Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clarendon Alternative Elementary

Reviewed by Meredith (toured 10/29/08)

Location: 500 Clarendon Avenue, Twin Peaks, map
School hours: 9:25am - 3:25pm
Tel: 759-2796
Fax: 759-2799
Principal: Mark Barmore
Web site:,
School tours: Wednesday at 9:45am, call tour hotline 759-2782 to check specific dates
Grades: K-5
Kindergarten size: 80 total, mix of GE and JBBP programs varies by year
Total student body: 534

To truly understand Clarendon Alternative Elementary, you have to understand that it is organized as essentially two small schools within one campus. The tour guides and principal all said that it is separate programs, with separate teaching staffs, and separate parent communities with separate fundraising programs (and priorities).

Second Community Program (SCP) AKA General Education is a rich and enriched program with high academic focus, and a number of enrichments including Italian language, art, and science. The program also focuses on attention to the childs social and emotional relationships to their community.

Japanese Bilingual/Bicultural Program (JBBP) is a multicultural education program taught in English but with a strong theme of Japanese language and culture throughout the program.

You should consider this school if you're looking for a place with:

a late school start time; a heavily involved parent community (both programs); a program with many enrichment additions (SCP) or a program with a strong language and culture component (JBBP) that includes a strong art strand; a central location.


Clarendon's campus and facilities were nice, not overwhelming, perhaps because the outdoor space is cut up by the shape of the buildings, and also because we did not venture out to the upper yard. There is a separate blacktop area for the younger students (K-1?) that features a nice big play structure. The older kids play in a lower yard that is wrapped around a few buildings and bungalows, and the third upper yard appears to be a spacious blacktop though again, we did not see it.

Before/After School programs

There is an onsite childcare program called Second Community Childcare. Presumably kids from both programs can attend the childcare, which offers before school care (critical for a school with a 9:25 start!) as well as after school care. The fee ranges from $175/month for morning care only to $300 for full coverage on both ends of the school day, with a variety of drop in combinations available. The parents had positive things to say about the childcare, but few specifics about the program.


There are two separate parent communities, but both are clearly very active. The SCP program is philosophically based on parent participation at all levels, from classroom help to assistance in planning, and in administration.

Language program(s):

Italian language enrichment is taught in all grade levels (to SCP only, not JBBP students) for 90 minutes per week.
Japanese language and culture enrichment (NOT immersion) in JBBP.

Tour impressions

This is a very popular school! The parents interested in seeing what a cream of the crop school in SFUSD looks like clearly all showed up for the first tour of the season. There were probably 100 parents crowded into the auditorium. Principal Mark Barmore greeted the tour group. He noted that the origins of Clarendon were based on a co-op model, with its inherent desire and access for heavy parent participation. And we did see parents volunteering in many capacities throughout the school, from creating communications (Wednesday envelopes?) for the students to take home, to helping in the classrooms, to selling homebaked pastries and coffee to grateful, overwhelmed touring parents. Principal Barmore said that the educational philosophy is to educate the whole child, and also that he really feels that though there are two small schools in the one campus, at the same time it feels like a whole school community as well. That being said, the rest of the presentation definitely felt like we were hearing about two very different school experiences.

Second Community Program
One of the parent docents introduced Second Community - meant to signify the relationship to the child's first community, their family. The program has heavy fundraising to the tune of $230,000 per year (SCP only!), to fund a variety of consultants in art, PE, computer skills, Italian language, and music using an Orff method. They also fund field trips and a handful of paraprofessionals, and class size reduction in the 4/5 grades.

The parents touted the diversity of the school population though frankly it didn't strike me as especially diverse (and the school profile showed a relatively low % of free/reduced lunch students). Very few of the tour guides spoke of it but the flyer indicates a project-based learning philosophy as well. (Could have been the madness of 100 touring parents that made it impossible to get as much information about these programs.)

The classrooms we observed had interesting lessons happening. The K students were coloring and their classroom seemed to be a grand pre-school room with a lot of play options and a cooking station (!). The 2nd graders were discussing a story and learning to use and interpret the action, in what seemed to be a very meaningful way.

