Friday, February 27, 2009

Get Gavin to release rainy day fund

Below is a letter from Parents for Public Schools:

I am hoping that you might help publicize the idea of parents getting out in front of
schools very soon with umbrellas up, and placards urging Mayor Newsom and the Board of
Supervisors to release all the rainy day funds now.

As noted on the Bay Area section of the Feb. 25 Chronicle (p. B-1) 33 million is needed to
save all 500 teacher and administrator jobs of SFUSD employees who have been targeted
to receive pink slips owing to funding shortfalls. However Mayor Newsom announced that
the city is tinkering with the formula so that they would release only 11.5 million, saving
just 130-160 jobs.

Tom Ammiano, who wrote the rainy day legislation, says the intention of the legislation
should have the Mayor release the full amount.

Our public schools cannot absorb any more cuts. I am more than upset that we are in a
position of having to fight for proper implementation of a rainy day fund that we thought
was already in place.

Public schools are the heart of a democracy. I am ready to get out in front of my
daughter's school holding my umbrella and a picket sign saying: "Mayor Newsom, release
ALL rainy day funds now. 500 essential positions are on the line. It is raining on our public

What I see is teachers and administrators working their hearts out on daunting tasks. We
need to support these dedicated educators.

I know many parents feel as I do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hot topic: First-grade lottery

An SF K Files visitor suggests the following topic:

"I know you posted a first-grade lottery thread a while back, but somehow it feels more of the moment now that the Round I deadline has passed and the lottery nears. I'm dying to know how many 1st grade applicants the district got this year. It's such a valid indicator of how well (poorly) "choice" worked last year (i.e., just because someone got one of their 7 or 15 or whatever, doesn't mean they're content enough to stay put and not try again). Then there's the 0-15s, the no-schools-at-all, the "absconded for private out of fears," and the Flynnarado 23. Anyway, I'm dying to get a read on this. Any thoughts?"

Would Gavin Newsom send his kid to public school?

The last thing I want to do is start yet another public vs. private debate but this topic is too rich to skip it. As you probably already know, our city's mayor, Gavin Newsom, and his wife Jennifer are expecting. If the two do decide to stay in the city, do you think they'll go private or public?

Here's an excerpt from the editor's note in the current issue of the Guardian:

I get a lot of shit when I talk about this; my blog post complaining about the Obamas choosing a private school got all sorts of comments from all over the country, every single one of them negative. But I soldier on: elected officials should send their kids to public schools. If the San Francisco schools aren't good enough for the mayor's kid, then the mayor needs to be working harder to fix them. I know it's none of my business, and that you have to do what you think is right for your own child and all that, but ... if the mayor, or the president, or the school superintendent, or the school board members, or the supervisors choose private schools, then they're saying that public education is good enough for the poor kids, but not for their own.

Hell of a statement, huh Gavin?

San Francisco has some great public schools, and I suspect you can figure out the admissions process. Or just gimme a call. I'll pass along some tips.

Parochial schools

Word on the street is that the city's parochial schools have been mailing out their letters. Feel free to share your stories.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Budget cuts

The state just passed a budget lowering per-pupil spending from $8,784 to $8,404 over the next two years. According to Education Week, California already ranks 47th in the nation on per-pupil spending. What do you think of this?

Learn more about the budget cuts and what you can do to speak up about them by clicking here (Parents for Public School Budget Cuts page).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hot topic: private school wait lists

An SF K Files visitor has the following questions for the group:

"What does being wait-listed really mean in the private process? Is there actually a wait list or wait pool, or is this really a way for schools to gracefully let you know your kid didn't make the cut? That is, is it a "nicer" way of saying no? Finally, if the wait list actually is a wait list, any idea what percentage typically end up being offered a spot?"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SFUSD's technology plan

The SFUSD Education Technology Department is holding four community meetings around the city in order to allow parents, teachers and students to come and give their input into SFUSD’S new technology plan. Please call 355-7309 to reserve a seat to one of the dates/times listed below. You must call to reserve a space.

2/18 - Everett MS 6:30 to 8:00 2/19 - Marina MS 6:00 to 8:00
2/26 - Ulloa ES 6:30 to 8:00 3/5 - Marshall HS 6:00 to 8:00

or you can click on the link below to give your input in a survey.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hot Topic: Is school becoming all work and no play?

An SF K Files visitor suggests that you check out the following article in Science Daily. It definitely raises some interesting issues.

All Work And No Play Makes For Troubling Trend in Early Education

ScienceDaily (Feb. 12, 2009) -- Parents and educators who favor traditional classroom-style learning over free, unstructured playtime in preschool and kindergarten may actually be stunting a child’s development instead of enhancing it, according to a University of Illinois professor who studies childhood learning and literacy development.

