Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flynn/Alvarado placements

Flynn/Alvarado families, feel free to share your placement news. Thanks!


  1. How annoying. Kim, anyone, please tell us what happened! We all rallied on your behalf when this happened and now you won't tell us where your kids are going to school?

    I understand that some of you may now have placements at Rooftop and Clarendon. If you feel guilty about it, you shouldn't. Nothing in this process has been sensible or fair, and you are not to blame for the incompetence of the district.

    But I am really, genuinely curious!

  2. 9:38-See the posts under Wednesday's letter from Garcia-the group posted where they were assigned and various comments about the process.

  3. Yes, here they are:

    Here is the list of the Flynnarado 23:
    - 7 took Flynn GE
    - 6 Took Alvarado GE
    - 3 Took Clarendon JB
    - 2 Took Rooftop
    - 1 Took Grattan
    - 2 Took Starr King CN
    - 1 Took Revere SI
    - 1 Did not get a spot
    - I am missing the last one.

    From the other thread

  4. I think there might be some changes:
    - 1 of the Flynn GE might have switched to Revere SI
    - 1 of the Starr King might have switched to DW SI.
    So here is the latest updated list:

    - 6 took Flynn GE
    - 6 Took Alvarado GE
    - 3 Took Clarendon JB
    - 2 Took Rooftop
    - 1 Took Grattan
    - 1 Took Starr King CN
    - 2 Took Revere SI
    - 1 Tokk Daniel Webster SI

  5. And 1 did not get a spot, although probably worked it out by now.

  6. I think Kim mentioned Clarendon JBP, but she will need to confirm :)

  7. So does anyone know if the Flynn and Alvarado spots that were vacated by the flynnardo 23 have been filled? Sounds like at least 13 spots may have been filled?

    What's the district going to do with the rest of the spots? Hopefully not go vacant.

    Sounds like Webster SI has lots of open spaces, I hope the District is notifying everyone on the waitlists (since not everyone keeps checking the website)

    Of course, start times and child after care are basic non-negotiables so regardless of how good a program it may be, those issues a more critical factor.

  8. I know for sure than open spots in Flynn General will be not be left open. I don't know if there is a waitpool presently but any open slots will be open to anyone who wants them. And any spots that open in our immersion program will be available for the waitpool people. (Not sure how this works - like if those kicked out of immersion who are now placed in our general program are at the top of the list.)

    Kim confirmed on the other post that they got assigned to Clarendon JB, and she sent an email to the Flynn listserv to say her goodbyes. Very sad for us indeed.

    I think the 23 have until this afternoon to accept their new assignments.

  9. Daniel Webster is now open to anyone, I believe, so call EPC if you want in!

  10. Why would anyone take a spot in Flynn GE? Aren't the scores there atrocious?

  11. People who care that much about test scores generally wouldn't enroll their children an a large number of public schools. Scroll back to much, much earlier threads: there are reasons beyond test scores to enroll in a school!

    I'm just guessing, but here are some reasons a family might choose Flynn GE:

    1. They already got their child excited about Flynn
    2. They live walking distance from the school
    3. They love the amazing principal
    4. They hope to transfer to the immersion strand in the fall or next year.
    5. The 8.30 am start time works for them.
    6. They already have aftercare lined up at Flynn, so they can keep all of their child care solutions intact.
    7. They believe that the test scores will improve with the new principal, the active parent body and the IB program going into place.

    Etc. It's honestly not such a bizarre choice, unless of course you are hung up on test scores.

  12. is Flynn getting an amazing new principal? the one they have has been there for three years and I don't think is considered too amazing by anyone though I thought on our tour that he seemed nice.

  13. is anyone planning to sign up for DW Spanish?

  14. I have been trying for 2 days to get clarity on the process regarding DW Immersion, get a tour of the school, and find out the deadline for informing EPC of our interest. (Have to weigh info before deciding). Can't get info from EPC or school . .

  15. Robert, the GE teacher at kindergarten, seems amazing. I was so impressed by him when I did a tour. He just had this incredible demeanor and vibe with the children. I was super impressed, and I went on 20-plus tours (which included privates and catholic schools). what i noticed about flynn, and what bugged me, was the noticeable demographic schism between the GE and SI classrooms. But if more upper-middle class families sign their kids up for the GE strand, I think that will dissipate.

    I was really impressed by the Flynn teachers not so much by the principal. He seemed like a nice man, but one without much vision.

  16. I talked with Archie Folkin today--he said the district is committed to the Spanish Immersion program at DW. He said they will start with either one or two K classes, depending on interest. I think they've hired one teacher and had multiple applicants, so could hire another.

  17. "But if more upper-middle class families sign their kids up for the GE strand, I think that will dissipate."

    Ya think???

  18. i think we posted the results on another thread before this one appeared.

    i had to fly to new york on the red-eye after wednesday's meeting and have been out of town since. we were assigned to clarendon jbbp. it's a plum assignment and we're lucky to have it.

    what is weird -- and, i think, typical of the bizarre nature of our enrollment system, involuntary disenrollments aside -- is how we ended up with an assignment so many desire that we did not actively seek. (clarendon was not on our first list of 7, for example.) one of the reasons it was on our list going into the special lottery is that it had more seats available than most of the others (perhaps because they added that third class?). it may sounds ungrateful but it is worth commenting on how odd it is to spend hundreds of hours -- literally, in our case, since we went through basically three rounds of lotteries and have been assigned to three schools already -- focusing on finding the good in emerging, diverse, rough-around-the-edges schools, only to come ashore at clarendon. it's funny, isn't it?

    i'm sure it will be fantastic. i'm just glad we have a school again. anyway, that's our story.

  19. Is Flynn still pursuing becoming an I.B.O. school? If so, that makes the GE strand *very* appealing.

    Some of the top public and private schools in the country are I.B.O. schools (though they are much more common overseas).

    In the lower grades, it is a multi-disciplinary, inquiry-based approach. And yet, it is academically-intense enough to provide a solid foundation for the very rigorous International Baccalaureate program at the high school level. (In SF, the only I.B.O. school is a high school, International, which is associated with FAIS).

  20. Kim, I am so happy for you! How will we (i. e., all the faithful readers of this blog) survive without your humorous, insightful comments.

    Neighborhood school assignments? No way! As someone astutely pointed out, our small elementary schools with only 2 or 3 classroms (with many seats already occupied by siblings) could not handle neighborhood demand, resulting in many displaced children, and just as many unhappy families as the current lottery.

    Two things we learned this year from the lottery (and this blog):
    1) immersion is wildly popular and deserves a separate lottery (before the GE and Bilingual lottery), and
    2) there are more than 7 "acceptable" schools.

    I'd like to throw a wild idea out for discussion...

    Long, long ago (i. e., before our children were born), several select schools were given an "alternative" designation, which removed the neighborhood preference in the assignment process. Isn't it time that we dismantled this archaic designation system? The very existence of such a category implies these schools are "the best," and all others are inherently bad. Not! I am convinced that the high requests for these schools are from lemmings--those afraid to make an independent choice, those who need assurances they got "the best." Did you REALLY like the playground and play structures (or lack thereof) and fire-hazards called bungalows at Rooftop? But did you apply anyway? You get my point.

    Let's face it. All schools are available through the lottery, BUT some neighborhood don't have a neighborhood school because of their lagacy designation as "alternative."

    Maybe Chu could take up this cause if she's itching to change something.

  21. That's not quite how the alternative schools happened, though in the big picture it's accurate that neighborhood focus ebbed away.

    As explained to me by SFUSD veterans of that era, the alternative schools were created in the '70s. It was a period of a sudden enrollment drop (post-Baby Boom) and was an experiment in voluntary desegregation, and I gather a way to keep some schools open that might have closed otherwise. Each alternative school at the time had a special focus -- foreign language, arts, K-8 etc.
    In many/most cases, the special focus vanished after Prop. 13 cut off their funding.

    At the time my family applied to SFUSD ('96), the official system was that you had no choice but your neighborhood school of assignment or an alternative school. The alternative schools were either wildly oversubscribed (Rooftop, Clarendon, Lilienthal, Lakeshore, Argonne, Lawton, Buena Vista) or low-performing and unpopular (S.F. Community, Harvey Milk, 21st Century Academy) -- there seemed to be nothing in between.

    There were (and are) high-demand "trophy" schools that weren't alternative schools (Alamo, Commodore Sloat, West Portal), but since they officially were only open to residents of their assignment area, those schools weren't in the spotlight the way the alternative schools were. So that's the explanation for the lemming effect -- those were officially the only options for those of us who didn't want our neighborhood schools.

    Regarding the implication that the alternative schools were the best -- now you can see why, right? They were the only options. (And some, as noted, weren't in demand. S.F. Community and Harvey Milk have become popular since that time, and 21st Century closed and became Willie L. Brown Academy.)

  22. Caroline and others, do you think SFUSD needs to keep the alternative school category since all schools are available through the lottery? It seems like the original purpose (choice beyond your neighborhood school) is no longer valid.

  23. The distinction does seem pretty irrelevant to me. So the setup probably is obsolete.

  24. The Alternative schools give no priority to any attendance area.
    So they are different than the neighborhood school which still has to consider the neighborhood kids first and only when they no longer add to the diversity index than those outisde the area applying get a chance.
    So there is a difference...

  25. I was under the impression that the "Alternative Schools" all started at 9:30 and were classified "Alternative" because they had NO preferential attendance area. The later start time was for the purpose of serving those who had to drive across the city to get to them.

    Harvey Milk is alternative?

  26. I heard that currently the definition of an alternative school is one that has no assignment area and to which the district provides busing.

  27. You would have a riot, or a massive flight to private or creation of charter schools if all schools became like alternatives, no prefernce area, free for all in the lottery.

    People still want a preference for their neighborhood school

    For those that do not have a quality one, well, that the rub... those with a stake need to help to turn the school around. Like DW PREfund.

    And no, it doesn't happen overnght, and no, you cannot make people value education, read books to their kids at night and do all the other things that help lead toward academic success. Those "outside" the school (or rather family unit) can only do so much. However, counselors/afterschool tutor programs -- those may be helpful for families whose parents are not around. But then again, talk to any counselor and they will often tell you the kids most in need, their "parents" don't care and the kids don't get the help they need. So, the proverb is true, you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink.

