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.


  1. too bad she's so biased

  2. I think it's called voicing opinions, which is what they wanted.

  3. Good for you Caroline. Thank you for being true to yourself. You have made this blog immensely more interesting than it would have been otherwise. Thanks for putting your own family public school story out there for all of us to digest. You are indeed an original. Good Luck and I will check out the new blog!

  4. Caroline Grannan doesn't allow for any different opinions or perspectives. She is a pushy blowhard.

  5. Such rude and cowardly squeaks from the anony-mouses! This blog is way more interesting to read because of Caroline and others who have strong opinions and are willing to state them publicly. I have rarely or maybe never seen Caroline offering up gratuitious insults such as these, but rather, strong perspectives that have advanced the debate and made me think about my own motives and decisions. Get some personal boundaries or body armor people--if Caroline says something you disagree with, you're not going to fall over backwards and hit your head. You are free to disagree silently and move on, or ignore her comments (and the new blog) altogether, or even to post something in response that engages her points. Maybe even use your own name, as she bravely does.

    Caroline, I'll definitely be checking out the new site. I often agree with you, sometimes disagree, and always learn something. I would know so much less about the school district and education issues if you had not raised certain points and sent me looking deeper. Thanks for all you do that benefits so many kids.

  6. congrats Caroline. While I don't always agree with your perspectives, I respect your right to have an opinion and appreciate the way that your comments have helped to shape this blog (and, at times, caused me to reexamine my own opinions)

  7. Yes, well we're voicing our opinions as well. She's biased against privates and charters. That is not a personal attack, just a statement based on reading her comments on this blog and others.

  8. There is a difference between having a strong preference for something and being biased, the inability to judge information impartially.

    From the American Heritage Dictionary:
    A preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.

    Yes, there have been times when I have not appreciated the way that Caroline has communicated her preferences (though she tamed her language on this blog after some complaints). However, can any of us really say that Caroline is not able to judge ideas objectively? To me, it seems like Caroline has taken a ton of time to study our education system and has drawn conclusions about which she feels strongly. While I have disagreed with her perspective on a number of occasions, I also appreciate how much I have learned from her experiences and the information she has provided. Are those of us who disagree with some of what Caroline says any less biased?

  9. I'm biased against racistm, war, Republican officeholders, chickenhawks, officials who want to cut funding for schools and health care, and other things, too.

    Just to point out that the difference between a "bias" and an opinion is not very clear.

  10. Caroine - biased against racism? Oh, that's the best laugh I've had all day! The only reason I'm glad she is getting her own blog is to keep her off THIS one.

  11. Do I detect a bias against those whose opinions aren't the same as yours, 4:51 and 5:53?

  12. Oh no - I'm all for differences of opinion - I just don't like the way you have used this blog as a platform for what I believe to be extremely skewed opinions about race/class. I'm not a big fan for people who offer opinions on everything and the kitchen sink - and I have found you to be one of these folks. Especially around the issues facing families of color when you yourself have zero PERSONAL knowledge or experience in this area (I'm not talking about the general "I know of a family in our school" stuff) - and yes, I've read all of your "source" material that you cite. But hey - you will have your own blog and that is the perfect platform for you to be an expert on whatever you want - people will know if and when they read your blog what they are in for. I just do not appreciate being subjected to it over and over here in almost EVERY thread - including private school threads when you are the public school poster child. So that's my bias.

    Oh and for the record - I'm also tired of all those who chastise anonymous posters. Caroline is not anonymous for a reason - she has blogs she wants you to click to, articles to read, etc. There is a benefit to her being "public." And she is not in the middle of a public/private school search. What does she have to lose? The rest of us need anonymity - heck, even KATE chose to be "anonymous" - well, at least in theory. But "rude" does not just come from anonymous posters - believe me. I've read plenty of rude comments from ID'd posters as well.

  13. I have already had my own blogs, BTW -- and -- or rather I co-blog on them. The new one just has a higher-profile sponsor.

  14. If some of you (5:43 & 6:11) are so offended by Caroline's opinions, why on earth do you waste your time reading her posts? Move on, folks. There is plenty to read on the internet.

  15. 6:11, since you are anonymous I don't know this for sure, but I think I recognize your "voice" from other threads. (If I am wrong, please forgive me.) I am sympathetic to your position as the white mother of a child of color. That is an unusual situation and it is understandable that you want to fight for your child. It is also a situation that most of us do not understand (my own family is mixed-race Asian & white, for the record), so I have appreciated your standing up and saying how it is different for your family, and pointing out where generalizations that other folks make about race and class and the schools may be wrong.

    All that said, it has seemed to me that you are attacking Caroline with a kind of personal edge, haranguing her really on a personal level, that hasn't been useful to advancing the group conversation. At least for me.

    As I see it, Caroline has offered a lot by way of both information and getting interesting debates going on this blog. And you can't really limit threads on a public-access blog to only private school parents when some on those threads (not most) are trashing the public schools.... public school advocates will respond to those comments. I couldn't begrudge her responses; I respect her advocacy for the public schools. Sometimes she piles on a bit, I see that, but not in a personal way--she's still talking about the issues, and is not attacking individual choices.

    It's fine to disagree with each other--it illuminates the issues and moves the debate. I would be happy for folks to correct Caroline when she is wrong on the facts, or to make persuasive arguments back to hers. Unfortunately, I have not seen persuasive arguments about true diversity (reflective of the kids in the city) being present in the private schools, or persuasive arguments that the existence of private schools is not detrimental to public education. (I have seen persuasive statements about why individual families make their own choices for private school in San Francisco, given the options and the systems we have on the ground....that is different from the wider societal impact that Caroline mostly focuses on.)

    In terms of disagreements with Caroline, what I have mainly seen is defensiveness and really personal, sometimes even ugly, attacks on Caroline. I'd much rather see real argumentation, without the personal attacks and insults. It's just not helpful for the rest of us. There must be a way to express how you disagree with her that can be enlightening for the rest of us. I would love an "aha" moment about how you see your school choice for your child, given your particular family situation. The best thing about this blog for me has been that it makes me think and examine my own choices and, yes, biases.

    Sorry for the long post, but I would love for this not to replicate the back and forth of some other recent threads. I know there are diverse opinions and words of wisdom here, and would love to hear them expressed in a way that we can all hear them.

  16. Well spoken, Liz! It does seem that some people just want to attack Caroline personally, without contributing anything to the group discussion.

  17. I agree with Liz. I usually agree with Caroline as well, and even when I strongly disagree with her, I still appreciate hearing her perspective.

  18. Liz - 6:11 here - You said you didn't want a back and forth to begin - so I hesitate to even address your comments as it will seem that is what I am creating. I have no idea if my "voice" is the one you recognize. I have never identified myself as white on this board. Ever. And I believe that the comments I have made previously to Caroline have always been in regard to what she herself has written - not her personally. In fact, I have never taken issue with her public school preference. I am all for public/private/whatever works. I have only taken issue with comments I truly believe were insensitive to AA. Whenever I have tried to disagree with Caroline, I have come up against a brick wall. So I believe I have tried to take the high road in the past - to no avail. If my attacks seem personal, perhaps it is because her comments at times hit me in such an incredibly personal place - and these are only related to her comments about RACE. Not public/private - any of that. Just race. That's where I have the issue. And I believe that my posts have always been inclusive and informative - not personal agendas. I don't understand why I have to provide a "persuasive argument about diversity in private schools" or give you my insight into why public/private/charter school is a better choice for my child in order for my objections to be valid or for it to be helpful. I think that racial generalizations deserve to be called out. And that's what I did. I won't bore you with it again, believe me. Lesson learned. But just to let you know, yes, I am white. And no, it isn't that "unusual" to be white and have a black child. And I am not fighting for him when I write these things to Caroline. I'd write them whether my child was white, black, green or orange. I just don't like to sit on my couch and be a passive witness - even if it means being flamed repeatedly for it.

  19. 6:11/7:36, thank you for your response.

    First let me apologize upfront for assuming that you are white, which I guess it turns out you are, but it must have been an assumption that leaped into my brain at some point from one of your posts, and wrongly so if you in fact had not stated this before now. I do think you are the same person I was thinking of (though of course I could still be wrong about that; the anonymous thing gets so confusing; it might be helpful if folks would pick a non-identifying blog name just to help us disaggregate, but now I digress).

    I believe racism is a huge issue in our society--that certainly includes San Francisco--and I am glad to have it called out. It operates on so many levels though, and that is where it gets tricky and (I think) there is a need for a least a little forbearance--exactly for the purpose of making progress on it over the long haul.

    To start with, there is the institutional level and there is the level of personal bias. And in a city as diverse as ours, with our many cultures and languages and races and ethnicities represented, often with very different experiences and educations around these issues, it gets tricky to talk about it. My Chinese American in-laws who grew up in Hong Kong have very different ideas about it than I do, for example. Maybe it is easy for me to say as a white person, but I try to be a little understanding of the fact that folks are coming from these different experiences. Most people I have met have at least some good faith on this issue, but almost all of us lack complete understanding in the sense of, have we walked the mile in someone else's shoes.

    It is also tricky in the situation of trying to confront institutional racism, such as may be represented in the well-documented educational achievement gap. It is also here that sweeping and sometimes unfair generalizations get made. As I understand it, educational scholars are trying to figure out the correlations between race and class that are represented in the gap, and the most recent studies seem to suggest that they are certainly interrelated, but not entirely correlated.

    In other words, a lot of the gap, a huge amount, is about social class, but some of it may be about race too. I suspect at least some of this may be the institutional racism part, but others hear this as racist, i.e., accusing kids of not achieving because they are from a certain race or culture. Tricky. Especially because part of the purpose of trying to understand all this is to address the achievement gap, i.e., find strategies that actually work to help all kids attain a higher level of achievement. And then in the mix of all that, generalizations get made that are certainly not true for all kids of whatever classification, be it race or class.

    I would not ask you personally to address all the questions I posed as examples--that was more of a general set of ideas that I would like to see the group as a whole address. What I might find helpful, especially if your main purpose in all of this has been to interrupt what you see as false stereotypes or racist generalizations, ones that are hurtful to you or (potentially, as a larger meme) to your child, is some description or set of facts or arguments or stories that says why they are wrong, and why they are hurtful. I have found that calling people racist up front gets their defenses up, but speaking to the specific issue, from the heart and from personal experience but without the sense of attack, can work. Because I do believe that Caroline wants kids of all races to succeed in school, so that would be a great place of common ground to acknowledge and begin to go deeper.

    An example. It seemed on the other thread that you disagreed with Caroline's positive references to the book about the "code of the street" as one idea for why certain groups of kids seem to be, in statistically significant numbers, on the wrong side of the achievement gap. Do you disagree with this idea of the code of the street? Do you find it racist (i.e., blaming the cultural backgrounds of the kids and not the institutions of the schools) for their poor performance in school? I'm not saying you have to have all the solutions--if anyone did, they could win a lot of prizes and do a lot of good in this world--but I really would be interested to hear your perspective on whether "street culture" is a factor or not in the lives of many AA kids, and whether it is a contributing factor to school performance, graduation rates, etc. I guess I would assume that street culture is not a big factor for your kid, but I know lots of families in my neighborhood who worry about it.