The art bungalow was impressive in the creativity of the art. The art teacher (whose name I did not catch) has been with Clarendon for 13 years and tries to tie the art she teaches in with exhibits and events happening locally, for example tying a program of self portraits to the Frida Kahlo retrospective. She seemed passionate and enthusiastic about the school. The children in both programs take art classes but the frequency varies (reportedly every week for the SCP and every other week for JBBP, with the explanation that JBBP weaves art into much everyday teaching).

Music is taught twice a week starting with an Orff percussive based music program in the lower grades, leading to the instrumental music classes in the 4th and 5th grades.

The library was another highlight of the school, with a librarian who has been with the school for 25 years. The space was not the most luxe library space we've seen on tours, but the librarian clearly put a lot of thought into innovating on ways to challenge and interest eager and not-so-eager young readers. She raised $20k with an annual book sale last year, and has a reading pajama day, and a birthday book program (the birthday child donates a book and gets their name on a name plate).

The computer lab next door to the library is full of iMacs was in use during our tour with a 1st or 2nd grade class doing KidPix. I didn't get a lot of detail on the computer instruction at Clarendon.

Japanese Bicultural Bilingual Program
The JBBP program is base on a model called FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School). All of the teachers have Japanese language and cultural backgrounds and teach Japanese to the students 30-45 minutes per day. However, it is not immersive in that the general curriculum is taught in English. Nonetheless, a visit to a 4th grade JBBP class showed students writing and reading sentences in kanji.

The program emphases cultural awareness and teachers weave in Japanese themes in the curriculum where opportunity arises. The JBBP also includes a strong parent participation theme. The parent group for JBBP raises approximately $180,000 per year (goal for this year) which brings the total fundraising for both programs to over $400k. The JBBP funds support Japanese culture and curriculum enrichments, art consultant, PE, music, computer consultant, and class size reduction in the upper grades.

Walking out of Clarendon, I felt the school's high popularity and reputation were well deserved. With a hard working parent community, heavily funded enrichment programs, and a dedicated and loyal staff, this school really feels like a place that will nurture and grow strong, creative children.


  1. If you look at the odds, you have a less than 5% chance of getting into this school.

  2. This is a great solid school and if you get in that's wonderful. But I don't think parents should be entirely turned off from the school district if they don't get into a rock star school such as this. Some of these up-and-coming schools offer different though equally wonderful experiences. For one thing, many of the rising stars are much smaller than a school like Clarendon. This gives the school a more familyish feel. You feel more like you're a part of an intimate family. Also, the up-and-comers have a different sort of movement to improve things. It's less structured and machine-like. It has more of a grass roots, all-inclusive feel. And I think it's great for kids to be part of this community that's turning around. It shows them what happens when everyone works together.

    When you have a smaller school the principal knows every child, parent, and sibling by name. The parents all know one another. The kids know all the families. It's more tight-nit. If there's tension between people it gets worked out because when you're a small community there's nowhere to hide.

    Also, in a small community everyone has to pitch in. I know people who have gone to some of these big schools and they end up feeling really left out. They say it's hard to break in.

    Clarendon is wonderful and so are the other rock star schools but they're not the only options.

  3. My son was lucky enough to have the lovely Mark Barmore as a 4th grade teacher at Miraloma. I know the school is in good hands with him as principal. By the way, he used to be an attorney with the school district. I admire his dedication to public education.

  4. Actually after sibling preferences, the odds are probably closer to 1% to 2% of getting into Clarendon. If I recall the statistics correctly, for last year, it had over 1000 requests for fewer than 20 non-sibling kindergarten places.

    We loved this school and were very impressed with principal Mark Barmore, who is a wonderful advocate for SFUSD. He strongly encouraged parents to look at non-rock-star schools and understand that many of them would provide an excellent education. We listed Clarendon as our #1 for Round 1. Had we known how bad the odds were, we probably would not have tried. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't try . . . it's still true that somebody has to get in . . . but the only people we knew who got in speak Russian at home.

  5. The only person I know who got into Clarendon first round had listed only Clarendon 2nd Community as choice #1, and nothing else. How crazy is that? He's convinced it's only because his children are fluent in both German and English.

