Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How will the economic slowdown affect schools?

An SF K Files visitor brings up an interesting topic:

"I don't know if this is sufficiently on subject, but I'm curious what SF folks are thinking about the recent economic whammies of late--the $700 billion bail out talks--and the big cuts in the CA budget. Will fewer families be applying to private schools? Will more or less parents be considering public schools? Will people simply flee to the suburbs or stay entrenched and fight even harder for better schools?" Jenny

44 comments:

  1. Now that the housing prices have dropped in some of the communities with excellent school districts, I expect to see some outflow to those communities.

    It will be a bad year next year and the year after for the school district.

    It is more important that we choose the BOE wisely so we do not have a bunch of people who vote for some ideological stance or whatever and eliminate a program such as JROTC at a cost of $1m. I understand had they waited, the cost would have been minimized. But oh no, lets take a stand!! What the ????

    I'm hoping someone will tell me the Board had no choice...

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  2. Well, I doubt the private schools will have much financial aid to dole out to kindergarteners applying. Those families already receiving aide will get priority, and their needs have probably increased. Those who were relying on their home equity to pay tuition will be asking for aid for the first time. Will there be any aid left for incoming students? Not much, is my guess... and their fundraising efforts are likely to fall short this year, too.

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  3. If there is a sustained credit crunch, people won't be moving, even for attractive prices. Most will hunker down if they have property here already.

    I would expect the apps for public school to continue to increase with more financial uncertainty and less financial aid available. And no relying on home equity to finance private education.

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  4. Privates will feel the crunch which affects the student body in ways of incoming 'middle-class' families who would still need financial aid and current families who will feel the financial pressure because they're stuck in the private world already and may not get the financial help they were expecting to get from the school.

    At least with public, a lot of our kids' experience comes from our immediate involvement with the school to enrich it by good old fashioned parent volunteering, without the pressure of tuition, contributing to an annual or capital buildings fund.

    Money can't buy everything. But we can't live without it. I like closing my eyes at night knowing life is still humble in the land of public school.

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  5. True. I have friends who like the status and cache of being able to say they are in private, but they are all shaking in their boots trying to figure out how to keep paying for it.

    It's a hard persona/belief to maintain. Eventually, you won't be able to fool people with last year's Prada.

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  6. Dropping home prices? Where? Not in San Francisco. At least, not yet. I mean, maybe a little. But it's not like we're Stockton or Fresno and have row after row of ugly tract home foreclosures. It's more like maybe 2% or something.

    During the last recession in the 70s, SF and Marin did fine. It didn't lose value. We'll do fine in this round.

    The only big difference is the time it takes to sell your house.

    As for the schools, it might increase the number of families seeking public schools. Which is good for the schools. I am one who believes that the only real problem of quality we have in SF schools stems from not enough middle class and upper middle class families taking part in the system. We need everybody involved in the schools equally. When that doesn't happen, there are problems. The more diverse the schools, the better the outcomes. Kids need to be exposed to all walks of life--the upper and the middle and the lower and everything in between.

    Keep in mind that the "best" most desired schools in our district are the ones where everybody is represented. And for now, that's a small list of maybe 7 to 10 schools.

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  7. I have to add, when you have a school where there is 80%+ of any one group, it's not good.

    Bottom line: Get everybody going to public school and they'll be as good as they can be. So on that point, a recession might be a great thing, if families are "forced" to leave private and go to public.

    As a 0/15 family, who got nuthin in the lottery, I was lucky enough to get a top notch parochial. The $650 per month I spent for my daughter is pretty fair. That's a car/insurance payment

    Frankly, I sorta gotta love recessions. They make people face up to reality and stop living in a fantasy material wonderland.

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  8. Which 7-10 schools are you referring to that has the diversity represented? Does that alone make them that desirable or even effective? Test scores? Racial diversity? Financial diversity? What's the priority to make schools great? Privates don't have this to contend with and they are all 'great.'

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  9. Really? I don't buy that privates are all great. I toured some real stinkers, the privates. (A couple of them charging $18k+ and delivering questionable results, if you ask me.)

