Friday, July 25, 2008

PPS-SF reports enrollment mistake

PPS-SF has recently learned about an error made by the school district in enrollment of English and Spanish speakers in the Immersion programs at Alvarado and Flynn. This is information we have as of this writing:

* The desired balance of English to native Spanish speakers in Spanish Immersion programs is 50%/50%, but due to an error in coding siblings in the system, a disproportionate number of English speakers were assigned to each school.
* 23 families will receive phone calls and letters offering to enroll them into a new Spanish Immersion program at Daniel Webster Elementary.
* Families who don’t choose this option are being given the option of priority in the waitpool for any other school.
* Spanish-speaking families who listed the immersion programs at Flynn and Alvarado as their first choice but who didn’t get assigned there are being contacted to offer them spaces in the immersion program at Flynn, Alvarado and Webster.
* Additionally, Spanish-speaking families from Marshall and Paul Revere may also be contacted to offer them spots at Flynn, Alvarado and Webster, opening up spots up for the displaced English-speaking families.
* The district is having an informational meeting on Tuesday, July 29 at 6pm at Daniel Webster to give more detailed information and to clarify any concerns or questions.



PPS-SF is hosting a forum:

Monday, July 28 at 6pm

The Women’s Building, 3543 18th Street between Guerrero and Valencia.

We recommend public transportation as parking is limited.

Please RSVP for KidsWatch and Spanish translation to 861-7077 or info@ppssf.org.

The purpose of this meeting is to have a forum for parents to share their viewpoints around this issue. As there are many perspectives within the parent community, all viewpoints will be respected. PPS-SF is compiling and summarizing notes from the forum and all other comments, phone calls, and emails to share with the district. Please note that SFUSD representatives will not be present on Monday to clarify or answer questions.

Please help us reach people who are interested in this issue to invite them to this meeting.



Please address any concerns or questions offline to info@ppssf.org.

748 comments:

  1. I am not personally affected by this, BUT IT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!! School starts in one month! Why is the district only now discovering its error? Also, didn't a few lucky english speakers get into these schools off the first waitlist run? That was months ago. Any chance Flynn or Alvarado could open up an additional class to correct the problem?

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  2. What a disaster. The good news (I guess) is that Daniel Webster is up and coming due to incredible parent involvement of Potrero Hill parents. In a few years, this school will be highly sought after...just watch.

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  3. Wow, that is pretty awful. I hope things work out for you.

    I do feel bad for EPCC... this system is ridiculously complicated, and for so little gain. What a mess.

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  4. flynn and alvarado should have a class added. or at lesat one of them should. this is unfair to the people who have been waiting on other waitlists. they will get bumped for these families who are not going to take the webster offer.

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  5. another thing EPC doesn't tell you is that many of these programs are over-enrolled. fairmount, marshall and monroe are all over-enrolled. so these parents are going to be without immersion. it is so unfair. it is unfair that any of us waiting immersion or FLES are left out.

    (sorry. we are without school and without back-up and i am frustrated.)

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  6. How many ways can working families get screwed by the City?

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  7. Daniel Webster is, according to the SARC, .94% caucasian.

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  8. Daniel Webster is, according to the SARC, .94% caucasian.

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  9. This is completely lame.

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  10. Oh God. My heart goes out to these parents. (Coulda been me; Flynn and Alvarado were both on my list.)

    Very best wishes to you all. I hope Daniel Webster takes off and becomes a brilliant school.

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  11. Is this forum on Monday only for affected families?

    Our kid has a full year to go before kindergarten, but we have our heart set on Spanish immersion.

    However, we are a Spanish-speaking family and heard *such* horror stories from Spanish-speaking families shut out this year.

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  12. OK, this is horrific and a mess, but also look upon it as an opportunity ... for parents displaced by this, who do not want to go to Webster, they are offering to MOVE YOU TO THE TOP of waitlists for all other schools ... (it sounds like)

    so those of you with Rooftop, Clarendon, Lilienthal or West Portal aspirations, this could maybe make that happen!

    No immersion, but a much sought after school possibility ...

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  13. Very typical of SFUSD.

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  14. Webster is going to have to start their program in immersion with only 3 weeks or so to do it. This is a very bad way to start an immersion program despite what planning they have done the past year or two. Had they been notified they would get the program early in March - like what happened at Flynn - there is a chance they could get training, etc. This is a very, very bad way to start an immersion program.

    They could easily put in an extra class at Flynn and Alvarado.

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  15. 7:24, while I appreciate your look on the bright side attitude, I think moving these families to the top is totally and completely unfair to those already in the waitpool.

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  16. Hey - how come only English speaking kids were kicked out and Spanish speaking kids at Marshall got to stay and are only going to be asked if they want to switch? That doesn't seem right if they have the same problem but have too many Spanish speaking kids they should have been treated the same as the too many English speaking kids at Alvarado and at Flynn.

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  17. anyone know if neighborhood zones play a role in waitpools? i was told by EPC last week that "neighborhood zones have no influence on immersion placement."

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  18. Somehow I think Darlene Lim will not last long as head of the EPC. What a f--king mess!

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  19. This cannot be legal!

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  20. Darlene is well meaning and it would be a shame if she is the 'fall gal' for this but on the other hand you can definately see a change since Orla O'Keeffe left. And it hasn't been for the better.

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  21. well-meaning is irrelevant. This is govt. bureaucratic nightmare defined.

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  22. Neither is it fair that SFUSD abandoned their previous 33/33/33 formula (Spanish dominant, bilingual, English dominant) which is a recognized "best practice" in favor of 50/50, effectively reducing the number of slots for Spanish speaking kids.

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  23. As far as I know, no ENglish speakers seeking immersion at Marshall were turned down in round 1.

    But Spanish speakers *were* turned down at Flynn and Alvarado.

    BTW: We know lots of families who lied about their home language in an attempt to game the system. They should go back to testing.

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  24. SFUSD never did the 33 formula because they have never had a way to identify kids who are bilingual

    they should test and have some way to say if you are bilingual or not

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  25. I don't know about Flynn, but I cannot imagine where they would put an extra class at Alvarado, unless they bumped up class size (currently 20 K-3 and 24 in 4-5) and combined classes to free up classroom space. Or built another bungalow, though I'm not sure where it would go.

    --Alvarado parent

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  26. How does Alvarado manage to keep the class sizes so small in 4th and 5th grades?

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  27. The site council at Alvarado uses some of their money to "buy" a couple of extra teachers. For those new to how money is allocated: Site councils at each school get their district money to spend on what they see fit, rather than the district telling them how to spend it. Site councils are comprised of parents elected by parents, teachers elected by teachers, and the principal. Parent site council elections are held at Alvarado on Back to School Night.

    How it works logistically at Alvarado is that for both SI and GE strands, there is a class that is a combined 4/5 as well as one that is only 4 and only that is only 5....for a total of three classes across a grade (instead of four in the lower levels). The 4/5 class is great in many ways, although the teachers are great all around. The two special day classes are also comprised of combined grades, K-2 and 3-5.

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  28. The Flynn community have known about the imbalance between Spanish and English speakers in the incoming immersion program for several weeks - at least those of us on our listserv heard of it. Some people from the school and the district have been looking at solutions. This more draconian solution was not known about by the majority of Flynn parents or faculty, or the involved families until yesterday.

    As I understand it, this problem existed at Marshall and another school too (with more Spanish speakers than English) but each school had the choice of whether to go as is or contest it. Marshall chose to leave it this year and for the district to fix its way of filling immersion going forward. Flynn and Alvarado wanted to maintain the integrity of the language split, but we in the Flynn community are finding this drastic solution untenable, especially as we think there are other solutions that would not throw people out a month before school.

    generally this all sucks the big one.

    And yes, anyone can come to the meetings. As for the Spanish speaker who asked the question, please let any Spanish speaking families you know, who wanted immersion to attend. I hear there will be translators and childcare.

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  29. "I hear there will be translators and childcare."

    Please RSVP for KidsWatch and Spanish translation to 861-7077 or info@ppssf.org.

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  30. SFUSD *used* to test students to determine their Spanish-language proficiency and degree of bilingualism.

    Frankly, I wouldn't want my English-dominant kid in a Spanish-immersion program with less than 50 percent Spanish speakers. They wouldn't get nearly as much out of the program.

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  31. Is Kim Green impacted? Kim, where are you? Wow, this really bites!

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  32. "Frankly, I wouldn't want my English-dominant kid in a Spanish-immersion program with less than 50 percent Spanish speakers. They wouldn't get nearly as much out of the program."