    Last note, when I said that being a white parent of an AA child was unusual, I meant in the broadest sense that a mixed family setting is certainly a significant minority at this point in time. A look at the census tells us this. Of course I know it is not unheard of. I have several friends here in SF, mostly gay or lesbian as it happens, who are white and are raising kids of color, either Guatemalan or African American. I also have that situation in my own family, as my sister was adopted, and her birth parents looked like Barack Obama's, white birth mother and black (well, probably mixed-race himself) birth father--she happens to be olive-skinned and not obviously "black" to most who didn't know her, but this was/is still part of her identity, and ours as a family.

    Mixed-race families such as mine (Asian American & European American parents, with mixed-race kids) are also still unusual in the broader scheme of things, but growing to be less so, especially around here. And we also are seeing more white parents with Asian American kids, through adoption from China and Vietnam, as well. But all of us mixed-race families (in our different versions) are still in significant minorities compared to other groups of kids whose parents are from the same racial background.

    Maybe--I hope--all of these kinds of mixes will seem so, so common a generation from now. I see us as the transitional generation to much more diverse family structures of all kinds. And maybe this mixing will also help us break down the worst generalizations and stereotypes.

  20. I'm anon 4:51 and very open to differing ideas about education and have found this blog to be very interesting and informative.

    What I am tired of is Caroline's obvious agenda and her broad generalizations and misinformation (rumors, etc) about privates and charters including but not limited to Waldorf Schools, etc.
    Considering the fact that she admittedly "fought tooth and nail" to get her kids into the top public schools when her family was going through this process I find her a bit hypocritical.

    How would she feel if one person consistently attacked SOTA (where her son attends) because they require students to submit a portfolio or have an audition? What if that person consistently chimed into every blog out there dealing with SF schools and accused SOTA of being "elitist"?

    Maybe, just maybe, she might feel a bit defensive too.

  21. Liz - I don't NOT want to respond because I did not want it to appear that I retreated into a "hole" somewhere. I appreciate your comments. I hope you respect the fact that I am going to leave it at that. I believe that your desire to get my opinions on race/class, etc. are genuine - but it feels like I need to justify myself. And I really don't want to. Mostly because I don't think my opionions are shared by many on this board and they fall on deaf ears. I feel like I have given my opinions and backed up what I've said, so to speak, in the past. I do not believe I have ever just cried "racist" and walked away. And I am usually extremely careful to call out the comments rather than the commenter. I also did not engage in the discussion of street culture initially - in fact, that wasn't what I addressed but rather the generalization that was made that AA and Latino kids tend to leave public for private due to pressure from "ganstas" etc. It was the language that was used - the assumptions that were made about class and race - not the theory in and of itself. I believe it is an applicable one. But I believe it has much more to do with class then race. And I feel too often that there is an assumption that all AA kids are subjected to the "thugs" in the "hood."

    I'm getting into things I said I wouldn't. Ugh. Anyway - I wish Caroline success in her blog. I won't read it but I know many, many others will. And I know she does a service for the public school community that is valued and valuable. As for me, I am done with my school search finally - thank God - so I will no longer be clouding the discussion by shining a light on something that I think makes many uncomfortable and in which, on these boards at least, I feel extremely alone.

  22. In other words, a lot of the gap, a huge amount, is about social class, but some of it may be about race too. I suspect at least some of this may be the institutional racism part, but others hear this as racist, i.e., accusing kids of not achieving because they are from a certain race or culture.

    When achievement data is controlled for income/class, there is still a striking gap between White and Asian students and their Latino and African American peers. It's certainly true that some commentators have come to despicable conclusions about this gap, blaming it on students and their families. Others have tried to neutralize it, stating that it's probably just an outcome of institutional bias in testing. While there's bias in testing instruments, I don't like this as a complete answer, since it has the effect of removing racists from racism: it's all the fault of the test and there's nothing, not one thing, we can do about it.

    Others wonder if this gap is more of an opportunity gap: that we are not providing our Latino and African American students with a culturally responsive, thoughtful, and reflective pedagogy. After all, our schooling system is much like our testing system (by its nature, built to meet and respond to the needs of middle-class whites), and many educators (myself included) are white. We may not recognize when we are teaching/acting in ways that disenfranchise our students simply because we do not recognize our own white privilege.

    ...and then there's the very potent issue of language. I don't want to relive Oakland's struggles on this issue, but it's certainly relevant.

    I say this all because I think it's critical that we DO NOT whitewash the opportunity gap. Doing is not only intellectually dishonest, but it enables and supports people who would make racist assumptions about Latino and African Americans' families, "pathologies", and intelligence.

  23. Arguing with her feeds her attention-seeking behavior. Unless you ignore her you're just feeding her mania.

  24. Just for the record, my Oakland blogger friend who has been turning me on to these sociology books (including "Code of the Street") is also the white mom of mixed-race children. Here she blogs about race and her family:

    Back to the issue of offending fellow blog posters. What I hear is: Your comments make me uncomfortable and/or angry and/or I disagree with them.

    Well, I really don't think it's a bad thing to bring uncomfortable topics up for discussion. Some people do; we'll have to agree to disagree.

    And also: You repeat yourself too much and post too often.

    A couple of defenses. As an advocate, I believe it's important to respond whenever needed, no matter how frequently. No reference to "those failing public schools" will ever, ever go by me without being challenged. Would any advocate disagree with that philosophy, reapplying it to your own particular issues?

    And also, I see questions come up on threads that have been answered before, by others and by me, clearly from new visitors to the blog or those who haven't followed all the threads. I answer them sometimes just on the assumption that I can help by providing information, and sometimes to make my case as an advocate.

    Neither of those practices strikes me as particularly awful. Others may be doing the same thing, but we don't know it because they're anonymous.

    As to objecting to my providing information, including secondhand, about specific private schools without backing up every detail -- that's a bogus complaint.

    Private school backers never raise a peep when similar discussion about public school goes on, as it does extensively (including coming from me). And the private schools have oceans of money that they pour into their very strong focus on marketing, which includes portraying public schools negatively. And that does have a negative social impact -- it hurts public schools, hurts low-income children, hurts the community. The private-school backers are defending the rich, powerful, elitist and exclusive; I and other public-school advocates are speaking up for the powerless and voiceless.

  25. And that does have a negative social impact -- it hurts public schools, hurts low-income children, hurts the community. The private-school backers are defending the rich, powerful, elitist and exclusive; I and other public-school advocates are speaking up for the powerless and voiceless.


  26. I'm a public school Mom and you sure don't speak for me; you alienate far more people than you reel in, and your conceited tone and preaching drive many parents away from public schools. In other words, you do more harm than good.

  27. Private schools do not pour oceans of money into portraying public schools negatively. There's not some grand conspiracy on the part of private schools to discredit public schools. Unfortunately, our school district and government at all levels do a great job of that on their own.

  28. "I think it's called voicing opinions, which is what they wanted."

    They let anyone have a blog, it isn't as though it is a paying job.

  29. --And the private schools have oceans of money that they pour into their very strong focus on marketing, which includes portraying public schools negatively.--
    The private-school backers are defending the rich, powerful, elitist and exclusive--

    Wow. What outrageously provocative comments. It might serve the poster's agenda better to refrain from pushing ridiculous stereotypes about the privates while insisting on complex, nuanced commentary about the publics.

    I'm a single mom with 2 kids in private school. At our school, there are no "oceans of money" nor is there a marketing department bent on portraying the public schools negatively. What a weird, paranoid notion.

    Our tuition mostly replaces the state funding our children don't get, facilities lease and maintenance, and then maintaining the school's completely unique curriculum and mission statement. We hold fundraisers to fill in the gaps. The majority of the school population is middle class, dual income families and 25% of families (including me) receive financial aid. While there is a small handful of families with serious money here, for the most part we are not rich, powerful elitists or social climbers. Nor does that reflect the culture, the administration, or the mission of the school.

    While I can't pretend to know what the culture of other schools is, I'm pretty offended by the broad brush portrayal of "the privates". How is that different, exactly, from me saying that "the publics" are dangerous, overcrowded and laden with apathetic teachers?

  30. All that aside, here is my letter -- adapted from others' -- that I'm e-mailing to all my friends in support of Prop. A:

    Dear friends who are San Francisco voters:

    I'm e-mailing to let you know that I'm enthusiastically supporting Proposition A on the June ballot. I hope you'll read this to find out why your vote matters. Please vote Yes on Prop. A on June 3, and please pass this letter on to other San Francisco voters.

    Prop. A is a parcel tax that goes directly to support San Francisco teachers. It requires a two-thirds majority for passage. With a low voter turnout likely, every vote counts—and we need your vote. The parcel tax is $198 per parcel per year, with a senior-citizen exemption.

    Caring people agree that we need to work to make San Francisco a more family-friendly environment. Some of us have kids at home, some of us do not, but we all take pride in our city and in ensuring that our children have ample opportunities to thrive. Every child deserves to be educated in a great school. But if we want our schools to be great we must support the teachers who are in the classrooms working with our community's children.

    San Francisco has the highest cost of living in California, but has the 14th-highest pay for teachers. Many of my friends who are teachers as well as San Francisco residents and public-school parents work in suburban districts because the pay is significantly higher. Great teachers make a difference in children's lives, and our city needs to attract more, not drive them away with substandard pay.

    I'm asking you to join me in supporting San Francisco schools by voting by mail or on June 3. Our schools will continue to face devastating budget cuts from Sacramento. But San Franciscans have a rare opportunity in June to join together to take local action in supporting our schools. For those of you who want to dive into the details, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know by going to

    Again, in this low-turnout election, every vote counts, so please forward this e-mail to as many people as you can, and tell your friends and family to vote YES on A on June 3.

    Thank you on behalf of our schools, our children and our community.

    Caroline Grannan

    SFUSD parent, advocate and volunteer

    Mom of Anna (8th grade, Aptos Middle School) and Will (11th grade, School of the Arts)

  31. 9:56: well stated.
    I'm a public school mom but I attended both public and private schools in my youth.
    Both had fundraisers.
    Both had their strengths and weaknesses.
    Both contributed to my education and my outlook on life in positive and yet different ways--mostly because they were very different schools.
    I think it's a personal choice and I think we all do what works for our own family--no judgments here.

