Saturday, May 31, 2008

Alice's first-day-of-kindergarten dress

Jose Ortega is a uniform school. Kids are required to wear navy and white--simple and classy.

Today, Alice and I dropped by Chloe's Closet, a children's consignment shop on Cortland in Bernal Heights--and I found this fabulous dress. Retails for $76 and it was only $8.50! I'm quite excited by my find and I think it will be Alice's dress for the first day of school. I feel silly sharing this bit of info but right now I need to enjoy the simple pleasures of sending my daughter to kindergarten. It has been a long road.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kate makes up her mind

After torturing ourselves for weeks with indecision, my husband and I finally made up our minds. We're sending our daughter to the Mandarin immersion program at Jose Ortega. (Note: We are in a wait pool for another immersion school that's closer to our home.)

This school search has been incredibly difficult and emotional for me--and I'm sure many of you can relate. I hope to eventually share the process that we went through to make our decision, but for now I just need to relax and enjoy the fact that I don't need to stress about where I'm going to send my daughter to school this fall.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Message from PPS: Prop A phone bank

The Prop A campaign is TIGHT. The difference between winning and losing could be as small as a few hundred votes.

Parents for Public Schools is sponsoring another phone bank night on THURSDAY MAY 29 at the UESF offices. Come be with friends from PPS and help get out the vote in the last weekend!!! RSVP to Ken Tray at 956-8373 or

Also, blast your email address book: sample emails are available on the PPS Web site.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another round

Has anyone received Wait Pool assignment letters today? SFUSD mailed letters on Friday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

California API scores are in!

The 2007-2008 California Academic Performance Index results are in. You can check schools' API scores at

I always find it interesting to check the results, but can you judge a school by its test scores?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Frequent K Files contributor launches her own blog

Caroline Grannan, who frequently comments on The SF K Files, is now writing about San Francisco education topics for the on her new blog S.F. Education Examiner.

Grannan was an editor at the San Jose Mercury News for 12 years. Currently she contributes to a number of Internet sites dealing with education and schools. She is a San Francisco public school parent, advocate, and volunteer and has followed education politics locally and nationwide.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Buy your uniforms now

At the park the other day, I listened to some moms talk about buying uniforms for their kids starting kindergarten in the fall. One of the moms said, "You need to shop now because they run out of the stuff." Here's a list of places where you can buy uniforms.

Land's End

French Toast

Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Saturday: Public School Events

No plans for Saturday? Bring the kids to one of these public school events.

Jose Ortega Elementary School
Saturday May 17th, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Jose Ortega Elementary School Playground
at 400 Sargent

Alvarado Elementary School
Annual Carnival / Kermes
Saturday, May 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
625 Douglass Street (between 22nd & 23rd), Noe Valley
Cakewalk, face-painting, bouncy house, food, science games, water games, art projects, music, art exhibit, raffle, and more!
Free admission.

Sherman Elementary School
Under the Sea Carnival and Garden Party
Saturday May 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Union St., between Franklin and Gough

Miraloma Spring Festival
Saturday May 17, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Performance by Playdate and the Jakes, raffle, kids' games, arts and crafts, silent auction, BBQ lunch.
Free admission

Grattan Fun Fest
Saturday, May 17, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
165 Grattan St.
Kids carnival, music, and silent auction
Free admission
For more info: (415) 759-2815

George Peabody School Carnival
Saturday, May 17, 1 p.m.
Tim Cain performs songs for kids of all ages
For more info:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New kindergarten classes at McCoppin and Jose Ortega

Here's a message from an SF K Files visitor:

"I just went down to the EPC today and they told me that two new kindergarten classes were opened, at McCoppin and Jose Ortega. In fact, it's posted on the EPC/SFUSD Web site, but not being widely advertised for some reason (this was the first I'd heard of it!). They are giving people until the 16th to apply for them (put them down as their waitpool choice). I assume that if there's space left, they will open up in open enrollment as well."

I'm unfamiliar with McCoppin so please share details if you have them. I have talked to many parents and the principal at Jose Ortega and I know it is a strong, up-and-coming school. The school's ranking on was a 5 out of 10 but recently rose to a 6. There are a group of parents dedicated to raising more money for the PTA. And the principal, JoLynn Washington, is fabulous.

This weekend the school holds its annual Walkathon from 10 a.m. to noon. It's a great opportunity to meet the parent community and the principal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gun discovered at SF public school

About a week ago my husband came home with a Squeeze Rocket Launcher. My 3-year-old son pulled the new toy out of the box, aimed it at me, and said, "Mom, I've got a gun. I'm going to shoot you." I completely freaked out and you can read my story about the incident, "Should I let toy guns in the house?" on

I have been quite troubled by the toy gun issue, so I sent an email to one of my favorite experts on parenting, Michael Thompson, Ph. D. He's the coauthor of The New York Times bestseller Raising Cane: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, and the more recent It's a Boy: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18. He sent me a thoughtful response about boys and guns and basically told me that it's natural for boys to play with them. You can read his complete response in my post titled, "Coming to Terms with Toy Guns."

Anyway, guns have been on my mind this past week, so I was taken back when I read the story on today, "First-grader caught with gun at S.F. school." Apparently, "Staffers at Cleveland Elementary School found the gun in the boy's backpack after overhearing children talking about a gun on campus."

How is everyone feeling about this?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Support SF public schools on Saturday

There are two fund-raisers at SF public schools this weekend. You're welcome to attend even if you don't send your kids to the school. It's a great way to support the community.

