Friday, September 12, 2008

The Future of The SF K Files

Nearly a year ago on October 2, 2007, I launched The SF K Files as a place to chronicle my search for a kindergarten for my daughter, Alice, in San Francisco. I started the blog as a way to organize my thoughts and emotions but it evolved into a gathering place for parents going through the frenzied process. I'm hoping to continue to manage the site and I hope that it can help those people who are touring schools this fall. If you have ideas for ways to help out this next group of parents, please post them in the comments. And if any parents touring schools this year are interested in writing for The SF K Files, please send me an email at thesfkfiles@gmail.com. Thanks! Best, Kate

284 comments:

  1. We got some brilliant advice from Lee Ann Slaton, who runs workshops at Parents Place.

    Here's my version of what she said:

    A family's honeymoon with a school often lasts through third grade. Up until then, the children are learning all these new skills, which is exciting, and the parents are still discovering the school to some extent.

    But by 4th grade the novelty has worn off and teachers have to work twice as hard to keep the children engaged.

    Therefore, the best way to judge a school is to closely observe the fourth and fifth grade classrooms.

    How are they asking the kids to apply the skills they learned in K through third?

    How engaged and excited about learning are they?

    Asking fourth grade and fifth grade parents about the school overall is smart, too. Few K-3 parents will admit disappointment.

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  2. I agree about observing the 4th and 5th grade classrooms. Among the significant new factors at play: the children are older and less tractable and the class size in public school increases.

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  3. Yeah, they call it "white flight" when the parents who loved their funky school for the early grades suddenly realize how below par the school really is, starting around 3rd grade.
    How I really noticed it was looking at the displays of classroom work in the hallways. Compare what your child's class is doing and then go look at Clarendon or Rooftop and see what children of the same grade level are doing there. Quite eye-opening.

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  4. ^I'm not sure what "funky" schools the poster is referring to. Off the top of my head, we have friends with kids in the 4th or 5th grade at McKinley, Marshall, Grattan, Monroe, Yick Wo, Buena Vista, Alvarado, Fairmount, Argonne, Harvey Milk, Moscone, & SF Community. All are middle class (or more than) and none are fleeing, including the SF Community family, which intends to stay in for the 6-8 grades. All have a pretty realistic picture of what their schools offer, and most seem pretty happy. Many of these schools were a lot more "funky" (I guess) four or five years ago, so there is some pride in being part of the improvement. None are as requested as Clarendon or Rooftop.

    Also, I have never heard the phrase "white flight" with regard to this alleged phenomenon. What I have seen is a few instances of families transferring to K-8 schools or parochial schools in the 4th grade in order to get a jump on middle school admissions, which can be very competitive for 6th. It's not a bad strategy, though there are often regrets about missing out on the 5th-grade year. My older child loved that year--it was a real culmination for that group of friends, and the graduation was very special. Not a dry eye in the house and the kids suddenly looked so grown-up and proud. Some of the transfer-out kids returned for that day to visit and were clearly a bit mournful to not be an integral part of the occasion.

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  5. Sorry but I really don't think that Clarendon and Rooftop are the absolute be-all, end-all. We know quite a few families that transferred out of both of those "trophy" schools around 3rd and 4th grade. Also, though it is common, not all public schools have class sizes that increase in the upper grades. SF Community and Creative Arts, for example, have small class sizes up through 5th.

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  6. Back to Kate's original question, I think it'd be great if school from a wider range of neighborhoods could be reviewed this year. Kate's old reviews will still be very helpful for parents beginning the process, but perhaps some more schools represented in Richmond, Sunset, Marina districts?

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  7. Please do not be so defensive.

    I don't think those "trophy schools" are the be-all end all, but the academic work they do is much more advanced than the work done at the funky but lovable schools. That is not necessarily important, but it is something to consider. I was pretty shocked at the differences between the work the children were doing, is all.
    The smaller funky schools offer more of a feeling of community.

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  8. I think there are 2 ways you could go with this blog: to focus on the K search (and have others review schools, etc) or to move on to issues with kids already in the schools (and lead the blog).

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  9. 8:45 is trying to stir up parental insecurities. All SFUSD ES's must teach the same demanding CA standards, so the level of curriculum can't differ dramatically from school to school. Of course the number of "extras" depends on the level of parental fundraising/state funding vs. neediness of the student population. However, with Prop H funding going up each year, at least all schools should have some art, music and P.E. Another thing to look at is how experienced the teachers are: younger ones tend to adhere more rigidly to state standards, and more experienced ones typically have developped their own more creative teaching methods.

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  10. I would love to see two blogs: the first would be devoted to the kindergarten search and the second would be devoted to parents sharing experiences at schools they are already in, both public and private. For the experiences blog, I would love to threads devoted to each school in San Francisco, or at least as many as there are people willing to post about. I can't imagine there is any more to say in the philosophical and political public/private debate. It would be nice if the blogs could stay focused on information that other parents will find helpful in choosing or changing schools. If people want to keep debating public versus private, that could be yet another blog.

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  11. I just do not agree with @8:45's observations about the work done. I'm guessing this is an anecdotal comment, based on touring and looking at work posted outside the classroom? Not a rigorous study? I can offer my own observation from having actual kids within a "funky" school: they are getting plenty of challenge academically.

    No doubt, there are more "advantaged" kids in Clarendon than in lots of other schools. A quick perusal of demographic information tells us that. Doesn't mean the work at other schools for similarly advantaged kids is not as challenging. It all depends on the teachers and how well they do differentiated instruction, i.e., teaching to different levels in the classroom.

    My kids are both GATE-identified, with relative special strengths in math and language arts. All their teachers have been fine at offering "extensions" for them so that they can learn faster and with more challenging material. Some of their teachers are flat-out fantastic at doing this, and also at dealing with their tendency to glaze over when material seems at the outset to be boring. This in an elementary school with lots of free-lunch, ELL kids, aka "funky."

    I'm not being defensive here. I'm just saying that you don't need to go to Clarendon or Rooftop to get challenging work for your GATE kids. No need to feel insecure about looking beyond those, just know what you are looking for. The thing to ask current 4th/5th grade parents about is the quality of the teachers in terms of differentiated instruction. Also the support of the school overall for GATE kids. There are schools that are better at this than others. But you do not have to go to Clarendon or Rooftop to get it.

    --from one in the trenches already

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  12. Marlowe's Mom, I agree that this cohort has discussed private/public to death, but remember that the newer parents have not, necessarily. They may still be stuck in playground gossip mode that there are no good public schools, or only Rooftop or Clarendon, and that *everyone* ends up with private in the end. That's where I started a year ago. Yet ended up with public school, and give this blog some credit for that.

    I do agree that there are some different themes to play out: the search/enrollment process (the horror of that and how to navigate it); experience/reviews of actual schools; and the experience of our cohort (Kate and the rest of us) as our kids go to kindergarten, first grade, and on up.

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  13. We know a family that left Clarendon for BuenaVista in third grade. They feel the BV kids are quite a bit behind the Clarendon kids in Math and are paying for a private tutor. However, they feel the switch was worth it as their kids are now bilingual and they really like the BV community.

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  14. 8:45 is trying to stir up parental insecurities.

    True or not, the one thing this blog showed is that is doesn't much matter what you think about which schools... the outcome is not much up to you.

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  15. Did anyone here apply to several privates and not get into a single one?

    Trying to figure out how many privates we should apply to as back-up to public.. and trying to learn from others' experiences as we go through the kinder process for next Fall.

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  16. 12:03, you are on another planet. They may teach from the same curriculum and have the same standards, but there are HUGE differences amongst schools.

    I defy anybody to put their McKinley 5th grade class up against a Town or Burkes, and I defy Clarendon or Rooftop to put theirs up against a Marin Wade Thomas or Brookside. Each of these schools are all over the place. What's right for you and your family is right for you and your family. But happiness and quality are two distinct things, and can be actually quite tangible.

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  17. To 2:10, you should apply to as many privates as you can stomach. It's a hard process, but at the end of the day, you either have choices or you don't.

    Our family went 0/15 in the publics, and 0/7 in the privates, then got into a private off the waitlist rather quickly in the beginning. There was no rhyme or reason. It just is.

    Other perfectly bright charming attractive kids end up moving out of the city, and they are no different from the kids that got in three or four places.

    Honestly, seven or more places isn't too much from an "odds" standpoint, if you and your kid can stand the process.

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  18. "12:03, you are on another planet. They may teach from the same curriculum and have the same standards, but there are HUGE differences amongst schools."

    Thank you.

    Why are people so afraid to admit that? Yes, the curriculum is the same, but the results accomplished, the quality of the actual work the kids are producing from that same curriculum vary so much from school to school it isn't funny.

    Some people are in total denial.

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  19. 2:25 - Do you have *any* sense of why you didn't get into privates the first go-round? *Anything* you feel you might have done differently? ANy tips beyond applying to seven?

    Did you apply for tuition assistance? I hear that makes it harder to get in.

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  20. Just look at the recent study on kindergarten readiness. When a significant percentage of your students aren't ready for kindergarten, you already start out with a huge disadvantage in achieving the state-mandated standards.

    Public school kids admit four-year olds, something none of the high-achieving private schools would ever do... and those privates screen the children to make sure their kinder-ready.

    That might be the biggest difference of all in comparing publics and privates -- beyond any changes in curriculum or teacher/program quality.

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  21. My suggestion:

    * Post groups of schools. IE: "Private Boys Schools," "Public Spanish Immersion Schools," "GE Schools," "Chinese Immersion," "Progressive Private Coeds," etc. etc.

    * Let people post their own perceptions/rumblings/opinions under whatever subject is most relevant.

    * Perhaps that would help bring in new info and reduce the inflammatory (and extremely repetitive) private/public debates.

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  22. I think the above idea is good.

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  23. rumblings or ramblings?

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  24. How about grumblings? :)

    I LOVE annon 4:02's suggestions of having the categories for indivs to rant. It'll be more comprehensive than greatschools.net which seems heavily weighted towards public elementary schools.

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  25. "12:03, you are on another planet. They may teach from the same curriculum and have the same standards, but there are HUGE differences amongst schools."