  6. Did he list his kids a primary-German speakers (i.e., not-English-speakers)? In other words, his kids are classified as ELLs? This is the major squishy area in the lottery for me, and I wish they would test kids for language ability so that the kids whose families are truly disadvantaged by language barriers would get a leg up, but not those who speak English fine along with a heritage language. I realize that testing is very costly, but still.

    In any case, the fact that your friend actually listed nothing for slots #2-7 had no impact on their getting Clarendon. They *might* have gotten other picks too, but as Clarendon was their number one pick, that would have been the assignment regardless. They got very lucky, because if they had not gotten Clarendon like 98-99% of non-sibling preference families out there who put it down, they would have been in lower-priority cohort for Round 2.

  7. Actually last year Clarendon had 27 siblings/40 spots for Second Community, and 14 siblings/40 spots JBBP. That's before they added 3 (?) JBBP spaces (?) over the summer.

    So that makes 41 siblings for 80 spaces. That's definitely on the high side %age wise but last year AFY also had 50% sibs, Miraloma 52%.

    But I can't find this data for all schools, just the Highlights which is the top 20 requested programs.

    Someone on another thread suggested enrolling all siblings earlier than the non-sibling pool, and publishing the actual available seats. That would be helpful but it is not feasible for this year since I can't imagine the district would change the process they just rolled out at the enrollment fair, even a procedural change like setting a different deadline for siblings.

    At the end of the day, do you think knowing siblings will take 50% of the spots (vs. 35% or 40% which seems to be the average district wide), would that really change your bidding strategy?

  8. This is another sibling boom year.

  9. Since siblings *are* already enrolled earlier (apps usually due in Dec), I don't see why the district couldn't expedite sibling offers and pre-registrations.

    So much of the frustration with the lottery is not necessarily fixable in the short term, i.e., too much competition for limited spots that have to be given out somehow, in some way, making those who don't get those spots very unhappy. Publishing sibling data might seem like much, but it would give back a measure of information to anxious parents trying to make the wisest choices for their 7 picks. I hope PPS-SF will fight for this small reform.

  10. Interesting comment re the ELL/German speaker and Russian speaker. But that is not the only factor right? Isn't there something about the mother's high school education and whether one is free lunch or not, and preschool/no preschool, that puts one down into the non-middle class socio economic demographic (or lets just say, the opposite of practically everyone on this blog who is applying to K?)

  11. The one person that I knew that got into Clarendon for the 2007/2008 school year only put down Clarendon General, Clarendon Japanese, and West Portal, and nothing else, and got in to Clarendon Japanese. The only school she truly viewed as "acceptable" for her child to attend was Clarendon. If her kid got West Portal, she would have had her go there till she got her kid in to Clarendon. And if she didn't get any of her choices, she wasn't going to send her kid to school, period. I just find it extremely irritating when I hear stories of families that get a top school when they don't put down 7 choices. It has and always will make me extremely suspicious of the process.

  12. And presumably she did not put down she was a free lunch or ELL child.

    Some people are lucky, after all, someone had to get in.

  13. Each school's lottery doesn't know or care how many schools you listed or where on the list you put them. Your chance of getting a school are not affected by that (unless and until you have to go to a wait pool, in which case you are rewarded for having listed 7)

  14. There is no early deadline for siblings anymore. The same January deadline applies for all.

  15. I actually have suspected that she did lie and say she was eligible for free or reduced lunch, even though it's baloney. She knows the district doesn't follow up to see if people who put that down are telling the truth, and I know she would have done just about anything to get her kid there.

  16. I understand that the district gives you a higher ranking than a parent that doesn't put down 7 when you don't get any of your choices. However, the district gives a higher ranking to a parent that doesn't put down 7 over a parent that does put down 7 that gets one of their choices. Oftentimes, our 6th or 7th choice is not something we really want, but we put it down because we don't want to be sent to a school that's totally undesirable. I believe any parent that doesn't put 7 should be at the bottom of the first round pool.