  28. I can absolutely vouch for the kindergarten GE teachers at Flynn. They are both fabulous, dedicated teachers. Also, in my opinion, some of the upper grade GE teachers are among the best inthe school. Giving tours last year and seeing them in action, I would think "damn I wish my son (who is in immersion) could have her in 3rd grade...") I can honestly say I haven't met a teacher at Flynn who I wouldn't want my son to have.

    I have posted this before but I think this year became a tipping point year for our general program. Partly because there was so much overall interest in Flynn (thanks Kate!), partly because *everything* has been growing the last few years (test scores rising three years in a row, greening going in as we speak, GATE program begun last year, PTA raising more money last year - about $60K I think, when 3 years ago it was 5K, moving ahead with IBO, full time librarian) and partly because there were so many more kindergarten applicants this year. All those people who didn't get a spot were suddenly taking a serious look at Revere and Serra and Starr King and Rosa Parks and now Webster. So my feeling was, if you are considering going to a school which *may* be the next gem, come to Flynn which already IS a gem. The community of active parents is already in place and the GE program IS benefitting from the the same things I mentioned above.

    Flynn is at a point now where your middle class kid is not the only one in the class. But what I learned last year (after myself being cautious about the GE program when we toured the year before) is that there are indeed involved parents who aren't just the more visible go-getter white Moms. There are Latina and African American Moms AND Dads helping at school events, on field trips, in the lunchroom, supporting the teachers.

    It's my neighborhood school so that was its big draw for us. But we have had a great experience.

  29. "Harvey Milk is alternative?"


  30. My son got into an alternative school - Argonne. I can't tell you how many parents I've met who live within blocks of the school. It is simply way too many for Argonne *not* to have a neighborhood priority.

  31. about webster...

    i have twins and decided no on webster because i need to separate them.

    now they may have two classes?

    love the random stream of information from epc...

    anyway, anyone know for sure (as close to sure as possible!)
    1. is there after care at DW?
    2. will there indeed be 2 classes?
    3. if we take spots at DW, are we "done" with the process or can we keep a waitpool spot at another school?

    will call EPC monday but until then...

  32. Maybe Harvey Milk is not an alternative school now, but it was then. I'm not even sure how one would know now.

  33. It's mentioned in passing in Harvey Milk's description on the SFUSD website:

    We are a small, multi-ethnic alternative school dedicated to empowering our students through teaching tolerance and non-violence, celebrating diversity, achieving academic excellence and building a strong home-school-community connection.

  34. I live near Argonne - and when I walk by I never have seen one white kid on the paved blacktop playground. Not that that is a problem in and of itself, I just don't know if I want my kid to be the only one, you know? Anyone know if that is changing?

  35. Love how the Harvey Milk description mentioned academic excellence AFTER

    "multi-ethnic alternative school dedicated to empowering our students through teaching tolerance and non-violence, celebrating diversity..."

    Glad a SCHOOL had its priorities clear.

  36. Oh, re alternative schools -- a key difference is that neighborhood schools get default assignments (like those of you who were assigned to J. Serra, Cobb etc.); alternative schools don't, supposedly.

    Argonne doesn't factor in neighborhood. If there are a lot of nearby residents there, it's because a lot of nearby residents applied and lucked out in the lottery.

  37. "Oh, re alternative schools -- a key difference is that neighborhood schools get default assignments (like those of you who were assigned to J. Serra, Cobb etc.); alternative schools don't, supposedly."

    That is supposedly the case, but I've heard that kids have been assigned by default to New Traditions Alternative, at least this year and last.

  38. Anon at 7:31 AM - I think that you misunderstood anon at 9:09 PM. The suggestion was to provide neighborhood preference for ALL schools in the SFUSD. While most schools in the district have neighborhood preference (a fact that Chu so blantantly missed), Alternative schools do not provide neighborhood preference, which is an unnecessary carry over from days gone by (Hello EPC, anybody home? It is 2008, not 1970).

    I agree, all schools should be treated equally in the lottery: neighborhood preference for all yet open to everyone (effectively abolishing alternative schools). The one exception would be the immersion programs, which most parents on this blog want in a separate lottery.

    Our lottery and school assignment process has many skeletons in the closet. Time to shake things up a bit!

  39. 9:48. I live right around the corner from Argonne too and disagree. Argonne actually seems pretty diverse for the Richmond. (I've seen a healthy number of white kids too.) The school profile reports 23% OW (Other White). The fact that the school has a large chinese population is probably a reflection of the local neighborhood. Despite all pro-neighborhood school rhetoric lately, I think most elementary schools are ALREADY fairly neighborhoody because most families list schools within a reasonable proximity to their homes on the lottery application.

    I wish the district would post comprehensive data on the lottery process and its results. I think it would go a long way in dispelling many of the rumors going around ultimately showing that the process is a lot fairer than is presently being represented.

  40. Amy, I know that's true, that at least occasionally someone is assigned to an alternative school without requesting it -- I've known families who had that happen at Lilienthal and at Horace Mann, an alternative middle school. I imagine it's a coding error or something -- what a surprise.

  41. "I live near Argonne - and when I walk by I never have seen one white kid on the paved blacktop playground. Not that that is a problem in and of itself, I just don't know if I want my kid to be the only one, you know? Anyone know if that is changing?"

    Argonne is one of the whitest Elementary Schools in the district with one of the lowest free lunch numbers.

    Look at the statistics: 6% Latino, 3% African American, 23% white and 42% Chinese.

  42. "That is supposedly the case, but I've heard that kids have been assigned by default to New Traditions Alternative, at least this year and last."

    That's because NT is usually under enrolled and they still need to fill slots.

  43. Argonne is definitely "diverse" in the way many here desire, as in "has plenty of white kids" around. Many working families (of all colors) are attracted to its year-round schedule--breaks happen at off times, which suit parents' schedules and make vacation travel less expensive and hectic. And, yeah, the area neighborhood like many on the west side of town is heavily Asian, so that is reflected in the school population.

  44. I believe the alternative schools don't have neighborhood preference so that those who live in that attendance area are not forced to have their one leg up be for a school with a particular "alternative" slant if that's not what they want. For those who live in the attendance area of an alternative school, I believe they are given "neighborhood preference" to the school they list as their top choice, regardless of where it is (unless their top choice is another alternative school with no neighborhood preference, I guess).

    I believe the same may be true for schools that are 100% immersion (which, like alternatives, some folks may not want). I heard Archie Folkin tell someone at the counseling session to come see him because this person lived in Fairmount's attendance area and did not want an immersion school, so Archie told him that he could be considered within the attendance area of whatever school he decided to list as his top choice.

  45. 1:42, Argonne does have a high percentage of Chinese students (42%) and White students (31%). When you rank our school by free lunch, we are at 41%, the 11th lowest in SFUSD according to Greatschools. Ranked by English Language Learner percentage, we're middle of the pack with 33% ELL.

  46. Not all alternative schools have a particular "slant" anymore. Lakeshore's (which was once foreign language) was long gone well before my oldest started there in '96. The alternative schools were an option for those who didn't want their assignment-area school. Thus it didn't make sense to give the alternative schools neighborhood assignment areas, back when the designation made some sense.

  47. "Love how the Harvey Milk description mentioned academic excellence AFTER

    "multi-ethnic alternative school dedicated to empowering our students through teaching tolerance and non-violence, celebrating diversity..."

    Glad a SCHOOL had its priorities clear."

    Maybe that's not YOUR priority but for some other families it might be. Plenty of families are looking for a particular social environment in a school, not just the academics.

  48. Didn't School Board candidate Rachel Norton send her children to Argonne?

    BTW: I know a *lot* of white middle class families who have avoided Richmond and Sunset schools because they "don't want their kid to be the only one..."

    It strikes me as odd since they chose to live in a City that is so heavily Asian and Latino. Whites are the minority in SF. These progressive, diversity-loving Democrats have all sorts of fears about Asian families excluding their children or are just plain uncomfortable outside their self-segregated white enclaves. It is a shame.

    If they bothered to ask any of the caucasian families at one of these schools, they'd know that their fears are unfounded.

    Why is this kind of anti-Asian prejudice somehow "okay"?

    At least when they talk about schools that are heavily latino or African-American, they know to code their comments and make them about class. They won't admit to being uncomfortable with latinos or blacks, but will talk about the drag of too many ELLs in the classroom or kids coming from families that don't value education as much, etc.

  49. Yeah, I'm not worried about my kid academically. She is reading and writing already and doing addition and subtraction as well... a full year before starting kindergarten.

    I am much more worried about the social/emotional stuff. In her case, the academics will come effortlessly, but we hope to find a school where they will help bolster her areas of weakness, which don't happen to be academic.

  50. 6:02
    if she has emotional and social skills problems you should make sure she doesn't have autism, if she is doing all those things so young.

  51. No, no autism. She is just really bossy and feels a need to control every play scenario. It is *really* hard for her to just go with the flow and enjoy a game.

  52. Hey 5:58

    Why are you bashing caucasian families? While it might be disturbing that some people may have concerns along these lines, maybe it is because they don't want their child to be isolated at a school that is overwhelmingly a particular racial/ehtnic group. Is that wrong? When you are different from others, it is easy to become a target. Is it okay for Latino's, African-American and Asian families to think/feel this way, but not whites? Is it okay for you to make your divisive comments about caucasian families - to generalize.

    I know of several caucasian families whose kids attend schools that are predominately Asian, and their children have been excluded to an extent. But they haven't complained about it - they expected it to happen.

  53. No, it's fine for whites to want to be around whites. But then understand why some schools are mostly white, for the same reason other schools are mostly non white. Nobody wants to send their kid to a school where they stand out. So the white schools get whiter, the brown schools get browner, black schools get blacker.

    And we're all back in 1950s. Huzzah.

  54. Its totally natural to want to be around people that value what you do, even to some extent look like you do..... its human nature. So folks should not be bashing white folks, Asian folk, black folks for not wanting to be the "token" or the small minority in a school. Anyway, no group can claim they are not discriminatory or racist.. that's human nature too.

    However there is hope for the future... I see more and more interracial marriages, which to me is a positive, but I'm sure to some/many may be the beginning of the end of mankind.

    However, regarding exclusion, it seems to me obesity is much more of an issue amongst kids (kids being mean to others).

  55. "No, no autism. She is just really bossy and feels a need to control every play scenario."