    More like, there are huge differences between school populations. I am not naive enough to say that demographics do not have an effect upon the school itself, but still--if your kid is advantaged in many key ways, your kid will likely be fine in a mixed setting. Meaning, your kid will end up in the same college as if he/she went to Town, Burke, Clarendon, whatever. So if you want to spend the money on the so-called top privates, go right ahead. If you want to huff and puff to get into Clarendon, go ahead. Nothing really wrong with sending your kid to those schools. But don't buy the hype. There are plenty of mixed schools with that wonderful, diverse, yeah, funky feeling that will serve YOUR kids just fine along with everything else you give them at home. And, we'll all see each other at the drop-off for Harvard, Amherst, Bowdoin, Stanford, or UC Berkeley.

    Let me be clear: I *do* think that a high concentration of poverty creates problems for learning, and for the teachers' ability to teach to the accelerated kids, but a mixed setting, in the actual experience of my kids and myself (in a previous generation) has worked fine. As long as the teachers and principals are good--and those are the KEY things to look for, along with parental involvement--your kids will do great. I went to a top-10 ranked college from one of those schools and so far have no reason to think that my kids won't do the same, if they so choose.

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  26. Following up on what 2:33 PM wrote - Does anyone know if applying for financial aid makes it harder to get into a private?

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  27. I have a suggestion! Please add a "search" feature, so those of us just starting the K search can find specific topics rather than clicking through a year's worth of comments...?

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  28. 5:16 -- You're so right. In some ways, it is harder to get into the "good" private high schools and colleges if you are applying from a "top" public or private school. They'd much rather take the top kid from an under-represented school than a middling kid from a top feeder.

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  29. I've heard that, but have also heard that something like 35% of the freshman class at Harvard comes from private school, so obviously private school students are represented at a much higher rate at Harvard than in the population of graduating seniors as a whole.

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  30. As one of those top kids from an under-represented public who ended up at MIT, I will chime in and say I was not as prepared for the rigors I encountered there as my college classmates who came from Bronx High School of Science or a top-notch private. Sure, I got in, but I wish I had been challenged and developed better study habits earlier.

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  31. The kids at Lowell (and many of the AP classes at Lincoln and Washington) and also several of our middle schools are getting plenty of rigorous training in organizing their work, developing study habits, and competing with smart, ambitious classmates. That's where it really ramps up. You should hear my kid talk about how much harder she has to work to keep up with the kids in her honors math class these days. And she is very bright. This is a different world than my small-town (but decent) public high school. It's also way more competitive than my fancy private middle school. These kids are working very hard.

    Put this in perspective, people. You can send your bright, well-fed, read-to-every-day child to a funky school (just not a high-poverty one) for elementary and he/she really will be fine. You will save tens of thousands of dollars over private (and if you have it to start with, you can spend some of it on extracurriculars or family travel to cool places) along the way.

    Then for middle or high school, there are good options in terms of honors programs and of course Lowell. There are plenty of smart, hard-working, yes immigrant kids who are hungry to succeed and whose families are pushing them. There will be *plenty* of competition to prepare your kids for college in this town in several middle and high schools. Not all, but a definite grouping of them.

    Are we so insecure as parents that we doubt our ability to provide lessons in hard work and discipline along with the schools? So much that we want to pay hundreds of thousands for private school to guarantee it? It's not like they come with equal costs. It's fine to go private, but then you do miss out on some of the benefits of public (lessons in diversity and whatever the opposite of entitlement is...the hard and gratitude you see in so many immigrant families, the social mix) AND you spend SO MUCH money. I mean, it's yours to spend, so whatever, but I'll save it and spend some of it elsewhere, thank you, and still see you at move-in day at Amherst or Stanford or UC Berkeley. And you'll be seeing my kid's classmates too.

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  32. Applying for assistance does matter! I was told it didn't make a difference, the decisions were made separately, don't worry, etc etc. Ha. I applied for assistance and admission at three private schools at the preK level and got waitlisted at all 3. One of the admissions directors admitted that they do consider need because there was only a finite amount of money in the pot. Of course that makes sense. I was impossibly naive.

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  33. 7:55

    MIT mom here. I would in no way consider Lowell to be a school which is under-represented in the freshman classes of highly selective colleges. I was the first kid from my high school to go to MIT ever, that's under-representation. If my kid gets into Lowell we will seriously consider sending her there, but in the meantime, I consider the money being spent on her private to be well worth it.

    For fuller disclosure, I didn't opt for private from the start, but started her at the smaller funky-ish school she was alloted. She was miserable so I moved her to a private in March of her K year. That more than my own under-preparedness for college is how she ended up in private. Having seen both schools up close, I feel I am definitely getting my money's worth.

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  34. Yeah, there are more private school kids at Harvard... but if you aren't in the top 10% at Exeter, St. Paul, Andover, Hotchkiss, etc, you'd be better off applying as the valedictorian of a no-name high school in North Dakota.

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  35. I went to an Ivy League college having attended a mediocre high school. Yes, the prep school kids were infinitely better prepared and had a smoother academic transition. But they were also world-weary, jaded and plain old burnt-out. I was increasingly excited about my education and scoring straight A's by my junior year.

    My closest Mom-friend here in SF is an SF native and attended University High School. She said she was completely burnt out on academics by the time she was a freshman at another Ivy.

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  36. I went to St. Paul's way back in the dark ages, and out of my class of 125 about 40 kids ended up at either Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford. Most of the other Ivies also had very high numbers matriculating from my class. Other popular schools were Williams, Wesleyan, Amherst, Duke, and Swarthmore. There is a very prevalent culture of very high achievement at these schools.

    I would think that now the kids are somewhat more dispersed, because college admissions in general seem to have become a lot more competitive in the last 20-odd years.

    On the whole, I think the college that your kid could end up going to should be far from the highest priority in choosing your children's school. When it comes to education, it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey you take to reach it (sorry to be so cliche, but that's how I feel).

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  37. some families emphasize rigorous academics, other social/cultural enrichment and milieu. there is lots to be found of both in sfusd and in the local privates.

    this whole discussion started, though, when someone made the somewhat outrageous point that kids won't get rigorous study unless they go to clarendon or rooftop; someone else or maybe the same person said something on another thread about sf public schools being shit.

    we can certainly discuss the pros and cons of public v private (there are pros and cons to each) and pros and cons of specific schools and specific enrollment processes (again, pros and cons to each). what i hate is the bashing...public schools are shit....so, so not blanket true and this is where i speak up. i know others will speak up on behalf of private schools to say they are not all bastions of snobbery. that's fine. nuanced discussion is much better. i'm glad i went with public, and i get why some of my friends did not. i hope this blog will continue to be useful for the next group of parents.

    ###

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  38. RE: financial assistance -- a good thread topic!

    You'll find that the schools with larger endowments or funds for assistance can choose the students and then allocate the money to those who were accepted and requested it--they have more money to give. They choose kids who are likely to be successful in their programs. Schools with smaller endowments have to approach it differently because they have less to spread around.

    Ask the admissions directors how much money they have to give, how the decision is made to give it and by whom. You'll get a good sense of a particular school's approach based on the response.

    The highly competitive schools are actively seeking all kinds of diversity--ethnic, religious, family structure, socioeconomic, zip code, preschool, you name it, because students and the school benefit from a diverse community.

    Don't let the fact that you would need assistance to make it work keep you from applying to or exploring private as an option. If you have the time and the energy, it's absolutely worth it to tour public, private and parochial so that you know what your options are.

    Start scheduling those tours NOW.

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  39. "I've heard that, but have also heard that something like 35% of the freshman class at Harvard comes from private school, so obviously private school students are represented at a much higher rate at Harvard than in the population of graduating seniors as a whole."

    Do people REALLY think about which college their 4 and 5 year old is going to go to? REALLY? I just don't get that at all.

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  40. Kate, what I would love is if you could find another parent (or three) who is/are touring schools this year and post their "reviews" of schools. If you agreed on ground rules -- e.g., I thought you did a lovely job last fall emphasizing the positive on each school you toured and making your negatives gentle and very much your personal observations -- then maybe this blog could continue to be the amazing gathering point it became over the past year. I think we "veterans" actually really love to engage with parents new to the system, both to handhold and (maybe overmuch in some cases) share our own experiences.
    BTW I was at the OMI festival over the weekend and met your principal and a number of great parents. Jose Ortega is on the move!!!

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  41. "I've heard that, but have also heard that something like 35% of the freshman class at Harvard comes from private school, so obviously private school students are represented at a much higher rate at Harvard than in the population of graduating seniors as a whole."

    How do you sort out whether this is about the family's economic bracket? Wealthier families are more heavily represented at private K-12 schools and more heavily represented at Harvard. And don't forget to factor in legacies, probably also more likely to come from private schools, and admitted largely regardless of academic achievement.

    Harvard recently broke new ground with a financial-aid policy that offers substantial assistance to any family with an income $180,000 or below -- it's free to a family that makes $60,000 or less. But that has spurred lots of debate about whether Harvard will now be less likely to admit kids from families in those brackets. An increasing number of top colleges is following suit with similar policies, raising more of those questions.

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  42. This is all very interesting, but you realize that no academic achievements are needed to qualify you to be President of the United States (or VP for that matter)

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  43. Please please can we get back on topic about how to make the blog(s) useful for K searchers and other school families who may be considering changes rather than turning this thread into yet another debate about public versus private and who feeds into what colleges. If people want a public versus private debate blog they should start one and parents who want to participate in that discussion or become familiar with those issues as they start their K or other school search can do so.

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  44. The lottery system will be changing soon - the school board has agreed to make changes in spring of 2009, which will be implemented in time for children entering elementary school in 2010. They just haven't decided how exactly things will change. This blog would be a good way to mobilize parents to influence the decision.

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  45. RE HOW MANY PRIVATES TO APPLY TO.

    we didn't get into anwhere we applied, public or private.

    I learned that most privates try to balance gender. In our case, most of the siblings coming into Kinder this year were girls, so our girl didn't stand a chance (they took boys.)

    Also, privates take older kids (5 1/2.) Our girl tuned 5 in August. Not young by public standards, but young by private.

    This type of info isn't handed to you, so ask when you inquire into private.

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  46. I'm the 4:02 PM poster who suggested creating threads that would include various types of schools.

    I have another additional suggestion. Also create a "public/private debate" thread - and MOVE every related posting to that thread so the rest of us don't have to wade through them (yet) again.

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  47. I thought LIve Oak had all male siblings and only took in girls this year?