  17. How do you mean the District gives a higher priority to a parent that doesn't put down 7 over a parent that puts down 7? Do you mean that the percentage -- that is parent A got 1 out of 3 choices (so 33%) success rate, whereas parent B got 1 out of 7 (or maybe even got 3 out of 7, but you only get awarded 1 so you will never know), so the percentage is 13% (or whatever is 1/7).

    When I applied, I actually had more than 7 schools that I was interested in so it wasn't really a problem of too little choice, but of course I had my heart set on 1 or 2. I think I got number 5 (Garfield) which was a great school but you know how it goes.. when you have a choice and you really like 1 and get something else, you feel like you lost anyway. (I did find that setting right under Coit Tower to be just quintessial SF though. Just beautiful.)

  18. I'm talking about the waiting pool. Parents who don't put down 7and don't get a choice are higher in the waiting pool than a family that puts down 7 and gets a choice. I just think that if you don't put down 7, your application should be treated as a second round in the beginning. I know this is harsh, but this rewards families that aren't serious about the process. I've seen this repeatedly -- they have their cream-of-the-crop private school all lined up, but they're hoping to get Clarendon, blah, blah. You know the type we're talking about.

  19. If they would take Clarendon and nothing else that's their problem (or their solution). Why should they list schools they won't take but might win -- a seat they might sit on until school starts?

  20. On our tour, we were told that Clarendon expects each family to contribute $1000, on average, to the school, through combination of fund raising and personal donation. No exceptions. The $400,000.00 figure bears this out. Just something to consider if you go to this school.

    HINT: The first school on your list is your "first choice." SFUSD web site lists the number of times a school was a "first choice." Clarendon at or near the top of the list. The order in which you list your schools is important!

  21. The $ number at Clarendon is a result not a requirement. The total amount that we raise sums up to be somewhere between $600 to $1000 per student depending on the year's budget and program. Every family contributes whatever they can. Some more some less. Some contribute their time, some contribute cash, and some both.
    Given the tight district budget, it takes a lot of parent involvement (both in time and money) to offer the many enrichments that we do.
    There are always something you can do to contribute. It's not always $$.
    Clarendon is a public school. You cannot force people to contribute.

  22. Very true. And people are more likely to contribute if they see that their money is well spent in an efficient manner.

    Its nice to hear that so many families feel that way and contribute to Clarendon. Someone suggested that the District take 10% of PTA fundraising at the high dollar schools (aka Clarendon) and give to the low fund raising schools. I suggested instead that we have schools actually mentor or offer best practices advice to those schools that are not able to raise as much. Granted, schools that have high free lunch students of course have parents that do not have the money to contribute. But there are other contributions as you mentioned -- in time, in skills. (And maybe those high free lunch kid schools do have parents/caregivers who volunteer time and skills... this is just an example).

    Alternatively, have the school adopt a sister school and parents of higher demographic could contribute money to the other school too. But taking a percentage off the top just sounds too much like what the gov't does!

  23. Um, the public schools are part of the government.

  24. Yeah I know. That's part of the problem!!

  25. The order in which you list your schools is important!

    Not true.

  26. Can a parent who sends their child to Clarendon talk about the school? I hear mixed things.

  27. "Part of the problem?" What a retro thing to say. It's good that public schools are part of the commons (aka, the goverment). Without the "public" part of this equation, I am sure we would not be offering education to all. It's foundational to our democracy. Certainly we don't want goverment running everything, and we want to encourage entrepreneurial activity, but as Obama has said, we could have more balance....there is a role for "government" and providing good education for ALL kids is one of them. It's "government IS the problem" attitudes--to quote Ronald Reagan--that led to inappropriate defunding of schools in per capita terms starting about 30 years ago.

  28. okay sure, let's all lighten up, grab a martini, turn on the toob and not have a care in the world that the governor is targeting the schools for massive funding's just so uncool to actually care about something like big and unwieldy like the public good....why don't we all just kick back now and make ironic and cynical comments about those do-gooder activists over doubt the schools situation will take care of itself....nothing to to be concerned about....move along now....

  29. 10:36/11:37 -- my point was made in the context of taking monies that PTA raise at one school and redistributing to other schools. Just simply based on some percentage or something. No rhyme or reason, not even asking the parents that raised the money if they would be willing to contribute, but instead just to take a percentage and give to some other needy school.

