Monday, January 5, 2009

Hot topic: Round I tactics

An SF K Files visitor brings up the following questions:

"Could you put a topic up about ranking for soon-to-be-turned-in Round I forms? Especially in the light of the new news about having a better chance of getting into a school the higher you rank it, we're really deliberating now for the 1st grade lottery (and I imagine the kindergarten lottery participants are, too). We also learned last week that applicants from private schools have the same diversity factor as families trying to transfer from another SFUSD school where the API is lower than 4 (so technically are considered diverse for many schools, giving them an advantage over families applying from an SFUSD school with an API of 4 or over), and I'm wondering how this is affecting folks' ranking their school choices, too."

138 comments:

  1. Just rank your 7 choices according to your order of preference. The spot of a school on your list has no bearing on whether or not you will be assigned there in the initial run lottery. It only determines which school you will get if the computer initially assigns you to multiple schools.

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  2. 10:54, this is mostly true, except for a new wrinkle discovered in the technical language this year, which is that, all other things being equal, and all diversity factors already gone through the system and only folks with your diversity factors left in the mix, there is a tie-breaker that goes to the family or families that rank a school higher. After that, it is truly random.

    Now, this will mean little if you are a family that likely contributes diversity to a popular school. But if you are not poor, speak primarily English at home, and sent your kid to preschool, and you are applying to a school with a relatively large middle/upper class cohort already, one that will presumably be attracting lots of middle class apps, then you might want to factor this in.

    For example, if you have a strong preference for Clarendon, you might put it first as you are unlikely to get it in ANY tie-breaker if you do not. (Just know you are not likely to get it in any case....) Conversely, you might want to prioritize an up-and-coming school that you really like, esp one that is moderately popular, as putting it first in round one might be your big shot at getting it, ie in a tiebreaker--and it will likely fill up in round one and certainly in round two.

    So there is some strategy here.

    My main advice would still be to 1) put the schools in your own rank order of preference and 2) definitely (!) include some lesser or at most moderately popular ones---unless you have the nerves (or private/parochial backup) to go 0/15 almost certainly, and have to gut it out on the waitlist after school has started in August. Better to get a slot that will be acceptable than be left with nothing--but that's me. Clearly not the one with guts of steel.

    Bottom line, you can take the rank order issue into account if it helps you feel more in control. My feeling is, keeping things simple can be okay, too. It's possible to overthink and overstress about this....but I guess that works for some :-). Different strokes and all that.

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  3. By the way, everyone I know who listed Clarendon or Rooftop 1st last year (and who didn't speak a 2nd language at home and sent their kids to preschool) got nothing in Round I.

    Plenty of those people had reasonable choices further down on their lists, they just didn't get them (only people who listed them first got them).

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  4. Right, so if you really want to get something in round one, you might think about not listing Clarendon first, but rather putting a school you do like that is less popular than Clarendon as your first choice. Almost all of these schools, except for the extremely high poverty ones, are going to fill up, if not in round one, certainly in round two, so it's a good bet to go for one of them now rather than go for broke on Clarendon.

    My 2 cents.

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  5. Here's a hint:

    LIE ON YOUR APPLICATION.

    Don't admit to sending your kid to preschool.

    Say you speak a second language at home (pig latin?)

    Forget about all those years of college you attended ...

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  6. 6:55 - that's a nice suggestion - but I think if you're going to lie, you might as well go whole hog. Paint yourself in blackface, call yourself Sambo and talk about your little tarbaby, polish up on your Ebonics, check all boxes and maintain that farce that why yes - you are wholeheartedly supported by the government - you live in public housing and have government provided healthcare. You are a revolting example of all that's wrong with parenting.

    And given that the goal of the diversity index is to balance so called middle class families with those are less fortunate, I highly doubt that lying will help given the vast numbers of less fortunate people in the school system.

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  7. Do the Flynn / alvarado folks get any priority for 1st grade lottery?

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  8. Um, I think 6:55 was a joke. Maybe lay off the coffee a little.

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  9. 8:27

    Could you get any MORE offensive?

    Sheesh.

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  10. Oh I could get more offensive. I've only touched on tired cliches about black people. Let's not forget that there are are a multitude of minorities in this town - all ripe with disgusting stereotypes.

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  11. Two interesting new lottery facts seem to have come to light this year that may impact parents' rankings:

    1. a second language, any second language (esperanto??) adds a diversity point and may explain why so many Europeans have gotten spots at top schools for so many years. Possibly this is something the new student assignment committee should be re-examining.

    2. ranking does matter to more than just yourself. In a tie-breaker the person who ranked the school higher gets it. This would explain why popular schools seem to be mostly filled by people who ranked the school first or second.

    If I were going through the lottery this year, these two facts would definitely make me look at my picks in a different light.

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  12. to 8:30am:

    When I was at the EPC a month or so ago, I asked if the folks who went 0/7 last year were going to get any kind of special preference this year in the 1st grade lottery. They said no, but they were considering a special preference for those involved in the Flynn/Alvarado fiasco last year. So if you were displaced from Flynn or Alvarado last year, I'd check with them (and maybe some pressure would help)?

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  13. I agree with the comment that the folks working on a redesign of the assignment system should look at the loophole of fairly well-off Europeans who speak another language at home getting choice spots. Not to wish them ill at all, but giving preference to professional salaried families from France over professional salaried families from America was not exactly the intent of including the language "point" in the diversity index. Sometimes you have to live this stuff to see how it works in practice, and this seems to be an unfair glitch.

    I guess there would still be a leg up for the Spanish speakers among them in SI immersion programs, actually, but then that whole thing is more complicated anyway with its purpose of teaching language through dual immersion (requiring native speakers) AND the implied purpose of mixing social classes and cultures.

    As I think more, it might be simpler and more understandable to the larger community of parents just to have a poverty "point" in the index--drop the home language and parental education. The poverty point is already set so low in terms of qualification for free lunch and/or housing subidies that it is not splitting complicated hairs between me (single parent, solid middle class but no more, but educated) and some two-parent family that brings home six figures every year. With a poverty "point" we would truly give preference and hopefully a leg up to the kids who are coming from the huge disadvantage of poverty, which I do think is entirely the right thing to do, without getting into these other complications.

    Rachel Norton, are you listening? :-)

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  14. @8:27, I am guessing you are writing satire, and I totally agree there are odious ethnic and racial sterotypes floating in the background of some of these conversations (not all).

    I'm don't think what you wrote is effective as satire though. Partly because pretending to be African American or any other race/ethnicity would not have any bearing on the process, so it seems out of place as a way that someone might really go about it....race is not considered, right, but the income and language factors are. I imagine if race were considered that some folks just might dust off that Cherokee ancestor from seven generations back, but in this case that step-great-grandmother doesn't help little Janey get into Clarendon or Rooftop.

    Race keeps popping up in conversations here, even though it is not actually considered. Why is that?

    All that said, I really hope people don't lie. I personally wish the lottery were more simple and straightforward and that gaming the system was even more difficult than it is (even acknowledging how much cleaner it is now than it was 10-15 years ago). Even though it is an extremely frustrating system, I had no problem taking my chances with the rest of my relatively privileged cohort....no desire to win a spot that should go to some kid who is truly disadvantaged.

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  15. If it’s all about equality and justice for all, then why are private school student transfers treated as a "disadvantaged" class, as if they were coming from an under-performing school? If anything, private school transfers should get the lowest priority in the lottery, AFTER the hard-working parents who toiled for a year or two improving the public school system got their transfers approved. Private school parents should work their way up through the system just like the rest of us. They should get what's left. They do not deserve preferential treatment. It seems that we (i.e., public school parents) get penalized for being loyal to SF public schools right from the start. It’s probably an archaic lottery rule that was introduced by the rich political machine in SF to assure themselves a spot in one of the “fab five schools” after their kid got kicked out of private.

    How can the EPC justify such a rule in 2009?

    Rachel, sorry if we are filling your plate with so many “injustices” to resolve!

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  16. I don't think private school kids should given lower priority in the lottery than other kids, but they certainly shouldn't be treated as disadvantaged and given priority status either.

    I really find this hard to believe though. What could be the possible justification? There has got to be one, but I just can't think of what it might be. I'm really not cynical enough to think that the district is so desperate to increase enrollment that they would create a way to poach upper income kids by giving them special preference.

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  17. Wow, it is great to read that people are starting to ADMIT reverse discrimination.

    I lied on the application, wrote that I never finished high school, speak a 2nd language at home, and that my DD didn't go to preschool.

    Is it legal to stack the deck against white people?

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  18. 6:14 here again.

    After reading these comments it seems that the new assignment system shouldn't include anything not iron-clad verifiable and iron-clad justifiable.

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  19. 6:14 - I agree. But why should my kid be a second-class citizen and fewer opportunities?

    Yes, we're white, educated, but from dirt-poor backgrounds -- scholarships and student loans (still paying off) we rent, we son't have vacations, etc.

    But my 5 year old gets fewer opportunities b/c her great-grandparents were born here? Or because we've struggled hard to get as far as we have, only to be told that makes my kid less deserving of an equal chance at a good school?

    I am not a troll; I just can't get around this. I really don't get it.

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  20. 6:52

    I don't think your child is treated as a second class citizen. He or she is just in a different applicant pool than a disadvantaged child. It really depends on what school you are applying for. Your child would have the advantage if you were applying to a high-poverty school because you would provide balance. It only seems unfair when you're applying to a high demand school because more people with the same profile as you will be applying to the same school.

    I do think that giving really disadvantaged kids a leg up is a worthy goal, and helps all kids by creating fewer school overwhelmed by kids living in extreme poverty.

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  21. These foreign families are so lucky! For some reason, the lottery always works to their advantage!

    When we were applying to kindergarden in 19989, race was still a factor. One could waltz right in to Clarendon by listing yourself as black or latino. Ah, and I recall Clarendon/JBBP having more than its fair share of families from Brazil. Yep, they were latino.

