Monday, April 28, 2008

Private school wait lists

An SF K Files visitor requested that we start a thread on private school wait lists. Great idea.

Here are some questions to get things started:

Has there been any movement on private school wait lists following Round II? Has anyone gotten a call about a spot recently?


  1. We know two families who got spots at co-ed schools off the wait list the week that deposits were due but have not heard of anyone being offered a spot since then.

    Word on the playground is that there are many more families than usual who were intending to go private (not even considering public) and who did not get spots. It really must have been a boom year for babies in SF.

  2. Anon at 9:19 said: "Word on the playground is that there are many more families than usual who were intending to go private (not even considering public) and who did not get spots. It really must have been a boom year for babies in SF."

    That is part of the problem we're all having here: we need some perspective! Where is the data from EPC that tells us how many people got their wait pool choice in Round II, how many got a school from their Amended Choice list, and how many families remain without an assignment? Without that information, we really have no objective way of knowing what happened this year.

  3. Burke's added a kindergarten class. That they were that far off on spots offered: spots accepted, while not unheard of, does make one wonder if there were more kids than usual applying to kindergarten, not just more applying to public kindergarten. Who knows! Anybody?

    Any of the lurking private admissions people care to comment on whether they had more applications than anticipated this year, or more offer letters accepted?

  4. I know that Live Oak and Friends both went to their wait list the week that deposits were due for boys. I don't know any private school that let in any girls from the wait list.

    I feel very lucky to have a spot since I have a girl.

  5. I heard SF School is overenrolled (i.e. more people accepted than in the past and they are in a pickle) Anyone know anything?

  6. Awkward posting this information, because it's private, but knowing what I know of the so-called top private schools, there will be no movement for girls on the waitlists.

    If I didn't have a spot for my girl already in a co-ed school, I would listen to what one administrator told me: that I was darned lucky to get into a top tier school at all, and if I didn't she would tell me to give up at this point. She said she'd never had to turn away so many girls, because there just weren't spots for them. Either due to siblings, or overwhelming numbers. Apparently, this is a year to have a son, if you want to get in anywhere.

    She said that if it were her daughter, who by this time didn't have a spot, that she would seriously be moving out of the city, because no spots will open.

    That sounds so bleak. But it is information, and this is a blog. So...

    Also, the rumor I heard was that Burke and Hamlin share so much information that it is rare for one girl to be accepted at both. It's usually either/or. Has anybody else heard that?

  7. Thanks for sharing what you know about spots for girls. Doesn't sound promising, does it?

    I personally know four girls offered spots at both Hamlin and Burke's, from two different preschools, so it is not true that this doesn't happen. (For what it's worth, two went Hamlin, two went Burke's.)

    These schools are in competition with each other, so I really doubt there is much sharing of information before the letters go out. After the letters go out I assume they do check in with each other to see who is waiting to hear back, i.e., what applicants who have been offered a yes at one school are waiting to get off the waitlist at another. They'd want to get a sense what kind of movement they're going to have.

  8. My son is on the wait list at Synergy. No movement there, and the admissions director told me they are over-enrollled.

  9. "I was darned lucky to get into a top tier school"

    "top tier"?

    Excuse me while I vomit.

    The only thing 'top tier" about those schools is the price. I'd match my son's Kindergarten experience at what you all would call a "shabby up and coming school" any goddamned day.

    I guess we're back to the surreal "problems of the people with either way too much money or who live beyond their means" threads now.

  10. We're on Synergy's waitlist for girls and we haven't heard or seen any movement. (We're okay now, and very fortunate, bec we got our waitpool school. Whew.)

  11. Thanks, 8:09. I have no problem with this thread as I know people are scrambling for options, and it is an interesting look for an outsider like me at the stresses of getting a spot on the other side of the street :-). But really, I can't believe people use words like "top-tier" with a straight face. What does that even mean in real life and how does it get perpetuated? It keeps coming up ....

    They may seem scruffy at times, but I too would put my kids' educations right up against those kids' too (we have many points of comparison among our friends, who are pretty self-aware and--at least in my hearing--have never used words like that, either! They do crack jokes about the cultural milieu of their private schools sometimes).

  12. To 8:09:

    Please let us know which school your son attends. Plenty of people are still looking for an "up and coming" school that is not so hard to get into. Given your sunny personality, I'm sure also that they would enjoy volunteering at the school with you.

  13. Underlying meaning of "top-tier":

    Expensive enough to sweep poor children, middle-class children, disabled children, and kids with learning disabilities off of my pristine lawn and out of sight from my children.

  14. 8:09 here.
    Hey lester,
    Thanks-- my pals at school also think I am fun to volunteer with!
    As for what school I'm referring to, nevermind. I don't think anyone who uses the term "top tier" would be happy at our shabby little school. Its totally wealthly when it comes to love and caring, but it lacks shiny new chairs and the kids don't all have eighty dollar shoes on. Heck, some of them come from families who can barely afford any kind of new shoes. It's truly a separate reality.

    Anon at 8:44
    I agree, and I have no problem with people scrambling for options; I have no problem with people sending their children to private schools, but I do have a problem with "top tier" type snottiness. Makes my skin crawl.

    Anon at 9:05
    Thanks for the definition , LOL.
    I actually heard a woman in line at the supermarket yesterday saying "I want my kids' early years to be MAGICAL, so I don't want her around poor children or handicapped children." I think my jaw must have dropped to the floor. I should have said "and I don't want MY KID EVER to be around kids who have parents like you." OHMYGOD.

  15. Last year, Live Oak had the problem that it sounds like other schools are having this year: they made too many offers that people took them up on -- requiring the addition of an extra class of kindergartners. Live Oak was extremely conservative with offers this year.

  16. Wow, you all sound like spiteful shrews. Top tier probably just means the most highly sought after and applied for schools. Plenty of the people on this blog have referred to Clarendon, Rooftop, etc., in this way.

  17. 8:09: HAHAHAHA!!!!

  18. I've heard the same thing -- too many offers that people took -- about French-American. At the same time, I know someone who got in off the "denied" list there, so go figure.

    Not surprisingly, I've heard school admissions people themselves refer, in public, to their schools as "high end" and the like.

  19. 8:09: Why are here then? Did you read the thread title? Do you have anything useful to impart to people going through the private, or public+private, admissions process?

  20. Anon at 9:46 wrote:

    "8:09: Why are here then? "

    Anything useful to impart? Yeah, learn how to write a coherent sentence, I am sure that really helps on those private school applications.

  21. Careful, your envy is showing.

  22. On the subject of private schools, a question:

    Do private schools disclose their standardized test scores? We are looking into schools for next year, and this would be one way to judge them. Public school STAR and other test scores are disclosed in the newspapers, but I can't seem to find similar data for private schools. Are they available?

  23. Private schools don't use the STAR tests. All good schools will release summaries of their SAT AP and College Admission Rates and even list the schools to which the students were admitted. I don't think there's anywhere you can get summaries of these though.

  24. But isn't the SAT AP test given to older students?

    I know private schools also have standard tests for children in elementary school. This would be a better way for those of us with children that will soon be entering kindergarten to gauge school academics.

    Do private schools disclose these test results to parents and to each other? If so, it would be a real help if they disclosed the results to parents searching for schools as well. Do they?

  25. Look, 8:09. Don't vomit on my account.

    I am saying that I was lucky in that there were about 200-400 applications at the so-called top schools, and very very few girls were accepted overall at the co-eds. Tons of girls this year, less boys.

    This is accurate, and it was you who read any snobbism into it.

    On the contrary, I wanted a public school. I went 0/15. I got a spot at a top tier private. Everybody knows what we're talking about when we say top tier. It's ridiculous, I know, but there is no need to turn your judgement of my luck into vomit.

    And also, I'm not so sure how lucky ANYBODY is if they are forced into a situation where they went 0/15, then have to mortgage their house to pay for school so they can stay in this wonderful City.

  26. just ignore 8:09 and be thankful s/he won't be one of your fellow parents.

  27. Oh, and also. I consider Clarendon, Rooftop, West Portal, Alice Fong Yu and all those to be TOP-TIER public.

    Taking nothing away from the Sunnysides, Marshalls, McKinley and Moscone schools--all of which I put on my list, and none of which I got.

    Interesting that some have such reverse snobbism and are so quick with the heavy and negative.

  28. I have to laugh at all the comments about those of us who scoff at the the 'top tier" and "exclusive" banter as being "envious' or "bitter" or "jealous". Bizarre how you look any criticism of your elitism as a desire to be in your shoes. There's no way I want my kid to go to those schools.
    It isn't envy, it's alienation.
    I could afford to send my kid to private school, but I want my son to grow up with a sense of what the world is really like, I want my son to be tolerant of children with disabilities, with children who are poor, with children who have gay parents, or one parent, or no parents at all. I don't want to raise him with the same sense of smug entitlement so pervasively apparent in many of the parents who post here. And yes, the parents who only wanted Clarendon or Rooftop would also count amongst the "top tier" mentality.

  29. Marshall (Spanish, K) has only one person in the waitpool.

  30. I agree with the top-tier public statement.

    My child will be attending an up and coming gem, but it's hard to argue with the high test scores and true diversity that the Clarendons, Rooftop and a couple others have. With 1000+ applications, and it wasn't likely.

    People who get into them are lucky, and I hope all the work I will put into my public school will pay off big dividends.

  31. I want my son to be tolerant of children with disabilities, with children who are poor, with children who have gay parents, or one parent, or no parents at all.

    Where on earth do you get the idea that this doesn't occur in private school?

  32. Because private school families are all evil, snobbish, fabulously wealthy elitists who revel in oppressing the weak and sniveling lower classes! ahahahahahahaha!!

    *twirls thin black moustache*

  33. Marshall is a great school with wonderful teachers and a small-school vibe. It also has some amazing "extra" programs, like Odyssey of the Mind.

  34. Talking about diversity and multiculturalism is different than living it.

  35. People sure like to pat themselves on the back around here. "I'm so enlightened and so into diversity." Right, that's why you try so hard to get into all those schools in Bayview, right?

  36. Anon 10:24 said:

    "true diversity that the Clarendons, Rooftop and a couple others have."

    Clarendon is so NOT diverse.
    It so does not reflect this district's diversity AT ALL.

    12% of the total SFUSD student population is African American, but only 5% of Clarendon's students are AA

    22% of the total SFUSD student population is Latino, only 8% of Clarendon's students are latino

    32% of the total SFUSD student population is Chinese, only 11% of Clarendon's students are Chinese

    9% of the total SFUSD student population is white, yet 32% of Clarendon's students are white

    So, uh, what are you talking about?

  37. To 10:21, I have to ask:

    I want my child to grow up in a diverse environment with lots of different kids too. But the lottery won't let me attend any of the schools I listed. I'm 0/15.

    What do you suggest I do?

    And I also have to ask, which school are you attending?

    And if you are white, as it seems many on this blog are, do you consider a school where 70% of the kids qualify for free lunch and 70% of the kids are one race and the test scores are below 650 to be diverse? Because that describes over half of elementary schools in this city.

    I really really really didn't want private school. I will be one of those evil people who hold a spot at private while praying for a spot in the ten day count. It's worth losing a big pile of money because I have three kids to educate.

    But can we just drop the golden fantasy about the public schools in this city? There are maybe 20 to 30 of them that are fine. There are about 10 that are great. There are only about five that are phenomenal. And only two or three actually look as diverse as this city.