    I didn't think it was autism either, but that's what the developmental pediatricians all said it was, when the district told me I should get my kid evaluated.

    Did you all know that 1 out of every 50 caucasian children in SFUSD has an autism diagnosis?

  56. Not every early reader is autistic or on the spectrum.

    But it *is* common for gifted kids to realize they are "different" or smarter and to not know how to deal with peers who are not.

  57. Well, I can guaranty that the way to make your child feel comfortable with people of other races or backgrounds is *not* to avoid interaction with them.

    No wonder our children inherit our own discomfort and racism.

    We do live in a city where only 22 percent of school age children are white/caucasian. Are we doing our kids a service by making sure their social circles are predominantly white?

  58. I thought most people moved to major cosmopolitan cities like SF and NYC *because* of all the different cultures here. Isn't that the draw? It was for us and our friends are a reflection of that.

  59. It is a draw only in terms of great ethnic food and the occasional festival or parade. We wouldn't actually want our kids to go to school with too many of "them"...

  60. 10:13 - so is the reason because "they" have a different value system, look different, speak funny, eat weird food, have different kind of germs, would pick on your kid..or ?
    How interestng.

  61. I doubt all of "them" have a different value system.

    The term "Asian" lumps together folks who just got off the boat and people whose ancestors arrived more than a hundred years ago.

    Do you really think both groups have the same value system?

  62. I think 10:13 was being sarcastic.

  63. 10:13

    Yes, the food is fantastic, but I could do without the parades.

  64. (changing subject)


    U.S. student, 5, faces 'learning gap' in U.K.
    Her London peers able to read, tell time, do fractions

    Nancy Zuckerbrod, Associated Press

    (08-10) 04:00 PDT London --

    That's my girl, I thought, as Olivia tore away from us to

  65. I have found that the children often self-select into groups of their own race, but the exposure to other cultures is still important to me. I am hopeful that my son will have friends of all races come from his experience in public school. While his best friend is a white boy, during recess the boys from all backgrounds played a lot of soccer last year so friendships began that way as well.

    I have found (and heard from long time Buena Vista and Alvarado parents) that birthday parties have not been very mixed, even when kids of different races are invited.

    My twin niece and nephew go to Milk and my SIL invited all the kids from both classes to their party last Spring. Only 2-3 AA families came. Still, they were in K, so those relationships can grow too over time. It certainly sent a nice message to the kids that everyone was invited and included.

    This year my son intermixed with many groups, all for the better after mostly white preschools: mostly Latino at school, mixed black, white, Asian, Latino at baseball, mostly white at Silver Tree (who knew?) and, the group he has least exposure to growing up in Bernal, many Asian kids in Science Adventure camp. Add in the friends he has of gay parents, and he's got a worldview that is very SF representative.

  66. 7:53 -- And yet, in the end, the kids in Finland kick British kids' asses in both language arts and math even though in Finland they don't *start* academics until children are 7 years old.

    So there!

  67. Hey 8:32,

    I thought the article was interesting, I don't agree with drilling 4 year olds.

    So there yourself! :)

  68. Naturally there's a ton of debate about the issue of whether U.S. kids are uneducated lazy slobs compared to the rest of the world. I happened to post this elsewhere yesterday, and it's an interesting article that addresses that topic (in the commentary by Gerald Bracey, which makes some really interesting anecdotal points about those international comparisons)...

    This article in Stanford's alumni magazine pits privatization
    advocate/Hoover Institution fellow Terry Moe against public school
    advocate/researcher Gerald Bracey. Moe: Our schools are all losers
    (because of those lousy teachers and their evil unions. Bracey: The
    scores don't really show that, and more to the point, neither do our
    nation's outcomes in real life.

    It's very readable.

    Stanford Magazine July/August 2006
    Put to the Test

    Debate about the state of U.S. public schools heated up with the
    passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001, better
    known as No Child Left Behind. The measure assesses every school's
    performance through standardized testing of pupils in grades 3 through
    8, and requires that alternatives be provided for students in schools
    judged inadequate. We asked two experts for their perspectives on
    reform and this controversial policy. Terry Moe, chair of political
    science and a Hoover Institution senior fellow, is a member of the
    Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. Gerald W. Bracey, PhD '67, is an
    independent education researcher in Alexandria, Va., and author of
    Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically
    Snookered (Heinemann, 2006).

    Terry Moe
    Thriving on Failure

    America needs to improve its public schools. There are a few
    dissenters who want us to believe that the schools are doing just
    fine, and that calls for reform are part of a right-wing conspiracy.
    But the conspiracy, it turns out, includes virtually everyone in a
    position of knowledge or public responsibility. The broad consensus
    among our policy makers—Democrat and Republican, liberal and
    conservative, from all corners of the country—is that the public
    schools are not delivering the goods. ...

    Gerald W. Bracey
    Believing the Worst

    In his 1990 book, Popular Education and Its Discontents, historian
    Lawrence Cremin observed that the growth of American education after
    World War II had been "nothing short of phenomenal." The proportion of
    high school graduates among those 25 or older had grown from 34
    percent to 74 percent, while college graduates had increased from 6
    percent to 19 percent. "And yet," mused Cremin, this expansion
    "brought with it a pervasive sense of failure. The question would have
    to be `Why?'"

    That still is the question. ...

    To read the whole article:

  69. Spoke to a friend of mine today who works at SFUSD (not at the EPC, mind you!)

    The buzz at the District is that Karling Aguilera-Fort, the rock star former principal of Fairmount and new head of multilingual, is out to turn Daniel Webster into a model language-immersion program. He is putting a lot of energy into building the program right from the bottom up and applying best practices from immersion programs worldwide. Should be interesting...

  70. If he is successful, fantastic.
    Maybe this model can then be easily replicated at the hundreds of other Sp bilingual and Cantonese bilingual programs. Open up the slots to all who are interested in learning a 2nd language.

    Those interested in the bilingual programs will have two choices -
    if you want to maintain your heritage language (late exit), then go the immersion route. If you want your child to learn English fluently quickly (early exit bilingual) then go GE. (Like all those kids who come from Russia, Africa,Greece, Japan who speak not a word of English and are thrown into GE, without even the benefit of usng the same alphabet! and manage to succeed academically). And please don't tell me somehow the Spanish or Chinese/Cantonese or Filipinos need special care because then you are dangerously close to saying that somehow it is a genetic issue.
    (And don't start the socio-economic issue -- there are a lot of African Americans amongst others from lower socio econ. status who are failing miserably in our schools and could use the resources applied to these special programs that are underenrolled).

    So I know I'm preaching to the wrong choir. All of this inequity falls on deaf ears at the BOE and Superintendant's/Adminstration office and I'm not sure why but I get the feeling it is somehow political(?) and there is definitely a perception that immersion = middle class "white" un-needy children so any movement toward immerson would seem to be pandering toward these folks and its not PC to not be helping the "poor, tired, needy".

    I'm all ears for a satisfactory response. I may have gotten it all wrong and maybe we need more bilingual programs to isolate certain ethnicities and help them suceed. Maybe this district has endless resources. Maybe the middle class families are willing to always stand in the back of the line and get a 2nd mortgage to go private if they don't like it.
    This fiasco does have a silver lining (at the expense of so much heartache of many) -- exposes past incompetence or manipulation, and brings out to the forefront some systemic inequities (Not just in placement but availability).

  71. I"m pretty sure the district is already phasing out early exit bilingual in favor of GE, btw.

    But there are two facts absent from your post:
    1) Most immigrants who enter GE programs at a young age do lose their first language. Which is a shame since these kids had a let up on becoming bilingual/biliterate (something a lot of us are desperate to give our kids)
    2) Different immigrant groups tend to have different levels of literacy and education, which is perhaps a stronger factor in their kids' academic achievement than anything else.

  72. Hi Anonymous-
    oh absolutely I do not disagree that immigrant children will lose their ability to be biliterate/bilinugal if they do not make a concerted effort to maintain/learn their language.
    But that is up to their parents and they themselves to decide. And if they decide later in HS to take up Spanish, it would be a heck of a lot easier than someone who had no exposure at all (like most native born kids). They would already have the verbal skills, the writing/grammar is what they would need to learn. Why are we worrried about whether immigrant families are maintaining their heritage language when you have kids here who want to learn a 2nd language.

    I'm talking about you have children whose families want them to pursue biliteracy/bilingualism and there is no opportunity for them because resources are shunted to programs designed for a select few (who by the way, I know of immigrant parents who pulled their kids out of the bilingual programs and put in GE because they felt their children were not learning English quick enough).

    You have to remember, if one is an immigrant to a new country and if your goal is to stay in that country and you want a better life for your child (which is why you may have immigrated to take an $9/hr job) -- your goal may very well be for your child to assimilate as quickly as possible. You don't want the child saddled with learning 2 languages. Maybe you've decided the child can learn their heritage language at home, at a later date, but you want to make sure they have a solid foundation in English so they can go on to College and not need remedial English.

    As for point b, no doubt that different types of immigrants have different needs - probably those from Japan, Russia are from the educated class,and not the poor from Mexico or El Salvador or China. But the district should not be deciding then along race/country lines. Remember, last I heard this district had limited resources -- instead they can do the pullouts similar to other school districts and pull out children based on need. And if 90% of them happen to Spanish, so be it. The basis for pull out is academic performance in the classroom, not ethnicity.

  73. There are cognitive benefits to being a balanced bilingual that monolingual parents would *love* to give their kids. There are even some studies indicating superior understanding of math, abstract thinking, creative problem solving, etc.

    But unless the immigrant parents are themselves educated in their heritage language and put a HUGE degree of effort toward ensuring their kids are bilingual/biliterate, delaying formal education in the home language until the measly 2-5 hours a day they get in high school, will not help those children obtain those advantages.

    Why is being bilingual/biliterate a worthy goal for well-off monolinguals but not for immigrants? Part of it is lack of education. They are less likely to have read the academic research on teh advantages of bilingualism and the best strategies for achieving it. But sadly, part of it is lack of access. We now know that many Spanish-speaking families that *asked* for dual immersion programs were instead sent to other programs, even though there was room for them in immersion programs.

    Being *literate* in two languages is hard. Being a good writer in two languages is hard. (Heck, it is hard for monolinguals to write well.) But it also opens a lot of doors.