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  22. I agree the district should create verifiable rules to keep people like 6:28 from cheating. Limiting the diversity index to income would be in that category and would likely accomplish most of what is intended. And the European loophole should be closed for sure.

    Anyway, I thought about not responding to this, but find I can't hold back:

    6:28, did you really and truly cheat like that, or is this a joke? And your justification for cheating is that the deck is stacked against white people? Excuse me? Would you please explain what race has to do with anything here? No, actually, it is not legal to stack the deck against white people. Do you even realize that race is NOT a factor in the diversity index? No one is getting or being denied privileges around here because of their race. Not you, not anyone.

    Apparently you graduated from high school, sent your kid to preschool, and I'm guessing you can feed your kid three squares a day. Do you even know that there are kids in this town who are severely disadvantaged from hunger--really--and other effects of poverty, and from the fact that their parents are very undereducated? The diversity index is designed in part to give these very disadvantaged kids a leg up into some of the better-functioning schools. That seems like a pretty basic thing for a democratic society to do, when we put so many hopes on education to level the playing field. These kids are not on a level playing field, by far.

    Do you think that offering this little bit of support is a bad thing? Would you want your kid to trade places with these disadvantaged children? Really? For this you feel resentment? And even if you do resent these children and think they shouldn't be given a little extra support this way, again I ask, what does this have to do with being WHITE? If you were as poor as these children's families, and in real life as undereducated, you too could have had the leg up, without cheating. Yes, despite your white skin. The fact that you were not supposed to get that leg up was not because you were white, 6:28. It was simply and only because you have the most basic advantages most of us enjoy-food, a high school education, access to preschool, books for our kids, etc.

    Okay, so you feel bad because some really disadvantaged kids get a little break that you don't get. So you make up this excuse about white resentment in order to cut in line ahead of the rest of us? The thing is, the real competition at a place like Rooftop or Alvarado is not mostly the disadvantaged kids. The biggest competition is the swarm of middle class parents all gunning for the same school. And what you did is cut in line in front of us--so don't expect us to be happy about that.

    I hope you are lying for some sort of joke or for effect, because this is corrupt behavior. And for your kid, too. Do you teach your kid to cheat at checkers? This is how you approach education? Take a spot from a kid who is truly disadvantaged whereas you are not (again, not talking about race here), and cheating on the rest of us. Disgusting. I hope you are not at my kids' school. I did not cheat, and to my knowledge none of my friends did. This is not normal behavior. It is cheating, lying, and stupid (ranting on about reverse racism for crying out loud). Karma WILL catch you some day. Maybe when your kids turn out really lousy, as surely they will with a parent like you leading by example.

    'k, rant over.

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  23. 7:33. Seems like you think your morals and ethics are better than someone elses. Everyone wants the best for their children. The crime is a system that is broken, and leaves people desperate to cheat to have a chance at a good education.

    todays middle class is one layoff away from being tomorrow's poor. Live your ethics and don't be a judge of others.

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  24. Oh, an these Brazilian families at Clarendon? They were not impoverished and uneducated. They just happenened to fall under the large umbrella of "latino"

    What a bunch of BS. And, the current lottery system perpetuates the smae BS. Why do you people take this???

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  25. 8:24 PM - RIGHT ON!

    Yes, race is supposedly not a factor in the diversity index - just indirectly. Looks, acts and quacks like a duck. This system is de facto discrimination.

    I love how 7:33PM, one of the PC police wrote: "And the European loophole should be closed for sure." I though race/nat'l origin had nothing to do with it?

    Hmmm...

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  26. this whole process is so incredibly stressful (it's not bringing out the best in me, that's for sure). it all feels pretty arbitrary and unfair. not to mention disappointing (even though it seems like people end up happy even if the outcome wasn't what they wanted originally).

    clearly parents and PTAs and principals, and so on put a lot of time and energy and then ultimately get what they're given or fight...

    so... what if it were really just a lottery. no factors, no "choices", just a truly random selection. you put in your name, address, child's name and boom the computer assigns you a school. Schools would be diverse in all senses and all the energy and time we save in touring could be spent in fundraising, ptas, principals writing grants and developing their staffs, etc. all those open spots on the first day of school would mean extra instruction and time for the kids and teachers.

    I don't know... doesn't seem like it could be worse than it is... the illusion of choices and all.

    good luck everyone. I hope all of your children love their new schools!!

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  27. So if you are a poor white family, SOL. If you are a middle-income Brazilian family, SOL.

    Can someone explain this?

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  28. 7:33 PM -

    Who should get "diversity" preference: the working-class child of Chinese immigrants who own their own home, or the working-class white child of renters?

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  29. 9:05: My understanding of the current system is that both these family are in the same cohort.

    Only if one of them were living in EXTREME poverty would they be in a different pool. Race is not a factor, nor is home ownership.

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  30. Oh, please. You know the Asian kid would/does get priority.

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  31. Sure, the system needs work. We should push for change. They are supposedly going to make big changes in the next year, anyway.

    But hello? Of course I dispute that it is okay to cheat--and you acknowledge it is cheating. This is not a small, white lie. This is someone claiming to be seriously disadvantaged. That is corruption. You took a spot that belongs to a child from public housing or a tenement, and how messed up is that? To be clear, I am far from wealthy; I am a single parent raising my two kids on less than SF median income, about $55K. But I also understand that my kids are not actually hungry or seriously under-privileged. Unless you are really living in public housing or qualify for free lunch, and really did not go to high school, how is it okay to claim that you are that disadvantaged?

    Not only did you take a spot away from a very poor child, you also jumped the line on the rest of us, many of us just one layoff away as you say. If we were all as dishonest as you, this would be anarchy. You are not jumping the line on rich people (they are in private school); you are jumping the line on people much like yourself. I understand that people are scared right now, but the answer is not to create anarchy by pushing for a culture of corruption (you know, everyone does it) and everyone for him/herself; the civilized answer is to work together for change. What you did is a form of looting, and while that might seem just and right in the moment (get back at the Man, aka "the system"), it is not going to help you in the long run. It's terrible karma for you, and it just causes everything to go downhill. Were you raised to justify cheating and stealing?

    This is not all about morals, ie, you have yours and I have mine and let's just let live, okay. I have a lot of respect for privacy rights and live and let live. Cheat on your husband or wife, I don't care; cheat at poker, as long as it's not on me, whatever. But how we organize something as basic as education, one of our few paths to opportunity, this cornerstone of our democracy? These rules are *not* all relative and subject to your personal interpretation. I see the problems with "the system" and I see the loopholes (I don't blame the Europeans for exploiting them, as there they are to be exploited, legally). But outright, flat out *lying* on the form about being poor, not graduating from high school, etc.? You are stealing, cheating, looting from the rest of us and especially our poorest kids (really poor, not just one layoff away, but really poor, right now), and you are scum. If I ever learn who you are I will find a way to publish your name far and wide.

    As if that were not enough, you did not justify this as being middle class but one layoff away from poverty (if you actually were poor, you would qualify on the merits, without cheating), but about being white. Great, play that race card to justify cheating. You are claiming reverse racism that does not even exist in this system. Again, sure, many problems in the system, but you were not facing discrimination for being white! You cheated on the basis of a LIE! Are you raising your children to be like this?

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  32. The problem is, if you cheat, you are taking a spot away from a middle or upper middle class European family.

    So, why do they have priority over you --- lower middle class white San Francisco?

    Why do we (you) allow this BS to happen?

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  33. Not that the district can afford it, but perhaps there's a need for random audits of families regarding statements made on the application. Aren't they under penalty of perjury?

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  34. Wow, it's terrible that people are cheating, but I am not surprised, probably just naive and hoping that people would "play" fairly. Apparently not so!
    Now, I am white, middle class, educated and professional European, speaking a second language at home and while I agree that it is unfair to give someone like us preferential treatment, it is my only hope (and I'll take it). I might actually need it, as we hve twins and insanely so, they go into the lottery separately. While I see that some people would find a way to abuse the situation if their multiples went into the lottery together, I still think it is incredibly insane, that they might get assigned to different schools or we will have to go with a default, because we won't have the nerve to waitlist the 2nd one at the 1st one's school. Let alone the thought of separating them for K and hoping for sibling preference for 1st grade - ??? Is this agreeable with real life? The whole thing in my opinion is so screwed up. I'm also for helping the poor and making sure disadvantaged children a head-start, but at the same time I'm upset that you get "punished" for being educated (it was hard work after all to complete a graduate degree) and having my kids in preschool. I handed in our applications and I don't dare to post our choices just yet. To make the long story short, if race truly doesn't matter, which in my opinion would be a means of "diversifying", then why not help the real poor ones and everybody else goes into the same lottery pool - same chances for everyone - seriously!

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  35. The system is already corrupt; it discriminates against white people.

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  36. So every minority child in SF is starving/in public housing?

    Even the chubby ones?

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  37. "You people" are scaring the bejeezus out of me. I have often wondered what white people are thinking and this anonymous format brings those true colors to the forefront.

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  38. Hello, poorer kids are chubby these days because the cheapest food is crap. Organic food costs dearly. Starving no, but hungry, all too frequently. Yes, in San Francisco. We are talking about kids who are that poor. In terms of food, education, lots of vectors.

    The system is very screwed up, but it does not discriminate against white people. Despite this troll, please understand this, people! It's irresponsible to spread these lies. We white people are largely competing against each other for not enough spots in the schools we tend to want. To state that race is a factor--when it is not--is scapegoating--and wrong. Evil, even.

    The Asian kid does not get priority, unless he/she speaks a language other than English at home, and/or is extremely poor. The Asian kid who is very low income (those who qualify for free lunch aren't really too likely to be property owners, trust me on this) is in the same cohort as the white kid who is also very low income. Racial preferences are specifically disallowed, by court order.

    The "Brazilian families at Clarendon" was years ago when racial preferences *were* allowed. Preferences are not allowed now, per court order.