    Sorry to fan the flames, but this is a private wait list thread, and many of us have struggled with our decisions, but were forced into it by a school district that thinks that if it doesn't serve 20% of us, it's doing a great job. Because hey! 80% got a school they wanted!!!


  38. I am the original poster who used the term top tier. I am a gay single mom.

    Several gay parents and people of color are entering my private school.

    So there. ;-p

  39. Miraloma has 33 in the 0/7 cohort compared to Rooftop's 34 in the 0/7 cohort (Clarendon GE has 27). I guess in terms of demand, Miraloma would fall in the group of "top tier" publics now.

  40. 10:09 here,

    and no, I don't think all parents who opt for private are evil, I have already said as much. The whole SFUSd enrollment system is ridiculous, and drives families away.

    here's the waitpool results you've all been waiting for:

  41. "Clarendon is so NOT diverse. "

    How silly, - Clarendon is of course "diverse" perhaps not diverse enough, and certainly not reflective of the SFUSD as a whole. But to say it is "so NOT diverse" is ridiculous. I would not send my kid to Clarendon for anything but to argue about it's diversity is not helpful to the debate. Show me a public or private school that is more diverse, there really are not that many of them - and to the very useful/helpful/intelligent comment earlier, NONE of them are in Bayview.

  42. The schools in Bayview *would* be diverse if you and all your friends applied there.

  43. Yeah, maybe I'm sheltered living here in the Mission District. But I think Clarendon, Rooftop and maybe a couple others are the only schools that look like this city.

    The racial percentages of kids one poster listed... Hmm. I don't buy that. I think we were talking about wanting the schools to look like the city.

    I am not going to google this, but I would bet just from my gut that this city is about 35% white, 35% asian, 25% latin, and 5% african american. I would enroll in a school that looked like that.

    Clarendon, Rooftop and a only a couple others look like that.

    I miss the old rule that said no school could have any higher than 45% of one race. That's a good rule, if it's diversity you are looking for.

  44. Kate, please start a new thread to discuss the public school waitpool list that was just posted here and that just appeared on the SFUSD website.

  45. C'mon, people, there's a lot of defensive posturing going on on all sides. The reality is much more complex (though stereotypes hurt because they usually have some basis in reality--yet it burns because they are also unjust).

    Folks have all kinds of good reasons for going private in this crazy city, and I don't condemn parents for doing so. We do not have perfect options and parents in general are under siege these days in terms of not getting social support (like investment in schools and child care).

    Flip side, the fact that the vast majority of private school parents are good people making difficult choices also doesn't take away from the essential elitism of private schools, and their negative effect on public education as a whole....that is how it is. We are making all choices in an imperfect world. I assume good faith among most parents (that MAGICAL comment aside, which, if true, is of course odious).

    Just a thought, not meant as incendiary: using the phrase "top-tier" as shorthand does a come across to me as little offensive, especially in a private context, but also public. It's also not really accurate as a description of educational quality. It seems to mainly describe perception--these are the schools that get attention and lots of applications from a certain economic class of folks. Unfortunately, using that phrase just feeds the perception of quality (accurate or not), not to mention the frenzy to get into them, plus the hurt feelings and the alienation described by one poster for those of us who are not good enough or lucky enough for "top-tier."

    Case in point, for the 0/15ers who are despairing of public options right now, from the waitlist just posted, it looks like there are still some gems out there with spots. Rosa Parks JBBP is really a great school in a central location, for example. I know many of you have logistical/job location issues that preclude these, but if the central idea is that the schools that are left are somehow low quality, I can tell you that is not true for bunches of them. It's perception again. I'd put the list of acceptable schools much higher than others say here, I'd say well into the 50s....there are many such schools just not mentioned here, ever.

  46. Re private schools and standardized testing:

    My understanding is that most give some kind of standardized tests, but not all do. They may or may not give any info on results to anyone. They aren't required to.

    This has become an issue in places with voucher programs -- public money is paying for private schools, but there is no accountability as to academic achievement. That's a big issue in Milwaukee, which has a large-scale voucher program, but no requirements that the private schools report on achievement.

    In D.C., there was a big proposed voucher program, and the private schools themselves objected to two proposed aspects when it first came up: Having to admit by lottery rather than selective admissions process, and having to give standardized tests and publicly report results. I think they did wind up with some kind of voucher program, but more limited than originally proposed and without those aspects.

    Private schools WILL often give you SAT and college admissions info. That's certainly useful information but those are not methodologically sound ways to compare schools, for these reasons: Not all students necessarily take the SAT, and thus you're not looking at the full spectrum of students; college admissions results are much more impressive for the wealthy; and SAT results can be heavily impacted by expensive test prep and repeated retakings of the test -- resources available to the higher-income.

    Of course a private school is, theoretically, perfectly free to kick out all its non-college-material students and then tout its 100% college acceptance rate. A public school can't do this either.

    Re Clarendon's diversity or lack thereof -- those statistics would be considered incredibly diverse for any private school.

  47. 10:56, I believe white school-age children are about 23%, not 35%, and that the percentage of Asian kids is higher. Unfortunately, the percentage of white kids in SFUSD is much lower, under 10%.

    There are diverse AND good schools still out there. There were some posts yesterday about Redding Elementary in Polk Gulch, which apparently has good teachers, decent test scores, and a diverse population including nearly half (but not majority) Asian. You don't hear about a lot of decent schools on this blog, or presumably, in the social circles of people on this blog. Doesn't mean they are not good schools.

  48. Most private K-8 schools in the area use a standardized test called the ERB. Many private schools will share their scores with you if you request them.

  49. Yes, I put in a request for test scores with ERB on Hamlin, MCDS, and three other private schools, but was told I could not get them without permission from the schools (I am the parent who posted the question about standard test scores at private schools above).

  50. Also the percentage of African American children is higher, closer to 10% I believe. These figures are a few years old but kids in SF are something like:

    * Asian 33% (and growing fast)
    * White 22% (and falling)
    * Latino 20% (and growing)
    * African American 10% (and falling)
    * Mixed race and other 15% (very large number, hard to disaggregate)

    In SFUSD (versus the city as a whole), the Asian % is much higher and the white % is much lower.

    Aptos MS seems to match most perfectly the demographics of the city itself. The elementary schools that are diverse in terms of having more than one significant group seem to mostly have two major groups, e.g., Asian-white (West Portal) or Latino-white (Alvarado) or Latino-Asian (i.e., Moscone) or Black-Latino (Bret Harte). Redding as discussed earlier is pretty good in terms of having more of a mix. Harvey Milk and SF Community also, and they make a point of dealing intentionally with racial diversity issues, in a good way.

    No private school comes close, of course; that is a different ballgame altogether.

  51. Of course a private school is, theoretically, perfectly free to kick out all its non-college-material students and then tout its 100% college acceptance rate. A public school can't do this either.

    Actually, private schools don't need to kick out their "non-college-material" students. Virtually all humans are college material, given the right environment and tools. Private schools work hard, along with each student's family, to make sure that no student falls through the cracks of not achieving their absolute highest potential. You're right, public schools can't do this.

  52. Anon 12:09 wrote:
    "Private schools work hard, along with each student's family, to make sure that no student falls through the cracks of not achieving their absolute highest potential."


    The Private schools parents are talking about here also do not enroll children with autism, children with ADHD, children with any sort of behavioral problems or any apparent learning disabilities. So it is easy to say you do not let any kids fall through the cracks, you're dealing with a stacked deck from the start.

    I also find it very odd that they do not readily disclose test score information.

  53. There is a new Stratford school (private) opening in Fall 08 in SF. I was looking into it when my waitpool choice came through. They are still taking applications and the tuition is a bit less than some of the other SF privates. The SF campus has a charter high-school in it now, so you can't tour it, but you can arrange a tour at one of their other campuses. Another possible option for families who need more choices at this point.

  54. Sorry, but this is just not based on reality.

    "Virtually all humans are college material, given the right environment and tools."

    This is the kind of fantasyland that politicians live in when they impose totally unrealistic demands on public schools.

    And anon at 12:26 is correct, of course. If the private school folks thinks it's just all oh-so-easy, why do they have a screening process at all?

  55. Okay, I said I wasn't going to google it, but I did. My hunch numbers were sorta close.

    According to the 2000 census, San Francisco looks like:

    45% white
    31% asian
    14% latino
    8% african american

    While it is true that the percentage make-up of the district school age kids is different from the overall population, I was and am talking about the schools looking like San Francisco. I want them to.

    I think the public schools should look like the City they serve, and if there aren't more kids in the mix, it's because the families all move, assuming the schools are bad and not an option. Most of my friends were shocked that I was even bothering to consider staying in SF and enrolling in public schools.

    Their ignorance is a major force to be reckoned with, and it will only be put to rest once the schools are better and the enrollment process is saner. Mainly the latter.

    My prediction is that as this city becomes richer and richer, and the poor and working class get squeezed out, there will come a time when there is a tipping point, and the (rich) people rise up and take a more active role in the public schools. After that tipping point, there will be a lot more Clarendons, Flynns, West Portals, etc.

    That's insane isn't it? That the rich can save us? I deplore that.

    But that's what happened in the New York City Schools, which have vastly improved, and are now populated with kids who are consistent with the overall population. It started with the return to neighborhood schools. Once the rich started sending their kids to public school, the involvement filtered to other schools outside their neighborhoods, and the overall scores and quality of the schools improved. The populations at NYC schools usually match the city.

    We aren't even close in SF.

    People just don't want to leave the cities anymore, just because they have kids. And finally, I think one of the reasons the private schools are so out of reach in the city is that they don't really have that much competition from the public schools. In most instances, you are comparing apples and oranges. More middle class and upper income families staying and enrolling would change that.

    We need to accomplish that. It's not just about getting involved and making the PTA great. We need to get ALL the people to enroll.

    Outside of recruiting the rich, does anybody have any better ideas?

  56. I also find it very odd that they do not readily disclose test score information.

    Because, actually, all private school students are retarded, but they all end up in good colleges anyway.

  57. According to the 2000 census, San Francisco looks like:

    That's all of San Francisco; the school-age population looks quite a bit different.

  58. Sorry, but this is just not based on reality.

    "Virtually all humans are college material, given the right environment and tools."

    Caroline -- who is not college material, given the right environment and tools?

  59. Caroline said: "If the private school folks thinks it's just all oh-so-easy, why do they have a screening process at all?"

    It is to screen out any troublesome children, those pesky hard-to-teach ones. That also includes gifted kids, if they are too smart, they are really a pain to teach.

  60. Can we PLEASE get back to the topic? If you want to post thoughts about how private schools are bad, there are several topics from which to choose.

  61. I'm not sure everyone needs to go to college. But it doesn't preclude them from leading happy, fulfilled lives.

  62. "Caroline -- who is not college material, given the right environment and tools?"

    I could list lots of kids I've known in my kids' classes -- lots I knew in my school days too, and adults I know, for that matter.

    Whatever environment anon has been spending time in must be rather sheltered from reality -- a woodland cave of the mind, as Sandra Tsing Loh might put it.

    But out here in the real world: I have a young relative -- white, son of two successful and wealthy doctors -- who is just not and never will be college material, despite lots of help and a private-school education. He has learning disabilities, trouble focusing and is just not happy, successful or comfortable in an academic environment. He has many personal assets. Academic aptitude is not among them.