    Agreed, plus it sounds like the predominantly Spanish-speaking families were majorly screwed over if they put Alvarado or Flynn at the top of their lists (and I know how hard people worked to encourage Spanish-speaking families to consider these as options). Marshall and PR ended up unbalanced as well, but as I understand it, most English-speaking families who actually put them down as a top pick did get them. They just didn't have so many English language apps.

    What a mess....the whole POINT of the immersion programs is to mix people up more, and you try to do that, and the system segregates you anyway.

    Hopefully out of this will come a new rising star, Daniel Webster.

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  33. Astoundingly, parents of the kids who were kicked out of the immersion programs are not grateful for being saved from having to learn Spanish while surrounded by < 50% native speakers.


    By the way, according to the sfusd website, Alice Fong Yu has < 20% native Cantonese speakers, nevertheless certain parents seem willing to send their English speaking kids there.

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  34. A few comments on this fiasco: When we first toured Marshall we were told that they never achieve the right mix (Eng/span 50/50) and have complained about it to SFUSD for years. (However, remember they have very few English speaking applicants - perhaps due to location, lack of aftercare?). Interesting that this issue gets big & ugly when it affects the English-speaking families of Flynn and Alvarado (largely middle-class), and was ignored when it affected only the SPanish spkng families of Marshall (mostly poor). also of interest - I was told by an EPC official that EPC does not even try to achieve the right mix in Rd II. That is, in Rd II, they do not select kids who will balance the mix, they just "fills the slots". This seems idiotic to me - surely there were English speaking families trying for Marshall in Rd II? It seems the SFUSD really does not make much of an effort at all to properly balance these classes.
    My understanding is that they ARE asking/offering slots at Flynn/Alv to SPan sprks from Marshall, who may very well want to take those slots. And BTW (Anon at 8:57), I heard of a couple Eng spkrs who did list Marshall in their first 7 and did not get it. Seems mistakes were made everywhere.

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  35. If they made a mistake, ooopsy for them, please don't call the families who have already registered for the programs in March and have been preparing their children for months for the transition to bounce them to a school/program they know nothing about and have no real ability to evaluate before school starts. The SFUSD needs to live with their mistake. It's unfortunate, if it doesn't fit the perfect classroom make-up they wanted maybe it's not ideal, but if the teachers are competent they'll provide the environment necessary for their students to learn. My daughter is registered at Alvarado in the immersion program. If I receive the call my head will explode. It's absurd to me they can't simply deal with the mistake they made. The process itself was so incredibly unreasonable, really beyond the pale. We all went through hell going on school tours, compromised our job security, who ever heard of touring 10 to 20 or more schools for kindergarten, to have them pull the rug out from under you one month before school starts, words are really failing me, I cannot sufficiently express my outrage, and I am really not an angry person. Kate, thanks for the opportunity for a little free vent therapy. I am livid and this doesn't even affect me, yet.

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  36. lester, taking *nothing* away from what a fiasco this is, I believe AFY has a different model (full immersion) than the SI programs or the Mandarin ones (dual immersion). Just to clarify.

    But wow, what a mess. There is no way to resolve this fairly--to the Spanish-speaking families that were denied spots they should have had, to the classrooms/teachers that should have the right mix if possible, and of course to the families that have been counting on this option since they got that letter back in March or April.

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  37. The EPC absolutely needs to live with their mistake. There are solutions such as adding a class and teacher, and yes, they'll have to do so every year for that group of children as they go up in grade. Families need to stand up for their rights on this one and not take this lying down. It's completely unreasonable to put families and children through this kind of stress.

    When private schools in our city over-enroll, they have to live with their mistakes; Presidio Hill, Live Oak, Hamlin, all of these schools have had glitches in the past few years, and they each bit the bullet and did what they had to do to honor the families who enrolled, adding entire classrooms and new teachers where necessary. SFUSD has no right to shift families around at this point... they will bring a rainstorm of criticism, mistrust, and unhappiness upon themselves. Enough is enough.

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  38. EPC just NOW noticed this?

    What an incompetent administration!
    I don't think I want to send my kid to public school anymore. If this is an example of how they run things, I don't want my kids in their hands.

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  39. I feel the same way. I never really trusted the school system/administration, but I did the research and felt I'd come up with acceptable options for my son who's entering K in 2009. I felt my first pick we were even very likely to get in Round 1 as it was, as of this year, under-subscribed. But now--this could be the final straw.

    Moreover, do we even know yet what the process will be for 2009? I know it's under review. Does anyone have any information on this? How likely do you think it is that the process will change? The time is fast approaching when the 2009 families will have to start touring and making decisions. The private school process starts in September/October. I'd like to have some certainty in what the public schools are going to put us through.

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  40. "Living" with the mistake means the English-speaking parents who wanted their kids to achieve the same success rates of earlier cohorts in Spanish-immersion programs will not see the same results with their kids.

    RE: Alice Fong Yu and Mandarin programs... They would *love* to achieve 50/50, but can't, despite all their efforts.

    Also: The gap between native-speaking kids in China and those at Alice Fong Yu or the SF Mandarin immersion programs is *much* wider (in terms of language/literacy) than the gap between, say, kids in Mexico or Central America and the kids in SFUSD immmersion programs. There is a gap, but much narrower.

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  41. Well, I agree that EPC should live with their mistake, but can they afford to fix their mistake? What does something like adding a bungalow or class to an already over-enrolled school cost?

    And yes, the EPC has once again shown itself to be wildly incompetent, but I think that any organization would have a hard time handling such a ridiculously over-complicated system with the resources the EPC has.

    Until the system is simplified, we will continue to have these problems, and parents that can will continue to opt for private over public. It's a shame.

    Hopefully this all works out for all families involved, but I doubt anyone will come away truly happy.

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  42. "Interesting that this issue gets big & ugly when it affects the English-speaking families of Flynn and Alvarado (largely middle-class), and was ignored when it affected only the SPanish spkng families of Marshall (mostly poor)."

    Congratulations! You have earned 500 San Francisco liberal points for being the first to point this out!

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  43. Well, DUH, that is because the mostly poor Spanish speaking families do not spend hours upon hours online complaining about things. They do not hang out in cyber cafes, they WORK.

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  44. One problem SFUSD has is that there is no one person or department that is looking out for or managing any or all of the language immersion programs. As such, the Marshall/Spanish speaking kids issue comes up year after year and this year, we have this problem. These programs are popular, but are put together with little or no oversight (and, just to point out, they just added a new program with Webster - but who is in charge of making that program happen in a quality way?) SFUSD's Multilingual Department looks out for the ELL kids, but their job is ELL across the district in ALL schools and is not about managing anything for the English speakers. No one, I repeat, NO ONE is managing/overseeing language immersion programs in SFUSD. It's a willy nilly program (that deserves more.)

    To add to the problem, there is no long term planning regarding these kids moving from elementary through middle and high school. The district needs a person/department to oversee the needs of ALL kids in these programs.

    Finally, no one is looking out for kids who are not in language immersion programs but who would like to take a language.

    The BOE Blue Ribbon TAsk Force, despite the claim it is supposed to be helping manage this but is turning out to be yet another toothless task force that takes everyones time but results in no concrete outcomes. Principals of LI programs don't work together - in fact, there is no 'grouping' of principals or sharing of best practices in these schools. the Associate Superintendents that supervise the principals are not organized along these lines. There is no structure at SFUSD to support these programs that are so wildly popular.

    SFUSD, if they indeed see these programs as an important part of the district, need to manage it better

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  45. This is insane. It only confirms my decision to go private. Thanks, SFUSD, for making the decision an easy one.

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  46. It saddens me that, after many months of enduring the lottery process, yet another source of stress has been thrown at dozens of families and several school communities.

    Regarding the concern that anonymous at 8:55 am raises (students not having the same experience they would have had had there been more Spanish speaking students in the classroom)-- yes, this is one aspect of the dilemma which needs to be raised with SFUSD. Here is another: requesting and/or being assigned to a school like Flynn means that you're part of a strong community of families who are working together to build something for their children and the children of other families. Although I have no first-hand information about Marshall or Daniel Webster or Alvarado, I do know that at Flynn the parents are highly involved, they make change happen, and they're working with a principal who facilitates this. And so what is happening here is that the system is yanking not only a school program out from underneath these families, but an entire community, and in this day and age that cannot be replaced. The benefit of attending a parent-participation school is a not something that can be measured with numbers or published with a percentage.