    The women in my family have all had very varied careers, from concert pianists and journalists, to teachers and business executives. But when things have gotten tough financially (when the concert pianist developed crippling arthritis, when the journalist was in college, etc), they all made good money as simultaneous interpreters and translators at high-level, international conferences. Not a bad back-up skill to have. (Beats waiting tables, anyway...) But you have to be *educated* in both languages to perform at that level.

  74. Hmm. Yes. But unfortunately this district (by the way, the State also) does have limited resources so it cannot provide every program for everyone. Given that situation, choices need to be made.
    No one is saying that Sp/Cantonese speaking families should not maintain their heritage language. If that is the case, then why not set up Russian Bilingual programs and other languages?
    Oh I know I know, there are a lot more Sp immigrants, etc etc. That's still not an excuse in my book or reason.
    Bottom line -- Sp/Cantonese native speakers can still pursue their goal of having their kids be biliterate etc if they want, but set it up as an immersion program instead.
    Also from a societal viewpoint, isolating children along ethnical/race lines is not a positive.
    I guess my question would be, why is ok to limit the opportunities of monolingual kids (by birth) to learn a 2nd language that their parents value?

    One of the things I noticed since these blogs started is we really do not know all the facts.
    When we throw around terms that there were "many" Sp speaking families that requested immersion, do we know how many? What is "many"? It doesn't minimize the fact that there was some bad implementation at EPC going on here (or manipulation whatever). However, we really do not have much facts. I hear the Marshall program is unbalanced to the Sp speaking side because no English speakers apply for that program. Then I hear from a Eng. speaking parent who says she is on the waitlist (her twins are by the way).
    So facts seem hard to come by and I do not think the EPC will be offering up much -- and their credibility is shot anyway, so we're all in the dark. We just know there has been some misinformation given to families, some incompetence and/or manipulation at EPC and take leave it at that.

  75. Has anyone ever requested a French or German program?

  76. The history of the immersion programs were to help ELL kids and there are not enough French/German native speaking ELL kids in the city supposedly.
    Seems one way immersion in these areas may work -- you may generate enough interest to ensure the program is full for many years. French would be appealing too because there are actually wide swaths of countries in Africa that use French as an official language so the notion that French is just foo foo stuff and not useful is not all that true.
    Seems Arabic would be a good language for the future too. And possibly Russian, given the huge Russian population in SF. But again, doesn't fit the demographic of the tired, poor hungry Statue of Liberty agenda.

  77. There is misinformation on why dual immersion programs were started in SFUSD. They are used to continue bilingual education which was outlawed under prop 227 BUT they are not ONLY to serve the needs of English language learner kids as the whole goal is building a biliterate society. The stated goal by the BOE when they supported expanding these programs over and over has been to provide a second language to EO kids and to provide a way to close the achievement gap for ELL kids. It keeps being repeated that these were started in SFUSD to help ELL kids and that is simply not true. You can do a search for history of immersion in SFUSD and you will get all the information.

    That is where a lot of this is breaking down and not making sense. It is to be of benefit to both ELL and kids who are English speakers which is why it is DUAL immersion. The district is wildly inconsistent in enforcing it's programs which is why Marshall is over-enrolled with Spanish speakers (in a 50-50 program) but they are not being forcibly pushed out b/c the district is afraid of looking bad pushing out Spanish speakers. But the rights of EO kids are denied the program (50-50) by the Spanish speakers staying, but that's apparently ok with the district.

    So it makes no difference how many French ELL kids there are, if they are native speakers they could have 50% and start a school. Or, even if there are not 50%, there are not 50% native Mandarin speakers in the Starr King "dual immersion" program.

    There is a lot of lip service given to "making all our schools worthy of your children", etc. but then you hear that Karling Aguilera-Fort is going to make Webster his special project and make it consistent with best practices in immersion. That's great, but what about Revere which is in the middle of implementing their program, or Marshall and Flynn who are both not done implementing their programs. It seems as if there is no overall plan and these programs are slapped in and then when people want to attend the advertised programs they are denied.

  78. The Board of Education has provided ZERO leadership on this!

  79. Given this comment from Kim Green on another thread, maybe Clarendon is a better fit for them:

    who did you start finding weirdly attractive while they told you your kid was going to have to get teardrop tats on her knuckles to fit in at her new school?

    I admire her for her stand on this whole fiasco, but this cast it all in a pretty weird light for me.

  80. BTW: There is very little downside to having too few English speakers in the first few years of a dual immrsion program since only 10 percent of the day is in English. But there is a HUGE downside to not having enough Spanish speakers in that the English speakers will *not* attain fluency.

    By third grade, you really do need a very strong co-hort of English speakers to make dual immersion programs work.

  81. I don't think there is enough demand from French or Russian speakers for a separate school. A group of Russian parents tried to get a charter school off the ground but couldn't make the numbers work a few years back.

    As for French, there are two French schools in SF already, albeit private schools. Both have financial aid for students from Francophone countries and don't have *that* many takers. So I don't buy that there is enough demand for a French public school option.

    Finally: I don't think there are *that* many English-speaking families committed to language immersion. Sure, many of them listed *some* language immersion programs on their lottery forms. But few listed *only* Spanish immersion programs and none that I know of listed Marshall as their first choice in round 1 or they would have gotten it. Witness how few of the Flynnarado took Daniel Webster. They were more interested in being at Flynn or Alvarado, than at being in Spanish immersion anywhere else.

  82. Just saw the new Parents Place calendar ( and thought
    some of you might be interested in attending this session on Tuesday,
    October 7:

    Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children—What works best? Is
    younger always better? How do you support another language if
    you are monolingual? What if you already speak another language
    at home? How do you maintain it? Come make sense of it all by
    hearing from a panel of professional educators.
    Tuesday, 10/7,
    6:00 – 8:00 pm. $10.

  83. for people criticizing why they didn't take Webster a question -- would you send your child to a program that had been put together in three-four weeks? they started planning yes, but expected another year to do so.

  84. Would I enroll my child in a kindergarten class with a teacher who has 7 years of experience teaching Spanish-immersion?

    In a program that former Fairmount principal (and Buena Vista vice-principal) Karling Aguilera-Fort has vowed to make a showcase for best practices in Spanish-immersion?

    In a school that has so much community support, they have raised more money than most schools in the district?



  85. It isn't like they have to reinvent the wheel. In its first year, the Webster program is just a single immersion classroom.

    They are launching with a single kinder classroom, no?

    It isn't like they have to create curriculum from scratch for 8 grade levels and hire a dozen teachers.

    Just hire an experienced teacher who has taught immersion kindergarten before and ensure he/she has the materials and support they need to succeed.

    And this can happen as they continue to plan the program.

  86. If we didn't live so far away, we would definitely consider Webster...

  87. Yes, in all fairness to those who did not take the DW option, it could be because it was just sprung on them, could be due to start times etc.

    I think it will become a great program. And it is true that this is not the first SI program in this district, so DW is NOT re-inventing the wheel. They could easily get the curriculum materials from the other schools (and I betcha the Flynn teachers should have no problem chipping in since they are the ones that got the whole ball of wax rolling).

    There is also some truth to the fact that for some parents the "immersion" was less important than the Alvarado or Flynn school environment.

    I disagree with an earlier poster who says that there are not that many parents who want immersion (the non target language speakers).

    Hmm, no, just look at the enrollment requests posted on the SFUSD website --look at how many put these programs as first choice. Its crazy! And yes, many native speaking families may have been counseled away, so those numbers may go even higher.

    Anyway, sounds like District should continue to increase these programs in a systematic, structured way (as one poster mentioned) so there is quality control.

  88. What are "teardrop tats?"

  89. I didn't want DW because it is in its fourth year of program improvement and is in danger of being taken over by the state or closed, if the test scores do not go up next year.

  90. i have to warn you all i'm a little grumpy today and it will probably show.

    re: DW as an option. keep in mind that until the 23 showed up for the special lottery and EPC changed it's tune, we'd been told repeatedly (threateningly?) that unless 7-10 of us chose webster, it "wouldn't happen." so how could we responsibly choose it, knowing that everyone was going to waitlist somewhere else and slip away, leaving only a few standing with nothing? plus, there's that pesky matter of having three weeks to launch and karling hadn't made it his pet project yet....

    also, many of the families had already booked and paid for before and aftercare at alvarado and flynn. the district did almost nothing to try to help us deal with these private care organizations to get spots at other schools or get deposits back. some of our contingent are employed as teachers in the district (!) and have non-negotiable start and end times at work (so they can be in the classroom teaching our kids. duh.).

    sure, maybe some of the families had fallen in love with alvarado and flynn. is that so bad? are you in love with your assignment? maybe you are.

    and some of us don't drive, so DW, with it's 7:50 start time and school bus whose nearest stop to neighborhoods contiguous to alvarado and flynn is the mission, and no single bus route there, is unreachable unless you leave at 6:00 in pitch darkness (with two kids, maybe, and all your own crap for work).

    so, no, i would not say we were necessarily divas or wanted immersion any less by not choosing DW. many of us listened to the pitch, took the tour, gave it a shot. tell me this: would you send your kid to a school you had never seen in operation? pretty weird idea, if you ask me.

    to the poster who seemed to be implying that i am a big fat racist whose kid is fit only for lily-white clarendon because i made an off-color joke (holymarymotherofjesus let the PC police stop squeezing the humor out of every moment of our addled lives): man, that was shitty, so if your mission is to milk every discussion here of every shred of levity and slander the few who dare converse without the mask of anonymity, you win.

    to all 09 applicant parents: i highly recommend remaining anonymous on this blog next season.

  91. Bless you, dear Kim!

  92. Kim don't you realize that you are not advocating for at-risk youth of color? Since you are white & college educated, you have a duty to send your child into the projects! - Love, SFUSD

  93. Do people have tattoos of teardrops on their hands? ???? I don't get it.

  94. Look out Kim, the Diversity Police are going to re-educate you!

  95. 2:58 PM wrote - As for French, there are two French schools in SF already, albeit private schools. Both have financial aid for students from Francophone countries and don't have *that* many takers. So I don't buy that there is enough demand for a French public school option.

    Um, both the Lycee & FAIS are turning away huge numbers every year. Don't you think that since TWO expensive private French schools are filled each year, that there would be a strong interest in a FREE one? What about respecting MY culture? Or is that only a one-way street?