  32. All that aside, here is my letter -- adapted from others' -- that I'm e-mailing to all my friends in support of Prop. A:

    All that aside, here is my letter in support of Prop. A -- adapted from others' -- that I'm e-mailing to all my friends:

    [I'm assuming you seek a broader audience than the people who already share your opinion]

  33. please vote yes on prop A ...

    even if Caroline annoys you

  34. Caroline,
    Your 7:29 AM post today perfectly illustrates why, in spite of the positive work you do and the valuable info you provide, you shoot yourself in the foot with many of us you want to persuade. Aren't such sweeping generalizations called stereotypes? None of the private schools we toured made a single negative reference about public schools. Not all private schools are the same and not all private school parents are the same. In fact, SFUSD's own system is what really turned us off. This year's enrollment cluster%#*@ did far more damage to SFUSD's reputation than any private school marketing materials. And comments such as "Private school backers never raise a peep" are so flipping offensive. Never ever? Ever? Speaking in absolutes, how very evolved. The great majority of us post anonymously. How do you know that private school backers never raise a peep??? And just because we are sending our child to private school does not make us private school "backers." Why do you feel the need to make your posts so us versus them? I mean, "The private-school backers are defending the rich, powerful, elitist and exclusive; I and other public-school advocates are speaking up for the powerless and voiceless." Seriously? You are soooo full of yourself! Being self-righteous and indignant might win you fans amongst fellow public school advocates, but isn't that just preaching to the choir? If you actually want to persuade people who do not already share your point of view, you might want to try not painting private school parents as evil elitists who have no interest in the powerless. I have spent many years in grassroots orgs in SF working with SF adults who are marginalized and often powerless and voiceless. How dare you label me when you don't even know me? Imho, you need to decide whether you really want to persuade people or if you are happy just coming across as a self-righteous blowhard. Your 7:29 post might have been cathartic for you, but I highly doubt it helped your cause. And I am someone who has defending you in the past. There's a line between advocacy and rudeness, and you crossed it. And, yes, I know I do not have to read your posts and no longer will. Is that what you hoped to accomplish with your advocacy?

  35. oh, and all that aside, I will still vote for Prop A.

  36. 6:11/7:36/10:46 pm from yesterday, Liz here again. Thank you for responding. It took me awhile to get back to you due to work, kids, etc.

    I respect your desire not to get into these questions, though you are correct that my curiosity about your perspective is genuine.

    These issues can be so fraught and difficult and painful, and yet I also agree with the educator who posted early this morning who asks that we not whitewash the opportunity gaps or the achievement gaps. I agree with him/her, we need to address them! Even if there are painful racial issues on top of the biggest issues (imho) of class. Somehow we must do this without making room for race-based generalizations or blaming of kids' cultural or racial backgrounds, also recognizing that there are many exceptions to every generalization about race, and class too. Including generalizations of AA kids and "gangsta" culture. We have to make room for people's individual stories, while also creating and funding solutions and approaches that help the kids do better in large numbers. Schools can't do everything, but I think we can do better.

    I am glad that you contributed to this discussion. It did bring me up short, and that is a usually a good thing for me.

    Anyway, congratulations on finding a school for your child, and good luck with the K year.

    Finally, have to say that I am often very grateful for Caroline's contributions and am not shy or angry about the debates she raises, but that last paragraph at 7:29 was, as pointed out, pretty harsh in painting whole groups with a wide brush. In the wider scheme of things it seems pretty clear that the existence of private schooling is detrimental to the public schools (didn't Warren Buffet make a crack about that recently?), but that's on the societal level of impact. I can't see how it could be said that all private schools or certainly all private school parents have that as a goal.

    The problem is that there is a disconnect between the ideals of many here and what is available for our kids. I am grateful for those who have worked tirelessly to improve the public schools, and I have chosen public myself, but I can't see imputing bad motives to those parents in SF who do not. It's just more complicated than that, and it doesn't help persuade others to join us.

  37. My position is always that parents need to make the decision they feel best meets their child's needs. So I don't mean to impute bad motives to parents who make that choice.

    But, as noted, I think they also (if they have a social conscience) have a responsibility to take into account the impact of private school on the community. As repeatedly noted, it's similar in that vein to choosing to drive an SUV or live in a gated community. Yes, it may be the best thing for your family, but it does have a social impact.

    Sorry that sometimes when I'm getting mass-flamed I don't temper my language perfectly. "Kate" -- who ironically is the other target here of major vitriol -- handles it by not responding at all, of course. It's not that easy.

    I know from ample discussion with my private-school friends what the view of most parents in private school is about public -- unthinkable, pathetic, dangerous, all that. Of course that's not in the official PR.

    Many, many posters on this blog have commented on the lavish marketing done by private schools, counting the teas and receptions and outreach events -- compared to the bare-bones efforts, almost entirely volunteer, in SFUSD schools. I haven't attended any of those private school events, but I do check out their websites.

    Thanks to those who do validate my being true to myself. Over my life I have found that when I don't speak up for what I think is right, that's what I regret later.

    The Examiner feature (they are making a point of not calling them blogs) is not unpaid and is not open to anyone, just for the record.

  38. You mean they paid you to just cut and paste a list of public school events and call that a "feature"?

  39. That's one of four posts I did in the first two days.

  40. 4:04 PM - That was very accurate. Well put.

  41. "That's one of four posts I did in the first two days."


    In the first post you did about Kindergartens, you said the open enrollment period started next week. That is entirely wrong. Open Enrollment starts on the 27th.

    Your second post, about the newsweek article, mostly consisted of other people's writing (the long letter from principals.)

    The third post was also mostly another person's writing, cut and pasted into your "feature".

  42. Um, are you planning to critique every post and second-guess the labor that goes into it? Are you going to factor in the vast amount of similar work I've done on an unpaid volunteer basis over many years that means I have background knowledge, access to information and resources, etc.? I guess if you read the not-a-blog that closely you'll have that much information too.

  43. Thank you, annon 4:04.

  44. Great response, 4:04.

    As far as Caroline, everytime I read one of her posts I think about the South Park episode where a huge cloud of "smug" wafting in from San Francisco threatens to take over everyone in South Park.

    She may be well-meaning, but Caroline's smug clouds are pretty potent too.

  45. anon @ 7:42 wrote:
    "In the first post you did about Kindergartens, you said the open enrollment period started next week. That is entirely wrong. Open Enrollment starts on the 27th."

    I'm so confused... is the 27th NOT next week?

    *looks at calendar*
    *counts on fingers*
    *head explodes*

  46. I think she changed her feature, at first it said "open enrollment starts this week", it was written on the 19th, it did not say "open enrollment starts on May 27th".
    So it was wrong.
    It doesn't matter,I suppose, but we don't want a bunch of parents freaking out and running down to EPC because of false information, do we?
    Anyway, some readers corrected her, in their comments.

  47. Whatever. I'm looking forward to Caroline's not-a-blog entries and have added her rss feed to my reader.

  48. It's important to point out false information that Caroline has disseminated. I have read many posts by her that state her opinions or heresay as "fact". Isn't this what Rush Limbaugh does?

  49. I think what really gets the private school parents upset at Caroline is her generalization that all private school parents are, "rich, powerful, elitist and exclusive." I think this strikes a cord because many of the people reading this blog either struggle to send their kids to private schools or were rejected from the public schools (everybody on this blog knows somebody who is 0/15). Both private school and public school parents want to do the best they can for their kids. Many private school parents would send their kids to public school if they got into a school that they felt comfortable with. Some private parents would send their kids to private school even if they had access to great public schools (look at all the marin kids at MCDS). For some kids, private school is a better fit. Given that the public school assignment system is what it is (ie a complete cluster&#%!), who can blame parents for going private? The district and the public school supporters really ask parents to put up with a long and difficult system if they want to go public. The parents that I know who applied to both private and public and lucked out and got into one of their 7 went with the public school. I'm a public school backer (yes we have a prop A poster up in our window and in our car) but may go private because we just can't seem to get lucky with the lottery.

    I agree that most private schools have a negative attitude about the quality of the public schools in the city. After all, they need to justify the $20k-plus tuition (not that everybody who sends their kids to private school pays full price). Of course, this statement doesn't apply to all private schools, but it definitely applies to some. And the private school admissions director, who says that the public schools in the city are challenged, isn't completely wrong either.

    It’s my experience that some of the private school parents are struggling just as hard to make it in this city as the public school parents. If you weren’t lucky in the lottery, then I can see how it is easy to be bitter at the system and frustrated when somebody who won the lottery accuses you of being part of the problem. Until the SFUSD improves the lottery system, SFUSD creates a certain percentage of the demand for private schools. If Carlos Garcia can recognize that the system is “broken,” why can’t the rest of the public school advocates?

    I also feel that how you feel about risk is another aspect in the decision between private and public schools in the city. If you send your child to a private school you have a good idea of what you are getting for your money. The public schools in the city change significantly in a very short time (Miraloma, for example). Getting assigned to an up-and-coming school or a potentially up-and-coming school is a leap of faith in system that does little to reassure parents.

  50. Thank you, 9:23.
    Very intelligent, thoughtful post.

  51. oops...I mean 9:43

  52. Thank you, Frank! It's the shades of gray and discussions around those issues that make things interesting.

  53. Well, sorry to crash the party but here comes black and white... Private school has a positive social impact on society, and especially on public school.

    Private schools often experiment with various aspects of education because they are relatively free from governmental control. These experiments in private schools have produced innovations that have extended throughout all sectors of American education. Especially since the 1980s, for example, some educators have advanced ideas for public school reform that closely resemble many existing private school practices. These reformers have sought to imitate common features of private education, such as smaller schools and stronger emphasis on academic achievement. In addition, many education reformers have sought to change the large, bureaucratic management structure of public schools so that it more closely resembles the smaller, school-based management structure of private schools.

    quoted source

  54. I think one could also say the same for some Charters...

  55. Caroline,

    I have been reading your stuff and enjoying it for years.

    Your expertise on the SFUSD and its history as well as all the foibles and falsehoods of charter schools are always interesting to read. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading your new blog, too.

  56. "But, as noted, I think they also (if they have a social conscience) have a responsibility to take into account the impact of private school on the community. As repeatedly noted, it's similar in that vein to choosing to drive an SUV or live in a gated community. Yes, it may be the best thing for your family, but it does have a social impact."

    Spot-on analysis.

    Yes, do everyone you find best. You know what is best for your child. But putting him/her in a gated community is not the best thing in the world for the psyche.

    It creates a film-noir mentality among children.

  57. trying to figure out what this is supposed to mean:

    "Yes, do everyone you find best."

    could someone translate?

  58. Sorry. I use voice recognition software because I had a stroke and cannot type.

    So sometimes it doesn't come out quite right. I meant to say, "do what you think is best".

  59. Yes, it may be the best thing for your family, but it does have a social impact."

    Fab! Private school is good for my kid and good for the public education system.

    Who would want to limit choices to those offered by our government?

  60. Agreed! Get big gubment off my back and outa my yard. And outa my world.

    Besides, private schools embrace diversity in all its many shapes and forms.