    I am a parent who is very involved in our parent-participation school community (my child attends a private school); parent volunteers support the teachers and staff, and in general make wonderful things happen through a lot of hard work and dedication. Aside from the quality of the school being hugely impacted by this strong net of volunteerism, it is a wonderful thing for children to see parents (their own and/or others) dedicating themselves to the school... I believe it raises the value of school in the eyes of the child.

    Again, I know nothing about the Daniel Webster school or community, so please don't take this as any kind of comment about Daniel Webster.

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  47. Kate needs to re-open that poll: "Do you know where you're sending your child to kindergarten in the fall?"

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  48. I also think that the district needs to find another solution for these families other than putting them in as a priority cohort (behind those of us who got no Round I choice).

    How can those of us who are only impacted by this situation as it affects our (already slim) chance to get an acceptable school (after being denied our top 15 choices) make our voices heard also in this debate?

    I am still shocked that there is not more uproar over the fact that only 55% of those applying to kindergarten for their oldest child got ANY of their up to 7 Round I choices...

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  49. PPS reps--

    Can you also look at the contents of this topic on this blog and report our opinions to the district?

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  50. After all these months psyching myself up to be happy about the public schools, I now return to my previously cynical scared position.

    I'm one of those awful parents who've been holding two spots, one a private and one, a spot at Alvarado.

    Y'all can have Alvarado. I'm done. To heck with them. We'll be going private, after this move on the SFUSD's part. I'm not even risking that my son will have to put up with this crap. We're done. This school systems sucks, and this move just lost a parent.

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  51. I hope some of these comments are being sent to someone besides incoming and current parents. Is the administration reading this blog?
    And just a little side note - this was all started by a few teachers and parents at Flynn. The political activism there, while well intentioned, doesn't always yield results that are positive for all involved.

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  52. Every parent SFUSD alienates and loses costs the district about 9K a year in funding. Multiply that over the school grades and it is about 120K. Multiply that by the pissed off parents who have posted here about saying GOODBYE to SFUSD over this and it is over a million customer dollars, GONE.
    Is the administration too stupid to realize that? Administrators are supposed to at least have business sense, aren't they?

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  53. "And just a little side note - this was all started by a few teachers and parents at Flynn."

    Is this true? It seems unbelievable.

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  54. To the parent intent on giving up her child's spot at Alvarado (or anywhere else): I believe there is a deadline in August (the 8th? The 15th) where, if a spot is released before then, an incoming family can get notified off of the waitpool list BEFORE school starts. Otherwise, they will have to pull their child out of another school.

    By the way, isn't it awful that we are put in the position of hoping that families opt to go private or move out of SF just so some spots open up at acceptable schools? What a messed up assignment system this is!!!

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  55. I'd just like to point out that our choice to attend private school in San Francisco had nothing to do with public vs. private. Rather, it had to do with SFUSD specific vs. not SFUSD.

    If we lived in a city with a decent district who respected families with regard to commute, curriculum preference, and just an overall input to the placement of their children, we might have considered it.

    This last stunt just makes it so clear how poorly the children and their parents are treated. No thank you.

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  56. Comments here will be compiled with the rest of the feedback PPS is receiving and given to the district.

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  57. i have to say i agree with poster 2:43pm. we were committed to going public, for big-picture social reasons and personal economic ones. but now i find myself rethinking everything, and wondering how much financial aid we could get from private schools ...

    the system is so unfamily friendly, it's ridiculous.

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  58. My two cents for PPS to share: The district simply can't do this. It's completely unacceptable; a huge breach of parents' trust. They either need to accept that these classes won't have the optimal mix or open new classes, period.

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  59. To the parent that is seriously considering giving up the Alvarado spot, I hate to ask but would be the GE or Spanish program? Any bit of information at this point is helpful, especially with this new fiasco that is unfolding.

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  60. Caroline,
    While I completely agree that they cannot do this (and the probably won't in the end given the outcry, the fact that they are even considering this option is a disgrace.

    I know that you are a big advocate for public schools, but this move by SFUSD is exactly why families are going elsewhere. Yes, yes, we can all band together to make a difference by choosing public school, but pointing out the obvious to careless administrators is overwhelmingly frustrating.

    In another post you called private school parents out for their social impact. I'm sorry but until SFUSD takes a long hard look at their obvious incompetence, I will not be their pawn. It is their system, not the parents who are creating the negative social impact.

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  61. I think the Caroline who commented on the Alvarado/Flynn situation is an incoming Alvarado parent, not the Caroline who often posts on this blog.

    The other Caroline's kids are older than K age.

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  62. I was referring to 2:57 Caroline.

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  63. I was on vacation when I received the call. As a teacher in the district it was top priority to have an early start school. Spent money introducing my child to Spanish this summer and now what. Not to mention even if we get into a school I am sure the after-school programs will be full. I signed my daughter up at Alvarado the 1st possible day and was still on a waitlist for after-school! Now families have to figure out not just a good school to go too but also how they can work and pick up their child and many other issues. If I could I would resign and get the heck out of SF!! I am done!

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  64. 4:23, I am also a teacher in the district. We went private, as I saw first hand how SFUSD was terribly managed. Sad, but true.

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  65. I thought Karling Aguilera-Fort, the super-star former principal of Fairmount and head of the California Association for Bilingual Education was taking on a new position within SFUSD to improve the language immersion programs.

    Can someone verify this rumour?

    BTW: To the person who made the comparison to private schools overenrolling: IF the results of overenrolling in a private school meant that kids would not achieve the academic success parents expected, they might have to switch their response. Having mostly English-speakers has a huge NEGATIVE impact on Spanish-immersion programs. These kids are doomed to fail compared to those who have 10+ classmates who already speak Spanish.

    Also: SFUSD *is* adding classes... they just didn't have room within the Alvarado building (or bungalows) or Flynn, so they found another school site.

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  66. Also: SFUSD *is* adding classes... they just didn't have room within the Alvarado building (or bungalows) or Flynn, so they found another school site.


    Okay, but that's just geography. "They" found another school is not a solution. As the teacher pointed out, it completely disrupts a family. Start times, commute, childcare, and parental comfort level need to play the bigger role. The dismissive and curt response being offered by SFUSD is unacceptable.

    Basically, they are aking parents and students to fix their mistake.

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  67. Daniel Webster, like Alvarado, has a 7:50 start time. I am pretty sure they also have childcare on-site. The 23 bumped families, and others who went 0/15, might just want to check it out.

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  68. I wish SFUSD would get rid of immersion all together and focus on general education. If they did, perhaps the schools would be in better shape.

    Maybe one or two Manderin immersion schools as China will be the future super power.

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  69. "cannot do this (and the probably won't in the end given the outcry, "

    you're DREAMING if you think they will change their mind about this, they do whatever they damned well want to and don't give a hoot how it affects families.

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  70. That is how you can judge a school district, by how many teachers and principals do not send their children to that district's schools. I know so many SFUSD teachers who do not send their kids to SFUSD schools.

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  71. "I thought Karling Aguilera-Fort, the super-star former principal of Fairmount and head of the California Association for Bilingual Education was taking on a new position within SFUSD to improve the language immersion programs."

    This is probably her first "official" act. "Balancing out" the immersion programs' population.

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  72. Karling is a he.

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  73. Private schools impact public schools negatively is the argument some make against private schools.

    Just like the US post office is directly impacted negatively by UPS?

    Govt. Bureaucracy without competition leads to complacency and arrogance.

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  74. That is how you can judge a school district, by how many teachers and principals do not send their children to that district's schools. I know so many SFUSD teachers who do not send their kids to SFUSD schools.

    This statement says it all. Have you all realized yet that it is the population attending the school that determines how happy or successful you assume your child will be? I have not heard one mention of teacher quality on this thread, just comments about how some don't want their little ones to be polluted by the horrible "others" who populate this fine city, state and country.

    Maybe the problem is NOT education per se, but poverty, commercialism, corporate greed and the mentality that accompanies it, and all the other stuff one can blame, but has very little power to change. Passing laws dictating how schools will run is all anyone has as long as we neglect the bigger picture like we have been doing for years and years.

    Wouldn't it be nice to have a neighborhood school you felt good about (meaning the kids who went there were like you)? Well, let's make this a better place, and we can get there. Equality for all!

    Voting for Obama seems like a good start!

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  75. It wasn't middle class families who clammored for this change. It was advocates speaking for Spanish speaking families who listed immersion before General at Flynn, and got General. The teachers, after noticing the inequality in the lists in June, brought it to the district. But ultimately people were suppose to be ASKED if they would move voluntarily, and that's where it got messed up. General missed communication all around.

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  76. Everyone is so worried about the upper middle class English speaking families, but what about the Spanish speaking families who tried to get into Spanish-immersion programs -- where their kids would have been a wonderful asset to their English dominant peers -- and could not get in.

