Sunday, September 7, 2008

A wonderful tribute to Miraloma

Leslie Kirk's recent Chronicle article recounting her experience as a Miraloma parent is a must read. Click here to find the story.


  1. It seems clear from the Miraloma example what dramatic improvement can happen when middle-class parents, with their high expectations, volunteer time and fundraising, join a school community. Yet among the BOE candidates, only Emily Murase has the guts to list recruitment of more middle-class families to the SFUSD as a major goal.

  2. So instead of five schools being acceptable, there are now fifteen or twenty. I didn't get one. I'm 0/15.

    The ten day count better produce, otherwise, I won't get the chance to be one of these parents who make a school shine.

  3. What a terrific article!

  4. I'd say more like 25 or 30 acceptable schools now, based on which schools filled up and also based on comments on this blog. That is good news, obviously, though still not enough spots given those still 0/15, etc.--and good luck to all of you in the next few days!

    That makes me wonder, does anyone know how many families are truly 0/whatever at this point? I believe the waitpools have a certain number of families who have enrolled in a public school, one they find acceptable and could continue in, but who are hoping for their higher pick. I suppose there are also families who have enrolled in private or parochial schools but still have their names in the waitpools. How to count them?--some may really be unable to afford private/parochial, and are desperately hoping for a spot; others may have leaned toward private in any case. What is unclear to me is how many are in the situation of having nothing, no back-up. I'm guessing a few dozen at this point? But I'm not sure they can be disaggregated from the larger waitpools.

  5. I'll put my data out there.

    I am 'affording' parochial, but I'm desperate for public. I
    m 0/15. I have two kids, and even at $7-8k per year each, I won't be able to swing it for two.

    My plan is to bale on the parochial as soon as a public comes up. I'm hoping this week. If I fail (or the SFUSD fails me) I'll try again for first grade, then if we come up empty then, it's out of this city we move.

    I learned a lot from this year, and the main thing was not to waste five of my seven first-round choices on Clarendon, Rooftop, West Portal, Miraloma, Alamo. What a fool I was!

    Next year, I might have one of those as my top, but the rest of list are the less popular ones, for sure.

  6. I enjoyed the article, but reading the comments that were posted to SF Gate in response was a real eye-opener. There is a lot of bitterness out there.

  7. Yes, there is bitterness. Not to say that it doesn't need to be taken seriously, but I would also mention that the sfgate comments are remarkably bitter, snarky, and often wingnutty, as well as remarkably right-wing at time. Not to take away from what I'm sure are some sane comments on this article, but that is my overall impression of sfgate comments in general.

  8. I've noticed that the people who comment on SFGate articles are generally negative. Doesn't matter what the subject matter is. This is no exception.

    I thought the article was pretty balanced on the whole.

  9. Great article.

    I note that the movement to public schools is now spreading to middle schools and high schools as well.

    Roosevelt and Aptos have made major strides, and I see Galileo as the upcoming star on the high school scene.

    And I agree about Emily Murase. A champion of the middle class among the BoE candidates.

  10. Murase? She's a puppet of the mayor's, and knows very little about schools.

  11. You have to be joking!

    Emily has kids at JBBP; she's on the Parent Advisory Council of the San Francisco Board of Education, and was the chair.

    She's my top pick!

    She'll stand up for those of us with kids actually attending public school in SF.

  12. Isn't Murase in the moderate slate?

    Would be nice to kick the Green Party off the school board and actually focus on education rather social experiments.

  13. Don't forget Rachel Norton for School Board! She has been a tireless Parent Ambassador for PPS for years and has done a great deal to bring middle class families - and more - to our public schools.

    This gal walks the talk, and is extremely knowledgeable about budget issues, state challenges and the political minefields. Did I mention she is a current public school parent and also has a child with special needs?

    She transcends efforts to pigeon hole her into a political category: She is about the public schools and best outcomes for public school children. I

    Rachel Norton for School Board!

  14. 9:41 - did you really not get a school or not like the school you were assigned?

  15. A lot of the negative comments remind me of my co-worker. She is a 3rd generation SF-er, a believer in public schools; she didn't even apply for any privates!

    The live in the Outer Richmond. Her kid was assigned to Sheridan. When she protested, the district rep. told her that she had a duty to contribute to the school & send her child there, as she was educated, middle class, etc.

    She couldn't believe they came right out & told her that her family & child mattered only insofar as they could be useful to the majority. She is what you would call bitter, I suppose.

  16. 9:41 here. To answer 4:50 question, I didn't get a thing I requested. They assigned me to Cesar Chavez, which is so unacceptable in every way that even Caroline wouldn't send her kids there.

    And neither would the principles of three different public schools with whom I discussed it.

    I was naming schools I thought were shoe-ins. Like Moscone, Sunnyside, McKinley, and others.

    Sometimes your number just doesn't come up.

    And also, I was at Franklin Street today, and they were so unhelpful. I got there at 2pm as I was told by some on this list, and I waited two hours. I left. They are assholes dunces do-nothings useless losers and so burnt out from the likes of me I can't blame them.

  17. There's something I've been dying to say on this list.

    With all the talk of diversity in this process, you'd think, wouldn't ya, that they'd JUMP at the chance to add some upper middle class white folks to the mix, wouldn't ya?

    Cause if you're trying to make the schools diverse, we are the diversity feather in the hat, aren't we, cause there ain't too many of us.

    Sorry, but just sayin.

  18. 6:13
    I agree with you 100%

  19. I agree about trying to bring in the middle class -- I hope it's obvious that that's my opinion, since it's a key point that I'm always trying to make.

    I think that much of the SFUSD staff just takes the path of least resistance, whatever it may be -- whatever is least troublesome at the moment.

    However, the left/Green/progressive faction on the Board of Ed definitely has been the source of an attitude that the middle class and the advantaged can take care of themselves without any support from the district. One example is their notion that enrichments (and separate honors classes) for GATE students are elitist, as well as the entire existence of Lowell and SOTA -- that faction feels those should all be eliminated or at least seriously weakened.

    Another example is the notion that oversubscribed schools (usually meaning westside schools) should have their bungalows removed or even be shut down entirely, and the kids transferred summarily to undersubscribed schools.

    I was really surprised to see a teacher on another thread claim that other teachers largely support the left/Green/prog faction, for those and other reasons. Are many teachers really for nuking Lowell and SOTA, and closing down popular, high-achieving schools to transfer their students to underperforming, undersubscribed schools?