    There's lots of heat here, but please, can we keep this all straight? These are tough enough issues without conflating past with present, or giving out misinformation.

    Another thing, the "European loophole" is not based upon race, and I'd bet the proponents of the diversity index would be appalled if they realized how it works to the advantage of privileged European families. It is based on diversity points for a non-English language being spoken primarily at home. That's the loophole, not the race of the family. Please, try to keep this straight. We don't need to foment racial resentment here when it isn't working that way. There are MANY problems with our complicated diversity index. But spreading rumors of reverse racism--when it is really, really not happening, per court order, is irresponsible.

    If it "walks like a duck" etc. and seems like it is race-based it is precisely because extreme poverty is strongly correlated (though not perfectly) with race. This is in part the legacy of, gasp, racism in our society! It's a fact that if you are born black or Latino your are more likely to be extremely poor than if you are born white. But if you are born white AND extremely poor, then you get the same leg up in the diversity index to get into Clarendon as any extremely poor black or Latino kid. What is the racism in that?

    It's based on poverty, people. Sure, as a lower middle class San Franciscan I'd love to have a leg up on the large numbers of you who make over $100,000 and have two incomes. But that might get really complicated (look how much resentment has been generated by giving a little advantage to *extremely poor* kids, for goodness' sake!). But poverty? Can't we agree the very, very poor kids need a leg up? The most basic line of free lunch, which is a very difficult standard to meet (you have to be very poor to meet it)? I'm not wealthy by far, but I can't see how anyone could resent giving that advantage to the kids who are that poor. Are we that uncivilized? In San Francisco?

    I'd like to hear all these posters who are going on about white people being screwed over say whether or not they think that *extremely poor* children should not get a little boost in getting into a good school. Yes or no? Because that is the real argument to be made, not the hiding behind racial resentment that is (at this point, with the consent decree gone), just not real.

    Personally, I'd love to see system overhauled so that language is not a factor, but only income and assets. That would indeed close the "European loophole" of language and also make it harder for people to cheat and lie and perjure themselves like the poster above. It would be more verifiable and more simple too--part of why folks here keep telling the lie about the system using race as a factor is that is it is all so complicated.

    I am really disturbed by the continued conversation that is naming race as a factor when it is not. It seems dangerously riding the edge of scapegoating to me. This is not San Francisco values! Like the poster above, I am scared to read this! I hope it is the work of a troll and not indicative of how many people feel!

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  39. Yes, "We people" want our children to have equal access to decent schools.

    Practically fascism!

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  40. "The Asian kid does not get priority, unless he/she speaks a language other than English at home, and/or is extremely poor."

    How many Asian kids DO NOT speak a second language at home? Are you joking? Duh!

    How many Asian-second-language-at-home parents have under the table income that cannot be documented?

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  41. I'm sure only white people lie or obsfucate on the application. RIIIGHT.

    Only white people get grief for doing so.

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  42. 9:16 / 9:46 - Caroline, is that you?

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  43. 9:33. You are ignorant.

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  44. I'm white and find the cheating to be beyond repugnant. Let's not go attributing one or two people's opinions to everyone else. Thanks.

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  45. Ignorant of what?

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  46. How repugnant that my kid's ancestors have been paying US taxes for 100 years so the kids of illegal immigrants get priority.

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  47. If it is OK to take language other than English into account, but not if one is pale/European/Brazilian; isn't that discrimination?

    Is language a "diversity" factor? Only if the child isn't white?

    You are trying to have it both ways.

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  48. Not Caroline's style, and she doesn't post anonymously.

    Well written though!

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  49. If you think about it, kids living in extreme poverty so that they get a diversity point, are not even very likely to list a lot of the most requested schools. Rooftop and Clarendon, for example, are not conveniently located near any public housing, and are not very easy to access by public transportation. Also, families living in extreme poverty may not even be aware of the Round 1 deadlines, or be able to spend countless hours touring schools. I think the reality is that at many, if not all, of the most requested schools, middle class families are competing with other middle class families for the coveted spots.

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  50. Someone is trying to make a race issue that isn't there.

    The system is messed up. It may even be that a simple lottery would accomplish the objective of mixing it all up without creating all these perceptions and resentments--not to mention, the cheating and even perjury.

    But can we be clear? Race is not used. Got it? Not used. This person is very, very wrong about that.

    We can be upset about the language thing, the twins thing, the private school thing, all the loopholes....but not race. Fellow white folks, it's important that we not get drawn into this scapegoating.

    This really is a scary conversation. I would love it if a PPS person or school board member or even Kate could leap in and reinforce that race is not a factor, as f.u. as the lottery may be. Race is not used, despite the troll who keeps using talking about white people and chubby minority children in the projects and whatall. NONE of this stuff about race being a factor is true. Lies, lies, lies. If poverty looks like race.....well, that is what is. Doesn't mean that the lottery is using race.

    Oh, this is all so repugnant, the cheating yes AND these comments. I am appalled. And yeah, I'm white and lower middle class income.

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  51. Lots of Asian American kids in SF do not speak a language other than English at home, or at least not primarily. It's pretty much what happens to all immigrants by generation #3 at the latest.

    Oh, you are so ignorant of other people's realities.

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  52. If race is not part of the equasion, then why the hysteria about the europeans/brazilians? If language useage = diversity, then what is your problem?

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  53. "I think the reality is that at many, if not all, of the most requested schools, middle class families are competing with other middle class families for the coveted spots."

    I think that is true. The cheaters are just taking a spot from the likes of us (middle class parents), no matter what they claim about reverse discrimination. Lousy. Wish I knew their names! I would so report them.

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  54. But don't report the Chinsese families who lie on their apps. They break the rules all of the time, it is out in the open!

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  55. Language usage can be an indicator of socio-economic disadvantage, but obviously it is a very inexact factor and is being used in ways not intended, e.g., by middle class Europeans. I have no hysteria about it, but think it should be dropped in the revamped system.

    The main factor should be verifiable poverty (duh, regardless of race). Does ANYONE want to suggest that kids in extreme poverty shouldn't be given an advantage? Anyone? Without using non-existent reverse racism as cover for your argument?

    And, of course, the poster is correct that many of our poorest kids don't even participate in round one, so the competition isn't them--it's us. This is scapegoating.

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  56. I'll report the Asian American families too, if I know who they are. Sheesh. Cheating is cheating, don't use them as cover.

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  57. Keep in mind that the current Diversity Index was created in response to a lawsuit by a group of Chinese families who claimed that the 40% racial caps on schools used to balance diversity (created in response to a long-ago previous lawsuit by African American families) discriminated against their families, making it harder for their kids to get into Lowell. The Diversity Index (which treats traditionally higher-achieving, low-income, monolingual Cantonese-speaking kids identically to traditionally lower-achieving, low-income, monolingual Spanish-speaking kids) is something that would be expected to be palatable to the Chinese palintifs. Perhaps if middle-class, white families brought a lawsuit, the resolution might be one that would be more in the interest of such families. Frankly, though, it is beyond me why the BOE doesn't just instite a straight lottery (you list your top 7, and a computer decides) which is most straightforward, fair, and legally untouchable.

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  58. Exactly! What you have now is a system that doesn't work. I dare you to find a 100% white kid at any school in the Richmond.

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  59. 5 years ago when our son was born, my boyfriend and i were living in a studio with a baby sleeping in the kitchen. we had medi-cal for the pregnancy. we are both white and i had a master's degree and my boyfriend had a bachelor's degree at the time. we were still poor. i remember signing up for public assistance benefits and the chinese man filing my paperwork said i was white and shouldn't need the public assistance. that experience was so humiliating that we dropped the claim and lived off credit cards. i have other white, highly educated friends who are very poor. we got scholarships at the preschool we are going to. our financial situation had greatly improved since then but we went back to school and got more practical degrees. we worked our butts off with no one helping us. we owe $150,000 in student loans and credit cards for all the childcare we needed while taking classes. i hate that it is assumed that if one has a college degree, is white and manages to send her kid to preschool, that person makes loads of money. how many of you have degrees, are white, english speaking and still poor? i lived it and my son wouldn't get any priority if we were still in that situation. that sucks.

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  60. Oh, Heather, you over-privileged racist! HOW DARE YOU steal bread from the mouths of starving Chinese children!

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  61. "i remember signing up for public assistance benefits and the chinese man filing my paperwork said i was white and shouldn't need the public assistance."

    Oh, no, I'm sure no Chinese would EVER have THAT attitude, or be that inappropriate, wrong, or unprofessional. More assistance money for his elderly relatives who are coming over here to live off us.

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  62. All right folks, can we please stop beating up on the Chinese?

    And yes, it's unfair that the poverty/income test is do you need public assistance. Obviously there is a lot of variation in family resources among those who don't live in public housing. This is for the district to fix and it isn't going to change for the apps due on Friday. It sucks. It has all along.

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  63. Asians have their own problems trying to get into the schools out in the Avenues. I doubt they are the ones applying for the Alvarados, Rooftops and Clarendons. Ditto for the underprivileged project kids (latino/black) - they are not the ones applying for the Clarendons and Rooftops. So truth of the matter is, if you are cheating, you are probably taking a space away from someone from fairly similar demographics like you.