    Which public schools am I talking about? Look at the top schools on greatschools.net, and sort them by racial parameters, then again by economic/english learner ones.

    Clarendon, Rooftop, Miraloma, Grattan, Lillienthal, Alvarado, Alamo, blah blah blah. You hear the same darned school names over and over. Only a couple of schools on the "top" list have a population that is heavily one race or sector. Most of the solid top choices are the ones that have a spectrum of ALL kids.

    No, diversity alone isn't the only thing that makes them desirable. But let's talk stop talking about the emperor's clothes here. We all know which schools are the ones we really wanted.

    The top choices, by and large, have big chunks of all kinds of kids. The lesser choices by and large, have more lopsided populations.

    I seriously doubt many families who are giving the lesser schools a try will be attending them by 5th or 6th grade. These are facts.

    And yes, I do hope this isn't the case, but it is, so let's stop kidding ourselves.

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  10. 7:11, don't be so confident when you say there are clear-cut "top choices" and "lesser schools" and that those of us not at the "top choices" will be moving. At least two of the schools on your list, Grattan and Miraloma, were definitely seen as "lesser schools" by many middle class parents just a few years ago.

    I agree with you that diversity is an important component of what makes a great school -- at lesat for me. Personally my list was made up of very diverse schools including a bunch that aren't mentioned in your post and were not at all impossible to get into -- Starr King, McKinley, Harvey Milk, Jose Ortega, SF Community, Sunnyside, etc. Who knows my kid will be by grade 4 or 5, but I am definitely persuaded that there are options besides the schools that everyone has on their list that can work for my family.

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  11. Keep in mind that the "best" most desired schools in our district are the ones where everybody is represented....

    Should say: where everybody is represented, but not in proportion to the actual population of school-age San Franciscans attending public schools... Proportional representation would yield 1 or 2 white kids per class. Schools like that are not the "top choices."

    The top choices, by and large, have big chunks of all kinds of kids.

    Again, we don't have enough big chunks to go around.

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  12. I seriously doubt many families who are giving the lesser schools a try will be attending them by 5th or 6th grade. These are facts.
    -------

    Miraloma was a 'lesser school' when we started (along with Grattan, Sherman, Lafayette, McKinley, etc. etc.)

    Data does not show that a large number of families leave public schools - any school - in 5th grade (still in elementary.)

    There is some attrition in 6th grade, but like the trends in elementary where more and a wider range of families are coming to the public schools, this is definitely changing. Just noting that Aptos has grown so much with this year's 6th grade class is a case in point.

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  13. I think that public schools are going to be negatively affected by the economic downturn and that more people will flee the city as a result. Look at the budget numbers this year. More cuts will happen in future years. Parents alone can't make up a $30 million shortfall in the SF school budget alone, for example, and the rainy day fund is only good for two years of help.

    Do you really think more middle and upper middle class families are going to "go public" with all the cuts that are coming? I think more people will get the heck out.

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  14. 8:56, Miraloma were indeed seen as lesser schools. Once their diversity evened out and there was representation of all sorts of kids (which was certainly not the case when they, excuse the expression, sucked) only then did they become great schools.

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  15. I meant to type, Miraloma, Grattan, et al were seen as lesser schools till all kinds of kids started attending.

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  16. I think the economic downturn will result in me pulling my child out of private and leaving the city for public schools elsewhere. I can afford one kid in private, but not my second kid, who is coming up.

    I will keep trying to get into a public school, but I think the odds are lousy for 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade. Just aren't any slots.

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  17. I remember when Alvarado was considered a "lesser" school. Times change...

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  18. one kid in private - doable. two kids? not likely.

    lets all just hope we get into the better schools in the city or just be thankful our kids will grow up to be good, healthy kids despite which schools they go to.

    a lot comes from the home.

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  19. 7:11 -- Just curious as to which privates you thought were real "stinkers"...

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  20. My husband is actually considering accepting a job transfer in his company and relocating to Manhattan so we can send our three kids to public school there. His sister is a public school teacher there, and all you have to do is have an address in the right neighborhood to attend.