    Of the BOE candidates, Sandra Fewer is one who is pretty much a down-the-line advocate of that left/Green/prog faction, though she's being rather quiet about it so far. Norman Yee seems to have aligned with them closely now too, though (I feel sad saying this) he has seemed very distant and out of touch since he had a bad traffic accident some times ago.

    Regarding this comment:

    <<< even Caroline wouldn't send her kids there. >>>

    I honestly have NEVER said parents should accept assignments to schools they don't feel comfortable with, or anything like that. My family has done it both ways to some extent -- Lakeshore (then a trophy school) , then Aptos (turning around, but still widely disparaged as "dirty and dangerous," when my older started there), now SOTA (disparaged by the left/Green/prog folks as elitist). If my kids were suddenly reassigned to June Jordan or Thurgood Marshall I would try to check those schools out with an open mind, but I wouldn't blindly do the PC thing, and I would never urge (and have never urged) others to do that either.

  20. Caroline wrote: "However, the left/Green/progressive faction on the Board of Ed definitely has been the source of an attitude that the middle class and the advantaged can take care of themselves without any support from the district. One example is their notion that enrichments (and separate honors classes) for GATE students are elitist, as well as the entire existence of Lowell and SOTA -- that faction feels those should all be eliminated or at least seriously weakened."


    I am so f***ing sick of this school system, and my child is 4! I am about to start looking at schools.

    Are there any lawyers out there? HOW IS THIS LEGAL?

  21. Yes, the SFUSD does want you... if you speak English at home, do not qualify for free lunch and your child attended preschool, they want you in a school at which the majority of kids do not speak English at home, do qualify for free lunch and did not attend preschool.

    At least that is what the diversity index is supposed to accomplish.

    Obviously it's a bit much to expect people who could afford private school or afford to move out of SF to send their kids to the most disadvantaged schools in the district.

    Fortunately there are some pretty decent choices still available, Sunnyside, Flynn GE and Glen Park have been mentioned here recently.

  22. 6:55, do you mean it's illegal to consider shutting down magnet schools and wish to shut down GATE programs? Well, it's the political philosophy of that particular faction. Voters can certainly pay attention to those issues and make their decisions accordingly!

    I think that the law requires students who are identified as GATE to get "differentiated instruction," as they do. The law doesn't require separate honors classes for them, and I have really prized those classes for my kids. Obviously, as a SOTA parent I would vigorously oppose any effort to nuke SOTA! Meanwhile, we can consider school board candidates' opinions about those issues when we cast our votes.

  23. This whole system is NOT a lottery. It is reverse discrimination. It is violating the law. Why should there be one school opportunity for kids of other races, but not for white kids?

  24. Caroline - Perhaps, if those programs mainly serve 1 or 2 races exclusively. What I see as illegal is what you described as "the left/Green/progressive faction on the Board of Ed definitely has been the source of an attitude that the middle class and the advantaged can take care of themselves without any support from the district." I.E., White people take what they are given; everyone else has some choice & assistance.

  25. I saw on another thread that someone was planning on lying on their "lottery list" & putting down that the parents did not go to college, and under race "decline to state." I want to go a step further, and put that my DD didn't attend preschool (she does). Are they going to check? And how will they decide whom to check? Maybe all white families should go on a veracity strike!

  26. It's not about race. It's about class.

    My black, white, hispanic, Chinese and Filipino neighbors all score the same on the "diversity index".

  27. Perhaps, but it is de facto discrimination - they can say that race isn't used in their calculations, but 1. they still ask for race on the enrollment forms, and 2. the result is the same as IF they'd been using race. This is the same kind of BS excuse southern segregationists used "oh, we only take zip code/neighborhood into account, not our fault if ONLY black folks happen to live there."

  28. 7:05, I'm for a middle ground -- disadvantaged children DO need more support -- but I believe that the district needs to meet the needs of all kids.

    So I disagree (vigorously) with the notions that GATE students shouldn't get extra support and that Lowell and SOTA should be shut down because they're "elitist," for example.

    This is a trivial-seeming aside, but: A local Green Party and schools activist who lived here until recently used to attend the biggest musical theater productions at SOTA and Lowell and post her hand-counted ethnic breakdowns of the casts on the Greens' "Left in SF" blog. It was pretty funny. She blasted SOTA's fantastic 2006 production of "Fiddler on the Roof" for having what she perceived as an insufficiently diverse cast. A whole string of mostly minority SOTA students posted outraged responses over the implications of casting a theater production based on diversity bean-counting. (The Left in SF blog admins shut down the comment thread after the angry responses from students of color kept coming in.) Anyway, you get the idea -- it was a shot across SOTA's bow from those folks. I wish the large mass of voters would pay closer attention, sigh...

  29. If it isn't about race, then why do mainly white families get screwed by the diversity index?

  30. WRONG!

    The only family on our block who sent their kids to private school happens to be black. They chose private for exactly the same reasons a white family might have.

  31. Caroline - let me get this straight - you are saying that there are those on the SF school board that want to get rid of gifted programs (is that what GATE is?) and high-achieving schools because it is unequal? I THINK I HAVE REACHED THE POINT OF NO RETURN. THESE PEOPLE ARE F-ING LUNATICS, please PLEASE tell me I read your post incorrectly. PLEASE.

  32. 7:16 PM - Did yr neighbor's child get assigned to a school far away, with low scores, no aftercare, and no bus?

  33. What I don't get is how, if the school district is spending millions of $$$ every year on the "diversity index" - why are there so many schools that are 65%-80+% one race?

  34. There is something that doesn't make sense & I am hoping that Kim G. or Caroline or someone else can explain. If we do have a "lottery" and a "diversity index" then why are some schools said to be flush with PTA fundraising? Parents at Rooftop, Lillienthal, etc., are raising big bucks - but why so well-heeled families consistiently get into those schools? If there were a true diversity lottery, why would $$$ families keep getting into the same schools? Wouldn't a truly diverse lottery have some years here & there with no or very few upper-mid-class families?

  35. 6:10PM -- Someone just posted on the other blog they turned down the McKinley spot. Maybe it is still available? Don't know how many are on the wl.

    Good luck good luck to you/your child.