  61. Private school is good for my kid and good for the public education system.

    The last part of this sentence is, to say the least, debatable. It may true that there are innovations started in the private world that have migrated to public, for the betterment of public. It's also true that the private world borrows from public, for example in the area of curriculum standards. But when folks go private, the loss of funds, advocacy, and the presence of families and kids with resources and talents to share--well, it's a loss to the commons, and a big one. We would have a better public system if our more powerful families had to send their kids to it. Not saying that will happen, but it's interesting to imagine.

    private schools embrace diversity in all its many shapes and forms.

    Some private schools have a lot of diversity, and many have some. To say that private schools in general embrace diversity in ALL its many shapes and forms seems like a bold exaggeration. We all make our choices, and I know there are things we are missing out on in not going private, but there are losses in not going public, too, and this area is one to think about.

    To be sure, there are many wonderful people--leaders, teachers, parents, kids--in the private schools, but there's a reason people get defensive when Caroline cites the history of exclusivity in the private school world--because even if there is too wide of a brush there to make sweeping comments about the private schools of today, there is a large grain of truth in her citation. Part of the reason to go private is to avoid some of the diverse influences one might find in public, no? It's a bit painful to say out loud, but can we admit that? I say that as a public school parent who certainly worked to avoid certain schools in our own district, though I was able to find two so far (elementary and middle) that were acceptable to me--not the highest-performing ones, but not the lowest either. In other words, I do not exempt myself from this indictment....

    With regard to the comments about "big gubment" and all that, well, I'm just not that much of a right-wing libertarian and I don't think most here are. (Seems so 1980's, doesn't it.) I cherish personal freedoms but also worry about the kind of dog-eat-dog world we would have if we did not work to build up the commons in areas such as education and health care. This is glue that makes our country great--especially when balanced with those personal freedoms and rights.

    The best thing about public school, in my opinion, is the way it teaches kids to be citizens of a very diverse whole. Public school is the place where my kids have had the greatest opportunities to cross difficult boundaries of class and race and lots more. Not perfectly, but they have learned a lot. Historians have often said that the "common schools" that developed in early 19th century New England--that became our public system--are a cornerstone of our democracy.

    By the way, I don't judge my friends for going private. I was just congratulating a public school mom/friend tonight on getting scholarship funding to a very nice private school for 6th grade. What I ask my friends who are starting the process is to please consider public school and not write it off without a look. I also ask them to consider the social implications of supporting public schools by attending them. I know that many here have considered public in these ways and that some of you have chosen private after all--either because of going 0/15 or because of individual reasons related to your kids. That's okay with me. I just ask that you look and think first (and, oh yes, please vote yes on Prop A).

  62. "The best thing about public school, in my opinion, is the way it teaches kids to be citizens of a very diverse whole. Public school is the place where my kids have had the greatest opportunities to cross difficult boundaries of class and race and lots more. Not perfectly, but they have learned a lot. Historians have often said that the "common schools" that developed in early 19th century New England--that became our public system--are a cornerstone of our democracy."

    Very well put.

    My husband and I felt such trepidation when we first searched for kindergartens for our oldest son several years ago. In the end, we chose a public school (Yick Wo) that was certainly not among the elite schools, but which we thought was a very good fit with a nice cozy and cherishing atmosphere, and close to home. Fortunately, we got our first choice in the dreaded lottery.

    He was also accepted at a private school (SF Day), which I also liked. But I think we made the right choice (and we have saved about $80,000 in the process).

    And I believe that he has received an education there that would be unavailable in private school. That is, he is exposed to kids from all kinds of social, economic, and racial groups, and I believe he has learned to appreciate and respect them (and they, him). I think his academics have been just as strong as they would have been at any private school.

  63. Caroline, we are a private school family that never considered the larger social issues of public vs. private school--before you put your thoughts out there on this blog. Thank you. Honestly, we didn't consider public schools out of our fears and hatred--of thugs and guns, of "hella this and hecka that", of kids who emulate K-Fed and his fashion choices, of pants that aren't baggy but actually belted at the knees. Caroline, you are the only reason we read this blog--Kate's "struggle" between private and public was painfully inauthentic, but ultimately far less painful than her sfgate "mommy files" blog postings and barfy photos of herself with ice cream on her head (let the wild MCDS rumpus start!). Looking forward to your postings on another site Caroline.

  64. i admire the work caroline's done for public schools (i.e., for all of us). it's more than i'll ever do. and i think there's a place for loud, opinionated voices when the stakes are as high as they are in these matters (education, democracy and the preservation of the commons). fierce discussion is a good thing. i have found caroline to have an impressive array of data at her disposal; being 100% accurate 100% of the time just isn't possible. nor, i think, is it the point. the fact that she is a voice that riles us up and gets us all questioning our beliefs about education is her contribution. i am grateful to her for that.

  65. On the subject of private schools portraying public schools negatively- I toured a rather dull rigid public school where the students in 1st grade were doing work at my child's preschool level. The public school teacher wistfully suggested that I send my kid to the private school next door if I could manage it. It is not just the private schools that protray public schools as deficient, as they sometimes are.

    We've been a 100% public school family and pretty happy, but some public schools are not great and some families just want or need something different for their kids. Caroline's biggest problem is overgeneralizing and overextrapolating to the point of inaccuracy. Private school families are not necessarily Private School Backers, and Charter school families are not unwitting members of a right wing conspiracy. It is like saying that because Caroline owns private property she is part of a corporate capitalist conspiracy.

    Mostly families and schools are just doing what fits for them as people have said.

  66. privatebenjamin, you spoke for me! I especially loved how Kate said she was from "San Jose" and then we learn she is from LOS GATOS.

    It's like saying you are from Compton when you are really from Bel Air!

    I am sure that worked wonders on the MCDS application too.

  67. For the record: I wrote "this week" about the date open enrollment starts when I thought that the first post on WAS going up this week, and missed changing it when it wound up going up earlier than planned. And a nice thing about writing online is that corrections are quick and easy.

    Today's the day, based on the information currently available.

  68. OK, maybe this has been covered before, but I'd like to voice my opinion that SOTA is not a public school. Not in any true sense of what we all think a public school is anyway. Way too selective to be a private school in my book. And I think the demographics of SOTA, which don't resemble any other public high school in SFUSD, bear this out.

  69. It's not an uncommon opinion that specialty public schools shouldn't be selective. But public schools like SOTA and Lowell are common all over the country. (SOTA admits by audition and Lowell based on academic achievement.)

    Just to note that objecting to SOTA's admissions criteria also means objecting to many such schools in many places. It's a legitimate opinion; it's just criticism of a long-established type of school rather than a unique offender.

  70. SOTA is a private school funded by public money.

  71. So Caroline, how is that different from private school admissions? Why is SF Day objectionable, but SOTA or Lowell is not?

  72. I didn't say SF Day was objectionable. And anyone involved in this particular discussion has presumably already heard my and others' comments on the social impact of private school and doesn't need to hear them again.

    I have never said it was objectionable that private schools pick and choose (with really one exception -- religious schools that dump special-ed students do gall me -- is that what Jesus or whomever one's higher power is would do?). It's their prerogative. That's what parents are paying for.

  73. What is the social impact of schools like SOTA, which are exclusive yet are run with the public's money?

  74. It's a legitimate discussion. The obvious impact is that arts programs at other public schools may be weakened when the stronger artists go to SOTA instead of other high schools. Same with the impact of siphoning off top academic achievers to Lowell.

    Responses include the fact that these schools meet the needs of the artistic and academic high achievers.

    These students are still in public school, however, bringing in the funding, and participating in the public school community. By their presence in public school, they are supporting public education. And one could make a case that the success of magnet schools like Lowell and SOTA (and the many others like them around the nation) fosters more public support for public school overall.

    One commenter says:

    "...when folks go private, the loss of funds, advocacy, and the presence of families and kids with resources and talents to share--well, it's a loss to the commons, and a big one. We would have a better public system if our more powerful families had to send their kids to it."

    Students attending Lowell, SOTA and the many other public magnet schools like them keep funds, advocacy and families and kids with resources and talents to share in the public school system, part of the commons.

  75. huh, sounds to me more like have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too... privilege among the commons...

  76. And one could make a case that the success of magnet schools like Lowell and SOTA (and the many others like them around the nation) fosters more public support for public school overall.

    One could say that of charter schools as well.

  77. I suppose specialty schools, like SOTA, are common in large cities, but then so are private schools and charter schools, so I'm not sure where that observation goes.

    I guess what I've found frustrating about the criticism of private schools and charter schools is the black and white nature of it. That supporting public schools is good for our city, but supporting private and charter schools is bad. But isn't the truth a bit in the middle?

    Charter schools are criticized because they displace public schools (although honestly, I'm skeptical of this - I think they just give SFUSD an excuse to move unpopular schools). But what about SOTA's displacement of McAteer HS?

  78. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Creative Arts Charter is part of SFUSD and is a public school.

  79. McAteer was shutting down whether or not SOTA moved to the campus. There's a court-ordered monitor who has been SFUSD's advisor since the days of the consent decree (settlement of school segregation suit) who had recommended it, and his recommendations carry weight. (Actually I'm not sure that they still do since the consent decree has expired, but they did at the time, though he does still monitor and issue reports on SFUSD.)

    You can get into all kinds of complexities comparing magnet schools to charters to privates. I'm just pointing out that that one attempted comparison is not accurate.

    And the reason I'm responding that magnet schools are common is that there DOES seem to be a tone to the repeated blasts at SOTA implying that it's a uniquely fiendish form of evil. Not "I think selective magnet schools are unfair" but "SOTA is unfair." I assume the blasts are really aimed at me rather than at SOTA - if my kids were at Burton some people would be finding reasons to blast it -- but I want to make sure other readers of the blog aren't misled.

  80. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  81. Where are the blasts at SOTA? The blasts are at you, the person who believes exclusivity is the downfall of society when it comes to private schools but not when it comes to your exclusive public school.

  82. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  83. Sometimes comments need to be shut down. Damn if this isn't getting tedious...

  84. Hi Caroline,

    congratulations! i'm excited to read your blog!

    I want to say two things. One, I really appreciate the emotions you help to bring out, the honesty, and the argument. Healthy, and thought provoking. I've enjoyed and learned from your posts.

    The other is about my EPC experience today, and how it relates to our public school system here in CA.

    Today, while sitting at the EPC office at 7am in a massive line of people waiting for the office to open for open enrollment, we were greeted with a very negetive and overwhelmed Harvey. He basically whined at us for being lined up badly (fire hazard, you know) and then did what I find to be a common theme in our public school system: He lowered our expectations.

    My understanding as a parent is that we were told to come in. we were encouraged to come in. we had no choice but to come in and enroll during open enrollment.

    Regardless, we were greeted by staff who were not prepared to deal with us. folks seemed surprised we were there. then we were talked to like annoying kids.

    We were actually told that it was a regular school/work day and that it would be treated as such. the EPC counselors had all their normal work to do and we would be seen as quickly as they could (without interrupting their normal duties.)