    I know someone whose child goes to Clarendon. I am very very very sure this person gamed the system.... Truth is the mother does not speak English well, and if based on her income alone, the family would be considered one of the underprivileged. The child probably did not go to preschool because the parents are so damn protective and couldn't bear their child even falling down! I know from personal experience. I think what they did was either state that the child came from single parent home (I mean, who checks that there are 2 parents?), and child has 2nd language at home. Since the child was taken care of by grandmother and so truly spoke a 2nd language well, that part was not a total lie. Here's the rub - the family owns a home in that beautiful twin peaks district, one parent has a 6 figure income and stable job -- they are definitely not the opposite profile that Clarendon was looking for. How am I so sure that the system was gamed? Well, based on comments made by one parent when they purchased home in neighborhood 5 years ago and their confidence that they had one of the top 3 schools within walking distance of their home. I recall thinking, but Clarendon is one of the few truly alternative schools where attendance doesn't matter, and its pure lottery. And wow, my shock when I found out that the child got in. But I guess, if there are only so many spaces in the K class, and someone has to get in, then why not your child? (And to boot, this person is very very frugal, so I am sure they are counting the savings over private school).
    I guess if you can live with your choices and conscience, then do what works for you. In the end, there's no guarantee if you play fair that the space that you didn't take is truly taken by someone deserving. I think we can all agree the child living in a rat infested projects with drug dealing going on around them is deserving, but then it starts to turn into shades of gray when deciding who is deserving or not.

    As others said, really, the fairest way would be to have a straight lottery. And some sort of check (is it tax return?) before applications submitted, and then after awards made to verify parental status, income.

    Another solution would be to improve the schools but putting in magnet programs at schools - immersion, science/math, art/music, etc that would attract the educated families who seem to be the ones most attuned to the lottery to a wider variety of schools! And then educate those of lower income/educational status as to opportunities available so they make informed choices (assuming that some currently do not).

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  64. 11:11 here -- of course, it is always possible that this family did actually hit the lottery and get into Clarendon, but, well, then I guess I can truly say I know someone who hit a jackpot. Just way too coincidental.

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  65. Can we PLEASE stop feeding the trolls and get back to the topic at hand?

    We took the tactic of top listing a school we liked that is less popular with families whose profiles match ours and tried to include others that we had a better shot at towards the top as well. Couldn't help ourselves and still listed Flynn SI #2, though. We're prepared to go pretty far into the process to get our #1 but hopefully we won't have to. I THINK I'm prepared for that but we'll see if we go 0/7...

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  66. whoa, i did not mention the man signing me up for benefits was chinese to make him out to be an a-hole. i mentioned his race to make a point that others races perhaps see white people as above needing help in this country. every race has their rich and their poor. to have him tell me that being white and that i should not need help, made me feel like a huge failure and a user of the system. i have no idea what schools chinese people want to go to. i don't really care. i do feel confident that it will work out for all of us in the end. it did for everyone i know who went through with the process last year. it really is no big deal. i saw so many great schools and i'm not worried. not at all.

    ooh and i just thought of one more thing. i went to an elite private school 1st - 12th and i still made crappy decisions that made a lot of trouble for me. i have actually been arrested and spent a day in jail. i have friends who went through the l.a. public school system (horrible) and they have beach houses in orange county and travel the world in style. go figure.

    i have severe insomnia and haven't slept in days. no exaggeration.

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  67. Heather, I'm sorry that you dropped the claim for public assistance despite the inappropriate comments from the guy behind the counter. If you needed the help, you should have had it, no questions asked. What a jerk he was. But you know, you should have persisted to get what you needed; it's what it is for. The fact that you did not should not be used now against those who do use what is offered.

    Seems to me that of the unsaid themes in this recent discussion (the said theme being racism, obviously) is the stigma attached to being poor. The sense that "they" are in some sense "undeserving"....however that judgment is cloaked. I hope we can be a society that recognizes that stuff happens....people go over the edge, for lots of reasons, some their own fault, some for reasons beyond them....doesn't matter, we as a society can extend a hand. It's about "us" not whether "they" deserve it. But reading your words, I am struck by how easy it was for you to internalize the sense of shame and walk away from that counter.

    Anyway, good for you for working so hard and pulling yourselves out of that situation.

    One thing though, I am really puzzled by your statement that your kid would not get diversity preference for a popular school, in the case that you were still that poor. Why wouldn't he? It's not based on race, but poverty. If you were still that poor, he would indeed qualify for a diversity "point," and rightly so. No one would choose to be *that* poor just to get that "point," you know? It sucks to be that poor. You wouldn't trade places with one of those families getting that poverty "point" now, would you? I know I wouldn't. Hard to resent a family I wouldn't want to trade places with for anything.

    But since you are not still that poor (congrats again!), you are in it with the rest of us, right. And as has been said, we not-poor folks are mostly competing against each other anyway, when it comes to the Clarendons et al, so let's go ahead and resent each other, not some fiction "other." That really is classic scapegoating.

    FWIW, I tend to think a straight lottery might do exactly what the planners hope the current diversity index will do, or at least with a close enough margin to justify going to an unimpeachably uncomplicated system that preferences no one--just dumb luck. Would be interesting to try it for a year and see what happens. If it leads to great socio-economic segregation, then scrap it and try something else. If nothing much changes, then we've only lost the frustration and all the resentments (right or wrong) that someone else is getting an unfair advantage.

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  68. 11:15, sounds like you are on top of a good strategy. Good luck!

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  69. 11:15-- that is an excellent strategy, I think.

    We're doing the first grade lottery and went 0/7 last year (listed Clarendon first, Miraloma second --seemed less popular at the time!--other less popular schools after that). This year, we're listing two neighborhood schools first. Of course, the 1st grade lottery is a whole different ballgame because it depends on people leaving the school (and there may be no spaces at the school you rank 1st etc.). We can't decide whether to list our assignment area school first (it is popular, though, and only 3 kindergartens) or our closest school (no assignment area, 5 kindergartens, but we don't like it quite as much).

    Any advice?

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  70. 6:09

    ... Miraloma? Clarendon?

    Advice? Yeah, don't hold your breath.

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  71. yes, especially if your kid is white.

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  72. 6:21:

    The Miraloma/Clarendon list was last year --remember last year when they said that ranking didn't matter and that as long as we had less popular choices farther down on our list we'd have no problem... and by the way, everyone's happy in the end...

    We had a 99% chance according to the Adams' spreadsheet of getting one of our 7 choices, so we thought we'd list our two favorites first. I hope that folks this year don't make that same mistake, and do list some less popular ones first...

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  73. Don't rely on that spreadsheet, it is hopelessly flawed.

    Look at the actual numbers PER SCHOOL.

    If 800 parents apply for 60 openings, half of the openings go to siblings, then you have 770 people applying for 30 spots. That would mean your child has about 1 4% chance of getting into that school.

    If your child went to preschool, if the mother went to college, if you don't speak another language at home, your odds are considerably LESS than 4%. It isn't based upon race, it is based on anything they can use BESIDES race that filters out the "affluent and educated".

    So pick schools that give you a reasonable chance of getting into, and not all long shots.

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  74. oops, I meant to say:

    That would mean your child has about a 4% chance of getting into that school.

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  75. The system is hopelessly flawed if the same assignment algorithm has been used for 5+ years and it is just coming out NOW that ranking really does matter, at least in a tie breaker. No one has said how often a tie breaker occurs. Maybe this only happens once or twice per school, or maybe on every pick. Who knows? That will come out in another five years.

    The new assignment system needs to be absolutely transparent and easily understood.

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  76. Wow, left work yesterday, came back and found a troll been hard at work making mischief. Oy. Assume this the same person making comments on another thread about "pushy Chinese" people who are (this part is actually funny in a sad sort of way) supposedly dragging down the quality of honors classes? He/she seems to have a particular visceral dislike to people who look like my husband and his family.

    Kate, since it appears from the consistent tenor of the comments--little droplets of bile helicoptered in over the conversation--to be the same person posting racial stuff over and over, I wonder if there is anything you could do to ban this person? Can you see the IP address or something? I guess it wouldn't stop him/her, but it might slow it down. It's your blog of course, but I am personally finding these attacks to be offensive. They are so clearly malicious with intent to provoke.

    Sigh. This blog is so helpful and generally informative, and it's such a bummer when someone poops in on us like this.

    Moving on to the topic at hand:

    @6:09, wanting advice on neighborhood schools and 1st grade. Since we all certainly know by now that it actually doesn't matter if you are white or not (!), how do the socio-economic factors you bring stack up against the two schools? In terms of education, poverty, and your kid's current school's API scores, are you more likely to bring balance to one over another, or about the same?

    If they are about the same, then it's a question of weighing the neighborhood assigment factor(slight boost there, but you say it is a popular school) over the fact that the non-assignment school has five kindergartens (more likelihood of a space opening up, and I take it it may be less popular in terms of apps?).

    Personally, I'd go with the five kindergartens as the spaces opening up seem to be the biggest factors for getting a spot in a non-transitional grade.

    Do you plan to apply to any schools down the list that are really less popular, or would you stay in your current school if you don't get one of these two?

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  77. Just wanted to share what happened to me on Halloween. We live in the Monterey Heights area. Two little girls were with their mom and their mom asked me where my kid was going to school, and then I asked her. She said "Public School in Marin." Then I said, "Well, if you live in this area, how can your kids go there?" Boy, she instantly started stuttering and stammering. I'm sure either her or her husband's parents live there, and they are using the address. It is everywhere, the cheating.

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  78. The tie-breaker thing has been out there for awhile, but it is used so far into the process that people didn't notice it was there or think through the implications. There is certainly a problem with complexity here that is adding to everyone's frustrations and undermining the sense of fairness (right or wrong).

    My sense from reading A. Mark's and Vicky's (from PPS) description of the tie-breaker is that it would be mostly be a huge issue at schools that get enormous numbers of apps that are skewed to folks who share demographic factors. So: Clarendon, Rooftop, Alvarado, Miraloma, Lilienthal, West Portal. Also most of the schools on the west side of town--though the demographic factors may be different there than at Clarendon, e.g., lots of kids speaking a second language at home and perhaps low-income, but they the point is they share those demographics and are competing for the same few spots.

    Basically, once the computer has tried its best to balance the class demographically and to some extent give spots to neighborhood kids, there will be a few spots left out of the original 30 spots or whatever. And those three or five or six or ten spots will be going, in the tie-breaker, only to those who listed the school as #1; and within that cohort, it will be luck of draw.