    Or what about the few Spanish speaking kids who *did* get in, who would have been held back unnecessarily because all but a few of the kids were completely new to Spanish?

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  77. Getting rid of immersion programs would have been a huge mistake.

    THere are scores of studies showing the cognitive advantages of bilingual kids over monolingual kids: They are better at abstract thinking, more creative problem solvers and, in the long run actually outscore their monolingual peers in English language arts.

    YOu'd have to be pretty ignorant about the subject to advocate for the elimination of language immersion programs.

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  78. BTW, anyone know why the latino kids at Marshall have such high test scores in Math compared to latino kids in other language immersion schools in SF?

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  79. This statement says it all. Have you all realized yet that it is the population attending the school that determines how happy or successful you assume your child will be? I have not heard one mention of teacher quality on this thread, just comments about how some don't want their little ones to be polluted by the horrible "others" who populate this fine city, state and country.



    HUH?

    The teachers who responded in this thread said nothing of the school populations. We were referring to the district at large. A district that is my understanding, that you do not teach in. You're right, they said nothing of teaching quality. It was the broader issues. Childcare, start times, etc. Do you have children? If you do, you will understand there are broader issues of concern.

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  80. we are an english-speaking family that listed both marshall and paul revere and got neither - both those schools are too heavy with spanish speakers.

    UNFAIR.

    i don't even have a school yet, but i am going to go to both the DW meeting and the PPS meeting and voice my outrage. everyone should. they cannot put all these families ahead of those of us who have been waiting for the 10-day count.

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  81. You have to be pretty ignorant not to understand public schools in the city are in trouble. It's all well and good to advocate a utopian view of the world.

    Fix general education THEN work towards immersian.

    Oh and I'm rubber, you're glue and all. Tool.

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  82. 6:34 pm - I'd fight for a Marshall spot... or check out Webster.

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  83. The "scores of studies" haven't translated in to better public schools in San Francisco. People are rushing towards private (non immersion).

    Instead of name calling (both posters), let's look at this realistically. Are our resources best spent on immersion when we have achievement gaps, when we have these budget cuts?

    Perhaps a compromise? Perhaps few total immersion schools, instead of dual strands within the same school?

    Should we offer all these different languages or target a few. I agree with the original poster, Mandarin is an important language of the future.

    Is the current SFUSD immersion system working?

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  84. Immersion programs are attracting lots of families that would otherwise go private because there are no private, Spanish-immersion schools and only one Mandarin one.

    Immersion is a much bigger magnet for these families. We know lots of families who opted for private even though they got slots in Clarendon, Lilienthal, Rooftop, etc. There are private alternatives to those schools. Not so for immersion.

    Immersion kids graduate with fluency in a second language and all the cognitive benefits of bilingualism. The kids at Marin Day School, SF Day, SF Friends, Synergy, Hamlin, Burke's, Town, Cathedral, Notre Dame des Victoire, SF School and CHildren's Day DO NOT.

    It is the one area where SFUSD is doing a better job than the privates -- well, back when they tested before assigning students to ensure the right mix of language skills, that is.

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  85. Actually, in terms of the achievement gap, there is strong evidence that immersion programs are better than other options for non-English speaking students' long-term academic achievement. And I've never seen anything that indicates they are more expensive than general ed; are they?

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  86. i'm planning to go to the meetings next week. had the district been planning to implement at a Spanish immersion at D. Webster at some point, and are now just rushing things to find a solution? I don't see how they can pull together a quality program in three weeks. Do they have teachers? space? i just really don't know what to think. we're a bilingual family (spanish/english) who have gotten 0/15. we put all immersion programs down (alvarado, flynn, fairmount, monroe, marshall, revere) and got zilch, and have been waitlisting at Flynn. as someone else pointed out, why couldn't some of these discrepancies have been picked up before Round II?

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  87. I don't think this was a mistake. I think the district set out to do this all along, so they could "transfer" 20 or so white kids into Webster, and forcibly "desegregate it" . (There are now only 2 white children going there) and Webster is in danger of closing due to low enrollment (174 children).

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  88. uhhh, just to set the record straight we are not talking about only middle class white people. When the district decided to un-enroll students, they only excluded siblings from the group.

    The District claims they diversify by income and siblings are not guaranteed a spot but after this I know it is not the case.

    Regardless of what you think of the matter. THE DISTRICT MADE THE MISTAKE AND FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN PREPARING ALL SUMMER LONG FOR A SMOOTH TRANSITION INTO KINDERGARTEN ARE NOW UPROOTED!

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  89. Oh and also, we are not talking only white children. My child is not white.

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  90. Oh and also, we are not talking only white children. My child is not white.

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  91. OK. Mostly white.

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  92. Where were these SFUSD teachers months ago when we were trying to decide whether to go public or private? It would have been nice to know THEN how little faith they have in the system.

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  93. Webster is not in danger of closing anytime soon and the active parents in the neighborhood have fought to keep it open so that their kids can attend in 2009. These are parents who have pledged to list it as their 1st choice and who have been working very hard to turn the school around.

    There was already a plan in place to start Spanish immersion next fall (2009) and the Immersion preschool which serves as a magnet to the elementary school is opening in a couple months.

    Whenever you offer an immersion strand to a school that is doing poorly, suddenly you can attract middle class white (and asian) folks and the school can become popular...look at Flynn and Starr King for recent examples of this.

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  94. Here is a link to the Portrero hill residents education fund and the fine work the residents led by some active parents have done: http://www.prefund.org/

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  95. HUH?
    "Webster is not in danger of closing anytime soon and the active parents in the neighborhood have fought to keep it open"

    Sorry, but if it is not in danger of closing why have have you had to "fight" to keep it open? That makes no sense.

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  96. Chie,

    Are you saying the both English AND Spanish speaking kids are being kicked out of Flynn & Alvarado to make room for some different Spanish speaking kids?

    I think I must be misunderstanding something here. I thought the problem is that the ratio of Spanish to English speakers is off, and they are trying to increase the number of Spanish speakers.

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  97. Is the actual data to back up the claim that immersion students have more "cognitive benefits" than the private schools?

    I'd also be interested to know IF immersion is costing the SFUSD more compared to districts which don't offer this?

    It makes intuitive sense that non English speakers do better in immersion, especially if the immersion is their native language. However, how do the native English speakers perform compared to their general ed peers? How about the general ed strands in schools which offer multiple strands.

    How do they compare with schools who dedicate all their resources to one strand (be it general or immersion)?

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  98. while i think the district completely and totally f&ck*d up, i will go the meeting at Webster with an open mind. the Prefund parents really do look like they've done a ton of work -- i have a younger one, so it would be great to have preschool on-site as well. however, i hope the district gives these people the support they deserve ...

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  99. Kids who are fully bilingual (regardless of which languages they speak or which one they learned first) outscore monolingual children on all sorts of cogitive measures (abstract thinking and creative problem solving, to name a few). Speaking two languages fluently from a young age just wires your brain differently. There is even a research study from Canada in which they found that bilingual people who used both languages in their daily life tended to get dementia an average of 4 years later than their monolingual peers (correcting for socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare, etc). We don't yet understand *why* being bilingual conveys such advantages or how it affects the brain -- but it clearly does.

    BTW: There are NO research studies showing kids in private school do better than kids in public school once you correct for socioeconomic factors.

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  100. The ousted families all listed English on their apps, but are not exclusively white or middle-class. In immersion, many families are Latino descent and want their little ones to learn Spanish to keep the language alive - and so they can speak with their grandparents. The native language in a family often dies out within one generation. In other words, the family immigrates (is it emigrates?) and speaks Spanish. Their children speak Spanish, and learn English in school. Then when they have children, often times their children do NOT speak Spanish (or Chinese or Taglaog etc.), or not for long.

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  101. 7;33: Let me clarify: Webster WAS on the chopping block a few years ago which led an active group of parents to organize and fundraise to keep the school open. These parents spearheaded the PREFUND program and the Immersion strand and have corporate support and donations which have helped the school get a face lift, a garden, new play structures, etc. (among other things) They will not go down without a fight. A very fine group of folks in my 'hood.

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  102. 7:59 - It is worse than you think. By the time they are in second or third grade (and in some cases as early as preschool), many US-born children of immigrants can no longer speak their native language. THey can understand it, but will respond to their parents in English. (THe parents often understand a lot of English even if they don't quite speak it.)

    But as a percentage of English-speaking kids applying to Spanish-immersion programs, the numbers are quite low from these kinds of families.