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  48. I disagree with setting up topical threads that are meant to stay alive for more than a week or two. People don't use blogs as reference tools; they want to jump into the fray on any number of topics on a daily basis. Better to just cycle in every couple weeks something like "So what's up with private school?" or "How's the PTA going?" (Pretty much like you're doing now!)

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  49. Shout out to all the MIT grads who went to public schools. Who knew there would be so many :).

    Agree with several points already made:

    The 'new' K parents have to go through their own journey regarding the process and what school is right for their school. Good luck to them and I think they should be allowed to have the space to discuss and process as a group going through the same thing.

    Privates do try to balance by gender and skew towards older kids. Something they don't tell you. Boys turning 5 in the summer or early fall need not apply. Girls maybe. Would be worth trying to get the skinny on how many siblings and gender spots are taken/available so you can determine your chances.

    Try not to stress out. In the long run - other things probably matter much more regarding success and happiness in life.

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  50. What happened at Live Oak is beside the point. My point is that when applying, it's a question to ask. I felt a like my money was taken and my time wasted, because they knew my daughter would not get in this year.

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  51. 5:47, I don't think they knew and took your money on purpose.

    Except for French American. Those mfers recruited my gay family, led me on for weeks, told me to my face they wanted me, then didn't even put my bright wonderful daughter on the waitlist.

    FAIS can gft.

    But seriously. If I had to do it over again, I would never go near Hamlin, FAIS, or Children's Day. Total waste of time.

    Burkes is great. Chinese American is great. Marin Academy and SF Day. Brandeis. The parochials are lovely. But the rest are just a big scam. I hated how I was treated, led on, and all that.

    0/15.

    If I had to do SFUSD over again, I either 1) wouldn't bother or 2) name the low level non-popular schools exclusively. Putting the words Clarendon Rooftop Miraloma or a few others on the list was a colossal waste of ink.

    Actually, I would have just moved out of the city and had a nice summer painting my five bedrooms. Honestly.

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  52. ... vs. my teeny two bedroom in the City that I pay as much as you do the five bedroom out of the City.

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  53. But I'm stuck with my two bedrooms, because I had faith that everything would work out. It did not.

    So out of the city we go.

    The end.

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  54. My friend the mathematician proposed the following strategy for SFUSD enrollment:

    1) Find a "second tier" school you love and list it as your first choice.
    2) Fill the rest of your list with trophy schools you know you will not get into.

    She claims this will increase the odds of your getting either your first choice school in Round 1 or getting it as a priority, 0/7 cohort in Round 2.

    Sound sane?

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  55. As a 0/15, I don't find any strategy sane at this point, but ok. I'll try that for the 1st grade round next year.

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  56. 6:41

    Can you tell me what you didn't like about CDS? I'm setting up appointments for open houses at the privates now. I've already signed up for San Francisco Day School and The San Francisco School. We're also planning on touring CDS, FAIS, Lycee, Presidio Hill, and Live Oak. Do you have info/insight on these schools? Thanks!

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  57. IMO the best strategy is to simply list the schools you want in the order you want them, making sure to include at least 2 less popular choices. The mathematician's strategy would only be a good one for someone with a definite private/parochial school back-up and a strong stomach.

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  58. What are you looking for?

    I can't think of schools with a more different pedagogy than FAIS/Lycee and Live Oak/Presidio Hill/CDS/SF School.

    Do you want a very traditional, rigorous, structured (some would say rigid), environment where the focus is on academic achievement, or a progressive school where academics are but part of the picture? That list looks schizophrenic.

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  59. I think she's leaning toward Rosa Parks or Harvey Milk as a first choice, Clarendon, Lilienthal, Rooftop, Alice Fong Yu, Alvarado and other "impossibles" as choices 2 through 7.

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  60. I just wasn't that impressed by CDS. It seemed kind of loosy-goosy... They made a big deal about having integrated Spanish into the curriculum starting in Pre-K, but then they admitted their 8th graders are placing into Spanish II only, despite all those years of exposure to the language. In other ways, it felt like a public school, albeit it an expensive one.

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  61. Kate, how about a thread for specific school questions and discussions?

    For the person stacking the list with trophy schools, be prepared to get into one and then be stuck in it with no priority in the second round. It happens.

    6:41 sounds like a troll. The list of schools liked and disliked doesn't really make sense, and Marin Academy is a high school.... To say "the parochials are lovely" seems odd because there are so many of them and they are all over the map in term of quality.

    Reader beware!

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  62. 8:25

    Basically, I'm just curious. I've only been in SF a few years, so I really know nothing about these schools. All their websites spout off the same sort of rhetoric, so you can't really go by that. Honestly, I'm interested in the French schools and SFDS the most. I don't want a religious school. I do want co-ed. I don't want something particularly lovey dovey, I'm ok, you're ok, let's make mudpies instead of learn the multiplication tables. I want a school that's fairly challenging academically, but not grim and humorless. I'd like a school where my kid can have fun some fun, too. I guess I'd like a mix of strong academics, arts, progressive thinking, and traditional methods, as well. I'd like the kids and the parents to be fairly cool and laid back people. Yeah? I dread writing essays for these places because I will have to rein in my skepticism and pretend a much more focused desire for the schools than I'll probably have. And fyi, I'm looking at public schools, too.

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  63. Advice to parents applying for public:

    1. If you put the oversubscribed schools (IE Clarendon, Rooftop, etc) on your list - but NOT first choice, you will NOT get into them, AND you may risk getting placed into a 2nd tier school (IE getting one of your 7 choices) which you may not WANT, and then you have a lower priority in the waitpool.
    2. Definitely do NOT take anyone's advice on a school without judging for yourself and what's best for your child
    3. See as many schools as you can, but don't kill yourself. You don't have to make a good impression, so once yet get what you need, move on.
    4. Consider aftercare if that is something you will be needing.
    5. I would say put the schools you really want in Round 1 (obviously try to diversify) and then in Round 2 go to your second tier.

    I don't know if that's helpful but it's just my 2 cents.

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  64. Totally agree with the poster who likened CDS to a public school you have to pay tens of thousands to attend. It was all sit-in-a-circle-holding-hands free kind of place that valued diversity over academics. The kids didn't look that sharp or motivated, the stuff on the walls was sort of boring, and the kids themselves were dressed shabbily and disheveled. Discipline seemed to be a problem.

    The whole place looked like a kids room that needed to be cleaned up. Live Oak was the same, but neater. Too too creative and 'out there' for me. Progressive might work for some kids, but I'm more traditional.

    However, if my kid needs that, I'll switch from my uptight rigorous academic strict school in a second. It's what is best for the kid, first and foremost.

    My daughter may need less structure, but until I'm sure she does, I really have faith in the strict academic school where we are, a private school. Besides, the community is outstanding, the events are very supportive, and it feels like a classic school.

    I could be wrong.

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  65. For all their "progressiveness", I hear LIve Oak does really well with gifted kids who more traditional schools have trouble challenging.

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  66. If you wait until the second round to diversify, you may end up being one of the 0/15 people. Except for the waitpool school that you are allowed to list when you turn in your Round Two list, you will only get into a Round Two school if there is very little interest in it -- that is, if it does not fill. (It still may be a good school -- after all, Kate got into Jose Ortega MI from her Round Two list). So my advice is, unless you have a private school backup, or are willing to tolerate a lot of risk, put some schools that you are reasonably confident you will get into on your Round One list.

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  67. For those out there looking at schools, I would like to bring up a point that became a thread some months ago.

    Don't overlook the parochial schools!!

    A couple of parochial schools in SF like St Brendan's and Notre Dame des Victoires in particular are just as good as the so-called super expensive top tier. These two schools cost about a third what the other privates cost, and being that it's San Francisco, it's very diverse and accepting of non-catholic things, like the many gay families or single parents or gay teachers that are involved. Yes, they limit the number of non-catholic families, but it is totally possible to attend and not be catholic.

    Yes, it is very much a catholic education, and there is religion. But I think religion is a great subject to learn about. And the discipline and academics are so amazing at these schools. The sports programs are the best, and they have full time art and music programs too. Public schools just don't have these things in mass like they used to, so 'paying' for it by having the kid sit through religion classes makes it worth it, yes?

    Did I mention it's a third the cost? These schools cost in the neighborhood of $6500 to $8500 per year, which is nothing to sniff at.

    I bring it up because so many people dismissed or never even considered parochial education out of hand, and by the time they didn't get into any privates or publics, it was too late and they had to leave the city.

    I'm talking all of the religious schools, just the top ones. Notre Dame, St Brendans, St. Brigids, and St. Mary's. Just as good as the $28K per year ones.

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  68. How pervasive are the religious trappings? Does it permeate all aspects of student life? Is it just one class? How does it work?

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  69. 8:46. 6:41 is definitely not a troll. Marin Country Day School, is what she meant to type.

    Some of the so called top tier privates in SF are really hideous, and she was just sharing her experience.

    You have to accept, 8:46, that many people went 0/15 and are having to leave the city against their will. That doesn't make them trolls. I wonder how you'd feel if you'd worked your heart out, applied to numerous privates, went 0/15, and ended up with nothing?

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  70. you *much* religion do the catholic schools teach? Are non-Catholic kids required to take religion class?

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  71. Can someone please clarify? What is a troll? And where did it come from?

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  72. My daughters attend Notre Dame Des Victoires, and I agree with the poster who said it was as good as the top schools. We started out at French American, and found that school to be really great academically, but very difficult socially. The kids formed cliques and the teasing and bullying was horrible! The administration did nothing. They were just too tough for me, but you couldn't complain too much because the academics are just top notch. There was no community to speak of. It cost $30k per year after fees.

    When my second child came up, I almost died paying $60K per year, but I did for a while. I finally gave up and transferred into NDV off the waitlist. I pay about $13,000 now for two kids, and my kids really prefer NDV to FAIS. They are now more polite, more disciplined, more involved in the community through the service programs, and we have a huge extended family that we didn't have before. I seldom have to drive my kids to team practices or lessons because there is always some generous family who helps out.

    Now if I was super rich, would my kids still be at FAIS? Well probably, honestly. But if I win the lottery next week and can afford to send them to FAIS again, I wouldn't. Now that I've experienced and know how great a school NDV is, we are here to stay.

    The religion is about an hour a day, and once a month, the kids go to mass. Non catholic kids take part, as a cultural exchange sort of thing. The seven year olds get all the lessons to do their first communion and the eight graders get confirmed. But the academics are a bigger part. And the art classes are the best I've seen in any school. They put on big plays every year, and these things seem bigger than religion for the kids.