    (Someone had made that proposal in response to the uneven levels of PTA or private parent donations to schools at the District).

    Anyway -- that is what the gov't does -- it taxes you, based on some percentage and redistributes it. And sometimes very very inefficiently, with much much waste because there is no accountability.

    Of course I'm not some radical anti tax idiot -- I believe we all must pay our share to fix the roads, for community good, to help those who need a helping hand, etc. Its part of being a human being and living in a society.

    And if the gov't didn't provide the schools, we would end up like many countries in Africa -- where only those who have money can go to school and create even more inequity (I'm a firm believer that education is an equalizer).

    But I don't believe in taking from those who can do, who do do, and just arbitrarily redistributing to others. Read my post above. I suggested other ways to help -- like Jesus said, I won't just give you the fish, but I'll teach you how to fish. He's not the only one who said that, for those who are anti-religion or anti -Jesus.

  30. Okay, thanks, 12:02. [Though I'm pretty sure Jesus didn't say that (or if he did, it wasn't recorded in the Gospels that I've ever read), not that it isn't a good saying nonetheless.]

    I thought you were saying that it is a problem that public schools are "public" in the sense of government-funded and -run. I see now that you were referring to the idea of redestributing a small amount of PTA monies (1%? 2%) to schools without strong fundraising programs.

    I could see it becoming very unwieldy and it might not work therefore, but I'm not so sure it couldn't be a good idea if well-organized. I DO know that every penny counts at most schools, and there is NO waste at my kids' school in terms of how PTA money is spent, so this would not be without pain, but $1,000 from a fundraising income of $100,000, if spent wisely elsewhere, well, I'd be willing to do that.

    I've seen this concept work at the church level, where a certain % of parish fundraising is sent elsewhere. Not sure, being honest, that we would send as much if that % standard was not there, and it does go for good works beyond our ken and ability to work on.

    Perhaps each year the fund could be distributed to a subset of schools that do not have well-functioning PTAs but have promise to turn around. Ones with parent groups that are not so upper-middle class and not used to getting things done this way. Lots of immigrant cultures are not used to the PTA get-it-done-ourselves American style of activism. We're also talking about class and education and having access to networks, i.e., having an idea of how to run a silent auction and a notion of how to get lots and lots of stuff donated. It's not just access money, which Clarendon has because it has more high-income families, but cultural knowledge.

    So....perhaps a condition of getting funds would be training in PTA organization, including how to set up committees to carry out work, including future fundraising. In other words, the grants would partially be used to "seed" future organization at that school, and they would not be offered forever. The trainings would also have to be culturally sensitive and appropriate. Not sure who could do this, but I don't see it as impossible. A portion of the % funds would go to this training, and then to small grants that show what is possible--Look! you can set up an arts program, etc.

    Because, certainly, teaching (I would say more than that--really organizing) people to fish really is better. But they are more likely to come to the river to do so if they perceive the fish are there to be caught. There are cultural capital isssues out there that can hard for highly educated, professional folks to perceive.

  31. 2:40 -- you explain it much better than I do!

    But I'm sure at a Church gathering I was told Jesus said that! Ok, not in such direct terms...

    Maybe as the District moves to a new assignment system (aka quadrants for neighborhoods), then can also look at grouping schools together in other ways to maximize best practices at all schools... After all, if all schools improve, it benefits everyone and even the top tier schools like Clarendon (because it will take the pressure off the lottery situation).

  32. Clarendon JBBP K-parent here...

    So far the school has lived up to our expectations. We really wanted JBBP since our son has Japanese heritage. Clarendon is convenient to our home so it was our first choice.

    Our son has adjusted well and comes home every day with stories of the latest adventure in learning...let me tell you the 'enrichment' is real at this school. They send home a calendar each month so you can keep up with all the special activities. They have already had two off-campus field trips (Legion of Honor and Hidden Villa Farms) and every week there seems to be some new, special event scheduled.