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  103. What kills me is that they USED to assess kids' Spanish-language skills before they made immersion assignments to make sure they ended up with the right mix.

    In an attempt to save money by cutting corners, they have ended up with quite a costly problem in terms of both dollars and a major PR problem with families.

    You really have to test kids. We know several families who claim their kids speak Spanish because they have asked their nannies to speak only Spanish to them. But we've seen these kids on the playground and the nannies speak mostly English to them, despite their employers' requests. These children can count to 10 in Spanish and may have learned 2-3 songs. But they do NOT speak Spanish and should not be considered Spanish speakers despite what their parents might write in their paperwork. The only way to weed those kids out (or, more accurately, ensure they are taking a spot designated for an English speaker) is to actually meet with them and speak to them. There is no easy way around that.

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  104. Chie,

    Are you saying the both English AND Spanish speaking kids are being kicked out of Flynn & Alvarado to make room for some different Spanish speaking kids?

    I think I must be misunderstanding something here.

    ***The misunderstanding is there are more races than white and spanish speaking. duh? Some people are saying on this blog sarcastically "oh poor middle class white folks" I am saying my family is black and not middle class and we were still thrown out of Alvardo!

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  105. Hmm.. Didn't see anything about the PPSSF Forum on the PPSSF website. How is this being promoted?

    My kid won't be attending kinder for another year, but we are a Spanish-speaking family considering immersion for 2009-2010.

    Should we be attending the event at Webster or the Women's Building.

    Confusing...

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  106. Again as a teacher I know how quickly after school programs fill up and I cannot afford a nanny.

    I checked out the prefund website thinking hmmm. maybe this will work if I can get my 3 year old in the preschool...but there is already a waiting list and it says bilingual so I don't even know if native English speakers are a part of it.

    As far as private school, I don't know many teachers who can afford to go that route. Have you seen how much we make!!!

    SFUSD should have a big lawsuit on their hands.....just when I thought I could relax because I got into Alvarado's after school program and it is an early start so I can have time to drive to work...now I am up sh#@ creek without a paddle!!! With less than a month to figure out what we can do!

    oh...and we can't make it to the meeting because we are out of town and no one has told us where it will be held!

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  107. 7:29, I only found out about this blog a few weeks ago. Even so, I try to look at this blog from a parent perspective. Sometimes my views represent a conflict of interest as a teacher.

    This last stunt is just so typical of the district. Teachers deal with their clerical errors ALL THE TIME. There is gross incompetence and total negligence in the system at large.

    For example, the district has adopted a new math series. We are expected to teach this series regardless of the fact that SFUSD did not purchase the materials REQUIRED to teach the series. Manipulatives, calculators, and other materials are to be provided by the teachers. It's insane.

    It's reflective of what happened here with this mess. "Oh we screwed up, you need to fix our mess." Teachers pick up the pieces in this district all too often.

    Also, I really feel for the teacher who is caught up in this mess as a parent. It's insult to injury. I can only imagine what it did to her morale. I'm outraged and it doesn't effect me as a parent.

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  108. Potrero Hill MomJuly 26, 2008 at 9:00 PM

    To 8:35, I know a number of English-speaking Potrero Hill families who are planning to send their kids to the new bilingual Daniel Webster preschool. My understanding was the it was intended as a feeder-school for the DW Spanish Immersion ES program (originally scheduled to start in fall of 2009). It's definitely worth inquiring, even if there's currently a wait-list. I'm sorry you have to go through this stressful situation, and wish you the best of luck with finding an acceptable solution.

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  109. where're they getting the spanish kids to go 50/50 at daniel webster at this late date? webster does have an english learners program, but presumably those families are seeking the fast train to english... or maybe the district figures they won't notice when they're being taught uno dos tres in kindergarten...

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  110. While studies to indeed show the benefits of quality bilingual programs, there is little or no evidence to show that SFUSD has or is creating a quality program for ELL kids in immersion programs. The issue is blurred when the middle class English speaking families parade all these studies from Europe (where they do this well and right) but do not acknowledge that in SFUSD this is not the case. In fact, ELL kids in many immersion schools are doing worse than in bilingual programs (where they aren't used as a balancing act for English speaking kids.)

    Yet another example of how SFUSD is not planning for or managing immersion programs properly.

    Instead of making the ELL kids the experiment, why not use the Alice Fong Yu model which doesn't require the 50/50 split of ELL and English speakers? They are unapologetic about it and it is wildly popular among those that choose it.

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  111. How many parents here who aren’t satisfied with their public school assignment (or lack thereof) would rather just take the $9K of taxpayer’s money and make their own arrangements for educating their child? Yes, I know, that’s called “vouchers”. Pure evil, so I’m told. But seriously folks, just as a thought experiment: how many of you would take the money if given the choice? What if we passed a law that said parents could spend the $9K at any public school of their choice that was willing to take their money, and that school principals would be allowed to compete for “customers” in this way? This is the way we buy cars, clothes, housing, and food. Why not education for our kids?

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  112. Private school parent here. I am totally against vouchers. I made the choice for private education. Still, I firmly believe everyone is entitled to a free education. I have no problem paying into the public school system.

    If I choose to go elsewhere, I will pick up the bill.

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  113. Here's some history for context:

    Last year, Alvarado's two Spanish-immersion kindergarten classrooms received 4 Spanish-speaking children and 36 English speaking children.

    The principal called SFUSD in September to complain and was promised the situation would be fixed for the following year.

    That certainly hasn't happened.

    The stats for this coming year:
    8 Spanish speaking families and 32 English speaking families. Hardly 50/50.

    It is the immersion teachers at Flynn and Alvarado who are really fighting to have the imbalances addressed before the school year starts. They know they can't do an adequate job with the current imbalance.

    Despite all the written materials to the contrary, SFUSD stopped testing/screening native/bilingual students 3 years ago.

    No wonder the immersion assignment process is so messed up.

    Yes, the district messed up.

    But immersion teachers have been paying the price already, and they are quite vocal about the imporance of fixing the situation before the start of the school year.

    It is unfortunate that 23 families must now deal with the uncertainty of now knowing where their child will go to kindergarten.

    But it isn't fair to the teachers or the students to have a non-functioning immersion program ... especially since this is not the first year they've had this issue.

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  114. Is this news confirmed by the SFSUD? Is PPS-SF now the PR/media arm for the district?

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  115. Alice Fong Yu's students are several grade levels behind Cantonese-speaking children in China in terms of language arts. Yes, it is impressive that English language speakers can speak and write Cantonese to *any* degree, but they hardly attain native-like fluency. The Spanish-immersion kids at SFUSD come much closer, precisely because they've had strong peer language models (and also because Spanish is a lot easier to master).

    AFY would be *much* more successful if they could recruit more native speakers.

    (BTW, there are reams of research studies on the effectiveness of different models, by researchers in the U.S. and Canada, primarily.. and Europe to some degree...)

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  116. BTW: Just because a kid is a native speaker of Spanish, does not make him/her an ENglish language learner (ELL).

    That is preposterous.

    My 4 year old has native-like fluency in both languages (though his reading is a bit more advanced in Spanish just because everything is spelled phonetically, without the weird exceptions that make English so complex.)

    The IDEAL model, btw, is NOT 50/50. It is 33/33/33 (English dominant, target language dominant, bilingual)...

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  117. why doesn't flynn just consolidate their gen ed and immersion programs: shake well and done. same kids, same campus, draw straws to decide the dominant vs target language in each classroom.

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  118. (English dominant, target language dominant, bilingual)

    what do target-language kids do while english-language kids learn the target language?

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  119. They don't teach Spanish in Spanish-immersion programs. They teach the usual stuff *in* Spanish.

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  120. SFUSD needs to be sued. End the madness.

    Also, about the immersion programs, I thought they were for the benefit of the non-target langage speaking children. If you're not getting your numbers, why continue the program in a particular school? Disband it, and move it to a school where you will get your numbers.

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  121. A friend of mine whose kid goes to Flynn tells me the Spanish-speaking community really mobilized there to demand the changes. That's pretty remarkable given that Latino families are usually pretty passive when it comes to advocating for themselves with SFUSD.

    I know PPS has worked hard to reach out to Latino families and to overcome the perception that PPS only represents middle class white families.

    I hope they don't push to hard for a reversal on the SFUSD's decision re: Flynn and Alvarado, because they will never earn back the trust of the Spanish-speaking families who were really screwed in the school assignment process and denied entry to Spanish-immersion programs (or assigned in such few numbers as to have a huge negative impact on their child's educational experience).