  36. 7:17 -- yes yes, these fanatics obviously have never read Animal Farm by George Orwell.

    Trying to make everyone equal, but then remember how the Pigs just rose up and did the same as the humans.

    Ok, now I've been dying to say this to all those who believe in equality in education, equality in theatre production, etc. So as a height challenged person (ie 5'3") I am totally for equality in sports, basketball in particular. I would love to be the token Asian/short person on the team. After all, Asians represent some portion of the US population, so shouldn't our sports team match that representation. I would love to get in on those gravy train contracts. 20 million for one year, ok, as the token person, I'll settle for the minimum wage of $1 million per year.

    My point is just that at some point the whole equality/diversity must reflect the population gets ridiculous.

    Now, I am for giving exposure =- ie Opera lessons and music lessons to those not normally exposed, sports for others etc etc.

    But to say GATE programs are elitist is just ridiculous. So those of us who value education just need look elsewhere I guess. Because that is not the priority of the SFUSD. They should be cheering on these programs, helping kids on the margin move up and strive for these programs.

  37. 7:37 PM - You got it. The SFUSD values some things as much as, or even more than education. My friends and I put education 1st, 2nd, and sometimes third. Then the other things are extra.

  38. 7:27 -- did it occur to you that many families from the projects do not necessarily want to apply to Rooftop or Lilienthal? Maybe they feel these schools are too high faluting, with white class folks that their kids and they would not feel comfortable? Or the transportation issue. Or the Latino families that like to apply to their local schools in the Mission because of the support system, because the schools are x% Hispanic and so they have other families with whom they feel comfortable.

    Also -- at my school, its the same few families doing all the fundraising, donating, etc. We get burnt out. However, as new families join in K, we get new blood and some renewed energy. It does takes a while for these non-trophy schools to turn around. My hat goes off to the teachers and staff who do not get burnt out.

  39. We should all get our act together and vote out the Green/Progs on the board.

    Yes, I remember that woman who would report in LeftInSF on the ethnic makeup of every school event she ever attended. Any event that was not 55% Asian, 12% AA, and 30% Hispanic non-white got shafted. It was ridiculous.

    Anyway, I say elect some moderates to the board. Yes, the district should be throwing more funding at underperforming schools. The achievement gap needs to be closed. But I'm tired of the childless meterosexuals in the Green/Prog coalition attempting their social experiments on our children.

  40. 7:41 here again -- I should also mention -- that this year, I think the SFUSD/PPS did a better job to get more families to apply to schools and not just wait to be assigned to their local school. So hopefully, more families from all over town will consider the Rooftops etc.
    In the end though, wouldn't all of us say choosing a school comes down to several factors, of which the start time, transportation to/from, after school care are so critical. (Of course the facilities and programs have to be at at an acceptable standard). So sometimes going cross town just does not work.

  41. 7:27 - If what you are saying is true, why doesn't the district put low-income black & hispanic kids there anyway? The reverse has happened to EVERY Middle-class white family I know. They get NONE of their choices, and are assigned a school they didn't want, on the other side of town. Equality???

  42. As far as I can judge the way the Greens on the BOE see it is that all kids have equal academic potential, some are just less advantaged and consequently must receive the lion's share of resources to compensate for this inequity. NYC, whose more conservative BOE is more concerned with keeping middle-class families in the school system than about "social equity" has separate, outstanding schools for gifted and talented kids (who they apparently believe actually have particular academic potential).

  43. So, according to the Green-left faction, my child who doesn't watch TV & has never eaten fast food should have fewer opportunities & resources than a kid who does?

  44. Which members of the board of Ed. are the Green-left-of-lefties who don't like high-achieving schools???

  45. 7:49 interesting idea. However, its because the waitlist for these schools are so long, there are not any open spots to just slot someone in who did not apply and is not on waitlist.
    (The EPC does sometimes follows the rules, I suppose, just kidding).

  46. 8:09 PM - Why is the reverse true - NO ONE I know got into a school they requested?? Only stuff they didn't.

  47. 7:53 -- I agree that education is such a basic part of a civilization (whereas say basketball is not) that we need to ensure everyone gets a basic education to some degree. However, even an uneducated person would concede we are not all born Einsteins; that we all have different talents, and some more academically gifted then others. And then the most important ingredient, which these Green/Progressives seem to forget is SELF INITIATIVE, HARDWORK, SELF EFFORT. Not everyone who gets into Harvard is a genius. Some just worked very very hard with of course, some basic intelligence. These Progressives ought to ask themselves why the Berlin Wall fell, why USSR is no more, why the Communist Chinese moved away from communism. Because Communism does not work. We are not all equal (except for the Pigs in Animal Farm) and when you try to make us all equal, what do humans do? They sink to the lowest denominator -- no reward for the effort? Eventually even the dumbest one gets it -- that its not worth it to put in the effort.
    Ok I'm being simplistic, some of us are driven by higher spiritual direction etc and do not just do things for reward. But there must be some gratification for whatever you are voluntarily doing or you will stop doing it.

    So who makes up this faction? I gather Mark Sanchez, Eric Yee (who is not running), ??

  48. 8:17 -- you should run for the Board.
    However, in your example, you need to consider that all the people who got into the trophy/acceptable schools actually want to be there.
    That is, the demand for these schools outstrips the supply (seats). So naturally, there are people who will not get in and then directed to someplace they did not request. And when a seat opens up during the wait pool period for the trophy/acceptable, it is filled by someone who applied/waitlisted for the school.

    Not to say that someone who didn't apply for any school may end up at a school they do not want either. Their local attendance school could be full -- think Alamo, Ulloa, etc. Such person may very well get put in an "undesirable" school.

  49. The Greens on the BOE are Sanchez (leaving the BOE but running for BOS for District 9), Kim and Maufus, with Mar (leaving BOE but running for BOS from District 1) and Yee (up for reelection to the BOE) as Green-leaning Democrats. BOE candidate Bobbi Lopez is a typical Green candidate, and Sandra Fewer is a Green-leaning Democrat.