    Best part of NDV is the focus on French culture. My kids have French lessons, but it is by no means bilingual.

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  73. Do they make everyone take communion and get confirmed? That seems odd.

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  74. Only the catholics. The other kids do take part as a cultural exchange.

    Honestly? I baptized my kids so they could get into NDV as a fail safe plan in case I didn't get a public school. I'm not too crazy about the catholic element, but my son really likes the god thing.

    A little spirituality is not a bad thing, especially if you get to have cool discussions about it over dinner. It beats talking about video games.

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  75. To 9:42, I hope you are not banking on it juts because your kids are now Catholic. NDV is super tough to get into, as hard as any of the expensive schools.

    Over a hundred applied and only two girls got in. The boys had better luck, but they give priority to siblings, and being Catholic, we have lots of them!

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  76. What privates are considered "top-tier"?

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  77. I think the point is that you pick a second tier school you love as your Round 1 choice and load the list with "trophies" so you get that tier 2 choice you love.

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  78. Top tier is a bad term that we grew to hate on this list. It means the ones that are hardest to get into. The ones that cost $20K+ and where your odds are about 10 to 1 of getting in. Whether they are the best is a huge debate.

    You hear awful things about each of them, if you surf around. You also hear grand things that make you angry you're in public. It goes both ways.

    I would say the tops are Katherine Burke, Town, FAIS/CAIS, SF Day, Marin Country Day School, Hamlin, Brandeis...? Sacred Heart? NDV? Anybody else?

    The crunchy progressive schools are Live Oak, Children's Day, Presidio Hill, Friends School, etc.

    Middlingly not so hard: Stuart Hall, Synergy, Cathedral, Stuart Hall, Lycee La Perouse, Sacred Heart, etc.

    Basically, these are the schools that feed the top tier high schools, like University, Lowell, St Ignatius, Lick Wilmerding, FAIS, etc.

    I am told that getting into high school makes the kindergarten experience seem easy. I dread it.

    Others may have entirely different lists, but these are the ones I heard over and over and over.

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  79. Top tier means they reject the most applicants. Many families applied to five or seven of these, and got one or nothing.

    It's rare to see a child get accepted by more than one or two schools. I never heard of it.

    The system makes your decision for you, inasmuch as the lottery computer does for public. You don't get to pull out a fat checkbook and make a decision. Tons of really rich families are devastated when their little darlings don't get in their pick, or anywhere at all.

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  80. 8:49-

    I recommend that you check out Friends. It's a Quaker school, but not a "religious" school along the lines of a parochial school. And it has good academics in an excellent all-around curriculum.

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  81. Just to clarify a point in an earlier post: Friends is not a progressive school. Curriculum-wise Friends mirrors SF Day or Town much more closely than it alings with Synergy or Presidio Hill. And Cathedral, although very formal in some ways, takes a very progressive approach to their teaching in many other ways.

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  82. 10:22, I disagree that Friends is not progressive. I think it is an amazing school, highly academic, but its approach couldn't be more different from a strict Town or Burke or that kind. The kids are casual, the teachers are very creative, and like Presidio Hill, the approach is totally not traditional.

    Friends is amazing. Don't mistake me. It's on the high end of the quality spectrum, whereas I'd place Live Oak and Synergy on the low end quality. It is progressive.

    These are all odd terms. Very relative.

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  83. "Top tier is a bad term that we grew to hate on this list."


    Got to love that collective we.

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  84. I will use pure quality terms here, and not distinguish with types of schools (progressive, traditional, strict, etc.)

    The best academic schools in San Francisco are FAIS/CAIS, Friends, and Katherine Burke. Kids who come out of those schools have European quality education and can compete with the best students anywhere.

    Schools like Hamlin, Town, SFDay, etc. are great too, but you keep hearing awful things about them. Like the girls at Hamlin are stressed and cutters, or the Town Boys are bullies and violent, or whatnot.

    Schools like Synergy and Children's Day and Live Oak just don't turn out the high scores that others do. But the kids and parent love them and everybody's thriving.

    I agree with the poster who liked NDV and St Brendans, but you trade off high class size (30+) for a type of strict discipline that simply doesn't work with many kinds of learners.

    All the rest of the schools are sort of a blur, although not to the families who adore them and the kids who thrive there.

    Many families need a school to fit their vision of the world, and if that's important, you should find your bliss and go for it. Not all schools are right for you. Other families need a school that will put the right words and names on the resume for the Ivy League. Often this means the kid suffers, but just as often, the kid goes on to the Ivy League--the same kid who just wouldn't without the help of that brand name school.

    And yes, it's crazy, but it's true: parents who are thinking 'ivy league' start doing so in kindergarten, and often indeed the Ivy League does start there.

    I think most people on this list want their kids to be happy, to grow up healthy and free of emotional or psychological stress, and let's face it, you can find that in many places, including publics.

    A disclaimer: I'm a teacher who has taught in public schools and in private schools in SF. SF is the only school district in the US where a teacher without a teaching credential can earn $100k per year as a teacher. The quality is all over the place.

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  85. Brandeis is hard to get into?

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  86. Friends has a progressive, "crunchy" culture emphasizing simplicity and service, but the academics are described as "narrow and deep". That's not the progressive brand you get at SF School, Synergy, Live Oak and Presidio HIll.

    BTW: It is hard to tell what is "top tier." Synergy is often considered an also ran, but I heard the director of the LIttle School, a "top tier" preschool whose alumni are all at MCDS, SF Day, Hamlin, Town, Nueva, etc., say that her Little School kids never get into Synergy.

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  87. "Top-tier" means extremely wealthy society parents (who you might see in the "Styles" section of the Sunday Chronicle) send their kids there. Tuition is correspondingly high. This group would include: Town, Hamlin, Burke, MCDS, and SF Day.

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  88. Hmm.. I haven't heard any of the SF DAY horror stories beyond the social aspects of the school (parent community very focused on wealth).

    Anyone care to share?

    I've certainly heard the stories about Hamlin and Town and they ring true based on the families I know who attend.

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  89. I agree with 10:50. Go to Presidio Hill or Live Oak and they specifically talk about their school being "progressive" and why their school fits into that educational model. Friends does not.

    As for what the teacher at 10:45 said, I agree that Friends is a wonderful school, but they have yet to graduate a class, as the kids who were the first students are now in 6th grade. It will be interesting to see where the Friends students end up in terms of high schools. Also, one of the things that makes Friends so good is the quality of the faculty there. Cathy Hunter, the head of the school, does an excellent job with her hiring.

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  90. Top tier also can mean that they raise more $$ for financial aid.

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  91. can't speak to privates, as am not interested in their offerings, but here's my 2 cents on public touring and prepping for next year (which i've elaborated on in other threads):

    1) spend the bulk of your time seeing schools nobody talks about. (note that this does not mean they suck and so-called trophy schools are awesome. finally, i know what i'm talking about, having had the unique experience of being enrolled in and getting to know schools as diverse as: serra, flynn, daniel webster and clarendon jbbp. of course, not knowing my arse from a hole in the wall never stopped me from blabbing before, did it?)
    2) respectfully disagree with earlier posters: don't wait till round II to include schools from your B list if you do not have the stomach to go 0-15 and endure the rigors of the 10-day count. (i did this and quite frankly regret it.)
    3) cull through your list of wants carefully and force yourself to include schools on your round I list that do not meet every single one. (again, i regret our strategy of "going for broke" as it were because, this year, the former truism about getting what you want in the 10-day count was, er, not. turns out aiming for both immersion AND neighborhood was too greedy. lesson learned.)
    4) consider NOT gaming your round I list toward being in the 0-7 round II top waitpool cohort by listing a few schools you really want and loading the rest of the list with ungettable trophy schools (nice recipe for going 0-15).
    5) don't panic at the granularity and complexity of the advice being given, and what it may - or may not - say about the enrollment system. the current system IS complex and you DO need to understand it. but at the end of the day you do just need to -- as PPS says -- vote your conscience. just be smart about it, and don't be greedy. i am astounded by the number of good schools and teachers out there, and by how the occasional bad apple can fall anywhere -- trophy or non-trophy school.

    overwhelmingly, the differences i've noticed between trophies, hidden gems and unheard-ofs is the level of administrative organization you find there. that's it. i have not been able to track a significant difference in academics, social practices, enrichment or anything else. okay, so MAYBE clarendon has one extra enrichment each week than our up-and-coming neighborhood school, or one it shares is longer-running and better organized...but the differences are not as great as you think (since said 'hood school gets funding from the government for such things, while clarendon PTA pays for such). just a thought. i have also noticed that trophies tend to have some denial that their kids are capable of misbehaving and schools with higher-need populations have more infrastructure in place for dealing with bullying, etc. (e.g., my friend's kid got his ass kicked at a trophy school for a YEAR before they acknowledged the problem).

    that said, in terms of process, i have found a disturbingly large number of SFUSD officials to be virulently anti-middle-class, incompetent, unresponsive, lazy, bureaucratic and ideological (rather than, er, common sensical ;- )). there were a couple gems along the way. be prepared for that. revel in the loss of control. start your rolfing sessions now....

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  92. With regard to SF Day, here is my post from another thread on this blog:

    My daughter attended SF Day from kindergarten through 2nd grade so I can respond to your question. My daughter was very happy at the school and it was a great place for her. Unfortunately, when it came time for our son to apply, he was rejected from the school. The reason is that he has facial abnormalities that affect his appearance, and the school was not interested in dealing with the social situations that could arise from his presence there.

    Although our example is extreme, the common thread that you hear in stories from SFDS is that there is a pretty narrow range of kids that they are comfortable teaching at the school, despite their image of broad-based inclusiveness. If your kid fits into that range (as our daughter did) then it's a great place. I believe that our son would have been successful there academically, but I think the teachers would have seen him as a potential "problem" and I think that a certain amount of teasing, exclusion, etc from the other kids would have been tolerated.

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  93. It seems like in the past, wanting immersion was kind of a specialized thing. The idea of even considering wanting a neighborhood school and immersion wouldn't have computed because it was assumed you would have to travel for that specialized need.

    Now demand has skyrocketed, and immersion schools have increased but not enough to meet demand. I think SFUSD staff and school board may not even have woken up to that yet.