    That's just one example. I agree that not attending college doesn't preclude someone from leading a happy and productive life.

  63. I'm not sure everyone needs to go to college. But it doesn't preclude them from leading happy, fulfilled lives.

    What your kids choose to do when they come of age is up to them and beyond your control. Until then, it is your right and your duty as a parent to make sure they are prepared for college if you believe a college education will add value to their lives.

  64. If your disabled friend is happy and productive without a college education, then more power to him. But where there's a will there's a way.

  65. i spoke with Synergy again today. there has been no movement.

    would the person who talked to a school administrator advising them to give up, please name the school, so if we're on that list with a girl we know not to hope?


    one questions, what is wrong with having a girl heavy class? if the city has lots of 2003 girls, then why can't the class reflect that?

    i'm feeling a little discriminated against, honestly.

    btw, we're 0/15

  66. 1:08 - Well, of course. I don't think I stated otherwise.

  67. To 1:18, asking to name names:

    The school that said there was not going to be movement was Hamlin. Also from my best friend whose kids attend NDV, I heard that NDV will have no movement either. There was only one opening for girl non-sibling, non-parish applicants. It has also been said that Burkes is overenrolled.

  68. We applied to 3 private schools. None of them had any movement to the waitlists for girls (word on the playground). Most people I know applied to more than one.

    I was definately wondering about how the acceptances could have been wrapped up with the first round of letters....and thinking that maybe the directors of admissions had a sort of poker night and passed around their accept pool.

    It's what I would do if I were in their shoes and had a overwhelmingly huge number of acceptable female kindergartners.

  69. I know someone who got in off the waitlist at Hamlin though it was the week deposits were due. At this point though, I would guess there is way less movement in the privates than in the publics since people have put money down and won't change unless it's for a very compelling reason. But I think there will ALWAYS be some movement (maybe just one or two spots), whether it be for job situations or spot that opens at a public school... there is always something that happens.

  70. Caroline,
    I think you are just great - I've appreciated your comments and insights about the pros and cons of SFUSD. And, I think you and parents like you have really paved a path of awareness for this and the next round of parents.

    But, I was surprised to see you reading and commenting in this thread of all places. Curious. What brings you in here? Why does it interest you?

    Jen (can't remember my password to choose my identity)

  71. It is not true that all private schools categorically exclude kids with any type of learning disability or "problem". I know several families with children in private school who have learning disabilities of one kind or another. Sometimes they're known before the child starts kindergarten and sometimes they're not. And sometimes the child ends up leaving the school - and sometimes they don't.

  72. jen, that's a strange question -- why shouldn't caroline be posting here?

  73. Thank you, Jen, and you summed up my reasons better than I could:

    ... I think you and parents like you have really paved a path of awareness for this and the next round of parents...

  74. To address Kate's original post - I believe that the way it tends to work for private schools is that they "close" their waitlist when they have all the contracts in for kindergarten, and then if a space opens up over the summer they would go back to it. So it's unlikely that people would have heard anything in the weeks since the initial acceptance/contract period.

  75. I heard that neither Burkes nor Hamlin went to their waitlists, meaning they filled their spots from the people they accepted initially, not sure if it's true or not.

  76. Curious, what do people do who are applying only to private school and get shut out in a crazy year like this one? No doubt the public lottery can drive one to drink but ultimately you get some kind of offer, and everyone knows there is movement after the 10-day count (stressful as that is), and you really can't get shut out completely, and there is always the chance to move in first grade.

    But there must be a set of folks who wouldn't even look at public. What do they do if they have a girl and there are just a handful of girl slots this year (and they don't get one of them)?

    It seems just as bad if not worse on the private side this year in terms of competition for slots, and I'm guessing much less chance of movement due to absolutely fewer numbers of slots combined with the big money already put down to reserve the spots. Is anyone in that situation? Is it common?

  77. 4:21, it is common and those families either move or apply to parochial schools or lesser known privates.

  78., they move to the burbs, okay, that makes sense. Do they really also transfer to parochial or lesser-known privates? But which ones are those? Aren't they all over-booked too, or else of dubious quality, or in the case of some of the parochials, filled with the same kids one would find in the spurned public schools, i.e., poor and English language learners? And at that point, why not just go with public?

  79. But the parochial schools were just as tough as the other private schools, this year. Like St. Brendans and Notre Dame des Victoires. Not sure if there's that much difference between them and Town or Burkes or those.

  80. I've had some great conversations with my latin neighbors in the Mission, on the playground. Most of them have told me they go to predominantly latin parochial schools in the Mission. They wouldn't dream of sending them to the public schools in our city. One mother told me her perception was that the public schools were only for new arrivals who didn't speak English. When I told her about Flynn and Buena Vista, she shook her head and said she wanted the best for her kid, and that meant parochial, paying around $4,000 to $5,000 per year.

    I honestly don't know if that is indeed the predominant belief, or if it's just the same kind of ignorance that many upper income folks spout, when it comes to public schools. In either event, I was rather taken aback.

  81. I don't understand, why would someone not apply to public, at least as a backup? It doesn't cost anything to apply--I know we all went nuts here and toured what, 15-25 schools, but you don't have to do it that way--and the waitpools cost nothing more than a trip to EPC. At least you get something, and even if not wonderful Rooftop, CL, et al, all our schools are baseline okay compared to many in the USA! Arts, libraries, music, good teachers....

  82. 4:53, it is the same kind of playground rumors (just mission playground, kid power, and folsom instead of laurel heights and upper noe) and also has to do with the situation in mexico and central america, where most kids go parochial. public services are spotty in a lot of places where they come from and people figure you get what you pay for. it's a status symbol too, like having a bankcard.

    of course there are still many latinos in sfusd, and pps is doing specific outreach too. but i believe there is more public school opt-out among latinos than for african americans and asians. of course white folks opt out the most.

  83. When my son was entering kindergarten it was a "crunch" year for boys. There were 5 boys in his preschool class who were "shut out" of private schools. Most of the parents had participated in the public school lottery and sent their sons to the public schools to which they had been assigned. One set of parents submitted a public school application but had no intention of sending their child to public school; despite the fact that the boy was assigned to Lafayette, they instead decided to apply to a small private school relatively far north in Marin that had spaces, and got a space for their son there.

  84. Yeah, it is pretty common for people in Latin America to think of public education as being for those who absolutely cannot afford an alternative.

    It is kind of like going to a free clinic for healthcare in the U.S. You're glad they exist, but if you've got two pennies to rub together, you go private.

  85. Does anyone have any insight into how bad the situation will be next year in terms of boys/girls in the private school scene?

  86. My insightful friend in Oakland who does the Perimeter Primate blog recommended a couple of sociology books to me that I've mentioned here.

    One of them, "Code of the Street," is by a black sociologist about the black community, but I think the same concept probably applies in low-income Latino communities. It's about how there are "street" and "decent" people in these communities, with the pull of the street ever tempting the kids to get involved in drugs and violence, and disengage themselves from school and become alienated and oppositional. "Decent" parents are desperate to keep their kids away from the "street" kids' influence.

    So even (to resurrect an adjective that caused a flurry here early) "bottom-tier" private schools and other options like charters become appealing to "decent" people in those communities, because the "street" people aren't there and their kids aren't subject to the pull of the gang culture. My friend also did a separate blog item about going to a workshop on Latino gang culture, and she included some links to horrifying gang stuff posted on YouTube.

    So that makes the whole thing clear right away. If you're wandering neighborhoods like the Mission, you do sometimes notice a parochial school that you ("you" being Mr. or Ms. Middle-Class) have never heard of. And one example in my area, though not Catholic, is the Voice of Pentecost Academy in the former theater on Ocean. You won't see your middle-class friends applying there; you won't see their alumni flocking to Lowell. They probably don't have a wait list, etc. But they make "decent" people from the lowest-income communities feel like their kids are more protected.

    Not that it's necessarily a guarantee. I did some research myself into the Nortenos and Surenos a couple of years ago. According to my research, the Nortenos tend to be more established and middle-class, more likely second-generation, and often parochial-school students.

  87. I should clarify that the "street" kids ARE in public schools -- at least some of them -- because they are required by law to be in school, and public schools are required by law to accept everyone.

    There have certainly been some of those kids in my kids' K-8 SFUSD schools, but my kids are not at all subject to the pull of the streets, due to the luck of the demographic draw, so their experience is entirely different from a that of a "decent" AA or Latino kid.

  88. Most Catholic schools would have openings. Not the "big name" Catholic schools like NDV, St. Brendan's, St. Cecilia's, etc. but more regular parochial schools. St. John's, St. Paul's, St. Philip's in my neighborhood are all well-respected, and not hard to get in to. I found this open-door policy refreshing when I was applying to Catholic school for my kids.

  89. "Talking about diversity and multiculturalism is different than living it."

    Yes this is true. I wonder how many parents who read this blog are really "living it". You pat yourself on the backs for only considering or only going to public school, yet I bet for most of you (and this is true of me for sure) most of your friends, acquaintances, etc are very similar to you in terms of race, culture, class background, education level. Going to public school is not the same as living a diverse and multicultural lifestyle.

    And I'll also just add that Catholic schools are not really an option for LGBT families.

  90. the responses of 4:44 and 4:46pm reflect how narrow minded we have become. there are many MANY lovely parochial schools and private schools that are not in what some call the "top tier" (i hate that term).

  91. "And I'll also just add that Catholic schools are not really an option for LGBT families."

    Hey, watch it! I'm a gay single mom and my daughter is going to NDV. My best friend, also gay, sends her daughters there. I know of three other gay families sending kids there.

    I have no problem with it at all. They are very welcoming and even have tolerance classes for the kids. They study all religions, not just catholicism, even though the program is very supportive of catholic kids.

    I am not Catholic, but I did baptize my kids.

    I have no idea why you'd make such an ignorant comment. This is San Francisco, not a right wing backwater.

    And while I'm at it, the only truly consistently diverse schools I've seen in this city are parochial. Outside a few publics. (And I mean a few, because I don't find the public schools all that diverse in this city.)

  92. Most Catholic schools reserve only 70% or less of the class for catholics, so there is a good amount of room for people of other faiths.

    I wish the Hamlins, Burkes, Towns, etc. reserved 30% for lower economic families. Or for people of color.

  93. (And I mean a few, because I don't find the public schools all that diverse in this city.)

    Do you know of any city where the publics are more diverse? It's routine in other big cities to see schools that are 98-99-100% black or Latino. (People keep saying NYC, though I don't know of any actual breakdowns of school demographics from there.)

    I know that a few years ago the diocese or some higher Catholic body ordered St. Ignatius to get rid of its Gay-Straight Alliance (or similar gay-rights student club), and SI renamed it so they could get away with keeping it.

    Full appreciation to SI. I would not choose to be part of an organization with such an official policy -- even though I'm not gay and especially if I were -- but to each his/her own. Or, as my late father liked to say, "You go to your church and I'll go to mine," meaning it metaphorically.

  94. "yet I bet for most of you (and this is true of me for sure) most of your friends, acquaintances, etc are very similar to you in terms of race, culture, class background, education level. Going to public school is not the same as living a diverse and multicultural lifestyle."

    It's actually not true for me in part due to my work (union work), my own working class background and also my mixed-raced relationship. It may be true for others here. I would say, so what, though? There are very few places where people have real opportunities to cross over lines of race and class, and public school is one of them. You meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet.