Here's the lowdown:

Claire Lilienthal Mayfair
Saturday, May 10, 10am–4pm
3630 Divisadero St.
Scott Campus in the Marina
Carnival games, raffles, prizes, and crafts!

Argonne Mayfair
Saturday May 10, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
17th Ave. at Cabrillo
Carnival games, jumping house, climbing wall, raffle, silent auction, food, and prizes!
For info: email

Language immersion alternatives

Didn't get into an immersion program? Opted for a private that only offers language an hour a day? What do you do?

Here are a few ideas for ways to immerse your kids in a language even if they didn't get into Flynn Spanish immersion or Alice Fong Yu or the French American School. If anyone has additional suggestions, please offer them up.

Chinese American International School
Summer program

French American International School
Summer program

Espanol for Kids
Spanish summer camp held at the Little Bear School

Mandarin Play and Learn
Saturday classes

Ace Mandarin Immersion Summer Camp

Have any additional suggestions?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's take a break for some fun

A friend offered up a nice idea:

"I think you should do a post one day on suggestions of fun silly things we do with our kids. Reminders that in the end it is these moments shared that we often remember.I think we get so caught up in getting from point a to point that we sometimes forget to stop and have a tickle fest or dance around the house in silly hats, paint with shaving cream on the deck doors, whatever . . . Might be fun to learn what other people do."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Guest blogger: Vicki Symonds of Parents for Public Schools

This post is an update to our recent post on FAQs regarding Round II to update information regarding the submittal date to change your waitpool school. We have just heard from the EPC that the information that they had formally given us is inaccurate. The accurate key dates are as follows.

Key Dates
• Friday May 9th: Deadline to Register at your assigned school.
• Friday May 9th. Deadline to change your designated waitpool school.
• Friday May 16th. According to the Director of the EPC, applications will be accepted until this date as a “grace period.”
• Friday May 23rd. Waitpool assignment letters will be mailed home.
• Tuesday May 27th. Open Enrollment Begins.

I apologize for the confusion and misinformation. We went to great lengths to confirm all of our posts and reconfirm the deadlines. If you are considering changing your waitpool school I would advise doing so by May 9th.


1. Is there a deadline to change your waitpool school before the next waitpools are run?

Yes, deadline to change your waitpool school for the next waitpool run is Friday May 9th, however, according the EPC director applications will be accepted till May 16th as a "grace period.” If you are considering changing your waitpool school I would advise doing so by May 9th. Waitpools will be run the week of May 19th and letters will be sent on May 23rd.

2. Will there be a second wave of letters sent after the May 23rd waitpool run before Open Enrollment?

Yes. The Educational Placement Center will be sending letters again on May 23 as a result of the latest waitpool run which will be done during the week of May 19th. Letters will continue to be mailed throughout the summer offering assignments to people on the waitpool when openings are made available. Once school starts, the Educational Placement Center will call individual households to offer assignments.

3. If you are granted an appeal status can you change your waitpool school and still retain your appeal status or is this designation tied to the original waitpool choice?

Yes, you can change your waitpool school without loosing your appeal status. If you are granted appeal status, your cohort changes to a higher priority, but you can still change schools. For example there are 70 people in the waitpool at Alice Fong Yu, and 7 of them have medical/hardship status – that’s still hard odds to beat – some of them may eventually want to consider changing their wait pool choice.

4. If you get your waitpool choice can you then waitpool at another school that you might prefer more than your original choice?

No, once you get your waitpool school you are considered done. You cannot participate in the waitpool process again.

Amended List

5. I put down schools on my amended list that did not have any waitpools. Why wasn’t I given one of these schools? (ie New Traditions, Sunnyside, Lafayette).

In many cases the assignment system over enrolled schools assuming that some people will release their spots. These schools are considered full but do not have waitpools and will not have openings until spots are released.

6. Can a child who had lower priority than my child get assigned a school off of their waitpool list ahead of me?

No, you will be assigned before a person in a lower cohort. The only exception to this is in the case of two-way immersion schools. In the case of two-way immersion programs, language status is a consideration. For example, if the school needs to fill slots for non-Spanish speakers it may place a non-spanish speaker from a lower priority cohort rather than a Spanish speaker in a higher priority cohort.

Open Enrollment.

7. Will there be openings during Open Enrollment?

Yes, there will be openings at schools during Open Enrollment. Parents can request a placement at a school that has an opening and no waitpool.

Over Enrolled Schools

8. How can we know how much a school is overenrolled?

You can ask the EPC. This is one good reason to establish a relationship with the EPC so that you can be kept well informed of the over enrollment status of certain schools.

9. How can you tell right now if there are openings at a school rather than over enrolled?

You can’t without talking with the EPC.

Transfers and Children New to the System

10. If a child is enrolled and attending a San Francisco Public School will this child have a lower priority than a child who is new to San Francisco Public Schools in the assignment system?

No, children new to San Francisco Public Schools do not have a priority over children already enrolled and attending a Public School in San Francisco.

11. After the 10 day count and the assignment system officially closes (sometime at the end of September – early October) and you hear of an opening in a school you prefer can you be assigned to this school?

No, SFUSD discourages inter-school transfers unless you move or you can show extreme cause. However, they will assign children who are new to SFUSD.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

K Files Council: What would you have done differently?

Today, I received emails from three parents who will go through the school process next year. They all suggested that we start a thread focused on giving future kindergarten parents advice.

Here are some questions to get us started:

What would you recommend for people applying to private and public schools?

What advice would you give to a parent going only through the public school process?

What would you have done differently?

What did you wish you'd known beforehand?