  50. 7:53 -- I can't imagine that NYC has a more conservative school board. In any case, I am familiar with some of the schools you mention. I went to one of the HS in which you had to take a test (I do not even recall taking a test quite honestly). I took the subway 1 1/2 hrs every day (that was quite an education, with the perverts etc on the train). Anyway, I do recall very clearly that there were some extremely smart kids at the HS, some hard working ones, etc and some minorities who clearly seemed to not be as academically at the level as the rest. And only after I graduated did I realize that these kids probably passed a lower bar to get into the school. So even with these gifted HS's, there are efforts to try to be "equitable"and give exposure to kids from all backgrounds. It seems like a good idea (unless you are say, one of the families who didn't get in because your spot was given to someone "less qualified" but due to their circumstance, they get in). And I do not know if it was hard on some of these kids. However, I think this system did benefit some of those kids, and in that sense, it is worth it. Because hopefully, they will be able to do something with the opportunity they had. But there are always positives/ negatives.

  51. SFUSD does not assign by race. Please do not perpetuate this myth! Yes, the socio-economic factors in use correlate strongly in many cases with race, but not only. There are confounding factors that have interesting effects, and if you do not have third-generation Filipino friends who speak English, or Black friends who live above the poverty line (it's not hard; the standard is set very low) then you might not realize that. Please, please, stop talking about the lottery as if it is race-based. For accuracy's sake, it is not, even if some correlation is there.

    7:49, are you really suggesting that we should return to forced busing as in the old days? The present system, with all its evident flaws, was designed to be a middle ground between forced busing and a return to highly segregated schools that reflect our neighborhoods.

    School choice--and I realize "choice" is not a perfect world when certain spots are highly sought after and others are not--mixes it it up somewhat. But not perfectly. Families tend to reach for their closest reasonable (to them) options--and why shouldn't they? So the degree to which a neighborhood is overwhelmingly Asian (think: Sunset), the schools will look pretty Asian, and the degree to which a neighborhood is African American (BVHP) means they will look Black.

    As someone else pointed out, lower-income families actually tend to self-segregate quite a bit, despite their easier lottery pick of the trophy schools. For whatever reason, they have not been considered trophy schools to those communities. Perhaps it is logistical issues of transportation, or a perception that they would not feel comfortable. Or maybe high levels of stress that do not lead to a lot of energy going into the choices. I don't really know....

    But that's why the most successful model has been the immersion programs, which tend to draw middle class families into poorer schools, rather than the other way around.

    As to why so many middle-income and above families got assigned to "not acceptable" schools? That's easy. Too many families, too few spots. Combination of more families applying (demographic surge? Economy?) and improving schools not improving fast enough. Fortunately, another cohort of families was willing to brave some new schools like Sunnyside and Paul Revere and Daniel Webster. These will improve (in middle class terms).

    And then, some folks had bad luck. I'm sorry for it. I hope people get what they want this week. I hope the schools keep improving.

    I do not, as Caroline does not, say that families "should" or "must" go into high-poverty schools. That is the Green line and it is harsh. I do hope that families will keep open minds and seize opportunities like Daniel Webster. Can't ask more than that.

    Again, please, can we not perpetuate the myth that EPC uses race as a category? It is not true and it is incendiary to say so.

    There is middle ground here.

    Especially if EPC begins to make improvements.

  52. 8:35 PM - They *may* not use race as a factor, but it looks like a duck, walks like a duck...

    Every white family I know went 0/15. (Yes, my personal frame of reference is not a scientific measure of these things, I know).

    Every non-white family I know went 1/7.

    Everyone knows that if you are white, not in poverty, and have some education, you are SOL in the "diversity index." I think it is time for a lawsuit, like the Seattle & KY families who sued against this kind of reverse discrimination.

  53. To 8:35,

    I *heart* you!

  54. Kim,

    To answer your question about subgroups. I am not totally sure about this, but I believe the published data online only breaks out "significant" subgroups. But, the principals and the district have the data for all subgroups.

    As such, the principal analyzed a lot of data that showed that even Latino, AA, and ELL subgroups improved, but at least in 2007 not as much as other groups improved (leading to a larger "achievement gap" even as all scores rose.) I think that 2008 Latino scores rose impressively -- it looks like the small gains the year before allowed these students to make big gains in 2008.

    Obviously, for the individual child, any improvement is good, and more would be better.

    Miraloma has been working intensely with all kids -- regardless of race or economic background -- to make sure they are at or above grade level by third grade. This is a big priority for the school, and our PTA even funded a literacy specialist to help kids who didn't qualify for help through an IEP/504 plan (instead of, say, an Italian or Mandarin teacher.)

  55. "This whole system is NOT a lottery. It is reverse discrimination. It is violating the law. Why should there be one school opportunity for kids of other races, but not for white kids?"

    Wow. Please explain how the lottery system is reverse discrimination? Look at yourself and how incredibly racist your comment is.

    FYI my friend's son started K at Grattan and virtually his entire class is WHITE.

  56. 7:17, Yes, this is what I'm saying:

    <<< you are saying that there are those on the SF school board that want to get rid of gifted programs (is that what GATE is?) and high-achieving schools because it is unequal? >>>

    (GATE = Gifted and Talented Education)

    One of their issues is magnet schools -- SFUSD has two, Lowell and SOTA (high schools). Lowell admits based on academic criteria and SOTA by audition or judging (artistic portfolio, video or theater set design). So it's "unfair" because not all students have equal opportunity to develop their academic skills and artistic talents. I mean, I agree that it's unjust that not all students have that equal opportunity, but to me the answer is to work to support more students in developing their skills and talents -- not to shut down the schools that meet the needs of academic achievers and artists.

    8:17 gave an accurate account:
    The Greens on the BOE are (Mark) Sanchez (leaving the BOE but running for BOS for District 9), (Jane) Kim and (Kim-Shree) Maufus, with Eric Mar (leaving BOE but running for BOS from District 1) and Norman Yee (up for reelection to the BOE) as Green-leaning Democrats. BOE candidate Bobbi Lopez is a typical Green candidate, and Sandra Fewer is a Green-leaning Democrat.

    I know this is my personal issue as a SOTA mom, but the San Francisco Green/progressive animosity to SOTA is just bizarre. SOTA is a gay-friendly hippie arts school that's a refuge to kids who would be misfits in traditional high schools. The Green Party platform calls for supporting the arts -- so the notion of wanting to eliminate this "elitist" school (by eliminating its audition requirements and turning it into just another high school) just does not make sense in that context either.