    There are many neighborhoods where the schools are stellar. Many.

    That was nuts to me, but when we went 0/7, the higher rent in NYC would be worth fulfilling our profound belief we have in public schools.

    I just can't stand the thought of living in a suburb. Makes me crazy. So Marin, Oakland, or the South Bay are out. San Francisco just doesn't offer what other major cities do offer. Excellent FREE schooling.

    My question is whether the economic slowdown will make NYC worse than SF.

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  21. 3:21, email me off list and I will tell you. I know this is anonymous, but it still feels icky slamming a school that other parents might like.

    laureldenver@gmail.com

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  22. The higher rent is probably what you would pay in SF in private school tuition, LOL.

    BTW: Manhattan makes SF look sane. They have public school gifted programs that start in kinder, but you have to subject your kid to IQ testing. (IQ testing is very common for NY private school admissions; nearly unheard of in SF.)

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  23. 3:25 - Go ahead and share your impressions. Everyone hear knows that different people have different opinions and it is always better to hear multiple perspectives.

    Out with it!

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  24. Everyone here, that is...

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  25. Whoever here has an in at EPC, can you please tell them to wake up. Enrollment trends will continue to incresae due to this economic decline. It is my understanding that ECP knew about an enrollment increase for 2008-09 but what was done to prepare for it? EPC needs to incorportate enrollment forecasting into its system.

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  26. A 3 bedroom really nice apartment on the Upper West side costs about $5500 per month. Our rent here in SF is $3500 per month. So... For $2000 more, we can send three (3! Remember? 3!) children to public school for FREE.

    And give up our cars, which would save probably $700-1000 per month.

    I loves me some city.

    Any questions?

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  27. Have you seen the apartment? That seems low for a three-bedroom... How does the square footage compare?

    Also: Other costs are higher in Manhattan, too.

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

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  29. I made a mistake. The place we looked at was a big pre-war building on West 88th and it was FOUR bedrooms for that price, $5500.

    $4500 to $6500 is average. If you want a trendy 5br loft like this one,

    http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/fee/855452290.html

    you might pay the high end.

    FREE SCHOOLS. Three kids. Did I say that already?

    Yes rents are higher. But the schools are amazing and the teachers have Masters from Ivy League schools, really hard core vital people. Schools we looked at are in the West Village, Upper West, Upper East, Soho, Brooklyn, Chelsea. Top scores, diversity galore but most were, I have to say, 50% or more white---don't hate me, I'm just saying--and put it this way, everybody sends their kids there, so it's a true representation cutting across all classes and colors. Best of all, you don't have to go through lottery hell like in San Francisco. Mostly, not all the time but mostly, you just move in, and walk down the street to register.

    But I love San Francisco.

    I don't want to move.

    I told my husband, let's try the lottery next year. If we get nothing in Round 1, okay, we're moving to NYC.

    And I put schools like McKinley, Milk, Flynn, Moscone, Yick Wo, etc, and got nothing, so don't talk to me about being a snob.

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  30. NYC is way larger than SF geographically so it would be hard to implement any lottery.

    So any grand diversity scheme simply would not work - you couldn't bus kids from Harlem to Queens and vice versa.

    But as a large city, it is just naturally more diverse. I grew up there and its funny when people in SF think we're all so diverse here and its nothing, nothing compared to all the nationalities one would see in NY in 10 minutes.

    But its apples and oranges.

    As to the poster - hope all works out for you and family -- definitely lots to consider, such a big move. And the weather there is well, weather - 4 seasons from freezing icy cold to hot humid, did I say humid.

    But its all good, like here :)

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  31. I don't think Manhattan is all that diverse anymore. We were there last week, and there are so many white people in Manhattan.

    It's no wonder the schools are turning 50% white or more. But isn't it sad that it takes that kind of involvement for the quality to go up?

    People on this list have made arguments that everybody/allkinds need to attend for the schools to be good, and I think that's true.

    Some also made arguments that the schools ARE already great, and white kids just don't know it until they get there. These people say that the only difference between a gem and a bad school is that if white kids attend, it's a gem. If they don't, it's a bad school. I don't buy that.