    Other groups can help you do this too-unions, playing on sports teams, sometimes faith communities, though those too are often quite segregrated by race and class. So public school is a good place to start, and certainly a good start for the kids in terms of learning what it means to be part of a wider world where people come from different backgrounds.

    Agreed that many parochial schools in SF are diverse, sometimes more so than some of the publics. The schools have unfortunately resegregated somewhat since the end of busing. They are all more diverse than any private, however, and there are some good options like Milk, SF Community if real diversity (in the sense of having more than two significant groups) is important to you.

  95. I have no idea why you'd make such an ignorant comment. This is San Francisco, not a right wing backwater.

    the catholic church considers homosexuality a sin regardless of whether we're talking about a gay friendly city like sf or a right wing backwater -- i think you're being ignorant for believing believing otherwise.

  96. It's more nuanced than that. I'm not Roman Catholic, but I do belong to a church that is fighting the good fight on this issue within our own denomination. I also know many wonderful Catholics who are doing great social justice work and who also care deeply about advancing GLBT (and women's) rights within the church. Some cannot fight from within--the institutional contradictions are just too painful to bear. Others see the good to fight for. I'm with Caroline on this, I can't judge that particular choice for people. SF Catholics tend to be very liberal on these issues at a local level, so I'm sure the kids are not hearing bad stuff from their teachers. And if these schools work for some LGBT families, who am I to say otherwise.

    All that said, it sure is great to be able to celebrate LGBT family pride at our public schools as is happening more and more in SF.

  97. Anon at 9:46 wrote:


  98. April 29, 2008 10:21 AM
    why make such general statements, you are odd .. and you generalize things in an odd way. these are your deep down feelings and you are bringing in things that are not true for everyone who wants a safe , good education for their children... i feel for your child too...

  99. "I have no idea why you'd make such an ignorant comment. This is San Francisco, not a right wing backwater."

    I make the comment b/c the Catholic church has consistently spoken out very vocally against homosexuality and takes a stand against gay marriage and often against gay parenting. NDV is the exception by far and I think you know it.

  100. 8:56 PM wrote:
    it sure is great to be able to celebrate LGBT family pride at our public schools as is happening more and more in SF.

    Are elementary schools the place to celebrate LGBT pride?

  101. Hm, back to the topic at hand, what people do when they are not coming off wait lists ... I actually understand that St. Phillips and St. Paul's in Noe Valley don't have a lot of room - I think St. Phillips might be full. It's a lovely school and is a very positive contributor to the local community.

    I know many families who send their children there, and to other Catholic schools, who are not Catholic, and several who are gay and lesbian. Liberal progressive diocese like St. Phillips are welcoming to all. St. Phillips is also putting in place a Spanish program starting, I think, next year. It looks like a wonderful school, and I encourage people to check it it! Personally, I agree with the comments above that Catholic schools tend to be more diverse. Even Stuart Hall/Convent reserve spots for poor children.

    It's also timely that the new Stratford School is opening next year. I have a few friends holding spots there.

    As to us, we went 0-15 in the lottery, and were admitted to one of the several private schools to which we applied, wait listed at the others. I thank my lucky stars that the school that admitted us is co-ed, because with the big enrollment this year, I can only imagine that it will be a nightmare for siblings in 2 and 3 years, when my next child (of the other sex) is heading to Kindergarten.

  102. Yes, elementary schools are a great place to celebrate LGBT family pride and families that come in all shapes and sizes. The celebrations I know about are handled with grace and sensitivity and are age-appropriate, with different classroom discussions for the kinders than the 5th graders. We have a significant and visible group of gay and lesbian families in our school, so it's not like the kids are ignorant to start with....this helps them think about "diverse family structures" in a more conscious way.

    Furthermore, it is totally appropriate to do this in the San Francisco public schools, in a city that has shown over and over and over in a variety of ways that we are welcoming city when it comes to this. I know of one or two parents over the years who have raised concerns, and they have always been given the opportunity to opt out. After conversation it has to my knowledge not happened.

    For those who saw the crazy conversation a week or so ago on this blog, no it is not about sex at this age. It is about families.

  103. Thank you 9:46PM for your thoughtful and educational response.

  104. To 9:22: It is precisely because NDV is the exception that I would consider sending my daughter there. Me, the big gay single mom.

    I misspoke when I said it was ignorant to assume catholic schools wouldn't be good for gay families. Of course, I meant most catholic schools in San Francisco or other similar places.

    Nobody here doubts the archaic approach the Vatican has. I often go to Holy Redeemer in the Castro, and I think there are tons of gay catholics that are trying to do with their church what many here are trying to do to the SF public schools.

    The SFUSD won't have me. I went 0/15. But a lovely catholic school called NDV does.

    You can bet I will make sure her excellent education isn't tampered with by any catholic mishigos!

  105. I think anybody who got accepted into NDV is extremely lucky. We got waitlisted there. We were accepted at a school in the $20k range, and my husband in particular wishes we'd get the call from NDV. Their tuition is in the $6,500 range.

    Same quality, for a third the price. That's a big reason to chose parochial. And I echo the perception that parochial schools are very diverse. Much more so than the impossible to get into category, which we got into.

  106. "I wish the Hamlins, Burkes, Towns, etc. reserved 30% for lower economic families. Or for people of color."

    The schools will say that close to 30% are families of color but that includes families with one hispanic parent or one asian parent. This makes school events look much less than 30% diverse.

    If they gave 30% of students full scholarships it means adding thousands to the annual tuition for the rest and it wont fly.

  107. Apply to french american preK - they take anyone and everyone. 60 spots at that level. best approach is to find privates that have a preK. that way, you have two chances of getting in.

  108. Do any private schools exist in SF that will accept a new Kinder application this late in the process, and/or who has openings??

  109. I have a very personal question of a sensitive nature.

    I'm 0/15 public, 0/2 private.

    If you are have been accepted to a private school, and you are on other private AND/OR public school waiting lists, are you going to release those places anytime soon? Or hang onto them while we have heart attacks?

    thank you very much.

  110. I wish the Hamlins, Burkes, Towns, etc. reserved 30% for lower economic families. Or for people of color.

    I have heard it from the source that Hamlin school puts one million per year toward tuition assistance. They stressed over and over again at the tour that money should not keep anyone from applying to Hamlin. And they have an "affording Hamlin" evening for all the applicants to take them through the financial aid application.

    Other private schools have similar support systems for people who just cannot afford to pay full tuition.

  111. "I think there are tons of gay catholics that are trying to do with their church what many here are trying to do to the SF public schools."

    I have to draw a distinction here. Catholics who are trying to work from within are trying to change an official Vatican policy that they vigorously disagree with (evil is not too strong a word, in my personal opinion -- sorry to anyone who is offended).

    Working to improve public schools is not a parallel situation.

    I also have to note a difference between the 0/15 SFUSD situation and the situation for those who didn't get any private schools. SFUSD DID assign every applicant to a school, so it's not that they left you without one. Granted, you may feel it's the equivalent of applying to Burke's or Town and being told you get the Voice of Pentecost Academy...

    Just a gentle reminder that many other families who have been in the same situation in previous years have "settled" for schools they ended up really happy with -- the same schools many parents here have been desperately trying to get into.

  112. Back to THIS topic:

    To the poster above who asked about available schools, I think that Stratford Schools may have space for next year. (google it)

    My guess is that private school movement won't come until this summer, when people finally come off public school wait lists or else flee the city.

    Of course, by then, private school families will have committed to an entire year of tuition, so who knows how much movement will really happen then too. It is probably worth it financially to lose the 22K in favor of 6-9 years of free education per child, but psychologically it can be hard. Our school has already begun with welcome committees, family and parent events, etc. We feel very committed emotionally (not just financially).

  113. Also, I think some parochial schools may still be accepting applicants. There was a post somewhere on this blog discussing this. Try St. Finn Barr.

  114. I guess it's too much to ask for a school that is:

    non religious
    has gardening/recycling/art
    available seats


  115. "I guess it's too much to ask for a school that is:

    non religious
    has gardening/recycling/art
    available seats


    Rosa Parks JBBP has all these characteristics, plus daily Japanese language/culture instruction, plus an active parent community and terrific principal.

    Junipero Serra has all the bones in place to be this school too. The principal and teachers want to be this school. It's also in a great, shady & green location near refurbished Holly Park. A bit of effort by parents to add money and time would make the school itself look more like Flynn or Grattan.

    There are other schools, like Marshall, that have wonderful interactive and dynamic programs and (at this point, oh dear) not big waitpools.

  116. Hamlin does a *great* job of recruiting kindergarteners from all socioeconomic backgrounds. THeir kindergarten classes are *very* diverse on all counts.

    But most of those families drop out by 5th grade. It just isn't that welcoming a community in the end, despite the generous financial aid. The intangibles can be harder to fix sometimes.

    They have a new, African-American head of school joining in the Fall. Will she have better luck than the Latino head who was there for a decade?

    Only time will tell.

  117. Rosa Parks,

    sounds ideal! How many days/week do the kids get their hands on music and art and PE and gardening? most elementary schools we toured get maybe a 4 month stint with 1 hour/week at either or, with maybe 1 day of PE. so inadequate.

    i've written letters to the Governor about money to schools and have been a long time advocate to repeal Prop 13, etc.

    do tell about the glory that is rosa parks!!

  118. Vic Fujimoto, current parent, just posted the following about Rosa Parks JBBP over on the Ellie Rossitter guest poster thread. I am assuming he will not mind it being reposted on this one. To be clear, the words that follow are all his:


    I wrote this blog on March 14th in SF K Files but will circulate it again with a few additions:

    I am a physician and a Professor in the UCSF School of Medicine. My daughter attends Rosa Parks JBBP. With a visionary principal and many talented teachers who are both creative and disciplined, I can truly say that Rosa Parks JBBP has exceeded all of my academic expectations for my daughter. As a parent, it is such a joy and so important to see my child thriving in her environment. She is in spades. The sensei program is truly unique in this district as it brings in native speakers of the Japanese language to incorporate Japanese language acquisition into the Rosa Parks JBBP curriculum.

    I have started the Rosa Parks Science Discovery Project which is a collaboration between UCSF and Rosa Parks to introduce science in a fun and creative way to the kids at Rosa Parks with role model UCSF students. This UCSF-supported program is on a growth curve with the goals of making science fun for our kids and getting them turned onto science at a very young age with UCSF students as mentors. Recently, we had the Rosa Parks Science Night in which Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, UCSF Vice Chancellor Joe Castro, UCSF Associate Dean Chris Cullander, and the UCSF Science Squad (UCSF Pharmacy student)came to share exciting science experiments with the children and parents of the school. The project will only get bigger and better.

    The creative arts including music and visual arts are an important aspect of the curriculum as well. We are in the process of linking up with Yoshi’s Jazz to enhance our music program for our kids. My daughter together with other 2nd graders currently takes weekly guitar lessons after class with her 2nd grade sensei (teacher) who is a terrific musician. We have recruited Tiffany Graham, a visual artist and muralist, who has worked with Harvey Milk and Grattan schools, to come into Rosa Parks and create murals with the creative energy of the Rosa Parks children with the themes of jazz and Japanese dancing over the next two years.

    While Japanese language and culture acquisition is a unique aspect of the school that prompted my wife and I to take a look, it is the academic environment that has impressed me the most. I would encourage families to seriously consider taking a tour of Rosa Parks JBBP. Each child is unique and has different needs but this is a very special school.