  57. okay 9:06. we know 12 plus all-white educated familes who got their first choice. they got lucky. we also know about 10 all-white educated families who got 0/7. they (we) were unlucky. i also know a chinese immigrant single mother, and african american educated family, and a latino family who got 0/7. race is NOT a factor, although you will obviously find some correlation with race and income in san francisco. try and come up with a fairer system. what sucks is that resources are limited and there are not decent aftercare programs and enough parent involvement at every school. not every person gets their first choice, and some unlucky folks have to dig deeper to get a school that is acceptable to them. but life isn't 100% fair, is it? if things are so awful then stick around and work for change instead of whining and threatening to leave.

    and for the record, i know teachers at the most insulted schools on this blog, john muir and bryant, and have been to both schools, and they are really not so awful. not for everyone but not so awful.

    sorry to sound mad but i've been reading this for a while and processing the whole situation and it angers and saddens me to see people jumping onto this thread who are so ready to be angry and disgusted with SFUSD.

    MORE FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN CA. this is a big big part of the answer. sfusd is trying hard to deal with a tough situation.

  58. Thank you all who are posting info re the candidates. I know we all need to do our due diligence but it is a definite start to know which ones are too far to one side or the other. What ever happened to moderates?

    Hmm, Caroline.. I think you gave the answer to your own question -- the Progressives or whatever they call themselves do not want to deny Arts to the kids, they just do not want the kids to have to pass some test to get in. So a straight lottery would make them very happy -- better yet a straight lottery using some sort of diversity index.

    Parents and interested parties must really band together and get these mad scientists out of the BOE -- they can experiment using petri dishes, not my children.

    Certainly at the HS level, I would very much expect that there should be schools based on talent, hard work, desire to get in. What's wrong with that? Its the way of the world -- we are not all equal. We should be preparing our children for the world -- its ugly out there. When one thinks that a third of the world's population live in India and China, where they VALUE education very very much, the US should be very very scared 20, 30 years from now. I'm not saying this as a racist. I'm Chinese for heaven's sakes. I'm just looking at statistics, the bell curve, it does not take a rocket scientist to see that the competition in the future will be very stiff. There are also many other countries where education is valued, but I use these two countries as example because of their sheer population. Now, there are enough world problems waiting to be solved, so its a good thing to have more educated people around... but back to my original point -- these Progressives can equalize all they want here in little San Francisco, but they are not doing the majority of children in the District any favors by doing away with competition.

    I'm curious... does anyone ever address these Board members directly on these issues during the 2 minute comment period? I'd like to see these BOE poker faces or maybe they just read their email while the parent rants.

  59. Wow - Grattan just moved up a few notches on my list. Thanks!

  60. If it isn't about race, then why do mainly white families get screwed by the diversity index?

    You only hear about it from those who have access to computers and are networked. This blog, while great in some aspects, also has created a 'run on the bank' for certain schools.

  61. I find that the more I'm on groups like this, the more I get freaked out (and I have kids in middle and elementary school and we are very happy!)

    I think sometimes people need to just step away from the computer, and have real face to face conversations with parents in schools.

    Some of you really don't know what you're talking about (i.e. race being used for assignment, discrimination of whites, etc.)

    The reality is that more demand increased this year and outstripped 'perceived' supply. And the increased demand of many schools was even higher due to this blog.

  62. Frankly - I enjoy this political discussion. Please do not vote any more of these green party bafoons into the BOE or Board of Sups!!!

    It's not just the education system that they seem to use as a social experiment. Try looking at our quality of life in SF for instance. The homeless and their drugs and sh*t get a free reign in this city. They are f*ing untouchable.

    Guess what? It doesn't have to be this way. Consider safety and quality of life when you are voting this November. Get connected and educated if your district is up for election. Make your voice heard.

  63. "Parents and interested parties must really band together and get these mad scientists out of the BOE -- they can experiment using petri dishes, not my children."

    I agree. I voted for Matt Gonzalez for mayor five years ago, but now, having seen first-hand the damage that the Green/Progs have done to our schools and my kids, I want them removed from the school board.

    So...who are the moderate candidates I should be voting for?

  64. Jill Wynns has been the moderate voice since the "Green/Progs" took control of the board. Even though by the standards of most of the world she's a leftist, she's a moderate in this crowd.

    Rachel Norton promises to be another thoughtful advocate for the best interests of kids.

  65. Rachel Norton is awesome!

  66. Dsitrict 9 ResidentSeptember 9, 2008 at 8:30 AM

    Mark Sanchez touted his consistently Progressive voting record on the BOE in a recent District 9 BOS candidate's forum

  67. Emily Murase definitely sounds promising too, though I haven't met her or attended any candidates' forums yet.

    Jaynry Mak is unaccountably winning endorsements, given that she has a history of fishy financial issues and NO background or record of interest in the schools. Matier & Ross did an entire column on her strange campaign financing when she ran for supervisor:

  68. Jill Wynns is out.

    She's failed to receive ANY of the endorsements she used to get

    the teacher's don't want her

    the Democrats don't want her

    and even moderates don't want her anymore because she is so out of touch with what parents of young children want. She is openly hostile to parents who volunteer long hours to serve on committees, gleefully telling them "we don't have to listen to ANYTHING you say", which is, of course true, but makes parents who do try to volunteer feel like it is all a big waste of time. She doesn't even have the grace to PRETEND to listen to us anymore.

    The knitting during meetings, the dismissive hand waving and cutting off the microphones when parents are speaking, we've had enough.
    My favorite scene so far this year was when she was blathering on and on and on during a BOE meeting about SODA FREE SUMMER as she was drinking a SODA (hypocrite) and that SODA was paid for by us taxpayers, ... they have quite a fancy catering spread for the BOE members.

    Jill Wynns' only claim about why she should be elected is because she's the longest serving member of the BOE ... she was elected the first time Bill Clinton was, that is how LONG it has been. It isn't as though things are so much BETTER in the district because of her. She keeps mentioning, like a broken record, standing up to Rojas, uh, that was so long ago ... WHAT HAS SHE DONE SINCE THEN?

    We need CHANGE, we don't need the same old, same old -- we need fresh ideas and people with energy to enact those ideas, not someone who thinks they are "queen of the BOE" and treats parents like peons.

    The BOE is SUPPOSED to OVERSEE the district, not just agree with everything district employees tell them.

  69. Okay, so moderates are:

    Rachel Norton
    Emily Murase
    And maybe Jill Wynns.

    Who do I give the 4th vote to?