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  122. We know lots of Spanish-speaking families who listed Spanish immersion programs as their top choice but did not get *any*...

    At Flynn there are at least 11 families who wanted immersion but got assigned to gen'l ed or ELD.

    So they *could* have had the right numbers if they had even tried.

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  123. 10:49

    Well, if that's true it is yet more evidence that this system is unworkable. Better to scrap the general lottery, go back to neighborhood schools, and use things like immersion programs to increase diversity and equity. It just seems like a much more workable system. Instead SFUSD is just creating tons of confusion and frustration.

    Sad that it will probably take a lawsuit to change things. Bring on the lawyers!

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  124. If the City can spend $7,000 a month to house illegal alien gangbangers in a "group home," then I am fine with vouchers. I never thought I would feel this way.

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  125. Wanna bet PPS will advocate for the English-speaking families at the expense of Spanish-speaking ones?

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  126. Well, SOMEONE has to advocate for English-speaking families in the SFUSD! 0/15!

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  127. There were plenty of Spanish-speaking families excluded from Spanish immersion programs or left out in the cold like you...

    They tend not to organize and advocate for themselves. This was pretty unusual... It helped that the immersion teachers felt they were being set up to fail with the original class assignments.

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  128. What is all this about Spanish-speaking families not being assertive? What kind of cliche BS is THAT? As passive as La Raza. Please.

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  129. If the City can spend $7,000 a month to house illegal alien gangbangers in a "group home," then I am fine with vouchers. I never thought I would feel this way.

    9:56 here. You know what? Good point. You just changed my mind about vouchers.

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  130. The screw-ups went both ways - too many spanish speakers at Marshall, too many english speakers at Alvarado and Flynn. If changes were going to be made - they should have been swift and right after round I.

    Gosh - what a disaster. I am heartbroken for these families (and those still 0/15) and for the new black eye to the public system.

    Thanks Kate for this blog. It gives people a place to go and a means for disseminating information.

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  131. 11:22 -- Do you not know that Latinos tend to be under-represented in parent organizations in the public school system etc.?

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  132. 11:26 - So what? Their kids still have a better chance of getting into the school they want.

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  133. I think it's odd that this problem has not been described on either the SFUSD or the PPS-SF web site. Are they trying to keep it quiet?

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  134. No, their kids don't have a better shot. In fact, they were denied access to Spanish immersion programs even though these programs were *WAY* short of the required number of Spanish speakers.

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  135. SFUSD should get rid of all the bilingual programs aimed at English Language LEarners.

    There is solid research showing these ELLs do best when they are in dual immersion programs, learning alongside English-dominant kids who are trying to master Spanish.

    IF they did that, the ELLs would do better and the Spanish immersion programs would have enough Spanish-speakers to really improve the experience (and results) for the English language speakers, too.

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  136. In my frustration I did forget, where is the 50/50 promised with the DW school.....once again we are screwed no matter how you look at it! It was not the families who enrolled on time fault but we are being punished for the error!

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  137. why there wasn't an outcry at Marshall - those Spanish speaking families were not involuntarily disenrolled to make way for English speaking families.

    Flynn at least does have an open classroom on the first floor (2 of them but one is going to be used for another classroom) and can accomodate a bubble class but the school is saying they don't want it because it will be a hassle because they will have an odd number of classes - at least at Flynn there is the very real possiblity of having a bubble class (space is there) and should be done. Yes, this was driven by a few Flynn teachers and parents and they lied to people and told them to call the district to fix it for next year but they really had this in mind.

    for not teaching kids Spanish - seems this is ok at Alvarado in years past and at other schools - it is not true they won't get as much Spanish if there isn't more Spanish speakers in the class. This is actually being done in the name of Spanish speaking families who did not get immersion - and they should get it this year, just don't kick people out to do it - make bubble classes at the site where there is room. SFUSD now has a historical precedent (Alvarado last year) of not reassigning people against their will so unclear why they can legally do this now.

    Also, the schools bear some responsibilty here. They get a report of all students a day prior to the Round 1 notifications in March - that they did not look closely at these lists until June is their part of their responsibility in this mess. Had they done so, the error could have been caught then and it might have been reasonable to set up a program at Webster for next year.

    At this point - that is not acceptable to anyone - and the group prefund there - they have been great, but why are they saying the preschool is a "feeder" school - SFUSD is a public school system with no feeder preschools. Why are they also saying they are for sure going there - it is a choice system and you aren't guaranteed your neighborhood school at all unless SFUSD cut some type of deal with these parents (which maybe isn't bad, but they did organize to keep it open a couple years ago when it would be closed.)

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  138. Have you actually spoken to the Alvarado Spanish-immersion kinder teachers who were stuck teaching a class with mostly English-speaking kids?

    They were not happy. Not at all. The level of Spanish in the classroom is *not* where it has been in past years.

    It is precisely because they saw that this was about to happen for a second year in a row that they escalated the issue and banded with the folks from Flynn.

    Unless you are a Spanish-immersion kinder teacher at Alvarado (or have spoken to one in depth) you probably don't know much about how that classroom experience was this year given the shortage of native speakers -- especially compared to previous years.

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  139. RE: Marshall... There probably weren't *that* many English-speakers denied admission there. The problem with Flynn and Alvarado, is that they denied admission to LOTS of Spanish-speakers despite having a shortage of them. Actually, we know several Spanish-speaking families who only listed Spanish-immersion programs as their top 7 and got zilch despite the fact that Marshall notwithstanding, there is an overall shortage district-wide in immersion programs.

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  140. Huh?

    "I know a number of English-speaking Potrero Hill families who are planning to send their kids to the new bilingual Daniel Webster preschool. My understanding was the it was intended as a feeder-school for the DW Spanish Immersion ES program"

    I've heard nothing about a whole group of parents who are virtually guaranteed a school placement of their choice. Does prefund have this agreement in writing?

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  141. 11:26 said:
    "Do you not know that Latinos tend to be under-represented in parent organizations in the public school system etc.?"

    Gosh-- perhaps if they JOINED the organizations and volunteered, they would not be UNDER-REPRESENTED. It is not the fault of the people who do volunteer and join these groups that Latinos tend not to.

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  142. Why would latino parents want to join organizations of white middle class parents who only advocate for the interests of middle class white parents?

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  143. RE: Daniel Webster... These Potrero Hill families are hoping no one else will list DAniel Webster as their top choice in next year's lottery.

    THeir chances of getting in are pretty good given past enrollment patterns at the school.

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  144. What an awful situation.

    A full audit of the f&^k-up should be done. How many native Spanish speaking families applied, made it their first choice, and DID NOT get in? And how could that happen?

    Many Latino parents are saying they did apply, and did not get their choice, so for EPC to claim that they didn't have the applicants when they did, and filling up the spots mistakenly with English speakers, and then going back and "fixing" the error this late in the game is astonishingly incompetent.

    I hope PPS does not just advocate for the English speaking families, it looks as though EVERYBODY was treated unfairly. But for SFUSD to think it is acceptable to send families letters saying "we assigned you there by mistake, now your child is going to go here" is appalling!

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  145. Is PPS supposed to advocate for all public school parents or only those who join and pay their $10? Or only those who are really vocal?

    Just curious.

    It would be a real shame if PPS supports only the English speaking families when Spanish speakers also got screwed with the incompetent Spanish-immersion assignments. (Not to mention that the integrity and effectiveness of such programs was being sacrificed in the process.)

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  146. "But for SFUSD to think it is acceptable to send families letters saying "we assigned you there by mistake, now your child is going to go here" is appalling!"

    It's what they do to families with children in Special Education programs all the time. Now you know what it feels like. Welcome to our world.

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  147. Can someone clarify which meeting we should be attending if we are a prospective Spanish-immersion family for '09?

    Is the DAniel WEbster meeting on TUesday with SFUSD just for the affected families?

    Should we attend the PPS one on Monday?

    (We can't attend both).

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  148. At least the discussion here is fairly intelligent.

    You should see the comments on SFGATE on the same topic!

    Bunch of monolingual xenophobes who can't comprehend why an AMerican, English-speaking family would want to give their child the cognitive benefits of a second language!

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  149. "Why would latino parents want to join organizations of white middle class parents who only advocate for the interests of middle class white parents?"

    I know, it seems like a waste of time, but you join and get all your friends to join and change the focus to reflect your interests too. It's how these things work. You can't change the group from the outside, you change it from within.

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  150. Hard to do if you don't speak the language, don't you think?