  96. could ya just look up teardrop tatoos on google and figure it out for yourself?

  97. i feel pretty re-educated at the moment. it's like floating!

    i'll be honest: you know what hurts most writers? it's not being accused of terrible things or disliked. it's people not thinking you're funny. that hurts. (i'm betraying the tribe here, but if you ever need to hit a writer where it hurts, just don't laugh at their jokes. they HATE that.)

    you know what's so funny? stick me in the town i grew up in and i sound like stokely friggin' carmichael!

  98. 7:31 PM - Ewwww~! I am SO looking into home schooling.

  99. Kim, it's clear the earlier poster didn't get your joke at all. (But I did and I actively seek your little blue and green book cover icon whenever I am in here.) And we love you even when you're cranky and raging.

    Of your most recent post, I think you meant Hoagy Charmichael - or did I just miss a joke now?

  100. i'll take you a hoagy and raise you a stokely.

    actually, all this talk of hoagies has me hankering for a philly cheesesteak...or one of those pastramis from katz's on the lower east side...yumz.

    yes, am a filthy carnivore too!

    (mad cackles...)

  101. FAIS and the LYcee are not turning away enough applicants to fill an entire new school -- and certainly not enough French-speaking ones. (I don't know any Francophones who weren't admitted, actually.)

    I know 8 families who applied to FAIS last year, half of them got in but only one is attending because only one really had it as their first choice.

  102. She meant Stokely Carmichael. Look it up on Wikipedia.

    For the record, Kim, I think you're hilarious.

    -Anon #523

  103. For anyone who's interested:

    I just talked to Hydra Mendoza. She had been out of town for a week, and when she got back one of the first things she did was call Darlene Lim (head of the EPC) to check to see what had happened with the Flynn/Alvarado mini-lottery. Darlene told her that they plan to keep the kindergartens at 21 in the schools where the F/A families were (re) placed. So if you're in the waitpool for Grattan, Clarendon JBBP, Rooftop and Starr King and someone drops out in the 10 day count, they will not shrink the class size to 20, but will take someone from the waitpool to fill that seat.

    This is what our petition (signed by 90+ people) was trying to accomplish, and I'm very happy about it! But it does speak to the District's lack of any impulse to communicate important information (even information that's likely to please)...

    I just don't understand why this whole process has to be one confusing guessing game where you're always thinking you know more than you actually do...

  104. FWIW: Hydra's kids went to Fairmount. One of them was in the very first Spanish immersion class there.

  105. 8:07 PM - You seem convinced that the idea of a French -- or German school kommt nicht in frage. I wasn't necc. saying that a brand new school needed begun from scratch, but with so many other language programs available, and the need to lure middle-class, educated white people into the system...??

    What about a program like Clarendon has for Italian Langusge & culture?

  106. Abigail - did she get it in writing from Darlene?

  107. Abigail likes to toot her own horn.

  108. The Italian language and culture class is a joke. Those kids can't actually speak Italian. (And I hear they've had a hard time finding native-speaking teachers,too.)

  109. August 11, 2008 9:38 PM - How is it a joke? Details, please. Perhaps total fluency is difficult, but a strong foundation is also very desirable!

  110. Strong foundation?

    So that they can do better in Italian class in high school or so they can actually read, write and converse in Italian?

  111. It is an enrichment program more than a serious language program.

  112. I think a French school would attract many families, if marketed correctly.
    It could be a one way immersion or a 50/50 split the way the CAIS program is such that you do not really need to have native speakers and the whole mess with the dual immersion and class balancing system.
    But of course, French is too closely aligned to "white middle class" or worst yet, horrors of horrors, possibly even the upper middle class and that just won't fly. Nope no way no can do, not with this BOE.
    Of course, Haiti one of the poorest nations on this planet speaks French, (even corrupted French to the pure francophones) but alas....
    Darn, sure wish I knew about the FAIS financial aid with no takers!!

  113. Call me crazy, but I just gave up a seat at Miraloma and enrolled my daughter at Daniel Webster. DW works out for me logistically, but I am also impressed by the support for this school. While I wish we could jump on the train next year when things are more settled, my daughter is starting Kindergarten in 2 weeks...I love the idea of Spanish immersion (Alvarado Spanish was our first choice, it's right down the street), and Daniel Webster is pretty much the only game in town right now. With PREFUND and Art Agnos, etc., this school will not fail. (Might be a little rocky in the beginning?...) I was told by Archie Fokin that they will open two Spanish Immersion kindergarten classes if there is enough interest this year. I don't know if that is true, but I am hoping that more of you folks on this blog and your friends will strongly consider DW. As an aside, my son just graduated from Clarendon Second Community, so my daughter did not get sibling preference. Clarendon was great, and I believe that Daniel Webster can be great, too. It's a little bit of a leap of faith, but it seems like one worth taking.

  114. The negativity directed at Abigail is outrageous. She is doing her best to organize and bring the plight of waitlisted 0/15ers to the District, which was more than happy to sweep us under the proverbial rug.

    She could have very well kept the information from Hydra - which provides hope to a lot of us - to herself. Thanks, Abigail, for your generosity.

  115. who is the DW kinder teacher going to be? where did they find him/her? with 7 years immersion experience?

    since i have never seen the school in action, i am going off very little. trying to decide if we should go for it or not. trying to sort through rumor and fact!

  116. 10:34pm

    I have never seen it in action either. It's a leap of faith, like I said. But you have to believe that these PREFUND people and Art Agnos are not spending all this time and raising all this money for nothing. Seems like a lot of people are very committed to this school.

  117. Nah, I am sure Kim meant Stokely Fokin Carmichael!

  118. Yes, I agree, Abigail doesn't deserve such rudeness! Play nice.

  119. Don't beat up the F/A 23 because they did not chose DW. Personal choice is personal choice. Period. Instead, rejoice for the 20 new immersion seats at a school that will be rockin' in no time. Run, don't walk to EPC and get those spots!

    Signed, Joyce--a mom who put Miraloma #1 on the lottery four years ago, causing blank stares from family and friends. Look who is laughing now!

  120. Has the District sent out a flyer or letter to families on waitlist and to any K student family that the DW program is open and first come first serve? Many families who did not get SI may not even know about this...

  121. My understanding is that one of the reasons they are considering two kinder classrooms instead of one is because they found more than one experienced, highly qualified immersion teacher when they started recruiting for DW. It wasn't part of the original plan, but they were so excited about having found two great teachers, that they decided they would consider it.

  122. FAIS and the Lycee are not *that* in demand... We know lots of people who apply, but few who list them as their first choice.

    If a group of parents really wanted to make a go of it, they could start a French, one-way immersion charter school. But I doubt there'd be many takers, frankly.

  123. for those interested in DW: the principal spoke to the 23 several times and seems both smart and warm. and the PREFUND people are rockets. you realize that now the district has something to prove -- that they can respond to an error by launching not just any program but a GOOD one in four weeks -- so why not ride that train? if we lived in pot hill or didn't mind driving, we'd jump on, too.

    miraloma to DW parent who'd originally put alvarado i know you? i think maybe ;- ) whether i do or not: ROCK ON.

    if DW were to start two classes at once this year -- that's a huge influx of fresh parents. sounds like a good thing.

  124. First let me just say that I wish I could beam myself to Katz' for a corned beef sandwich. Manoman.

    Secondly, I think the EPC has been calling people who had immersion on their lists - or who are in waitlists for immersion to tell them about DW. A friend of mine got a call.

    Thirdly - good for you Former Claerendon/Almost Miraloma Mom for going for DW. I think it could be very exciting over there. And your move frees up a slot which will lead to a happy ending.

  125. There is a definite benefit to having two classes, in that the children are not the same group for 5 yeas.
    Of course, its more work to have to hire two new teachers every year.
    I hope the District can get 40 or even 30 kids to enroll -- I hope they are reaching out to anyone who put SI as their first choice anywhere and did not get it. And just reach out anyone who has an incoming K child. Many parents would not even know about this opportunity. maybe I'll try contacting that Fokin guy, I think someone posted his email addy here.

  126. Our child goes to a *great* Spanish-immersion preschool called Centro Las Olas. They will be having Open Houses for prospective families starting in September, in case anyone is interested. Just go to

    Both of the head teachers have Master's degrees in Early Childhood and are phenomenal. On any given day, there are 4 adults and 16 kids (2 professionals and two Spanish-speaking parent volunteers). The program is developmentally-appropriate, play-based and arts-rich.

    And the kids actually speak Spanish there (compared to programs where only the teachers speak Spanish)...

    These Open Houses fill up fast, so go to the website and sign up soon if you are interested.

  127. Where is the district finding all the Spanish speakers for these classes? I understand there is interest in immersion among Spanish speakers, but it's hard for me to believe that it's equal to the demand coming from the English speaking public. I just wonder if there are enough interested Spanish speakers to warrent 8 or 9 schools times however many classes per school - and keep up the ideal 50/50 or 30/30/30 balance.

  128. There are plenty of Spanish speakers in bilingual programs.

  129. There are tons of kids in the Spanish bilingual programs. The issue is whether those parents want there children to maintain their heritage language (which is what immersion is supposed to do) and at the same time learn English. One issue is whether the child would learn English as well as if they had been in Gen Ed or the bilingual program. This would be an excellent opportunity to see what really is the interest amongst Spanish speakers. We are hearing there are many many turned away to some turned away.

    For one thing, the District could shut down all the late exit Bilingual programs which supposedly helps the child maintain their heritage language (these classes are ONLY for kids who are native speakers or near native of Spanish, no one else can enter these programs, so sometimes these programs are seriously underenrolled), but I find that highly unlikely given the political climate of this city.
    If anything the District could consider setting up some OW SI programs similar to AFY. Maybe not as effective as say dual immersion, but whats the point of dual immersion if you cannot get the 50% balance. May as well go to the OW model, and adjust the curriculum. There is more than one way to skin the cat so to speak.
    You have European and other models used to where children acquire a 2nd language without the need for having native speakers in the class. Of course, it may not be as perfect as if there were native speakers but come one, we are a public school district and money does not just grow off the trees.

  130. Re: FRENCH...
    Most of the FAIS families we know wanted language immersion and high academic standards. French, per se, was not the biggest draw except for those who grew up in French-speaking families or schools.