  70. By the way, maybe Kate can create a whole new branch where we can discuss the BoE candidates in the Nov. election ??

  71. Don't give your 3rd or 4th vote to anybody - that dilutes the impact of your vote for the good ones. Right now I am only planning to vote for Norton & Murase.

    Janray Mak is a joke. Makes Ed Jew look like Anthony Eden.

  72. I thought I would be reading comments about the feel-good, si-se-puede Miraloma article here. Instead I have found political rants about the BOE lefties. Hmmm.

    I am squelching the urge to start firing off absurd rumors about my child's lovely school in order to keep such folk from ever even checking it out. That definitely would not promote dialogue, would it? Instead, I'm asking for some more facts and specifics regarding "the damage that the Green/Progs have done to our schools and my kids" as well as explain "the childless meterosexuals in the Green/Prog coalition attempting their social experiments on our children." I am assuming that the Grattan comment (or rather the response to a Grattan comment) was actually just some rabble-rouser (really, it wasn't me!)

    I remember Mark Sanchez from his commendable work way back with Teachers For Change. I'll admit to having been out-of-the-loop for some time regarding local school politics and sincerely would like to hear more about how he has exchanged his halo for a set of horns. Though the battle cry of "moderates unite!" does not pull me in, I am open to hearing substantiated complaints about his performance on the BOE over the years as well as other members that have been brought up here.

  73. Sanchez wanted Lowell High School to drop its high academic admission standards and base admission on race. Same with SOTA. (His pal Eric Mar was the same)

    He wants schools integrated along strict racial lines (55% Asian, 12% AA, etc., in line with demographics.)

    He has been a big supporter of the non-union charter school movement in the past.

  74. And by the way...

    Miraloma is a GREAT feel-good story.

    Discussions sometimes take turns, as they may. There are no rules about sticking strictly to the lead story.

  75. I support Jill Wynns for BOE.
    Jill Wynns is the only member of the current BOE, and the only candidate, who truly understand school financing and the district budget. It is not enough to have experience with the kind of budgeting that a small non profit like Coleman or PPS does; school financing is a whole other ballgame. It has been said that there are only 6 people in the state of California who understand how school financing works, 5 of them are lying, and the 6th is John Mockler (author of Prop 98 which set minimum funding levels for education in the state). The truth is, there is a 7th person, and that is Jill Wynns.

    School financing in California is so incredibly complex that it is not something one can learn all about in just a year or two. Some of you are familiar with me through my posting about school food on another thread here. I have been heavily involved with this issue since 2002. Of particular interest to me was learning how Berkeley was able to afford to do a lot of the things they do with their school food, when I know that those things are very costly. They never talk about the higher cost, but in meeting with their food director Ann Cooper, I was able to learn that they get a funding stream called Meals for Needy Pupils. I won’t bore you with the details of this, but suffice it to say that my quest to understand the history of Meals for Needy Pupils, and to finally understand why it is that Berkeley (and many other districts) get this large revenue stream for better food, and we don’t, took almost two years. I kind of understood it enough to begin explaining it to others more than a year ago, but it took until just a few weeks ago to finally get the last pieces of the puzzle. My quest took me to admins at the CDE, to a reporter from the Sacramento Bee who wrote about this 5 years ago (but has since moved on to other areas beyond education), to the former Superintendent of Berkeley Unified, and a whole lot more. Jill Wynns’ expertise in interpreting what these people told me was invaluable, and together we were eventually able to make sense of this.

    My point is, this is one tiny funding stream in the gigantic tapestry of school funding in California. The state is apparently on the verge of revisiting, once again, how it is going to fund education. It is absolutely imperative that we have school board members who understand how school financing works; otherwise, how will we know when it is time to go to our state representatives and speak up about what is being planned?

    Same thing with the district budget. I regularly attend BOE budget committee meetings. Jill Wynns sat on this committee for 10 years. Two years ago, Mark Sanchez appointed a budget committee of mostly of members with little to no budget experience; when budget season began in earnest in the spring, member Jane Kim was nowhere to be found. Her law school classes conflicted with her attendance at budget committee meetings, and she chose law school over fulfilling her responsibility to our children. Sanchez then appointed Jill Wynns to fill Jane Kim’s seat until Jane could find the time to attend to the duties of the office she ran so hard to be elected to. I have watched other members of the budget committee sit slack jawed during the budget presentation by staff, and then ask questions which even I could answer. Fortunately, Myong Leigh, who is the top budget guru in the district, is a gentleman of impeccable credentials and personal integrity; I have known him for years and would trust him with my life. But I am old enough to remember when then-Superintendent Bill Rojas had a finance guy named William Coleman; this Coleman guy fled to the Detroit public school district after the Rojas house of cards came toppling down, and he was recently found guilty of fraud and corruption there and I believe is now in jail. Myong Leigh is nothing like this, but he is widely admired and respected by City government and private industry, and he regularly receives very lucrative offers to leave the district. He has served a long time, and it is not inconceivable that someday he may make the move. There is no guarantee that the next person will have Myong’s integrity.

    This is by way of saying that we need people on the BOE who have more than just the credential that they are a parent, or care about parents’ desires. We need people who understand what staff is talking about when the topic is school financing and the budget. We need people who have been through the sometimes acrimonious process of union negotiations. We need people who know what the heck they are doing, because they are not doing it for the first time!

    Apart from Jill, the next longest serving member on the BOE is Norman Yee, and as Caroline has pointed out, he does seem a bit not fully recovered from his tragic accident. Frankly, I was surprised to see his family encouraging him to seek a second term. The other current BOE members were elected less than 2 years ago. Add in at least 2 more newbies guaranteed this year, and you will have the majority of members (at least 5) with no more than 2 years of board experience. No matter which way you cut it, there will be plenty of “fresh blood” and “new voices” on the BOE. We need Jill’s experience and her understanding of the financial matters more than we need a sixth inexperienced wannabe.

    That said, I also support Rachel and Emily.

  76. ok, dimwit me again. I'll leave the high school topic alone right now but wonder what the issue is with integrated schools (but I'll say myself that neighborhood schools we can walk to would be greener...) and would like to hear more about the charter schools.

  77. That's a pretty solid argument for Jill Wynns.

    The district is going to face huge pension & retirement healthcare obligations in the future (this is what led the Richmond school district to declare bankruptcy). So maybe keeping Wynns on board is necessary for the fiscal expertise.