Hot topic: Bullying

An SF K Files visitor has suggested the following topic:

"How about a topic re bullying? Maybe related to weapons in school? Also related to having huge gaps in age and ability in a class due to reshirting? I'd be interested to hear what folks have encountered public and private, all grades even youngest, and what the school, teachers, parents did about it. What worked and didn't work. "

Also be sure to read the Chronicle story, "S.F. school district sued over alleged bullying."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hundreds went to class armed, S.F. study finds

Today's Chronicle reports:

Nearly 900 San Francisco middle and high school students said they had carried a gun to school at least once last year, most of them saying they had done so four or more times, according to the most comprehensive district survey on school safety and climate.

In addition to the gun tallies, 1,767 students reported bringing another kind of weapon - a knife or club, for example - during the same time frame.

That's 4 percent and 8 percent respectively of the survey respondents, rates slightly below national trends, according to district officials.

About 21,000 students (out of 28,000 enrolled) participated in the middle and high school safety surveys, and their answers seemed to validate previous results from surveys that relied on much smaller sample sizes and statistical extrapolation.

But the raw numbers brought home the daily reality of guns and other alarming conditions in the city's middle and high schools.

"I don't think any principal here can deny ... that everyday there's got to be a gun on campus and we just don't know," said Guillermo Morales, principal of Thurgood Marshall Academic High School. "I would be very naive to say we don't have that problem here."

Morales said one gun has been confiscated at his school this year.

For the full story click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hot topic: 6-year-old kindergarten trend

Below an SF K Files visitor poses a question for the group:

"My daughter has been given a "too-young" letter from our dream private (She has a late July bday). They would like her to try for kinder again next year...she'll be 6 by then. She is "academically" ready but still a little immature (has trouble following directions). Does anyone have any idea what percentage of kids will be 6 when entering kindergarten? Just curious if its a growing trend."

How does your school manage recess?

I hear a lot of stories from parents about the chaos at recess. I'd love to hear what schools are doing right to create a fun yet safe and organized environment for kids at recess time. Please, let's focus on solutions as we have already discussed all the problems in past posts. Thanks! Best, Kate

Hot topic: Private school process

An SF K Files visitor suggested the following topic:

"Private School assessments, playdates, and parent interviews...

Can anyone share anything about the private school application process? What are the parent interviews like at various schools? How about the playdates or assessments? How have people explained the playdates to their child?"

Monday, February 9, 2009

News conference: Obama brings up education

In tonight's news conference President Obama briefly touched on education:

Both Democrats and Republicans are going to have to think differently in order to come together and solve that problem. I think there are areas like education where some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference.

And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, No matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let's just blow up the public school systems.

And I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we're going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively, but we're also going to need more reform, which means that we've got to train teachers more effectively, bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively, that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom, that we should have high standards.

Let's open it up to comments...

New date: Student assignment system redesign meeting

Following is from SFUSD:

The Board of Education is redesigning the student assignment system for fall 2010 to support the goals and objectives of SFUSD's strategic plan - Beyond the Talk: Taking Action to Educate Every Child Now. SFUSD has heard from thousands of parents and other community members regarding their experience, concerns and suggestions for student assignment. Families consistently report wanting quality schools and a fair and equitable system that is easy to understand.

On Thursday, February 12, 2009, the Board of Education was scheduled to convene a Committee of the Whole meeting to review simulations of different options for a new student assignment system. SFUSD plans to develop and share options that are informed by past lessons learned and shaped by the District's core values as presented in the strategic plan.

The model simulations will not be ready by February 12, 2009, and therefore the Board is moving the schedule forward by a month. Instead of reviewing simulations for different options on February 12, 2009, the Board will review simulations for different options on March 9, 2009, and the Board plans to approve a new student assignment system in May 2009 rather than April 2009 as originally planned. The Board will hold a half hour meeting on February 12, 2009, from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm in the Board Room at 555 Franklin, to briefly provide an update on the process and timeline, and provide a limited amount of time for public input.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

And you thought SF was bad...

Wow! We thought the kindergarten application process was bad - check out NY city right now!

Hot topic: Assignment process

During the 2008-09 school year, SFUSD will redesign the student assignment system for 2010-11.

If you have ideas to share about the student assignment redesign, please email them to:

Also, there will be time for comments from the public at the Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee on Student Assignment on Thursday, February 12th, 2009 @ 6pm in the Irving G. Breyer Board Room at 555 Franklin Street.

In the meantime -- what do you think SFUSD should do to improve the student assignment system?