    Thus it is hard to imagine anyone getting into a popular school who doesn't either a) put it #1 or b)have a diversity point to offer--at Clarendon it might be a non-English language like German, French, or Farsi; at Sunset however it might be NOT speaking a non-English language at home.

    So, don't expect Clarendon unless you list it #1. And don't expect Clarendon even if you do list it #1--and if you do that, you will be missing out on a probably much better chance to get another decent school thereby.

    Even in a moderately popular or up-and-coming school, it is probably smart to list it #1, as schools can really zoom in popularity quite quickly. You don't want to miss the tie-breaker.

    The person who posted at 11:15 last night has the right idea. Top-list a school whose demographics are generally different from yours, if you can. And for heaven's sake, don't put Clarendon or Rooftop unless you are all-or-nothing for them! It's a huge gamble to do that, just terrible odds unless you have that Farsi or French tucked away.

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  79. Re the cheating, aside from being appallingly dishonest, it is also stupid and unecessary. It is entirely possible to get a decent school in SF--we parents panicking about Claredon but there are so many good ones beyond Clarendon. That's right, you do have to play your cards carefully and not only apply to the most popular ones in the lottery, but geez, there are 30-40 elementary schools I would happily send my kids to. Maybe more, if I looked more carefully. No need to lie your way into Marin Co. schools or perjure yourself on the application to get one of them. Seems like the panic feeds on itself to create this sort of antisocial behavior.

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  80. Not Caroline's style, and she doesn't post anonymously.

    You're right, that wasn't her. But forensic evidence shows that she has posted anonymously on occasion. Where is she, anyway?

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  81. If it’s all about equality and justice for all, then why are private school student transfers treated as a "disadvantaged" class, as if they were coming from an under-performing school?

    They aren't being treated as disadvantaged, they are being treated as other-advantaged. They add diversity. And money. And sway for bringing more people to SF public schools. We should be thankful.

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  82. 10:41, I assume Caroline is doing the wise thing and staying away from the nasty provocations on this thread in the past 24 hours. I think I saw a post from her on another thread though.

    Anyway, what's the point of invoking her if she's not said anything? Sort of weird how people obsess about her even when she isn't here, even while claiming to want her to go away all the time.

    Another thing, at least two of my past anonymous posts were accused of being from Caroline. The thing is, they weren't. I know that, because I know I wrote them and I know I am not Caroline. I realize it doesn't mean much to say that, unless I shed anonymity which I choose not to do, but I do know it, and I laughed when I saw how sure the person was that I was her. I think one of them was because I have kids taking music, and playing in the band, and I am a public school booster....you or whoever that was just assumed it had to be her. And really, it wasn't. If that was your "forensic evidence" then you were wrong.

    I've been reading this blog since the beginning, and I have never had the impression that Caroline was ever posting anonymously. She has a strong and recognizable style, and she is nothing if not brave in her willingness to put it out there very publicly, regardless of whether you agree with her. Although I appreciate her posts, I do recognize she can be be difficult at times, and sometimes won't let an issue go when it's been beaten unto death; but still, I don't think she is sneaky like that.

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  83. IMO this hang-wringing over order is an attempt to gain a sense of control in a system where you fell you have very little of it. I stand by my initial suggestion that you simply list your 7 choices in your order of preference and see where the chips fall. And obviously, it would be to your advantage if at least 1 or 2 of these choices are not hugely popular with other parents in your diversity cohort.

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  84. I like reading the racist comments. Gives me an insight on what white people really think. Not you ‘good’ white people. The other ‘white’ people. Try reading comments in Yahoo about Obama. I’d rather know that someone hated me than pretended.

    FWIW

    SF 2000 census.
    White 49.66%
    All Asian 30.84% (Chinese – 19.65%)
    Latino 14.1 %
    Black 7.8%

    SFUSD school population is approximately 10% white. Which means that white kids disproportionally do not attend public schools. ‘Minority’ kids attend public schools at a higher rate.
    Just by the math – it seems that if you are white and the diversity index worked the way it is supposed to – then if you are white and middle class then you get an advantage overall into getting to a school because of reduced representation.

    What really happens is that 10% of white kids all try to get into the same schools – skewing the numbers.

    In the end it doesn't matter - because what is really driving everyone is the sense that they (whatever your circumstance or race) is privileged and shouldn't have to go through all this.

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  85. I think I read somewhere (sorry I can't provide a link) that although the white population of SF is about 50%, the white population among those under age 18is more like 25%, due to the large number of white people living here who have no children, or at least none in that age group.

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  86. Others have previously posted statistics -- can't personally confirm they are correct -- that say only 23% of the school-aged population in SF is white. So while you're right that white kids attend privates at a disproportionate rate, it's not *as* disproportionate as the 49.66% figure suggests.

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  87. I have a question. I thought that there was a lawsuit some time in the past about the second-language-at-home checkbox where the court decided that having a Spanish-speaking nanny, even a live-in Spanish-speaking nanny, did not count as 'Spanish at home." Yet I have had several people with Spanish speaking nannies tell me that they checked the box and received plum placements, including at Spanish immersion schools as a Spanish-speaking family. Was that actually allowed? If so, that seems absurd. Am I wrong here?

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  88. 12:22, I agree with you that many folks of a certain class and educational status--professionals, let's say--often seem to have big feelings of entitlement around this topic. Ditto white parents, in general. The feeling is, we shouldn't have to go through this bureaucratic tangle.

    And yeah, I am one, an educated white San Franciscan, though my DH is not--he's working class and Chinese. He thinks the amount of anxiety and frustration around this stuff is ridiculous. He's a bit cerebral anyway, but he just looks at the numbers--Clarendon, say: 800 people putting in apps, what's the point? Based on statistics (as opposed to entitlement), let's look elsewhere for a better deal. Nothing personal about how hard Clarendon is to get into, but there are other good schools, so why waste our time fussing about how unfair it is that Clarendon's a bad bet? The point is that it's hard because 800 people who are similar to us in terms of education, income and language status put it down. So let's find a way around the traffic jam. He doesn't feel the district owes him Clarendon. He takes the practical route.

    Not sure if DH's equanimity and lack of entitlement sensibility is due to his ethnic culture, where you don't expect good things just to happen to you; or to his class background, ditto; or just his personality. I do find his voice around all this to be very calming.

    I am one who is offended by the racist comments. I told him about it last night and he told me to ignore it. Don't waste your time, he said.

    Anyway, yeah, I believe the white population of kids in SF is about 23%. This means white kids are significantly over-represented in private schools and significantly under-represented in public. Presumably it is similar along class lines but maybe not quite so stark.

    I would take issue with your statement that middle class and white kids are advantaged in the lottery. Race isn't taken into account directly, of course (do we need to say that again?). To the extent that "race as class" or just "class" is, the standard for poor versus not-poor is set so extremely low that most working, and all middle, middle upper, and upper class families do not qualify for diversity points there. Unless you are really poor, and very uneducated, you are in a large pool with the rest of us, regardless of your race. It's mostly a straight-up lottery just as people have talked about at the schools like Clarendon etc.-with the HUGE exception of the language issue.

    That's why I have trouble figuring out the resentment talked about here--other than the BIG loopholes presented by the language issue. Besides the language diversity point, most of us are in a cohort with everyone but the very, very poor. And we are competing against each other for similar spots. Like my DH says, that's life. Deal with it, and make your bets.

    The language issue is a problem on many levels. I understand why it was put in the diversity index, but it creates an big avenue to lottery success for well-off families who happen to have a language to use. I don't blame them for using it, but this loophole should be closed. It skews the index and I think it does create resentment as people see it as others of our same social class using it to game the system.

    Then there is the Spanish nanny issue just raised again by someone--I mean, puhleeze, right? How obnoxious is that? Talk about class privilege and gaming the system.

    Since the dual immersion programs are designed around a 50-50 split, I do think home language should be taken into account for these particular programs--perhaps in a separate lottery--but the district should implement strict pre-placement testing. Perhaps to keep the costs lower they can test only those who are actually placed in an immersion program. If you went in on a Spanish (or Mandarin) ticket and your kid doesn't make the grade, then you are out, bam, and go into Open Enrollment. Would make some parents think twice about claiming Spanish fluency on the basis of their kid singing "Los Pollitos" at bedtime.

    Hey, maybe the district could even make a little money on the side by pre-testing, for a fee, any kids whose parents want to know if they make the cut. That might help to fund the required testing after placement.

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  89. I'm a SFUSD parent and recently decided to check out this blog. So sorry I did. While Kate seems reasonable enough, the ignorance, racism, and privilege demonstrated by commentators here is disgusting. Most folks seem to think they understand the diversity index (they don't) and unfortunately are participating in promulgating misinformation and lies. By so doing, they are also reinforcing racial stereotypes (that somehow being "of color" in SF is a big bonus and gets you lots of stuff). I think I liked it better when I didn't know how many ignorant, biased parents my son might be exposed to when he befriends children in this city. How sad.

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  90. Is there anyone left in this community that isn't only focused on what is best for their child - at the expense of all other children? As adults, we have an obligation not only to our children but to all children. Equity needs to be at the center of all we do - and that doesn't always mean treating everyone the same. We need to be providing opportunities for all children. Those school some think are "the best" are often "the best" at denying some children resources in an unfair, unequitable manner. The fact that they continue to be considered good or even excellent schools shows where our values are: not in favor of equity. Parents in this city are generally uninformed (despite all of the education touted here and elsewhere) about how to evaluate a school.

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  91. Word, 1:26. Though I think the worst of it has been emanating mostly from one person. But the projection of privilege as you say is definitely there in several posts, along with ignorance of other people's realities. Not from everyone, but some of the comments just drip it.

    Sometimes I wonder, as an SFUSD parent also, whether we, or PPS, or whomever, should be putting huge efforts into recruiting middle/upper class parents back into the schools, if they bring these attitudes along. Yikes. I have loved the community of my kids' schools and I don't want to deal with this crap--nor do I want the hard-working (but not yuppie) families I know to have to, either.

