. she also lists the sfkfiles as part of her bio over at her new gig on sfgate.

  85. Another issue hampering lower performing schools is a rather 'inside baseball' issue: The revenue follows the students, but the expenses follow the teacher.

    Here is a primer on budget issues that perpetuate inequity across our district:

    We have a thing called teacher salary averaging: schools all have to budget the same amount for a teacher no matter what the cost is to that school.

    So, a low performing school with poor children and kids who don't speak English may get more money per pupil. It is called Weighted Student Formula (WSF) and it's supposed to help provide more money to schools with students that have more expensive learning needs to bring them up to speed. A good idea and considered a best practice.

    However, the flip side (and what completely undermines it) is that all schools have to take from their budgets an average teacher salary. At low performing schools, due to highering practices and teacher union seniority rules, novice teachers are concentrated in the lowest performing schools. And more senior teachers get to pick where they go and end up concentrated at the highest performing schools.

    But each school just budgets a district 'average' salary for the teachers. So, while the average salary at the low performing school might actually be $40,000 because most the teachers are new, the school must take out $50,000 from their budget (in effect, losing out on $10,000 in services for their students.) On the other side of town, the average teacher salary at a higher performing school with more senior teachers (correlation is not necessarily causation in this case) they might actually be costing the district $60,000 per teacher. But they, too, only have to pay $50,000 out of their budget per teacher.

    So in SFUSD, as you see in most urban areas across the country, lower performing schools with concentrations of new teachers are, in effect, subsidizing schools with concentrations of senior teachers.

    But the whole thing is so confusing, you rarely see anyone taking it on as an issue (plus you have to go up against the teachers union.)

    There are plenty of ways the system could better serve students - this is just one of them.

    My proposed solution is that no school should be allowed to have more than a certain percentage of novice teachers at it. The parcel tax on the June 2008 ballot provides some incentives to get more experienced teachers at these schools through additional pay incentives and professional development opportunities.

    I say this as yet another way to 'make all schools good' - there are indeed ways that our Board of Education, teachers union, and SFUSD administration could change systemic problems that perpetuate inequity. But the will - political and personal - have to be there. Educating the public to put pressure here is a start I hope to make.

  86. Thanks, Anon at 4:28. And sorry to sound snappish about the "why can't we make all the schools good?" question. I HAVE heard it said that way over the years, as in, "Hey! I have an idea! Why don't we just...?"

    Or as one veteran school board members put it ruefully, "Gosh, we forgot to make all the schools good."

    The point that middle-class parents complain about "rewarding failure" when they perceive resources going to low-income schools is not just a prediction but something I've seen repeatedly over the years. And I've seen teachers complain too -- extra resources go to schools that teach high numbers of low-income students, but why can't I have those resources for the struggling I do have in my class, even if they're a minority at this school?

    Parents commenting on this blog are amazingly sophisticated, though, which is pretty impressive since so many are not yet even K parents. You all are far more savvy than I was at that point.

  87. Yes, and the point I was trying to make before was that without true integration, all the schools aren't going to be made better. My speculation was it is possible? The current system doesn't really work. Or, at least, it won't continue to spread out to encompass all the schools. Without a forced integration, which it sounds like a lot of people would protest, I don't see equity happening at the schools.

    I did like some of the ideas I've heard here--distributing teacher experience across schools, for example. I did like Henry's ideas for improving the current system, since it doesn't seem like it's going away anytime soon. And I do think that more effort should be exerted to make sure everyone participates in the lottery process. I understand that will take money and manpower. Maybe a volunteer system could be set up to contact people before the first round? I understand that having everyone participating could decrease my chances of getting what I want, but it would hopefully lead to a more fair mix, more integration. Maybe not.

  88. Luring experienced teachers to work in high-need schools seems like a key goal. But I think the only way to do that is with a REALLY BIG bonus for doing that. Otherwise you're asking your more veteran employees to choose far more challenging, high-stress work assignments where the demands are much higher and the rewards are fewer -- imagine that in your own field. Oh yeah, and work assignments where they'll get beaten up by the press, the trillion or so education pundits etc. if they don't achieve miracles.