    It struck me as so funny that I burst out laughing! Harvey just came out and effectively lowered out expectations for what we could expect that day--which is exactly how I feel at every school tour and with every inch of earth I dig to learn about our public schools. It's the best we can do with what we have, so smile and learn to like it!

    SO...if you think private schools have nothing special to offer, I will take that argument.

  85. Thanks, Kortney. I've never said private schools have nothing special to offer; it's much more complex than that.

    My main point is that overall I don't see my friends who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on private school getting their kids a better education than my kids are getting in public school. They get more bells and whistles, and they don't have to deal with the frequent idiocy of a bureaucracy -- but then, for hundreds of thousands of dollars vs. tuition-free, that seems predictable.

    Sandra Tsing Loh, writing about LAUSD, has as usual addressed this issue perfectly:



    LA Unified has been called many things, none particularly useful to an actual LA Parent (with what we call "a dog in the fight").

    I believe the most helpful image for you is to think of the LAUSD as like Costco.

    Costco has frightening parking, ugly lighting, and daunting 30-foot-high high towers of Bounty paper towels. But look closely and you’ll find a jaw-dropping price on Glenlivet, hothouse cherry tomatoes and, oh my God. . . Yo Yo Ma. What is YO YO MA doing here?

    Alternately, the LAUSD is like IKEA. Some boxes of treasure, some boxes of crap--their titles a nightmare of umlauts. . . all of which you will have to self-assemble. I’ve seen people sit on the floor and break into tears on the showroom floor of IKEA because it’s ALL TOO OVERWHELMING. . . ! Same with the LAUSD.

    Let us talk frankly, too, about the physical exterior of public schools. Let’s talk aesthetics.

    An LA journalist friend once told me he could not bear to even imagine his twins INSIDE their corner LAUSD elementary. For him, it was the sheer institutional look of the place: the chainlink fence, putty-colored buildings, cracked asphalt, prison-like windows covered with those metal storm meshy things. . .

    "Just driving by it," he murmured, "even the grass made me sad." He lacked the emotional strength to get out of his Prius and mount the steps. Fortunately, he and his wife are independently wealthy, and can pay $38,000 a year ($19,000 per twin) so their six year-olds can go to a hilltop school sans concrete, to honor diversity amidst foliage.

    And after those negative first impressions of the LAUSD, then come second impressions.

    Once you attempt to pierce The Borg, its leathery hide may prove surprisingly tough. People manning LAUSD phones lack a sharp charisma. When asked if a school gives parent tours, front office staffers may look up from their typewriters and stare dully at one, as though in disbelief. Ukrainian-style customer service, can be the LAUSD.

    Meanwhile, LA Unified is busily and eagerly offering parents things no parent in his right mind would ever want. . . Parents are continually being invited to fill out 20-part surveys, to form inter-district committees, or to hump across town to attend focus group-style meetings with titles so boring they make you fall right into a coma.

    Even as we mock, though, it is worth taking a moment to consider the big picture. . . to form at least a Zen understanding of the shambling ways of The Behemoth.

    Which is to say public education is founded on the same principles as, well. . . as democracy. And we know how tedious that can be. Have you ever been to an city council meeting where EVERYONE gets to speak, or hastily clicked past such a meeting on Cityview Channel 35 or Cableview Channel 94 or whatever that terrifyingly-lit channel is?

    Accordingly, one of LA Unified’s most basic mandates is "equity and access." This means proximity to municipal bus lines needs to be considered, homeless parents be not discriminated against, and handouts must always be available in Spanish, Tagalog, Armenian, and Farsi. It means magnet school applications cannot be available online as WELL as at schools and libraries, because that might put at a slight disadvantage parents without computer access, parents without an awareness of the Internet ("El Internet? Que?"), parents whose native language does not even have an alphabet ("Internet--aeiiee!!! [strange clicking sound]"), or parents without, well, frickin’. . . FINGERS TO TYPE.

    On the upside, you would not wish these parents NOT to be helped. You can’t say you’re AGAINST democracy.

    And it also means the LAUSD owes YOUR kids a free education.

    Let’s see what they’ve got!

  86. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  87. Actually, Kortney, would you mind if I repost quotes from your 7:17 p.m. post onto, without your name? Also without the EPC staffer's (if it's who I think it is, you actually got his first name wrong, but he richly deserves it.) It would include a link to the Sandra Tsing Loh commentary, a version of my previous post here.

    7:42, it's "fair use" if you credit it, like quoting portions of a book in a newspaper or magazine article. My understanding is that there's an etiquette issue involved and the standard for an actual blog post would be to quote no more than 1/4 of it, but the comment section on a blog like this (as opposed to the actual blog) is genuinely a gray area.

  88. Caroline, you've been great responding to all the comments, and I think it's somewhat unfair for people to make comments anonymously (which I've been doing), so I am now signed in. I started the conversation on SOTA yesterday. Here's some background info on why:
    I was checking out some high schools for my son who is in middle school. His one input was that he wanted to go to a small school. I knew that he does best at experiential learning and I came across some charter schools that seem to offer both of these things. The more I looked at these schools the better they seemed.
    Here's what I liked about the schools:
    • Small schools that create a community
    • Project-based learning that has students making frequent presentations, using art and technology, and generally take learning beyond memorization and tests to actually create something (some kids really need this)
    • College prep curriculum that is followed by all the students, sitting in the same classroom, unlike many of the middle and high schools in SFUSD, where the smart kids are in GATE, honors and AP programs (probably contributes to the achievement gap, don’t you think?)
    In my internet research I came across vehement criticism of the schools, some of which was from you, Caroline, and I found it misleading. Some of the criticism was that these schools were handpicking their students, but this is untrue, because anyone is allowed to apply, and they use a lottery system to select students if overenrolled. In fact, I get the sense that many of the students in the charter schools were not doing well in traditional schools.
    The criticism seems motivated solely based on the fact that these are "charter" schools. But honestly, that's just not enough. If schools are giving kids and their families a better educational experience, and making sure that fewer kids fall through the cracks, why would you attack them?
    The criticism of private schools will have no impact -- these schools aren't going anywhere. However, to some extent, I suspect the survival of charter schools relies on public sentiment and perhaps this is why parents of charter schools students are sensitive.
    I didn’t mean to vilify SOTA, Lowell or any other school. In fact, SOTA is one of the schools I will look at for my son, and I suppose he has a chance of getting in because his family has the financial resources to support his talents and make sure he looks good at the audition. Let’s be honest, that’s probably as big a factor in determining who gets into a school like SOTA as any.

  89. JT, thanks for having the guts to be semi-non-anonymous. I have refrained from voicing my opinion of people who blast others under cover of anonymity, and will continue to keep my mouth shut.

    Regarding charters handpicking students, let me clarify my issue. The obvious case is Gateway, which claims with a straight face to select students by "blind lottery," yet to get into the alleged blind lottery requires: a 9-page enrollment application' an essay by the applicant; transcripts; teacher recommendations; and signed parent and student commitments.

    There is no oversight, supervision, or transparency of Gateway's enrollment process. Now, honestly, you would have to be gullible beyond belief to accept that they were not reading over those applications before putting them into the "blind lottery" (or not). Gateway parents and applicants themselves have agreed with me on that. In addition, of course, just the requirement of all that crap
    self-selects for motivated families willing to put that application package together, and who believe their kids have a chance at passing the screening.

    My issue with that was more in
    the past, because Gateway used to loudly tout its test scores compared to other SFUSD high schools, and generally flamboyantly pat itself on the back about its successes, while denying that it was obviously selecting its students. Gateway has toned that down a lot; for example, they used to have a comparison of their test scores to other SFUSD high schools' on their website, and I couldn't find it last time I looked. I think they may have been shamed a bit by a lot of criticism (not just from me).

    It was the obvious dishonesty -- the claim that they were really enrolling by blind lottery -- combined with the formerly loud "we're so superior to those stupid old traditional SFUSD high schools" boasting that was so problematic about Gateway.

    By comparison, the selection process SOTA does -- and Lowell too -- is completely in the open, right? You know those students were selected by audition at SOTA and by assessment of their grades and test scores at Lowell. That's the way many magnet schools work. Nobody pretends otherwise. (The Academy of Arts & Sciences, the other school on SOTA's campus, is a pure lottery school, and its test scores are included in SOTA's API, by the way.)

    I have to go look up some demographics for you but will do that later; I need to run out right now.

    Here's an overview of my issues with charters, a commentary on an old pre-blog website/information project I help run.

  90. A few more comments in response to the post about charters.

    "anyone is allowed to apply, and they use a lottery system to select students if overenrolled."

    But: Charter schools get no students assigned by default, and those are likely to be the students who pose the biggest challenge to any school. All charter students had parents who cared enough and knew enough to pick a school and make a specific application. So that's quite a potent way to screen out the toughest kids. In addition, many have application requirements that further weed out troubled kids from troubled families. Anyone is allowed to apply if they can get it together, but that's a potent self-selection mechanism. And even then, the evidence over the 15 years charter schools have existed does not show them producing higher achievement overall. The evidence is very clear that charter achievement overall parallels achievement in comparable traditional public schools.

    Of course it's true that the Lowell and SOTA application processes are selective -- but that's in the open, fully transparent. They're not born on third base claiming to have hit a triple and then holding themselves up as superior to those who were not born on third base.

    "If schools are giving kids and their families a better educational experience, and making sure that fewer kids fall through the cracks, why would you attack them?"

    Because I believe that charter schools harm other schools and public education overall. In addition, the evidence does not overall back up the claim that charter schools give kids and their families a better educational experience. Of course that's the case sometimes -- just not overall.

    "I suspect the survival of charter schools relies on public sentiment and perhaps this is why parents of charter schools students are sensitive."

    Maybe so, but charter schools have all the power behind them, so it's a little rich to complain: The Bush administration and its entire education department, the Schwarzenegger administration and the California Department of Education, many centrist Democrats as well, all the mega-powerful and wealthy right-wing think tanks, the major mainstream media, and private funders up the wazoo -- Bill Gates, the Wal-Mart folks, Eli Broad, private foundations on and on and on. In Oakland, the Dreyers ice cream fortune as well as the usual Gates/Broad/Wal-mart money is backing the "Expect Success" districtwide experiment that relies heavily on charter schools. I can't really take seriously the notion that my mighty voice is unjustly attacking poor powerless charters.

    Look at all the nice private money that Oakland School for the Arts -- the charter that hired away SOTA's principal -- gets, for example, drool drool:

  91. Sorry, better URL for the list of OSA's private funders:

  92. Your voice is not mighty, it is just constant and droning. Everything you accuse Charters of, SOTA is also guilty of, you just are not able to see the forest through the trees, and have some hysterical need to keep harping on about how evil charter schools are.

    It's the "us against them" mentality and sickness that the old Ackerman regime was so fond of using. There is room enough in SFUSD for all of us, apparently you do not think so. Ok, fine, think what you like, but must you go ON AND ON AND ON AND ON about it?