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  151. What I want to know is why ow income students were kicked out before siblings when the district says that they diversify according to income

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  152. SFUSD is supposed to provide translators at all the meetings so that non-English speaking parents can be part in the groups. You don't see this happening because nobody is enforcing that requirement, probably because no non-English speakers are coming to the meetings.

    SFUSD is also supposed to provide translators for non-English speaking parents when those parents want or need to speak to their children's teachers. It isn't happening, BUT IT SHOULD BE.

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  153. This is a very informative report put together by Chinese for Affirmative Action

    Lost Without Translation: Language Barriers Faced by Limited-English Proficient Parents with Children in the San Francisco Unified School District

    http://tinyurl.com/5efrkp

    It is also available in Chinese on their website, but not Spanish.

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  154. "I've heard nothing about a whole group of parents who are virtually guaranteed a school placement of their choice. Does prefund have this agreement in writing?"

    No, but the school only get about 3 first choice requests every year, the rest are assigned. If 7 or 8 families put DW as their 1st, they will get it.

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  155. Just got off the phone with Ellie, interim director of PPS, who is trying to deal with this on her vacation.

    Here is what she says:

    PPS has heard from a large number of members representing all sides of this issue, both in Spanish and English. Some people may be unaware that PPS has a very active Latino Outreach coordinator and a very active group of Latino members.

    As is our mission, PPS is not advocating for one parent voice over another. We are conveying the concerns of all parties to the district. If you have specific concerns you would like included, please send them directly to info@ppssf.org

    PPS staff have been putting in additional hours this week, but keep in mind that we are a small organization with only 3 part-time employees available this week. But we are doing our best!! Our mission statement is that "PPS are a network of parents working together to ensure quality public education for all children in San Francisco" and we stand by that.

    There are two upcoming meetings:

    1. Monday's meeting, hosted by PPS at the Womens' Bldg. at 6:00 PM is an informal forum for parents to meet each other and share their perspectives. There will be a moderator to ensure that we maintain respect for all points of view. This is purely an opportunity to bring parents together to discuss the situation before Tuesday's meeting with the district.

    2. Tuesday's meeting is hosted by SFUSD in order to address specific questions by the families directly affected by this change. Information on this meeting is in the letter affected families received.

    Hope this helps! Please email specific concerns to info@ppssf.org

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  156. "Do you not know that Latinos tend to be under-represented in parent organizations in the public school system etc.?"

    I get really sick of people whining about how under-represented they are on various committees and groups. You feel under-represented? Join the groups and represent yourself or stop complaining about not being represented.

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  157. It seems to me that a separate lottery for immersion programs would be a better way to go, since in some ways parents seeking immersion are looking for not just a school, but a program - maybe even more than a school.

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  158. "No, but the school only get about 3 first choice requests every year, the rest are assigned. If 7 or 8 families put DW as their 1st, they will get it."

    Well, that will change instantly when they have an immersion program, they will get a lot more than 3 first-round requests. Then all those parents expecting to get in there will be really pissed off.

    I think spreading rumors about 'feeder-schools" is irresponsible.

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  159. "It seems to me that a separate lottery for immersion programs would be a better way to go, since in some ways parents seeking immersion are looking for not just a school, but a program - maybe even more than a school."

    That would make too much sense, SFUSD will never do that:)

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  160. "Well, that will change instantly when they have an immersion program, they will get a lot more than 3 first-round requests. Then all those parents expecting to get in there will be really pissed off.

    I think spreading rumors about 'feeder-schools" is irresponsible."

    Perhaps, but it usually takes a few years before schools become oversubscribed. I know you are angry and I don't blame you since the situation sucks but the prefund parents are doing a lot of work to boost the school-so I think anger directed at them is misguided.

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  161. It isn't anger, it's correctly pointing out that no preschool is a feeder school to any SFUSD school, and that is parents in prefund think they will automatically get into DW if they want to, they don't really know how SFUSD works (or in this case, DOESN'T work).

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  162. OK, since none of this has actually happened yet, we will have to wait and see what happens next year.

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  163. I am so grateful I opted to go private. It's a stretch financially, but I don't have to deal with this, and my kid knows where she's going to school in August.

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  164. "I am so grateful I opted to go private. It's a stretch financially, but I don't have to deal with this, and my kid knows where she's going to school in August."

    AMEN.

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  165. If Daniel Webster has an "attendance area", then those neighbors within the attendance area who put the school first have a liklihood of getting it, because the kids inthe attendance area are looked at first for placement. This will happen until the point when too many attendance area families choose the school and there is not room for all in the 'hood who want it. Like Alvarado.

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  166. I love how this has gone from a 'SFUSD screwed up' thread to a 'middle class whites vs. spanish speakers' thread. That is SO San Francisco.

    Grow up, people. This isn't graduate school. Your little one-ups don't add anything meaningful to the conversation.

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  167. OK, so this whole mess was the result of a few pissed-off immersion kindergarten teachers at Alvarado who convinced their counterparts at Flynn to jump on board. Then they needed to find some Spanish-speaking parents to join their group later for PR purposes, but it doesn't look like this typically unassertive group of parents (many likely undocumented immigrants) would have spoken out on their own if the teachers didn't need them to support their case. EPC should have just told the teachers to suck it up for another year.

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  168. Everybody calm down a bit.

    The immersion programs are supposed to be 50/50 (forgetting the ideal 33/33/33)

    so it makes sense that if the classes were full of mostly English Speakers that something had to be done to remedy the situation.

    if the class is not 50/50, then it isn't really the immersion program you wanted anyway, is it?

    The SNAFU happened in the initial assignments

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  169. While it's admirable that the district wants to correct a mistake, this seems like the wrong way to do it. They could have come up with a solution that didn't involve kicking out 23 kindergartners (off the top of my head split K/1 classrooms, and "bubble classrooms", or accepting only Spanish speakers at the 10-day count come to mind.

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  170. Yes Kim Green has been affected by this. Very sad indeed.

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  171. Yes Poor Kim. Poor everybody.

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  172. Kim's gone on a bender ... was last seen waving a tequila bottle at passing cars on 24th Street, screaming "I AM THERMO-NUCLEAR PISSED AND I AM NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE."

    hell hath no fury, eh?

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  173. I think that the teachers at Flynn weighed too heavily on this. My understanding is that they refused to start teaching if the district didn't do something. I respect their right to do so, and their commitment to the immersion program. However, the School Dist. should not have disregarded the needs of the families involved becaues the teachers were mad. As much as they had a right to be angry at the school dist, screwing families was the wrong tact. Heck, the District didn't get the incoming families input AT ALL.

    We are on the Flynn GE waitlist and are currently un-assigned. Not sure how this will effect us, but I am really mad for the families who were cut. Not to mention Kim Green and some of my favorite families were cut. It was a big draw for us, to have friend (community) at Flynn. Sigh. This process has literally made my hair gray.

    I see two solutions for this year:
    1. Offer priority waitlist for families who volunteer to leave Flynn SN. And,
    2. Make a bubble class if not enough of them do so.

    Daniel Webster is not an optioin for some families. The location and the start time is different--very important aspects of a school.

    FUTURE...
    Immersion programs need their own application process.
    Folks who want to apply to an immersion strand should be tested and then placed. The district can test for bi-lingualism at the same time and shoot for a 30/30/30 mix, sith 10% being wild card.

    How hard can it be? I swear if the school district hired me, I'd be able to place families in school by myself, without making these dumb mistakes.

    Final thoughts: The teachers and school district seem very disconnected from the parents. They obviously don't understand how important an actual school assignment is to us and our families. Why they think we can switch schools, locations, times, and program this late in the game is mind boggling.

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  174. Rachel here, unofficially speaking for PPS because most of the staff is out of town this week. First, here is the information on the two meetings:

    1)PPS-SF is hosting a forum:
    Monday, July 28 at 6pm
    The Women’s Building, 3543 18th Street between Guerrero and Valencia.

    We recommend public transportation as parking is limited.

    Please RSVP for KidsWatch and Spanish translation to 861-7077 or info@ppssf.org.

    The purpose of this meeting is to have a forum for parents to share their viewpoints around this issue. As there are many perspectives within the parent community, all viewpoints will be respected. PPS-SF is compiling and summarizing notes from the forum and all other comments, phone calls, and emails to share with the district.****** Please note that SFUSD representatives will not be present on Monday to clarify or answer questions.*******

    If you are a prospective family, and not affected this year but have comments to share on how immersion programs should be enrolled in the future, this is probably the forum to attend.

    The second meeting is for affected families only and will be held at Daniel Webster Elementary at 6 p.m. Tuesday July 29. (465 Missouri St.) SFUSD representatives will be available to answer questions at that meeting.