    Amd what's this? Jane Kim's going to law school? Her priorities clearly lie elsewhere.

  78. I think the way Dana and Caroline are trying to smear Norman by insinuating that his "brain is not working after he was hit by a car" is absolutely sickening and below the belt dirty politics...
    Norman Yee is the only BOE member who really understands early childhood education and he has integrity and a gentleness Jill Wynns doesn't even come close to.
    He is a moderate, and sometimes will vote with some of the progressives on a few issues. Don't listen to their insidious accusations that he has brain damage or something. It is truly repugnant that would go around saying that, at every chance they get. Shame on them.

  79. "That's a pretty solid argument for Jill Wynns. "

    Dana and Caroline are good friends of Jill Wynns. Don't believe the hype, and don't believe their feeble attempts to trash Norman Yee.

  80. Though I personally can not stand Jill Wynns for her rude behavior to parents at the BOE meetings, I will have to say that what Dana says makes much sense. I work for the federal government in budget and finance. My previous experience was in the private sector. The difference is unbelievable. The government finance is all about rules and regs, and knowing how you get the funding you need working with and around those regulations. There is no substitute for this kind of knowledge.

  81. I disagree, her alienation of parent volunteers and parents who try to talk to the BOE is too damaging to "look the other way" about.
    Also, she doesn't even have the support of teachers, and makes negotiatons with them very unfriendly, we don't want her rudeness to them angering them into striking like she did last time.

  82. I'm late to this thread but have to add my cents. We are a white family and most of our friends and colleagues who were seeking schools this year are too - every one of us (around 20 or so) got a school we are happy with. 14 of us got one of our first 7 (11 different schools). It is nonsense to say all white families get screwed just as it is nonsense to think that this blog is representative of the whole.
    Not having a school at this point must be horrific, not having one you are happy with must be awful but really these people are the tiny minority - if you look across the schools there a hundreds of happy families (of all races) and more importantly happy kids. There is much wrong with the system (very much in my opinion), but for those of you starting on the road for next year, take heart and don't believe all the doom and gloom. There are lots of us who ended up with a school we are happy with.

  83. I second that. We applied two years ago, are white and got a great school in the first round. I know several white families who applied this year and also got a school on their first round list -- even some of the trophy schools. It does happen.

  84. Jill Wynns really does know more about the complicated finances of the district than anyone. And, understanding the harsh reality of the budget is a critical skill that's particularly essential on a board comprised mostly of idealists.

    But why can't she work on her human relations skills? She's been receiving heavy flack for at least two years, and it seems to have made no impact. I met her once, and expected to like her because she really is smart and knowledgeable. I brought up a legitimate issue that many parents of children with disabilities face. But I was dismayed by her abrupt dismissal of my concern. Other BOE members at least pretended to listen!

    I will probably vote for her anyway, solely for her much-needed financial savvy. But parent relations is a part of the job and if she wants to continue serving on the BOE she needs to hear that and change her attitude.


  85. moderate longtime sfusd parentSeptember 9, 2008 at 11:32 AM

    9:08 was angered by Wynns' vote to close the Presidio childcare center, which is extremely expensive to run and serves very few kids, albeit some autistic, during a past budget crisis. She also resents Wynns' inclination to balance the needs of outspoken parents of special needs kids like 9:08 with the fiscal solvency of the SFUSD general fund (30% of which goes to SpEd).

  86. Here here 11:10. It is likely that non-white, non middle class families didn't pick some of the most oversubscribed schools. And if they did happen to get 0/7, many probably accepted the assignment they were given (and didn't bother with the second round.) I would suggest that non-middle class parents do not have the time to pursue this to the same extent. Worrying about schools in a LUXURY. Nor do they have the same profound sense of entitlement. The school district screwed ME! What am I supposed to do? What about MY child?! I was going to go PUBLIC and THEY wouldn't give me a school (that I found acceptable, said under the breath...)

    Remember that Kate turned down a spot at MCDS for a newbie called Ortega.

  87. I am not attempting to "smear" Norman Yee; I am expressing my opinion, based on very close observation of the man at many many meetings, both before and after his accident. I like Norman - always have. I will probably end up voting for him for a second term, due to the fact that I find the rest of the field pretty weak, but I haven't absolutely decided yet. The thing holding me back is my belief that he has not recovered from his accident. I am of roughly the same age as Norman, and I am well aware that as we age, we don't heal as fast as we used to. Holding a very high stress, essentially volunteer position like BOE member does not help the healing process at all.

    There are people who will not support Jill Wynns because they don't like her personality; that's their right. My point is that a pleasing personality is no substitute for experience.

  88. I agree about Norman Yee. He seems like a really nice, caring man. He does not seem to be fully recovered from his accident and seems somewhat confused in board proceedings. I'm really sorry to say something that may sound unkind, but to me this is germane to his re-election campaign, so it feels like this IS the time to point that out, as gently as possible. The fact that Yee, who used to identify as moderate, now aligns himself with the Green/Progressives -- a sudden shift, without explanation -- makes me wonder, too.

    And regarding "rudeness?" I have always said that Wynns is not someone to whom you want to direct the question: "Do I look fat in this dress?" She is blunt, honest and doesn't mince words. To me, her incredible competence and savvy, and her years of experience, outweigh the making-nice factor. And the making-nice factor isn't exactly universal among the rest of the board members. I was making my two-minute public comment once, and Mark Sanchez was audibly muttering "Bullshit! Bullshit!" during my comments. Other board members open their mail or do whatever it is they're doing on their laptops during public comment.

    The Green/Progressives made a big deal of Wynns' knitting during public comment at one point when they were really pissed at her about some issue -- an orchestrated discrediting strategy. So I asked her about it. She says she does it to stay calm and keep her blood pressure down during public comment on heated issues.

  89. Caroline said: "I was making my two-minute public comment once, and Mark Sanchez was audibly muttering "Bullshit! Bullshit!" during my comments."

    I am sure lots of people do that, when listening to you, Caroline.

    You and Dana are not doctors and your "diagnosis" that he is not medically well is despicable and a cheap shot.

  90. 9:44, I meant to respond to you too.