    Regarding the PAC (PTA). The school really pushes participation. While PAC does quietly solicit financial contributions, they really focus on fund-raising through volunteerism. They have already held two major fund-raising events, a walkathon and a Halloween carnival. The biggest JBBP fundraiser is their annual auction. It is incredible how many families turn out for these events. They raise money and build school community at the same time. There is always some candy-drive or other such thing going on.

    I have to admit, there is a constant bombardment of requests for parents to chip in and help at Clarendon…in the classroom, on the field-trips, working on a fund-raising event committee, whatever. This may be the case at any public school though. Requests usually come via newsletter, so it is relatively low-pressure. It is my impression that 90% of the involvement comes from 5% of the parents (if you come from a private pre-school, you know the type).

    Okay. Having survived the assignment process and lived to tell the tale, I have to say good luck to you. The process is torture, but at least you only have to do it once (every 6 years that is).

  33. We are in the JBBP program and we are very lucky to be in this school. Yes, there are many ways to be involved and contribute, time and money.

    The school is great. From what I understand, JBBP raises only what the program needs or sees fit for its curriculum. I see this as being very considerate. Art is taught in the classroom as well, moreso with a Japanese influence so general art isn't necessary every Friday as 2nd Community has scheduled.

    I've heard that 2nd Community may be 'over' enriched, nothing wrong with I suppose, especially being at a public. So the money raised per child is higher for 2nd Community vs. JBBP. So there are different expectations for fundraising depending on the program.

    Mr. Barmore is a positive leader in the eyes of both the kids and the parents. He is definitely 'present' in the school.

    Parking is EASY.

    Morning and aftercare is engaging and gives the kids to interact with all the grades which is beneficial for kids to learn being with different ages. The aftercare program goes as late as 6:30p and offers care on (some) holidays and special evenings for movie and dinner night.

    There is a space, room 6, in the school specifically meant to be a meeting/work room for parents and volunteers. I think this is key in creating an environment that encourages a central point for parent-led efforts.

  34. I didn't comment much on the academics because I think the test scores for Clarendon speaks for itself.

    Good thing is, at least there are two chances to get in Clarendon and either one is terrific.

  35. This school confuses me.

    The exterior appears junky and run down. Yet they have a computer lab that is better than most of the private schools I toured.

    Plus they have a full time librarian who keeps track of all 500 students' reading progress and interests.

    Plus they have a pricipal who is obviously a rising star in the district administration ranks. Lawyer right?

    Something tells me that this is the district's secret pilot program of the future. I hear that secondary languages will be a requirement in Elementary soon, and oddly both of these programs have that.

    The question is how to get in, right? Why does every tour guide from this school look like they know the "secret" but won't tell me?

  36. I'm curious: what was so impressive about Clarendon's computer lab?

  37. A few words on library:
    If this school has a JBBP program, why do they display only a few japanese books in the library? I saw maybe about 10 books. The librarian claimed that they have many japanese books, but the children never read them. What's the point to keep them in the storage, isn't that odd?

  38. According to my notes -

    a. 20-25 OS X Macs in the lab
    b. 20 Laptops with a wireless Laptop Cart that can be moved to classrooms
    c. Full-time Computer Instructor
    d. Full Curriculum with weekly lessons in Photoshop, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint presentations by the time they leave

    To my knowledge, only $20k+ private schools have resources like this. Parochial schools definitely do not.

  39. Oh my gosh! I think I know someone who gamed the system to get in...I highly suspect it.

    So to the person who wants to know the secret -- I honestly think if you state ELL or something to that effect, even if child is born here, but by dint of parent speaking English as second language, you get a leg up! I'm not advocating this - just saying, try to check it out.

    OMgosh!! I can't believe it. Now I think back to this parent who I knew when child was first born, and I recall this person being so confident telling me their child lived within 1 mile of a top school (Clarendon) and I remember thinking, well Clarendon has no address area so moving there is not an advantage.

    Just spoke to person today and yup, child is now in Clarendon, both parents are immigrants, I think one came as a very young child, english is better than mine. Other has heavy accent.

    Family is very very solidly middle class if not upper (think real estate, making a killing when boom first took off).

    Ok, my wow is over. Just can't believe it! I guess someone has to fill up those 80 spots.