    I think SFUSD needs to wake up and smell that coffee and start adding even more immersion programs, like crazy, to meet the demand (in whatever languages -- that almost seems like a side issue). They presumably have to drop the notion of 50-50 as the standard.

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  94. Some of these descriptions of privates are dated or just odd to me. For example I've heard FAIS/CAIS has a wonderfully diverse community but are demanding with regards to academics--far more so than some of the other "top tiers" mentioned. I also believed Cathedral to be at least as selective as Town, if not more so. Town has a "Lord of the Flies" rep, but I've heard that's no longer the case particularly with newer classes.

    Finally the stereotype that all top-tier schools in the city are jam-packed with wealthy families hasn't been true for some time. They all aggressively pursue diversity of all sorts.

    Tour and decide for yourself. Do not rule out any school based on these posts!

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  95. Can anyone comment on Nueva?

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  96. 8:37 -- true that demand for immersion has skyrocketed. and it's not like an untested concept as far as integrating schools goes (successful magnet schools in LA, anyone?) the 50/50 split is sort of non-negotiable, however, as the dual immersion model is based on the kids learning from each other. (actually, the ideal is 33/33/33 with a group of true bilinguals, increasingly hard to find.) there is a whole political context -- preceding but highlighted by the flynnarado debacle -- to immersion that must also be acknowledged (don't want to hijack thread for that purpose here).

    your comment made me realize, also, that, by necessity, one's choices have to reflect the mix of schools near your home. we live where noe, glen park and bernal meet. look what's near us:

    fairmount (all immersion)
    flynn (immersion and gen ed)
    j serra (gen ed; formerly reading first and mostly ELL population)
    paul revere (immersion and gen ed)
    glen park (gen ed)
    alvarado (immersion and gen ed)

    a little farther (but just a little, some listed and not others because of bus routes):
    buena vista (immersion)
    starr king (immersion and gen ed)
    sunnyside (gen ed)
    clarendon (trophy)
    rooftop (trophy)
    monroe (gen ed, immersion)
    sf community (gen ed)

    i'm sure i'm missing a few, but you get the idea. what if you're literally surrounded by immersion and/or trophy schools (with a few exceptions)? tough to stay in the neighborhood, man.

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  97. My son just started the first grade at Town. The description of "bullies and violence" couldn't be further from the truth. In fact our experience has been just the opposite and the older boys really look out for the younger ones. That was a pleasant surprise. BTW, Town was the only private school we felt like applying to. Our # 1 public school choice was Lafayette.

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  98. Bear in mind that a progressive school is one that bases its curriculum on the ideas of John Dewey, that children learn best by exploring their environment in a scientific manner. It has nothing to do with San Francisco progressive politics. This is how Friends could have lots parents who would consider htemeselves "progressives" (politically, but not be at a "progressive" school. Likewise, SF Day is a progressive school, but very few "progressives" (politically) would send their child there.

    Here is further information from Wikipedia for those interested:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_progressivism

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  99. I wondered about models other than dual-immersion or 33-33-33, though. If there's huge demand for immersion, what about exploring those other models?

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  100. I never hear anything about The San Francisco School on Gaven St. So, it seems to be one of the "crunchy" variety, but it actually sounds very nice. I've heard they actually have about 50% people of color, and decent income diversity. Why don't people mention this school more often? Is it considered a joke? Weak academics?

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  101. san francisco school is hard to get into for kindergarten because they have a preschool and most of those kids continue onto kindergarten.

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  102. For what it's worth: We didn't try because we could not afford it, but our son's preschool teacher strongly encouraged us to try for Town. He's very male but also sensitive and empathetic and usually (not always I'm sorry to say) gentle. She thought Town would be a great environment for what she called his "free spirit." We wanted him exposed to French and so applied to NDV and Lycee but she thought they would be too strict and structured for him.

    I disagree that people never use blogs for research; it depends on the topic. Some threads really are "talk about it now" type things (such as "share your back to school night experience") but others threads can be relatively long-lived resources, such as parents sharing their experiences at specific schools (whether tour impressions or currently enrolled students), the public-private debate, or information about strategies for navigating the application process.

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  103. Kim, did you get an offer from your waitpool? Still empty seats in Kinder. How long are they going to give Spanish speaking families to take these up. Empty seats = utter disgrace.

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  104. i tend to agree this year: empty seats when an immersion program's imbalance is *small* ARE a disgrace. i would imagine there will be delays in filling seats with target language speakers now because EPC said they would test incoming candidates' spanish (heh - we'll see). we're lucky personally -- we got a solid school in the flynnarado lottery. i'm just a stubborn ass who (a) is not ready to give up hope for immersion for my two kids; (b) believes all californians should speak spanish; or (c) is spoiling for a continued fight with SFUSD.

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  105. For the future of the SF K file have you thought about a way to make this a bit more friendly and supportive?

    How about get rid of anonymous posting. Or, delete postings that are just misplaced and meanspirited.

    While venting/supporting others about your situation can great strong support, there appears to be a lot of misplaced anger (yes, I saw the immigrant bashing session)

    I don't know about others, but I don't frequent this site becuase of its negative energy.

    Chris Tonner

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  106. I have to chime in here. I have two daughters, one of whom is in the third grade at Hamlin. I always assumed that my youngest would enter based on sibling preference. I won't be entering her. The fact is, I've learned to loathe Hamlin, My daughter is not happy, has lots of issues, and darn it all, she is not getting these bad habits from home. She gets it from her peers. It's a constant battle, keeping her grounded, real, and kind.

    All these girls start out okay in Kindergarten, but by third grade, the 'affluenza' is really starting to show. My husband and I are not rich, and are lucky that grandparents are paying tuition. But the girls in my daughter's class are just mean. Stuck up. Neurotic. Materialistic. Shallow. I know they say they're trying to make the classes diverse, but any of that is long gone by second or third grade. It's been disappointing.

    When I say "no" to my daughter, she jut explodes with rage and jealousy. I know this comes from school. I hate the environment there. I have my faults as a parent, but I have a whole lot more work for me, because of the environment she's in. The teachers are really good, but you can't divorce the families from the education you get there.

    We are thinking of moving to the burbs so she can be exposed to other kinds of kids besides the little nightmares at Hamlin. (The rumors about cutting are true.) These poor little rich girls are just left to spin in the wind by their parents. I don't like the parents either.

    I wish we'd gone to Burke. I hear much different things about that place from my friends.

    We will be applying to Burke (little chance of transfering), SF Day, Presdio Hill, and a couple others. It's just hard to transfer at this age. By the way, we also entered the public school lottery to see if we could get anything we wanted. We didn't. I might try again this year, but am not hopeful.

    I have been looking at this sight for a long time, and after seeing yet another slam at Hamlin, I had to chime in.

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  107. Kim, it's such a shame that someone with your energy and passion for immersion is not involved in an up and coming immersion school. I'm sure those schools need you more than the already established Clarendon. Not that this could, or should, ever be made part of the criteria for selection, but still in your case it seems it would be a win win all around.

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  108. 12:57 -- We know a family who transferred two sisters from Hamlin to Live Oak and are very happy with the change.

    Have you spoken to the people there?

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  109. 12:57 -- Do you think the new head of school at Hamlin will be able to make any positive changes? Or is the board of directors and parent community too entrenched?

    She seems so cool...

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  110. Just for the record, and I have no idea if they are doing this at all immersion schools, but at Fairmount they are definitely testing kids who were listed as Spanish speakers. That includes kids currently in class and those hoping to join.

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  111. 12:52

    We'd get a lot less honesty if people couldn't post anon. Some people can't be open. Teachers, for one, could catch flak. Kids of parents who post here, etc.

    People with delicate sensibilities should probably not be on the internet at all. Things get rude sometimes. People have biases and bigoted views sometimes. Take it with a grain of salt. Speak your piece if you're so inclined, but don't try to enforce "the cult of nice". It won't work.

    And I do think Kate already deletes posts that she sees as personal attacks, so a lot of the hate speech goes away fast.

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  112. 1:20 -- i'm pleasantly surprised to hear it. i wonder: what happens to "spanish" speakers currently enrolled who, uh, don't speak spanish?

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  113. Hamlin parent,

    I just looked at the waitpool list, and there is no waitpool for Miraloma 3rd grade. Maybe that would be an option?

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  114. I felt a like my money was taken and my time wasted, because they knew my daughter would not get in this year.

    How could they know who your daughter was or when she was born before you turned in your application?

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  115. 1. If you put the oversubscribed schools (IE Clarendon, Rooftop, etc) on your list - but NOT first choice, you will NOT get into them, AND you may risk getting placed into a 2nd tier school (IE getting one of your 7 choices) which you may not WANT, and then you have a lower priority in the waitpool.

    That is false; the 1st round lottery does not care where you ranked a school. Each school runs its own lottery. You go into the hat for that school with everyone who listed that school -- 1st or 7th or anywhere in between. From that hat, they look for the best diversity match at that point in time. If you happen to to win two school lotteries, they will award you the one you ranked higher.

    If you have the stomach for it, the "best" strategy is to list your first choice first, followed by 6 schools you are certain you will not get into.

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  116. Life would be much more pleasant if "the cult of nice" got a little more respect. Some of the posts here make Rush Limbaugh look saccharine. Is that how our parents taught us to behave and how we're teaching our kids?

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  117. Generally, I've found the "cult of nice" supporters to be hypocritical at least some of the time. They talk mean behind your back, but justify it because they identify as "nice".

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  118. 1:38... Are you kidding me? Could I honestly get my daughter into Miraloma right now? If that were possible, I probably would.

    We are already hating that we went ahead and sent our daughter back to Hamlin this year....

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  119. As for Hamlin, I was hoping things would be different this year with the head of school. I personally think it will take her at least five years of hard work to make a dent. I have no idea if the parents will let her do that.

    I agree. She seems great. But the last one was great too, and also the interim woman was great.

    Now, if we could get a whole new bunch of parents and families in there.

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  120. There are 19 kids in my daughter's 3rd grade class at Miraloma right now. A lot of schools probably have openings for 3rd grade, but you'd have to go down to EPC and check out which ones.

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  121. Hamlin parent,

    poster @ 1:38 here again. Here is a link to the current waitpool data:

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc/WP_Cohorts_0809_09_16_08AF.pdf

    Hope the link works. Miraloma has no listed waitpool for 3rd grade, and based on 3:29's information, there may actually be room.