    They have told us that if there were an academically rigorous, private, Spanish-immersion elementary school, they would sign up in a heartbeat. It wasn't the French that made them sign up but the lack of immersion options in the private school scene.

  131. 9:36: i wonder that too. the flynn-based hardliners who attended both the PPS and DW meetings a few weeks ago pushed the idea that there were literally dozens if not *hundreds* of denied spanish-speakers out there, but i am not sure i find that plausible. of course, any family disenrolled from or denied entry to a dual-immersion program is interested in how this plays out (especially given the double standard in effect, whereby spanish speakers are not being kicked out of marshall or revere to maintain the precious 50/50 balance at those schools -- something i don't get, since while it may be politically expedient, it hurts the spanish speakers).

    this whole experience has made me think more deeply about the dual-immersion model. as a layperson, i'd defer to the greater knowledge of educators on what is the best way to educate speakers of different languages in this country, but i do sometimes wonder if the program is -- don't kill me! -- misguided. although we are great believers in multilingualism and also equity in education, my husband once said that if the primary goal of a foreign family is to get their kid speaking the local language as soon as possible, bilingual education is not the way to do it. (note that i say primary goal -- i realize there are other issues at stake, maintaining heritage and improving performance in non-language subjects among them.)

    anyway, i have to defer to his greater knowledge of the subject, since he moved to another country at age three or four and was basically thrown to the wolves in a small country schoolhouse without newfangled ideas or cultural sensitivity (though a strong predilection for giving kindergartners head cheese for lunch). he says they basically picked up the local language in a matter of weeks and it was not too painful. in fact, for years, he and his sister were referred to as "the americans" in the village.

  132. It is hard to find well-educated, native speaking teachers, too.

    There is much more demand than supply, and having a one-way immersion program doesn't change that.

  133. Kids in one-way immersion WITHOUT any native speaking models simply do not attain the same level of fluency... so as long as parents expectations on the language front were set appropriately low, low, low...

  134. ARe there any other Spanish immersion preschools around? I know they are opening one on the Daniel Webster campus, but that is "bilingual", whatever that is, and has a waiting list.

    what other programs are out there?

  135. for the record, i think it is great that, even given the horrific school funding situation, we are having this conversation at all. it is a good problem to have.

    having been educated in california public schools, i feel a bit gypped that i didn't emerge bilingual in spanish from a dual-immersion program. how simple it would have been to produce a generation of bilingual californians, especially pre-prop 13 (excepting all the big dumb xenophobes who live and vote in california, of course)!

  136. I came to the US as a 4 year old without speaking a single word of English.

    I learned English "sink-or-swim", no problem, but had a college-educated Mother who was a professional writer. She basically home-schooled me on the Spanish part so I would be literate in both languages. That is not the case with most Mexican immigrants, however.

    Those that lose their heritage language (or have the vocabulary of five year olds in their heritage language) do *not* get to have the cognitive and economic advantages of bilingualism. And that is sad, since they absolutely had the potential to speak, understand and write in both.

  137. Kim:
    What is more troubling and harder to document is the number of Spanish-speaking families who asked for help/advice at the EPC and were told that Spanish-immersion programs were for ENglish-speakers interested in learning Spanish.

    In theory, one could find out how many Spanish-speakers listed immersion programs as their top choices and ended up in GE or bilingual programs.

    But we'll never know how many people were discouraged from even applying.

    I personally know of two who were told Spanish-immersion programs were primarily for English speakers... and I don't really know that many families who applied to kinder this year.

  138. One troubling thing about all of this is the fact that the District seems to be continuing down its path of inconsistency by not working on the immersion program as a whole in the opening of DW. Why make DW a "showcase for best practices" - why not overall the entire immersion program to make them consistent with best practices?

    SFUSD needs to start being consistent. Make all the immersion programs 50-50 if they are dual-immersion instead of letting Marshall and Revere stand (that could have opened up seats for those displaced) and SFUSD considering that having more Spanish speakers makes it "late exit bilingual" well, it's called Dual Immersion not late exit so it should be held to the same standards.

    EPC should be consistent in the explanation of dual immersion to all families.

  139. I think that is one of the reasons they promoted Karling Aguilera-Fort... so he can raise the standards for all immersion programs and ensure that consistency.

    He is perfect for the job. He was assistant principal at Buena Vista for many years before going over to Fairmount to build that program. He is also president of the California Association for Bilingual Education.

    He *just* started his new district-level job, so it is too soon to judge him.

  140. About immersion preschools, an earlier poster on this thread (posted yesterday?) posted about a preschool in the Mission that she loves. The link was

  141. Karling does seem a good choice and has not really started which is why it's troubling to hear reports that he intends to make DW a "showcase".

    All of the schools should receive the same, yet my experience as a parent in the SI program in this district is that SFUSD showers attention on one school at a time but never completes the job (gives consistent support promised while the school is passing through the six year implementation period.)

    Flynn was implemented early and isn't done. Marshall is just finishing implementing. Revere had big problems in the beginning and although they put an experienced principal in, and they are on their way, they still need support. SFUSD states they do not reduce support for these schools but they don't have the personnel for all to receive the support while implementing that they need.

  142. I'm really curious about the mechanics of "denying" Spanish-speaking families immersion programs.

    Were they discouraged from applying at all -- those who talked to EPC counselors? (How many families talk to EPC counselors before filing that form initially? I never did in any of our rounds.)

    Were their applications somehow coded so as not to show they were Spanish-speaking, by rogue EPC staff seeking to steer them to bilingual classes instead?

    Was there some other tinkering in the lottery process, by those rogue EPC staffers, resulting in assigning Spanish-speakers to bilingual even if they requested immersion?

    Or (this is creepiest) did rogue EPC staffers actually intervene in individual cases, somehow manually overriding the computer process, to divert those applicants to bilingual even when they requested immersion?

    A couple other things:

    I can't speak for Clarendon, but Aptos Middle School has the same setup for enrichment Italian "class." Actually it's technically a "club," zero period (meaning before school), no grades or credits. My son was in it for a year until he decided to join jazz band, which conflicted, so he had to choose. I thought it was cool -- the learning moved much faster than regular foreign language classes because everyone was there by choice, and motivated enough to get to school early for it. The program is funded by a grant from the Italian consulate, which I believe also recruits the teachers.

    Also, re French and Russian -- for good or bad, it's a problem when recruiting as many native speakers as possible would almost by default mean actively recruiting white people (OK, there are many Africans and African-descended people whose first language is French, but not that many of them in SF, I'd say).

    I love France and only dream of speaking French, having studied Spanish all through school -- I did take it for a year at UC extension as an adult -- but I have to say its usefulness has declined drastically. I'm not sure I'd think it was worthwhile funding a whole immersion program. Arabic would be something else.

  143. I can totally see why KArling would want to focus on DW.

    By making sure they get it right from the start, they can avoid problems later on.

  144. A lot of Spanish-speaking families - especially recently arrived immigrants -- seek out help in filling out SFUSD enrollment forms. They are not as used to the bureaucracy. I think that is one of the points at which they are "steered" toward biligual programs and away from language immersion.

    The language imbalances at Flynn and Alvarado were not new this year. Though it is unclear whether the clerical error that resulted in siblings being mistakenly coded as Spanish-speakers is new or old.

  145. 10:04
    What makes you think that the Spanish speaking children who attend the late exit bilingual program are actually biliterate in both languages at an adult age?
    I wonder when I see the low level performance of Hispanics in going onto college what exactly is the problem. And I shudder when I think of my co-worker who tells me her brother was in the 7th grade and still in a "bilingual" program and he was born in the US. She on the other hand, went the sink or swim method and suffered in 1st grade but was in honor English in HS. Of course, she cannot really write in Spanish, but that was her choice to take French in HS and not Spanish. And she speaks Spanish just fine (maybe not at the level of a University professor but fluent enough to get around and travel to Mexico).

    I do not think it should be up to all the society do-gooders to decide for Spanish speaking folks that there children should be biliterate/bilingual.
    It is very hard to really achieve the written and verbal competency in both languages --in that I mean the dual immersion programs do require more work. If these children's parents are not even literate in their own language, let alone English, imagine how much more of a struggle it is for these children - who is going to help them with their homework?
    Even amongst the "anglos" or Asians, Blacks, etc -- not all of us want immersion because we see that it can be more difficult and maybe we value our children taking the extra time to pursue science and math, not nec putting that effort into acquiring a 2nd language.

    So -- what I'm saying is if an immigrant Spanish speaking family comes to this country and wants their child to learn English as quickly as possible, because the family HAS DECIDED this is the country where they want to set their roots and succeed, then they have every right to choose Gen Ed and not be second guesssed and pooh pooh because their child will lose their heritage language.
    Of course, it would be nice if they get all the facts so they can make an informed decision.

    There is a lot of talk going around here that may not be "facts" -- as one poster mentioned, we are being led to believe that hundreds of Spanish families were counseled away or turned away from SI, that the EPC is telling parents this and that. And of course the EPC will not be releasing any data on what they actually said or did.
    Personally, if I were at the EPC and a Spanish family told me they wanted their K child to learn English as quickly as possible, I would recommend Gen Ed. I would also tell them that if they want their child to learn both languages, there is a great opportunity in an immersion program. And if they want their child to just go to school with other Latinos/Latinas, then enroll in the bilingual program. And if they ask, but wouldn't the dual immersion slow them down because what, they spend 90% of the time in K using Spanish, and I tell them, oh don't worry at grade 5 all is equal and turns out ok -- well that could be a leap of faith. So some Spanish speaking parents could very well decide immersion is NOT for them. (Though obviously many also do want it because they enroll in Marshall and Revere SI).

  146. They have the right to choose GE... but they also have teh right to choose Spanish-immersion and not get shunted off to an inferior, bilingual early *or* late exit program (neither of which product bilingual/biliterate students, btw).