    I think the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is the list of schools kids attend AFTER attending their little gems. I don't see Malcom X Academy or Chavez having a lot of kids ending up at Lowell, or at the other fancy high schools such as University, St. Ignatius, or Lick Wilmerding, even if it's on scholarship. Whereas, you tour these high schools, and they brag about their public school students. You ask the names of the public schools, and all you hear are Clarendon, West Portal, Alice Fong, Rooftop, and all the other impossible to get into/usual suspects.

    Working backwards from this, it's hard to believe that my kid will be in the same shape come 6th grade by attending Rosa Parks or McKinley or the others.

    I feel bad about this. But how can you argue with facts? Are these the facts? Does anybody have a link to statistics we can look at?

    I mean, for heaven's sake, ALL the privates have a list of high schools their kids go on to. It's their big selling point. My daughter is at NDV right now, and the graduating 8th class has a wall of class pictures, with the high school listed underneath. They are all stellar schools, and some are back east like Hotchkiss and Deerfield. Most are Lowell, University, Lick, St I, and there was one groovy kid tossed in as a token who went to SCOTA.

    I have to admit, that's how I made my decision. SO if the economic slowdown hits as expected, I think it will result in people leaving the city for better school districts. Manhattan public schools "got good" during a huge economic boom because people wanted to stay in the city. SF public schools aren't going to get good until the schools are good enough to allow families to stay.

    District schools would mean that all the schools in Pacific Heights and the Avenues and the Castro or wherever are going to be great. The schools in the Bayview and other areas won't be great. I'm just saying, that's the argument, right? But if you have lots of great schools, as a neighborhood improves, so will the schools. For example, the Mission District where I live or Bernal or Noe would have better schools now that it did twenty years ago, right? Because they are more gentrified, right?

    I'm asking. I would like to discuss this. I'm open.

    What do people think?

    I think economic slowdowns and booms effect schools more in our lottery system than they would in a district system.

    I also don't think we'll ever get district schools back, but we might get a hybrid. Any policy that allows Pacific Heights rich kids to go to a local public school down the street, will bring more families into the public system overall, not less. And this is the goal.

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  32. I think you'll see high schools drawing from a broader list of public schools in the future. The list of schools they draw from currently reflects which schools were doing well 8-12 years ago, not which ones are good *now*.

    Also: They are only pulling from schools with 8th graders, so by definition, you wouldn't see any K-5 schools on their list, no matter how good.

    Finally: The neighborhoods with decent schools in Manhattan happen to be the whitest. Hence the stats. And yet, a hell of a lot of people in Manhattan go private, where they test preschoolers' IQs and make the private school admissions process in SF look like a mellow cakewalk.

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  33. I saw that in NYC, too, about privates. But $30k per year or more is nothing at all, to many New Yorkers.

    I don't care, as long as the publics are great and there are a large number of them, which in New York City they are. And they are easy to get into. In general, you just move into the neighborhood.

    When I told my sister in law (who is a teacher in the NYC public schools, what we went through with the SF Lottery, only to end up with NOTHING, she was stunned. This kind of experience just doesn't happen in New York, or from what I have read, in most other cities.

    I want everybody on this list to ponder that there are 905 families who are currently on waitpools, i.e., they didn't get what they wanted!

    I want to see the number who are not only on the wait pool, but aren't even in school. If even half that number -- say, 450 -- kindergartners are out in the cold...brother, this is a lousy system.

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  34. Hmmm... I didn't get the impression New Yorkers are thrilled with their public school choices from reading Urban Baby.

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  35. Some thoughts based on Laurel's comments:

    <<< Some also made arguments that the schools ARE already great, and white kids just don't know it until they get there. >>>

    "Great" means different things to different people. I wouldn't make the blanket statement that all SFUSD schools are great, obviously. But I know from personal experience that it takes a while for the reputation to catch up as an SFUSD school improves, and I believe that almost all families -- including many I know who are spending hundreds of thousands on private school -- can find an SFUSD school that's a good fit and where their kids can get a quality education.