  93. I disagree that SOTA is "guilty" of all the issues that make charters harmful to public schools. That's just not true on its face. And I was responding to a direct query from JT. If you're sick of hearing my comments, why are you reading a thread about me to begin with?

  94. "If you're sick of hearing my comments, why are you reading a thread about me to begin with?"

    Not for fun, that is certain. It is a tedious task, trying to defend Charter Schools from your constant lies and bullshit.

  95. My comments are neither lies nor bullshit. But if you sincerely want to defend charter schools and do it effectievly, it would be edifying to me and others if you would specifically respond to my points -- not with namecalling but with specifics.

  96. I agree that most of what she says is absurd, and I agree that it is all a lot of lies and bullshit. She seems to confuse her "opinion" with "the facts".
    I wish my son's little public charter school had buckets of money, with "private funders up the wazoo" but alas, we are a struggling little arts school and not part of some vast right-wing conspiracy. Why does she spend so much time spewing so much venom at lovely little schools like the one my son goes to? Her ugly and sad hobby, I suppose, trashing schools that are set up specifically to deal with needs of children who are not well-served by regular public schools.

  97. Schooling options in San Francisco include:

    Public Charter
    Public Exclusive
    Private Independent
    Private Religious
    Home School

    Why do you think there are so many options? Is it because one type of school or system simply cannot cover the needs and desires of every type of student and family? If so, how is it possible that choice -- and the exercising of it -- could be morally wrong and harmful?

  98. Repeating: It would be edifying to me and others if you would specifically respond to my points -- not with namecalling but with specifics.

  99. Oh I get it. She was vehement enough before, but then SOTA's principal quits to go work at a (gasp!) charter school and she goes even more mondo. Little did she know that the man she so respected was destined to become part of that vast, right-wing, dark conspiracy! Egads!

  100. 1:58, I second your post.
    I think it's insane and rather naive to think that any public school system could meet the needs of all our children. Given the recent lottery results and SO many disappointed (and disgusted) families who have really been trying to make it work, it is a wonder anyone has any faith in SFUSD at all...or is even able to stay here.
    Until the public schools can even begin to meet the needs of all families, I hope there will always be viable alternatives (like charters). Otherwise, we're looking at a pretty homogenous (and broken) system and families leaving in droves.

  101. I know this is just random sniping -- throw **** at the wall to see what sticks -- but it is kind of ironic, because actually Donn Harris called me in and made a point of talking to me about it early on while he was in the job search process. So the "little did she know" jab is actually not the case.

    It was interesting to hear, though obviously we were on different planets about it. That DID give me additional perspective on the funding situation and other aspects of the charter world, too.

  102. So maybe if you lived in Oakland, you might consider OSA as a great (and affordable) choice for your son who is a budding musician.... or is that too radical a notion?

  103. Especially since you seem to be so chummy with the Principal.

  104. Yeah, he fled the school so he wouldn't have to listen to her anymore.

  105. So rude. But funny.

  106. I wonder what you all were like in middle school. What a scary thought.

    But I hope Kortney comes back soon, because I really would love to post your account of the EPC behavior if you approve it.

  107. "I wonder what you all were like in middle school. What a scary thought."

    Oh Please. Here we go again. Caroline likes to throw out inflammatory dogma and then when people call her on it, she plays the victim and whimpers and calls everyone who she's pissed off "bullies".

    You rant on about how "evidence does not overall back up the claim that charter schools give kids and their families a better educational experience"

    It's all subjective -- your idea of a "better educational experience" is most certainly not what mine is.

    I'm fairly positive that a middle school class size of 24 students at my son's charter school will be a far better educational experience for him than sardined in with almost 40 kids in a "regular" public middle school.

    I'm fairly certain that going to a small school of no more than 250 kids, where all the teachers know all the kids names will be a far better "educational experience" for my kid.

    I'm fairly certain that going to a school with a project-based curriculum instead of suffering through the rote "teach-to-the- test" mind-numbingly dull schoolwork will be a far better "educational experience" for my kid.

    But hey, it's all subjective. You seem to judge your data on test scores alone ... but your methodology is flawed -- charters tend to attract kids who traditionally do not fit well in to the middle-of-the-road whitebread educational system, so they may not test very well either, so if our school's test scores are anywhere near to a "typical" school in this district, it most likely shows that we are closing the achievement gap for our kids, whereas most other SFUSD schools are failing miserably at that. 4 out of 5 African American kids in SFUSD FAIL to score at proficient or above on math and english tests ... 4 out of 5 ... EIGHTY PERCENT FAIL. How could any sane person think that is acceptable? Alternatives are clearly necessary.

  108. I visited Creative Arts Charter and was alarmed at how little work the older kids seemed to be doing. There was no visible essay writing anywhere, for example. There were all these weird, proprietary little gestures the people did at their group gathering that I suppose were supposed to build community, but it was loosey goosey in the extreme. There just didn't seem to be any standards, and the administrators did not communicate any to the visiting parents. They seemed so much more concerned with being alternative, whatever that means. Anyway, I have no idea if that is indicative of charters generally. I was disappointed in what I saw there, is all.

  109. "There were all these weird, proprietary little gestures the people did at their group gathering that I suppose were supposed to build community"

    Wow, that's snotty!

    Go to a regular middle school and watch the kids beat up and terrorize each other at their group gatherings. No weird gestures, just violence, drugs and teen pregnancy. All depends what you want in a community, I guess.

  110. Check out SFUSD middle school suspension rates:


  111. "I visited Creative Arts Charter and was alarmed at how little work the older kids seemed to be doing. There was no visible essay writing anywhere, for example."

    That's impression was the opposite. On my tour we saw middle school kids actively engaged in projects, having discussions about what they imagined Native American life was like, mentoring kids from younger grades and laughing and joking with teachers. Kind of reminded me of my middle school experience at private school on the east coast.

  112. Go to a regular middle school and watch the kids beat up and terrorize each other at their group gatherings. No weird gestures, just violence, drugs and teen pregnancy.

    This is snotty, too. And wrong. Do you have a child in a regular public middle school? I do. It is far from "just violence, drugs and teen pregnancy."

    I am sorry I checked back on this thread. I find Caroline interesting, and appreciate her larger point about charters, but think that some of the "alternative" charters we have here in SF do fill a need, i.e., the whole thing is more complex than any of you are willing to admit. Those of you who are trashing Caroline are being just as tiresome and certainly more snotty than she sometimes is. My middle schooler could write up a much more interesting and layered analysis of the various school options than anything written here. (Despite the fact that she clearly must be immersed in violence, drugs and be having a baby sometime soon....). Grow up, people.

  113. "Go to a regular middle school and watch the kids beat up and terrorize each other at their group gatherings. No weird gestures, just violence, drugs and teen pregnancy."

    This is completely inaccurate, I can attest as I'm just finishing 6 years as an Aptos Middle School parent. It also bears out my point about charter advocates bashing public schools and holding themselves up as superior.

    If CACS can afford a 20/1 ratio for middle school, it also bears out my point about charters getting vastly more than their share of funding, too -- at the expense of students in other schools. Obviously all middle schools would cut their class sizes to 20/1 if they could afford it.

    I'm sorry I'm having to check back on this thread too, but I'm waiting for a response from a poster of whom I asked a question.

    I can't imagine what CACS parent meetings are like, though. Yow.

  114. "I can't imagine what CACS parent meetings are like, though. Yow."

    Enough, already. Talk about snotty.

  115. "It also bears out my point about charter advocates bashing public schools and holding themselves up as superior."

    Oh Please. That is the problem with Caroline's arguments, they are not really arguments, they are all anecdotal gross generalizations. ONE PERSON says something about violence and suspension rates in middle schools, and all of a sudden ALL charter advocates bash public schools? Truly fuzzy logic there.

  116. The tone of some of the comments suggests that there is a contest between the charter schools and SFUSD so we need to have a level playing field so that a true winner can be ultimately declared. Obviously this is silly -- these schools can coexist, and charter schools likely do have some advantages that public schools don't, isn't that why people start them and why some parents want to send their kids to charters? The vast majority of kids will always be educated by the public school system, but perhaps the charter schools can be seen as a place where new ideas are tried out, and public schools can borrow the successful ideas.

    Caroline, I agree that the extensive application for Gateway high school is a screening advice, but I read somewhere that they receive five applications for every space, so it seems most families don't find it too off-putting. I don't agree that charter schools generally skim off the most motivated and successful students. In fact, the top students will find the "one-size-fits-all" curriculum of the charter high schools unappealing, because they are accustomed to being in GATE programs with only the brightest students.

    Furthermore, the overall numbers of students enrolled in charter schools is low, making it unlikely there would be a significant impact. From what I can tell, the number of students enrolled in all charter high schools in San Francisco put together is still significantly smaller than the number of students at Lowell. Most charter high schools limit each class size to 100 students and overall school size to 400.

    My brother and sister both dropped out of our town’s 2000+ student high school at age 16 back in the mid-70s. The school barely even noticed they had left. I don't really know why they left, I think they just couldn't stomach going to school in the morning. It was a jock school and they were "freaks" so I guess they really didn't fit in. Eventually they both got their GEDs but they were working full time at that point and they never even considered going to college. They are approaching 50 now and have always struggled financially. Even though they have worked steadily, they've always had low paying jobs. Like most high school dropouts, I suppose. Maybe at a smaller school, with a different program, somebody could have reached them.

    Anyway, I suspect this is one of those arguments where the best we can do is agree to disagree.

  117. Caroline doesn't like it when people find solutions that are different than the ones that she's found. So logical explanations of the role of charter schools in the overall set of schooling options are not going to make much difference to her.

  118. Choice is good. Choice equals freedom. Removing or choking off options is a far greater social and moral evil than Caroline's version of the harm inflicted on the public school system when one chooses not to participate in it.

    Now 'scuse me while I go prepare my Hummer for disaster relief with the American Red Cross...

  119. jt/9:40:
    I think you may the voice of reason. Thank you. :)

  120. But the whole charter movement has set itself up in competition with traditional public schools, in many ways. Its public discourse is full of that -- check out the Center for Education Reform, the public-school-bashing heart and soul of the charter-school movement, .

    The whole notion that charters exist to best and vanquish public schools is trumpeted by the powerful supporters of the charter movement (who are basically the same forces as the powerful supporters of anything else beloved by the Bush admin).

    I understand that charter schools can provide options -- though again, overall, the evidence does not indicate that they're providing better or more successful options. Certainly some are better and more successful for some students, and some are worse and less successful.

    But the issue is whether the benefits of merely providing another choice outweigh the many negative impacts they have on other schools.

    To give one example from this discussion thread, and correcting myself: A poster claimed that the class size of 24 at his/her charter school is better than the alleged class size of 40 at traditional middle schools. (Sorry, I previously misquoted that number as 20.)