    ….one more thing, there are rumors out there that Rosa Parks Elementary School is not a safe place. This is the farthest from the truth. Rosa Parks has never had any incident occur on its grounds ever. The school is conveniently located next to J-town where kids go for activities. We have openings at the K level for this coming year but also at other grade levels for those would are looking to consider. Someone in a previous blog mentioned Rosa Parks as a “hidden gem”. As one of many committed and active parents to this school, I would agree.

  119. So, if you are poor and you want to keep your children away from 'street' kids influence...the sociologist mentioned above terms that you are 'decent'.
    But, if you are not exactly poor and you want to keep your children away from 'street' kids influence...what are you?

    The words that comes too easily to my mind are ones that has been thrown out on this blog over and over.

    Elitist, snob. Is that what I am for considering private schools in large part because it guarantees my child will be with other children who are at school for the simple purposes of learning and making friendships?

    And the flip side of public schools 'integration.'
    Do SFUSD middle and high schools still have base, college prep, and AP classes? Isn't that tracking? Separating children, right in their faces too - both sides seeing who is doing well and who is not doing well day after day.

    How is that helping any of the children that can benefit from having classmates from other socioeconomic groups?

  120. "Do SFUSD middle and high schools still have base, college prep, and AP classes? Isn't that tracking?"


    Some do, some don't. Aptos, Hoover, Giannini, Presidio all have honors tracks. James Lick does "differentiated instruction" with an intentional approach to close the achievement gap and meet the needs of the GATE kids. They have meetings about this approach all the time with teachers and also parents. (Hoover's Spanish Immersion program is also basically differentiated instruction, but there are issues there with the loss of the zero period so it's probably not a great example to look at right now.)

    It's definitely an issue, how to meet the needs of kids who are in such different places academically. I like the James Lick model and hope it succeeds--they have been raising everyone's scores, and they are really committed to doing this right. If they succeed, they can be a model for others, and that would be great. As Caroline has said, there is no quick & magic fix. We are all looking for solutions to the problem of closing the achievement gap and educating ALL our kids well.

    At the same time, I fault *no one* for putting their high-achieving middle and high school kids in an honors program, either....and still it is good that the kids at Aptos et al get to meet up in PE, sports clubs, band and orchestra and art, and afterschool activities--there is a lot more mixing there than at any private school! Diversity is one of the clear advantages of public. You really can't claim that there is the same diversity in any private. There are other advantages, perhaps, but not that one.

    I don't call individuals such as yourself snobs or elitists. I think some (not all) private *schools* are clearly elitist, as they market themselves directly or by implication as top-tier or whatever, and do a lot of outreach to a very elitist social class. Many parochial schools and a few publics are clearly not so elitist and are reaching out to the middle class and often even poorer families. There is not one brush here. There is complexity. When we lob insults at each other, we miss that. It might help to draw a distinction between what is going on at at the larger, sytemic level, versus individual families' choices. The forest versus the trees.

    On a macro level, the existence of private schools at the significant levels we see in San Francisco is definitely problematic in that it undermines universal public education by drawing away the middle (and of course upper) classes from an inclusive and publicly funded system. The SF schools would be better if we had full participation by our middle class. That's pretty much undeniable.

    But. The systemic problems of private don't make individuals who are considering private schools elitists or snobs. Obviously, there are so many difficulties and challenges to San Francisco parents in looking for schools, and so many issues in play, that many good parents feel they have to at least look in that direction. Parents respond to the system that is there. They want the best for their kids. They are frustrated when they don't get their pick in the lottery. The social factor (both less diversity learning for your kid, plus the negative impact on the community as a whole in going the "gated" route) is something to consider, among many other factors--and the other factors may win out, and perhaps reasonably so. I only ask that the social factors be considered, at least.

    Systemic change works better than individual guilt. I'd rather regulate the car market with MPG standards than guilt-trip my friends about their SUVs. Still, it does feel good when my friends make the choice for public--another committed voice! I try to lead by example, is all--my kids are doing well (along many metrics) in their schools, so maybe yours could too.

  121. To Anon at 3:06 pm -- I've got to respond to your comment about how honors kids at Aptos "mix" with non-honors kids and that that somehow shows diversity in public schools in SF. The parents I have spoken to whose kids are in the honors program there say that there is very little interaction with non-honors kids, other than, as one parent put it, making sure their kids "learn how to navigate the hallways." Overall, I think the posters here are dead-on right that the diversity, such as it exists in schools in SF today, is mostly in the Catholic schools. Like it or not (and I have to say I'm not thrilled as I'm gay and I'm just a bit uncomfortable knowing my money is wending its way, however indirectly, to the Church), that's where you see real diversity.

  122. To 3:50. And Caroline. And other posters who aren't so crazy about Catholic Schools.

    I'm gay, a major left winger, and my oldest will be attending catholic school kindergarten next year, and I do understand the wariness of sending money to the catholic church.

    There are so many things in life that I have to ignore, to get through the day in a relatively happy state. I ignore President Bush, whom I feel is evil. I ignore the jerk on Muni as I make my way to work. I ignore my narcissist boss who drones on and on about there being no "I" in teamwork. I ignore the fact that I pay a fortune in property tax, yet went 0/15 in the public lottery, and I have to forgo a public education that I believe is my child's right. (Sorry, I wanted one of my 15. Not the others. Even tho I might try again next year...)

    When my child attends the excellent amazingly good catholic school next year, I will teach that it's good to ignore anything that seems unfair or wrong to my child's sense of ethics or values.

    But the fact is that my child will be getting a stellar education at a stellar school with stellar teachers and a diverse group of playmates. It will cost about a third of what the other stellar schools in this town cost, and that's largely due to the Catholic Church. The families are great too, many of the gay, many of them of color, and many of them Catholic.

    It's affordable. (I say that because I think most families could afford $500 per month for education, especially if they pay that on a new car payment.) It's a great education. And I didn't really get why the political stance of a parent should keep a kid out of an environment just because one aspect of the greater whole isn't to your liking.

    You'd really walk away from St. Ignatius or Notre Dame des Victoires if it was affordable and a spot was offered you there?

    If Brandeis cost a third what the others cost, I'd be happy sending my kid there and my kid would learn all about keeping kosher and the diaspora. If an Arabic school opened up and they taught an hour of Islam every day, I know my kid would tolerate it. If we lived in India, I think the exposure to a Hindu school would be great for my kid in the future, knowing full well that those beliefs probably won't be my kid's.

    Why would the catholic school be any different.

    Kids learn about life from home too, and sometimes what's in school won't jibe with what's at home. Newsflash.

    It is a place that is 90% consistent with what a great education should be, and that's pretty good. It's probably better than the public school, if you take money out of it.

    Just had to vent. Not everything can be perfect, and we have to block out many things every day. Why anybody would turn away from a catholic education when it is for the most part really valid and worthy, seems short sighted.

    We all have to get along, and what better way than to infiltrate the catholic schools and stand proud and strong as gay families? Or even better, as strong catholic gay families?

  123. I liked 3:50's post. I am waitlisted at three schools and saying prayers, even though I'm not Catholic. How is it that Catholic schools can afford to charge so little? It seems that any money you are giving to the Vatican is coming back to you and then some.

    I could see not sending my child to a Jesus Camp kind of school, but I am now regretting not pursuing the Catholic school option. What are the best ones? I read about St. Ignatius, and didn't Gavin Newsom and the Gettys send their kids to Notre Dame? Not that it's important. But I am looking into these parochial schools now, and many people say they are the best. Why did I only hear about the Towns, Live Oaks, and the others?

    I just want a good education for my son, and all this waiting is making me hate life. I am waitpooling a public school, and if I don't get into that or one of the private schools, we will end up moving to Marin.

    I want to stay in the city! Help! Will lighting a candle help? Where is the nearest church?

    And are there Buddhist or Hindu schools? That sounds fun!

  124. Back on topic. Wait lists of the Catholic schools are all over the board. It varies across the schools. Some Catholic schools such as St. Monica's or St Finn Barrs may be under enrolled and have spots open.

    Others such as St. Stephens, St. Celia's and St. Brendans, draw so heavily from their parish base that its tough to get in if you haven't been within the parish for a while and show participation. St Gabs may be an exception and still have some spots open.

  125. 4.22, I hear you!! Good for you. Institutions won't change unless people change them from the inside. And if the Catholic church wants to subsidize the education of gay and lesbian families (which is how Catholic schools are more affordable) - take the money!!!

    I know tons of wonderful families at NDV. Single moms, bi-racial families, Jewish-Catholic families...

    The other day I saw a NDV field trip walk past my office on Market St. They were wearing their NDV sweatshirts. The ratio was about 3 kids to one grown-up. I asked where they had come from, and they said, the Symphony. They were a kindergarten class.

    Sure, public schools and other private schools visit the symphony too. But progressive-thinking Catholic schools like NDV offer a whole lot of enrichment for not that much money.

  126. 4:33--Um, Gavin Newsom doesn't have any children. Billy and Vanessa Getty's kids are at MCDS. Don't know about the other Getty grandkids.

  127. "Billy and Vanessa Getty's kids are at MCDS."

    I wonder what Kate and Vanessa will talk about at school mixers.

  128. 3:50, this is 3:06 again. Well, I did emphasize that I especially like the James Lick model, which is an experiment mixing kids and trying to raise achievement of all. I hope they succeed and can be a model for other urban schools, because I agree with you that the tracking model of honors programs has some problems. Tracking tends to divide the educationally advantaged from those that are further behind--and that there are "diversity" issues embedded in that separation. Again, imperfect choices: if you are not at James Lick for various reasons, and your kid qualifies for the honors program, I can't fault the parent for saying yes to that, at this imperfect point in time. As with attending Catholic schools, there are compromises to be made all over the place.

    As a point of fact, there are plenty of free lunch kids in the various middle school honors programs mentioned, and not surprisingly they tend to be overwhelmingly Asian. We are talking about separating white/Asian kids from Latino and African American kids.

    All that said, and definitely noting the problems inherent in a tracked system, I still think there will be more mixing at a school like Aptos than at a Burkes or Town. This is more complex issue than totally diverse vs. totally un-diverse. (Well, maybe a few of the private schools are just plain un-diverse.) We have some stellar models of diversity in SFUSD, some middling situations, and some that are not at all. Our options are not perfect. But in terms of diversity issues, they are better than private.

    Regarding parochial, yes, indeed: many of them are really diverse, and many provide good educations. (Some of them are just as segregated as their public counterparts, too: mostly Latino, mostly Asian, etc.) If we were not happy with our public options, I would definitely look there.

    I am a churchgoer, though not Catholic. I'd be okay with the religious stuff at a Catholic school, and I do not have the angst that some cradle Catholics may have with the institution. I can see the point of the gay mom or dad who is wanting to make change from the inside of the institution. I also know that not everyone can tolerate being in a religious space or deal with the anti-gay rhetoric of the larger church, and so forth; so it is not a perfect alternative to public schools for many. Great if it works for you.

    I come back to the complexity of choices. I choose public for many reasons, including wanting to build and support the public, non-religious, open-to-all system in this city. I also support strategies for integration and closing learning gaps such as those being tried at James Lick. But if a parent wants to go into an honors program (public) or into a perhaps more diverse parochial (but not public) I think those decisions have merit too.

    Again, no perfect choices, lots of compromises in the process. Better if we don't call each other names but try to understand some of these complexities, especially in the area of economic and social diversity and how it plays out.