    I'm not a Miraloma parent, actually my kid goes to a private, but the situation you describe sounds untenable. Good luck to your family.

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  122. Ack, incomplete link, let me try again

    http://portal.sfusd.edu/data/epc
    /WP_Cohorts_0809_09_16_08AF.pdf

    Remove the break between epc and /

    Or someone could tinyurl it for me???

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  123. Yeah...what happens if they "test" an incoming "Spanish-speaker" at an immersion school and discover they only understand a handful of words?

    Where do they go?

    What do they do?

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  124. Hey it turns out I am able tinyurl it without help! Current waitpool cohorts are here:

    http://tinyurl.com/4xg4dc

    Sorry to be so comment cluttery, you should see my desk. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  125. IDEA FOR SF K FILES:

    Maybe we can put together a list of standard Qs and then invite different directors of admissions and principals to answer them in a sort of online interview?

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  126. Kim Green,
    I want you to know that I love you, but...I don't think the lore is that you will get the exact school you want by the end of the 10 day count--I think the idea is that 'most people' EITHER get lucky in the lottery OR come to love or at least genuinely like the school where they finally land. I realize you got screwed in Flynnarado and have every right to be bitter even though your kid is at Clarendon. I would be.

    But what I really want to tell you is that we really need you and people like you at Daniel Webster--things are good (we have 2 fantastic K teachers now) and will most likely be great soon. Your efforts, big and small, will NEVER go unnoticed at DW. It's a win-win. Hammer on the district for a school bus from your neighborhood, come talk to parents at the school, re, carpooling, and know that the start time will most likely be later starting next year (I am not in the inner circle on that one, but this is the buzz). And then your kid will be learning Spanish. And if you aren't happy, you can transfer to another Immersion program in a later grade, because at a certain point they will only take transfers from another immersion program.

    Join us at Daniel Webster!

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  127. What I want to know about is High School...I'm a parent of an 8th grader at a so-called "trophy" K-8 public...we've learned about "shadow" visits, and have already scheduled some at a few of the privates (those that seem to have better financial aid opportunities), and hoping to schedule one at Lowell as well.

    Does anyone have any IRL info about AP opportunities at any of the public high schools other than Lowell and SOTA (the latter of which my child has no interest in)? My child is also petrified of Gateway, and Mission (all based on nothing but rumors), although I've heard very good things about both, especially about Mission in recent months (see "Top 10 Reasons to Send Your Child to Mission" at http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=hs.mission)

    Any insights are greatly appreciated!

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  128. Hi 10:38.

    I'm speaking as a SOTA mom who did
    check out many high schools.

    These are the SFUSD high schools that I would view as worth putting on my list if I were looking today (besides Lowell and SOTA). I haven't thoroughly inspected every one of them, so a caveat is that it's possible that if I did, I'd see something I didn't like, but all of them are well into the zone of acceptability, if I may put it that way:

    Balboa
    Galileo
    Lincoln
    Wallenberg
    Washington

    Galileo, Wallenberg and Wash are too far for us, so we didn't actually list them; we did list Bal and Lincoln.

    I'm not ruling out other SFUSD high schools, but I would have to check them out. I have a friend who works at Burton and is really excited about some of the programs there, such as the engineering and accounting programs.

    Not being a fan of charter schools, I wouldn't choose one. You may feel differently. There are three besides Gateway, two in the Excelsior and one in the Portola District.

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  129. Hamlin parent,

    If you're considering public school and your younger daughter would be entering next year then you should be in a really good position. If you transfer your daughter this year (Miraloma is on the other side of town from Hamlin, but there are probably 3rd grade spots in several of the most sought after public schools around town) then you'll have sibling preference for your younger daughter in next year's lottery.

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  130. Also, people who are not in the sfusd system have priority for spots over those who are already in it.

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  131. Someone posted this on another thread. Beyond the 5-6 schools of years past, here are plenty of schools to take a look at:

    non-immersion:

    1. George Peabody
    2. McKinley
    3. Lafayette
    4. Sutro
    5. Rosa Parks JBBP
    6. Argonne
    7. Alamo
    8. Grattan
    9. Sherman
    10. Miraloma
    11. Yick Wo
    12. Garfield
    13. Harvey Milk
    14. Clarendon (both programs)
    15. Rooftop
    16. Clare Lilienthal GE
    17. Commodore Sloat
    18. McCoppin
    19. Lawton
    20. Sunnyside
    21. New Traditions
    22. Jefferson
    23. Dianne Feinstein
    24. Lakeshore
    25. Ulloa
    26. Spring Valley
    27. George Moscone
    28. West Portal
    29. William Cobb
    30. Sunset
    31. RLS
    32. Creative Arts
    33. FS Key
    34. West Portal GE
    35. Alvarado GE
    36. Sunnyside
    37. SF Community
    38. Flynn GE

    Add to these the very popular immersion programs:

    39. Paul Revere SI
    40. Alvarado SI
    41. Flynn SI
    42. Fairmount SI
    43. Monroe SI
    44. Marshall SI
    45. Buena Vista SI
    46. Daniel Webster SI
    47. AFY CI
    48. West Portal CI
    49. JOES CI
    50. Starr King CI
    51. Claire Lilienthal K

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  132. Could somebody please post the other 30 or so schools/programs that do not appear on these lists?

    ReplyDelete
  133. There are actually about 85 elementary schools with a total of about 135 different programs.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Hamlin parent, there is at least one third-grade opening at Yick Wo, which is quite a good school and not horribly far from Hamlin.

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  135. 10:38 pm
    There is a Tea with the Principal at Balboa this Friday (tomorrow) from 9-11am, and you are welcome to attend, as is anyone else seeking a high school. It is a great opportunity to meet informally with Dr. Patricia Gray, the rockstar Principal who has led that school from being the lowest rated HS by API just 6 years ago (2002 growth API 449) to its current status among the most popular top schools, with a 2008 growth API of 725, within spitting distance of Galileo, Lincoln, etc. Lots of AP classes, a full range of boys and girls sports, the usual activities, and 95% of graduates go on to college. Parents, teachers, and staff also attend the tea on a drop in basis. There will be food, and you can ask as many questions as you like and get straight answers. I regularly attend these events even though my son graduated out in '07 because I am so fond of the Bal community. Please come by and join us on Friday if you can.

    The school is located at 1000 Cayuga, a short walk from the Balboa Park BART, and many bus lines. If you drive, look for parking on nearby streets like Santa Ynez. Enter by the front door of the school at 1000 Cayuga and turn right inside the building to head to the office (first door on your right) and sign in and get a visitor pass. Then retrace your steps back across the lobby, and the tea is in the Parent Room which is the first on your right on the opposite side of the lobby from the office.

    ReplyDelete
  136. 10:38 here,

    Dand and Caroline, I am grateful for the HS info, and I would love to come to the Balboa tea, however have a mandatory work meeting tomorrow at the same time...

    We live nearest to Galileo, and I know it has improved, so I/we should check it out. But, I have heard from a reliable source that at most of the big public HS (with the exception of Lowell), there is a dominant culture of kids just "biding their time" who don't really want to be there, and many who are disruptive. I'm afraid my kid who already feels like a nerd in her small K-8 would really not feel comfortable in such environments.

    Dana, it sounds like at Balboa there is a "school within a school" and I'm wondering if this also true at Galileo, Washington, and Lincoln. Does anyone have any info regarding if the AP kids at these schools take all their classes together?

    I guess I just have to start calling and see for myself, even if my child is afraid to go with me;-(

    ReplyDelete
  137. Re high schools:

    My son it at City Arts and Tech charter high school (now located in the Excelsior district, sharing a campus with June Jordan High School). It has been a wonderful school for him. He had a bad experience at a large, comprehensive middle school and this is exactly what he needs. The teachers are extremely dedicated and there is a focus on developing well-rounded students. It's quite small, so there is not a wide variety of courses and extracurricular activities (everyone takes Spanish, for example, and there's no football team), but it is a caring community where he has blossomed. My son's advisor called me the other night "just to check in." I feel that he could have fallen through the cracks at a larger high school.

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  138. There is probably a subgroup of kids who tend to be in AP classes, though at one of the larger schools they wouldn't be in all the same classes together.

    However, AP classes are pretty grueling -- my son has actually found them overloaded with what he views as busywork, due to the mandate/culture that they simply work their students hard. The in-class time is stimulating, but the pressure to load up on the homework is problematic, in his view. So I'm not really sure they're the solution. Honors classes have tended to be more reasonable.

    There are definitely kids like Elizabeth's who do better in a small school, but several of the larger high schools are divided into Small Learning Communities that also offer that school-within-a-school intimacy. I THINK I've heard that Galileo is one of them, but someone else will have to back me up. (Balboa definitely is, but it's not in your orbit.)

    While of course some kids do get lost, many kids have excellent experiences at SFUSD's high schools, and I don't think it's a given at all that yours will succumb to a slacker culture.

    ReplyDelete
  139. Ouch -- I also forgot to mention that SOTA shares its campus with the Academy of Arts & Sciences, a non-audition small school. It's still a bit of a mystery to me considering my son has shared its campus for 3 years. It has about 80 students per grade, so 300 or so.

    The previous principal of both SOTA and the Academy moved on at the end of last year, and we are really impressed so far with his successor (Carmelo Sgarlato, coming from Jamse Lick Middle School). Mr. Sgarlato seems determined to focus more on raising the profile of the Academy, integrating its academic classes more with SOTA's, and other work on it. If it's geographically feasible, you might check it out too. (Can't believe I forgot to mention that.)

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  140. 10:38 again

    I think I meant Honors classes when I said "AP"

    I cannot go to this weekend's HS fair, but plan to go to as many public open houses as I can, and will try to post what I find here for the benefit of others who may be interested.

    Thank you for your comments and insights!

    ReplyDelete
  141. Check out the SFUSD school fair -- I think it's Nov. 8. It's kind of overwhelming, but definitely packed with information.

    ReplyDelete
  142. What's the difference between honors and AP classes?

    ReplyDelete
  143. AP (Advanced Placement) is actually a brand name of the College Board -- which runs the SAT too, and basically seems to run the entire world when you have a junior or senior. The courses are officially college level and offer college credit -- you can bypass them once you start college.

