Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open Forum: Happy Holidays

I'm on holiday through the New Year. Feel free to use the comments area of this post for discussion. Round I forms are due soon, so I'm sure some parents are busily creating their lists. Good luck! Happy New Year! Best, Kate


  1. Check out Amy/Kate and "post-private school San Francisco." Woo-hooo!

  2. Sorry, tinyurl should fix it:

  3. Print version is much better - check out a has info on about 20 schools and great photos. Worth the $ or the trip to the store!

  4. Which schools does it talk about in the print version?

  5. Hooray for the voices that contribute to the positives of choosing public. I'm personally tired of the stigma of being in public. I am a parent who chooses to be active in making our public school better - the positive energy is infectious. Most families in the class my child is in also applied for private. Luckily enough, these like minded parents consciously chose public. All the better all around for our kids and the city, so that families realize they don't have to leave the city!

  6. Private school IS expensive. For the early years,. I agree that the education received makes almost no difference. However, ater 2nd grade or so, I, IMHO believe that private school makes a difference. Fellow schoolteachers have told me (yes, I am a teacher) that they can tell the private school students when they meet them...

    I am sympathetic to the cost however. Private school is a sacrifice for those of us that are teachers or their ilk. It is just what you are willing to sacrifice for your kids. Only you can make that decision.

  7. FYI for anyone interested in the ins and outs of the first grade lottery--I just found out from Vicki at PPS (who finally just got an answer from the EPC) that for the first grade lottery, families applying from private schools are given the same diversity factor as families coming from low-performing schools (with an API of under 4).

    If you are coming from a private school, this means you have a slight advantage in the first grade lottery (though it is unclear how much, because of how few open spaces there are).

    They didn't provide a rationale for this, but it is tempting to guess.

  8. Not sure why comments weren't allowed on your post to donate to Ortega school? Either way, I am happily child-free and a very happy auntie that has a vested interest in improving public schools so that my brother, sister in law and cutest nephew in the world (not to mention numerous friends with kids) stay in SF. Everyone, with or without kids, should be doing what they can to improve public schools in SF. Our city needs public schools to succeed for so many is up to all of us to work for success for ALL kids in SF. I will make an online donation to Jose Ortega now!

  9. 5:49 says ***Fellow schoolteachers have told me (yes, I am a teacher) that they can tell the private school students when they meet them...***

    Hmm, I would have to wonder -- a blind test would be interesting.

    My kids both attend San Francisco School of the Arts, a public high school that attracts many students coming from private K-8. SOTA admits by audition, and there are no private schools like it in our area; plus it has reasonable cachet that appeals to private school families. Because there are no similar programs in private schools, it's not a fallback for kids who didn't get University or Urban or SI or whatever, either -- it just attracts a certain type of kid, whether coming from public or private.

    With students coming from public K-8 and private K-8 mingling in SOTA classes, you'd wonder if there would be a visible, measurable difference. Do the kids coming from private stand out as stars; are they ahead of the kids coming from public?

    Of course I don't have actual statistics, but it's quite evident that the answer is no. There are kids from both public and private among the standout achievers, among the troubled kids who struggle (for academic, emotional or teen-angsty reasons) and everywhere in between.

    Here's one piece of clarity: In junior year, most every kid takes the PSAT, and that's the one standardized test where the results are publicly disclosed, at least to the extent of identifying the top scorers. Last year in my son's junior year (my daughter isn't there yet), three kids tied for top PSAT score at SOTA, and all three were originally from public K-8s: one Lakeshore/Aptos, one Clarendon/Aptos (Aptos rules!) and one from public K-8s in Pacifica.

  10. ***SOTA ... Because there are no similar programs in private schools, it's not a fallback for kids who didn't get University or Urban or SI or whatever, either -- it just attracts a certain type of kid, whether coming from public or private.***

    Although I think SOTA is a great public school, the above statement is not true. SOTA is often the fallback option. I went through the high school admission process with my children (who went to a private K-8 school) and we know many, many families from both public and private schools. All of the kids that we know who went to SOTA went there either because they did not get in to the private that they wanted to go to OR financially the parents did not want to or could not pay for a private high school. The kids from my children's private K-8 who went to SOTA were not top achievers by any stretch of the imagination, so top privates and Lowell were not options. (And no, they were no more artistically inclined than the rest of the student body in this K-8)

    That being said, although many of these kids were disappointed with SOTA initially, they all seem to be very happy there now.

  11. I would dispute 9:50's implication that the students from private K-8s who get into SOTA aren't necessarily very artistically talented. The audition standards are rigorous; it's not for dilettantes.

    But then 9:50's point is that it's not necessarily the highest academic achievers coming from those schools who go to SOTA. But that's true of students coming from public K-8s too. Students whose primary focus is rigorous academics head to Lowell. (And of course some kids from public K-8s go to the high-end private high schools too.)

    The point, still, is that when kids from public K-8s and private K-8s come together in SOTA classes -- all of them selected for artistic ability after first self-selecting for kids who are committed enough to their art to be interested in SOTA -- there is no pattern of difference -- no visible superiority of the kids from private K-8s.

  12. 9:50 here.

    If you recall my post was made to dispute Caroline's assertion that "SOTA is not a fallback for students who did not get into top privates." Indeed, this is not true. SOTA IS often a fallback choice for many students, from both public and private middle schools. It is not a first choice high school for many kids. (I am willing to concede that it was first choice for Caroline's kids, since I don't know them...)

    And while I'll concede that there is a minimum artistic ability that is required by the auditions at SOTA,--- in my experience, often the most artistically talented kids do not chose to go to SOTA because they have many other options available to them.

    That being said, I agree that SOTA is one of the better public high schools in SF, and that kids who go there are generally quite happy with their experience (even if it wasn't their first choice school).

  13. Thanks for the positive words, 9:50.

    Sorry to belabor; just affirming that yes, SOTA was both my kids' first choice (both were admitted to Lowell also; we didn't apply to privates, so I can't speak to that). SOTA was first choice for many of their classmates, coming from both public and private. Yes, it was a fallback for some too, but they had to have the artistic skills to get in.

    SOTA also enrolls a percentage of students from out of district -- it was conceived as a regional school; they bring their state funding with them. So there are also a number of kids commuting in from as far as Davis, though mostly the East Bay, the Peninsula and Marin. The only other senior trumpeter (along with my son) is from Pleasant Hill, and one friend in my son's jazz ensembles commutes from Atherton. Those students not only chose SOTA over their high-end local public schools, they are also willing to suffer considerable inconvenience to get to school.

    So I am defending SOTA against the implication that the quality of its arts is lackluster. Anyone who saw its musicals the past two years will affirm that its student artists are high-quality. SOTA ensembles and artists have won many competitive awards and scholarships over the years.

    Full disclosure that I'm PTSA co-president and have an interest in my kids' school's reputation. On the other hand, I would assume I'm more familiar with SOTA students' accomplishments.

    All this is a bit beside my original point (that private and public school kids mingle in SOTA classes with no evident consistent disparity in educational background), and 9:50 isn't disputing that point.

  14. Just dropped off our application at EPC. There was only a 10-minute wait. I didn't think to ask what time they close today.

    I figured next week would be a zoo, so am happy to be done!