  129. Which CAtholic schools are more progressive?

    We go to Glide Memorial Church on Sundays and I recall hearing a Catholic school teacher speak there once. She was in tears because she had taught there for many years and her administrators and colleagues were giving her a very hard time for being single and pregnant. (She and her fiance had decided to marry *after* the baby's birth instead of before... so it is not as if she was choosing to be a single Mom.) I don't know where she taught, but I was saddened to hear the anguish and pain in her voice.

  130. So, is next year going to be a tough year for boys or girls in the private school kinder admissions game? Cause I'm open to adding a box for "undecided" and telling them we're letting our child choose his/her gender when he/she is 15. Will that add diversity? Qualify us for openings for both girls and boys? This is San Francisco, after all...

  131. Gavin Newsom went to NDV. I also heard some of the Getty grandkids went there too.

    Not that it matters.

  132. Yes. Why do the classes have to be even? Who cares? And doesn't that change anyway over the years? Has this always been a rule?

    And if SFUSD has a lottery, do they balance the genders too?? So that our daughters played hell getting in anywhere??

  133. Again, just my own view: At heart, the purpose of a Catholic school is to teach its students to be good Catholics; the purpose of a Lutheran school is to teach its students to be good Lutherans, etc.

    As I am not interested in raising my kids to be good Catholics or Lutherans, I would not enroll them in those schools if they were free -- not even if THEY paid ME. As we are not practitioners of any religion, that goes for schools of any religious orientation (including Jewish, though my in-laws have attended Jewish religious schools). To me it would be like putting my kids in Republican school to teach them to be good Republicans, given that we are emphatically not Republicans.

    Just my own set of principles.

    A question posted above:

    "So, if you are poor and you want to keep your children away from 'street' kids influence...the sociologist mentioned above terms that you are 'decent'.
    But, if you are not exactly poor and you want to keep your children away from 'street' kids influence...what are you?"

    Well, the point of the book I've been quoting is that kids from "decent" families who live in the impoverished ghetto are extremely vulnerable to the influence of the street kids and the pull of the street culture around them. My kids and their peers really aren't. They do go to school with "street" kids (especially, as noted, at diverse Aptos), but the interactions are indeed superficial and they just aren't influenced by the negative sides of that culture -- the oppositional, alienated aspects.

    Once in a blue moon I hear of a middle-class white kid who has gotten really into that culture, but it seems pretty rare.

    And yes, it's true that in diverse schools with tracked classes, the honors classes tend to look different. And look at Lowell (overwhelmingly Chinese -- though it used to be heavily Jewish before the huge influx of Chinese population, and was known as Temple Beth Low-Ell). One could argue that that's as bad as no diversity at all. I don't agree with that, but I agree it's not perfect.

    School board president Mark Sanchez has talked about how's a problem if a school is diverse if the kids still aren't mixing on the playground. I have wondered what solutions he proposes, though -- some really major social directing in the schoolyard?

  134. Anon on April 30, 2:28 pm wrote:

    "Elitist, snob. Is that what I am for considering private schools in large part because it guarantees my child will be with other children who are at school for the simple purposes of learning and making friendships?"

    Well, I don't think just being in private school guarantees that all the children there will be wanting to learn and wanting to make friends. The worst bullying stories I've heard are things that happened in private schools, and the kids were from the richest and biggest donors to the schools and the schools did nothing about the really awful kids. So I think you are kind of glorifying what the experience will be like.

    The elitists and snobs are the ones who try to make those of us who opt for public school feel like we are harming them by doing so or sacrificing them for our political ideals. And sorry, but lots of parents who send their kids to private schools act like we are abusing our children if we send them to public schools. So we get sick of it, because our little shabby schools are great schools and our kids are thriving in them. So it works both ways.

    Let's all try to be more tolerant ... we won't call you snobs and elitists if you don't call your schools "top tier" and our schools "crummy".

  135. To 8:27: I have not posted at all above, but wanted to comment that I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to the poster(s) who use the "top-tier" term to discuss the so-called "big privates" - among them Town, Hamlin, Burke's, SF Day, MCDS, etc. This is a term commonly bandied about by admissions directors, preschool directors, and others, so just becomes a part of the language for people considering private school. It is not meant, in my opinion, to disparage the other private or public schools. For some the "top-tier" schools are not desirable at all. Live Oak, Synergy, Presidio Hill--the progressives--hold more interest for many. It's just like in the public school system where Clarendon, Rooftop, West Portal, et al, are the "top-tier", i.e., highly sought after schools with very good academic reputations over many years. This does not mean that there aren't a number of other schools that serve children well, in fact serve some children better than the long-time public school darlings. And some people would much rather be in latter than the former and vise versa.

    This has been stated before on this blog, but seems it's not sticking! Personally I'm happy for everyone who gets a spot at a school they feel they can get at least a little excited about, which was a tricky proposition in SF this year. We have all, at least those of us reading and posting here, struggled with the decisions we are making.

    Our kids are very likely to end up in the same places in the end, and I hope that they will be more open minded about the choices we made for them than some of the people on this blog are about the choices their contemporaries are making for myriad complicated reasons.

    Sometimes I wonder if any of my friends or acquaintances are spewing vitriol on this blog that they keep to themselves around me, a parent who is about to have a child in an academically challenging and highly sought-after private school (see how much clunkier that is that "top-tier"?).

    It's sort of like colleges: there are the Ivies and the top ranked state schools, AND there are plenty of other places to get a fabulous education.

    Excuse the ramble, but can't we all just be friends?!

  136. Actually, I do think it is offensive to use those terms. Most people I know who actually looked at Day didn't consider it "top tier" at all. It might receive the most applications, but many people believe its academics to be weak and its reputation to be sagging. Infighting among parents and administration has led to much turnover. The people I know who were accepted there turned it down.

    Meanwhile, schools like Friends and Live Oak seem to be on the rise, considered innovative and exciting by many, and just as hard to get into. In fact, no school this year was harder to get into than Friends for girls - only 6 girl openings! Meanwhile, Hamlin and Burkes' admitted something like 45 and 40 respectively, or so.

    And what about Convent, Stuart Hall, Cathedral, NDV and Brandeis (and to some extent Friends) - schools with religious focus that are certainly "top tier" in their category - schools with a religion. And each and every one of the religious schools was extremely competitive this year, with lots of wait listing, too-young letters and even rejections.

    Around my preschool, no one used the terms "top tier" to describe that list above. It's just too judgmental, plus no one thought it. And yes, our preschool is sending kids to each and every one of those schools listed.

  137. I would absolutely agree that you have listed the top religious schools and the top other private schools. Perhaps we should just ditch the word "tier" and call it a day. Sadly, I guess, parents at my kids' preschool did talk about the schools this way, including the schools with religious affiliations that you added, and I included via "etc."

    Friends is certainly on the rise and they did admit more than 6 girls, all of those siblings! And did Hamlin and Burke's admit 40+ non-siblings? Don't they usually have classes of only about 45 or so? I heard that Burke's admitted so many that they were going to have to add another class but didn't know that Hamlin did too.

  138. Burkes has a huge incoming kindergarten class. I heard Town also has a bubble year of 54 (normally around 44) boys and will be adding another kindergarten class. It may have been a tough year for girls but it doesnt sound like it was a cakewalk for boys either.
    Sorry but it doesnt seem likely there'll be any movement at these schools.

  139. "Most people I know who actually looked at Day didn't consider it "top tier" at all. It might receive the most applications, but many people believe its academics to be weak and its reputation to be sagging. Infighting among parents and administration has led to much turnover. The people I know who were accepted there turned it down."

    I would be curious to hear more from people who can comment on the above. We are sending our child to SF Day and were consistently very impressed with the academics, the staff and in particular the new head of school.

    I agree that "top tier" is judgmental and short sighted - personally I don't find it offensive b/c I don't really CARE if some people think that about certain schools, b/c like other posters I disagree with that assessment. However, I think using "highly sought after" is relatively objective and accurate.

    That all said, I will again reiterate what a personal decision all of this is. What constitutes a "good" education is very very subjective. And then the whole issue of CHOICE - some people simply do not have the choices that others get during this process, which is completely UNFAIR (and I will add that we were in that situation last year - we didn't have choices while our friends did and it felt horrible - yet we have had a good year at a solid Kindergarten (public) and chose to reapply to schools and had a lot of great choices).

  140. We *loved* the new head of school at SF Day. I've been reading his blog and have even forwarded postings to friends in education.

    He is fantastic.

  141. SF Day is the only school we toured that does pull-outs for children who already speak Spanish, starting in 3rd grade. Everywhere else the bilingual kids are expected to sit pretty and smile while their peers learn their numbers and colors, material these kids mastered when they were 2 years old. Talk about boring.

  142. "Top-Tier" is indeed a bad term. I started using it because the administrators at Hamlin and Burke used it.

    Perhaps a better term is "Hard As Hell To Get Into" or "New Car Every Year Down The Drain" or "Second Condo In Palm Springs" school.

    Kidding. But that's what 20k+ buys you.

    And it's actually more than that, when you add in everything, like after school care, uniforms, field trips, and the fund drives. Oh my god, the fund drives.

    One parent joked to me that a certain school wasn't "Daddy bought a Range Rover" rich, but more of "Daddy has a private jet" rich.

    If your child goes to the "Hard To Get Into" parochial, it's only blowing a trip to Europe every year.

    Seriously. There are so many parents I spoke to who wanted public schools, primarily because they could make a list of all the things they'd buy every year if they didn't have to pay tuition.

    If you can afford to live in San Francisco, you've already sort of given up your right to complain about high prices. Anybody who wants to really save money, left the city years ago. For better or for worse, this isn't that kind of city anymore. (It's for worse, in my mind.)

    I am trying to bring gallows humor and perspective here. The point is, we are chosing this situation merely by living here. We could make another choice.

    To get back to the point, I can't see any movement in the waitlists at all. Too many kids applied, it was too hard to get into, etc. If someone moves suddenly over the Summer, or someone gets a job transfer, maybe a spot or two will open up. But that's hardly movement.

    I think many of us should resign the fact that if we want a certain school, we are better off applying in later years and getting our kids in then.

    If I had one regret this year, it was applying to only five schools. I hated the process so much, I wanted to shield my kid. Now, I wish I'd applied to 8 or 10.

  143. i wish i would have seriuosly looked at parochial schools. like caroline, we are not a religious family so it would be a little weird sending our kid to a school where one of the stated goals is to make the children "good christians," but given our current situation (assigned to an undesireable public, admitted to 1 private but no financial aid), we would be ecstatic to have NDV. live and learn.

  144. I think a useful new topic would be "What I Learned After Going Through This Process." I learned that you can't succumb to the hype and be a lemming (like only applying to what people do refer to as the "top tier" private schools) -- there are many more options out there that we failed to explore.

  145. I have two good friends whose kids go to SF Day, and both have been very happy there. From the outside, it seems like their kids are getting a solid, well-rounded education. Their art program sounds amazing. They go on terrific outdoor ed trips. The other kids I've met at birthday parties, etc. (my kids age) have been seemingly nice regular kids. I was lucky enough to be invited by one child to "grandparents/special friends" day, and was impressed with the teaching staff, the building, and work displayed on the walls. They seemed to make good use of the space they had available. I never considered applying there, so I don't know how well it tours, but it looked pretty nice to me on this special day.