    1:31, just read your comment and it is right on. This is about all the kids. It's a community issue. We have been fortunate to be in schools that work and care about equity (not perfectly, but the issue is on the table) and that has been the JOY of taking this route for education. Working together across many lines of difference and many inequities to figure out how to benefit all. This does mean some kids need get more resources but my kids have not suffered, only benefited from being a part of this kind of project.

    I think on balance, yes, it would be great to have the energy and funding and mixing of the middle class returning to the public schools, but it will be a challenge for all of us. I hope we will not be pushed by some of the attitudes manifested here to give up on equity and on schools that work for all. The consumer rather than the community-building model. Ugh.

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  92. The problem I see here is not with the parents. People get uptight and say stupid things when they worry about their kids. Most people who sound like jerks on this blog will probably actually turn out to be decent enough members of the school community. The problem is the lack of trust and consistency in the public schools, especially regarding money issues. Budget is being slashed, we can't count on promised funds, we can't look forward to something better in that realm. We can look forward and anticipate contractions, though. It's frustrating when one wants to support public schools and yet they provide no comfort zone at all.

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  93. 1:51, you raise such an important issue. I really think there would be much better value and return on investment if we did more to recruit and support less privileged folks. I think a great Round 1 "tactic" would be get more folks in underrepresented zip codes, socioeconomic statuses, races, languages to learn more about school choice and include them more fully in the process, including better transportation options and improving neighbhorhood schools. The discussions would be more enriched and the schools would benefit tremendously!

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  94. Getting back to tactics, one factor we were considering in determining which schools to focus on is whether the school got through its entire waitlist last year, i.e., by the time the waitlists were "dissolved," everyone on the list had either gotten into the school or had moved on elsewhere and declined the spot when it was offered. A few schools gave us this info on the tour. Does anyone know if there is any info on the SFUSD website (or elsewhere) about how long the waitlists were at schools that had one, or whether there were still people remaining on the waitlist after the date they were "dissolved"? Looking ahead in the process, if one chooses to waitlist, does SFUSD provide any info as to how many other people are on the list to help you pick your one place to waitlist?

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  95. 1:25 I guess I'm like your husband - I'm trying to be very zen about the whole thing, and also just look at the numbers - there obviously are lots of people in the same cohort (educated middle class and above) trying to get into the same schools. The numbers don't work for everyone to get into Clarendon or West Portal! But the sense of entitlement is palpable.I was on a tour with a person who whined the whole time about how screwed up the system is. Turns out - they're only listing immersion schools, but have twins and speak English! Sucks to be them - they are bound to be disappointed and will likely continue to growse about "the system screwing them over." Don't they realize that we are lucky to even have that many immersion choices? I have friends in tony DC suburbs that a Clarendon-like lottery for the ONE immersion school in the district. So I am putting my first choice first, and filling out my list with a mix of hard and easier schools to get into, and also have a backup list of 2nd tier schools if those don't work out. Until all schools are as good as Clarendon, that's the best one can do.

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  96. Also, Clarendon isn't everyone's cup of tea. There are a lot of great schools out there without as much hype.

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  97. 12:22 here.

    According to CA dept of Education. - White Students in SFUSD make up 10% of the student population. Other sources vary from 10-13%.

    I was being somewhat snarky. I didn't say that white, middle class students have an advantage. I said they would have an advantage if the diversity index was really trying to get diverse schools AND everybody applied to a large number of schools that were deemed acceptable.

    As it stands, the perception of unfairness and entitlement by this cohort stems from the fact that this 10% of the population used to try to only go to 5-6 schools out of the 72 or so elementary schools in the district.

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  98. First big loophole in the lottery that I was aware of was the zipcode preference. (You lived on Dolores Street in Noe Valley and had top priority!)

    Next large loophole was the racial preference for AA or latino (You listed your child as AA or latino and had top priority! This loophole you didn't even have to prove. I know a Polish family who listed themselves as latino!)

    Current large loophole is for second language spoken at home. Again, no prooof is required. Spanish nannies, wealthy white Europeans populate this loophole.

    And SFUSD and PPS are surprised when people are disgusted with the lottery?

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  99. Regarding the diversity factor for kids coming from private schools. My guess is that when the system was originally designed there weren't many kids coming from private school into public school so this really wasn't an issue. My guess is there still aren't many. Its not so much did you come from a private school as it is "from wherever you are coming from did it have an API rank." Since private schools do not have API ranks then they get lumped with all of the other categories of people coming from places who do not have API ranks. I can think of a few, immigrant families, homeschoolers, people who just decided not to send their kids to Kindergarten since its not compulsory. I really don't think it was meant to be "lets give families from private schools a leg up." Nevertheless, its still a loop whole that illuminates the complexity of the process.

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  100. Loophole not Loop Whole.

    ***********************

    Regarding PPS being surprised by peoples response I'm not sure where you could have gotten that impression. This fall I talked to hundreds of parents, visited over 50 preschools, and listened to countless parents describe their anxiety and frustration over the process. Within PPS we have parents who are advocates of the choice system and others who prefer a neighborhood assignment system. Most of us agree that the system should be more transparent and that a heavier emphasis on customer satisfaction should be evident at SFUSD.

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  101. Don't know why people like Clarendon so much, it is messy, smells like mildew, has lots of awful portable classrooms ... a truly ugly school.

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  102. Yeah, totally overrated IMO.

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  103. 7:37 and 7:46... you crack me up. Anything to get those last minute angst ridden parents to change their picks!

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  104. Thank you Vicki,
    Your measured explanation makes a lot of sense.

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  105. If anyone is applying to Mild/Moderate or Moderate/Severe kindergarten programs, could you please comment on the programs you've seen?

    It would be great if we could start a topic on special education kindergarten programs-I'm sure other people are wondering as well.

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  106. 8:51

    Seriously. I'm not 7:37 or 7:46. I liked Clarendon enough, but with 5 K classes it just seems a bit too crowded. And most of the parents clamoring to get in are completely terrified of the remaining 99% of the SFUSD schools. These are people who don't take public schools seriously and are only using what they perceive to be "best" (Rooftop/Clarendon) as back up for private. Is that the kind of parent I want to be organizing carpools, playdates and spending time with at PTA events? I think I'll pass.

    But speaking of tactics, I did put the Clarendons on my list because a.) I know I won't get in and therefore b.) if I don't get into my not-as-coveted schools that are higher on my list, I have a better chance of being in the 0/7 cohort for Round II and beyond. I know a few people from last year that filled the bottom of their list with oversubscribed schools so that they could get their #1 gem. And it worked.

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  107. I agree whole heartedly with 1:25 PM. The only factors that should count in the lottery are economic diversity and native language for Immersion programs.

    Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish immersion classes require a 50:50 or a 33:33:33 ratio of English speakers to native speakers; thus, the following Yes/No questions should be on the SFUSD enrollment form:
    Is Cantonese the primary language in your home?
    Is Mandarin the primary language in your home?
    Is Spanish the primary language in your home?
    Do you live in subsidized housing?
    Does your child qualify for free or reduced lunch?

    Caveats: The Chinese languages should never be generically classified as “Chinese,” as Cantonese spoken at home would NOT qualify a student for a Mandarin immersion program and vice versa. Families could not answer “Yes” to more than one primary language. Placement would only be provisional until the student passed a language evaluation during the first week of school. If the child did not have the stated language proficiency, then they would be moved to an available K spot within the District (not necessarily at the same school!). Parents would be encouraged to have their child take the language screening test BEFORE submitting their enrollment forms to avoid potential heartbreak and relocation when school started. Answers to “subsidized housing” and “lunch” could be confirmed easily if suspicions arose.

    I don’t know if native speakers are required for the Clarendon and Rosa Parks JBBP programs, the new Russian program, or the Claire Lilenthal Korean program. If they are required, then of course these languages would be queried on the enrollment form too; however, they would ONLY COUNT FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE PROGRAMS and would not provide a foreign-language advantage in the lottery for anything else. If these languages are not required, then they would not show up on the enrollment form.

    As far as I can tell, all language advantages would be lost for Clarendon GE (Italian is NOT required), Rooftop, Miraloma, etc., etc., etc., if the lottery was conducted in this fashion.

    If a student is transferring into the district and if their prior school has a low API, then they can get one lottery advantage point for that situation. If their school doesn’t have an API (this category covers private schools, home schooling, etc), then they go into the lottery just like everyone else with language and economic diversity points only. PERIOD. This limits the number of kindergarten hold outs who stay in preschool or go private for 1 year to try to circumvent the lottery with an “other-advantage,” as it was so aptly named by someone on this thread.

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  108. 9:52, I agree with you. And your strategy seems right to me.

    FWIW, I know a lot of Clarendon parents. Some of them are as you describe but many are very down to earth too. Maybe most of the terrified ones either don't get in, or go private in any case, but by September they are mostly normal public school parents. Maybe a little pleased with themselves ;-) but mostly fine. The person who mentioned how stressed people are and coming across like jerks right now is probably right. Things will settle down.

    Still, Clarendon would not be my first choice (though certainly acceptable). There are warmer, smaller school communities out there, and language programs, and more diverse ones, all with fine academics. Lots of good choices out there, and with better odds.

    I think people keep naming Clarendon as the holy grail because it is short hand for "super-popular school." Could also say West Portal, etc. Any school with multiple hundred apps. Smart people will not list only those--unless you are certain of backup. You don't get to grouse about the system if you put only those schools and go 0/7, sorry. We all know the odds.

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  109. 10:17 that sounds good. More simple and transparent while preserving opportunity for the very disadvantaged, and helping preserve the language integrity (and also closing loopholes) for the immersion programs.