    Actually, union contracts cap class size at I think 34, so 40 is an exaggeration. Still, of course it's preferable to be in a class size of 24 rather than a class of 34. However, my point is: If we have two schools, is it fair that one can afford a class size of 24 and the other can't afford a class size smaller than 34? If you are a leader in that school district, your mission is to do the best for ALL students, so isn't it your obligation to ensure equity by providing equal resources (meaning both schools' class sizes will be 29)? In one way or another, that charter in taking resources from that traditional public school. How ethical and equitable is it to endorse and praise that?

    So that's a clear-cut example of the charter down the street doing direct harm to the students in the traditional middle school.

    It's not necessarily true that charters are for kids who are not fitting in, JT. Gateway was started largely to meet the needs of kids with mild -- MILD is a key -- learning issues. But now it's sought after by high-achieving students, to my certain personal knowledge as an 8th-grade mom well aware of where my daughter's classmates are applying.

    The issue regarding its admission process is not whether the applicants mind being screened. It's whether Gateway covertly screens for high-functioning students and then claims to have MADE them high-functioning, aggrandizing itself dishonestly and bashing traditional public schools as it does so. It was clearly guilty of that in the past and seems to have toned it way down, as I say.

    The widely praised KIPP charter chain definitely self-selects for high-functioning, motivated, compliant kids from high-functioning, motivated, compliant families. It recruits in low-income neighborhoods, but its requirements immediately screen out a dysfunctional family that's not eagerly on the ball, as well as oppositional, disengaged students.

    So again, it comes down to this: Yes, charters offer other choices. Are they better choices? The evidence, overall, says no. And in offering those choices, they harm other public schools and the kids in those schools; and they are a weapon in the right-wing arsenal aimed at weakening and ultimately destroying public education. Is it worth it then, for the sake of offering choices in and of itself? That's a personal judgment.

    Obviously I'll get another onslaught of snipes and jabs from those happy CACS folks, but as there's at least one civil person on this thread interested in discussing the issues (JT, that is), I'm still participating in the discussion.

    (It's weird that I actually have friends at CACS. Or maybe I don't anymore. And it'll be interesting when I meet some of these parents as their kids start SOTA.)

  121. Two of my husband's siblings also dropped out of big public high schools in the 1970s and nobody noticed. Lost souls in different ways to this day. The parents were not paying attention for reasons I won't get into, but they could have afforded private school and have been overwhelmed by guilt ever since. They KNOW that the smaller private high schools available to them would have noticed, would have made real efforts to bring problems to their attention, would have given them the opportunity to become more involved. The big public was churning thousands of kids through a year; who notices a few dropouts in a mill like that?

    The lesson I take is that part of your consideration in choosing a school should be an honest evaluation of how much parental responsibility you are able or willing to take and how much you need or want to leave to the school. If you don't have the time or inclination to to independently evaluate your child's progress and you assume everything's OK unless you hear otherwise, the best choice would be a school that you are confident will make whatever effort is necessary to let you know if "otherwise" is happening. That may be a public school or it may be a private school. In our family's experience with years in both public and private, privates have been much more diligent about letting parents know if something's wrong, and they've made extensive resources available (at no charge I might add) to deal with specific emotional, behavioral and academic problems. That's not to say that a public school cannot be equally good at this (though especially in HS, publics face far bigger challenges because they have far more students with a much wider range of behavioral, social and academic issues), only that it's important to be clear about expectations and resources on both sides, so the kid does not get lost in the shuffle.

    Sadly not everyone has the resources to make the best choice and the problem seems to be growing worse. Public schools are expected to do more with less, ever-increasing numbers of parents are stretched thinner by the day trying to make ends meet, and when you're struggling to make it on what you've got, you're not necessarily excited about voting for higher taxes to fund public schools nor do you necessarily have the energy to be super-involved in overseeing your child's education. It really is amazing that San Francisco's public schools manage as well as they do, but it will take so much more to close the gaps especially for less-resourced communities. Until our f---ed up societal priorities change and the tax pie we cut up gets bigger, it's beyond me to know how this will happen.

  122. This is Caroline's argument as far as I can tell:

    Even though one TRULY might need to choose something other than public school for one's child, one is harming public schools in the process.

    End of argument.

  123. I'm a parent who went 0/14 in the lottery and who's child got a spot at CACS. Our options were this or moving out of SF where we've lived for 20 years. We have high hopes for our child succeeding in a less traditionally "academic" environment and couldn't be more thrilled to be joining the CACS community where we've been welcomed warmly.
    Given our excitement, it really makes me sad to hear you say things like this:
    "I can't imagine what CACS parent meetings are like, though. Yow." OUCH. That's just mean and does so much to damage your credibility.
    I really wish you could see things from the perspective of one of your CACS "friends".
    Real life is not always so black and white, you know.

  124. Here's another one:

    If one WANTS to choose something other than public school for one's child, one is knowingly and willfully harming public schools in the process.

    End of argument.

  125. Well, Susie, that wasn't out of the blue; I was reacting to the stream of venom directed personally at me (swipes about how the principal left SOTA to get away from me, etc.). It's kind of rich to call ME mean for eventually reacting to a steady barrage of personal attacks (personal, not directed at my opinions).

  126. Also, it's starting to appear that CACS is orchestrating a flamefest against me -- surely this many people haven't organically come to this blog and clicked with such interest on a little post about me all on their own. Doesn't that apparent fact in and of itself say something?

  127. You seem pretty paranoid.

    I can't imagine any school would be that interested in YOU when they are busy with the whole business of teaching.

  128. paranoid and egomaniacal

    (I am not from CACS)

  129. Caroline,

    Keep up the good fight with the Anonymotons.

    There is some highly skewered logic on this website:

    SOTA is really a private school.

    And private schools benefit public schools by siphoning off the wealthiest students and their parents.

    Does anybody have the URL for the Flat Earth Society?

  130. I can't imagine that any school would be that interested in me either. But an innocuous blog post about my new project has so far sparked 131 comments that are largely personal flames. That would seem to demonstrate otherwise. The 131 comments aren't my paranoid, egomaniacal imagination.

    Either lots of isolated individuals were interested enough to click on the item all on their own and flame, or a couple of individuals were obsessed enough to pretend to be lots of individuals doing the flaming, or somebody orchestrated a mass flamefest. That somebody would be presumably from CACS, since they are so heavily represented among my fans here.

    This is about my political opinion on an education policy issue, folks. Is that really something that warrants a lot of personal hate mail? This is kind of like the "kill the Beast!" mob scene.

  131. Maybe it does hurt the community and public schools if an family chooses private for their child.

    I would argue that it also hurts the community and public schools when the community (whether local, state or federal) through the "democratic" process fails to adequately resource public schools or determines the worth of public schools solely through "No Child Left Behind" test mania, leaving parents and a limited number of concerned community members to fund perceived "extras."

    Public schools hurt themselves with mindless intransigent bureaucracy and clusterf---ed enrollment procedures.

    My family had always been zealous public school supporters until 6th grade when my teacher sent us out for "extra recess" multiple times a day while she sat in the classroom smoking cigarettes and rubbing Noxema into her face. She was tenured, nothing they could do about her. On to public 7th grade with burn-outs, incompetents and nasties, except the lovely Mrs. Swartwood who taught home economics. Into a Convent sister school for 8th grade, which as I've said in a previous post, was a transition from Burger King to Boulevard.

    I'd bet a substantial majority of private school families, other than those seeking a religious education, would happily save the $7K (parochial) to $32K (chi-chi prep)in post-tax dollars per child per year if they felt they were getting close to the same thing from their public school, which my Canadian friends tell me is the case in Canada.

    Unfortunately, they're not the same, not objectively and not subjectively. I've spent years in both public and private and so have our kids. While undoubtedly some publics are equal to or better than some privates, privates overall simply have more resources to deal with each child as an individual. They have smaller classes, fewer problems to deal with because of their ability to screen out and remove problem children, less red tape to move new initiatives, and greater flexibility in hiring and firing teachers. If you've got a normal-bright to brilliant child without major behavior issues, you're generally going to get more bang for your buck out of a good private. Whether it's a sufficiently bigger bang is a choice each family needs to make.

    If a private school parent votes against school taxes and and wants vouchers, then you can fault them for taking resources away from public schools. But otherwise, why single out blame for private parents, who pay taxes to support public schools and may support them other ways as well, when society as a whole does not value education enough to give public schools comparable resources? Really public schools need more resources because of the wildly divergent needs of their student populations.

  132. I appreciate your thoughtful posts, Marlowe's mom.

    Most of the discussion here is about charter schools, a public- education policy issue, so I'll shift gears back to private.

    My viewpoint is not to blame or attack private schools or parents, except that I have a few related issues that really get me going. (Parochial schools dumping special-ed kids is a biggie for me -- I'm an unbeliever, but I still view that as a true sin. St. Cecilia's dumped a girl with a FATAL condition on Lakeshore -- WWJD again...?)

    Anyway, it's just to be aware of the impact on public education and the greater community in making the choice of private, and consider that as part of the decision.

    Regarding charter schools, the advocates here (when not just slinging random personal insults) make the main point that the more choices, the better. And that IS a valid point. I can see that if there's a demand for a small high school in a district -- yet the district leadership insists on operating only huge high schools -- turning to the charter mechanism is a predictable and logical response.

    But the general reason that a district would refuse to create a new small school (or whatever kind of school is under discussion) would be that it's unaffordable, so adequate funding would remedy that situation. There are occasional other situations -- like the proposed Russian language/cultural charter that the SFUSD board voted down (the joke was that its name, Sputnik, was Russian for No Black People In Our School, so you can see the board's thinking there).

    But in general, adequate funding for public education would largely resolve these disputatious situations.

  133. (Just to make one mildly contentious point, though -- it's not just that private schools have more resources to deal with problem kids -- they also get rid of them as needed, while publics can't do that in the same way! If I had a private conversation with you I could be regaling you about your own family's school ...)

  134. "Sputnik is Russian for No Black People In Our School"...huh?!?
    Please explain what you mean.

    Anonymous Poster #13

  135. I mean that a school focused on just one culture -- this one appeared to be designed specifically by and for Russians -- was likely to be segregated.

  136. Caroline,

    Are you aware of this Islamic charter school in Minneapolis, Minnesota? Paid for by the taxpayers.

    I was shocked to discover that some school boards in the United States actually approve funding for religious schools paid for with taxpayers' money.

    But this is the slippery slope we are treading on by continuing to approve tax-funded charter schools.

  137. "Boys in uniform khaki pants and girls in headscarves and modest dresses line up neatly to go to Arabic class. The mostly Somali class carefully circumnavigates the carpeted prayer area in the middle of the school as they follow a scarved teacher. Tarek girls aren't required to wear hijab, or headscarves, but almost all do—they say they want to imitate their mothers or teachers. About half of the teaching staff is Muslim and wear hijab; the others are mostly Christian and dress modestly but with uncovered heads. During Ramadan, all the children follow the traditional dawn-to-dark fast, so there's not so much temptation for each child, [parent Eman] Ibrahim said."