    <<< These people say that the only difference between a gem and a bad school is that if white kids attend, it's a gem. If they don't, it's a bad school. I don't buy that.>>>

    Anyone who says that is insufficiently informed. The "gem" schools my kids have attended have been among the most diverse in the district.

    Low-income children of color are, overall on average, more likely to have academic and other challenges. (Specifically African-American, Latino and Pacific Islander children; Asian children on average are high academic achievers.) A critical mass of high-need children with a lot of challenges can overwhelm a school. A school with fewer high-need children is less likely to struggle. It's a balancing act.

    <<< I don't see Malcom X Academy or Chavez having a lot of kids ending up at Lowell, or at the other fancy high schools such as University, St. Ignatius, or Lick Wilmerding, even if it's on scholarship. >>>

    The ethnic imbalance at Lowell has been a cause of concern for years, and it's due to the fact that I mention above: Asian and white children -- overall and on average -- tend to be higher academic achievers, and Lowell's selection process admits higher academic achievers. There are elements in the Lowell admissions process that give boosts to disadvantaged students. And by the way, even my private-school friends say that when private schools seek out low-income students of color, they don't want students who "act ghetto."

    <<< Whereas, you tour these high schools, and they brag about their public school students. You ask the names of the public schools, and all you hear are Clarendon, West Portal, Alice Fong, Rooftop, and all the other impossible to get into/usual suspects.>>>

    Of course private high schools offer scholarships and I know most of them work in good faith to attract low-income students, but they still largely enroll privileged kids. So their students coming from public school are still more likely to come from public schools with more middle-class kids.

    <<< Working backwards from this, it's hard to believe that my kid will be in the same shape come 6th grade by attending Rosa Parks or McKinley or the others. >>>

    But you would have to control for demographics, family influence, resources etc. Plus that overlooks the fact that both McKinley and (more recently) Rosa Parks have begun to transform, while the kids NOW in high school would have gone to those schools before 2005.

    <<< Are these the facts? >>>

    Not fully, because those points overlook some key factors.

    <<< ALL the privates have a list of high schools their kids go on to. It's their big selling point. My daughter is at NDV right now, and the graduating 8th class has a wall of class pictures, with the high school listed underneath. They are all stellar schools, and some are back east like Hotchkiss and Deerfield. Most are Lowell, University, Lick, St I ...>>>

    Sorry to be so blunt, but that's not sound methodology (as my SFUSD-educated kids could readily explain).

    The main problem here is that you're assuming that kids coming from SFUSD K-8 are equally likely to apply to private high schools as kids coming from private K-8 are. Think about it -- that's clearly not a valid assumption.

    My private-school friends tell me that there's a pervasive fear of public school among many private school parents, while public-school K-8 families are far more likely to assume their kids will go to public 9-12. Clearly, far more kids coming from private K-8s would apply to private high schools. Conversely, families in SFUSD K-8 would be far more likely to feel comfortable sending their kids to SFUSD high school, and would be far less likely to apply to private high schools that cost $20,000-$35,000/year.

    And that's before you control for family income and other socioeconomic factors, and the many, many other factors that impact private school admissions decisions, consciously or unconsciously.

    Then you would have to make the study blind to eliminate any subconscious bias -- conceal the applicant's sending K-8 school.

    The only way to really study this would be to have a significant sampling of students from Aptos or Denman and an equal sampling of students from NDV or SF Day apply to all the same private high schools, with identical factors in every one of the many areas that private schools might consider, and the sending schools concealed.

    <<< Manhattan public schools "got good" during a huge economic boom because people wanted to stay in the city. >>>

    We have a houseguest right now who grew up 40-plus years ago in Manhattan and still lives there. He says that many aspects of life in Manhattan have transformed since the '70s because higher-income people have started to view dense urban living as attractive again, after years in which it was viewed as something that you escaped if you could in favor of spacious, quieter suburbia. I haven't seen figures on that, but was just talking to him about it before I read this post. He claims it's a clear, long-term cultural shift with significant impact.