    There is debate on the PPS listserve right now about neighborhood assignment. I just can't see how that could work in any fair way given high concentrations of poverty in certain neighborhoods....the proposal, while well-written, would also require recruitment of middle class parents to the tune of 1000 more per year to make it viable. But....would middle class parents not balk at sending their children to the Bayview or Visitacion Valley or the Excelsior?--which I think would have to happen to balance the schools and reduce high concentrations of poverty. Schools would be designated as "neighborhood," but they would have to be yoked to other schools in other 'hoods to balance poverty versus not-poverty. Precisely because we know that high concentrations of poverty are generally not good for educational achievement.

    The School Board would not agree to a return to totally neighborhood schools that created Laural Heights schools over here and Viz Valley schools over there. There would have to be cross-town busing to make it equitable. And that would have some parents running for the hills....it's a contradiction. In practice, I think the slow improvement in SFUSD has in part been due to our preference system. One school after another turning around. Which is not to say, at all, that the lottery index doesn't need fixing and transparency, which it DOES--and I like 10:17's suggestions along those lines.

    Bottom line, I like the "preference" system that allows us to try, within popularity constraints of course, to go all over town if we wish. Particularly for middle and high school levels, I do NOT want to be limited to my neighborhood school! Nor would my kids (one is in middle and loved loved loved having a choice at that level).

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  110. Keep in mind that the proposal being discussed on the PPS list (poverty capped at 40% at each school, neighborhood assignment) is from a prospective SFUSD parent who lives in the Richmond district. While her proposal might work well for parents in the Richmond, as the previous poster noted, it would not help schools in neighborhoods with more disadvantaged students.

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  111. 1. The racist vitriol in this thread is disgusting. Nothing in this post should be construed as a defense of those kind of comments.

    2. It is critical to get more middle class families into the system. Middle class families benefit the entire system. First, they provide paths for opportunity to peers. Second, they help stabilize the school environment and hold teachers and principals accountable. Third, they bring political resources to the entire system, because middle class focus on the school system makes bond issues and other financial support much more likely.

    3. Social science consistently demonstrates that a high percentage of students in poverty (somewhere around the 50% mark) brings down everyone's performance. Studies have demonstrated that a middle class student in a school dominated by poor students performs less well.

    4. This means a certain amount of fear by middle class people is appropriate. In my view, it is not an inappropriate sense of entitlement for white middle class people to think that they ought to be able to send their children to a decent public school. If a poor black person feels that way, and sues to enforce the right, would we say she has an inappropriate sense of entitlement? Education is a fundamental right. We're all paying for it with our tax dollars. Everyone ought to be able to send their kids to a decent public school. Educating people and providing them a means to enter the middle class is a cornerstone of our democratic society. It applies to everyone.

    5. About 8200 babies, give or take, are born in SF each year. By the time we get to 5 years later, only about 4000 enroll in public kindergarten. I've analyzed the statistics and it appears that we are losing in excess of 75% of white children and around 50% asian children (had to lump in all asians together because of the data categories from department of vital statistics). We can get a lot of these people back if we can do something to address what is in part a reasonable fear about the prospects for their children.

    6. Yes, I live in the Richmond on a block with Chinese, Armenian, Russian, biracial black/chinese and white families of all income levels. Is this why I'm proposing neighborhood schools? No. The reason I'm proposing a variant of neighborhoods schools is because I can't figure out any other way to inject a large dose of predictability back into the system. We have to take away the uncertainty that breeds the fear. If someone has a reasonable way to do this other than neighborhood schools, I'd be delighted to hear it and would almost certainly promote it.

    7. Lafayette was our first choice. Great school, great principal, and I really hope we get in there.

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  112. To 6:34 AM: me, me, me, me, me. It's all about me! That's how your logic sounds. Lucky you have a neighborhood school that you covet, but don't take anyway my choices to serve yourself.

    SFUSD has "neighborhood preference," and that is sufficient. Admittedly, the concept can use some work, for example, neighborhood preference should be used throughout all the rounds, including waitpools, transfer, etc.

    Another thing to help neighborhood preference would be to abolish the alternte school category, a legacy classification from days gone by.

    Lastly, even if we had pure neighborhood assignments, you still might not get into Lafayette, because the number of available seats (after sibling placement) might be surprisingly low and inadequate to serve the neighborhood at large. Then what? You are SOL!

    Conversely, where one can afford a house may not be where one wants to send their child to school. I am not only referring to underperforming schools (the school might be lovely), but it might be better to attend school across town, near work, or near sister-in-law who shares chilcare, or near infirmed elderly parents, or in neighborhood where I hope to move when I win the CA state lottery (I can still dream can't I?). Of course, right now our sights are set on winning the SFUSD lottery, which feels like it has the same low probability at the moment.

    I vehemently oppose neighborhood assignment, alternative school category, and a 40% cap on economic diversity (mentioned in another post). Like the lyrics in an old song, "Don't fence me in!" C'mon everybody, hum along during your morning commute.

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  113. 7:44 here. Please excuse my typos and odd word choices ("anyway" for "away," etc). Riding Muni and typing on my iPhone, which keeps inserting words for me, certainly created some interesting sentences!

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  114. TO THE PARENTS WHO LIE ON THE APP:

    Your child will be tested for language this year. If he/she fails, your application may be scrutinized more fully.

    The deck is not stacked against white people. It has a slight advantage for very low income families who care to travel to better performing schools (with a more diverse population that includes upper income families) in order to better their child's chances in life.

    Many families are content with neighborhood schools. I know that a walk to school is part of my quality of life. But folks who are living in subsidized housing projects SHOULD be given a chance to apply to rooftop if they think their child will do better in that environment.

    Folks with two parent families and 6 figure incomes resent being assigned to schools with lower test scores and families with, well, a different income level and cultural point of view.

    Fix the school system from the top, instead of trying to keep the few 'good' school for yourselves. It helps no one.

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  115. 7:33 Bravo. Well said.
    8:24 Then fix the problem at the source instead of supporting cheating.

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  116. 9:13
    My understanding is that if an Asian child speaks two languages fluently, then they would add diversity (a good thing, no?) to a heavily populated english speaking school (black or white.) Therefore, if that child's family choose to apply to such a school, they might get some priority.

    However, if a white child speaks a second language, they would also get the same consideration in a similar school.

    Lastly,
    anyone living in Section 8 housing would get the same priority to a school with less low income families in attendance, regardless of race.

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  117. 5:14 WORD:

    Use WAITPOOL, not WAITLIST. It's more accurate.

    I know that Flynn's GE program had a spot for everyone in the waitpool last year.

    I believe Commodore Sloat is a school to watch in that regard, to.

    Unfortunately, there is no account for waitpool sucess anywhere, but with an EPC counselor who can look at the info from last year for you.

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  118. 6:09

    We, too, just handed in our 1st grade lottery app. We looked at last years waitpool after the first round, and put a school that had no waitpool for 1st grade, and not too many K applications. In other words, we did NOT put Rooftop!

    Good luck.

    We also found 7 schools, albeit schools we don't want. Instead, we padded the application with hard to get into schools, hoping to get our one hidden gem.

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  119. The goal of school choice is not economic diversity. It is to give poor people the opportunity to leave the 'hood for a chance at better schooling. Period. They sure weren't thinking that if a poor kid leaves a bad school, a rich kid would fill his space. So assign neighborhood schools, except for poor people, who get the pick of the litter. If you won't send your kid to school with the kids that live in your neighborhood, that's your problem. Move. Oh, wait, one more thing. You can optionally apply for an immersion program. But all immersion programs are offered only at poverty-bound schools.

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  120. I think it is interesting how many people have commented on the European bilingual families "loophole". Do you really think there are that many that are taking away spots? My children are bilingual (European father) but I am definitely not counting on an advantage (next year.) Also - does it not add diversity to have a child in a school who is bilingual, especially in a language that many people have maybe never heard?

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  121. 1:38, you are wrong. part of the point indeed is socio-economic diversity. the idea is to avoid enclaves of high-poverty schools in one location and low-poverty schools elsewhere.

    understand a basic fact here, a majority of our kids qualify for free lunch.

    you can't move large numbers of poorer kids into rich neighborhood schools without displacing some of the rich kids (or middle class kids, if you like). where do those kids go? any neighborhood system would have to involve "yoking" of poor/rich 'hoods. and middle/upper class parents are likely to protest if they are the ones assigned to go into a poorer school or poorer neighborhood.

    focusing on the *process* for deciding slots--(NOT to say the current system is perfect, no way, it needs to be a lot more transparent)--is about moving the chess pieces around. doesn't change the basic realities of an urban district and how many kids are poor. any equitable system will involve mixing it up. being part of an urban district with a mission to include all of our kids means that we middle/upper class families will be sending our kids to school with lower-income kids; no way around that (however hard some may try). this is why we see middle/upper class flight to the private schools (whatever is said about it); it's about comfort levels with poverty and its effects.

    parents on the SE and E sides of town tend to like the parental preference system because it doesn't lock them into poor neighborhood schools. parents on the N and W sides of town, and middle/twin peaks area, tend to want neighborhood schools for obvious reasons. it's about jockeying for access to the same perceived "good" slots. just a different way of doing it.

    the argument about "certainty" is a dream-based idea that you'll for sure get your sweet neighborhood school with people like you. it might bring more "certainty" but i can assure you it wouldn't be that dream. same number of middle class families would not find themselves in a perceived-to-be-good school as now--they would just get their assignments in a different way.

    solutions are: 1) (hello! but not easy, not quick) to improve more--all!--schools, which *has* been happening, if not quickly enough; and 2) encouraging and organizing economic mixing, since most evidence shows that a mix works well--high-poverty schools don't perform well, and no-poverty schools are exclusive of our poorer kids, but a 50-50 mix works well to raise achievement for all.

    i want to be part of a system in we are engaged, as a community, in intentional economic mixing. this is a pathway out of the same-old jockeying for the same hundred "good" slots at the same schools, whether they are lottery-assigned or neighborhood-assigned.

    by my lights the preference system has actually worked pretty well ( if not fast enough) to push middle class parents out past the usual half-dozen schools. the number of perceived decent schools has increased in this system. yup, clarendon still gets the buzz, but lots of families are looking at sunnyside, daniel webster, paul revere, etc. this is progress. they look at these schools because they see the bad odds at clarendon and they look beyond.

    great thing about the preference system is that parents do have some input. not guaranteed entry to clarendon, to be sure--you don't get to "choose" a wildly popular school. but you do have some power to look at and express preference for the wide range of less-popular schools. i can't see why this is worse than being assigned to one of the less-popular schools by virtue of real estate. at least you get some input.

    of course, i am a parent living in the SE part of town ;-)

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  122. 3:09, I'm sure it would lovely and indeed, "diverse," to have your bilingual children mixing it up with everyone else (seriously, not being snarky here). Why are people upset? Well, I'm sure we all have lovely and diverse stuff to offer any school community, but the diversity index is really aimed at creating socio-economic diversity. Middle-class or wealthy Europeans are not socio-economically disadvantaged in the way that this is intended. So it is a loophole....why should your family, which is more or less in the same economic/educational category as mine, get that a break on a popular school, when the point is to get a spot to a kid who does not share the advantages that we have?