    Our PTSA at Aptos one May had to try to contact, by phone, all the families of the next fall's incoming 6th-graders, splitting up the calls among volunteers. That was an eye-opener about the efficacy of trying to reach a full spectrum of families that way. We were using phone contact info on the applications submitted 4-5 months before and/or the acceptances filed 2 months before. We ran into quite a few of the following: Disconnected numbers; unknown people answering with whom we just had to leave a message and hope it got through; absolute non-English-speakers; young kids who said the adults didn't speak English and who promised to translate and deliver the message; and people who immediate hung up or were out-and-out hostile. Plus unanswered rings and busy signals. Plus of course many answering machines/voicemails (limited-English-speakers often have that default outgoing message by the anonymous voice, so you're never sure if you got the right number) where you have no idea if your message got through and was comprehended.

    So I've thought and thought, but have never been able to figure out how SFUSD might do better at impressing on low-income/limited-English families how the choice process works and why it's worth doing.

  89. Is there any way of making it mandatory? I mean, does everyone eventually have to show up at a school to enroll in person? Could they make that requirement of having to come in before the round I? I know some people would probably still not show up, but it might help. Could helpful literature be sent home (in English/Spanish/whatever) with current students? Word of mouth, at least, might increase participation.

  90. It is supposed to be mandatory. Then the (many) students whose parents did get the word (if they have parents, which is certainly not a given) just get plopped into whatever school has room, assuming someone is making them go to school at all.

  91. Isn't PPS doing outreach through the CDC's and Head Start programs? Those would be great locations too for targeted recruitment by private schools that want to increase their race & class diversity.

  92. PPS, EPC, etc. did major outreach this year. This may account for many of the 300 extra students who turned in forms for round one this year.

  93. PPS also partnered with other nonprofits such as First 5, Jumpstart, HeadStart, the CDCs and more to reach families non-English speaking Latino and Chinese families and also African American families in the Bayview and Western Addition to provide linguistically and culturally relevant parent-to-parent advice about school enrollment, selection and choice to these families. With the additional work the SFUSD EPC has been doing in the last few years as well, we saw on time enrollment of Latino and African American students increase significantly this year (I think it may have actually doubled?)

  94. And of course, as noted above, this outreach was in addition to the 6000 English speaking parents that came to Parents for Public Schools GoPublic enrollment, outreach and training. This was up from 4500 a year ago last fall, which had doubled from 2000 the year before! We're seeing exponential increase in interest in public schools by families in San Francisco - at least PPS is, anyway!


  95. So I've thought and thought, but have never been able to figure out how SFUSD might do better at impressing on low-income/limited-English families how the choice process works and why it's worth doing.

    Just to reiterate, SFUSD IS indeed doing this and seeing very positive results. More families are participating in the first round (maybe another reason why the increase in 0/7 this time around.)

  96. My bad for not recognizing that the number of low-income families of color participating in the choice process HAS increased. Of course I do know that, and full credit to PPS, and to SFUSD's efforts.

  97. Aren't you a little old to be using the term: "my bad"?

  98. Thanks for reminding me, 5:40! How classy of you! (What IS the upper age limit?)

  99. Umm ... "my bad" has been in use since 1970 (it began as a basketball term). Maybe 5:40 is too young? I'm near 40 and my sisters and I used to say this when we hit lousy balls on the Central Valley tennis courts in the 70s and 80s. We said it often. The movie Clueless popularized the expression in 1995.

    Using language in new ways, even slang ways, is human nature. My bad for veering totally off-topic. A former copy editor

  100. Wow! the attacks are really getting personal on this blog!

  101. There seems to be one person in particular who seems to be stalking Caroline and leaving one-liner "drive-by" comments.

  102. If my fan is forced to resort to picking on me because of my age, that should be forgiven just due to what it says about the perp. Guess what -- all of you will be 54 one day too, Goddess willing.

  103. Don't I know it! Used to think 40 was old! Not anymore. Of course, my kids think I am ancient. And all thumbs when it comes to texting.

  104. What's texting?

    (just kidding;)

  105. I haven't learned to text (but my husband does, and unlike me he is old enough to get a senior discount some places!)

    But I'm on Facebook. And my son, shockingly, doesn't seem to mind. (That's because I'm so nice I let him cut school part of today to go to the Olympic torch protests -- though he would have whether I let him or not.)