    So there's a big frenzy in some places about taking more and more AP classes. They're also somewhat controversial, viewed as adding to the current madness surrounding college admissions. A few districts have eliminated them for that reason -- something only an upscale school district can do -- the only one I can recall right now is Scarsdale, N.Y. As I understand it, the school can design the course within guidelines set by AP, but they get audited periodically to make sure they're not slacking.

    Honors classes are whatever that school or district wants to offer to add extra challenge for higher-performing students.

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  144. 10:38 here again (now 8th Grade parent)

    Regarding the "Small Learning Communities" at Galileo and other larger schools - are these Honors classes, or groups of students at different levels mixed together?

    Also, how many kids are in each class at the public high school level?

    Thank you!

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  145. 4:19, I know kids in those schools with Small Learning Communities (SLCs) who are in honors classes, so they must have honors classes within the SLCs. I don't have direct experience though, since SOTA is set up differently, so I'm sorry I can't answer in more detail. You can get those answers on school tours or at the SFUSD or other school enrollment fairs, if no one else here can answer.

    I know you said you're not looking at SOTA, but for anyone who is: The arts disciplines serve sort of like SLCs, or homerooms, and then the students mingle in their academic classes. Students audition in in one of these artistic areas: Band, Orchestra, Piano, Vocal Music, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Theater, Media (Filmmaking), Theater Tech and Dance. The academic classes are before lunch, and the arts discipline and related classes are in the afternoon. My kids, both in in Band, have several levels of music theory, electronic composition, sight-singing, jazz etc. as well as their actual band rehearsals. It's a small enough school (about 625 students) that the kids get to know everyone in their grade and everyone in their arts discipline (and beyond).

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  146. I've heard that AP courses focus on acquiring information that will be on the upcoming AP exams and that, by contrast, Honors are more intellectually stimulating? Can the HS parents speak to this?

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  147. 10:38/12:52
    Please feel free to contact me directly
    nestwife at owlbaby dot com
    I'll be happy to give you more details on Balboa, and share what I know about other HS as well.

    ReplyDelete
  148. My son claims he feels that his AP classes have been mostly test prep, but that may be the jaded teen talking. I think in general it has depended on the teacher whether he liked honors or AP classes.

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  149. I usually agree 100% with Kim Green, but I have to respectfullly disagree with her claim that the difference between the "trophy" public schools and the up and coming/tier II schools is merely better administrative organization. Having two kids at a tier II/maybe-up-and-coming school for four years now and comparing notes with others at trophy schools like Clarendon, Rooftop, Commodore Sloat and Lakeshore, I can attest that the differences are really more in (1) how pervasive and organized the parental support is and (2) the level of trouble-makers at the school. I don't see any difference in school administration capabilities -- in fact, I think all the public schools are relatively disorganized as a matter of sheer administration. The difference is, frankly, between a PTA/Site Council that struggles to raise $75,000 and ones that are clearing $200,000. Between an organized cohort of dozens of parents all eagerly volunteering and phone treeing each other and the same 5 parents doing everything and getting burned out and finally succeeding in transfering to a better one. The difference is between an afterschool program with lots of enrichment activities and a not-so-glorified childwatch program with no structure. And the difference is between a school that occasionally has to deal with a bully (and, yes, individual cases can slip through the cracks at even the best trophy schools) and a school where every teacher is on a daily basis preoccupied with two to three bullies who disrupt the functioning of the classroom. I do agree that some schools are getting better but the differences between a tier II and a trophy public school are profound and real.

    ReplyDelete
  150. To 10:02 PM
    And it's administrative personnel, not the PTA, that are have the ability to address all the things you note: afterschool program, teachers, bullying.
    I agree with Kim (and am a parent in a former hidden gem/now Top Tier elementary)

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  151. Grattan has had the same principal and teachers for many years... and yet it only became an "acceptable" choice in the last 3-4 years, when the PTA started raising a lot more money.

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  152. Due to an overwhelming demand for Spanish Immersion Programs, in early August the SFUSD decided to "fast track" the SIP program originally slated to open at Daniel Webster in 2009. We are thrilled with the news that the highly sought after program has launched in 2008 with two kindergarten classrooms - both with the optimal mix of 50% native Spanish speakers and 50% English only speakers. Daniel Webster is proud to have hired two highly qualified teachers to kick off the program. Katina Strong moved from Chicago to join the team at DW and has 7 years experience teaching Spanish Immersion. Sunshine Suit has lived in San Francisco for more than twenty years and is transitioning to Daniel Webster from teaching High School Spanish. Fluent in Spanish and Italian, she is also an accomplished Flamenco & West African dancer. We're sure both teachers will be wonderful additions to the dedicated staff at Daniel Webster, many of whom, including Principal Moraima Machado, are bi-lingual in Spanish and English.

    In order to get the new program up and running quickly and successfully, it has been designated a top priority for SFUSD's Multi-Lingual Department. Every available resource is being made available to Daniel Webster under the direct supervision of Kevin Chavez. There is also ample support on hand from Parents for Public Schools, San Francisco Advocates for Multi-lingual Education, The Potrero Residents Education Fund and the "pioneer" SIP Kindergarten parents.
    PREFund warmly welcomes Ms. Strong & Ms. Suit, all the new kindergarten families and all the returning students for an exciting school year. Daniel Webster is off to a great 2008!
    Dena Fischer
    PREFund Founding Member

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  153. "Grattan has had the same principal and teachers for many years... and yet it only became an "acceptable" choice in the last 3-4 years, when the PTA started raising a lot more money."

    I would say its the other way around--the PTA started raising lots more money after the school became more popular.

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  154. It's a bit of chicken and egg though. A PTA can only raise a lot of money when there is a strong community behind it. And then new families are attracted to the school because it has a strong PTA.

    The PTA and a strong school community definitely go hand in hand though. And, not just for fundraising. Our PTA is putting on a free ice cream social tonight just for fun.

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  155. It seems like the "rise" of schools like Grattan, McKinley, Miraloma, etc has as much to do with location as other factors. In a good or improving neighborhood, sooner or later parents are going to want to send their kids to the local public school. It's harder when the school is located in a sketchier neighborhood.

    Based on that, and on the new Montessori program, I predict Cobb will be up and coming in the near future.

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  156. Regarding the honors/AP question - in my experience (Lowell in the late 90s), a class was offered as either an honors class OR an AP, so students weren't choosing between the two. Typically, classes that were offered as honors classes in the lower grades tracked into AP classes in the upper grades - as I recall, freshman, sophomores, and juniors were offered a choice between regular and honors English, for instance, while seniors could take regular or AP. Similarly, you took AP Spanish after completing Spanish 5/6 (third-year level), typically in the honors track (though there were usually opportunities to switch between honors and regular, based on grades or tests). Some classes - especially in social studies - were offered only as regular or AP, without an honors option.

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  157. Oops. Just heard a rumor that BuenaVista's kinderclasses ended up falling WAY short of 50/50 and have too, too many ENglish speakers.

    Many of the children had Spanish surnames so they didn't realize the imbalance until they started testing once school started.

    Yikes.

    Another reason to test before enrollment... despite the expense.

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  158. so what happens if the district cannot recruit enough Spanish speaking kids to join the program?

    Only reason why Daniel Webster was able to make the 50/50 split right off the bat was because they volunteered the Spanish bilingual program kids.

    The demand for these immersion programs is lopsided... meaning the non-native speakers (Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, etc) have way more applicants than the 50% seats. So unless you force the bilingual program kids (and right now Mandarin doesn't even have that program) into a two way immersion, the math just doesn't add up. And remember, not all families in bilingual programs want to be in an immersion program.

    The solution may lie in looking at alternative immersion programs -- thats the only way to meet the demand from the non native speaking side.... really, think it through -- if you only get 5 native speaking kids, than you only allow 5 non-native speaking kids in for a class size of what, 10? Meanwhile you have demand of over 300 applicants for the 10 non native seats?

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  159. 6:41 here -- need to figure out how to type... the demand from the non-Mandarin, nonSpanish, non Cantonese speakers is way higher than the demand from the Spanish speakers, Mandarin speakers and Cantonese speakers for these programs. And will remain so as long as the bilingual programs remain in existence. Recognizing that the bilingual programs have a different goal/focus and one cannot assume parents in those programs would automatically want immersion for their child.

    Given the limited district resources (anyone see the State budget? Don't expect Education to get any more next year), the District should be making some changes in how they handle these immersion programs.

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  160. 6:23 -- how do you know the families with the Spanish surnames did not put down that their children spoke Spanish at home. I'm not sure I would assume that it was the EPC that assumed the kids spoke Spanish at home based on their surnames.

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  161. LOTS of people lie or exagerate their kids' ability to speak in a target language.

    We know several English-speaking families who claimed their child spoke Spanish because the nanny taught them a handful of songs.

    The only way to stop people from lying is to either test the kids before enrollment, or make the parents sign a waiver that says that they will accept reassignment if testing in kindergarten reveals their child's competence in a language is not what was expected based on the paperwork.

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  162. There are a *lot* of kids in bilingual programs and GE programs who would have preferred immersion but were either assigned to other programs despite their preference or were "counseled" to do bilingual instead.

    Furthermore, I'm pretty sure the Blue Ribbon Task Force that studied the issue last year found that early-exit bilingual programs are not worth sustaining... and some have made the case that even kids in late exit programs would be better off in immersion. (The joke in the Spanish-speaking community is that the child will graduate "ni-lingue" (as in "ni ingles, ni espanol"... speaking neither English nor Spanish instead of both)...

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  163. Well see what the District does with the Blue Ribbon Task Force information, as part of its greater goal of getting language to all kids in elementary school (not necessarily immersion).

    That's too bad that some kids "graduate" ni-lingues... exactly why all programs need to be evaluated for effectiveness and changes made accordingly, as opposed to maintaining status quo because of entrenched interests or unions etc.

    The Mandarin Immersion Programs would not even be off the ground yet, or would have a total of 6 kids if the district mandated the 50/50 ratio (3 mandarin, 3 non mandarin speaker). And how sad would that be, when you look at all the families in the program who are so thrilled to have their child acquire a 2nd language, even if it is without the "perfect" accent (which by the way depends on where you live, like Boston vs Minneapolis vs Valley Girl), and even if their child would not be as fluent as he/she could be had the class been 50/50.