    Also: Your kids would probably do better at math and science if they *did* master a second language. Truly bilingual kids excell at abstract thinking and creative problem solving (compared to monolingual peers).... but most monolingual Americans are not familiar with the research ;-)

  147. 10:07: i agree that we will never know how many spanish-speaking families were discouraged from applying to dual-immersion since those programs' inception. that is a problem, but not one that inconsistently preserving the 50/50 balance or scouring the city for spanish-speaking applicants who may or may not be interested in DI will resolve (the latter is also a big resource draw, and doubtless this district has a lot on its plate at the moment).

    the district's reaction to being accused of institutionalized racism in its counseling policies is predictable: panic. this is not a good thing, because in its haste to recoup good favor with the spanish-speaking community, SFUSD may do them more harm than good (not addressing the imbalances at marshall and revere is a good example of this). also, in its zealousness to placate those who would point this finger, SFUSD may alienate the middle-class families some elements at SFUSD and PPS have been working for years to attract back to the system.

    one thing i've realized as a result of being immersed in this year-long adventure is that there is a powerful and potentially unresolvable tension between those who believe fundamentally that SFUSD cannot function without more families participating in the public school system -- specifically, middle-class families -- and those who believe the primary purpose of SFUSD is not to educate all the kids in its jurisdiction, but, rather, to educate disadvantaged kids (how this is defined, i can't say).

    now, on some level, i am neither surprised or put off by that fact. i know my kid, as the child of college-educated people, is privileged and will have every opportunity to turn out okay whatever her elementary education. but it does bear rumination. it reveals a very fundamental difference in philosophy among the various agents in this system (administration, school staff, parents, kids). to say there are factions around this issue is to put it mildly. as a taxpayer and, more importantly, as a parent of a kid whose best interests i am charged with protecting, i am concerned with the utter denial of some in this town of the importance of having a middle-class that participates in public services. this is a basic precept of a functioning western capitalistic society, and, whatever we may want ourselves to be, that is what we are.

    a veteran parent reminded me the other day that former superintendent arlene ackerman had a credo -- "parents are our partners." i think this is something SFUSD and EPC have forgotten as of late. note that arlene meant ALL PARENTS.

  148. Well said Kim!!
    And one of the other problems is it is hard to speak to the facts and come up with solutions because someone will inevitably throw in Racism, Racism. And that shuts down all conversation.

    Socio-economic demographics do correlate along the lines of race to some degree, but race is not necessarily the cause of most of the problems, or is it? Some would have you believe that is the case.

  149. But would the Flynnarado 23 have even taken spots at Marshall and Revere if they *had* forcibly reassigned Spanish-speaking kids at those schools to Flynn and Alvarado?

    I don't see much evidence of demand from English-speaking families for those schools... whereas there was lots of evidence of demand from Spanish-speakers shut out of Flynn and Alvarado.

  150. Unfortunately, most middle class families don't care about SFUSD schools beyond wanting access to the most-requested list of 20. ANd there simply isn't enough room at those schools to make all middle-class applicants happy. Period.

  151. We have decided to go with Webster also. Anyone interested in planning an incoming kinder playdate (maybe this Sat or Sun at a Potrero playground?) please email me.

  152. Flynn only had an imbalance this year. In the past it has had the opposite as in the first year there were more Spanish speakers than English speakers.

    It has not been over-enrolled with English speakers until the computer snafu this year.

  153. what is the demand of Spanish speakers? I have heard some tested and couldn't pass the Spanish test. Is there more demand than for Fairmount, etc.

  154. we like revere imms. we got clarendon jbbp but may waitlist at revere at some point to get another shot at immersion in our neighborhood.

  155. 12:07
    What's wrong with middle class families just wanting to apply to the 20 or 30 or 8 schools?
    There are families, like the one poster who put Miraloma down 4 years ago, who try out different schools and slowly things change.

    And by middle class, do you just meant the Whites? I can't imagine if one included the Asian families that the universe doesn't expand out to 30 schools or so.

  156. Kim,

    Ahhh ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! (standing O.)

    Just wanted to send you a roaring laugh.

  157. DW Immersion:
    I wanted to pass on what I've learned from a call with EPC a moment ago:
    * Those of us who have requested Daniel Webster immersion are in a list now, but importantly, the class has not be selected yet. So, a couple of you who said you chose Daniel Webster are not actually "in" yet.
    * I don't know how many folks have requested Daniel Webster Immersion, but it is apparently more than one class. So, their options are to 1) pull names in a lottery for this one class or 2) add a second class. No clue what they plan to do.
    * the DW immersion request list is now closed - no more folks can apply.
    * "fokin a" is out sick today. An email's being sent to him at home to find out when he's going to select class and when people will know if they got into DW immersion.
    * I'm promised a call back from EPC to let me know when DW class will be selected. I'll email what I learn, when I learn.

    I'm assuming they will select DW class(es) at the same time as generally scheduled 8/15 wait-pool run, but just because that would make sense, not because of anything I've heard.

    That's all folks.

  158. Regarding Kim's comment "one thing i've realized as a result of being immersed in this year-long adventure is that there is a powerful and potentially unresolvable tension between those who believe fundamentally that SFUSD cannot function without more families participating in the public school system -- specifically, middle-class families -- and those who believe the primary purpose of SFUSD is not to educate all the kids in its jurisdiction, but, rather, to educate disadvantaged kids"

    This is from the very first page of the SFUSD's strategic plan, which is supposed to be the be all and end all for district focus now through 2012. You can read the whole thing on their website. It sounds like, at least on paper, they are saying not that their mission is to help the disadvantaged (to the exclusion of all others) but rather that it is their mission to help all students.

    "The mission of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is to provide each student with an
    equal opportunity to succeed by promoting intellectual growth, creativity, self-discipline, cultural and linguistic sensitivity, democratic responsibility, economic competence, and physical and mental health so that each student can achieve his or her maximum potential.
    As described in our mission, we are committed to helping every student maximize her or his potential while increasing the achievement of already high performing students and dramatically accelerating the
    achievement of those who are currently less academically successful. The ideas and actions described in this plan are focused on one main idea: every child has the right to be well-educated."

  159. 2:57 - read the whole plan. while we all probably agree disadvantaged kids need more help, if you read the whole thing it sounds like that will be their emphasis. problem is when you have scare resources that means you take away from the others to give more to the disadvantaged. is it too much to ask that all kids be taught at their own level (basically, most are okay with their kid getting somewhat less for the greater good of someone else who truly needs it) or should they all be taught at the level of disadvantaged kids? the kids who start out behind can truly drag a class down (and call me what you will, wait until you are the parent in one of these classes).

    I think this problem is creeping up more and more because the district is trying to effect voluntary integration into schools by putting desirable programs like immersion in and it is bringing together very differently prepared kids, i.e, those who went to preschool, etc. and those who didn't or whose home lang isn't English or other factors. This is not saying that English speakers are better - don't slam me - just trying to say that the worlds are colliding (which is good) but that there needs to be recognition that everyone deserves to have education at their level.

    And this recognition needs to be from the district and teachers as well because some teachers are acting like they only got into teaching to teach disadvantaged kids and that may be, but if the school diversifies it shouldn't be so obvious to everyone how much you resent the new families in your school.

  160. 12:51... I'm not sure that is true about Flynn. The "rumor" last year among Spanish-speaking families was that if you wanted a shot at getting into the Spanish immersion program, you had to lie about your home language and apply as an English speaker.

    We know one Spanish-speaking family that did just that and got in to Flynn in a later round. (THey had originally applied as Spanish speakers to all 7 immersion programs and got zilch. As English speakers they were able to score a Flynn spot.)

  161. Well, increasingly schools and teachers are being judged on the basis of test scores... they can work on getting the well-prepared middle-class kids to score 900 instead of 800 ...or they can focus on getting those who would score 600 to score 700. They are in a tough spot.

    A former teacher told me that she was told by her principal to focus on 5 kids in the middle, whose scores could actually be improved. She was told the lowest scorers were "hopeless" and the top scorers would be fine regardless. She was to focus on those where she could make the most difference.

    I was horrified... But with such an emphasis on test scores, what do we expect?

  162. To 3:08 as a counterexample, at my child's school, it's true that in kindergarten, the ELLs who did not attend preschool (primarily low-income, Cantonese-speaking immigrants) needed proportionately more pull-outs to catch up on English skills. However, last year in my child's 3rd grade class, this same group of kids was overrepresented among the higher-performers. It's difficult to draw conclusions based on kindergarten preparedness alone.

  163. actually it depends on the teaching at the school and what is happening during the pullouts and if the school can even afford pullout programs anymore - many cannot. At the school my children have been at (both elementary and middle), the kids behind in kinder are still the furthest behind though some have indeed been high achievers in later elementary.

    for the person saying Spanish speaker got spot at Flynn as an English speaker (and why that's ok not sure) seems then that the school didn't have as many English speaking slots filled if it filled in a later round. Flynn wasn't as popular until this year when it became such a focus on this blog.

  164. "[I]s it too much to ask that all kids be taught at their own level (basically, most are okay with their kid getting somewhat less for the greater good of someone else who truly needs it) or should they all be taught at the level of disadvantaged kids?"

    I object to this scapegoating. There is no such thing as the "level of the disadvantaged kids."

  165. We registered at Daniel Webster this morning. The principal was very warm and gave us a little tour. She said there is now a waitlist--it is unclear whether the District will open a second class this year--her understanding is that there will be one GE and one Spanish Immersion class per year.

  166. To 3:08
    2:57 here
    I wasn't suggesting that it was okay for the SFUSD to take away from higher achieving kids to support low achievers. If anything, just the opposite. It says right there at the start of the strategic plan that their goal is to help EVERY student achieve to their maximum potential, and to increase the achievement of already high achieving students (in addition to helping the lower achievers) and I think parents need to hold them to their word, and not just throw in the towel and agree that all of the resources need to go to the lower achievers.

    If that was what the SFUSD wanted to do (focus only on boosting low scoring kids, to the exclusion of everyone else), they should have said so, but they didn't. They SAID that the mission was to help ALL the kids to achieve, and parents of students at all levels have an equal right to expect the SFUSD to make good on that promise.

  167. 4:48 PM - You need psychiatric help.

  168. Why the h should my bright, well-behaved early talker/reader be forced to be in a class geared toward dumbed-down troublemakers? That is the truth whether you like it or not.

  169. 5:01, a good teacher will differentiate the curriculum to accommodate kids at different starting points and learning potentials. And be aware that your child may not always be so well-behaved and seemingly precocious.

  170. Oh, I know he can be troublesome sometimes. I am speaking generally. Actually his nursery school teacher & others have told me he is an angel with them...but at home, not always...

  171. 2:01 -- Nothing is wrong with middle class families always wanting the same 20 schools.