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  175. I will try to get the EPC to take us off the Flynn GE list, again! Our daughter's bday is just before the cut off and we've decided to wait. All "this" just reinforces our decision to wait. But I'm not having much luck getting her taken off the list, does anyone know what the trick is? Silly me, I thought it would be easy to give up a space.

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  176. I still don't understand how moving 23 non-spanish-speaking kids to one program at Daniel Webster will make it a spanish immersion program. 100/0

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  177. To July 27, 2008 7:26 AM

    Many middle class folks advocate for diversity.

    You ask why Latino families would join organization who are mostly middle class...

    well...
    -many middle class families are people of color...
    -why would white people want to join a group that is mostly Latino?

    See how close minded you sound?

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  178. 0/15 and ready to walk into traffic with Kim...

    We just moved our daughter to the Flynn GE waitlist.

    Ahhh, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

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  179. i meant we moved her to the Flynn GE waitlist last week...before the snafu.

    i'm certain this won't help our chances of getting a school.

    i am SO SORRY for the Flynn and Alvarado SN families!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm ready to jump on a home schooling project...anyone?

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  180. MCL: you need to send a fax to the EPC with your child's full name, birthdate, home address, and a note explaining that you wish to be removed from the waitlist from X school. Also, make sure it is dated and signed by you along with your typed name.

    I already had to go through this when we gave up our wait list spot and decided to accept our assigned school.

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  181. I think that the teachers at Flynn weighed too heavily on this. My understanding is that they refused to start teaching if the district didn't do something. I respect their right to do so, and their commitment to the immersion program. However, the School Dist. should not have disregarded the needs of the families involved because the teachers were mad. As much as they had a right to be angry at the school dist, screwing families was the wrong tact. Heck, the District didn't get the incoming families input AT ALL.


    It's truly amazing to me, how AGAIN the teachers are made to be the bad guys. It was the district who failed to listen to the QUALIFIED educators. The teachers took a stand because they wanted to give their students the best education possible, in an appropriate environment. Yet, look how at least one parent is blaming teachers.....AGAIN.

    Understand this, until it affects children and parents DIRECTLY nothing gets done. When teachers take a stand, that's when things get hairy. What specifically are we supposed to do?

    Seriously, enlighten me how we're supposed to make it all better without affecting children and parents.

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  182. I don't blame the teachers one iota. I blame the idiots at EPC. Enrollment was supposed to be 50/50 and they blew it.

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  183. fed up with sfusdJuly 27, 2008 at 3:29 PM

    Perhaps the teachers with an attitude could be replaced with more accommodating ones. I imagine that the Alvarado Immersion classes would be considered plum assignments. Just 5 years ago no self-respecting middle-class family would even have considered Flynn, which was populated with kids from the nearby projects...and now look at the attitude of their teachers!

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  184. Does anyone know who came up with the "solution" of switching 23 English-speaking kids out of the Alvarado and Flynn SI programs to DW? I imagine the BOE weighed in on this. I could be wrong, but this sort of plan sounds like something BOE president Mark Sanchez would advocate.

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  185. "Perhaps the teachers with an attitude could be replaced with more accommodating ones."

    Good luck. Ever heard of the teachers union?

    Privatize the school system.

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  186. 3:44, you raise a good question. I have no idea if Mark Sanchez was involved, but I do wonder what, if any, input the Board had on this decision. To me, there are a few BURNING questions that need to be answered:

    1)Who discovered the error and how long have they known?

    2)Who was involved in the decision to re-assign families? What were the other options discussed and why were they rejected?

    3)How did they choose the English speaking families who were reassigned?

    4)Was the Board involved:
    a)in gutting one of the assignment system's central promises, that once you've accepted an assignment, it's yours?
    b)in approving the additional funds to essentially create a new program from scratch at a struggling school? Where will the money come from?

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  187. i didin't read anon's comments as blaming the teachers. what i read was that the teachers advocated for a better situation, and rightfuly so. however, this solution is wrong....

    i know that the teachers don't get much from the district, and they deserve a 50/50 split in their immersion classrooms. but i understand the frustration that this dumb solution came so late in the game.

    The school district is to blame for a mishap that is unthinkable for the families who were cut.

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  188. The problem had to be discovered right after the first round, right? Wouldn't the schools have figured it out quickly? I believe I heard talk of the imbalance by parents at Flynn pretty early on.

    What would happen if families all showed up to school on the first day, anyway? Would the teachers refuse to teach? Would the Principal refuse to let them in? What will the district do IF parents refuse to go along with this?

    Lots of questions, indeed...

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  189. Let's not forget it was the Flynn teachers who originally took a stand and got more control over their curriculum (providing more content and inquiry based learning) thereby making that school much more desirable to so many of us. This commitment to the quality of the education they provide should be applauded. The screw-up was not theirs and they do not deserve the fall-out that this horrible situation has created.

    We did not get into any immersion program on the first round but in the second round were able to get into the least sought after school with an immersion program: Paul Revere. My plan now (i admit to being pretty pessimistic about things in the beginning )is to work as hard as possible to help that school become as rockin' as any K-8 can be. I've heard nothing but great things about the principal there and there are some really energetic and caring teachers too. With support that school can be as good as Flynn I'm sure, and it has the bonus of going through 8th grade so you don't have to deal with EPC again for quite a while. And imagine being the parent who gets to help build the new play structure or make a garden. Your kid gets the valuable lesson of seeing that we really can make change happen if we decide to. Kinda Obama-esque really.

    My point is, if a Spanish speaking family is willing to switch out to Flynn from Revere, and especially if you live in Bernal, then think about giving Paul Revere a try. Same color uniforms even.

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  190. I agree -- band together and simply refuse reassignment. I appreciate the problem, but reassignment at this late date is not a workable solution. It's unbelievable that imbalanced classrooms could happen two years in a row. It just doesn't seem so hard to make the classes 50/50 during Round I. It wouldn't take more than an hour or so of someone's time to review the assignments before the Round I letters go out and confirm that for every spanish speaker there was an english speaker. A computer could do it even faster.

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  191. The district messed up the Alvarado assignments last year, too, and told the principal and teachers to suck it up for a year and promised to fix the problem for this year.

    So this is the *second* year they mess up the immersion assignments.

    NO wonder teachers and Spanish-speaking parents are fed up.

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  192. "NO wonder teachers and Spanish-speaking parents are fed up."

    Ditto

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  193. As I understand it, the Flynn kinder team rejected the 'bubble class' because it added a 3rd immersion class which would somehow have to 'bubble' up the grades - meaning that each year there would be a teacher first teaching k immersion, then 1st grade immersion, then 2nd grade immersion, then 3rd grade immersion. SFUSD promised to pay for a teacher and materials for 4 years, and not necessarily up to 4th and 5th grade when class/teacher ratio goes higher and for those two years 20 additional students would be in those classes.

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  194. Lots of schools have extra "bubble" kindergartens that kind of dissipate over the years through attrition (people move, decide immersion isn't right for their child, etc.) Or they could offer priority switches to first grade to other SI schools (BV, Fairmount, Marshall etc.) Seems like a much humane solution that this one.

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  195. So a bubble class isn't an workable option? I still think it is, although not ideal. By 3rd or 4th grade I bet the number of kids in the bubble classroom will be gone, anyway.

    Live Oak over enrolled two years ago, I think it was, and have been managing a bubble class. No, the parents don't like it.

    Still, I can't help feel for the parents who were cut. Ouch.

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  196. Class size generally goes up to about 28-30 kids per class in 4th and 5th grade (unless there is money for class size reduction)--in my experience, a good teacher can handle this size class at that age without problem. So 3 classes of 20 K-3 (60 kids per grade) = 2 classes of 30 kids in 4th and 5th. Pretty standard.

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  197. "Class size generally goes up to about 28-30 kids per class in 4th and 5th grade (unless there is money for class size reduction)--in my experience, a good teacher can handle this size class at that age without problem."

    I think there is a big difference between the number of students a "good" teacher can handle and the number she/he can optimally teach. A smaller classroom community provides more opportunities for student-teacher interaction and kids do better when they receive more individual attention. I don't think 30 kids in a class makes a good standard.

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  198. Does anyone know where these new Spanish-speaking kids for the S.I. programs at Flynn and Alvarado will be coming from? I'm assuming it's from Marshall, Revere and the G.E. programs at Alvarado and Flynn. If so, a number of spots in those programs should open up by the 10-day count. These might be good waitlist options for 0/15 parents.

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  199. So... if we were assigned Alvarado immersion but have *not* received a letter by now... are we safe?

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