  40. A lot of the Japanese books are in the classroom and I can only speak for K, but they have a native Japanese speaker read them least once a week if not more.

  41. From JBBP parent:
    It's true that JBBP has less scheduled enrichment sessions than 2nd Community. (such as art, whose teacher is wonderful) But that is a conscious decision from teachers who juggle the academics and the other cultural activities that the program participates in. For example, JBBP celebrates many traditional Japanese events such as o-shogatsu (New Years), Cherry Blossom festival/parade etc with activities that involve either the class or the entire program. Classes spend considerable time (outside of art class) working on projects for the annual auction fundraiser. JBBP does an annual show (Performing Arts Night) which involves each of their classes and integrates some of the culture that they receive in class. The teachers, kids and families really love it, but it takes a lot of time and effort from the entire community. (2nd Community does a separate show of its own)

    Clarendon (both programs, 3rd grade) is one of the SFUSD schools that has 10 week movement classes with the SF Ballet, which afterwards offers a couple of scholarships to their ballet school.

    Upper grade (4/5th) students have a chance to learn taiko (Japanese drum) once a week through a PTA-funded program, as well as once-a-week instrumental music (all SFUSD gets this).

    Students won't be fluent in Japanese at the end of 5th grade, as this is not an immersion program. If you want a little more language, the program at Rosa Parks (JBBP) has more, but the tradeoff is less other enrichment programs. Lower grade students learn the phonetic alphabet (hiragana) and the upper grades learn some kanji characters. For fluency, some families choose to enroll their kids in separate after-school or weekend language classes.

    The PTA of both programs actively raise money to support added enrichment programs, and annually struggle with decisions to potentially reduce programs if fund-raising goals are not met. (PE, art, music, library, computer lab, teacher accounts, language, culture are all PTA-funded)

    It's a tremendous school if you and your child want to fully integrate yourselves into the community, but that would probably be the case for any school if you are willing to do that. Maybe Clarendon's appeal (both programs) is that it has (and historically had) a number of committed and involved families in the community. (this includes a lot of working/single parents too). If you're content to let the school do all the work, this school may not be the best fit.

  42. If you are looking for an amazing computer lab, I suggest you check out the lab at Grattan. I would bet it rivals Clarendon's.

  43. Grattan is a fabulous school, and is one of the "sleeper" schools imo. They do indeed have an excellent computer lab, and their cirriculum is solid.

    Like Clarendon, their parent group recognizes the importance of technology for today's kids. While most of our kids are on a college track, there are some that aren't. For this demographic, knowing Excel, Photoshop and Word is the difference between working in a professional environment and working retail or food service.

    Many kids still do not have access to a computer at home, and the exposure and instruction that they receive at school is all they get.

    In the past 3 years, the parent Tech group at Clarendon has renovated the lab and added the mobile laptop cart, put wireless internet throughout the school, and ensured that all teachers have email, computers, and whatever other classroom resources they require.

    It does not take long for a school to get up to speed technologically, but it does require some planning and foresight. Clarendon is available to serve as a model for any other schools that wish to look in that direction.

  44. grattan is hardly a sleeper school.

  45. In regards to "gaming" the system and saying your child is ELL, this would not work! I heard today on a tour that they now check every student that is listed as ELL (to confirm this is a fact).
    Just FYI.

  46. My wife and I speak Japanese to my 2 year old son at home - its his first language although his English is coming along fine from the outside world.

    We want him to speak Japanese in school - thus we know our School options.

    I've seen the 50% of seats saved for native Mandarin speakers at immersions schools mentioned.

    But I haven't seen anything clearly spelling out whether Clarendon's JBBP program or Rosa Parks reserves places for native Japanese speakers - I'm kind of thinking they don't but am I wrong?

    If they don't, I guess being a Japanese speaker doesn't earn you any more likely of a shot of being the "least like the baseline applicant" in the eyes of the scoring and approval system, right?

  47. To Logan
    Both Rosa Parks and Clarendon are not immersion schools. JBBP is an enrichment program. This is why it does not have a quota for native speakers. As Rosa Parks has native japanese teachers, it may be a better option for you. You never know how things will change when your son starts kindergarten though.

  48. ^^Thanks!!