    But they will never be satisfied with SFUSD until they can get their child into those 20 schools and there simply isn't enough room for all of them on those sites.

  172. Gee, how horrible to want your kid to go to a safe, clean school in a safe, clean neighborhood that has a strong record of academic achievement. Oh, we are wicked!

  173. Don't *all* kids deserve that, though?

  174. SFUSD can't do anything to make those families happy if the only way they will be satisfied is by a spot in one of 20 schools.

  175. No kidding. I know 4 families who got assigned to John Muir - in the middle of the projects. 3 are going private, 1 to Marin.

  176. Nearly everyone here has been posting such interesting comments...

    If I may add another point or two:

    a. Lots of rumour floating around as fact and takes on a life of its own == since EPC has zero credibility, all we can go on is hearsay and rumour. So someone posts that in previous years, Sp speaking families had to put down English in order to get into Flynn. I would think this is true if in the beginning, Flynn, like Marshall and Revere were considered too ghetto for the "middle class folk" regardless of the immersion program so that there was a disproportionate number of Spanish speakers. So was it wrong for EPC to want more English speakers to get to the sacred 50/50. Maybe the EPC was not systematically denying lots and lots of Spanish speaking families access to these progams. Now the Alvarado problem is a completely different circumstance and it would be interesting to hear the full story behind that school. Note - in no way do I condone folks misrepresenting themselves on the application, but hey, we know that is life.

    b. Back to the point that there are only 20 schools that make the middle class happy, so the middle class will never be happy. Well, maybe that is true, but then isn't that their problem to be unhappy, that is? There aren't much choices for them that would not require a bit of pain on their part -- lets see private school (some may have to take out a 2nd mortgage so work harder to pay off and forego vacations), or move out of town (well, if you are a renter, this is a no brainer, but if you owned a home, maybe not so easy, and in any case, its a pain in the you know where to move), lets see what other options do these hard to please middle class folks have? hmm, how about just sucking it up and going to the school the district assigned to them or their 8th or last choice. And betcha that the majority that go to that so horrible 8th choice most likely end up making do and even actually contributing to the school because you see, these so call "middle class" people that care about educaton want their child to succeed and in effect, end up helping the teacher, etc etc.

    c) Someone mentioned that it is the "right" of all children to be educated. How about the flip side? What about the responsibility that comes with that right? Doesn't every child have a responsiblity to show up at school and follow the rules and do their share for the greater good, and not just me me me? Shouldn't every student have the responsibilty to put in the required effort it takes to become educated. What - some magic wand touches us and we become educated with minimal amount of effort or work?

    And since they are after all just children, where are their parents' responsibility in all of this? YUP, I said parents.

    So parents should be required to take a bigger role in their child's education -- not think that it is the school or some other middle class privileged parents' responsiblity. The woe be me victim mentality doesn't cut it anymore. Having children is a responsiblity and some folks just don't get it at all.

    But unfortunately, this district just encourages the woe be me. (And don't get me wrong, there are those less fortunate who do need a helping hand but they do not just take take take). But I digress.

  177. This is funny:

    Education Buzzwords: Image and Reality
    by Kevin Killion

    The late Kingman Brewster, president of Yale University, once said, "Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession." We laugh at bizarre excesses, such as "kinetic wellness" to mean "gym class" (true example!) but jargon has a darker implication: buzzwords can be well-chosen to mask a truth that the uninitiated may find distasteful. Here is a quick guide (with a healthy dose of dry humor) of some of the wonderful-sounding phrases used in schools.

  178. Ha ha too funny. I like the collaborative projects!!

  179. I like the school board one!

  180. It just makes me sick to my stomach to hear people imply that schools like John Muir might be good enough for project kids, but not good enough for mine.

    Sadly, it is children from disadvantaged backgrounds who most need GREAT schools. Schools can make the most difference in their lives. Children of committed, well-educated parents will likely do well no matter where they go.

  181. Studies have shown that children of educated parents, who have attended preschool, who then go to school with more than 50% children from families where there are other stressors on the educational experience (trying to say disadvantaged without getting beat up b/c there are always exceptions) have a significant drop in educational ability (the children who come in prepared that is.)

    There is also some research that suggests it is not socio-economic status alone, but that of parental expectations of education and value placed on school achievment vs. family committment and economic pressure to help out. Different cultural and ethnic groups have different values.

    This is not to say one group is better, etc. it is just some points to consider. Maybe if the district wants to socio-economically integrate schools they should find other ways to get kids to some of the schools across town from their neighborhoods such as providing bus routes in both directions. Another idea is to increase programs such as immersion, but also science magnets, arts magnets, etc. that are funded by the district and not left to find funding for their magnet programs on their own. I understand the financial difficulties, but it is time for some creative, out of the box thinking (perhaps partnerships with local businesses).

    here is a link to an interesting article on socio-economic integration of schools and what it can mean.

  182. >4:48 PM - You need psychiatric help.

    What kind of a comment is this?

  183. "studies have shown"

    Why do people who scribble that out never cite the actual studies? Because they are making it all up.

  184. 10:33

    ignore the troll

    it's a private school person who makes me realize why I didn't want to send my kid to private school, because they are full of parents who think like that. (OK, not ALL parents, but enough of them to make it unpleasant)

  185. for study references look in the Kahlenberg article that was linked. You can also search for parental attitude towards education and educational achievment OR socio-economic class and academic achievment.

    my point is the low-income students do much better with middle-income peers, and it doesn't hurt middle-income peers if it is roughly 50% or so (most schools in SFUSD are more than 50% low income as qualified by free/reduced lunch).

    my other point is to reduce the district demand to "teach to the five middle kids" in poorly performing (test wise) schools and to increase committment to programs such as immersion, science magnet, art magnet, etc. as a way to incentivize middle class parents to take a risk on these schools (and to do so in a number that makes people feel comfortable.) this is what is happening at DW and has happened at Flynn and Marshall in the last four years and is starting to happen at Revere (a year ago no one would consider it).

    these are not made up things - they are out of the box thinking of ways to reduce the achievement gap for low income kids while still serving the needs of middle income kids. some statistics point to middle class kids coming in with double the vocabulary of low income kids - so the struggle is how to even the playing field for all kids without holding someone back.

  186. Someone mentioned John Muir. I think a major factor in why the middle class shuns that school is the location. The perception is that this school is located in gang territory in the Western Addition, that people get shot nearby on a regular basis, that the city has not been able to address this, and that it is not a place that one wants to park at, or near, on a daily basis for 6 or more years, to take kids to and from school. Obviously, if just its low test scores were enough to scare off the middle class, none of them would be considering Daniel Webster, or Revere, or Rosa Parks, or Buena Vista or Fairmount, none of which have particularly good test scores. I know a few of the Muir teachers and they are terrific, and so is the Principal. Just as with real estate, it is all about location, location, and location.

  187. I looked at John Muir as it was the school we were assigned to (we live in Duboce triangle) I can say that despite a pretty strong principal, there is huge disparity between this school and a Harvey Milk or McKinley - which we requested (didn't get). It did not seem like a safe place to send a little red haired white kid.

  188. Well, there was a shooting right outside Pacific Primary on Grove street a year or two ago and Pacific Heights families are still clamoring to get in...

  189. Speaking about location... What's the deal with Cobb? On the surface it would seem to me that Cobb has similar demographics to Miraloma many years ago and like Miraloma it has the potential because of location to draw a significant number of middle class families. The Cobb location is pretty great - Don't think anyone is afraid to park on California @ Scott. It would certainly take some pressure off of Sherman & Lillianthal if that school got a little boost. Just curious.

  190. CACS is also located in Western Addition. However, while John Muir is populated primarily by low-income students of color, CACS is filled with middle class white kids. I would guess this is the difference.

  191. Yes a "little red-haired white kid" would fit right in at CACS but not Muir.

  192. Is Cobb the one with the Montessori Preschool? Or am I getting it mixed up with another school?

  193. Cobb has the Montessori preschool, and the principal wants to implement Montessori into the Kinder program, from what I understand.

  194. Well, that might be an interesting way to draw from a broader range of families city-wide...

  195. We were assigned to Muir and once I got over "my little genius" being assigned to one of the worst API schools in the district, I toured it. I liked the principal and some of the teachers (other teachers not so much). The neighborhood did not particularly worry me but I've always been either dumb or tough about neighborhoods (never been sure)--I figure crime can happen anywhere and when your number's up, it's up. And if I was neighborhood-phobic I would not have wait-listed Rosa Parks for Round 2, which I did. The lack of a nice playground did not turn me off (our current school has a rotten playground). The K through 2 kids seemed well-mannered and orderly enough. I did not see the upstairs where the bigger kids are. I liked the idea of my child going to a school with such a mixed population. I wanted to be a good citizen and participate in helping a school serving a disadvantaged community. I could not overcome my concerns.
    1. The parent liaison I was able to connect with had never had children in the school. Unlike every other SFUSD school I toured, there were no current parents to whom to address questions. For me, talking to current parents is a huge part of how I feel about a school and how I think our kid would do there. I never met anyone with a child at John Muir, and everyone I asked at the Panhandle playground said "Don't touch it with a 10-foot pole" (and no, I did not just ask people with PDAs, Baby Bjorns and Maclaren strollers).
    2. When I tried to contact the PTA president (who also does not have kids in the school), I got no return communication.
    3. I do not think test scores are everything (our daughter is a fine student who tests poorly), but I really felt like I could not get a satisfactory answer about why the test scores were so bad. I've got a boy and boys test far below girls at John Muir.
    4. I was also concerned that there was such a heavy population of high-need students that our son would get lost in the shuffle especially after class sizes increased. We'd already had that bad experience with our daughter in public middle school in Lafayette.
    5. In light of the largely high-need student population, I was not sure that even if it would be OK in the early grades, it might become more problematic as children become less tractable after age 8 (according to a child psychologist I just spoke to a couple of hours ago).
    6. Although the principal encouraged me in this and I tried through this blog (I did not know of any other way), I could not connect with any John Muir assignees to see if there was interest in enrolling kids and developing some parent involvement in the school community.

  196. Does teh bilingual preschool at Daniel Webster still have openings? (The one PREFUND helped start...)

    Anyone know?

  197. ^ they currently have a waitlist....but, ya never know...
    It never hurts to apply.