    <<< District schools would mean that all the schools in Pacific Heights and the Avenues and the Castro or wherever are going to be great. The schools in the Bayview and other areas won't be great. I'm just saying, that's the argument, right? But if you have lots of great schools, as a neighborhood improves, so will the schools. For example, the Mission District where I live or Bernal or Noe would have better schools now that it did twenty years ago, right? Because they are more gentrified, right?>>>

    I'd say this captures the gist, for the reason I mentioned above (that a school with more high-need, low-income kids faces more challenges).

    <<< Any policy that allows Pacific Heights rich kids to go to a local public school down the street, will bring more families into the public system overall, not less. And this is the goal. >>>

    Bringing more families into the public school system, including more advantaged families, definitely benefits the schools, so it's A goal. It's not the only goal. Another is to provide resources and opportunities that will help level the playing field for students who start out with fewer advantages.

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  36. I understand it is quite common for NYC public school kinder classes to have 25 kids. That number seems so high to me.

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  37. My daughter's class at NDV has 30 kids in it. I stipulate here and now that 30 kids is way too big. Large class size was something that meant a lot to me. It is the only negative I can find, so far, about NDV.

    Remember, I did want public schools in SF. Very much. I didn't get anything. 0/15.

    I must say that NDV does very well with the class size, and they do it with strict discipline. My child is thriving in that environment. In the one month my daughter has attended, her manners have increased substantially, and they were pretty high to begin with.

    I think manners and boundaries are a basis for everything good in life and a strong liberal society. I am amazed that when I focus on that issue, as a parent, darned near everything else falls into place. I don't see this trait as much as I'd like with other families.

    I mean, did you see John McCain's manners in that debate? A horror show. Please God let that man not get elected.

    Anyway.

    I guess what I'm saying is, I've change my tune about class size. It can work. I wish it didn't have to. But NDV is extremely affordable.

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  38. Caroline is entitled to her opinion, and I appreciate her in sight on my NYC school issues.

    All I'd add is that I want my daughter to go to a school where her classmates are all focused on going to a good high school. I want her to compete with the best, because it makes her better, and if she's the bottom in a class of geniuses, well then she's still a genius, yknow? Academics are very important to me, and I'll tell you why.

    I got two graduate degrees, went to an Ivy, and ended up working with my hands as a carpenter for twenty years and other simple labor type jobs. I like to read and travel and be free. But here's the thing: I always have an exciting interior world going in my head. Going to top schools helped me develop that. Had my parents been the loosey goosey type, all hippie and Synergy and all that, I'm sure I would have ended up a trade school or in community college, based on my interests and desires. (Based on my family of cousins, I would have ended up in jail. That's where I come from.)

    I want my child to have choices in this life. When she's 22 or so, she can do whatever she wants. Until then, it is my role, I think, to lead, teach, and expose her to the best stuff of life I can. Lowell graduates can flip burgers with the best of them, but not all Lincoln or Mission grads have the same choices that the average Lowell grad does.

    Judgmental? You bet. Caroline, let me just say this; please don't reply. We know how you feel.

    Not very mellow/San Francisco, I know... But there it is.

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  39. What makes you so sure Synergy students *don't* end up in the Ivy League? I went to an Ivy, too, and there were *plenty* of students there from more progressive schools.

    BTW: There are two ways to ensure well-mannered kids.
    1) Discipline. Drill them on etiquette and accept nothing short of good manners. Example: If your 3 or 4 year old hits someone or grabs something you insist that they apologize by saying they are sorry. Their apologies may not always be sincere, but they are mandatory.
    2) Cultivate emotional intelligence in general and empathy in particular. Example: If your 3 or 4 year old hits someone or grabs something you say, "Look at your friend's face. He looks sad and angry. He did not like that at all. We don't hit or grab because it makes others feel awful. What can you do to make your friend feel better?

    Both approaches end up in the same place: Well-behaved, well-mannered kids... but there is more than one way to get there.

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  40. 9/25 Anon considering NY:

    "Yes rents are higher. But the schools are amazing and the teachers have Masters from Ivy League schools, really hard core vital people."