    I admired Mark Sanchez' Teachers 4 Change protests back in 2000, too, and supported him when he first ran for BOE that year. But I HAVE followed SFUSD politics since. And it's ironic that my kids now attend a school (SOTA) where he is viewed as a threat to the school's very existence -- the sense of relief that he's leaving the board is pervasive.

    I agree that the cry of "moderates unite!" doesn't exactly have a stirring ring to it. (Let's take a pleasant stroll to the barricades?) However, what I posted earlier describes the philosophy that guides the BOE's Green/"Progressive" faction:

    *** The left/Green/progressive faction on the Board of Ed definitely has been the source of an attitude that the middle class and the advantaged can take care of themselves without any support from the district. One example is their notion that enrichments (and separate honors classes) for GATE students are elitist, as well as the entire existence of Lowell and SOTA -- that faction feels those should all be eliminated or at least seriously weakened.

    Another example is the notion that oversubscribed schools (usually meaning westside schools) should have their bungalows removed or even be shut down entirely, and the kids transferred summarily to undersubscribed schools. ***

    Here's an issue from the not-too-distant past (2-3 years, I think). A routine inspection revealed that bungalows that house several classes at Rooftop were extremely hazardous -- an immediate threat to their occupants' safety.

    The BOE's Green/"Progressives" called for removing the bungalows and not replacing them, but rather transferring the students to underenrolled schools. One would have to agree that that is an efficient solution, too -- if you just completely ignore the concerns of the parents of those kids and the kids themselves, who wanted the bungalows replaced so the kids could stay at Rooftop rather than be moved like chess pieces to whatever school needed them most.

    Jill Wynns was the voice on the BOE who argued for respecting and listening to the parents and kids who wanted the bungalows replaced, and she eventually won the BOE majority over to that view.

    At just about the same time, SFUSD staff recommended a significant change in Rooftop's start time, which is currently ultra-early. The reason was to improve efficiency (and cost-cutting) in scheduling school buses. Well, if it were me, I'd prefer a later start time, but the Rooftop families have built their lives around that schedule, or chose it because it fit their work schedules. Jill was their advocate, the board member who backed them up in getting the start time left alone.

    Not that she hasn't been an advocate of less-empowered families on many occasions too, but I cite this one because it's recent, it demonstrates that when it counts she's listening to parents and advocating for their concerns, and I think most of those reading this blog can relate to those issues.

  91. How about, "Parents for Common
    Sense" instead of "Moderates Unite."

    Can I get the list of who we need to vote for to get the entire slate of people with educational goals, rather than ideological platforms (and since when did the Green Party become communist/socialist to this degree)?

    Is this correct:

  92. Keep in mind that Dana and Caroline's kids will not be attending SFUSD schools soon, (their kids are in high school) and who is on the BOE will not have any affect on them at all.

    That stuff they are saying about Norman's brain being damaged is so bitchy and hateful, it is beyond belief. Norman is, as he always was, a thoughtful and quiet type of person and speaker. He knows about young children and is a great guy.

  93. Annette, I attended a Board of Ed candidates' forum last election at which Omar Khalif laughingly refused to answer most of the questions. NO matter what his views, I think that would concern most voters.

    My daughter just started 9th grade, so even if my only concern was the fate of my own kids, her graduation will coincide with just about the full board service of the BOE members elected this fall.

  94. Wasn't Khalif the one who wanted District 10 (Potrero/Bayview/Hunter's Point) to seceed from the rest of the SFUSD? He seems a little out there to me.

  95. Yes, he did voice that view at one point, 3:04.

  96. 2:00 - thank you.

  97. Wow -- I'm amazed that there is barely a comment about the Miraloma article in these comments. Interestingly, the Miraloma piece generated a surprisingly large number of negative comments about the school on sfgate's comment section. Lots of people saying that Miraloma remains a very dangerous place for lots of kids. Jives with the experiences of several families I know of who have fled Miraloma recently -- including one who pulled their kid out in the middle of the Spring term. Not exactly emblematic of the supposed Garden of Eden that Miraloma PTA relentlessly pushes the school as. But I forget that I'm not supposed to reflect on the fact that, by its own admission, a full 15% of students at Miraloma TODAY fear for their safety (admittedly down from 69% barely three years ago).

  98. I've read all the comments on SF Gate about the Miraloma article, and all of the negative comments about Miraloma being dangerous came from the same poster.

  99. Miraloma has similar challenges of all public schools. Several years ago, when the demographics were somewhat different, a friend left one of the highly desirable private schools (because they only taught to the middle and wouldn't address his special needs as a highly gifted child.) I warned her that she might find some of the children's behavior challenging. After she enrolled at Miraloma, she noted that both Miraloma and the private school have kids with similar behavior issues - but at the private school they were just another color and on Ritalin. It always gave me a laugh.

    The principal, teachers and parents have worked very hard to improve school climate for kids (note: we've found that when we probe further, many of the 15% who don't feel safe note that their fear is of flying soccer balls on the yard. While it exists as it does in any school, it isn't all about that.)

    Most importantly, I've found the staff to be very diligent and sincere in addressing the many aspects of school climate and 'safe schools'. In fact, just today there was a meeting with parents and principal about addressing a defaced poster on LGBT families. Families want to make sure that it is clear that ALL types of families are welcome and accepted.

    On another thread a parent spoke of her child's experience at Hamlin - it sounded pretty awful. These things happen all over - the question to ask is: is the school addressing it with kids and parents?

    I know for a fact Miraloma doesn't just sit back. We work hard - and there have been significant improvements annually.

  100. While it exists as it does in any school, it isn't all about that.)
    What I meant was, while bullying exists at Miraloma as it does in various forms at any school, the 15% of kids who note they don't feel safe on the yard are not necessarily talking about bullying, as we learned.

  101. Jives with the experiences of several families I know of who have fled Miraloma recently -

    Interesting and curious as except for a child I know with special needs, I certainly don't hear of many 'fleeing'. One kids I know that left in 1st grade for a trophy K-8, came back last year as she felt there was no community.

    Not sure if what you say is really true. But I recognize that no school is one size fits all - including Miraloma.

  102. Jives with the experiences of several families I know of who have fled Miraloma recently -

    Interesting and curious as except for a child I know with special needs, I certainly don't hear of many 'fleeing'. One kids I know that left in 1st grade for a trophy K-8, came back last year as she felt there was no community.

    Not sure if what you say is really true. But I recognize that no school is one size fits all - including Miraloma.