    'Course, we should all probably just stop obsessing about the popular schools already. There are plenty of good ones that aren't so hard to get into.

    In any case, good luck.

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  123. The more I read, the more it seems a straight lottery with very very minute variations (Sect 8/free lunch eligibility, and language testing for those who want to be in immersion programs -- by the way, test for English as well as the target language, since after all the goal is that the English dominant child is supposed to help the non-English one, so those trilingual kids in who don't speak English or target language all that well shouldn't be let in either).

    And spend the monies are creating more magnet programs - be in Arts, Science, etc for the various schools to draw a mix of families.

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  124. 3:41 - 3:09 here... totally agree with you, and hope that it will be based on socio-economic diversity more than anything - I did not know until recently my children would have an advantage at all. I also agree that there are more great schools out there and I hope I find one that I am willing, when push comes to shove, to take a chance on.

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  125. the diversity index is really aimed at creating socio-economic diversity.

    No, it is not. It is aimed at giving the advantage to the poor. On the SE and E side of town, neighborhood assignments would work just dandy for socio-economic integration. But the idea of integration causes wide-spread panic and the game of musical chairs.

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  126. I was going to apply for 1st grade lottery, but feel that as a middle class European whose child speaks a different language at home, I would be "entitled" to a "loophole" and would be "stealing" a spot from a middle class American. So I think that I'll just stick to my "financially draining", but a lot more "accepting of differences" private. Good luck to you all.

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  127. 7:39

    Good thinking. You do that.

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  128. 8.14

    I don't know if I can tolerate this much tolerance.

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  129. 7:39 PM - Love it! Thanks!

    Funny how second-language diversity is important only if the kid isn't white.

    Many people here have written about a so-called "loophole" that kids from France/Norway/etc. are using non-English-speaking-at-home to get a spot (I thought not speaking English at home meant not speaking English at home.) which is meant for an Asian or Latino kid.

    "But it isn't about race" Bulls**t.

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  130. Ok before everyone gets in a tizzy, let's calm down. We are not going to solve the racial issues in this country by a long shot.
    Just look at the mess with the BART situation.

    The whole issue with speaking a foreign language at home has to do with the low proficiency levels of kids in the English Language Arts.

    In the example of the kid who speaks Norwegian or French at home, how much you want to bet that their parents are well educated nearly fluent in English and so that child will most likely not have ANY PROBLEM achieving proficiency in English.

    So really, again, we are getting back to socio-economic issues... its not to say kids of Latino or Asian speaking families can't do well in English. In fact, most first generation kids have no problem with mastering English and forget their heritage language.

    Recommendation to District - drop the 2nd language factor!

    Also - for those claiming to speak a 2nd language at home that is not Spanish, Korean, Chinese -- by the same token your child should not be allowed in the immersion programs since technically, the child is not English dominant nor target language dominant. Yet, I see quite a few such kids in the immersion programs. And its fine by me, adds lots of diversity all the way around.

    Anyway, its the District that made up these rules and leaves parents scrambling and fighting each other. Can't wait until the system is changed -- but we better hope they get some out of the box thinking input.

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  131. Race is relevant in that the Diversity Index was designed to achieve racial balance (in accordance with the settlement 70s lawsuit against the district by AA parents) without directly asking about race (in accordance with the Ho lawsuit in the 90s). Questions about poverty, mother's education, language, and preschool experience produce diversity indexes that correlate with race (what they are, in fact, trying to balance).

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  132. 10:24 PM - That race-based lawsuit resulted in the "consent decree" which has expired.

    It is illegal in California to discriminate in any way based on race.

    From wiki:

    Expiration of the Consent Decree

    Critics of the diversity index created by Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District point out that many schools, including Lowell, have become even less racially diverse since it was enacted.

    In November 15, 2005, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a request to extend the Consent Decree, which was set to expire on December 31, 2005 after it had been extended once before to December 31, 2002. The ruling claimed "since the settlement of the Ho litigation [resulting in the institution of the "diversity index"], the consent decree has proven to be ineffective, if not counterproductive, in achieving diversity in San Francisco public schools" by making schools more racially segregated.[4]

    The expiration of the Consent Decree means that SFUSD's admissions policies, including the "diversity index" and the special admissions policies granted to Lowell, and many of its "Dream School" initiatives are no longer codified and mandated by the Consent Decree. As a result, these policies may be challenged at the community and local levels as well instead of just at the judicial level by filing a lawsuit.

    Also look up Proposition 209 from 1996: "Proposition 209 was a 1996 California ballot proposition which amended the state constitution to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity."

    Third: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/washington/29scotus.html


    The SF BOE is a ripe target for another big lawsuit.

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  133. I know lots of children who speak a second language at home AND speak English fluently, sometimes better than their monolingual ENglish-speaking peers.

    We also know parents who *only* speak Spanish at home, but whose children cannot speak the language (they respond in English).

    We know English-speaking families with Latino nannies whose kids are fluent in Spanish and others whose kids are not.

    Which is why the language Qs on the application are so misleading...

    For language immersion programs the only relevant question is: WHich is your child's dominant language? (How they got there doesn't matter.) And people should be able to indicate if their kid is a balanced bilingual, too.

    Thank goodness they are testing this year. That should cut back on the lying, even though the test is ridiculously easy and most of the kids we know have scored in the 80-100% range on the Spanish..

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  134. Obviously the BOE and other BOEs around the country are aware of recent court rulings and propositions that forbid race-based assignment schemes, which is why, in part, they have created systems that do not take race into account. It may in fact be true that they recognize that socio-economic status (SES) tends to correlate with race (though imperfectly)--but so what if so? They are not asking race-based questions, or deciding assignments based upon race-based questions, and can show clearly that the assignment is based on SES, so where is the lawsuit, whatever their hidden motives?

    It is certainly possible that advocates of the diversity index are seeking, underneath it all, to redress racial wrongs. I doubt many here would deny that our nation's history sorry history with racism persists in SES issues. But you can't judge a system by the personal thoughts of the board members, and addressing racism is just not the stated intent of the policy, whereas SES balancing is.

    Moreover, the BOE can point to a wide body of research showing SES to be a critical factor in educational success versus failure--and in particular they can cite the many problems that go hand in hand with high concentrations of poverty within certain schools. They can also point to studies that show SES balancing/mixing to be one pathway to success in raising achievement of all kids. In other words, there is solid *educational justification* for SES balancing, and the BOE can prove they are using only SES factors (even if they do happen to correlate with race).

    The fact is that a white person with minimum wage income and education below high school degree would qualify her kid for balancing points in the diversity index to get into Clarendon. Someone please explain how that is race-based.

    And if you tell me the answer is that most SES disadvantaged folk in this town are NOT white, well, then I would just say, why are some on this list going on about "reverse" racism? How is it that we white folks have been disadvantaged in a system in which we are not mostly disadvantaged? Crazy logic.

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  135. There is a lot of misinformation about education rights and law here.

    1. The Supreme Court has held that while a right to a public education exists, there is no right to an equitable public education, let alone a good one.

    2. The Supreme Court - well, specifically Anthony Kennedy - left the possibility of using race as a factor in public school assignment in the case that other methods to ensure diversity were inapplicable/not working. The standard is enormously high and his general theory ignores reality (in my opinion), but the option is still there.

    3. I resent the idea that teachers and principals do not feel accountable to poor students or students of color and their families, and that the existence of a white, upper-middle class cohort creates accountability by its very existence. I've never taught at a school with such a cohort. My colleagues have always held themselves accountable to our communities - as I do. It would be as fair as my saying that given that many of San Francisco's students of color are failing at schools with white, upper-middle class cohorts all the teachers at those schools are racist and classist who only hold themselves accountable to the cohort that is (probably) the most like their own.

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  136. There have been a number of references to mother's education level as a factor in the diversity index. It isn't. They removed that one several years ago.

    Back when it was an issue I remember hearing that over half the mothers of kindergarten students at Clarendon hadn't graduated from high school (which was the level that qualified). Hah!

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  137. Back to the topic...

    We listed our long-shot school first, our neighborhood school second, and filled out the rest of the list with schools that we felt would help our child flourish. In touring schools, we found that there were many, many good schools in the district - great teachers, principals, and PTAs. So, even if we go 0/7 and have to look beyond our original list of schools - which is probably likely - I think we'll end up somewhere we are happy.

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  138. I wanted to ask about a "tactic" that some people apparently use: lying about their home language. I've heard a number of people say that they would list some unlikely-to-be-tested language as their home language, thereby putting themselves into a different cohort from other not-poor, did-preschool families and adding some fake diversity at schools like Miraloma and Clarendon. How common do you think this is? What would you do if you caught someone at it.

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