    SFUSD publics also have amazing schools and staff with Ivy League degrees. Our child's SF public school principal is Ivy undergrad, Ivy (Harvard) Master's.

    The real issue is that the SF lottery system is so unpredictable and frustrating for families - even those who want to go public. I don't think that it's necessarily that the public teachers or administrators here are not as good as NY's.

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  41. Lorraine here:
    New York State and City have undergone amazing transformations in recent years in regards to their public schools. About a decade ago, the New York State figured out (maybe because of a lawsuit? Can't remember) what it would actually COST to properly educate NY kids in the public schools system with their standards, etc. This eventually triggered a significant increase in spending per pupil (I think theirs is in the $12K-$13K per pupil compared to the $7-$8K per pupil in California.)

    More recently, in NYC, there have been some significant attitude and demographic shifts among families. I know demographically, as Carloine noted, there are many more families staying in NYC - and as a result more kids coming back to public schools (there have been several NY Times articles about it.). Additionally, they have done some amazing innovative things in the NYC school district with magnets, accountability, etc. and are getting some good results. Of course, Bloomburg is the Mayor and has control of the schools. He would say the improvement is in large part due to him and his control (in many respects I cannot disagree on this point.) There remains an ongoing debate nationally on whether you can really create significant reform and change in public schools with a Board of Ed forum vs. Mayorial control of the schools. The democratic (little d) in me wants a BOE, but the realist in me wonders if the only way to go is to get a real government leader who will be held accountable. The problem is: depends on the Mayor.

    In any event, remember that at one point NYC was bankrupt, was considered a 'dead' city. I'm thrilled to see that now they seem to be on the forefront of innovation for urban schools.

    On a separate note, we toyed with moving there for a year when my husband had a project in NYC. He spoke with quite a few colleagues with kids in NYC public schools. They said, like many of the PPS folks here, that if you can get past what everyone who really knows nothing about the schools says, and go find out for yourself, that there are lots of great NYC public school options. They were all very happy with their schools (many came from top notch public and private systems around the country - all were highly educated themselves.)

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  42. Greta's post about discipline and manners was spot on.

    Gee whiz! It think manners are the most important thing ever. You give a kid those skills, and it allows her to go anywhere and learn anything.

    Why do we not discriminate? Because it's bad manners. Why do we allow gays to marry? Because it's good manners. Why do we fund the schools to the highest levels we can afford? Good manners. Why do we do nothing to avoid war and dropping bombs? Because it's bad manners. Why do we allow people to have access to health care? College? Safe Housing? The Right to disagree? The Right to Religion? The Right to Chose?

    Good manners.

    Hmmmm. Some people in Washington and Sacramento didn't have very good mothers, did they?


    (Barack's mom rocked!) ;-)

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  43. A critical mass of high-need children with a lot of challenges can overwhelm a school. A school with fewer high-need children is less likely to struggle. It's a balancing act.

    A school with fewer still, even less likely. What's wrong with wanting that?

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  44. 11:27 - no, nothing wrong with wanting that... nothing at all.

    Of course, in the end, if democracy is to succeed, we need all children educated and basically, as a society, if we are to succeed/thrive, we need all members to be productive members of society. (We won't get "all", but then the next best thing is "as many as possible").

    So yeah -- it gets overwhelming to help everyone, its sad because the problems are so overwhelming, esp with children born of wedlock, underaged, single parent families -more being born every day - they already start with disadvantages.

    I selected a school that had challenges but also had a program I wanted so I was very willing to take a risk. Time will tell how it will turn out. And it is very hard to see some of these disadvantaged kids (whom by the way can also come from middle class families with their own problems) and worse of all, to see that their parents/guardians do not really care. So if the other parents, teachers, staff do not, then who advocates, helps these children. As a result, everyone does help out to some degree. Its just overwhelming at times.

    But definitely - to bring things back to context -- if as a country, we stop spending money to bailout every greedy person, stop spending money overseas on a war that has no end... we would have lots more dollars to solve these problems and not depend on parents to have to help everyone. Like Denmark or Norway! Or even Canada!

    $700 Billion goes a long way!
    But I digress....

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