  146. True, SF Day has had a huge headmaster/teacher turnover over the years and has lots of infighting.

    But all of the kids I know who have come out of that school have excellent, well-round academics and solid ethical and moral standards.

    It was once a hippie school and has made the transition to reflect the standards of upper-middle-class parents (that is, focusing more squarely on academics instead of creativity).

    I think they do a great job there of embracing diversity and tailoring their teaching to individual student needs.

  147. I don't think anyone doubts that SF Day or any of the popular privates provides a good education -- the question is whether that education is worth $22,000. Because let's face it, if the privates were free, everyone would send their kids there.

  148. It's ironic that many parents pick SF Day because it reminds them of the public schools of their youth.

  149. Was SF Day ever a hippie school?

    I had heard that the families that started teh school, all, well-heeled Pacific Heights types, simply wanted a co-ed alternative back in the day when Hamlin, Burke's, Convent/Stuart Hall Town and Cathedral were the only came in town.

    I'd even heard that the impetus had something to do with one of their daughters NOT getting into Burke's.

    ANyone else hear those stories?

  150. Was SF Day ever a hippie school?

    Well, let's say it definitely had a hippie mentality. The school focused on creative learning and deemphasized fundamentals in mathematics and science.

    Now, if you talk to any admissions officer at a non-religious private school in the Bay Area, they will tell you that what parents want is to get their kids into good universities. And that means a solid emphasis on fundamentals to elevate SAT scores. Private schools may not be equivalent to private businesses, but the customer is always right. And customers are demanding high SAT scores and matriculation for the children in elite universities. Sad, really, but true.

    So, the parents at SD Day are much more upper-middle-class than they used to be. They wear suits instead of jeans when they visit the school for tours.

  151. My daughter attended SF Day for 3 years. I agree with the people who pointed out that it's in a transition time. There are factions at the school (including many on the Board) who want to solidly categorize the school as the co-ed member of the Town/Burkes/Hamlin set.

    I think there is a learning style and lifestyle segment of kids and families who are very well served at SF Day, and that there's not a lot of interest in the school in serving those who fall outside of that segment. That may change under the new head, but I doubt it - I don't think the Board was looking to change that in their choice to hire him. I disagree with the poster at 11:15 who said that they do a good job with individual learning styles.

  152. Back to parochial for a minute, from what I can tell there is diversity there, but no more than most publics, or rather, they are as mixed a bag as most publics. (As stipulated fairly often here, private is off the map when it comes to diversity though.)

    Just for examples, it seems to me that St. Anthony's in the Mission looks if anything MORE completely Latino than its neighbor up the street, Cesar Chavez, or certainly its next-door neighbor Leonard Flynn as it has become in recent years. And St. Philip's in Noe Valley (a very sweet school that many friends love) seems more white to me than its neigbhor school, Alvarado, which has almost one-half Latino kids and about a quarter white kids. St. Anne's is pretty Asian, much like its westside school neighbors. The Bayview parochial schools are pretty much African American with some Samoan, yes? Just like Malcolm X.

    Perhaps St. John's in Glen Park is more diverse? Or St. Paul's in outer Noe? Those seem like a classic middle class/working class mix. I'm also not sure about the highly sought after NDV, and down the road, St. Ignatius. Do those ones look as white as the privates, or is there more mixing because of the Catholic Church's base here in town? Also, I'm pretty sure Stuart Hall and SVdP are very white, very much like the private reality.

    Just saying, I think parochial is probably a great option for Catholic families that want that, and for others who are scrambling for good options and don't mind the religious education or the relatively reasonable tuition; but I think public and private go toe to toe on diversity, with some great examples in each case and lots of variation too.

  153. Now, if you talk to any admissions officer at a non-religious private school in the Bay Area, they will tell you that what parents want is to get their kids into good universities. And that means a solid emphasis on fundamentals to elevate SAT scores.

    but we're talking about elementary school, not high school. so the question is does a higher percentage of private schooled children get into the good high schools (which will have a direct impact on their ability to get into good colleges and universities)? i keep hearing again and again that private schooled children do not have an advantage (and actually might have a disadvantage in that they are used to being coddled and spoon fed).

  154. Anon at 12:13, did you pull your daughter out of Day? If so, can you explain why (and tells us where she went)?

  155. "but we're talking about elementary school"

    I know! But believe it or not, these parents coming into the schools now are looking that far ahead. They want their kids reading in kindergarten sometimes.

  156. I would say NDV and St. I both look a lot like San Francisco's overall population (not the kid population) in that it's majority white, lots of asian, less latin, and a few african american. The economic diversity is pretty good. There are very very well-off, and very very working class families. Like, a lot. And you don't see "a lot" of any of that in the most sought after privates.

    And again, I have to state: Catholic schools have lots of non-catholic families attending. There are Protestant, Jewish, Agnostic, and at least a couple Muslim families at NDV.

    The majority are Catholic, and it is a Catholic education. But to me, it's the same as sending a child to a Spanish immersion program. (Which I would have done.)

    At Flynn, Buena Vista, etc. a white kid is immersed in a language and a culture that is not his, and it allows him to learn creatively differently, and relate better to other cultures. What is the difference between THAT and a catholic school? Not much.

    So why the "concern" about parochial education? Big deal. Your kid will believe what he wants, especially if at home you believe something different. This is San Francisco!

  157. We pulled our daughter out of Day because we strongly disagreed with their attitude towards our son, who has a genetic anomaly that affected the development of his face. Although our daughter was doing great at the school, we didn't feel that it was an environment that our family could be part of (or give them $20K/year in tuition). Now both of our kids are at Friends and we're all very pleased with the school.

  158. I am the one who complimented the Day School above. We, conversely, moved our daughter into SFDS from another top private school. We were disturbed by some developments we had witnessed at the old school(namely "cutting" and some bullying and clickishness among some of the girls).

    I notice that some of the high schools (particularly Lick and now University) are bringing more public middle school graduates into their institutions. I believe the impetus here is not only diversification, but an effort to avoid the clickishness that can develop at elite schools (And perhaps bring in some especially intelligent children).

  159. I'm the one who wrote about parochial diversity at 12:18. Thanks for the post, 12:38. I wasn't writing to dis anyone, just trying to understand the demographic realities. I personally have nothing against Catholic education and would consider it, especially in lieu of private school, if I didn't like my public options. I know others have strong feelings against, and of course they have a right to feel that way. I'm glad we do not live in a place with an established religion, and that we have public schools that are non-religious. It is not the case in every country.

    I'm glad to hear NDV and St. Ignatius are somewhat more diverse (and less expensive, right?) than most private schools. I know they have great reputations. It does seem like some of the "neighborhood" parochial schools reflect the demographics of their neighborhoods, as, indeed, do many of the public schools. What I was trying to say was that both are a mixed bag, with some standouts, in terms of diversity.

    Just a quibble--as you imply, the total white population of SF is greater when both adults and children are considered. I think white kids number only about 23% of the city, but for adults and children both, it is higher. However, I do not think even taken as a whole that whites are the majority anymore; they have slipped below the 50% line. There is no majority population, and it's trending ever more so. That's an important milestone which is why I mention it.

  160. "We, conversely, moved our daughter into SFDS from another top private school. We were disturbed by some developments we had witnessed at the old school(namely "cutting" and some bullying and clickishness among some of the girls)."

    Are you saying your old "top" private school was a bit, um, sketchy, in terms of providing safe atmosphere for the children? ;-)

    Sorry, couldn't resist....there is a post on another thread that basically dissed all the east side public schools for being "sketchy" in terms of safety.

    I think there is stuff in every EVERY kind of school, though it can vary by type of problem that manifests, e.g., cutting, anorexia, emotional bullying, physical, etc. Schools also vary across type in terms of whether they show leadership in dealing with it. I just get tired of the assumption that public schools in certain working class neighborhoods are necessarily worse in this regard. It ain't necessarily so....

    In any case, I'm glad you found a happier home for your daughter in SFDS and that the other poster found a more welcoming place for her son in Friends.

  161. If all the private schools cared about was high SAT scores, they'd all be Spanish immersion schools. Truly bilingual/biliterate kids tend to outscore monolinguals on the verbal portion by quite a bit, perhaps because of the latin roots.

  162. Back to the topic at hand, I have heard from "insider" sources that there might be movement over the summer due to the Bear Stearns merger (supposedly because these are families with spots at private schools that they will have to release if they are transferred to New York). Doesn't give me much hope but there you have it.

  163. Do any SF-based schools do a good job with gifted kids?

    Our fear is that public schools in this city (unlike, say, NYC) are focused on serving those who might fall behind or whose scores might be brought up to improve teh school average.

    And that private schools try to admit kids likely to do well, but do a lousy job at differentiated instruction. (And siblings are the great equalizer!)

    We've read articles about girls as young as 7 starting to play dumb around their peers when they start to realize that they are quicker learners. They are ashamed of being smart because they don't want to stand out.

    We also have an acquaintance who pulled her bored, "gifted" kid out of Clarendon because she was completely unengaged and checked out, never doing assignments, never paying attention in class. The girl's teacher told her not to worry because she was still "testing really high". They are now homeschooling her.

    We *really* don't want to have to commute to somewhere like Nueva.

    One option is to do Mandarin immersion... that would certainly challenge her (she is already speaking and reading in Spanish at age 4).

    I hear that in some schools, they just give the gifted kids more advanced busywork to keep them quiet while they work with the rest of the children.

    We want what all parents want: For our child to be engaged in learning and thrive. We fear she'll be bored, or worse, ostracized for her talents.

  164. Yeah, other school districts do a better job of identifying and serving gifted kids earlier on. SFUSD has never made it a priority.

    Hunter in NYC is a great example. There are many others.

    Good luck.

  165. "We, conversely, moved our daughter into SFDS from another top private school. We were disturbed by some developments we had witnessed at the old school(namely "cutting" and some bullying and clickishness among some of the girls)."

    Please, please can you name the school you transferred out of?

    We've heard there is a *lot* of cutting and eating disorders at Hamlin, at least compared to Live Oak, according to a family that transfered from one to the other.

    Where was your daughter before SF Day?

  166. Maybe that's a good topic: "Educating the Gifted Child in SF" -- I'd be interested to hear others experiences.

  167. To Anon at 1:12 pm -- I'd take eating disorders and cliquishness to bullets whizzing through classroom windows and school yards (Creative Arts and Flynn) any day. Sorry -- couldn't resist either.

  168. One bullet every 10 years vs. 50 percent of girls cutting or throwing up?

    I'd take the former.

  169. "but we're talking about elementary school"

    This poster must not do a lot of research about private schools. They all have stats on where kids go to high school and college for that matter.

    Burkes, Hamlin, SFday, etc...

    Check it out .... Burkes and Hamlin typically send graduates only to top private high schools in SF or lowell.. Otherwise outside of the city.....

    Also a very high percentage (90% or higher go to 4 year colleges....

    good luck finding that in SF public schools

  170. "I'd take eating disorders and cliquishness to bullets whizzing through classroom windows and school yards (Creative Arts and Flynn) any day. Sorry -- couldn't resist either."

    Since you're talking about the neighborhood and not the school itself, it's relevant that Synergy and Friends (just off the top of my head) are in basically the same neighborhood as Flynn. Bullets are equally likely to come through their windows. We all know the tragic story of the dad who was shot outside the Sacred Heart basketball game -- a home game. Etc.