    Hope the District thinks through their policies before arbitrarily believing the 50/50 immersion method is the only way to go. Just look across the city at CAIS and one will see there is definitely more than one way to implement immersion programs. Curious what the Palo Alto and Hayward districts do, they have immersion programs also

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  164. I meant by the "perfect" accent, is that in any language, the perfect accent is subject to debate. Of course, slang and slurring is never acceptable, but you get my meaning (a Bostonian would argue the midwest twang is just that, an awful twang, and so it goes)

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  165. CAIS, STarr King and Jose Ortega would be THRILLED to have 50 percent native speakers of Mandarin. Over the moon thrilled.

    But there is a very small Mandarin-speaking population in San Francisco.

    The same cannot be said about Spanish.

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  166. True. Still, the District should look at alternative methods of immersion. Still not convinced the 50/50 is the best way for all the programs for this city.

    Not sure CAIS would necessarily want 50% Mandarin native speaking ELL kids. That brings up a whole another curriculum, and as a private school, they are not mandated to provide every child with an appropriate education.

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  167. I was shocked, shocked I say, to read here that San Francisco has a very small population of Mandarin speakers...so I googled it. These are apparently 2005-2006 numbers and are more like what I expected to see:

    San Francisco Bay Area Metro
    Chinese Languages:
    Cantonese: 211,163
    Mandarin: 128,617
    Other Chinese Dialects: 93,681
    Total Chinese Languages: 433,461

    Here's the link http://www.chinalanguage.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4010&sid=45b5cc019671b78336d0d5b21e8dcc08

    Most recent immigrants both from the Mainland (like my father) and from Taiwan speak Mandarin. That doesn't mean they all have Beijing accents but that's another story. I think there are other reasons the brand new Mandarin immersion programs haven't yet begun to attract greater numbers of Mandarin speakers. I have some theories about that, too, but will save them for another day.

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  168. Can anyone comment about Claire Lilienthal - good bad etc.? Has its star fallen some? It seems Clarendon and Rooftop are always referred to as the trophy schools on this blog. Is that because most of the parents on this seem to be from the southern part of town, or is Lilienthal not considered a trophy school anymore?

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  169. The joke in the Spanish-speaking community is that the child will graduate "ni-lingue" (as in "ni ingles, ni espanol"... speaking neither English nor Spanish instead of both)...
    Is that really the joke? - how funny the entire spanish speaking community must be!

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  170. About CL - I think it is not talked about because everyone here seems to live in Noe Valley or Bernal. We just started there this year and it's been incredibly impressive so far. It definitely has the three cornerstones required to make a good school: experienced leadership, good teachers and motivated/involved parents.

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  171. 50/50 is the best model if you want the children to develop full mastery of both languges. Period.

    It may not always be possible ... especially in all languages.

    But to propose a different model when there *are* enough children out there to make it work is silly.

    It is like saying, "Gee, we could use this Math curriculum that has been proven to yield excellent results, or this other one where the children won't be as prepared higher level Math."

    Why would you deliberately choose a less effective teaching method if you actually had a choice?

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  172. 1) The stat on Mandarin speakers in SF is misleading. In terms of public schools, only the kids who are young enough to enroll in Starr King and Jose Ortega are relevant... and there aren't that many near either school.

    2) Most Mandarin speakers (and Spanish speakers... and judging from the postings, English speakers) have not read the reams of research comparing the results of various educational approaches with immigrants: Sink-or-swim immersion in English, dual immersion and bilingual programs. There are reams of studies on the advantages and disadvantages of each. The research is pretty clear on what works best. But most parents do not have the time or inclination to study the issue, which leads to a conflict between what parents want (based on their own, uneducated guesses) vs. what researchers know to be most effective.

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  173. CAIS wouldn't have to change their curriculum that much. THey already have a split-day schedule starting in the early grades, so ELLs would get more ENglish exposure than they get at, say, Starr King or Jose Ortega.

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  174. How many Spanish speakers in SF compared to Mandarin?

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  175. RE: Accents.

    I don't care which native accent my kid picks up in Spanish immersion. I don't care if she sounds Mexican, Peruvian, ARgentine, Colombian, Salvadoran or a hard-to-place combination of the above.

    I just don't want her to sound like a Gringa tourist. That is one of the main advantages of starting them young, provided they have native-speaking language models.

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  176. Claire Lilienthal is a wonderful school and the numbers show that it's still very popular. It's very diverse and I agree with the previous poster who says that the faculty, administration, and parents are all great. It draws kids from all over the city. Also, it's k-8, which can be a nice option to have (even if you end up deciding that you want to switch to a separate middle school after all).

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  177. the demand from the non-Mandarin, nonSpanish, non Cantonese speakers is way higher than the demand from the Spanish speakers, Mandarin speakers and Cantonese speakers for these programs.

    I'll wager that we will see a decrease in demand for immersion programs as more non-immersion "hidden gems" emerge. A good many people are attracted to immersion primarily because it attracts others of their type. Move the type, move the demand.

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  178. Why can't we have French, German, or another Italian immersion? That would be a HUGE draw!

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  179. Because adding immersion programs in European languages would not promote any sort of diversity, which is the reason the Progressives on the BOE support immersion programs.

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  180. Great. So "respect my culture" and "respect diversity" is a one-way street? It doesn't count for white people, but for everyone else?

    That seems to be a pattern...

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  181. I'm not sure other European languages would be that much of a draw. THey are spoken by very few people worldwide.

    The most spoken languages on the planet are Mandarin, Spanish and English.

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  182. 10:02 and 11:20. it's a miracle: i think we all actually agree on all or part of what was suggested vis-a-vis the differences between trophy vs. hidden gem vs. underperforming.

    i mischaracterized when i said the differences are mainly "administrative" and "organizational." i actually did mean *parental* organization. i keep forgetting that administration means something very specific with regard to schools -- as in, The Administration. what i meant was that i have noticed a difference in the level of organization among parents who basically RUN certain programs/enrichments/fundraising and, yes, i did notice both at schools we were enrolled at and on tours that some schools on the rise still have just a tiny handful of parents floating the boat, as it were. so daunting, that. exciting, but daunting. and some schools, of course, have almost no parent involvement, and that is a problem, too.

    i'm not qualified yet to speak to the bullying issue. i will say that i have heard bullying stories from all kinds of schools -- private, down-at-the-heels public, trophy public.

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  183. I'd love it if my kid spoke French, German, Italian, Gaelic, Greek, Farsi, Arabic, etc.

    Having a kid learn a language because a lot of people speak it is practical, and not a bad thing, but there can be some joy in learning, as well. Learning just for the heck of it, pure desire, imagine that.

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  184. 1:02 PM - Perhaps more people on the planet speak Chinese, but more people in business, diplomacy, arts, etc., speak the languages of the EU.

    Also, French is enormously useful to those going into Law or Medicine...

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  185. I've met very few European diplomats or businesspeople who did not speak English.

    It makes no sense to spend money recruiting and teaching teachers to create immersion programs in languages that are hardly spoken or needed. Especially since it would be that much harder to find native-speaking teachers to teach!

    And they'd have to spend money recruiting students, too, as those languages would be much less in demand.

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  186. Let's see.. what should SFUSD prioritize... bridging the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with college-educated parents, or creating a new, public, French or Farsi immersion school?

    Hmmm...

    Where should they channel scarce resources?

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  187. No one is saying having immersion programs is a nobler cause than closing the achievement gap.

    I am saying that Spanish/Mandarin, etc. immersion programs aren't any more "needed" than French, Italian...

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  188. That's the beauty of dual immersion: When done properly, both groups benefit and the achievement gap is narrowed.

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  189. IF you think French is just as "needed" as Spanish, you really have no clue.

    1)Spanish-speaking children in dual immmersion programs are much more likely to succeed academically than their counterparts in bilingual or gen ed programs. As long as they are a significant portion of the school-age population in SF, their needs matter.

    2) English-speaking children who learn Spanish have more opportunities to practice the language here in California -- and more employment opportunities as adults -- than those who speak English and French.

    3) Spanish, being derived from latin, is just as useful in understanding the latin-derived words in medicine and law as French.

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  190. "It makes no sense to spend money recruiting and teaching teachers to create immersion programs in languages that are hardly spoken or needed. Especially since it would be that much harder to find native-speaking teachers to teach!"
    Then why do we have a Tagolog-immersion program at Bessie Carmichael, into which the BOE dumpted hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years ago so it could be converted to a K-8 program?

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  191. CAVEAT:

    1)Spanish-speaking children in SUCCESSFUL dual immersion programs.

    Let's be honest here, has SF got any of those? Sounds like they're inconsistent and mis-managed to me.

    P.S. California isn't the whole world.

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  192. 4:49 PM - Huh? French = Spanish? How does one write voire dire in Spanish?

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  193. No-one is saying that teaching German or French is a priority! Except maybe the 2 4:30 posters.

    Some shoulder chips have been tweaked!

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  194. How many hundreds of thousands of $$$$$ have been spent on Tagalog? is THAT a huge priority? Every other culture is important except mine. Diversity my ass.

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  195. 4:49 PM wrote "3) Spanish, being derived from latin, is just as useful in understanding the latin-derived words in medicine and law as French."

    1. Latin should be capitalized.

    2. You are utterly wrong. From where did you derive such a strange assertion?

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  196. I'll be glad when we don't have to choose things/friends/schools/whatever based on diversity, but just based on the fact they we think they're cool/interesting/nice.

    One day...

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  197. 5:25 -- English is my second language. (I speak three). Is your grammar and spelling flawless in *all* of the languages you speak? I doubt it.

    RE: Tagalog. That program was created because SF has a significant population from the Phillipines. (A much larger group than, say, Farsi or French speakers, and one that might benefit from having an immersion program that doesn't force children to give up their home language in order to master English.)

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  198. 5:25 pm. - Are you saying Spanish is not derived from Latin?

    Or that French is closer to Latin?

    Or that there aren't technical terms in Law and Medicine that come from Latin?

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  199. But is Tagalog a priority when there are much more critical issues facing our school system? Should any immersion programs be a priority when the schools are failing to meet the basic educational needs of so many.

    Frankly, it's not the school's responsibility to maintain these other languages. English is the language of this country, albeit unofficial.

    I do think immersion programs are good things for different reasons, but they are not essential when we look at the broader picture. Let's help all the kids learn to read and write and do math first.

    Don't say the immersion programs are designed to help the recent immigrants or underclass. They aren't. They were created to draw the middle class.

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