    So what is this country coming to? The rich kids get siphoned off into cloistered private schools, and religious kids get their own taxpayer-funded schools.

    Whatever happened to the traditional New England concept of all children attending the same schools for the common good?

  138. There was a charter school a couple of years ago shut down in Silicon Valley -- a religious school teaching Islam to Muslims (not just teaching ABOUT it). It was also charging tuition, which needless to say is illegal for a charter.

    The issue isn't really that authorizers are knowingly approving schools doing such things, but that they're oblivious about what they're approving, and then there's very little oversight. (Increased oversight costs money, of course -- which would come out of our kids' classroom needs eventually, directly or not.) That Silicon Valley school did get shut down, though I can't remember if that was due to official oversight or a press tip/whistleblower.

    I read a book called "Hard Lessons" about the founding of a charter school in Oakland, E.C. Reems. That school was openly holding (Christian) prayer sessions, rejecting special-ed students, cheating on standardized tests and more. Interestingly, the book was framed as pro-charter, too -- you wonder what it would have taken for the author to have doubts. (Well, the book's author* actually wound up as a paid PR person for charters -- first KIPP and now some umbrella group -- so maybe that has something to do with his upbeat outlook.)

    *The author is Jonathan Schorr, son of Daniel, an Oakland Tribune reporter at the time he wrote the book.

  139. To the ninny who wrote this:

    "There were all these weird, proprietary little gestures the people did at their group gathering that I suppose were supposed to build community"

    those "gestures" you may be referring to during our assembly are actually sign language applause, because clapping is too loud and we have kids in our school with sensory issues, and loud noises bother them.

    Why do I continue to be amazed at how ignorant people are?

  140. "CACS is orchestrating a flamefest against me "


    You use every chance you get to ridicule and trash our school.

    Why don't you just leave us alone?

    Our small school is not a bastion of George Bush supporters, and as much as you relish in these baffling grand conspiracy theories about everyone being out to get you (get some help man, really) our school is really no threat to public education. Our school is a public school too.

  141. I haven't said anything at all critical of CACS itself. My issue is charter schools overall -- it's a political position on an education policy issue.

    Meanwhile, there's a long string of nasty, personal jabs and snipes at me on this thread, irrelevant to the actual issue, complete with sneering posts of agreement from others -- apparently from CACS parents. Orchestrated, or did you all happen to find your way here individually?

  142. A few years ago, my child was accepted at both CACS and a regular SFUSD elementary school (a heavily Asian one that has art, music, PE, field trips, etc due to a core group of committed parents). I just was not impressed with CACS. For example, whereas my child's kindergarten classroom was very print-intensive and reading was emphasized, albeit in a low-key, fun way, the kindergarten room at CACS seemed more like a preschool. My child's best friend attends CACS, and although s/he seems to enjoy the art and acting, the child's academic skills seem far behind what is taught at my child's school. The friend's parents (both highly educated and members of MENSA) are beginning to be concerned after learning that their child performed at the lower level of "proficient" on last year's STAR tests. Perhaps this is because CACS does not emphasize rote learning, which is a good thing. However, you may find it necessary to supplement your child's academic education if s/he attends CACS.

  143. "I haven't said anything at all critical of CACS itself. My issue is charter schools overall -- it's a political position on an education policy issue."

    I think that's the problem, Caroline. The fact is that you have a tendency to lump all the charter schools together as if they were all the same. When you make blanket statements about anything, whether it is charters, private schools or race, you are bound to offend a large group of people.
    Perhaps you feel you are well intentioned but
    your comments come off as hurtful and preachy.
    I think people are sniping at you because they feel they themselves, their choices or their school are put on the defensive--forced to defend themselves against you and your very vocal platform. You obviously have much support and sometimes I find your opinion to be interesting. I just find your broad generalizations to be personally distasteful and many times incorrect.

  144. I understand what you're saying, 11:08. It's hard to know how to find an effective way to make points that are inherently going to anger some people.

    However, that said, it is apparent (note the 145 comments) that some part of the CACS community orchestrated a campaign of mostly anonymous personal flames against me -- in response to my political opinion on an education policy issue. Those were personal attacks, not challenges to or refutations of my positions. If that's viewed as a credible or effective way to respond -- well, I would worry about what was being modeled for my kids.

  145. All right, Caroline. I just scrolled through the posts and saw roughly THREE posts where the poster identified as a CACS parent. I don't see an orchestrated CACS flamefest against you. I truly think you are delusional. And that's not a flame; that's my opinion.

  146. Ridiculous hyperbole.

    A few parents from CACS respond angrily (and they are justified in being angry at you) and you turn that into "an orchestrated campaign against you"

    Ridiculous paranoia.

    They have made many challenges to the misinformation you spew, but again, you turn that into some sort of attack against you.

    A person responds to your wrong assertion that charters do not offer any educational choices that are in any way better than ones in other sfusd schools,

    they say, 'well, smaller class sizes are better for my kid" and instead of accepting that as one of the possible reasons that COULD make it a preferable educational choice for their family, you pounce on them saying that it is unethical that some schools have smaller class sizes when your children's don't.

    So even when parents bother trying to respond to your relentless inane jabs, that, in your mind, becomes "a personal attack".

    Then you insert snippy insults like: "well, I would worry about what was being modeled for my kids at that place", and then you blink your eyes innocently and ask why people are pissed at you. Unbelievable.

  147. Since you went to the trouble, try counting the total flames on this thread of currently 147 comments, 11:37 -- how did all those folks get to this blog and decide to click on a random little run-of-the-mill item about me then -- all on their own? There's such a wide circle of people interested in reading about me? I doubt that, personally.

    The issue of modeling this behavior for kids is starting to look really alarming.

  148. Delusional is an apt description.

  149. "A few parents from CACS respond angrily (and they are justified in being angry at you) and you turn that into "an orchestrated campaign against you" "

    They responded with personal insults, attacks and namecalling -- there have been few if any challenges to my action information. That's my point.

    "Ridiculous paranoia."

    You can see the 149 (currently) comments. I didn't imagine them.

    "They have made many challenges to the misinformation you spew,"

    Where are the challenges to my information?

    "you turn that into some sort of attack against you."

    "The SOTA principal left because of me" (with others chiming in to agree) -- I'm "delusional," "paranoid," "egomaniacal," "need help" -- those aren't attacks against me?

    "they say, 'well, smaller class sizes are better for my kid" and instead of accepting that as one of the possible reasons that COULD make it a preferable educational choice for their family, you pounce on them saying that it is unethical that some schools have smaller class sizes when your children's don't."

    It's not about MY children's schools; it's about all schools. When you claim CACS is better because it has smaller class sizes, what you're saying is that it's better because it has more resource to provide smaller class sizes. Other schools have fewer resources and can't provide the smaller class sizes. How is it fair to blast them and hold CACS up as superior because it has more?

    "Then you insert snippy insults like: "well, I would worry about what was being modeled for my kids at that place", and then you blink your eyes innocently and ask why people are pissed at you. Unbelievable."

    I well understand why people are pissed at me. I get that I'm making them uncomfortable. I am saying that personal attacks -- and an apparent orchestrated campaign of them -- are an inappropriate and damaging way to respond, and a truly awful thing to model for your children. The more attacks you make the more that becomes clear. You only poison yourselves and your own community and in the long run discredit your own case with this behavior.

  150. Sorry, typo -- I mean: "...there have been few if any challenges to my actual information."

  151. About 40 of the comments are from you, egging them on and antagonizing them. And now you are playing the victim. Classic.

  152. of course, 25% of those comments are from you

  153. LOL, ditto. Not to mention all the "anonymous" posts Caroline has also made to this thread, pretending to be a fan of hers.

  154. I have not made anonymous posts to this thread or any others.

    That's a little strange coming from posters who do public namecalling under cover of anonymity.

  155. I'm "delusional," "paranoid," "egomaniacal," "need help" -- those aren't attacks against me?

    Whether those could be considered attacks against you or just opinions formed in response to your posts, the fact remains that A LOT of people read and post on this blog regularly. New people did not show up especially to see you. Of course, being the subject of an entire thread is inviting comments on the subject. Indeed, this must be the most on-topic thread of the whole blog.

  156. I would suggest that if you disagree with Caroline, either skip her blog entries or offer counterarguments in a constructive manner. We're mostly parents here doing what we feel is best for our kids. There's no need to attack other parents. Have a good week-end all.

  157. There's no need for her to attack other parent's school choices.

    She says that the other schools offer nothing better, and then when parents point out what is better for their kids about other schools, she calls that "bashing public schools".

    Parents should be allowed to say what they like about their kids' schools without constantly having her jump all over them about how we are "harming other kids" because we have that or because we want that for our kids.

    She wrote: "there have been few if any challenges to my actual information."

    What "actual' information is she talking about? Saying those schools have tons of money supplied by a republican conspiracy against public schools is not "information", it is story-telling. Yet in her mind, her flimsy opinions become "actual information".

  158. This I have to respond to:

    "Saying those schools have tons of money supplied by a republican conspiracy against public schools is not "information", it is story-telling."

    It is very true. I know you don't want to hear it, but that doesn't make it untrue.

  159. Prove it. Show us how much actual money CACS and Gateway get every year from right-wing George Bush supporters. Actual money in the bank.

    You won't be able to because it is all lies.

  160. And even if they do get money right-wing George Bush supporters, does that prove it's a conspiracy against public schools?

  161. "And even if they do get money right-wing George Bush supporters, does that prove it's a conspiracy against public schools?"

    No, actually. Good point. Bill Gates gave lots of money to many SFUSD Public Schools, does that mean those public schools are now hotbeds of right-wing zombie zealots, preparing to destroy public education as we know it? FIFTH COLUMNISTS! SPIES EVERYWHERE! A VAST CONSPIRACY AND ALL ARE OUT TO GET CAROLINE! GASP!

    Or perhaps is it only bad for CHARTER SCHOOLS to accept "Gates/Broad/Wal-mart" money.

  162. Well it would be great if Walmart/Gates/Broad were offering money to regular public schools, which have full accountability to the school board and the public. But for the most part, they aren't.

    I think Gates may have given money to some public "small schools by design" though. He has withdrawn a lot of that money because they weren't quite the miracle solution he was hoping for. Not that small schools aren't great for a lot of kids -- they would be great for one of mine in fact -- but they aren't a cure-all for every problem in education. Some kids do better in a more comprehensive high school (although I really have my doubts about some of the 5,000 student mega-schools in some urban areas.)

    I hope that as Bill Gates begins to truly understand the challenges in education he will use his money more wisely. I have hope, looking at the good work his foundation has done with vaccination programs in third world countries.

  163. Again...I'd like to see some specific evidence that the 2 SF charters mentioned in anon 5:39's post are receiving $$$ from right-wing groups. I've been doing extensive internet research and so far I am not finding a link for these 2 schools.
    Other charters across the country perhaps, but not these 2.