  171. "I'd take eating disorders and cliquishness to bullets whizzing through classroom windows and school yards (Creative Arts and Flynn) any day. Sorry -- couldn't resist either."

    Can you provide cites to these incidents? I was not aware of this. You actually make it sound like it is a normal occurence, which you would think would make the papers....Kathy B., is this something Flynn parents are concerned about?

    Bullets are obviously one thing, and very serious. But if the risk is no higher at Flynn than it is just living in a city, then I'm with Caroline on the street culture stuff. I doubt most middle & upper middle class kids whose parents are represented here are at risk for being targets or for participating in street culture violence. However, I do think that middle and upper class girls, especially high-strung or high-achieving ones, are at the highest risk for eating disorders, cutting, and being victims of cliquishness. It's a question of evaluating and weighing the risks, and not being paranoid.

  172. "Also a very high percentage (90% or higher go to 4 year colleges....

    good luck finding that in SF public schools..."

    This directly correlates to money. Lots of really bright kids go to SFCC for financial reasons.

    The refrain starts to become: The rich are just better and the poor are inferior. If that's the lesson our kids are learning in private school ... well ... not my cup of {cheap Red Rose) tea.

  173. Also a very high percentage (90% or higher go to 4 year colleges....

    good luck finding that in SF public schools


    Ah, but a very high percentage of kids from educated and middle+ class families go to college, regardless of whether they go to private or public schools before. The family's social class plus family involvement in the kids' education are the most significant factor in terms of correlation with college education. Therefore, I would bet lots of money that 90% of the kids whose families post here will go onto 4-year college.

  174. We have friends with kids older than ours who attended Buena Vista -- their dad worked with my husband -- and so my husband had heard a couple of gunshots outside BV in their day. So he refused to consider applying there for our kids.

    But again, there are private schools in the same neighborhood. It reminds me of an anti-public-school curmudgeon I know who claimed Balboa HS was "in a war zone." I pointed out that "top-tier" Lick-Wilmerding is in the same neighborhood. That pretty much shut him up. It really is like let's grab ANY possible means to bash public schools, including blaming them for being in a city that bears its share of urban troubles.

  175. where do posters come up with these examples of girls cutting school and having eating disorders or drug problems? I assume the posts are about Burkes or Hamlin.

    It seems like bull to me. The schools are really small with pretty good oversight. How is it kids cut school.. Perhaps they play sick or something and the parents arent engaged?

    This comes down to family involvement. Wether your parnets are poor, rich, or in the middle they equally can do a lousy job of caring for kids.

    When I was attending public schools betwen 6-8 grades I missed weeks of school every report card period and spent most of those days high.

    I highly doubt thats happening at either Burkes or Hamlin.. I can believe that clicks of girls have eating issues and can experiement with drugs, but I really doubt its anyhting to be alarmed about unless in the very rare extreme case; which exists everywhere.

  176. 2:27 I believe cutting refers to cutting oneself, not cutting classes.

  177. 2:27, cutting in this case means girls who use razors and other tools to cut their skin and draw blood. It seems to happen mostly among the same teenaged girls who are susceptible to eating disorders--from educated, upper-middle class families. Like anorexia with its pro-ana websites, there is a also a degree of social contagiousness about it. You can google this and read more. Any teen/child psychologist can tell you about it. I know a little as I have attended some lectures about girl adolescents (as the mother of a very bright, perfectionist, pubescent pre-teen girl, I have some concerns). It's apparently a way of releasing tension and dealing with feelings of external pressure and inner pain. Or something like that. It is definitely an upper/middle class high achieving girl thing. I have heard that the highly sought after girls' schools, especially Hamlin, has has rashes of this happening.

    Middle school kids everywhere have problems. Just that cliquishness may be more easily overcome at a comprehensive public school with many niches and opportunities to find a group of friends without having to be popular in the context of the whole class.

  178. "Also a very high percentage (90% or higher go to 4 year colleges....

    I think this has to do with money, but also directly relates to the achievement expectations in the classroom. In my own experience with SF public high-schools; outside of lowell the achievemnt expectation is pretty mediocore. I would guess a low % of non asian kids actually aspires to attend university or seek professions in engineering, business, medicine, or law.

  179. Hamlin is a much more high-pressure environment than Burke's, which is more nurturing.

  180. "Hamlin is a much more high-pressure environment than Burke's, which is more nurturing."

    how do you know that about Burkes and Hamlin? This seems like such an inflamatory post. One might think you are somehow benefiting from people turning away from Hamlin or choosing Burkes. Do you have anyhting of substance to add?

  181. There was a known child molester outside of the Synergy playground earlier this school year hanging out and trying to entice kids over to him. Police were called and he was arrested. This is city living folks. We live in an ultra violent society. You can't hide from it no matter where you go.

  182. 2:43: I would disagree, at least in the lower grades. Both Hamlin and Burke's provide excellent and nurturing learning environments. Can't speak to the upper grades.

    I think the cutting and eating disorders exist everywhere, but are probably more prevalent in the private all-girls environment. The schools are prepared to deal with "outbreaks" of this behavior when it happens.

  183. The stereotypes in the girls schools world are that at Hamlin, they put their best players on the team and they play to win... and that at Burke's they care more about making sure everyone gets a turn. They are said to have very different cultures in that way.

    Fans of Hamlin say they expect more from their girls and that their girls are not coddled.

    Fans of Burkes say it is a place where they nurture and encourage girls to thrive.


    Deserved or not, that is their reputation.

  184. One bullet every 10 years vs. 50 percent of girls cutting or throwing up?

    I'd take the former.

    let's hope you're there to take one for your kid then

  185. "Also a very high percentage (90% or higher go to 4 year colleges....

    I think this has to do with money, but also directly relates to the achievement expectations in the classroom.


    Not so much money, but social class, which has to do with family education and status as much as money. My income is at the SF median of about $75K, but I have a fine education from a well-known university back East--which, perhaps oddly, means my kids are more likely to go to college than those of someone from a less-educated background who just won a million bucks on Survivor or somesuch.

    Classroom expectations matter, but they are not even close to how much family expectations and involvement matter. Asian families tend to expect their kids to succeed academically, meaning, go to college. And they make sure it happens. So do middle class and above white families. There are lots of reasons for this. Ph.D. theses and books on this topic line the shelves! College aspirations are strongly correlated with social class combined with family involvement.

    Based on the engaged comments of those who post here, I would shocked if their kids didn't end up going to four-year colleges in huge numbers, no matter where they go to kindergarten or even high school.

  186. upper class black families send make sure their kids go to college too. not disagreeing with the previous poster, just saying, it's about social class (which to some degree, but not all, correlates with race and ethnicity). i would be shocked if barack and michelle obama's girls did not go to college, for example.

    it's about social class.

  187. I've read the Hamlin and Burkes comments and am curious what some of the perceptions are regarding the Catholic schools like, St. Brendans, St. Cecilia's and St. Stephens. These schools seem to be more homogenous then NDV maybe in part to their locations. I am curious what experience others may have with these schools. Are there also instance of cutting, eating disorders etc?

  188. What a terrible thought that spots at private schools will open up due to the Bear Stearns merger. If there is anything worse than finding a school in SF, it is finding a school in NYC. I can't imagine that a large number of families with entering-K children would make this move.

    It's interesting to read people's take on the reputation of Burke's and Hamlin. I know that 'nurturing' is the reputation of Burke's, but I didn't feel it that way when we visited. We found it extremely snobby. I couldn't find one working mother among the tour guides - I mean "docents" (yuck). The playground scene with all of the girls interacting with each other scared me stiff. I was the nerdy chubby smart kid with few friends and not a lot of social skills, and I suspect I would have been a huge outcast at Burke's. But I do know people who love it - so really, I think it's a personal choice of what school feels like a good "fit."

  189. Also on the Hamlin/Burke's thing. I don't know if it's true that a lot of the diversity ends up leaving Hamlin, but if that's the case they sure aren't ending up at Burke's.

    Burke's is very white.

  190. "I would guess a low % of non asian kids actually aspires to attend university or seek professions in engineering, business, medicine, or law."

    There are programs in every SFUSD high school encouraging low-income youth of color to pursue college, and the figures are actually pretty high. The SF Bar Assn. runs a program at Balboa that takes 11th-graders, all expenses paid, on an East Coast college tour during spring break.

    Low-income students of color are undoubtedly far less likely to have parents with "college knowledge," and there are dedicated resources for "First in the Family" applicants.

    The entire culture of aiming for college -- and for a professional career -- is in a different universe for a low-income student who doesn't have college-educated parents. The notion that the rich are superior because they have more high-powered college and career ambitions is poorly informed.

  191. Has anyone heard of if St.Gabriel's is a good school? My son is on the waitlist for St.Cecelia's and from what I was told, they are over enrolled as well.

  192. I know several families who have been very happy at St. Gabe's. They take relatively high numbers of non-Catholics (compared to some Catholic schools.)

    One good thing about it is that is has two classes per grade. Plus they do offer some special ed services should your child need them (at additional cost, but at least available.)

  193. there's a lot of general banter about the superiority of the private school curriculum over public that everyone seems to take as gospel. but i would like cold hard facts. can someone actually in the know (i.e., a current parent or teacher) post a typical week's schedule at san francisco day versus rooftop or clarendon? i would like to see for myself how the privates offer more enrichment (art, music) than the publics.

  194. About the "gender equality" at the privates.... I know of a family with a son who was accepted at one of the top privates who recently got into one of the top publics and they are seriously considering releasing their private spot. Not to be a vulture, but is there any chance at all that the spot will be filled with a girl or must a boy's spot be filled by a boy? It seems so unfair!

  195. in the same vein as 12:29, i would like to know the actual success rates of (using the same schools) rooftop or clarendon and sf day in placing kids at lowell or university. specifically, i would like to know the number of kids who applied and the number who got in.

  196. The main reason we ultimately chose private school (since we were lucky enough to have the choice) is that we felt that there is more focus on a child's emotional and social development, in addition to academic learning. We felt that teachers at our child's public school were overwhelmed by dealing with discipline problems AND the need to teach a very rigid and rote curriculum. Not that the teachers don't have good intentions - they do, and they work very hard, but they are clearly overwhelmed.

  197. Some private schools are known for grade-inflating the key 8th-grade report card that is the most highly weighted factor in Lowell admissions. I've even heard of transcripts altered by a private school. I definitely don't see that happening at public middle school.

    Also, for various reasons the setup for testing private-schoolers take for the Lowell application give them an advantage over SFUSD kids.

    So there is a likely advantage, though an artificial one.

    I don't know how that plays out with private high schools.

  198. I agree with you 7:19. My thoughts exactly! I think that public school teachers are, in general, excellent, but the environment in which they work leads to a less than perfect learning situation. The problems are not so bad in k through 3 because of class size reduction, and because often parents are very involved in the early years. So, there is extra enrichment and extra pairs of eyes and ears in the classroom.

    And the State of California curriculum is so focused on passing tests. The public schools have to focus on these tests due to NCLB. Ugh.

  199. To anon at 5:59 regarding St. Gabs. They are a great school and have a wonderful science teacher. Also there is a perception that the principle at St. Gabs is more receptive to parent input than at St. Cecilia's. The woman who ran extended care at St. Gabs until this year was amazing. It was a hard choice for us between St. Gabs and St. Cecilia's. The commute was a factor for us -otherwise all things being equal we would have gone with St. Gabs. over St. Cecilia's